International Day of Persons with Disability – And Other Stories

I’m still a bit swamped with work here, so apologies for the lack of posts.  This post itself will be a bit of a comments on various news stories that have caught my eye lately. social media

America’s Cup & International Day of Persons with Disability

Today, December 3rd, is the UN recognised International Day of Persons with Disability, an event that is supposed to help raise awareness about disability issues and serve as a rallying point for progressive change.

The Government has some events going on today in relation to it, and I’ve got an Opinion piece on Bernews where I propose some changes that Bermuda needs to make Bermuda accessible for all.

However, there’s also a lot of focus on the announcement that Bermuda’s won the America’s Cup hosting rights for 2017, and this is largely crowding out media space and popular attention, pushing disability issues very much to the sidelines.

Now, I’m cautiously optimistic about the America’s Cup coming here.

I think it has great potential, although I do have concerns about our infrastructure, concessions and the risk of this event being used to bypass proper planning – and one just needs to look at the problems Brazil had in the run-up to hosting the World Cup, when resources were taken away from social welfare in order to develop World Cup infrastructure.

So, I’m cautiously optimistic.

Personally, I’m not into sailing.  It’s a mystery to me, and the Yacht Club and the Dinghy Club and such is a world away from my own reality.  Nonetheless, I can see the potential benefits – I just think it’s important to not be blinded to the potential pitfalls too, and in so doing we’re more likely to avoid said pitfalls.

I think the 2017 America’s Cup though does give us a target to making the island accessible for all, and I hope that we take the opportunity of today’s America’s Cup celebrations to resolve to do just that.  We can do it, and the 2017 date makes as good a target as any.

Public Humiliation = Child Abuse

Another news story was this one, where a parent decided to ‘teach his son a lesson for behaving badly at school’ by publicly humiliating him – forcing the son to stand at the Trimingham Hill Roundabout (where Johnny Barnes waves from in the morning) with a sign saying ‘I’ve been rude in school’.

I can understand the parent’s motivation and possible exasperation with his son.  But this action was, in my opinion, counter-productive.  To me it constitutes a form of child abuse.

Basically it teaches the lesson that one wrong justifies another – in this case public humiliation (a form of bullying) in reaction to the child misbehaving at school.  It should also be noted that in the article the father notes that:

“I refuse to beat him.  I’ve spanked him in the past and have even given him licks in front of his school mates but nothing seems to work.  I’m not going to let my son to disrespect anyone.”

So to teach him not to disrespect people you disrespect him?  That logic fails me.  And physical beatings don’t work – they actually compound the problem, especially when done publicly (‘given him licks in front of his school mates’).

The trigger for this was a five-day suspension for cyber-bullying, according to the article.

Cyber-bullying is serious and, like any bullying, is usually by someone who feels powerless trying to get any sense of power they can.  The son needs counselling – as does the father – to work out what the underlying issues are.  And public humiliation is likely to be counter-productive here – by disrespecting the son publicly, you’re more likely to lead him to lash out by increasing his sense of powerlessness.

The Family Centre can provide assistance for these situations, and I implore parents to speak with them before engaging in counterproductive public humiliation.

The choice the father has made here is quite frankly child abuse, and the police should have stepped in to stop this public abuse.  I don’t want to see the father prosecuted, but I think it’s clear that something has gone very wrong here, both internally to the family and institutionally at both the school and police level.

The Airport Deal…

Where to begin with the airport deal?

I’m generally opposed to P3’s (public-private partnerships) as I see them as a bit of a trojan horse.  They actually end up costing the public more than if the public had built it in the first place.  The ‘private’ aspect of them demands a profit, whereas the ‘public’ aspect is focused on value for money use-value of the infrastructure.  These are intrinsically opposed – private profit versus social profit.

Having said that, if P3’s where the way the Government decided to go, it should have gone to an open tender RFP.

The way this has been handled by Government seems to be yet another self-induced scandal (it’s developing into one) that could have been easily prevented.  It’s made the OBA look extremely hypocritical (their criticism of P3’s under the PLP Government, or their reactionary actions regarding the City waterfront – because they didn’t think the open tender RFP was done properly, for examples), and they just look disingenuous.

Redeveloping the airport has long been planned.  Everything was in place for a relatively smooth RFP.  Why go about it exactly the opposite way of building trust and transparency?  Even if there’s nothing untoward going on, in our polarised society and with the disappointments of past actions (under both the PLP and the UBP, and more recently the OBA), it should have been obvious that the Government would have to go even beyond best practice if it wanted to ensure buy-in across the board.

Instead, the OBA erodes its political capital even further…

Personally, I’m conflicted in that I don’t like our ‘colonial overlords’ interfering in our affairs, yet they’re making some good points and the OBA is being disingenuous.  And as long as we remain a colony, our colonial overlords have not only a right but a duty to interfere in our affairs like this.  So I’m stuck between colonial overlords and a cynical government – hoping people power can provide an out for me!

The Casino Gaming Act 2014

Government has tabled the Casino Gaming Act 2014, with the intention of getting it through parliament before the New Year – they’ve tabled it just in time to get it passed I think, through first and second readings and through the Senate.

I think it’s clear I’m opposed to the introduction of casino gambling through this manner.  Both parties promised a referendum on this issue, with current OBA MPs being extremely adamant that such was ‘the right thing to do’ when in Opposition.

The OBA promised this referendum throughout 2013, and abandoned it only after proposing a ridiculously biased question which seemed calculated to cause public uproar – and provide a pretext for imposing casino gambling via a three-line whip.

The Casino Gaming Act 2014 is a massive act – 117 pages long and written in legalese.  And it is being rushed through now as people are distracted by preparations for the holiday season, the America’s Cup celebrations and a new, developing, scandal concerning the airport development.

I call on the Government to withdraw the Casino Gaming Act 2014 and instead engage in section-by-section town-hall consultations before moving ahead with the legislation.  

Right now people do not have the time to review such a massive act and lobby their MPs from an informed manner.

Quite frankly, the Government has mishandled the issue of casino gambling from the very start, and this rush with the Act seems to be a rather cynical move, which will only further erode public trust in the Government, at least on this matter.



3 thoughts on “International Day of Persons with Disability – And Other Stories

  1. no comment on lessons learned from AG’s report, even in relation to the airport? I’m surprised you missed that…

  2. “…………..which will only further erode public trust in the Government, at least on this matter”

    Whilst recognising that (a) your role is to highlight failures as you see them with regards to the Government, and (b) recognising that politically you are closer to the PLP than then the OBA, I am disappointed that in commenting on the erosion of public trust in the Government, you haven’t mentioned the Port Royal issue and whether you think the Port Royal issue will erode the public’s trust in what some are calling the Government in waiting..

    Or, in the final analysis and at the end of the day, does it really matter in the overall sleazy world of Bermudian politics?

  3. James and Mike, I simply haven’t had the time to review the report, and so I felt it would be inappropriate to comment on it.

    I do tend to put the priority on the Government of the day and put things like that report on the back-burner, and that’s simply because I believe the focus should be on dealing with issues before the proverbial ‘horse has bolted’.

    I’ve been meaning to get to the Port Royal report since it was released. As I said, I’m a bit swamped however. Hoping to get to it this weekend.

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