Southlands beach access

The Southlands deal is a done deal, the Special Development Order will allow for construction to be fast-tracked for the building of a bunch of fractional-ownership cottages and condos and other luxury amenities. My feelings are that although it is a little disturbing that a large tract of open space and natural habitat for trees and animals will be destroyed, the land after all belongs to private citizens and they have the right to sell to whoever makes a bid for it.

What sparked a little curiosity, and blame this on my Barbadian pride perhaps, was the article in the Gazette today which featured this snippet:
Mr. Christensen said last night that if the public could gain access to the beach without going over "private" hotel property they would be entitled to use it.

"It will be like Cambridge Beaches, The Reefs and Tucker's Point, in that you can't walk across the resort property. But if you can get to the beach another way, such as by boat, then there's nothing to stop people using it," he said.

In Barbados, it's the LAW (pdf, sorry) that public access to a beach must be maintained, although it's hard to maintain as residents there scheme all kinds of methods of fencing off walkways and forcing people to trespass illegally if they want to get to the beach.

Unfortunately in Bermuda there doesn't seem to be an equivalent. It's sad that residents and visitors are restricted to which beaches they can enjoy. The 'boat access' alternative works if you have money, I suppose. But this is yet another reason I suppose, why I'm disillusioned by capitalism.


I heard the boos

Yeah yeah, I was at the concert at Snorkel Park. I heard the Premier get called up on stage. While I was somewhat confused and a little 'good lord, this guy's trying to dip his hands everywhere', several spectators laid into him thick with some heavy and sustained booing, the likes of which I've never heard to address a Premier, anywhere.

Denis Pitcher, as usual, nails it with a good analysis of the proceedings. The BermudaSucks folks are laying into the affair with their usual fervour while the Premier's press secretary and Bermuda Network News try to downplay it and this is one instance where I see good old-fashioned political spin at work.


Professional sports

I always wanted to be a professional athlete. Imagine, doing something that you love and enjoy, and getting paid for it.

But read the sports pages and it's disgusting, what these guys at the top of their game, the best in their field, millionaires and role models (whether they like it or not) set for life financially.

Tour de France.
The NBA.
The NFL. And again, the NFL. Oh yeah, again.
MLB has its own series of scandals.
Track and field is always under a cloud of some sort.

It's sickening, really. I can't really comment further.

Stress, time demands and apathy

There's a lot of political games taking place in Bermuda these days. The two main political parties are putting forth all the artillery and firing away at each other, trying to gain voter support with a general election possibly happening within the next month or two.

Frankly, and this may be agreeable to many other independent voters and others, I couldn't give a crap about all the blustering of politicians, the silly statements and lack of humility being displayed. We're dealing with day-to-day stress. Work demands are enormous. People have bills to pay. We have enormous rents, or gigantic mortgages to keep track of. We have to find time for our families and friends.

So when we take a break and read the newspaper or watch the TV news or browse the Web for Bermuda stories and see all this to-and-fro, we're probably just apathetic to the whole thing. It's unfortunate, but all the crap has given me a don't-care attitude with respect to the Southlands saga, the BHC discussions or the other highly-publicised talking points on the island.

Politics doesn't have to be nasty. Maybe it works for the loyal fan bases, to come out preaching and figuratively slamming your opponents, but I'm fed up with it all.


Profanity in the media

While the outrage over this e-mail sent from a hotel manager (and that his privacy was invaded in retrieving the e-mail) continues to boil, I ask the off-topic unrelated question, when did the established media allow words like *asshole* to be published in the public domain where kids can easily access it?

Maybe the law's changed. Or people have given up trying to shield kids from profanity.

Need appliances

As I come to grips with the fact that I need a dryer, I go back to my post concerning Bermuda retailers having little to zero online presence. In the USA, you can quickly browse Home Depot, Lowe's, etc. to see what's there, make a decision based on look/price and then make a purchase or in-store visit.

Here, the only way to see for yourself what's available is to go to the places themselves. And when you're working 9-5, your only option if you can't break out during a lunch hour is to head to Gorham's (of the empty-information website) until 6pm, if you have your own transportation. I suppose you can call the stores, but you still won't be getting a visual image to go by.

This aspect of Bermuda totally sucks.


Bring on the canvassing!

In an interesting development, while trying to repair a clothesline malfunction this evening, I was visited by representatives of the governing PLP party. And yes, my first thought was, 'oh crap I don't need any Jehovah's Witnesses bugging me now'. I'm sorry.

Anyway they introduced themselves, I got the old "I know your dad" speech (Bermuda is too, too tiny, heh), then they asked me about any issues that concerned me. Now, the big news headlines are the allegations of corruption and race issues, but I bypassed them quickly and offered my concerns about housing for Bermudians and the problems with traffic, road rage and fatalities.

They pointed out the telecast of Government's housing initiatives, a broadcast that I unfortunately missed due to work commitments at the time, which included the rent-geared-to-income scheme that I read about in the Gazette not long ago. I asked if there was an available transcript or if the show would be repeated. They said they'd investigate that, and I appreciate that.

Regarding the road, they were in agreement with my concerns about the high fatality rate and other traffic issues. They gave satisfactory answers to my questions, and mentioned that certain items such as licensing of vehicles required some changes in the Motor Traffic Act and other laws. We all agreed that those laws needed an overhaul as they hadn't been touched in great scope since 1947 when it was launched. They also mentioned that they were considering the implementation of a tax on vehicles entering the City and the possibility of changing how traffic flows (for example: making Church Street two-way), something that of course requires tons of study and thought.

Overall I'm glad to have had a chance to air my thoughts with a politician as in previous years I either did not meet them or was not home when they passed through. I appreciate the hard work (and tons of research) that these potential candidates must go through to achieve their goal of being a representative in Parliament.

Hopefully I'll get to hear more from prospective candidates over the next few weeks (or months).


Fall out of Open Mic Night (2)

A young man stepped up to the mic to offer his experience with approaching government to discuss ideas. I never exactly heard what those ideas actually were, but he was basically saying that he had entrepreneurial ideas which he was looking to share with the Premier's office and try to make his mark, however he had been stonewalled by the office of the Chief of Staff, I believe.

Where I think he failed to make a positive impression is that he called out Senator Wayne Caines for not assisting him in getting meetings or discussions. After the Premier encouraged him to keep following his dreams, the Senator jumped in to tell his side of the story and the MC seemed to join in on the act, so that eventually the young man pretty much gave up and walked away, receiving a few jeers in the process. Hopefully the young man at least tried to get some time off-line with the Senator to try to get things back in order along that front.

Someone then approached to suggest that there was a generation gap when it came to race issues; the youth weren't as concerned about race while those of the Premier's generation differed. The Premier advised the youth to not be superficial with the descriptions. I can't quite recall the effects of that statement other than I think the Premier was sticking to the belief that regardless, the issue of race and privilege needed to be discussed and acknowledged.

A man who likely wasn't in the under-30s crowd, threw a question concerning the permits being granted to all these large tractor trailers, however how was he to survive when he couldn't get one. The Premier passed this onto his Chief of Staff to talk with the man off-line. I can't offer much analysis of that except that there are dozens of large tractor trailers on the island, heck there's more and more large vehicles period. I saw a freaking Grand Caravan the other day. No truck licence here, strictly regular private car licence.

A young person offered a very interesting question, essentially asking why there are gangs in Bermuda. The Premier discussed his own experiences while in Los Angeles during the time of the Crips and Bloods, and accurately said that everybody here is a wannabe gangster. He showed some enthusiasm in discussing the Mirrors Programme, which I'm interested to know more about. There's a press release on the Government web portal but the URL's too long to try to copy out. Stupid portal.

Someone asked the Premier why should they vote for the PLP in the next election. Dr. Brown proudly said that it's about the process, the program, not the propoganda. He brought up the fact (it may have been David Burt himself who said this) that the news media, namely the notorious Mid Ocean News, slammed a guy wrongfully without even so much as contacting the alleged wrongdoer beforehand to get the story from his side. Bad journalism is showing the PLP in a negative light. The PLP government would fix that, although I'm not sure in what capacity. Maybe news media outlets would have to adhere to stricter codes of conduct or something before being allowed to publish news.

The expected proliferation of new hotel properties on the island has been a hot news item and someone asked about young people getting into the hotel industry. Job applications for locals were turned down, and the Premier indicated that new properties will be stringently monitored so that Bermudians will be employed where possible. I thought to myself why did Stonington, the Bermuda College training hotel, close down, and would efforts be considered to resurrect it. Of course I don't know how much interest there'd be, so maybe it's pointless to consider.

The next question concerned absentee voting, a practice available to many countries but not here despite the subject being thrown about for at least ten years. Dr. Brown replied that it was definitely on the cards but there are logistical issues to be dealt with, and he believes that it will come eventually. I don't see how introducing it really hurts either major party; both of them have acknowledged that college students are critical votes to be won, although I know that Bermudians living overseas aren't allowed to vote and maybe this is the logistical issue at play here.

Senator Caines came to the mic and in an unusual motion, he threw the question to the audience, what are we going to do to better Bermuda? How are we to uphold Dame Lois's legacy? Seemed like a strange moment for soapbox lecturing, but anyway the followup was that race and the 'Big Conversation' had to take place and Dr. Brown was pushing hard towards it with the Commission led by his adviser Rolfe Commissiong.

To further my earlier thoughts on the issue of hotels and youth, a young man asked about the trades and hospitality industries for people. Dr. Brown said that a training center, funded by both the government and the hotels, would be offered, an interesting proposal that could get much support.

Someone asked about the support for sports in Bermuda, noting that we had just finished an appearance in the Cricket World Cup. Premier Brown said that Bermuda was on a high from that event and that Government is committed to sport. He pointed out the PGA Grand Slam of Golf coming to Bermuda later this year as another coup for the island.

One of the young women near the front said something along the lines of there being a perception of racism out there, can it be dealt with? The Premier said that discussion of racism doesn't negate the perceptions. He was discussing the experiences of others but I got distracted by this older woman who came in and started off on some hallelujah-like affirmation of everything out of the Premier's mouth. Why the MC didn't tell her to be quiet, I'll never know.

Anyway this fella came to the mic, promised to keep his speech short, and proceeded to ramble along about everything and nothing, I really didn't understand where he was coming from or going towards, but eventually he ended by discussing the lack of rights of the father in Bermuda. I don't think there was a comment by the Premier, although I may very well have dozed off by then. My apologies.

The Premier was then asked if he had any regrets about becoming a politician. Dr. Brown said that he willingly retired from the field of medicine in order to focus full-time on politics and he has no regrets about it.

He was given a question on what should white people do to acknowledge racism and race relations here, to which he responded with saying that it's more than just being friendly and making friends with those of other races, He said there was a black inferiority complex among many persons here.

At this point the discussion ended, and the MC encouraged the audience to stick around and discuss things among themselves while the Premier went to another engagement. I couldn't be bothered to stick around at that time, I was tired and still had the lingering headache but I'm glad to have attended and look forward to more of this in upcoming months. Since then, both the Premier and the Opposition Leader have appeared on radio talk shows which shows a sign that politicians are willing to discuss with ordinary citizens a bit more as talk of an election being called continues to be rumoured.


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...