Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Enough is Enough

Violence in Bermuda is getting out of hand. 3 Shootings in 12 hours.

I encourage anyone who can to come out and get involved in:

Rally for Peace:
Friday December 18th
Par-la-ville Park

The rally isn't going to solve the problem obviously but, its at least a start and anything is better than nothing at this point.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Brown seems lost in the Woods

Our dear leader just can't miss an opportunity to be in the spotlight can he?

Apparently Brown is the resident expert on the entire Woods affair and his words of encouragement are bound to help turn his life around. Brown is confident that Woods will win a major after all, what else could anyone want? The confidence of Bermuda's Premier is bound to have a profound and meaningful impact on his life for sure.

Bermuda is going to hell in a hand-basket and what we get from our glorious leader Dr. The Hon. Ewart F. Brown JP MP is a comment on the weekly gossip papers!

Then again what are we supposed to expect?

After all this is the same leader who took the opportunity to make a face and shout "I TOLD YOU SO" about the whole "This too shall pass" affair. He even had the nerve to liken the situation to the loss of his parents! As tragic as that may be it has no place as an excuse for an exercise in supreme arrogance that would be more at home in the realm of African strong men than a supposedly free democracy.

And wait! There's more.

I recently posted on the apparent contradictions presented by the joint Government/Governor announcement and the Premier's own announcement a little bit later. But apparently I had it all wrong! You see the Premier had his release drafted before he and the Governor wrote theirs. So that makes it all OK because he was there first so he's therefore allowed to say whatever he wants. Even if it is a complete contradiction of everything the previous statement stood for.

From the RG Article:

This morning when asked about the conflicting statements Dr. Brown said: “We are closer in terms of working in unison than we have ever been.”

A non-answer if ever I've seen one. Has little relevance to seeming two face approach that is yet to be explained.

Then again it is Dr. Brown. He's shown his colours before and they say a Tiger doesn't change its stripes. October 2010 here we come although given the apparent character of the man I won't allow myself too much,

Wishful Thinking

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

And Two Steps Back Step Back

Yesterday I attempted to take a joint statement of Government and Government House in good faith. I took it as an important step forward towards cooperation between our elected politicians and our impartial governor on a topic that effects us all. It seemed as though the rhetoric was going to at least be put on the back burner for the challenging weeks ahead as Bermuda recovers from another tragic loss of life due to gang related gun crime.

It would seem I've had a fool made of me and the reasons for this blog's name has become apparent yet again.

Just when I was allowing myself to be positive about a Government that, on the whole, I am generally critical of it turns out that my Wishful Thinking was misplaced. Curtesy of today's Royal Gazette:-

Premier repeats demand for control of Police

As one might imagine head-desk action followed a quick skim of the article this morning with sighs of disbelief to follow. Not only was I dismayed that the whole situation was turning into another political excuse to attack "our colonial masters" but, I was shocked that our Premier would have the gall to turn around an hour after a joint statement with the governor and go off, guns blazing, in an oh so characteristic anti-colonial statement that comes across as nothing more than an attempt to pander to the PLP party faithful.

The first statement contained some very promising language including:

"We are both anxious to do all that we can to help and to encourage the Bermuda Police Service to combat the shocking rise in gun crime. In fact, we discuss policing in Bermuda together, frequently and intensively."

And even a bit of Government back-patting where our Government was praised for its amendments to
Police and Criminal Evidence Act and its strong budgetary support for the Police.

The second on the other hand was a whole other story. It contained some absolutely delightful comments, my favourite being:

"Unfortunately, despite being in Government we are hamstrung in our abilities to act. In spite of the fact that the Bermudian taxpayer pays for our Police service, an unelected Governor has full control over operational policing."

So lets break that down just a bit. We, the tax payer, pay taxes to the Government, distributes a portion of those taxes to the Police Service, which uses those funds to investigate crime on the streets, in the office and up on the hill. We depend on this Police Force to remain impartial and fair in its investigations, we depend on it to investigate any crime regardless of the position held by the suspect and we depend on it to let us to sleep safe at night. Call my a cynic but, I wouldn't trust a politician (regardless of political party or ideology) with those jobs and why? Because lives depends on it being done well.

Division of labour makes efficient work and division of powers makes for accountable government. Who watches the government if the watchers are run by those who are committing the (hypothetical) crimes?

Call me colonial but, there is a measure of trust that comes with the position of Governor of Bermuda. Gone are the days where Governor was synonymous with white oligarchy (as much as some would like to suggest it still is). The Governor has little power these days and even operational control of the Police is delegated down the line to the Police Commissioner. The office of Governor is the best place for power over the Police to lie just because it's not democratic! I don't want policing to be decided by votes and political bickering. I want responsibility for policing to exist on a plane above petty political squabbles. It's pure Wishful Thinking to expect such a thing from a politicized police service and while democratic principles may seem so at odds with the current system we cannot afford to allow ourselves the luxury of idealism especially with crime in Bermuda going the way it's going. There are certain things where we must go with what works best and putting the Police Force in the Government's hands is not the best.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Politicizing the police force is one ambitious politician away from a Banana republic. Hyperbole? Perhaps. But, I'd rather not take chances with something so important. It's one situation where we can't afford to blindly move forward with nothing more to hold onto than some airy fairy,

Wishful Thinking

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

One Small Step

Operational control of the police is one of those back and forth issues that just about everyone must has their opinions on and these opinions are almost inextricably linked to support for independence. As the majority of the population does not support independence (for now) can we assume that they don't support Government control of the police either? Kind of.

But, that's the issue right there! We don't know what the people think, there has been no referendum and no public meetings to discuss the issue. All we have is a pro-independence governing party that at times seems unable to keep Independence and crime as separate issues. Whenever crime comes up it's the Governor's fault and this has never helped anyone.

Recently we've been given notice that Dr. Brown will be pressing for control of the Police at the OTCC meeting in London and I can't help but agree with the Opposition statements in today's Royal Gazette calling for a full debate on the topic. If anything it gives the PLP a chance to present their case and convince the public, it would add legitimacy to the whole affair and make sure all the facts are on the table.

But! Enough of that. There is some good news as well!

As reported by the PLP blog and the Royal Gazette a joint statement from Government and Government House was released today. Cutting out the political back batting and general uselessness it says:

"Some U.S. police officers experienced in anti-drug gang and anti-gun crime will be coming to Bermuda to help the Police and to lend the Bermuda Police Service the benefit of their experience and expertise."

The Government has been pushing for that for a long time it would seem and now at last we have their US experts. The ball is in their court. It's their opportunity to prove their critics wrong.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Petty Petty Petty

I'm sure most Bermudians have heard of the recent little scandal upon the hill regarding the invites to the Queen's dinner reception when she visited Bermuda and whether one roles their eyes or gasps in horror I believe common ground can be found when a little disagreement like this takes a turn for the worst.

No we're not talking shouting matches, flying fists and general ridicululity of that nature but, comments from last Friday reported by the Royal Gazette during the motion to adjourn caught my attention as I skimmed through the article:

"In response to jeers from the Opposition that the dinner had not been inclusive Mr. [Walter] Lister said: "When the Queen came in 1953 people that looked like me did not get to see her, so let's not go there.""

Racism is an issue in the Bermuda of today no one can deny and of course one must accept the past in order to move forward but, comments like this help no one and may even do more harm than good. I suppose some might say it's simply characteristic of PLP tactics, dismiss every attack because "The UBP did it too", but I think it's something deeper in this case. Racism has become a method of deflection, a way to avoid responsibility and detract from the actual issue at hand. In this situation the issue at hand was nothing more than a little political squabble but, nevertheless it still left a sour taste in my mouth and I hope I will not be reading any similar backward looking deflective comments anytime soon but, given the racial-political climate perhaps that's too much,

Wishful Thinking.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Five Year Plan

All flashbacks to the Soviet Russia segment of my GCSE History aside Elvin James' announcement that we can expect the Government education plan for the next five years in March is very good news.

After two major reports and years of passing the blame it looks like we're finally moving forward in education. The adoption of the Cambridge curriculum this year is a promising step and I'm hopeful we'll hear of a number of other initiatives when the full plan is announced. As for raising the school leaving age that's a completely different story. All it will do is prove the old adage: "You can lead a horse to water but, you can't make it drink". The proposal has it's heart in the right place but, it's going to take a lot more than just legislating it in order for it to actually make a difference.

Of course there is only so much that the government can do to fix the public education system. The Hopkins report was quite clear in it's criticisms and since then the government has moved forward on a number of its suggestions. The recent Mincy report's issues however are a little big harder to deal with. Of course it does offer some suggested initiatives that could help but, in the end those particular problems are societal and there's little hope of them being solved without a lot of community input. Given Bermuda's record when it comes to wide spread community involvement I'm going to let the cynic in me rule for now but, I live in hope that I'll soon be proved wrong.

Obviously since the plan hasn't been released yet it's impossible to comment on the proposals but, all the seem even this news is good news. At this point what needs to be done should be reasonably clear, while we may not know how to fix the whole problem we can at least fix part of it. Given the past record on education it's easy to dismiss the plan before it's even been announced but, perhaps since I'm in a good I'll permit myself a little bit of,

Wishful Thinking