Jul 29, 2015 8:00 am
Tempting as it may be, Mr Editor, politics takes a back seat today, except for a big shout out to the CJ and a thank you for the mention.
The dust has still to settle anyhow and it’s Cup Match, people: in my mind, there really ought not to be any doubt or dispute, division or discord over the pre-eminent place the Annual Classic holds in our national calendar.
That’s the point I want to make this week.
It is Bermuda’s...
Jul 24, 2015 8:00 am
It’s the politics of it all, Mr Editor. There’s no need to read between the lines. It’s there for all to see. We know it when we see it or when we hear it. Had enough yet?
Two recent matters on and off the Hill underscore the point.
First, the censure motion against the Speaker: anyone who listened to the debate has a pretty good idea what was at the root of this action. BTW, if you didn’t catch the debate live, you still can,...
Jul 17, 2015 8:00 am
There must be some way to break this relentless, repetitive cycle we see played out each week on the Hill. That, Mr Editor, is the refrain I constantly hear whether by phone, by e-mail and/or out and about on the street — and often in response to columns I write, such as last week’s.
There will be no magic breakthrough, I tell them. Old habits die hard. Strong effort is required to bring about much needed change and, behind it, the will...
Jul 10, 2015 8:00 am
If our environment shapes our behaviour, Mr Editor, observers must wonder what's wrong with our House on the Hill. You may think I jest; I do not.
Somebody Famous (hint) got me to thinking about this again when he e-mailed me a recent clipping from the London Evening Standard. Thank you.
“Turn Parliament into a museum”, screamed the headline. No joke. The story was apparently prompted by plans over there to refit their...
Jul 3, 2015 8:00 am
Nothing quite like being between a rock and a hard place, Mr Editor. It is no fun and you can’t bail. It’s very much like that in politics.
There are two big issues that are looming that are not going to go away:
• The decriminalisation or, maybe even, the legalisation and lawful control of marijuana
• Same-sex marriage and equality for all under the law.
Both are coming to our shores — if you catch my...
Jul 3, 2015 8:00 am
No, dear readers, I didn’t miss it. We have a new news sheriff in town and I appreciate that I am now writing to a new Editor (pictured).
First, my congratulations, Mr Editor: the first black Editor of The Royal Gazette after centuries of publication. It is truly a historic first for Bermuda, and for the newspaper and for all of its readers. Title this one Mr Smith Comes To Par-la-Ville, a modern, local twist, if you will, on that...
Jun 26, 2015 8:00 am
Charleston — Maybe like me, Mr Editor, you are still trying to process and fathom what was by any standard an unspeakable crime, certainly, but most definitely a hate crime fuelled by racism.
I feel not just for the victims, their families and friends, but for the entire black community.
I am astonished, too, not only by the heinous act of this magnitude by a deranged young man fuelled by racism, but by the Christian witness,...
Jun 26, 2015 8:00 am
This week I am going to get personal, Mr Editor, but in a good way. It was only two weeks ago in my column on unsung heroes that I mentioned my uncle Bobby Barritt and his influence on my decision to go into politics. The tributes which have appeared since his death on Sunday have been spot on, but nonetheless I would like to add my own.
First, to borrow a line from Teddy Kennedy’s eulogy for his brother Robert, my uncle would not want...
Jun 19, 2015 8:00 am
It is a hard read but a good read, Mr Editor. In fact, it should be considered required reading for those who want to better understand the proposed airport project.
I am, of course, referring to what has come to be more commonly known as the Deloitte Report which is appropriately also titled, Government of Bermuda, Appraisal of Bermuda Airport Development Business Case.
Few will find it easy to wade through all 200 pages, a...
Jun 12, 2015 8:00 am
This week’s column, Mr Editor, is for those who have been wondering — questions readers have asked, and sorry to have kept you all waiting.
Wonder No 1: No, I am not advocating that we let bygones be bygones when it comes to past overspends and questionable practices.
One reader, quite agitated, stopped me in the street about this. So let me be clear(er): the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) should be pursuing them vigorously,...
Jun 5, 2015 8:00 am
The detail, Mr Editor, is where you find the devil — so often followed by discord, division and disagreement when people don’t like what they eventually discover in the fine print. Legislation can be like that if you are not careful.
The Health Insurance (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act is a perfect example, tabled two weeks ago and now eligible for debate and adoption.
We all recall the concerns the Bill prompted, and which...
May 29, 2015 8:00 am
That was a pity about PATI, Mr Editor: one of the first public steps to see the light of day and it was very much a misstep – and that’s putting it mildly. It went beyond the usual foot in mouth when the identity of a PATI user/requester was revealed publicly. A Cabinet minister, no less, breached that key provision on the floor of the House.
Okay, sure, there was the subsequent apology for what was termed an inadvertent mistake, but...
May 27, 2015 8:00 am
Criticism is good. Criticism is healthy. Personally, I welcome it. If it is constructive, so much the better. Critical thinking is, well, critical, to informed national debate on the issues of the day. Like on the airport, yes.
But the one thing we can do without, mind you, are the cheap shots. You know the ones, those that are excessively partisan and unnecessarily personal, delivered far too often from behind pseudonyms. I get my...
May 22, 2015 8:00 am
You might think this timely, Mr Editor. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) has come up with recommendations for Codes of Conduct for MPs — and just to be clear this is for the consideration of Legislatures throughout the Commonwealth. Bermuda is no exception. We are on their mailing list. We’re members.
The circular, which went out just last month, is a bit of a long read but nonetheless makes for interesting reading. For...
May 19, 2015 8:00 am
Here is my take, Mr Editor.
Politics is very much broad strokes. First impressions tend to stick. Detail is important, sure, and woe betide should you get caught out for failing to pay attention to detail. Those chickens, my friends, have a way of coming home to roost — eventually, and usually sooner rather than later.
Those e-mails: It isn’t how much they number. It is what they tell you. Aecon appeared pretty damn keen, outright...
May 15, 2015 8:00 am
Me and the mates got to talking recently, Mr Editor, always a dangerous thing I know, and the topic was home ownership, in Bermuda mostly. We are agreed: it is more than just a worthwhile pursuit.
Owning your own home is something which all people should be encouraged to pursue, and it is something which we wish for all our children.
Home owners are also generally viewed as the bedrock of any community, the backbone of any stable...
May 8, 2015 8:00 am
There’s no sense crying over spilled milk, right? Wrong — and certainly not when it involves taxpayers’ money and politics.
It seems also to depend, Mr Editor, on whose milk we happen to be talking about and how fresh or sour it was when it was spilled.
Take the Auditor’s Report on Port Royal Golf Course by way of example. You might think it an obvious case in point. It is certainly the case that makes my point. It is...
May 1, 2015 8:00 am
Some things never change, Mr Editor. Or so it seems. It was back to the future when I recently had occasion to pick up a copy of the Report of The Royal Commission into the 1977 Disturbances, better known as the Pitt Report, and thumbed through some of its recommendations.
One of the concerns back then, believe it or not, was the way in which Bermuda’s legislators conducted our public business.
“We also observe”, the Commissioners...
Apr 24, 2015 8:00 am
Be careful what you wish for. Funny that, Mr Editor, but the admonition is probably best appreciated on hindsight.
I have in mind here PATI, the Public Access to Information legislation which became effective (finally) on April’s first, April Fool’s Day — and whether there was any significance to that date remains to be seen.
People have been asking me what I think about it: quite a lot, actually.
I was a long-time...
Apr 17, 2015 8:00 am
We remain stuck on stuck. Or so it seems, Mr Editor. The blame game rages unabated as each party seeks to put the blame where they each think it (self) justifiably lies — at the other party’s doorstep.
The approach is exceedingly helpful, er, unhelpful, depending I suppose on which side you happen to support.
But I wonder if, for just once, the debate on what’s best for Bermuda could be lifted to new heights. You might not think...
Apr 10, 2015 8:00 am
Exhortations to do better are fine as far as they go, Mr Editor, which usually isn’t very far, really. But maybe, like me, you cannot help but think that we could use something more.
Sure, we should call out bad behaviour when we see it and condemn in strong terms what we regard as irresponsible. What the heck, if nothing else it makes us feel like we have done something. But whether it will actually change anything is another matter.
Apr 2, 2015 8:00 am
Leftovers and loose ends this week, Mr Editor, as we catch up on correspondence and queries.
First off, one reader wanted to know more about the members of the Legislative Salaries Review Board that by law is supposed to review parliamentary salaries every two years and to make recommendations. Good question.
I did check the Government website (www.gov.bm), which lists committees and boards, but it wasn’t there.
Mar 27, 2015 8:00 am
Forget for a moment (if you can) recent events on the Hill. The story of that week, possibly the month, or maybe even the year, Mr Editor, may yet turn out to be the one headlined: “Charman: Corporate tax would benefit Bermuda.”
Heads were spinning, phones ringing and tongues wagging, I bet, after that one — and I won’t even get into what was tearing up the blogs. It was no early April’s Fool joke either. It read like Mr Charman was...
Mar 23, 2015 8:00 am
There must be some other way, Mr Editor, and of course there is.
It is just a matter of will and reorganisation on the Hill. We just need Government to lead the way and Ministers to start by tightening their briefs. Say what?
I am, of course, referring to the recently concluded annual Budget Debate, which actually very rarely resembles debate and all too often, if you happen to tune in (good luck), sounds more like remedial...
Mar 20, 2015 8:00 am
It ain’t easy. Mr Editor, never was — and most likely never will be. Think about it for a minute: long days, late nights, three times a week for two weeks. A Budget debate that is anything but a debate. Two parties, two viewpoints and some very strong differences of opinion — and that’s putting it mildly: maybe too mildly in view of recent events. Invariably decisions that go against you and, wham, bam, thank you ma’am, it’s a wonder that all...
Mar 13, 2015 8:00 am
Readers write, Mr Editor, and I am grateful. They are never wrong and I generally enjoy what they have to say. This week I feature what one astute reader had to share with me: the views of the retired head of the UK Civil service, Lord O’Donnell, on the importance of the work of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) across the pond.
This reader has obviously been keeping up with what I have been writing about PAC here and its most recent...
Mar 6, 2015 8:00 am
Here’s a novel exercise to undertake, Mr. Editor, when assessing the Annual Budget Debate. Let’s look for a change at the issues and approaches on which the Government and Opposition appear to agree and put to one side for a moment the differences, the real, the imagined and the manufactured. You might be surprised (pleasantly, I hope) at the number of items on the list. Heck, you might also start to think that there is sufficient common...
Feb 27, 2015 8:00 am
This is serious business, Mr Editor, governing Bermuda. If you had no sense of how serious — and that’s no small “if”, you do now.
The 2015/16 Budget Statement makes it pretty clear, although I agree pretty is not exactly the right word here.
What makes it even clearer is the apparent about-face the Minister of Finance and his Government are about to take. Despite signs that the economy may be turning around, albeit slowly, and...
Feb 20, 2015 8:00 am
Tough: that is what we have been told to expect with the 2015-16 Government Budget. We will soon know whether that means tough for those who had to put it together, or tough on all the rest of us. Or both.
No guesses or predictions or special wishes here; the document is drafted and ready for delivery, and instead today, Mr Editor, a kind of political potpourri of leftovers as we brace ourselves for the worst. But you will detect a...
Feb 18, 2015 8:00 am
Traffic, Mr Editor, traffic: it seems everyone has an opinion about the problem and the solution — and why not?
We are all drivers, riders or users of the road in some way, form or fashion; and if we are all a part of the problem — and we are — then we should all be part of the solution.
Road summits are good. So, too, will be any sustained multifaceted education campaign. But a one-off big police crackdown, I am not so sure.
Feb 16, 2015 8:00 am
PAC, man, is no game. Nor should it be, Mr Editor. At least not the one I am constantly going on about. Readers will know where I stand on the matter of the Public Accounts Committee. It is long since time that this bipartisan parliamentary committee started to flex its legislative muscle and got on with the job of tracking how our Government manages our money and not just years after the fact, after funds have been spent and the damage has...
Feb 13, 2015 8:00 am
Talk about juxtaposition Mr Editor. Former Premier and astute businessman Sir John Swan thinks we are about to fall off the edge of a cliff. An OBA spokesperson affirms her party’s confidence in a confidence survey of Bermuda businessmen which indicates that we may be turning the corner, and declares that the Government is on the right track.
Confused? Don’t be. They are only opinions and both may be right. We may yet go...
Feb 11, 2015 8:00 am
It was only a small slip, of information, Mr. Editor, but it struck me as a possible tell. In the throes of the dispute over furlough days, the BPSU declared that they had been threatened with a 19 per cent hike in health insurance premiums. Around about the same time, the rest of us were put on notice by the Finance Minister to expect (his words now) a tough Budget in a little over a week’s time.
Inquiring minds begin to wonder; no,...
Jan 31, 2015 8:00 am
Maybe, Mr Editor, it is a waste of time and space going on about the need for greater collaboration and cooperation, as one keen reader of mine has suggested.
Sure, they are fine words, he says, that need to be said from time to time, but nothing is going to change.
On one thing he and I agree: nothing is going to change until the people who have the power to bring about change, make change happen.
He thinks that unlikely.
Jan 30, 2015 8:00 am
Hindsight, as they say Mr Editor, is 20/20 vision. It is easy to say that they should have done this or they should not have done that. Nonetheless, there are always lessons to be learned from looking back.
As I watched this week’s events unfold, I got to thinking about the SAGE Commission and the Commissioners’ recommendations. You remember them, don’t you?
Commissioned by the One Bermuda Alliance Government, the fulfillment of...
Jan 26, 2015 8:00 am
The DPP decision was as confounding as it was disappointing, Mr Editor, on two fronts.
We know this much: the appointment is in the discretion of the Governor. The Bermuda Constitution Order does not require him to consult with anyone or any one body. He is free to appoint as he sees fit. Mind you, he did tell us that HE did do some consulting; his decision was in line with advice received from a “Judiciary and Legal Services...
Jan 23, 2015 8:00 am
Calls for collaboration and cooperation sound and look an awful lot like wishful thinking, don’t you think Mr Editor?
If the banter on the blogs is any indication, we have people on either side who keep scorecards, lengthy lists of the wrongs that each party has committed or of things that have been said, one about the other, that point up why neither side will ever work together — or should not.
Stop it people. We have got to...
Jan 20, 2015 8:00 am
Politics offers up plenty of twists and turns, Mr Editor, some of them predictable and some not so predictable. The unpredictable can be a pain. When asked what could scupper his government’s plans former United Kingdom Prime Minister Harold Macmillan famously replied: “Events, dear boy, events”.
That we understand. But politicians who twist and turn is an entirely different matter, and while political contortions may be readily...
Jan 19, 2015 8:00 am
It was a criticism that was bound to be levelled, Mr Editor, and so it was. Bermuda could use an America’s Cup approach to public education.
Everyone knows it too, and have known for a long, long time. How long? Long enough.
Our political parties have certainly recognised this — at least when it comes to acknowledging the problem in their campaigns and their promises to fix it.
The need for educational reform has been a...
Dec 23, 2014 8:00 am
This letter was prompted in part by my column headlined “Important to tie your camel” about the need for a stronger more active and robust Public Accounts Committee and the need for greater and closer oversight of Government spending.
The following is a list of anti-corruption steps that can be implemented by the Bermuda Government to dramatically reduce political corruption.
Many of these steps have been enacted into law in...
Dec 23, 2014 8:00 am
This letter was penned by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous and was sent not long after my columns following the Throne Speech, one of which was entitled “Constructive work for idle hands”.
The speech underscores the OBA’s inability to sustain communication with the community. There’s a major “say-do” gap. It’s hard to argue with what’s been said in the Throne Speech, but harder still to follow what ends up being...
Dec 12, 2014 8:00 am
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither apparently was the Casino Gaming Act. This, Mr. Editor, is legislation of elephantine proportions: some 100 plus pages of over 200 clauses that any reasonable person might regard as complex, if not complicated, most especially for those not versed in legalese, and certainly difficult to digest in one sitting whether in the House or out.
You have to wonder though as it highlights once again the...
Dec 12, 2014 8:00 am
There isn’t just a hole to fill on page 4, Mr Editor. There is a hole in all our hearts. I am saddened to know that my column will no longer get to bask in the glow of Peter’s good humour. He was a great companion to all of us each Friday over the years. His wit and his wisdom and his charm, evident each week in his cartoons, will be sorely missed.
May Peter now rest in peace – with that unmistakable trademark smile on his face, I am...
Dec 5, 2014 8:00 am
By John Barritt
Readers write, Mr Editor, and they are seldom wrong – as well you know. Much like voters, which most of them probably are. This week I share a few. Comments, that is.
Feedback was strong on recent columns on the need for stronger parliamentary oversight of Government spending whether it be the proposed new airport project, the recently completed acute care wing of the hospital or the Port Royal Golf Course...
Nov 28, 2014 8:00 am
By John Barritt
The Arab proverb has it right, Mr Editor: Trust in God but tie your camel. It is good sound advice that makes even more sense (and dollars and cents) when it comes to Government and Government spending. Just look at the track record — and what better place to begin than with reports of the Auditor General. They make the case better than I can.
The Port Royal golf course “special report” (which, as it turns out, is...
Nov 21, 2014 8:00 am
No need for sub-titles, Mr Editor, or interpreters. No need to read between the lines either. I shall try and keep it plain and simple and short. I tell my grandchildren all the time, as I did my children before them, two wrongs don’t make a right. I know, I know, you say that you didn’t start it and I hear what you say you heard, but that’s not the point. I want you to do better than that. Try, please.
Now you and I both know it’s an...
Nov 14, 2014 8:00 am
Maybe, Mr Editor, there is another way to make the point. Hurricanes do tend to bring out the best in us. We all face a common enemy. We all share a common goal. We cooperate and we collaborate and we all get to participate in cleaning up and turning the Island around. We are pretty good at it too. So the call goes forth, a plea even, for a similar community approach to the economic challenges we now face. Enter Throne Speech 2014.
Nov 7, 2014 8:00 am
They’re back, Mr Editor. The House on the Hill reopens today after a 16-week absence with all the usual pomp and pageantry the colony can muster for the occasion. But, as one faithful reader has already speculated, the dignity and civility on parade today will very likely quickly dissipate as members of the two parties get down to business and go after one another.
Okay, maybe. But not necessarily on the first day back. Tradition has...
Oct 31, 2014 8:00 am
We are in a hole. Our Government is in a financial hole. We all know what needs to be done, where we need to get to. The disagreement is over how. But surely, Mr Editor, that comes as no surprise … to anyone.
Yes, we expect our Government to lead. The governing party was elected promising to do just that, ie to turn this economy around and to improve Government finances. But lead does not mean dictate.
People want to be...
Oct 24, 2014 8:00 am
“A plague upon this howling!”
With apologies and credit to Will, Tim, I lift a few lines from his play to make a few points about the still-vex’d Bermoothes. Vex’d? Then maybe, Mr. Editor, but not so much now. Thankfully.
“I do now let loose my opinion: hold it no longer: this is no fish but an islander, that hath lately suffered by a thunderbolt.” [Trinculo]
Well maybe not a thunderbolt. For all I know, there may have been...
Oct 10, 2014 8:00 am
By John Barritt
Consultation, Mr Editor, I am all for it. Our people deserve the opportunity to be engaged on the issues of the day and the difficult decisions facing their government. I would even go so far as to say that as voters they are entitled. Attempts this week are therefore welcomed. They are steps in the right direction. But they are only steps and whether it is a question of too little too late — or more accurately perhaps,...
Oct 3, 2014 8:00 am
The joke is, Mr Editor, that we obtained responsible government almost 50 years ago with passage of the Bermuda Constitution Order 1968 and that it has grown increasingly irresponsible ever since. You think I jest. I don’t.
It depends on how you think government should work. But let’s get one thing straight right from the start. I am not going after the UBP or the PLP or the OBA. Rather this is a critique of how our government has...
Sep 26, 2014 8:00 am
You thought maybe I might touch on Scotland this week, right? Wrong. Try Botswana. Yes, Botswana, Mr Editor, and if space permits I think I can bring it back to what happened in Scotland. Stay with me now.
I have just finished reading a fascinating book, Why Nations Fail, the product of 15 years of painstaking research, co-authored by Daron Acemoglu and James A Robinson, one a professor in economics at MIT and the other a professor of...
Sep 19, 2014 8:00 am
Speaking is relatively easy. The thinking bit is harder. So always be sure the brain is in gear before putting the jaw in motion: I have never forgotten that admonition. The same is true for writing, don’t you think, Mr Editor? Well, we try. So when readers write it gets even better; right on, readers, even when, no especially when, you think we‘ve got it wrong. What was it that Alan Greenspan, the famed US economist was reputed to have said...
Sep 12, 2014 8:00 am
Functional unity is a beautiful thing, I reckon Mr Editor. But like beauty, functionality is in the eye of the beholder, or perhaps when it comes to politics in the eyes of the beholden. Of course, we would all like to see a little more functional unity among all of those who constitute our parliamentary functionaries, known collectively the Legislature, whose chief function, according to the Bermuda Constitution Order, is to make laws for...
Sep 5, 2014 8:00 am
Position is the art of gunnery, Mr Editor, or words to that effect. A former comrade in arms, politically speaking of course, not literally please, used to remind us of this at critical junctures in caucus discussions on issues of the day. I think we all understood what he meant. Strategy is important in politics. Timing isn’t everything either, but it’s important too.
Two very recent events prompted the remembrance and I will come on...
Aug 29, 2014 8:00 am
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s an old saw, readily understood by most, which I have always rather liked, Mr Editor, and that’s because I also happen to think the reverse is true.
That’s why, for those who wonder, I go on from time to time (actually pretty regularly, I will concede) about the need for parliamentary reform and why I believe it was one of the keys to changing the way in which we run our government and conduct our...
Aug 22, 2014 8:00 am
People are looking for answers, Mr Editor, and when people want answers they start by asking questions. Hmmn, questions. Fair enough.
On the Hill in the House, there is a parliamentary version: Question Period. A fair chunk of time is set aside each morning, our representatives meet to give members an opportunity to question Ministers of the Government. Albeit narrow in scope and limited in purpose, the goal here isn’t just to elicit...
Aug 15, 2014 8:00 am
This is one for the books, Mr. Editor. Literally. In the Canadian province of New Brunswick the Progressive Conservative Government there brought in legislation that requires the government of the day to provide voters with a fiscal update of public finances 60 days before an election, and further that all political parties contesting the election tabulate and publish a costing of their promises in advance of polling day. Wow. This particular...
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