Term limits - While Cayman acts, Bermuda dithers
By E.T. (Bob) Richards, Shadow Minister of Finance, September 18, 2011
Premier McKeeva Bush of Cayman recently said something important when explaining why his government was ending term limits for a period of two years.
He said when people are forced to leave Cayman because of the policy, “rental apartment revenues are lost, plumbers, electricians, shopkeepers, supermarkets, construction companies, heavy equipment operators, truck owners and every other business feels the economic impact in these islands.”
Mr. Bush was acknowledging that his government’s policy was hurting the economic well-being of Caymanians.
The Bermuda Government's partial retreat from the policy earlier this summer through a programme of limited work permit exemptions for key worker was de facto acknowledgment that its policy was hurting the people of Bermuda and the Island’s attractiveness as a business centre.
Cayman, our competitor, instead of just thinking about it, has taken action to help its people and put Cayman first.
Here at home, the Government is putting pride before country – unwilling to change one of its signature policies despite evidence that it is neither working for the benefit of Bermudians nor enhancing the Island's attractiveness as a business centre.
We think in their heart of hearts the Government knows its policy is wrong for the Island but that saving face is too important to them.
The cornerstone of OBA policy is to put Bermuda first. In the matter of term limits, this means changing the policy to better serve the people of this country.
We say and we have said: End term limits for job categories that normally get 90% waivers. Put in place policies that work for Bermudians. Don't allow political pride to come before the interests of the people.
Cayman is addressing the issue - and improving its competitive position - while the Bermuda Government "proudly" watches.
Open St. George’s Police Station 24/7
By Sen. Michael Dunkley, Shadow Minister for Public Safety, September 15 2011
St. George’s has for years been demanding their Police station return to a 24/7 operation. The urgency of their calls mounted as community security and personal safety diminished in the wake of the Police move to Southside.
Last week’s incident in which a mother could not get timely Police assistance was one more example of the downside of a government that has not provided the Police with the resources to do the job residents want.
In my capacity as Shadow Minister of National Security, I have been approached by residents who continue to be concerned for their security and the safety of the community.
The fact that the Police do not have enough manpower to operate the St. George’s station 24 hours a day speaks, once again, to the price Bermuda is paying for a government that recklessly spent the island into a situation where there is not enough money to support basic public services – in this case the law and order presence that a unique community wants and needs.
It’s not just us making this call. Local MP Kim Swan and Mayor Kenneth Bascome have also made clear this unequivocal community demand. Residents want the station open 24/7. That should be enough for any caring Government to hear.
We say: Open the St. George’s station 24/7. Make it happen.
More than 4 years after Education ‘crisis’ report, Government still devising reform strategies
By Dr. Grant Gibbons, Shadow Education Minister, September 16 2011
The appointment of Dr. Avis Glaze, the Education Ministry’s new Canadian consultant, to develop “an improvement strategy which highlights instructional leadership” raises more questions than it answers.
While Dr. Glaze may be a respected educator, her appointment begs the question of why the Government continues to hire outside talent to implement education reform. Surely in the 4½ years since the Hopkins Report, the Government must have identified and developed sufficient Bermudian expertise to move reform ahead.
The Education Minister’s statement also raises questions about the arrangements under which Dr. Glaze will be working for the Ministry. While it is good to hear that Dr. Glaze’s efforts will be “at no charge to the Government of Bermuda,” most of us have been around long enough to understand that there is no free lunch. So who is paying for Dr. Glaze’s engagement? Is it the Government of Ontario, who the Minister specifically thanked in her statement? If so, what are the terms of this arrangement? Or is it the Board of Education? After all, the Minister said “the Board of Education is sponsoring Dr. Glaze’s visit.” If that is true, why would the Minister need to be secretive about private sponsorship of such an initiative?
The public deserves upfront clarity from the Government.
Other than the announcement regarding Dr. Glaze, there is very little that is particularly new, or encouraging, in the Minister’s progress report on Bermuda’s public education system.
This is not to say that there has been no progress at all. The One Bermuda Alliance believes that the implementation of the Cambridge Curriculum is a good step, and we hope the student results from the first year will be revealed soon and that they are encouraging. Nevertheless, many other issues are still outstanding and, frankly, after 13 years in power and 4½ years after the Hopkins Report, children, parents, teachers and educators and the taxpayers deserve better from this Progressive Labour Party Government.
By the Minister’s own admission, many of the 10 Hopkins recommendations, as well as most of the seven strategic priorities of the Ministry’s own Blueprint plan, are still incomplete or “in progress.” How long should it take to enact meaningful education reform?
Professor Hopkins himself stated that in order to bring about the “re-professionalisation” of public education his 10 recommendations would need to be “acted on over a short period.” In fact, Professor Hopkins noted that his first seven recommendations were “the most urgent” and stated “significant progress needs to be made in these areas during the school year 2007/08.”
It is hard to accept the Minister’s rosy assessment of progress on the Blueprint. For example, the 3rd Blueprint “Strategic Priority” – “To strengthen and distribute leadership” – is listed as “Done” by the Minister in her update. Yet a quick review of the 27 individual items listed under this strategy suggests that many of them have yet to be completed.
The public understands that education reform is long overdue and they are running out of patience. Additional reports from yet more consultants will not get the job done. The people of Bermuda demand action before yet another generation is lost.