GPS & GP Cars

I read with some amusement the report in the Bermuda Sun that ‘it was not unusual to see the GP number plates of Government MPs‘ outside during these gambling events which have very unfortunately come to public prominence with the tragic shooting of Mr. Gaglio over the weekend. This just adds to the all to frequent reports of MPs exploiting the perks of their position, be it ridiculous travel expenses or abuse of GP cars, mostly reports of speeding, driving while talking on the cellphone or using the cars for recreational and not government business.

This got me thinking about the move to put GPS into the Taxis. Well, I’m thinking if we don’t already have the technology put into our GP cars, we should, and what more, we need to also include technology that keeps a track of their speed too. The use of these cars needs to be held accountable, and MPs are going to have to account for their use of these cars at obviously non-government business (gambling dens!) and speeds. Yes, I’m opposed to these gambling games, but I am aghast at the abuse of the peoples cars to transport MPs to them. Any MP abusing their GP cars need to be named and shamed. And to me at least, if these lot (and this includes Union leaders) have enough money to be wasting on thousand dollar gambling nights, then they are both getting paid way too much AND are totally out of touch with the reality of most working people. Again, I really don’t care if they go and play for fun and poker chips, but when they are introducing money – especially up to a thousand dollars or more – then they either have an addiction or have too much money than they know what to do with it. And if they have an addiction – and this goes for Union leaders – there will definitely be some who would question their ability to execute their responsibilities properly. For all I know government tenders and the like are being determined on the basis of these gambling games, either directly or indirectly in the smoke-filled backrooms of these dens.

These GP cars should be based at their respective ministries. The MPs should have their private vehicles or use public transport to get to and from work, and they can use their GP cars during the working day for government business. Either that or we need to install GPS and speed recording technology. Because quite frankly I am sick and tired of hearing about ridiculous abuses of these government perks.

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33 thoughts on “GPS & GP Cars

  1. Anyone who has ever come across a Minister abroad on official business will generally have seen someone spending like a drunken sailor on shore leave (do drunken sailors have per diems and Amex?)

    There is a direct line between the supine spineless PLP ministerial cadre and the perk/pay splurges.

    Do we know if Ewart takes more than one salary for taking on the onerous burden of several ministries?

  2. It may or may not be. It seems that a number of patrons of these events read and post here, so perhaps they can back up the claims or whatnot. However, there is a constant anectodal evidence that MPs are misusing their GP cars, and I’m pretty fed up with it. There are protocols in place for non-MPs driving GP cars, and these should be enforced for the MPs too. We have the technology with which to hold them accountable for the use or abuse of these vehicles and I don’t see any reason why we cannot implement them.

  3. “I don’t see any reason why we cannot implement them”.

    I am sure one could implement them Jonathan, but ‘who is going to do what’ with the information is perhaps the pertinent question?

  4. Well, I would hope we could establish an independent post responsible for them. For instance, perhaps the ombudsman or the Auditor General? I believe it is the Permenant Secretary that is ultimately overseeing the use of non-MP’s GP car use for the various ministries – or perhaps the information should be made available quarterly?

  5. Um, Dr. Brown more or less force-fed the GPS technology legislation in taxis to a group that didn’t want them.

    Do you really see him championing this cause?

    (I agree with you on principle, but there is little point in hoping for such a gesture at a time when our leader is playing golf with the stars on labour day. Self sacrifice isn’t really the modus operandi is it?)

  6. I’m still waiting for them to put GPS on the buses and then online. That way those with blackberries or whatnot can at least guesstimate how long they have before the bus arrives. But no, I’m not expecting the MPs to willingly propose this thing, but it can still be ‘encouraged’.

  7. Jonathan,

    Do you really believe that Government ministers would use their cars to go to a gambling den? Remember the person who made that assertion asked for anonymity. Don’t you also think it’s kind of strange that the only names that have been called as participating in the card games are Chris Furbert and Zane DeSilva who said he had been there once about a year ago? Who were all the other people that play poker there twice a week?

  8. Jon, it’s not only the MPs who abuse the GP car policy.

    General Orders is explicitly accurate on the use of vehicles:
    Nobody in a government vehicle who is not a government employee.
    Government vehicles only to be used during working hours for WORK, personal use not allowed. Outside hour use for call-out purposes only, or rented from the quarry dispatch.

    Hang out at any school, and watch civil servants dropping their children off in their government vehicles. This is a serious violation of policy, and if there was to be an accident, the insurance would be void.

    But the spineless wonders will do nothing, not even to curb the indiscretions of staff.

    I agree with Denis, GPS tracking in all government vehicles.

  9. Hi RenMan – when I was a kid, my godmother who at the time had a GP car as she was a nurse at a clinic and would drop her son and myself off at school on occasion on the way into work. Is the kind of thing that should be considered on equal footing with people using them for shopping errands or other activities out-of-hours?

    Regarding GPS itself, if the technology is there it should help to monitor public vehicles (I think Jonathan suggested buses) and the stats can be analysed by the appropriate parties to make them more efficient and to stamp out any possible abuses of the vehicles for disallowed activities.

  10. Are you guys really serious? Who the hell is going to monitor this. Who will report to whom.

    So we know where they are….big deal.

    My Lord people, these things are in place without GPS. Daily diaries, logs, telephone, et al.

    You children better throw away the blabberry…it’s alll recorded.

    Now use of a Government vehicle outside the scope is illegal….dah!!!!!

    Back too sqaure one.I’m not lsing it..listen too yourselves.

    Rummy.

    Ps. The Hon.Dr.Ewart Brown has apointed three new appointees who will work with “GPS Atlanta Llb with a sub contractor in TCI to monitor along with the Police who only monitor 18 hours a day working with a local company that just hired three expats to train 5 Bermudians to oversee the running of the Corporation of Hamilton whilst doing a survey on traffic near the KEMH.

    Bill Zuill has hired 5 Uighurs on day release from Gitmo to monitor Chinese vessels off the south shore…………..

    I need a rum…………………………..

  11. Hey Tryangle, here’s the thing…

    I had a GP car when I was a civil servant too. But it was EXPLICITLY RESTRICTED as I laid out before. I couldn’t do any of the things I see operators doing now, because they were forbidden. If your godmother had had an accident with you two kids in the car, she would have been liable for the insurance, as the insurer would not cover it.

    Yes, all are equal before the regulations. That’s the only way it’s fair.

  12. Fair enough – zero tolerance. In which case, shouldn’t all GP vehicles be returned to some designated lot at the end of the working day (with exceptions for those ‘on-call’)?

  13. Hi LaVerne, until this incident brought these ‘dens’ to light I was blissfully unaware of their existence. However there have been an abundance of reports relating to GP car abuse, and I have personally observed what appears to be speeding GP cars (without any obvious emergency) and I have definitely seen GP cars being used in a non-governmental activities, unless attending happy hours at Hamilton Princess or dinner at Little Venice constitute the people’s business.

    I would hope that our MPs would not be using their GP cars for gambling dens or any other non-governmental business. And all the more reason to ensure that GP cars are used only during business hours or made accountable.

    And don’t get me wrong, as I think I’ve made clear throughout this whole episode, I oppose these gambling games and think they should be illegal (playing cards is fine, gambling with thousands of dollars is totally different). But yeah, I expect better from MPs and the leader of the BIU. I mean, how idiotic is it for these individuals to be involved in this? Do they seriously not think about the political fallout or rumours that these things will encourage, both amongst Party supporters (who oppose gambling in general and are struggling to get by) and anti-PLPers who automatically believe the PLP and BIU is corrupt and ‘gambling’ away finances?

  14. Jonathan,

    As you know, the cars driven my Ministers are GP1 to GP13. It is entirely possible and plausible that you will sometimes see Ministers and other civil servants dining at Hamilton Princess or at any other restaurant in Bermuda. Many meetings take place in restaurants and hotels. I can tell you that the Ministers that I know personally, Derrick Burgess, the Premier, Glenn Blakeney never use their GP cars for non-governmental business. But as some ministers will point out, they are ministers 24 x 7.

    As far as GP cars being seen at the particular gambling den, I would want to have proof before I accept it.

    Chris Furbert has admitted that he has played cards at the particular place, but I am not here to judge him, and neither should you. By the way, if MPs (PLP and UBP) are gambling, why would think they would be using the people’s money to do that as opposed to their own money?

  15. Laverne
    Playing golf with Zane on a Thursday afternoon is not ministerial business and yet how often has GP1 been seen in the parking lot of MOC?

  16. Hi LaVerne, I doubt that attending happy hour or dining with other MPs at Little Venice constitutes government business.

    I have no problem with President Furbert playing poker, I know he is an excellent player. I do however have an issue with gambling, and my statements have been to express what I think many others will think.

    I did not say that MPs were using public money in gambling. Unless that is they are using GP cars for transport to and from them. What I did say is that in partaking in these activities they open themselves up to attack, re use of public monies or backroom dealing.

  17. The cars are a perk. Plain and simple. What other white collar business on the island gets a vehicle for every department head? Construction/delivery vehicles don’t count because they’re needed to move materials. Does the banks, or insurers get a second corporate car for every divisional head? Nope. Don’t even bother asking.

    There’s no reason MPs can’t use their own vehicles to get to work like everyone else, and maintain a small pool of vehicles which can be shared.

    The Premier, Governor etc. require dedicated vehicles, but beyond that not much. The number of cars with Permanent secretaries etc. is ridiculous.

    Is Derrick Burgess on official business when I see him driving around on a weekend with his baseball cap on? Methinks not LaVerne.

  18. BIAW,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,You guys have to get your priorities right. Get out of the hole you have dug. Then again, the ‘spade’ is mightier than the ‘soil’…………..

    But the soil holds the nutrients. Define that.

    I ….never mind.

  19. The Truth,

    I would be willing to be my bottom dollar that you never see Derrick Burgess using his GP car unless he is doing “official” government business. I won’t speak for the rest of the Ministers, but I know that he rarely, if ever, uses his GP on weekends.

    By the way, how does Barack Obama travel on weekends? Does he use his own private car (or bike, as Derrick Burgess) does? He’s the President of America 24×7, not just 9 to 5. Have you ever seen the Governor drive a private car? Is he always on duty? How about the U.S. Consul General, did you ever see him drive a private car?

    You all know why you have a problem with certain people driving GP cars. Admit it!!

  20. Jonathan,

    What Government Minister have you ever seen attending a “happy hour”? And how do you know if MPs are not having a dinner meeting at Little Venice? Have you actually seen that yourself, or are you reporting what someone told you?

    What makes you think that Government MPs are “partaking of” gambling activities? You’ve already said you don’t agree with gambling so what makes you think that there are any government minister “partaking in these activities and using public monies for backroom dealings”?
    It seems to me that you listen to a lot a “backroom gossip” and base your opinion on that.

    By the way, is it okay for UBP MPs to to partake in such activities?

  21. Ms. Furbert

    Lets not draw any more connections to Barack Obama please, it’s getting old. He is the leader of one of the most hated countries in the world, a country that has been engaged in a war on terrorism for the past 8 years. On today of all days you should remember that. He faces the real risk of assasination, which is why his government car is practically a tank. Government ministers do not face that risk.

    If the UBP is doing the same thing then let them be pointed out and punished as well. Don’t turn this into another party thing when it clearly isen’t.

  22. Hi LaVerne,

    I tell you what, next time I’m on the island we can go to the happy hours and see what ministers show up. And yes, I have seen myself (both dinners and happy hours). I can understand lunch meetings, but I doubt that what I’ve seen at these dinners where business meetings as they included one first minister, an MP and their respective wives. Had it been a few ministers and MPs only, then yeah, maybe I would think it was a business meeting. Though one would hope these meetings were conducted in a greater deal of privacy though.

    I ‘think’ that some MPs or Ministers may be at these gambling activities on the basis of the media ‘alluding’ to there being present. They had alluded also to union leaders being present, and this too has been proven correct. They may not have been present, but it seems likely that some have. And I did not say that they were there using public monies in backroom dealings. Please read what I had written. I said that many people, who already believe that public monies and the like are being misused in backroom dealings, might find this as reinforcing their perceptions.

    By the way, I don’t give a hoot about the UBP. They are not the Party I support, nor are they in power. My general position as being opposed to the gambling dens remains, and yes, should they be in power I too would hold them to scrutiny like this.

  23. As I said earlier, I have no problem with the Premier, Governor having a car. Cabinet Ministers don’t have a need, particularly when we hear about the terrible traffic problems and Dr. Brown saying expats should not be guaranteed a car with an Assessment number. So we’ve dispensed with your prejudicial argument there Verne. They can use a pooled car. No need for one each.

    And you may be willing to bet you bottom dollar on Derrick Burgess, but I won’t. Because I’m not a mindless follower.

    And yes, the Obama comparison is absurd and you know it. Dr. Brown is better compared to the mayor of a small town not the world’s superpower. So yes, Obama needs a heavily armoured car, plane and a secret service protection detail. Dr. Brown? No. His is just to make him look like a player with the Rock Newman crowd.

  24. gps should be used in:

    ALL govt vehicles….buses trucks etc and the GP cars

    on all violent criminals released frm jail…..

    on all child sex offenders, if society is so unfortunate for them to be released frm jail…if it were used …that gal moor wont be dead right now!

    Let the mps go out drinking n gambeling in their own cars 🙂

    If the gambeling is not illegal then all these so called big shots and eleites should be named…perhaps we can ask that guy who got shot to tell us who was @ his house

  25. Ruby Tuesday,

    Do you play golf at MOC? Or do you just lurk there to see who’s playing?

    The truth, course I’m a mindless follower. All of us who support the PLP and the Premier (and Derrick Burgess) are mindless followers. After all black people who support the PLP are just mindless followers. We do not have the capacity to think critically as you do.

    As I said, watch Fox News and you all will see yoursleves on television.

  26. LaVerne…….You shut down “FOX” news…………………..

    Thats why your boss et al took over the Base and made millions and imported people from # 16………………………..

    How much they paying you?……Bawahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    Long live St. Davids…………………..They don’t “Crawl” they walk “Tall”……………………………….

  27. “All of us who support the PLP and the Premier (and Derrick Burgess) are mindless followers.”

    Nope. Not at all. Just you and a few others. When I watch Fox News I think of Glenn Jones and the PLP actually. Funny that. Remind me which network Glenn was a reporter for?

    Oops. Thanks for keeping the comedy going.

  28. @ Ms. Furbert

    “The truth, course I’m a mindless follower. All of us who support the PLP and the Premier (and Derrick Burgess) are mindless followers. After all black people who support the PLP are just mindless followers. We do not have the capacity to think critically as you do.”

    This is not a party issue but, a person issue but, that never really sinks in does it?

    Cam explain the ridiculously low approval ratings for Dr. Brown?

    Oh wait, could it perhaps be because a high proportion of people see where he is taking this country?

    Those who don’t are the mindless sheep.

    It’s got nothing to do with party or race, as much as you like to turn things into black vs. white or PLP vs. UBP. The premier has to govern for all Bermudians (which he doesn’t) and almost all Bermudians realise he’s not the one for the job. Why then do you remain a strong supporter?

    Baaaahhhhhh

  29. LaVoine- I used to play at MOC a lot and even edured a few rounds with dear Ewart. I didn’t particularly care for him beforehand and afterwards my opinions of him were reinforced. If you ever want to know where the gossip about EB comes form – it normally starts with him bragging somewhere after the 4th hole…

  30. Sorry I came to the party late but I am a past member at Oceanview and had a regular game every Saturday morning at 7am. On a very regular basis, I arrived at the course to see GP5 (Mr Burgess’ car) parked in the lot (I didn’t always see him on the course with my own eyes but I did see him often enough – always by himself). Although technically possible, I highly doubt Mr Burgess was conducting government business at 6:30am on a Saturday.

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