Fall out of Open Mic Night (1)

On Friday, the Premier of Bermuda was having an open mic session, geared towards the youth. I decided to attend to hear him in person and see how popular it turned out to be, as well as hearing the kind of questions that younger people are interested in.

For some reason, they decided to start the event at 6:15 although I didn't know until after the fact that the Premier wasn't showing up until 7pm. Unfortunately, the combination of heat, humidity and poor ventilation got me feeling the effects of a headache pretty quickly, so I was miserable well before the actual session began.

He eventually arrived and got a warm applause on entering the room, and the MC for the evening opened the floor to questions from the audience. Right off the bat, Independence was thrown into the ring and the Premier gave what I thought was a solid explanation for some of the policies the government would be looking to achieve such as granting students overseas funding from government, similar to the Caribbean model. There is no equivalent of the U.W.I. in Bermuda at this time, but it's good to see that thrown out there. He also said there's no reason to hold a referendum at this time for Independence because it would result in an obvious 'no' vote. I can see the reasoning for that. Would that mean Independence is absolutely eliminated from an election platform for the PLP? Possibly, but I'm no insider and anything can happen.

The Premier was asked to comment on education in light of the two public high schools reporting much higher graduation rates than previous years. Dr. Brown got applause for saying that the work's not done, and the government is committed to tackling education, particularly when it comes to the middle school to high school transition.

The follow-up question concerned promotion and training of young Bermudians in the work place, something that I for one am definitely concerned about from first hand experience. The Premier acknowledged that there are biased hiring processes in place by several companies. I think he is aware of all those ads that require experience in certain areas that aren't available to Bermudians, especially young ones, and the seemingly low number of apprenticeship opportunities in certain business areas. He mentioned an initiative called "Good Will Plus" which I think I'm going to like. Essentially businesses will be encouraged that contracts offered to certain guest workers will contain some kind of clause where the person must train and prepare a Bermudian to be able to fill the position once they leave (per term limit).

A question came from a young man regarding long line fishing being allowed here, when it's been shown that the practice endangers the life of turtles and albatrosses. The question got some pretty nasty snickering from what appeared to be a few ignorant people not concerned with allowing the contributor to speak his mind. Anyway, Dr. Brown said that the possibilities of long-line fishing opening up career opportunities for Bermudians were a strong reason to pursue this. The Premier did say that he'll investigate the person's concerns, and at this point the man at the mic offered his e-mail address to the Premier. The Premier quickly countered by offering his e-mail address instead. It fell to a bit of a dick-measuring contest of sorts, egged on by the audience, as the Premier said that he was offering the man a good deal with the e-mail offer and pledge to investigate.

As the audience got a little more noisy, the MC tried to plead for calm a couple of times, then eventually shouted "Be Quiet!" into the mic like a frustrated parent or something. Me, I'm like "what the f$%&?". You never hear an MC lose his cool like that, but at that point I'm just hoping the breeze picked up or something because my headache was still very much present.

More later...

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