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Rio frequent flyers rack up miles in unsettled questions

Whatever one may think of the most efficient ways to spend $38,000, or whether such a small sum of money in the context of national spending is worth losing a job over, what is undeniable is that the Bermuda Government has made a pig's ear of trying to do the right thing.

Showing solidarity for our athletes competing against all odds at the greatest sporting event on Earth is undoubtedly a good thing. The athletes definitely appreciate whatever support little Bermuda can get on the international stage — even from a politician and their sometimes plastic smiles.

Given that you can never win with the cynics, who will point to an election year upcoming to tarnish Bermudians wishing to support Bermudians away from home, the One Bermuda Alliance was on a hiding to nothing when it was revealed there was ministerial representation in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympic Games. But two ministers? And a permanent secretary?

Michael Dunkley took one on the chin this week when he admitted that the public's concerns over the monies spent for three public servants to travel 5,000 miles on the public dime were “well founded”. What else could the Premier say?

However, what has not been properly established to this point is why.

Why was Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Minister of Home Affairs, in Brazil?

Why did Sylvan Richards resolve to commit to the Games so late that ticket prices were going through the roof?

And why was there a need for Wayne Carey to tag along, when no similar arrrangements were made by Gordon-Pamplin — other than the nugget that his stint in the sports ministry predates Richards's career in politics?

We know how it happened, but why?

As the former sports minister, Gordon-Pamplin was entitled to book travel to support our athletes.

When you consider it, as a former sportswoman of some acclaim — think the former Pat Mouchette, think Young Men's Social Club Bluebirds and think the storied Big Blue Machine — there might have been outcry had she not travelled to Rio. And she does merit credit for getting the booking done early doors, before the opportunistic airlines started toying with supply and demand.

But once Dunkley announced his Cabinet shuffle on May 13, in the wake of the Pathways to Status troubles, there was plenty time to have a rethink and time for the new guy in the remodelled Ministry of Social Development and Sport to sort travel arrangements.

However, if they were indeed operating as a pair of i's, there was never any chance the end result would reflect a well-drilled team. Because there are no ... (you know the saying.)

Hence, we are left with the mess today, with sections of the public calling for heads over an overspend in the region of $10,000 to $15,000.

The figures alone suggest “no chance” but the embarrassment it has caused the Government at a time when it wants to be on the front foot, with the long-awaited Commission of Inquiry in situ, is not ideal and has made it virtually impossible for the spin doctors to disentangle a web of missteps.

Even the commission itself looked set to blow up in the OBA's face when the government-appointed four-man team determined it was correct to look into the very same government over dealings that are yet to be completed — sort of like giving a new hire a statement of employment, only for that employee to wander off the reservation long before the three-month probationary period is up. What to do?

The jury is out over whether Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance and deputy leader of the country, may end up in front of the commission over the airport redevelopment deal. The commission's terms of reference at first glance suggest that LF Wade International Airport, Aecon, Canadian Commercial Corporation, et al are off limits.

But, digging deeper into the “fine print” and you can unearth the grey area that says the commission, in recommendations for the future, may “consider the adequacy of current safeguards and the system of financial accountability for the Government of Bermuda; and make recommendations to prevent and/or to reduce the risk of recurrences of any violation identified and to mitigate financial, operational and reputational risk to the Government of Bermuda”.

This appears to suggest that Sir Anthony Evans and his three lieutenants can effect open season on governments past and present.

We shall see. We have had enough “straightforward fraud” for one day.

Son of the soil returns to give something back

With so much negativity around us, it is good for a change to accentuate the positive and to highlight success stories. Ty-Ron Douglas, PhD is one such success story.

Not only does this son of the soil return to give back to Bermuda as Dr Douglas but he does so as an author, to boot.

The former budding track star and son of the endearing Stanley Douglas — everybody loves Stan — Dr Douglas, who was the subject of a sumptuous Q&A interview with Lifestyle yesterday, has written about what it is to be a black man on an educational journey that takes you from Bermuda to lands far away and back.

Border Crossing Brothas: Black Males Navigating Race, Place and Complex Space will be launched in Bermuda on Tuesday and The Royal Gazette is pleased to announce that we have been granted serialisation rights by the good doctor. so stay tuned for the Monday and Tuesday editions.

The launch is timed perfectly to coincide with the opening of the Fifth Annual International Colloquium on Black Males in Education at The Fairmont Southampton on Wednesday. Dr Douglas will be one of two keynote speakers, the other being Lou Matthews, PhD. So much positivity so as to be electric.

It is an event not to be missed.

Arrests give hope to hard-working businesses

All is not lost for the One Bermuda Alliance. When Michael Dunkley took the decision to step away from the portfolio of Minister of National Security, he unleashed a potential star in Senator Jeff Baron.

While there has probably never been as energetic a Premier in the country's history, the senator is youthful, takes a good picture and comes across as super genuine.

A pity he has yet to get his head around bringing an end to the spate of “nickel and dime” robberies that are so tormenting small business owners in and around Hamilton. But, alas, there may be hope if yesterday's arrests can result in a conviction or two.

Those who work so hard, sometimes for so little, deserve not to have to hire eyes in the back of their head to safeguard their livelihood.

Still unexplained: we now know how expenses for the Rio trip for Sylvan Richards and his colleagues racked up, but have not been told why this was allowed to happen

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Published September 30, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated September 30, 2016 at 7:45 am)

Rio frequent flyers rack up miles in unsettled questions

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