Nov 29, 2013 8:00 am
Talk about calling it like you see it. There is this paragraph very early on in the Report of the SAGE Commission that is very hard to get over. It reads: “The Commission has identified that the Civil and Public Service does not have sufficient leadership skills and capabilities at the right management levels, nor are the necessary skills and capabilities present in an appropriate number of individuals, to meet the challenges that Bermuda is...
Nov 22, 2013 8:00 am
It was an effective and memorable advertising campaign that Avis once ran: we’re number two, we try harder. This same principle is probably equally applicable in politics, most especially in two party contests where finishing second means last, out of the running and definitely without power.
So you have to try harder, not just to win back the confidence of a majority of the people, but also to be noticed, to be heard and to be...
Nov 8, 2013 8:00 am
Throne Speeches tend to be overrated, I think, mostly by the politicians and those who write them- and, no, they are not always one and the same. A wordsmith (or two?) is often required to weave together all the disparate pieces which often come in the form of contributions from each of the various Ministries. The hope and the aim is a coherent and appealing plan of action that reads well. It was ever thus.
But in all my years, first as...
Nov 1, 2013 8:00 am
A few further words this week on collaboration or clobberation if you prefer, prompted in part by a new book which I have just finished reading: “Tip and The Gipper: When Politics Worked”.
It is written by Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s “Hardball” fame who worked for the former US Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill.
The Gipper was of course US President Ronald Regan. It was the subtitle that first...
Oct 25, 2013 8:00 am
Desperate times often call for desperate measures. On the other hand, desperate people are known to do desperate things. The two are not mutually exclusive. Discerning the difference is key — and that’s not always that easy to do. Washington D.C. is a prime example. But, hey, we’ve got our own problems so let’s stick with what’s been happening (or not) here in Bermuda.
The SAGE Commission is about to deliver its much anticipated report.
Oct 18, 2013 8:00 am
Here’s one voting option you might not expect to see on the ballot here in Bermuda any time soon: None of the above. I kid you not. The right to exercise the vote this way was recently won in India — and thanks here to the keen reader who sent me a news report on the decision of their Supreme Court which ordered India’s Electoral Commission to provide a slot on ballots which would literally give voters the option to choose “none of the...
Oct 11, 2013 8:00 am
Disclosure of interests by parliamentarians has touched off fierce debate — in some circles — and so it should. It is one of the issues with which the Select Committee on Elections is trying to come to grips, and for good reason. Modern practice today requires more disclosure, rather than less.
Oct 4, 2013 8:00 am
Collaboration huh? It’s a word that has been bandied about a lot lately and it is starting to look like it means different things to different people, depending on the context, who is using it and for what reason. Confused? Don’t be. How about we start by looking look up the definition. The concise Oxford English Dictionary is a good place to begin. Mine reads: -
“1. Work jointly on an activity of project;
Sep 27, 2013 8:00 am
Neverendum talk of will they or won’t they hold a referendum on gaming looks like it may soon be coming to an end. Maybe. We are told that there will be a vote early next year before the next Budget.
However, this assurance comes after we were first told that we could expect one either late this summer, or early in the fall. So much I suppose for the fierce urgency of now: it will have been a year since the OBA was elected.
Sep 20, 2013 8:00 am
Houston, we’ve got a problem. It’s a great line from a pretty good movie (Apollo 13) and by its simplicity conveys effectively what lies ahead. Telescopic vision is not required. Eyes Wide Open (not Shut) will do. So it is, I think, with the work of the SAGE Commission.
Sep 6, 2013 8:00 am
It isn’t rocket science. It isn’t brain surgery. Collaboration, while challenging, is not impossible. But it does require the political will and major effort to achieve the possible. Otherwise, like the word transparency and its equally attractive twin, accountability, calls for collaboration and cooperation are meaningless unless they are translated into demonstrable and meaningful action.
Aug 30, 2013 8:00 am
Funny or not, sometimes it pays to have a sense of humour about the serious matters of state. Case in point: In response to predictions about more job losses before the year is out Finance Minister Bob Richards was quoted as saying, “statisticians don’t run governments, economists do”. Now, I don’t know about you but on reading this I kept thinking there was a punch line there somewhere. Like: “Really! So that’s the problem.” Or: “Okay, now we...
Aug 23, 2013 8:00 am
Drug testing to detect and refer for treatment is a good thing; drug testing simply to catch and expose users not so good. While a combination of the two may not be so bad, to focus exclusively on drug testing is to sidestep a wider debate that needs to be had. It ignores events and developments elsewhere which are pointing to a new direction — and this is the point to which I alluded in my column last week.
Aug 16, 2013 8:00 am
These are the dog days of summer when the heat and humidity tends to get to us all. So I wasn’t too surprised when one astute reader drew me up on my pointed comments last week over the difference between full-time and part-time cabinet ministers.
Aug 9, 2013 8:00 am
Cabinets come in all shapes and sizes depending on needs, except maybe in politics where size is important. Carpentry it isn’t. Size matters because it is often a numbers game of deciding who is in and who is out.
Never ever discount the mathematics of politics. We currently have a cabinet of 13 under the new One Bermuda Alliance Government, which is practically the maximum permitted under the Bermuda Constitution Order 1968.
Aug 5, 2013 8:00 am
Eyes tend to glaze over when discussing how the operation of the Legislature might be improved. I understand. It isn’t a high priority for a lot of people and it doesn’t make for the sexiest news. But the importance of reform on the Hill is starting to catch on, and not just because MPs have finally decided to set up a committee to look into how this can be achieved. Readers of this column have been responding with some useful ideas of their own...
Jul 31, 2013 8:00 am
View from Off the Hill
Sixes and fours, bumpers, googlies and spin. Its Cup Match folks and not another day on the Hill. That also means its a short week so I will stick with a little quick line and length, which is never a bad approach off and on the field.
Jul 26, 2013 8:00 am
Status for investment in lieu of austere measures is arguably a clever and compelling way of framing the argument. Austerity is not proving that popular in any number of jurisdictions, let alone here, and there is growing doubt as to its efficacy in any event. But please, lets also recognise from the outset that any opening up of status will be an emotive issue for a lot of Bermudians, mostly for black Bermudians but white as well, and for...
Jul 19, 2013 8:00 am
You cant beat the wit of Oscar Wilde. I live in constant fear of not being misunderstood, he once lamented. Of course Mr Wilde was no politician. Politicians have the opposite lament: they want to be always understood whatever they say however they say it. The recent SAGE Commission controversy is a case in point.
Jul 12, 2013 8:00 am
Talking of modernising the Legislature, I was very recently reminded of that great line from the movie Network when TV anchorman Peter Finch encourages thousands of his viewers to throw open their windows and shout in unison like him: I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!
Jul 5, 2013 8:00 am
Watchdogs or lapdogs? If asked, Mr Acting Editor, Im pretty sure I know which role the voting public would prefer their MPs play on the Hill.
There is no good reason why backbench MPs, i.e. those who do not sit Cabinet, should be reduced only to voices who parrot the party script, with some variation here and there, and who must vote the party line no matter their own personal views.
My view is that they deserve more to do.
Jun 28, 2013 8:00 am
Different day, same old story, Mr Acting Editor, except this time arguably a better result, depending, I suppose, on which side of the divide you are on. An Opposition motion to establish a bipartisan committee finally succeeded on the Hill. Cant say I have been there and done that.
Jun 21, 2013 8:00 am
Riddle me this, Mr Acting Editor, as we reflect on the recent equal rights debate. How is it that those who espouse tolerance, exhibit so little for those who have views with which they disagree? I am not just talking about reported exchanges on the Hill, but those who also took to the blogs, posting their views, venomous, and vitriolic, on occasion, most of them volleyed from behind pseudonyms.
Jun 14, 2013 8:00 am
The dreaded i-word was bound to come up, I suppose Mr Acting Editor. It was too good an opportunity for some to pass up on the opportunity to revive the issue of independence for Bermuda. I suppose too, that like clocks that have stopped ticking, it will eventually turn out to be right one of these times. But not this time, I dont think; at least not yet.
Jun 7, 2013 8:00 am
Forget Commission. Sage advice was required. Like that of a former colleague of mine who, whenever we found ourselves in difficulty, used to love to remind us of the advice he received from a wily veteran before him: If you are in a hole, put down the shovel, stop digging. Simple, straightforward and sound, Mr Acting Editor. Effective too.
May 31, 2013 8:00 am
It is a general rule of thumb most understand: if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it must be a duck. But few ever think or care what kind of duck. The same might be said of a mounting challenge Bermuda is facing. Tax haven or offshore financial centre? Tax evasion or tax avoidance? Illegal or immoral? Aggressive or defensive?
May 17, 2013 8:00 am
Its been nine weeks since MPs trundled up the Hill to do business.
A nice break, you might think, but lets not be too harsh here. The work of Government doesnt just stop because the House is in recess. Besides we all know that the real work doesnt happen up there on the Hill, it is down there around the Cabinet table that the actual decisions are made, and then taken to caucus for review and approval.
May 10, 2013 8:00 am
Ventriloquism isn’t just for dummies, Mr Acting Editor. It can also be a very useful and effective political tool. No, I am not referring to bloggers and petty party hacks posturing and posing behind pseudonyms. Those people are about as subtle (and recognisable) as a slap in the face. I am thinking of something a little more sophisticated and elaborate than that. Here’s how it works: —
May 3, 2013 8:00 am
Spare me the wisecracks about great minds and fools but that was some coincidence Mr Acting Editor, two of your Friday columnists DJLT and JB separately and independent of each other, as you know, reflecting on the tragic events in Boston and each wondering whether Bermuda really has the necessary will to tackle gang warfare in the Island.
Apr 26, 2013 8:22 am
See something. Say Something. Know something. Say Something. Those are not just words, Mr Acting Editor, but powerful advice which, when acted upon, can constitute an effective tool in helping to combat crime and bring criminals to justice.
Now think Boston.
Apr 19, 2013 8:00 am
Everyone who lives in Bermuda is an expert in tourism. So am I. But I am going to try and avoid political bickering, the predictable petty ping pong of partisan politics as to whose national plan we are working from, whether the Tourism Authority is really a Board and where the Minister will fit in. Eschew all that, Mr Acting Editor.
Apr 12, 2013 8:00 am
The young are the restless. It is a line for which I cannot take credit. It was a headline that appeared recently in The New York Times. It caught my eye as did the subject matter: how views are changing on the decriminalisation and use of marijuana. A writer by the name of Charles M Blow (yes, real name) was commenting on an April 2013 poll that for the first time showed that more Americans support legalising marijuana than oppose it.
Apr 6, 2013 8:00 am
The issue of financial disclosure for parliamentarians has concerned me for years, Mr Acting Editor. There has always been this nagging feeling that the requirement for disclosure has been honoured more in the breach than in the application. The reason? It is simply not policed like it should be.
Mar 28, 2013 2:35 pm
Short week, short takes, Mr Acting Editor.
Take One, Senate: After 56 hours of Budget Debate up the Hill we get 22 more down the Hill. But it has its uses.
Mar 22, 2013 8:00 am
So often its the little things in life that seem to count the most, Mr Acting Editor, and the big ones not so much. Politics is no exception: things like feral chickens, garbage collection, roads and street lights, letters to the Editor and GP cars.
Mar 15, 2013 8:00 am
Theres no chimney on the House on the Hill, Mr. Acting Editor, so theres no chance of ever seeing the smoke whether black, white or grey. We read and hear instead about the heat, sparked I am sure by the partisan nature of politics. They are after all MPs, not cardinals. Still, as you yourself opined this week, we would all like to think members could raise the bar a little. Ive made a few suggestions myself.
Mar 8, 2013 8:00 am
As far as parliamentary debates go, Mr Acting Editor, the Budget Debate is by no means the Hills equivalent of The Harlem Shake. Not even close. Never was, and likely never will be. Not without some serious changes. For sure it should be something more than the somnambulists dream that it has become over the years (or is it nightmare?).
Mar 1, 2013 10:19 am
That was, Mr Acting Editor, some reality check (pun intended) and it is not one we will be able to cash any time soon. Public debt now stands at $1.469 billion and counting. Our new Government is projecting an operating deficit of a further unprecedented $331 million for the coming financial year and, yes, gasp, they intend to raise the authorised debt ceiling by one more billion dollars to $2.5 billion.
Feb 22, 2013 8:00 am
Bobs your uncle? Not on Budget Day 2013, Mr Acting Editor. The man has some job to do and I dont envy him one bit. You could say that the new Finance Minister in a new Government is stuck between a rock and a hard place, and he hasnt got a lot of room to manoeuvre.
Feb 15, 2013 8:00 am
You know the saying, Mr Acting Editor, the more things change the more they stay the same. The Throne Speech ritual endured once again — with some minor variations. It was long, yes, (45 minutes or so) but it was mercifully short, perhaps pointedly so, on too much vision. Instead, it got down to business pretty quickly and set out in workmanlike fashion all the things on which the new One Bermuda Alliance Government intends to concentrate...
Feb 8, 2013 8:00 am
It is practically an annual ritual, Mr Acting Editor, wishing and wondering what will be in the Throne Speech. Guesses and hopes make for interesting copy, but lets also be realistic about what we can reasonably expect. This is after all a new Government, under new leadership, that has had to hit the ground running.
Jan 25, 2013 1:59 pm
Let me go out on a limb this week, Mr Acting Editor. There are those who question (not unfairly) my apparent preoccupation with process. They think that we ought to be more concerned with turning the economy around, that is generating more business for Bermuda and creating more jobs. I dont disagree. But lets be clear: this is not going to happen overnight. The ship of state tends to move slowly too — and heres my...
Jan 18, 2013 8:00 am
When it comes to working together, Mr Acting Editor, you have to believe that if there is a will there is a way. Certainly it would seem that the stars are aligned for a change in the way our political parties do the countrys business. We have a new Premier, a new Opposition Leader, a new Speaker (will have: no matter who is chosen), and some new blood up and down the Hill, at least a third of the MPs qualify as first-timers and half the...
Jan 11, 2013 8:15 am
You have to admit, Mr Acting Editor, that the idea of inviting a member of the Opposition to sit in the Cabinet had broad appeal — and most likely to that good majority of voters who want to see the two parties working together for the good of Bermuda etc, etc. It was a grand gesture, and I do not doubt for one minute the genuineness of the offer, but it wasnt ever likely to actually work. It would take a brave member of the party...
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