Saturday, November 28, 2009

Just Do It!

When Dr. Mincy released his report on young Bermudian black males he commented that he'd done the report it was not up to us to do something with it. It presented some interesting insights into what is driving the high drop-out rates, the differences in educational attainment and even the differences in pay between black males and white males or even in a lot of cases black females.

Looking through the findings and proposals they seem very reasonable and there is nothing shocking. The beauty of the study was in pointing out exactly what the problems (as they see it) are. Before then there were lots of things it could be but, no one agreed on problem.

Well now we have a 200 something page report telling us exactly what they found the problems to be and how to fix them. Surely the next step is as clear as day?

Apparently not. At a Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda (CURB) forum the report was criticized because the "sample group was too small to provide a true picture." Yes indeed it's not a perfect report but, criticize it's findings and propose alternatives! Don't just attack the method and me done with it, what is the point? What findings and proposals do you not agree with? What should the report have found?

No one claimed the report was the be all and end all of dealing with the issues that face Bermuda's young black males but, it was a start and as Dr. Mincy said it's up to us now to use his report. We can't just keep commissioning reports until we get one that we like and no action is going to be successful without community support.

Constructive criticism should be encouraged but, a simple attack on the method does nothing but undermine confidence in the report and without that confidence it makes it hard for our Government do what they know needs to be done. When the report came out it gave us an opportunity to move forward lets not waste it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Futurecare? Or Futurecareless?

On Saturday it was reported that the amendment to the Health Insurance Act has been passed by the house of assembly after a heated debate in which Louise Jackson in her usual manner ripped the Government to pieces on the subject of Future Care.

The main issue of the night was the question of funding. Was this amendment a step back taken because of the realization that the funds necessary simply aren't there? Or was it as the Government claims a reaction to the predatory practices of private insurers which left so many without access to any form of insurance.

To me it seems a bit of both but, the government should have anticipated it. Private companies exist to make a profit and despite our ruling party being a Labour party they cannot simply ignore this fact. They are going to react to any government intervention in the marketplace in a way that suits them best and it is the Government's responsibility to investigate and anticipate what effects they will have.

Healthcare for our seniors is a noble idea but, if it's going to be done it needs to be done right. The Government has bought some time now, in time hopefully they can get it right and prove that faith in them is not just,

Wishful Thinking

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pass De Blame On The Left Hand Side!

Following 3 shootings that have rocked Bermuda and should have shaken the Government, the Police and the Populace into full awareness of the sheer size of the problem that Bermuda faces we hear from a member of parliament, yet again, that it's the Governors fault.

In the House on Friday Mr. Butler (Former Culture Minister) made the statement:
"If our problems (with crime) continue to get worse we need to ask for a recall. If that is the Governor's main responsibility and he is unable to meet that requirement we need to get recourse. Our safety depends on it."

And later elaborated by saying:

"This is the second time I have made (this statement) and Bermudians have to look at accountability if in fact (the Governor) continues to refuse the Government's request to bring in a New York group to help."

"Things have gotten worse and the Police are trying their best, but need more expert support as recommended by the Government. But he continues to reject it. Hence my request for a recall of the Governor because he has failed to get on top of the problem as the person responsible for the police."

"We all like our Governor but with specific regard to his job, he is not providing the type of safety we need."

Just before we delve a little into the specifics of what he said I'd like to highlight the rather wonderful irony of the final section of his statement. More specifically the words "We all like our Governor" because I think it's been quite obvious to the majority of the populace that the PLP has (at least in recent times) always had a rather anti-Governor leaning. Probably due to their stance on independence which naturally makes them anti-colonial authority but, the reasoning behind it is irrelevant at this point. What matters is that the blame game needs to stop and something needs to be done.

Beginning his statement in the house Mr. Butler seemed to place the blame for crime solely on the shoulders of our Governor. A ludicrous assertion at best, down right crazy at worst. The police, first and foremost, are responsible for catching criminals once they've committed the crime. They can't do that when Bermudian society operates with some strange aversion to talking to the police about incidents. Do we blame the Governor for that state of mind? No! Nor do we blame the Government. It is a societal problem and one that the Government and Governor need to work together on fixing, the Government taking any opportunity it can to fire a shot at the Governor gets us nowhere. We need the two to sit down at a table and discuss what is wrong and how to fix it. We recently heard that the Government has refused the Governor's offer to have such a sit down regularly and I would hope, for all of our sakes, that they change their minds on this issue rather than placing blame and achieving nothing.

The second part of his statement refers New York based consultants that the Government wishes the Police force to bring in and utilize. The Governor retorted with this statement:

"The Bermuda Police Service already draws on the experience of overseas jurisdictions and has obtained much help from them. More is being lined up."

Its easy to say we need a consultant and then consider your hands washed of the whole affair but, it's not going to work that way. Like the author of the report on the plight of Bermudian young black males said, at a certain point you have to stop commissioning reports and start doing something. I doubt a report will tell us anything we don't know already. Crime is being fueled by gangs, gangs are being fueled by drugs, drugs are being fueled by the socio-economic situation some people find themselves and then that can in many ways be linked to education. So lets fix education, lets combat gangs and lets have a look at the way our Judicial system works so we can actually convict the guilty people once they're caught.

It is time for the Government to accept that we have what we have and so we must work with it. Regardless of their beliefs on independence the Governor is here and a working relationship is more than necessary. The Throne Speech this year was filled with promise and we can only hope that we will see the necessary changes need to be made.

Enough with the blame game.

Wishful Thinking

Monday, November 16, 2009


Part of Opposition's Throne Speech reply struck from official record

Does such a headline worry anyone but, me?

The Offending Section: "We get million dollar contracts that go directly to friends untendered and massive cost overruns with no one held to account."

Yes to a certain extent the section was not completely founded on fact however the offending section was little more than a word. The word "friends". Do contracts go directly? Yes there is no bidding process. Is anyone held to account? Not in the slightest.

In my opinion this action by Government MP's is nothing more than pathetic. Anyone who listened to the debate on the motion of no confidence before the summer will remember distinctly Dr. Brown's speech on that night. Filled with divisive claims and general attacks on the UBP branding them again as racist etc. Was that struck from the record? No. Did Mr. Barrit attempt to ask for a point of order due to the Dr. impugning improper motives? Yes. Was it recognized by the speaker? No. And yet... a statement that as far as I'm concerned has never been adequately disproved was removed simply because the PLP felt it was being insulted. We have a Government unwilling to simply respond to and discredit the offending statement but rather have it struck from the record. That as well raises very interesting questions.

Perhaps it isn't true. I accept the possibility that there is no wrong doing other than stupidity at play in the awarding at contracts but, still we must all agree that there is something wrong. We see costs skyrocket on what seems like every single project. It's time to institute open bidding for government projects. Let the government do that to deal with the criticisms. Enough dodging, do something about it.

Open bidding should be common sense as far as I'm concerned but, then again it could be,

Wishful Thinking.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Jury's Out On This One

Attorney General Kim Wilson announced today a number of government suggestions on widening the pool of jurors available for jury. Included were ideas of increasing the age for jurors beyond 65 and (my personal favorite) bring ex-pats into Bermuda's juries.

That's right. Ex-pats. People who posses no right (and never will posses it) to Bermudian status. People who are liable to be kicked off the island every time their work permit comes up for renewal and people who have no attachment to this island other than the fact that its their temporary home.

The Bermuda government has no right to force an Ex-pat into a jury just as it has no right to force one into the regiment.

The Government is going to have to work with the status holders it has. Or perhaps create a few more. There are a few thousand long term residents out there who are being wrongly denied their right to status. They're already here, they're not going anywhere, granting them status isn't putting any further strain on Bermuda's resources. But of course lets not turn this into a rant about why PRC holders should be granted status.


Another possible idea is one that was floated a little while back. Professional jurors drawn from various countries in the Caribbean area and shared amongst the Caribbean nations. Granted it has some problems of its own but, it's certainly an idea that should be discussed because it's quite clear that while Bermuda's legal system needs an overhaul, it would all be for nothing if they can't even put a jury together.

Wishful Thinking

Monday, November 9, 2009

Vaugue? Check. Meaningless? Check. Hypocrisy? Check.

Culture Minister Neletha Butterfield reported today that the possibility of banning discrimination based on sexual orientation under the Human Rights Act was rejected by cabinet earlier this year but, is "still being actively investigated”

Being "actively investigated"?

Does one need to actively investigate whether racism is wrong? Whether sexism is wrong? Whether discrimination based on religion is wrong? The Government's powers of deflection are astounding. It takes real skill, willfully applied to come up with such a meaningless and incredibly vague statement. This year's Throne Speech provides some hope for the cause and yet one cannot ignore the worrying prospect that this announcement raises the possibility of. Inaction.

For a government that champions the fight against discrimination on racial grounds it is once again the epitome of hypocrisy to attempt to stand in the way of the protection of the most basic human rights of all people regardless of their sexual orientation. One can only hope that sense and justice prevails but, Bermuda has an uncanny ability to ensure that hoping for the best ends up as nothing more than...

Wishful Thinking

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Young Black Bermudian Males

The 200+ long report on the plight of Bermuda's young black males is a damning indictment of a school system that leaves 50% of BBM's "on the wall".

While recognizing a purely racial gap in employment pay (given the monetary value of $1,600 dollars) the report clearly highlights the differences in chosen industries and the differences in educational achievements (degrees etc.) as major factors in the disparity in that area.

The report also cites the idea that BBM's are better suited to the trades (i.e. working with their hands) as another major issue.

Finally the lack of proper information on college applications and guidance in that area are also adversely affecting the prospects of BBM's according to the study.

All in all one must take the report in the spirit it is intended. Not as another weapon to be thrown in the argument on race relations in Bermuda but, rather as a guide to making a change for the betterment of all of Bermuda. It highlights a number of possible solutions to Bermuda's problems which centre around the idea of paying closer attention to the at risk students and ensuring they make it through their education and therefore open up so many more opportunities to themselves then they would have otherwise. The author of the report commented on the topic of whether he would do another report at a later date that he has done his study, it is now up to us to make the changes.

The youth are the future of society, the future movers and shakers that will form the Bermuda of the future. Prime examples of these youth leaders can already be seen in sport, Youth Parliament and various initiatives that take place through the year including the UN Youth Conference but, what is the point if a significant section of our society is left to fall by the wayside? The key to any functioning democracy is an educated populace. It's about time our Government sped up the long promised reforms that have been expected ever since the Hopkins report in 2007. The mention of education in this years throne speech is promising but, as always we must try not to get our hopes up and end up with only another years worth of...

Wishful Thinking.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

They Just Keep Coming and Coming!

Two reports in so many days!

The report on Young Bermudian Black Males and the Bermuda First Report released today are both key reports that will dictate much of the policy as Bermuda moves forward.

I hope to give my own opinions on the two reports in the coming days, it certainly is a lot to read.

The important thing is that these reports are actually acted upon. There is no good commissioning report after report, coming to profound conclusions about the issues that affect our country and then letting the recommendations go unheeded. The head of the team that wrote the report said it best when he said:

"I am a researcher and I enjoy what I do but I want to see what you do with my study."

"Do you need another study and another study? Do something with it. Act."

Hopefully that is exactly what our government will do.

Wishful Thinking

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Kids Are All Right

A Times Online article found here:

The kids are all right in a chamber with attitude

Funmi Abari

Funmi Abari, who put the case against tuition fees with force and grace, standing at the dispatch box yesterday

For a brief moment yesterday the Prime Minister of Britain appeared to be young, black and female. And, you know what, if I shut my eyes and suspended real life, it was almost believable. Her name was Funmi Abari and she is 16 and from Haringey. As I watched her argue the case against free tuition with grace and not a little force, I couldn’t help thinking that she could teach a thing or two to Gordon Brown, 58, from Fife.

“Tuition fees should not be abolished. It’s unrealistic, unsustainable and not for the best interest of all young people and those yet to come,” she cried to shouts of “hear hear”. “But lowering the fees — hell, yes, that is fair.”

“Whooooooo,” cried the chamber of 300 MYPs (Members of the Youth Parliament), who then broke into riotious applause.

What a hoot it was when the MYPs came to Westminster yesterday. And what a shock to see the chamber actually reflecting real life. There was more ethnic diversity in one half of one row on what would be the government benches than in our entire Parliament of 646 MPs. I found it quite moving to just look down and see such tremendous variety.

It is the first time in the history of Parliament that anyone other than MPs have been allowed to use the chamber. Actually I can see why the previous Speaker was so loath to allow this. For the kids were all right yesterday, despite the mad outfits (flip-flops in the chamber — and that was a teacher) and even madder hairdos. (At one point the Leader of the Opposition was a young woman with wild red hair and a pearl tiara headband.) The entire event was a triumph for the current Speaker, John Bercow, who was levitating with happiness in the chair. Sadly, I must also report that he was, at times, patronising in the extreme. At one point he explained democracy by telling them what happens if you don’t like your MP: “You can change your choice. That’s the beauty of our system.” But the kids didn’t even roll their eyes. They are probably used to being told irritating things by adults which they mostly then ignore.

A few MPs came to watch proceedings from the visitors’ gallery. There was Richard Shepherd, who, at 66, has lived four times longer than many below. The Commons official photographer was there, his lenses trained. (There are no photographs allowed in the chamber normally.) Harriet Harman was beetling around. It was amazing how, when surrounded by all that youth, the real politicians quickly began to look rather unreal.

It is the best debate on tuition fees I have heard. “Why should the people who get up at 6 o’clock in the morning to work as a dustman or my father, who didn’t go to university and works as a builder, pay for my education?” said one young man. “I should be the one to incur the debts and the pleasures afterwards.”

But, argued a young woman from Scotland: “Education is the only way out of poverty.” When she was interrupted, she bit right back: “Excuse me, I’m speaking.” This got yet more whoops.

One young woman asked what was the point of “busting your hump” to get good A levels if you couldn’t afford to go on to university? The Hansard scribes, trained by MI5 never to react, didn’t move a facial muscle. Still, I think “busting your hump” is an absolute first here. For one day only this was a chamber with attitude.


The Youth are an important part of every society. They are it's future, the movers and shakers of tomorrow. They stand to benefit from the successes and suffer for the failures of governments for much of their lives and often they will be the ones tasked with fixing the problems.

And do you want to know a secret? They're not as stoopid as some people might like to believe. The youth are too often judged by the actions of the minority and viewed as unsuitable for involvement in the discussion and policy making of government. Thankfully Bermuda has for a good many years offered the youth, in some small way, an opportunity to break down those views of them and make their voices heard through Youth Parliament Bermuda.

There's still a long way to go for the youth and in many ways the youth are let down or let themselves down but, times are changing. Education is one of the major obstacles that even today holds the youth back and threatens their future success. Until that is fixed our Government fails the youth each and every day. I don't have the answers and I'm sure as hell not an expert but, I'd say taking further action as suggested by the Hopkins report is a start and I think implementing the Cambridge curriculum is a good start but, it is just that. A start. I am confident of Elvin James to make the necessary changes if the will power can be found which I hope that it can.

But then again... this blog is called...

Wishful Thinking