@rh48bold:LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Funny letter was serious December 3, 2010 Dear Sir, Just read Eron Hill’s letter and even though it’s funny, it’s also serious because the war’s been going on too long. How many “gangsters” and innocent families will be targeted before it all ends?
TEARS OF A CLOWN Devonshire What’s Plan B? December 4, 2010 Dear Sir, Regarding this article in the Gazette on December 3, 2010: “600 cases reported of alleged child abuse. There were 600 allegations of child abuse and neglect in Bermuda last year but the true number of cases could be closer to 6,000.” I find these figures to be quite astonishing - as that is anywhere from one to ten percent of Bermuda’s population! I will forego any comments on this article ... because the
Gazette would probably not publish them suffice to say - the “social fabric” of the Island seems to be in a very steep decline worse now than I remember! No wonder the rate of “serious crimes” is on the increase when you have a $ billion + budget (producing what) and all these issues manifesting themselves... 2 + 2 definitely do NOT equal 4!! Plan ‘A’ has failed what is plan ‘B’?
BRUCE MCCLARRON Arizona Cut civil service salaries December 4, 2010 Dear Sir, With the reported reduction in the GDP and an unbelievable rise in retired Civil Service pensions, how will the PLP Government now pay for the overly large current Civil Service while meeting the needs of an ever-growing financial underclass? The PLP’s financial policies of the last six years have almost destroyed us. Now, they have passed lots of retroactive legislation that many of us disagreed with so perhaps they can pass some more legislation to take back the pension increases that current legislation says we have to pay, even though the taxpayers can no longer afford it. Hopefully the UBP and the BDA would support a reduction in the cost of Government rather than try and gain voter brownie points by opposing it. With the reduced GDP, will Paula Cox borrow even more money to keep the Civil Service employees in the style to which they have become accustomed or will she add once again to our taxes? Too many are now suffering and it is wrong that those of us who are fortunate enough to still have a job in the private sector to have to pay through the nose to keep our pampered civil servants, past and present, eating jam and cake while we struggle for dry bread, day-old bread at that. The time has come for the Civil Service employees to accept significant cuts in pay for those above the poverty line. What am I saying us, unlike many others in the private sector, they are all above the poverty line salary. Salaries need to be cut meaningfully and overall numbers need to decline significantly to a level we, the taxpayers can afford. However, to save PLP voter share, I expect Paula to just borrow or add more taxes come February’s budget and in doing so she will just bring our demise another day closer. Oh for the days when I thought that a national debt of $160 million was indefensible and unnecessary. STILL STRUGGLING Pembroke Cause for concern December 5, 2010 Dear Sir, Reading Mr Greenberg’s comments should give us all cause for concern. International Business has alluded that they do not feel as welcome as they once did. Reading between the lines of what Mr Greenberg stated in his article with your reporter, it is this writer’s opinion IB is redomiciling to more friendly and appreciative jurisdictions. How can we arrest this exodus? The increase in payroll tax, along with the added cost of doing business has not helped. Increased violence, the failure of the public education system to produce a sufficiently capable pool of talent, has also led to companies to look elsewhere. Many of us are struggling to make ends meet. Is this departure of IB going to continue or can we stop this train from leaving? The Government can help by creating an environment that is conducive to expanding opportunity. Hopefully we will come together and save this ship from sinking and return Bermuda to the prominence it once enjoyed.
LOOKING FOR CHANGE Smith’s Heed Col Lamb’s wisdom December 3, 2010 Dear Sir, Au contraire, Ms Dismont. “Families who live by the normal rules for social order rarely live in chronic chaos”, e.g. irresponsible and unaffordable pregnancies; irresponsible and unaffordable drug addictions; irresponsible and unaffordable examples of government debt, etc.” Common sense could finally unify the “family” of Bermuda to reflect on, and heed, the experience and wisdom and leadership of Col Lamb (front page, November 26).
D. M. GRIFFIN Sarasota, Florida and St. George’s Putting families first December 3, 2010 Dear Sir, The debate about whether to send children away or treat them at home is a critical one to have. Ms Cooper has a valid point in that you can’t effectively treat children isolated from their families. This would also be considered a child rights issue because a child has a right to a family. Every effort should be made to ensure they are with their own family and in their own community. Imagine having no access to the support of loved ones while experiencing intense needs and challenges. It seems almost cruel and inhumane to ship them out and cut them off from everything they know. I would argue that this may be more of a hindrance than a help to these youths and their families and that it could be interpreted as a punishment than form of assistance.The Minister raised the issue of “stigma”, but it should really be the responsibility of the citizens and the Government to address the issue of stigma and tolerance, not removing children from their communities and families (including extended families) where they can also get support. The social problems of my country are only multiplying, which can be seen in its current volatile climate. Government should start viewing these issues within the current social context in order to address the arising challenges instead of relying on previous methods of resolution to assist these families. KAMARIA GREENFIELD Master’s of Social Work Student Rutgers University, New Jersey Devonshire Walker’s narrow escape December 3, 2010 Dear Sir, This letter is aimed at the brain and heart of the female driver of the orange hatchback who was too impatient to wait (at the pedestrian crossing), near
The Royal Gazette today at around 11.40am; I do hope you realise & appreciate just how close you came to running over the mature lady in blue who was crossing at that time! The fact that there was a white van stopped ahead of you should have indicated that you USE caution. The reckless abandon with which you swerved out from behind that van, due south, narrowly missing said pedestrian, suggests there be serious intervention on the part of the requisite authorities. At least, I suggest the pedestrian to whom I gave your licence number, report the incident to Police!
DISILLUSIONED Devonshire The audacity of free December 2, 2010 Dear Sir, Recently, I had the pleasure of being in a black-owned entertainment venue in which a cover charge was being charged at the door. While most people coming through the doors had no problem paying the cover charge of only $10, there were a few who felt that because they knew the owner personally that they should be let in for free. It was shocking, almost appalling, to see the reactions of these individuals, when respectfully asked to pay. Their demeanor and attitude changed. They demanded to speak to the owner and proceeded to make their way into the establishment looking to have him affirm their belief that they deserve to get in for free. The owner, being the kind and humble gentleman that he is, could not say no. Wow, what a sense of entitlement! Could you imagine if every one of his “friends” did that? Do you think he will be in business for long? Do these persons even think of how their actions will help in the quick demise of his business? “The Audacity of Free” is a phrase coined by Chris Brogan to refer to the entitlement his “friends” felt they had about getting free entry into conferences that he and his team had spent months organising. Somehow, individuals forget along the way that costs accrue when considering the venue, food, exhibit hall, and the staff required on hand to run the event smoothly.” (by Tamar Weinberg July 29, 2010) The same goes for this local establishment. One must not forget the costs accrued for the one night, such as rent, utilities, entertainment, staff, beverages and other incidentals. If he doesn’t make money he can’t pay the bills! Where will his “friends” be when this happened? There are costs to things information is written once, repeated forever, but there are costs to things like time, presence, access, etc. Real costs, not just assumed ones. At the end of the day, contrary to seemingly popular belief, the owner is not the only one pocketing the money. While free can be a wonderful thing, and there are some really great things that are (and should be) free. But free is a choice, and it’s not the customer who decide this, no matter what we would like to think in social entertainment. Free is beautiful, but costs are part of life.
SHARON YOUNG City of Hamilton
P.s. One of the thing I did not mention was the utter disrespect and disregard shown to the person at the front door. Declining standards November 29, 2010 Dear Sir, Sometimes I ask myself the question: “Why am I so passionate about Customs issues?” Could it be because of my previous 12 years’ experience working hand in hand with the Customs Department? I read, with extreme interest, the articles which appeared in
The Royal Gazette, The Bermuda Sun and on Bernews relating to the Customs recruitment process, and I am reminded of the many letters to the Editors that I have already written expressing my opinion. I read the letter “Don’t drop standards” by Gerald L. Bean of Paget, which was published in
The Royal Gazette today. He is basically echoing what I have been saying all along about “Customs lowering standards”. When standards are lowered, especially in more senior positions (article: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 “Black Bermudian lost out to equally unqualified white Canadian for Customs job, hearing told”), then naturally, there would be a domino effect. I believe the reason given during the recruitment process of 2002 was because the Collector of Customs, Mrs. Winniefred Fostine-DeSilva, claimed there was no one on the Island who had the required degree plus five years’ senior management experience. Please take note that the black Bermudian who lost out in that process had higher educational qualifications than the white Canadian who was successful. The same position was then filled by an individual who had absolutely no Customs experience. How does the Collector of Customs justify this? In one of the recent articles about the recruitment process in HM Customs, published this past weekend, the Collector of Customs stated, “The pass mark was 70 at one point. We dropped it to 60. It’s an indictment on our education system. Basic reading and writing skills are not there.” To these comments, I have to shake my head and laugh out loud. Without going into detail, I am struggling to comprehend why the pass mark hampers individuals only at the entry level. What I find interesting is that in a January 29, 2002
Royal Gazette article, Mrs Fostine-DeSilva stated that she knuckled down and obtained the education (Bachelor’s Degree/Management August 1993 and Master’s Degree/Finance December 1997) and experience required for her current position. One of her greatest accomplishments she listed was getting her Master’s Degree. If this is such a great accomplishment for her, then I ask why the identical accomplishment of my husband, (i.e. Bachelor’s Degree/Management Studies 1995 and Master’s Degree/Finance 1998 from the same institution), has earned him no reward or recognition under her leadership. This leads me to another questionable statement made by the Collector of Customs in her January 2002 article, “…I get a joy out of helping dedicated staff achieve goals.” What is one to think about this? In that same article Mrs Fostine-DeSilva said, “One of my main focuses is providing high quality service to the Bermudian public and our visitors through the facilitation of legitimate travellers and importers.” How can one expect to give high quality service with lowered standards? She also stated that when she first joined HM Customs, she was naïve about the enforcement role that Customs played and at first she was a little intimidated by it. Does this mindset continue to haunt her today? Regarding her recent statement made in
The Royal Gazette, “At the present time, we have 20- something vacancies. That means we now have to assign staff based on the numbers. It is hard to control your borders if you are 20 people short.” Referring back to the earlier statement about one of her main focuses, I would imagine that the borders should take priority. Our borders should be staffed with the most experienced Customs Officers, but I don’t think this is happening and here lies the problem. There are also other contributing factors that make it difficult for the first line supervisors at any inspection point to perform their duties effectively. They are not involved in the process of posting staff to the various areas of HM Customs. They must factor in staff vacations, appointments, staff who are on light duties for medical reasons, those who have been allocated time off for study purposes and not forgetting seminars. This, of course, will have a negative impact on the overall Customs operation, albeit, it is no fault of those senior officers. They are expected to work wonders under the circumstances. This appears to be a senior management problem and it goes far beyond not being able to find recruits who can pass the Customs entrance exam even though standards have been lowered.