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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us).
See end of this file for all of our many History files
January 3. Four men and a woman have emerged as primary movers behind two ambitious hotel projects for the Island. The five are key figures in two separate development bids, one to bring a Ritz Carlton to the heart of Hamilton and the other for a five-star hotel resort on the overgrown Southlands estate in Warwick. Well-known and successful Bermuda businessman Brian Duperreault and Theodore A. Adams III – the son of a notable US Army officer and business leader who championed minority business development in the US – are two of the five aspiring hotel developers. Mr. Duperreault, 59, is one of the names behind the Southlands project, which became public knowledge last week when dramatic artist’s impressions were lodged at the planning department. The non-executive chairman of ACE together with wife Nancy own Hall Limited, which holds one-third of the shares in Southlands Limited. Southlands has proposed a two-phase redevelopment of the 37-acre estate in Warwick to create a hotel resort that slopes down to the beach with South Road tucked out of view beneath a landscaped land bridge. Jumeirah, the operator of some of the world’s most opulent hotels, including the stunning sail-like Harj-al-Arab hotel in Dubai, has signed an understanding to run the hotel. The plan is currently awaiting approval for two special development orders to proceed to the next stage. In 1976 the Southlands estate, which at the time resembled a botanical garden, was bought for $1,750,000 by the Willowbank Foundation charitable trust, which owns the Christian Willowbank Hotel. In August 2005 Southlands Limited – with all its shares held by the charitable trust – was incorporated as a company. At the end of the year it amalgamated with Brigadier Limited, a company incorporated in 2005 by businessman Nelson Hunt and Craig Christensen, 51. The amalgamated Southlands Limited now has no connection with the Willowbank Foundation, according to a spokeswoman. Its two shareholders are listed as Hall Limited (the Duperreaults) with the remaining 8,000 shares belonging to Continental Trust Corporation Limited acting as trustee for the Tamarind Trust on behalf of Mr. Hunt and the Ferdinand Trust on behalf of Mr. Christensen. Mr. Christensen is a partner of professional services company Arthur Morris, Christensen and Co, while Mr. Hunt operates a number of business on the Island including Hunt’s Food and Supplies and Hunt’s Sanitation. Meanwhile, the proposed Ritz-Carlton business hotel in Hamilton has been granted a special development order and is now on its way to finalizing its planning permission. The developer behind is Unified Resorts Limited, with the sole shareholder listed as Theodore A. Adams III of Virginia. Mr. Adams III, 42, is the son of the late Lt. Col. Dr. Theodore A. Adams Jr who formed Unified Industries Incorporated in 1970. The company, which is now headed by Mr. Adams III, has grown in size and employs hundreds of staff in offices across the US with a large diversity of interests and specialties. A graduate of Rice University, UCLA, a Yale University programme in Hong Kong, and Harvard Business School, Mr. Adams III runs the organization which he says has the expertise and knowledge to undertake large and complex developments as it employs former US Army generals and US Navy admirals who have previously been responsible for building military bases and complexes around the world. The corporation has done many projects for the US government during the past 35 years.
January 4. The crush of Bermudians rushing into the Office of Immigration over the past few months looking to get new stamps added to their passports has been so overwhelming senior Ministry officials are considering a permanent change to the way the official Register of Bermudians is kept. The plan under consideration would allow locals to be put on the Register at birth, instead of having to apply for it later in life. If more people’s names were already in the Register the long lines witnessed day after day in recent weeks would never have happened. When asked about the influx of people into the Ministry Immigration Permanent Secretary Robert Horton said: “I don’t think any of us could have imagined.” The United States Department of Homeland Security announced new travel regulations last November, requiring Bermudian travelers to have a valid passport that contains an official Bermuda Status Stamp if travelling after midnight on January 8. Since that time more than 30,000 Bermudians have filed through the Ministry offices and been issued the new stamp. That’s an especially staggering number because only about 40,000 people are believed to have a Bermuda passport. “It surprised me,” said Chief Immigration Officer Dr. Martin Brewer. “I couldn’t understand why people were coming. It was almost the entire Bermuda population coming in!” So far the response rate is somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 percent. “If only we could get this kind of response on other things. It’s a mystery,” said Dr. Brewer. “Once we recognized the huge demand this made,” said his colleague Mr. Horton, “we offered the Saturday service.” That service has been in place since late last year and will be available again this weekend (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), but there have been so many people showing up every other day of the week – the extra day hasn’t really shortened the lines. “This is redundant, ridiculous, and somebody’s not doing their job - plain and simple.” said Tiffany Swann who was into her fourth hour of waiting to get her passport stamped. She was one of hundreds at the Immigration Office yesterday trying to beat the Monday deadline. The process is fairly simple for those already listed on the Register of Bermudians. For them the stamp is basically automatic. Those passport holders got in and out as quickly as 15 minutes yesterday. But for everyone else, the experience can be excruciatingly long and frustrating, especially because people not on the Register have no idea why their name isn’t there. “Why are we here?” asked Miss Swan, 24. “I have a Bermudian birth certificate, how do I not have Bermudian status? “What happened to the records. Why don’t they have them?” For people in her situation, the rules require she fill out an application for status, produce a birth certificate which shows the name of a parent already on the Register, plus she has to pay $11 as an application fee. Over a 20-day period at the end of last year the Ministry processed about 2,000 such applications. In the 12 months previous to that they had only processed 1,000. Permanent Secretary Horton acknowledged a lot of people are shocked to learn they aren’t on the Register of Bermudians. He said: “Until this matter with passports came up, we assumed we were all on the Register. This process revealed many people who thought they were on the list were not on the list.” That’s why Mr. Horton is among a group of senior Immigration officials looking at the possibility of allowing local parents to put their children on the Register the day their child is born. Currently that is not the Government’s practice. Mr. Horton cautions however: “The parents will have to demonstrate they are Bermudians.” That will go a long way to ease the anger of people like Tiffany Swann who spent nearly five hours at the Ministry yesterday. By about lunch time yesterday all ten seats in the Immigration waiting room were taken, there were 23 people standing, and 11 more waiting in the common area just outside the doors of the office. When stamp seekers arrive at the Immigration Office the first order of business should be a flip through the Register. But that can be an inexact process because the Register has been used so often, some of the pages are torn or separated or have fallen out of alphabetical order. “It’s all jumbled!” exclaimed one frustrated page turner. “I have one word: ridiculous,” said a woman who identified herself as Dawn. “I found my husband’s and my daughter’s name, but I couldn’t find my name,” she said. The Register is also available at any Post Office island-wide. It is not available online. Through all the frustration it’s hard to remember that Monday’s deadline really doesn’t apply to everyone. People who aren’t travelling over the next few weeks, or the next few months, really don’t need to rush. The stamping services will be available long after Monday, probably available indefinitely. And even then US-bound Bermudian travelers without a stamp won’t be denied access to America if the stamp is missing from their passports. But they will be required to fill out a visa waiver form. That means many of the people testing the limits of their patience were actually doing so needlessly.
January 5. Over the past six weeks the Register of Bermudians has been a hotly read document. Once on that list Bermudians are able to obtain the Bermuda Status Stamp required for travel to the United States beginning January 8, 2007. Of the 30,000-plus people to recently obtain the stamp, a sizeable portion have realized, to a great deal of frustration, that they aren’t on the Register, even though they have a Bermudian birth certificate and have their name listed on the Parliamentary Registry. Officials say there’s an explanation for that. The current Register of Bermudians came into effect in 1993. To create the Register officials used that year’s Parliamentary Registry. So if you weren’t a registered voter in 1993, or were born after 1993, or your name changed after marriage post-1993, then your name will not be on the current Register of Bermudians — unless of course, you already have submitted a properly completed application for status
January 8. Airport queues for returning Bermudians only - not non-Bermudians who are tourists or business visitors - are to be cut with a new Fast Pass. They - only - will be able to wait in a fast-tracked new line, separate from returning expatriates, to speed re-entry. Bermudians and visitors frequently complain about the length of time it takes them to be processed upon arrival at Bermuda international airport. Their complaints are often justified. Measures are being taken to address this. As one example, Bermudians with the Bermudian status stamp in their passports will no longer be required to be in the residents’ line. Instead they will be in a dedicated line for Bermudians, provided that their passports contain the Bermudian status stamp. No longer will Bermudians have to stand in the same line as worker permit holders and other residents who undergo more scrutiny. It is not always easy to identify a Bermudian unless he or she has a stamp in his or her passport stating that the holder is a registered Bermudian. But that still means the Immigration officer must go through the passport to find the stamp, an occurrence that serves to lengthen the processing time. One may ask why this is necessary when the passport is a Bermuda passport. The ‘Bermuda’ passport was a version of the British passport, held by non-Bermudians who are British and British Overseas Territory citizens. But there have been cases of people arriving and purporting to be Bermudian but who do not have Bermudian status – only a British or Bermuda passport stating they were born in Bermuda. These persons try to gain unrestricted access to live and work in Bermuda when in fact some are illegal. As a result of this anomaly, Bermuda passports alone cannot be used to confirm that a person possesses Bermudian status. So from December 12 2006 the Bermuda Fast Pass card became available. Bermudians who currently hold a valid passport have to apply for the card at Immigration. Bermudian holders will not have to produce a passport on entering the arrivals hall. It is anticipated that the implementation of the Fast Card process will reduce waiting time significantly.
January 8. Bermuda-bound passengers ended up returning to London two hours after take-off when their British Airways flight had technical difficulties on Saturday. The flight was expected to arrive in Bermuda at approximately 6.35 p.m., however shortly into the mid-Atlantic flight the pilots decided to turn back. BA’s Bermuda spokesperson, Sally Singleton, said the problem was not serious but required engineers to fix it. She said the decision was made to return to Gatwick because there were no BA engineers in Bermuda. As the flight did not land in Bermuda passengers expecting to leave the Island on Saturday night were unable to do so. Mrs. Singleton said the majority of passengers found out about the problems early on and did not come to the Bermuda International Airport. She thanked the Island’s broadcast media and taxi drivers for informing people about the cancelled flight. The diverted plane arrived in Bermuda at 2.35 p.m. yesterday and was expected to depart at 8.10 p.m. Unfortunately, the delay had a knock-on effect she said. The crew that arrived yesterday needed time to rest before departing again. Last night’s BA flight to Gatwick was delayed until 7 a.m. today. British Airways apologized for the inconvenience caused by the delays.
January 10. The average price of a stand-alone Bermuda home soared to $1.6 million in 2006. That translates into a 30-year mortgage of more than $11,400 a month at current interest rates — assuming the buyer has paid out a five percent deposit of $80,000. The revelation came in end-of-year commentaries from two of the Island’s leading realtors, Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty and Rego Sotheby’s International Realty. And the $1.6 million figure was based on completed transactions recorded through the first 11 months of last year. Better news for buyers is that the inventory of properties for sale is at an all-time high, giving home seekers a greater choice and shifting the market in the purchaser’s favour. While the escalating price of free-standing homes is moving them further out of the reach of middle-income Bermudians, realtors say locals are showing increasing interest in condominiums as a more affordable option for a home.
January 10. Bermuda International Airport airport handled almost one million passengers in 2006 and had 258 airline flight arrivals and departures weekly during the peak June - August summer season.
January 11. A US talk show host has criticized the “politically correct” name change of a Bermudian museum. Pulitzer Prize-nominated Les Kinsolving, who hosts a daily radio show for WCBM in Baltimore, took issue with Rogues and Runners, a Bermuda National Trust property in St. George’s, known as the Confederate Museum until 1996. Mr. Kinsolving writes, in a column entitled ‘Now Banned in Bermuda’ and posted on the Internet,, that on a recent visit to the Island he spotted the name change and quizzed museum guide Judith Perry about it. He says she told him that the name was changed 11 years ago by the trust’s executive committee after “a lot of fuss about Confederate flags”. Mr. Kinsolving writes that Confederate blockade runners were strongly and widely supported by “Bermudians and their Royal Gazette” in the 1860s and that the name change by the “politically correct” Bermuda National Trust to Rogues and Runners is “incredibly disparaging.” He quotes a National Trust pamphlet as explaining that the museum was restored in 1996 when a new exhibit telling “the story of these turbulent years from a distinctly Bermudian perspective” was installed. “Why on earth is it a Bermudian perspective to change the name of the Confederate Museum to Rogues and Runners?” asks Mr. Kinsolving. He questions who “rogues” refers to “since the blockade runners were Confederates (as well as a number of retired veterans of the Royal Navy).” However, the Bermuda National Trust defended the name change and said the old title was no longer relevant to the King’s Square museum, which was once the Globe Hotel and the headquarters of the Confederate States’ representation in Bermuda during the US Civil War.
January 11. Tourists spent over $55 million in 3rd quarter of 2006. Cruise passengers once criticised for not spending enough money onshore have increased their Island expenditures 50 percent, according to newly released figures from the Government’s Department of Statistics. In the third quarter of 2006 cruisers spent $36.6 million versus $24.4 million over the same period in 2005. Air travelers also spent more – about $20 million more quarter over quarter, an increase of about 20 percent. All told it was a chest thumping quarter for the Ministry of Tourism and will probably turn out to be a record breaking year. Already, in just three quarters, 2006 air and cruise passenger numbers – at 524,135 – have exceeded the full year total figures for 2003, 2004, and 2005. The last time passengers numbers went above a half-million in just three quarters was 1987, according to Chief Statistician Valerie Robinson-James. The driving force appears to be cruise ship arrivals. There were 164,467 cruise passengers in the third quarter of 2006 – more than any quarter in history. The rise is a direct result of an increase in the number of ships coming to the Island. There were 82 landings in Q3, an increase of 13 over 2005. The air arrivals sector was similarly stellar. Numbers in the third quarter came in at 96,653 – an increase of about 16 percent or 13,000 passengers over the same period a year ago. Travel hungry Bermuda residents seem to have benefited as well during a period which includes the busy summer travel season. More than 50,000 overseas trips were taken in the third quarter – that is almost as many trips as there are residents. That is a four-and-a-half percentage point increase and the biggest quarterly number ever recorded in this category. "Residents took advantage of increased airline capacity and lower-priced airfares,” said the Government’s statistics report. The amount of overseas spending was also up for the third quarter to $16.9 million – almost half of which ($8 million) was spent on clothing. The hotel industry was not left out of the third quarter bonanza. It earned almost ten percent more in hotel receipts, a rise of about $7.6 million in revenue
January 12. The Bermuda Chamber of Commerce is backing plans for a slew of building projects on the island, saying that the economy is not in danger of overheating. The Planning Department is currently considering an application to transform the 37-acre Southlands property in Warwick into a luxury resort, along with plans to develop the neighboring 11-acre Ritz-Carlton property. There are also plans to build a new hotel in Hamilton and a number of Government capital projects are also in the pipeline. Environmentalists warn the raft of proposals will put a strain on the island's infrastructure and economy. They also claim that planning controls are being bypassed by developers through the use of Special Development Orders. But Chamber of Commerce vice president Dennis Fagundo said the proposals showed that the economy was strong and will continue to be so. And he denied that a healthy construction industry would result in a flood of foreign workers to the island.
January 12. Bermudians Against the Draft (BAD) was formed, as campaigners fighting to end compulsory military service. Bermuda still has military conscription laws, unlike Britain, Canada, the USA etc and this inequity has been defended by Governor Sir John Vereker who has said, wrongly, that there is no opposition to it. Campaigners are fighting to end compulsory military service. They have issued a court summons against the Governor, Deputy Governor and Attorney General. This alleges that the ballot which chooses conscripts is gender-biased and a breach of human rights because only men are picked, not women. BAD believes Bermudian men are treated unfairly as citizens of a British Overseas Territory in being expected to serve, as Britain formally ended national service in 1960. The organisation has also made allegations of ill-treatment of conscripts at Warwick Camp. Members hope the outcome of their legal action will be a Supreme Court ruling outlawing the draft for good – but they have vowed to take the case all the way to the European Court of Justice if necessary.
January 12. The Premier has spoken publicly for the first time about the battle to outlaw conscription in Bermuda — and his comments have outraged campaigners. Steering clear of expressing a direct view on the draft, Dr. Ewart Brown stressed the importance of giving "some form of national service" back to the Island. However, his remarks were taken as criticism by the lobby group Bermudians Against the Draft (BAD), with a spokesman launching a stinging attack on the "out of touch" Premier in response. As was revealed on Saturday, 13 men in their 20s are embarking on a test-case at the Supreme Court which aims to get compulsory Bermuda Regiment service declared illegal. The court documents, which will be served on Governor Sir John Vereker — the Commander in Chief of the Regiment — plus the Deputy Governor and Attorney General, alleges the ballot that chooses conscripts is gender-biased and a breach of human rights because only men are picked, not women. BAD has branded the policy "a form of 20th century slavery" and made allegations of ill-treatment of conscripts at Warwick Camp. Sir John hit out at the campaign earlier this week, telling this newspaper there was no public or political support for it. Minister for Public Safety and Housing, Senator David Burch, also criticised BAD, accusing it on TV news of trying to tarnish the Regiment's reputation.
January 12. It was confirmed that Cherie Booth, the wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, is being lined up to represent the family of the 1996 vicious murder, rape and sodomy victim 17-year old Canadian visitor Rebecca Middleton at a judicial review to take place in Bermuda at the Supreme Court on April 16 and 17, 2007. Ms Booth is one of the UK’s top QCs and has previously offered legal advice to the Middleton family. Legal steps were taken in late 2006 to seek a judicial review of DPP director Vinette Graham Allen’s decision in March 2006 not to reinvestigate the matter or consider fresh charges. Chief Justice Richard Ground of Bermuda has allowed a judicial review. Applications have been made to allow Ms Booth to appear as legal counsel for the Middletons at the judicial review. The Bermuda Bar Council is considering the request to allow the famed lawyer to handle the case, and the matter will also be considered by the Department of Immigration. It is also believed that the DPP is also getting overseas lawyers.
January 12. Bermuda has the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in the world, following the release of Government figures. The Island’s total GDP – the market value of all the goods and services produced – rose by 9.1 percent in 2005, driven upwards chiefly by the expansion of the international business sector. Bermuda’s total GDP was estimated at $4.857 billion – or a remarkable $76,403 per head. According to the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook web-site, that puts Bermuda at the top of the GDP per capita global league table, with second-placed Luxembourg more than $10,000 behind in 2005. In comparison, the US had a GDP per capita over the same year of $41,600, Canada $33,900 and the UK $30,100. The figures showed substantial rises in the output of construction, tourism, business services and real estate, as well as international business. But the output of the retail sector saw only a slight rise – a decline after inflation was taken into account. A loss of 218 retails jobs reflected the closure of Trimingham’s and the sector was also hit by a 14 percent increase in overseas spending by residents. Inflation hit 3.1 percent for the year in terms of the Consumer Price Index, the rise in the price of a fixed “shopping basket” of goods. But in GDP calculations a different measure, known as economy-wide inflation, is used. This figure, which takes into account changing consumption patterns, rather than using the fixed-list method, hit 4.3 percent in 2005. A statement from Government’s Economic Statistics and National Accounts Division said international business, the biggest employer on the Island, had contributed more than $1 billion directly to the GDP, as output increased by 13.9 percent. That figure was bolstered by a wave of start-up insurance companies, established here in the wake of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. The storms caused billions of dollars worth of damage and boosted demand for reinsurance. The figures also reflect the wider importance of international business to the Island’s economy.
January 12. Reforms suggested to Bermuda's current Internet system, to get rid of current disadvantages. Under the current system the four categories of telecommunications companies are Class A providers. International service providers (TBI and Cable & Wireless. Also Brasil Telecom, which cannot sell to retail customers); Class B providers. Fixed and wireless domestic service providers, including BTC, Quantum, the cellular providers and the Cable TV providers; Class C providers. Internet service providers, including Logic, North Rock, Fort Knox and Transact; Cable TV providers - Bermuda-based Cable TV companies authorized to provide limited telecommunication services. They include Bermuda CableVision and World on Wireless. Companies would get one licence to cover all sectors under the Government's new proposal. The sweeping reform of the telecommunications industry aimed at generating more competition and lower prices for consumers is in the pipeline. Amid a raft of proposals contained in a consultation document, Government has suggested that restrictions on foreign ownership – known as the 60-40 rule – should be entirely dropped for telecommunications companies. And the industry’s licensing system is also in line for a complete overhaul, which would allow companies to deliver an unrestricted range of services with one all-embracing licence. For example, this would mean that an internet service provider (ISP) like Logic could compete with a cellular phone company like CellularOne, or an international service provider like TeleBermuda International. The moves are mooted in a consultation document on regulatory reforms drawn up by the Ministry of Environment, Telecommunications and E-Commerce (METEC). It is hoped that the abandonment of foreign ownership restrictions will encourage investment in the latest technology and lead to “a level playing field.” Currently, international service providers can be 100 percent foreign-owned, while all ISPs, for example, are subject to the 60-40 rule.
January 12. Members of the public have inundated the Department of Planning with more than 100 letters of objection to the proposed hotel plans for Southlands. The letters were written after members of the public learned Southlands Ltd was requesting two special development orders (SDOs). If approved, these would allow the builder to bypass planning regulations. Objectors believe the proposal violated the spirit of the Sustainable Development Strategy and Plan. The more stirring arguments came from people who considered themselves neighbours to Southlands. They believe the people most affected by this development should be considered in the planning process, including families that have lived in the area for generations.
January. Belco has started a public consultation about plant location and alternative energy sources in order to better plan for the future. People have been asked if they would support the construction of a new power plant or sub-plant and where they think a new plant should go, if built. Alternative energy sources were also featured prominently, with people being asked if they were open to developments such as wind turbines and solar panels. The company's aim is to gather information that would allow them to assess the interest in various energy options in order to gauge what the demand for them would be over the next 20 years, especially with Bermuda's demand for energy expected to rise 1.5 percent annually over the next 20 years. What are people are doing now to conserve energy? Are they are interested in becoming more energy efficient? Do people want solar panels on their house or is that not aesthetically pleasing?
January. Two mega-size cruise ships berthing one in front of the other at an expanded facility in Dockyard now appears the most likely way forward for Bermuda. And for St. George's a future vision of a Monaco-style destination with mega yachts visiting the harbour rather than cruise ships was put forward by Premier Ewart Brown as the future of the Island as a cruise ship destination was discussed. The results of Government's Cruise Ports Study were revealed and showed the high cost – in terms of money and to the environment – the Island would face if it attempts to enlarge the navigational channels at Town Cut in St. George's and Two Rocks Passage near Hamilton to fit larger cruise ships. There is now little doubt the smaller cruise ships currently able to access St. George's harbour and Hamilton harbour will be phased out by the major cruise line companies within the next two to three years. With the cruise ship market favoring Panamax and post-Panamax sized ships, which typically reach 950 feet in length and beyond, Bermuda's most workable answer appears to be to expand the Dockyard cruise port with an extra berthing spot enabling two of the giant ships to visit at the same time rather than just one as is the case today. Although Government has not concluded that there will be no alteration to Town Cut or Two Rocks Passage, it is the opinion of St. George's Corporation that Town Cut not be widened and alternatives be considered such as a cruise pier being developed at Murray's Anchorage for the large cruise ships with passengers then being ferried to town.
January 16. First-time home buyers can now buy a Bermuda property valued at up to $1 million without having to provide a deposit. The Bank of Bermuda said its new “Home Start Mortgage”, launched yesterday, would also allow customers to opt to make interest-only payments for the first three years to help them get started. It is thought to be the only 100 percent mortgage offered on the Island and borrowers can take up to 30 years to pay it back. The deal applies to primary homes and investment properties alike. A spokesperson for the Bank, which is owned by HSBC, said yesterday that the lender does not believe the new product will carry any greater risk of borrowers defaulting than other mortgages. The move will throw down the gauntlet to other lenders on the Island, most of whom require at least a five percent deposit when financing a property purchase.
January 18. A new law to make land squabbles a thing of the past is in the pipeline said Works and Engineering Minister Dennis Lister. He said titles would have to be registered and open to all to see under new legislation likely this year. He told The Royal Gazette*p(0,12,0,11,0,0,g)> : “You will know who owns titles so the questions around that can be resolved.” The mechanics are still being worked out but the objective was everybody will be registered — Government properties as well as private properties — said Mr. Lister. “As time go on the process will be compulsory — as transactions take place and properties change hands they will be automatically registered with the land title registry.” He said the proposed legislation is nothing new. " It is something which is done in other jurisdictions and will help alleviate problems which exist with questions around ownership. You hear stories to this day with people saying their family had owned this whole plot of land and now it’s been subdivided up and years later new generations can’t understand how it got from the ownership of the family to where it is today.
January 18. Uncommon Results — the programme which will target at-risk youngsters on the verge of dropping out of society — will make a huge difference to Bermuda, predicted Social Rehabilitation Minister Dale Butler. His ministry is now trying to get at least 100 Bermudian volunteers to help run the programme over the next two or three years. Set to start in April, Mr. Butler said of the scheme: “It will happen. It will make a big difference.” Government is looking for private sponsorship and Mr. Butler said the costs of not intervening were far worse. “If you don’t nip these issues in the bud, for a cent be prepared to pay a dollar. The challenging and intensive course has wayward youth examine the consequences of their choices and talk over problems. It ultimately leads them to discover why their lives are not working.” The programme, which will be run by Mark Charley, involves a two-week residential process for about 30 youngsters at a guest house. They will undergo individual and group counseling and physical activity. “They go out around obstacle courses. They come back and discuss what went right and what went wrong. They are mini-Survivor type courses — why is it you can’t interact with other people in your group?” The programme has been successfully used in eight countries and Mr. Butler said clients had found it made a lasting impact. Course graduates are then channeled to other youth programmes, mentors and other opportunities such as financial help for study. Mr. Butler hopes youngsters can be referred to the programme as an alternative sentencing option.
January 21. The Department of Tourism is taking a close look at its public relations agencies in both North America and the United Kingdom. Word of the reviews came from Director of Tourism Cherie Witter who said it was standard practice to ensure that Bermuda tourism is being effectively promoted overseas. The current PR agency in North America is Lou Hammond and Associates which has offices in New York City, Miami, and Charleston, South Carolina. The company has held the account since 1999. It’s not certain whether or not Lou Hammond will be replaced, but Mrs. Whitter said, “The ideal agency partner is one that is immersed in the marketplace and that has established relationships with North American media, influences and celebrities that can be leveraged for the benefit of Bermuda Tourism.” She also advised that the UK agency review began last year and is almost completed. The North American review has just started.
January 21. First stage approval has been given for Cherie Booth, the wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, to come to Bermuda to represent the family of teenage murder victim Rebecca Middleton this April. The Bermuda Bar Council has agreed to a request to have Ms Booth, one of the UK’s leading QCs, as legal counsel at the judicial review scheduled to take place in Supreme Court on April 16 and 17. However, before Ms Booth is given the final green light to work as a legal representative on the Island she must also gain approval from the Department of Immigration and the Supreme Court. Applications to clear those hurdles have been made and will be dealt with in coming weeks. A brief review of how things are progressing with filing evidence documents for the case was held in the Supreme Court at the end of last week. The Department of Public Prosecutions had previously agreed that by January 19 it would file its evidence as to why the director Vinette Graham-Allen made her decision last March not to reinvestigate the murder or consider fresh charges. The brutal rape and murder of Canadian visitor Becky, 17, at a remote spot at Ferry Reach, St. George’s in July 1996, remains unsolved. No-one has ever been convicted of the murder. The court hearing this April, expected to be heard by Chief Justice Richard Ground, will deal simply with the arguments as to whether there should or shouldn’t be a re-examination of the evidence and pursuit of fresh charges against suspects. Ms Booth has previously offered legal advice to the Middletons. Attorney Kelvin Hastings-Smith, of Appleby Hunter Bailhache, served evidence to the DPP containing reasons as to why the case should be reinvestigated at the end of 2006. He said the short court hearing last Thursday was dealing with case management to ensure everything is in order for the April deadline. He said the DPP had co-operated in efforts for Ms Booth to be brought to the Island. The DPP is believed to be seeking overseas counsel of its own to appear in the two-day judicial review, which has been allowed by Mr. Justice Ground.
January 26. The Causeway was closed for four hours, nearly 500 people went without power and hundreds of schoolchildren and workers were sent home as hurricane force winds battered Bermuda. With gusting winds hitting 75 knots, flights from Bermuda International Airport and ferry services on the Island were also cancelled. Public Safety Minister David Burch shut the Causeway at 1.30 p.m. for safety reasons, with sustained winds at 45 knots. It remained shut until winds dropped at about 5.30 p.m., leading to scores of frustrated motorists in lengthy tailbacks. All Government schools were closed at lunchtime after power outages at five schools across the country, with a number of private schools following suit. Business leaders described it as a “crazy” day, as many staff left early amid confusion over the Causeway and to fetch their children from school. Four electricity circuits went down during the morning, with about 485 people without power, some for up to three hours. It is thought the problems happened when the wind blew branches onto electricity lines. In the afternoon, a Continental flight from Newark was delayed, while JetBlue and Delta’s Atlanta flights were cancelled because the closure of the Causeway meant people could not reach the airport. Mr. Burch said people had called the Government to complain about the closure of the Causeway, but argued he acted in the interests of public safety. He said Government had set guidelines to shut it in strong winds in the light of Hurricane Fabian in 2003.
January 27. A group of young men battling to get conscription outlawed suffered a blow yesterday when Chief Justice Richard Ground refused to grant them protection from arrest by the Regimental Police. At least six of the thirteen members of Bermudians Against the Draft are supposed to have joined the Regiment this year – opening up the possibility of them being detained for skipping duties. With a Supreme Court hearing pending against the Governor, Deputy Governor and Attorney General, which they hope will lead to mandatory military service being outlawed, the men asked the Chief Justice to grant them protection until it is heard. However, after three days of arguments from the group's lawyers Delroy Duncan and Allan Doughty in a behind-closed-doors hearing, Mr. Justice Ground declined the application. The campaign has won the support of British Member of Parliament Andrew MacKinlay, of the ruling Labour Party, who has asked questions about the policy in the House of Parliament in London. Conscription has been backed publicly in recent weeks by Governor Sir John Vereker and Minister of Public Safety David Burch, who said there is widespread support in Bermuda for compulsory Regiment service.
January 30. Built at a public cost of $20 million, the Sylvia Richardson Care Facility, just opened, is the replacement for the St. George's Parish Rest Home, which closed five years ago due to health and safety concerns. It has a library, beauty salon and chapel and underlines the Government's commitment to take residential care to a better level. The government regards it as the future model for residential care, nursing homes and other care facilities. Health Minister Mr. Bascome said: "This is the first step in the Government's commitment to restructure and upgrade our senior residential care and nursing homes to ensure the provision of safe, comfortable and healthy living environments. It will provide needed long-term care, in the east parishes in particular, and help to address a pressing need for more intermediate and skilled nursing care across the Island. The intent of this facility is to provide care and services from assisted living to skilled nursing in an integrated fashion. It embraces the concept of ageing, making it possible for residents to experience dignity, care and individualism at all levels of physical and cognitive ability without having to relocate. The mission of the facility is to deliver effective resident centered care in a home-like environment through the involvement of residents, caregivers and the community. We recognize we must provide a continuum of services that supports seniors and assists them in maintaining their independence and involvement in their communities." The facility was named after Sylvia Richardson, a nurse who made a significant contribution to the St. George community and to the people of Bermuda. Premier Ewart Brown and former Premier Dame Jennifer Smith, local MP, were among the guests as the new home was unveiled. It was built after the Ministry of Health commissioned a report over long-term care facility needs in Bermuda. This involved consultation with the community.
January 31. World-leading hotel group Jumeirah expects to open the first stage of its planned Southlands hotel resort before the end of 2008 with the entire scheme up-and-running by the end of 2010. An assurance has been given that Southlands' woodland reserve hinterland and its folly-esque quarry gardens dating back to the 19th century will be mostly preserved and enhanced for guests and visitors to enjoy. The banyan trees with their impressive, ghostly aerial roots at the entrance to the Southlands estate from South Road will remain undisturbed, according to the developers. A greenhouse has been created on the estate to begin nurturing plants that will eventually be used in the landscaping of the Jumeirah Southlands resort grounds. The developers anticipate the southern portion of the resort campus featuring 66 suites looking out across South Shore will be completed before the end of 2008 and the rest of the project to be completed within 24 months. The north and south sections of the resort will be connected by a land bridge across South Road, effectively placing a realigned South Road into a tunnel below. According the developers the road works will be done in such a way that they do not affect motorists using South Road. The convening of a major press conference featuring a number of Jumeirah Group executives, including CEO Gerald Lawless, was the strongest hint yet that the Southlands resort project involving the hotel group that runs "the world's only seven-star hotel" the Burj al Arab in Dubai, is about to be green lighted by Government. A special development order (SDO) to allow the development to short-cut the normal planning process is currently under review by Environment Minister Neletha Butterfield. There was criticism a year ago when the then Deputy Premier Ewart Brown stood in front of the former Club Med resort to announce an ill-fated deal to develop that location with neither a developer nor a hotel operator willing to appear in public to add substance to the announcement. This time Premier Dr. Brown stood shoulder-to-shoulder not only with Jumeirah's CEO, who had flown in from Dubai, but also with developer Craig Christensen who has become the public face of the Southlands Limited, whose other owners are businessmen Nelson Hunt, Brian Duperreault and his wife Nancy. Mr. Lawless said he met Dr. Brown when he visited Dubai a year ago and had been impressed by the Tourism Minister's invitation to consider Bermuda a possible location for a future resort. He said the speed with which things had been arranged to facilitate such a development had impressed him further.
February 3. Wildlife campaigners are calling for measures to protect sea turtles, cahows and other creatures potentially at risk from long-line fishing vessels. The Ministry of Environment is currently considering bringing the commercial practice – which involves hanging hundreds of baited hooks from a huge line – to Bermuda. The American-based long-line fishing vessel Eagle Eye II is to spend the next two months in the Island’s waterways as the Government assesses the economic viability of the practice. Fishermen have backed the move and claim it will boost the fishing industry. They say long-line fishing should have been brought to the Island years ago. However, environmentalists across the world campaign against it, stating that many animals fall victim to “by-catching” when they accidentally get caught on the line’s hooks. In water surrounding Bermuda, it is feared sea turtles, cahows and even dolphins could be in danger of by-catching even if long-line fishing targets mainly tuna and swordfish. Environmentalists are calling for the Government to ensure methods to protect such species are in place if the practice is introduced. Andrew Dobson, former president of Bermuda Audubon Society, said more than 300,000 seabirds are killed across the world each year as a result of long-line fishing.
February 5. A British MP has launched a stinging attack on the Bermuda Regiment in the House of Commons. Anti-conscription campaigner Andrew MacKinlay – a member of the ruling Labour Party – said the Regiment was in a "parlous state". Mr. MacKinlay is a supporter of Bermudians Against the Draft (B.A.D), a group of 13 conscripts preparing a Supreme Court bid to get the call-up outlawed. The group alleges that the ballot which chooses conscripts is gender-biased and a breach of human rights because only men are picked, not women. Members have also made allegations about abuse at Warwick Camp. During his speech to the House of Commons, Mr. MacKinlay cited passages from the report on a Bermuda Regiment Fitness for Role Inspection conducted by the British Defence Staff, Washington, in November 2005. The report – published on the Government House website – was critical of the Regiment's weapons handling, command structure, elderly equipment, and performance of its ceremonial role. Mr. MacKinlay quoted a passage that said: "Junior officers and NCOs are generally weak as commanders, displaying a lack of military leadership skills." And he pointed out how it was noted that at the 2005 Throne Speech, the Regiment turned up seven minutes late "largely thanks to poor time appreciation and a lack of urgency, both completely within its control. "This fundamental professional error was avoidable and should not have occurred".
February 12. Labour and Immigration Minister Derrick Burgess has reluctantly scrapped plans to create a register for land trusts after experts told him the move would cause serious damage to the Island’s trust business. The scheme was to have been a major part of the Government’s efforts to clamp down on “fronting” – when Bermudians illegally “front” trusts to buy and hold land on behalf of non-Bermudians. But Mr. Burgess announced in the House of Assembly on Friday that his Ministry was withdrawing the Trusts of Land in Bermuda (Registration) Act 2006, which was tabled on December 1 last year. Instead of the comprehensive trust register that was originally planned, Mr. Burgess on Friday tabled a replacement bill – the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 2007 – entailing a “less intrusive form of information-gathering”. “I have withdrawn from the concept of having a comprehensive registration scheme for all land trusts in Bermuda, a scheme that was of major concern to stakeholders who felt that it would be most injurious to trust business in Bermuda,” Mr. Burgess said in a ministerial statement. “It is with some trepidation that I have abandoned the compulsory registration scheme. However, should the passage of time reveal that the less intrusive form of information-gathering provided for in the new bill is ineffective, the Government will not hesitate to return to this Honorable House with stern measures along the lines of the Trusts of Land in Bermuda (Registration) Act that is to be withdrawn today.” Mr. Burgess told MPs that some parties had raised concerns about the land trust register idea, prompting the Minister to invite them to air their views. “In response to my invitation, stakeholders including the Bank of Bermuda, the Bermuda Bar Association, the Bermuda Association of Licensed Trustees and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (Bermuda) made submissions setting out their views on the proposed legislation and offering proposals whereby they might be modified,” Mr. Burgess said. Labour and Immigration technical officers joined Mr. Burgess in a meeting with concerned parties on January 22, with UK trust legislation expert James Wadham providing support for the Government team. “After reflecting on the input received from these bodies and after much deliberation, I , supported by my Government colleagues, came to the conclusion that the public would be better served by a simplified regulatory regime,” Mr. Burgess said. Key information-gathering powers proposed in the scrapped bill had been merged into the new bill, the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 2007, he added. Government would not waver on its policy to ensure “the preservation of Bermuda’s land bank for future generations of Bermudians”, Mr. Burgess said.
February 14. Better pay for nurses and the rebuilding of King Edward VII Memorial Hospital will help tackle the nursing shortage in Bermuda, according to new hospitals chief David Hill. Improved training opportunities are also being considered as Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) steps up its drive to recruit and retain medical staff in response to the global shortage of health care workers, said Mr. Hill. The CEO said the new-look hospital would provide an attractive environment for nurses and healthcare professionals. Mr. Hill said: "Recruiting staff remains an issue now and will be an issue for many years to come, both for this hospital and hospitals internationally. We are working on various initiatives, particularly around the nursing shortage. We come up with as many initiatives as we can to recruit and retain staff. We are looking at salary and pay ladders this year to make it more financially rewarding to staff to work here. Schemes are also under consideration for local training. If there's good training packages available and then a good salary, once people have trained they would stay here, particularly if there is the prospect of a new hospital. Good clinical staff want to work in the best environment. That's what we want to provide for them." In November last year, Health Minister Nelson Bascome revealed demand for nurses on the Island will go up from 430 to 473 in the next decade to help care for increasing numbers of seniors.
February 14. About a dozen Bermudians who have worked with the US State Department are now part of a very exclusive alumni association — put together with the help of the American Consulate in Devonshire. Friday was the new alumni group's first ever meeting to discuss what the programme has accomplished and what its future may hold. The State Department's Voluntary Visitor Exchange Programme recruits non-Americans to go to the United States to meet with and learn from American experts in various fields. For example, the first Bermudian group travelled to the United States in 2005 to pick up knowledge on youth development. The five-member team went to Washington, DC, New York, Boston, Atlanta, Jacksonville and Chicago in a fast-paced, ten-day stretch. Dr. Derrick Binns led the 2005 group while he was Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs. Last year Kennette Robinson from the Department of Child and Family Services led a second team to Washington, New York and Florida on a mission to better understand strengthening families. Members from both of those trips make up the new Voluntary Visitor Alumni Association. Part of the inaugural meeting on Friday was spent discussing the 2007 trip to the United States. US Consul General Gregory Slayton said: "The VolVis Exchange Program is an important public diplomacy tool reflecting the co-operative nature of the relationship between the United States and Bermuda." He also said he would like to see a contingent off to the United States every year and the alumni association has moved them one important step closer to that goal. The Bermuda alumni group will have the opportunity to meet with other alumni around the world. There are an estimate 23,000 who meet occasionally and participate in discussion panels and on-line web chats with guest experts.
February 18. Death of the Hon. Gloria Juanita Darrell McPhee, OBE, JP, BS, MSc, born November 10, 1926, wife of Dr. Bert McPhee. She created her own unique niche in Bermuda's history as a trail-blazing humanitarian, politician, Cabinet member and educator (see more details below)..
February 19. Some of Bermuda's most influential people paid tribute to Gloria McPhee who died yesterday afternoon at the age of 80. She was instrumental in the racial integration of Bermuda's schools, helped create the Bermuda College, and was the country's first ever female Government Minister, representing the United Bermuda Party at the time. But those who honored Mrs. McPhee — aunt of Progressive Labour Party Premier Ewart Brown — were of all political stripes. Last night former Premier Sir John Swan heard the news for the first time from The Royal Gazette and said immediately: "What a tragedy." His wife, Lady Swan, was equally surprised to hear the news. Sir John said: "I'd like to extend to Dr. McPhee and the family our condolences on behalf of Lady Swan and our family. "She was a true Bermudian who believed in Bermuda as a true democracy. She worked in a bipartisan way and devoted herself to the political process. She helped to bring Bermuda through an evolving, difficult and maturing process which helped build the foundation of the Bermuda we know today. She left a considerable legacy in her commitment to the United Bermuda Party and the country as a whole. She'll be looked at as one of the most outstanding Ministers in our history. Bermuda owes her a debt of gratitude." Mrs. McPhee's husband, Dr. G.B. McPhee spoke lovingly of his wife when contacted at home last night: "She was my whole life — my great advisor, lover, and friend. She was everything to me. She's a great loss." Mrs. McPhee is survived by her husband and her two children Karen Juanita McPhee and Kevin Darrell McPhee. Dr. and Mrs. McPhee met at Howard University in Washington DC and were married there in 1948 right after Mrs. McPhee's graduation. She had thoughts originally of becoming a dentist, but instead decided to work in her husband's medical practice as a certified laboratory technician. She was there about a decade until she went into public service. In 1968 she won her first election as a member of the United Bermuda Party and summarily defeated the Opposition Leader. Gloria McPhee would never lose an election her entire political career. The family's lawyer, Julian Hall, often lamented his client wasn't elevated from O.B.E status to Dame. He said last night in an e-mail message: "The late Sir Henry Tucker described her as the UBP secret weapon and he was absolutely right. She was a formidable daughter of the Bermudian soil whose impact on the Bermuda education system and on our understanding of the need to protect and preserve our environment was monumental. She was an extremely diligent and hard working servant of the Bermudian people for many years." After the United Bermuda Party win of 1968, Mrs. McPhee became the first woman appointed to the Cabinet.
February 20. Despite no rise in general payroll tax in this year’s Budget, companies face an ever-increasing payroll tax burden because of salary increases and the need to employ more staff, according to business leaders. For some relief comes by taking a portion of their operation overseas, or even starting out with a percentage of staff located in places other than Bermuda. As welcome as the Island’s booming economy might be, a drawback is the high cost of having locally-based staff. That’s one of the reasons why some businesses have either out-sourced work overseas or set up business units in lower-cost jurisdictions. “Businesses are going to pay more in payroll tax. The amount they pay is going up even though the (tax) rate has not changed. That is because salaries have risen and the number of employees are going up,” said Peter Everson, president of the Chamber of Commerce. “So international business looks to see where it makes the most sense to locate their people. Is it better to have new recruits in other countries?” he said. “The more it makes more sense to have them somewhere other than Bermuda the more Bermuda will suffer. And these young people (who are employed) end up not having any allegiance to Bermuda one way or the other.” One company that saw economic sense in having some of its operations based outside Bermuda is Flagstone Re. Set up in December 2005 in the wake of the devastation of hurricanes Wilma, Rita and Katrina on the US, Flagstone employs 95 people globally, of which around one-third work at its Church Street offices. The others are spread out, mostly in Canada and India, but also at small offices in London and Switzerland.
February 20. Bermuda has lost another of its peaceful warriors from the sometimes turbulent political period of the 1960s and 1970s. The late Gloria McPhee, who died this weekend, was an iconoclastic and independent-minded politician, who was part of the outstanding class of 1968 that revolutionized Bermuda politics as the Island entered the era of universal suffrage and political parties. Former MP Julian Hall rightly quoted a description by the late Sir Henry Tucker of Mrs. McPhee as the United Bermuda Party's "secret weapon", and that she was, defeating then-Progressive Labour Party Leader Walter Robinson in 1968 and then holding her seat in 1972 and 1976, when her running mate the late Dr. John Stubbs was defeated. Mrs. McPhee, Bermuda's first female Cabinet Minister, was subsequently a leading force in the UBP's Black Caucus, which was formed as UBP MPs became increasingly disturbed that the then-Government was lagging in its commitment to social reform and opening up opportunities for black Bermudians. So disillusioned did she become that in 1980, she nominated Opposition Leader Lois Browne Evans for her Devonshire North seat in a general election that the UBP only narrowly won. That signaled the end of Mrs. McPhee's participation in active politics, but she remained busy behind the scenes. Indeed, only a few months ago she raised her concerns about the impact of global warming and climate change on Bermuda, and it is ironic and unfortunate that our series on the issue should have been started just after her death. Mrs. McPhee was a courageous and independent politician, in much the same way that colleagues like Dr. Stubbs, the late Dr. Stanley Ratteray, Harry Viera, C.V. (Jim) Woolridge and Dr. Clarence James were and are. While it is fashionable today to claim that black Bermudians joined the UBP "for what they could get", this is deeply unfair. For many, it would have been easier to join the PLP and avoid the accusations of being Uncle Toms that followed. For the most part, these men and women were conservative, and that in large part motivated them to join the UBP and to force change from within the old establishment. Few were from what was then generally considered to be the "Forty Thieves", and they all had a fierce passion for Bermuda and an abiding belief that Bermuda could only progress if it did so as a truly integrated community in which the races worked together to eliminate their differences. This was the fundamental difference between the UBP and the PLP then and now, because the latter party has a regrettable tendency to look at politics via a prism in which race is the sole factor, and fails to recognize the differences and similarities that individuals have, regardless of the skin colour that they were born with. Despite the use of Mrs. McPhee's name as a UBP dissident, she never veered from her fundamental beliefs. She had a unshakeable commitment to building and maintaining the dignity and worth of the black Bermudian, but she never veered from her commitment to an integrated Bermuda, and she certainly had deep concerns about the direction in which Bermuda was going before her untimely passing. It is also fair to say that she probably would have looked at the quality of today's House of Assembly with some dismay. It is all too easy to look at the past with rose-tinted glasses and it is true that obituaries perennially gloss over the human weaknesses we all have in abundance, but it is undeniable that the members of today's House of Assembly are a far cry from the stellar statesmen and women who occupied seats in the House during Mrs. McPhee's era. That is as true for the PLP as it is for the UBP. Apart from those named above, the House today lacks leaders of the caliber of Dame Lois Browne-Evans and the late Eugene Cox and Frederick Wade, both of whom were part of the Class of 1968. Today, as too many of these great leaders pass on, having left a legacy of which all Bermuda should be proud, they leave the question: Will Bermuda see their like again?
February 22. US Presidential hopeful Barack Obama is one of three senators who have proposed legislation that seeks to recover an estimated $100 billion a year in tax revenue they say is lost each year because of overseas tax havens. The Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act will impact many offshore jurisdictions including Bermuda, which was mentioned directly by Democrat Sen. Obama when spoke on the proposal. “Under this bill, if you create a trust or corporation in a tax haven jurisdiction, send it assets, or benefit from its actions, the Federal Government will presume a civil judicial and administrative proceedings that you control the entity and that any income generated by it is your income for tax, securities, and money-laundering purposes,” said Sen. Obama. “The burden of proof shifts to the corporation or the individual, who may rebut these presumptions by clear and convincing evidence. This bill provides an initial list of offshore secrecy jurisdictions where these evidentiary presumptions will apply. Taxpayers with foreign financial accounts in Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands or Dominica, for example, should be prepared to report their accounts in the Internal Revenue Service.” Senators Obama, Norm Coleman and Carl Levin have jointly presented the proposed legislation, which will in part force hedge funds to report their foreign investors to the Treasury Department. Also speaking to the proposal Sen. Levin referred to a 2004 report he had helped compile that revealed that two-thirds of the top 100 companies doing business with the US Government had one or more subsidiaries in a tax haven. One company, Bermuda-based Tyco International, had 155, he told Congress. The 68-page measures proposed will impose tougher requirements on US taxpayers using offshore secrecy jurisdictions, give the US Treasury the authority to take action against foreign jurisdictions that impede tax enforcement, stiffen penalties against abusers and close offshore trust loopholes, according to Michigan Democrat Sen. Levin. "The legislation would require hedge funds to establish anti-money-laundering programs under guidance from the Treasury Department to better track offshore investors. The measure would also prohibit the US Patent and Trademark Office from issuing patents for accounting strategies intended to “minimise, avoid, defer, or otherwise affect liability for federal, state, local, or foreign tax. We cannot tolerate tax cheats offloading their unpaid taxes onto the backs of honest taxpayers,” Levin said. “Offshore tax havens have declared economic war on honest taxpayers by helping tax cheats hide income and assets that should be taxed in the same way as other Americans.” Both the Treasury Department and top lawmakers in both houses of Congress have made a priority this year reducing the so-called tax gap, the difference between what individuals and companies owe and what they actually pay. The IRS said a study of 2001 tax returns shows the tax gap is about $345 billion a year, only $55 billion of which is recovered.
February 22. American television personality Rosie O'Donnell has chartered an entire cruise liner and that ship is headed for Bermuda. It's not the first time Ms. O'Donnell has booked a complete ship for gay and lesbian families, but this time she rocked a few boats because people who had previously made reservations on Norwegian were bumped. A spokesperson for "The View" co-host said: "It's not Rosie's fault. This happens every time someone charters a cruise, but because it's Rosie, people want to make an issue." New Yorker Carol Farina told the Daily News the cruise was a Sweet 16 celebration for her granddaughter who has lupus. Members of the family arranged their vacations around the trip. Now they've been bumped. "I don't blame Rosie O'Donnell," Ms Farina said. "I think it's up to the cruise line." Norwegian officials offered an apology and a $50 onboard credit to people who were inconvenienced. They also plan to rebook those displaced passengers on a different cruise. The Farina family may have to pass on the opportunity though because everyone in their group can't reschedule. The cruise of gay and lesbian families is due to leave New York on July 7. It will come to Bermuda, then go to the Bahamas, before returning to the U.S. East Coast on July 14. Rosie O'Donnell announced she was a lesbian in 2002. Two years later she married her long time girlfriend Kelli Carpenter in San Francisco. The couple has three adopted children and a fourth who was conceived through sperm donation. In 2006 Ms. O'Donnell's gay and lesbian family cruises became widely known through the release of a documentary on HBO called "All Aboard: Rosie's Family Cruise."
February23. Last night one of the owners of the controversial Southlands estate told concerned citizens at a meeting, "If you're not in the government or planning then you are not part of the process." Nelson Hunt was responding to questions raised by a woman in the meeting how Bermudians will have a say in what happens at Southlands if the Special Development Order (SDO) wipes it out. SDOs would speed up the development process and prevent the public input during the construction phases, however, law permits the Environment Minister to grant SDOs if the project is of national importance. The Southlands estate, which Craig Christensen and Brian Duperreault also own, formed a partnership with Jumeirah and applied for an SDO to bring a resort hotel and fractional ownership vacation units to the sprawling Southlands estate in Warwick. The meeting, which drew close to 60 concerned citizens, was held at the Warwick Workman's Club to address questions raised, according to MP Alex Scott, when he was polling his constituents. A large portion of the meeting was spent debating the rights of those at the meeting to raise their concerns and their access to the plans for the project, and brought on Mr. Hunt's statement.
February 23. Government leaders may turn to private partners to help pay for a second cruise ship pier in Dockyard. Already $20m dollars has been set aside in the new budget for the project, but that represents only about 60 percent of the anticipated cost- another $15m will have to come from the next budget. When asked how the second budget allotment will be paid for, Premier Ewart Brown, who is also Tourism Minister, said: “It will either come out as a capital expenditure or we may engage in a public-private partnership with the cruise lines.” Such a partnership would provide some relief to taxpayers, but the cruise lines will be expecting something in return. Dr. Brown added: “They form a closer relationship with the Government, I think it gives them a better chance at being considered when schedules are being formulated. If they’re co-owners of something they expect to have a greater say.” According to the Premier, these kinds of partnerships have been brokered in other jurisdictions and he predicted one could work well for Bermuda. The Dockyard port enhancement is needed, according to proponents, because the smaller traditional cruise liners are being phased out to make room for larger Panamax ships. The Panamax ships won’t fit through Town Cut in St. George’s or Two Rocks Passage near Hamilton, so the burden of the bigger cruise liners rests solely on Dockyard. Ultimately, the new project would allow two Panamax ships to dock simultaneously. Passengers could be ferried to various parts of the Island. The announcement of a new Dockyard port arrives after the numbers of 2007 cruise ship visits were released, which showed 180 visits this year, 11 more than in 2006 and 34 more visits then in 2004. Visitors arriving by cruise ship in 2006 were up by 36 percent with a total of 336,299 over the 247,258 in 2005 and the focus on cruise arrivals is part of Dr. Brown’s objective to increase overall visitor numbers. A $35m expense, however, to further promote the cruise passenger product, is not going to make everyone happy, especially because the cruise visitor doesn’t spend nearly as much on the Island as the air visitor. It’s a point the Premier agreed with. “It’s an established fact,” he said. “But our position is that a cruise visitor is better than no visitor and that’s what we used to have.” So by those parameters, it’s difficult to see what benefit the $35m project holds for local tourism businesses.
February 23. Securing work permits, term limit exemptions and visitor permits from the Department of Labour and Immigration is the biggest challenge faced by international business in Bermuda. And the leader of the Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC) is urging rapid improvements to be made to remedy that situation. There should also be extreme caution shown towards any move to increase the tax burden faced by international business in Bermuda because the Island already presents high costs to companies located on the Island. Those are two key points expressed by ABIC chairman David Ezekiel, who has generally welcomed the Budget unveiled by Finance Minister Paula Cox a week ago today. “We note the Minister’s statement that much of the allocation provided to the Ministry of Labour & Immigration is to be used to deliver a long-promised improvement in the delivery of services to its customers,” said Mr. Ezekiel. “We cannot stress strongly enough the importance of this being done and being done quickly. Our members continually advise us that dealing with the Department in relation to work permits, term limit exemptions, visitor permits and the like is the biggest challenge facing them as they try to operate efficiently in the Bermuda environment. Again, we are encouraged Minister Derrick Burgess has given us a commitment that we will see improvements in the approach and response time sooner rather than later.” In its initial Budget response the ABIC repeated it is not supportive of any tax increases “during this time of a fast-expanding revenue base on the Island.”
March 3. Union leader Mike Charles claimed last night that Government was failing to keep teachers informed of the results of air quality testing at the Island’s largest public school. Mr. Charles, general secretary of Bermuda Union of Teachers (BUT), told The Royal Gazette he had repeatedly asked the Ministry of Education whether tests had been carried out at CedarBridge Academy since it reopened in January after a two-month closure due to mould infestation. Mr. Charles said the lack of communication exacerbated a feeling among teachers that the Ministry was not concerned with their wellbeing. This week, the school’s BUT representative reported to Mr. Charles that teachers were complaining that they were still becoming ill due to the environment there. He warned that the Ministry faced angering teachers by refusing to talk to them. The Ministry admitted this week that several teachers had reported health concerns since January but said none had confirmed that the problems were mould-related. Shadow Health Minister Louise Jackson raised the issue in the House of Assembly yesterday. The Ministry spokeswoman said no reports had been received of staff being sent home yesterday due to air quality concerns.
March 3. Government was yesterday attacked for spending a year "marking time" instead of pressing ahead with plans to rebuild King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. Wards are dilapidated, conditions are cramped and the whole hospital is about to go "belly up", Shadow Health Minister Louise Jackson told the House of Assembly. Mrs. Jackson was speaking in the budget debate on hospitals, in response to a speech from Junior Health Minister Patrice Minors. Mrs. Minors had announced that by April next year Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) would have "solid designs" on the rebuilding of the institution. She said an independent review was to be carried out this year. However, Mrs. Jackson complained preparations ahead of work had already gone on for much too long. She said she had been hoping to hear Mrs. Minors reveal more advanced plans about the rebuilding work. "The hospital's useful life is just about over," Mrs. Jackson told the House. "Bermudians are voting with their feet and going overseas for care. The wards are dilapidated, staff are working in cramped conditions, the situation is bad. We have had an estate master plan. I am sure it cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars. We have had a whole year of marking time, nothing being done. What we want to know is when we are going to get a new hospital. I think she (Mrs. Minors) spent about five minutes on what we are going to do." Referring to the estate master plan consultants produced on the future of the hospital, Mrs. Jackson continued: "They say that the general conclusion is that the hospitals are at the very end of their useful life. We have study after study after study. Now after all this, we are going to get another report." It's just about to go belly up." Earlier, Mrs. Minors had stated plans would be taken forward in the next 12 months. "Advanced plans for the new hospital will remain a major project for the coming year and beyond," said the Junior Minister. "Naturally, the next step is to ensure we can go forward." Mrs. Minors said the review would ensure hospital services were planned within broader healthcare requirements of the Island. She said consultants would assess services currently provided and analyze future demand for Bermuda's healthcare services. A report with recommendations would then be produced, to be discussed with staff, the community and groups including Bermuda Health Council. "BHB will be rigorous in its review of existing facilities," she said. "BHB aims to have more solid designs by the end of the fiscal year." Mrs. Minors had faced a storm of controversy in her role as then Health Minister last year, when the public protested against plans to rebuild the hospital at the Botanical Gardens. On this subject, she confirmed to the House yesterday: "There was a very clear mandate by the end of 2006 from both Government and the community for the hospital to develop on its existing site. We have since been working on solutions feasible and affordable for Bermuda." She said BHB would be "reaching out to the community" with its plans in the near future.
March 6. Patients are being given the chance to have their say in improving their healthcare at hospital. Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) has launched a “SpeakUp” campaign, which encourages people to ask questions, be involved in their own care and know their rights and responsibilities. Patients are also urged to take part in an independent patient satisfaction survey carried out by US firm Press Ganey. The announcement came as Patient Safety Week swung into action at the BHB yesterday. Director of quality and risk management, Judy Richardson, said: “Evidence shows that patients who are involved in their care and ask questions have better outcomes. People may not realize the power they have to make their own care a positive experience. Our goal with this campaign is to provide patients with information and advice on their rights so they feel equipped to be actively engaged in their care. We want everyone to know they have a right to understand their care plan, to ask questions of their healthcare team and to access information about their treatment.” Brochures and information sheets on patients’ rights and responsibilities will be provided to people receiving care as in or outpatients. SpeakUp includes lobby displays and literature about patient rights and responsibilities at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital yesterday and at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute today, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mrs. Richardson described the patient satisfaction survey as “a further step towards being a listening, responsive hospital, partnering with our patients to improve the quality of care”. She said it would give patients a stronger voice in improving care at the hospital and allow BHB to compare its results against overseas hospitals. Surveys are being sent out daily to randomly chosen patients who have received care at the KEMH. Mrs. Richardson added: “Our purpose is to provide international quality care — this survey will provide critical data that can be measured against hospitals overseas. It will focus our efforts on areas seen by patients as needing improvement, while allowing us to recognize staff who are providing great care. It will help us improve standards of care for Bermuda.” People receiving the survey are encouraged to return it using the enclosed, self-addressed, stamped envelope."
March 8. Government is to set up a register of those who have abused the elderly to stop them again working with seniors. Announcing the initiative yesterday, Community and Cultural Affairs Minister Wayne Perinchief said there was concern the problem could rise as the number of seniors grew. He said: "Government has been very concerned about the care of our elderly. We aim to better protect and reduce the risk of harm to seniors through increased awareness, prevention and intervention." Elder abuse is defined as behavior which caused neglect, physical harm, psychological harm or financial harm to an older person. He said the register, which is now being compiled, is similar to the child abuse register set out in the Children's Act 1998 which requires professionals working with children to report suspected cases of child abuse. Mr. Perinchief said Bermuda's Elder Abuse Register will allow organizations to scrutinize potential employees to determining whether or not they have a record of abusing pensioners. The register also requires increased scrutiny of the credentials and qualifications of people working with the elderly. Mr. Perinchief said any person will be able to flag up suspected abuse however reporting will be mandatory for healthcare practitioners, social workers, clergy and adult personal care workers. Employers in the caring services will be required to check prospective employees are not on the list and to sack anyone listed. Protection from harassment, dismissal or retaliation will be given to persons who make a report in good faith and the list will be managed by the National Office for Seniors and the Physically Challenged. Shadow Health Minister Louise Jackson said the elder abuse register was a long-awaited start to tackling the horrible problems of abuse of seniors. She said: "This will prevent offenders from working with seniors or being in any environment with pensioners but the largest problem is still not being addressed. Abusers need laws made to see to it they are punished by jail time. We need elder abuse legislation." Last year, then-Health Minister Patrice Minors said specific legislation was not needed because "any abuse against a person should be deemed a criminal offence". Mrs. Jackson said Government was equally indifferent to child abuse as the abuse register under the 1998 Children's Act was still not up and running in 2007.
March 8. A $170 million five-star hotel is to be built at the Ariel Sands resort after the scheme won approval from the Development Applications Board. Work on the Hilton Grand Vacation Club is now expected to start within 12 months. It is hoped part of the new hotel will be opened within two years. It comes after Hollywood star Michael Douglas, part of the Dill family that has owned and operated the resort for the past 50 years, helped secure interest from the world famous hotel group last year. Ariel Sands executive director John O’Brien said last night: “We’re very excited. We’ve waited a long time for this. A new broom sweeps clean and we are hoping we bring the resort up to five star quality.” The scheme is for ten buildings, mostly three-storeys high, housing 60 two- and three-bedroom vacation suites. The buildings will be sprinkled around the site and will feature large glass frontages facing out onto the breaking waves of the South Shore. There will be a central hotel and clubhouse complex with cascading water features running all the way through, past the reception area to a landscaped inner courtyard lined by boutique shops. It will also boast a hotel lounge area and an outdoor infinity pool looking out on to the beach and ocean. A restaurant that includes an outdoor patio for al fresco eating will be next to the main complex. The main building will contain a restaurant waiting area and bar, a health and beauty spa, and a conference facility. Upstairs there will be ten hotel guestrooms. Around the outdoor infinity pool are sun decks and wooden bridges across the pool. It will also be possible to swim from the infinity pool into a heated indoor swimming pool. Mr. O’Brien said the hotel would retain its Ariel Sands name, and that Mr. Douglas’ family would retain a percentage of their ownership in the hotel.
March 9. Due to the many worrying incidences of theft from visitors staying at hotels, guest houses, apartments, cottages and efficiency units - which are never named in press reports to the newspapers - unlike in the UK, USA, Canada and Europe - an early 2007 review of security is being carried out on all guest properties in Bermuda. The Bermuda Hotel Association (BHA) formed a security and safety committee, to coordinate and advise BHA members on all matters relating to the safety and security of the guests and hotel employees. News of the committee comes after reports of burglaries in Paget guest properties in February and March 2007 and attacks earlier in the year, with one visitor being held at knife point on the golf course at the Fairmont Southampton Princess. The BHA security and safety committee comprises directors of security and hotel managers whose main focus is to review the current security and safety measures already in place. The Committee will also help to establish a networking system allowing the different hotels to liaise and communicate security information which will heighten their awareness and improve securing our hotel properties. Heading the committee is retired senior Police officer and current Director of Security for the Fairmont Southampton Princess, Winston Esdaille. John Harvey, chief executive officer of the BHA said: "The committee has the support of the Ministry of Tourism and the Bermuda Police Service who have attached a senior officer to help us."
March 9. Hospital fee increases of 7.5 percent were approved by MPs in the House of Assembly. Junior Health Minister Patrice Minors, presenting the Bermuda Hospitals Board (Hospital Fees) Regulations 2007 said the rise would give King Edward VII Memorial Hospital greater financial stability and allow it to plan and develop strategies to improve patient care. Opposition House Leader John Barritt said the increase was "almost double what we anticipate the rate of inflation to be". "I don't think it's going to do the people of this country any good if every year we come along and we think we can do a 7.5 percent increase," he said. "Something has to be done. It impacts profoundly on our seniors." But former Health Minister Nelson Bascome described the new fees as "almost watershed". "The hospital has never really been able to ascertain a real cost of services," he said. "We have arrived today on this day, this evening, that we can say when an individual goes in for treatment, we can establish a cost." Regulations allowing for increases in hospital insurance deductions and an eight percent rise in standard premiums were also passed. Former Opposition Leader Grant Gibbon said there had been a 70 percent increase in standard premiums in the past five years. and that the Island's health council had been "toothless" in stemming the rise. All the changes will go before the Senate for approval.
March 9. Efforts by an Opposition Minister to persuade Government to provide absentee voting at the next general election - in the same way absentee voting is not only allowed but encouraged in the USA, Canada, United Kingdom and Europe has has been for some time - were defeated. Shadow Minister for Legislative Reform and Justice John Barritt moved a motion in the House asking for the facility, which, he said, would help the housebound, those on vacation, and also Bermudians studying and working abroad. He said former PLP Premiers Jennifer Smith and Alex Scott had both backed the idea of voting by post, with this getting as far as draft legislation drawn up in 2005 under Mr. Scott. He pointed out that an average of 20-25 percent of those eligible to vote have not turned out at recent elections, and argued that an absentee vote could encompass around 1,000 people unable to vote in person at any given time. "This evening, the only argument we have is 'when?' and 'how soon will we get this?' and 'can we get this done when we come back (to Parliament) in May?'" said Mr. Barritt. However, Premier Ewart Brown successfully got the wording of the motion changed to one that said the Government would take note of "the need to continue research into electronic voting and proxy voting" in a 21-11 vote along party lines. Dr. Brown said the Progressive Labour Party was committed to extending the franchise in any way that is fair and can be implemented. However, speaking after his bid was defeated, Mr. Barritt said: "I was disappointed, most disappointed actually, not for myself or the Opposition but for the people of Bermuda — the voters. "What's clear from the amended motion Premier Brown put forward is that they had and have no intention of proceeding with absentee balloting for the next general election." He speculated: "My suspicion is that the Premier and his political advisors have made a crude political calculation here. They don't need or want absentee balloting on the basis that they won the last two elections without it so they've decided not to risk its introduction now."
March 9. Legislation to speed up Customs checks and improve the detection of contraband has been passed by the House of Assembly. The Revenue Amendment Act 2007 obliges ships and aircraft to provide the Collector of Customs with electronic lists of passengers and crew prior to arrival in Bermuda when required. Government anticipates that this will assist local security officers in pin-pointing high-risk individuals and cargo items. The information to be listed will include sex, date of birth, passport number and country of issue. The bill also obliges ships and aircraft to provide electronic data in advance on cargo including the marks, numbers and contents of every item of goods on board. Failure to comply with either requirement will lead to a $12,000 fine. Minister of Finance Paula Cox told the House:
March 10. Government is to speed up airport queues, cut red tape and boost border security by forcing airlines to hand over lists of plane passengers. In the next Parliamentary session the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 will be amended to require electronic manifests from the airlines for arriving and departing passengers. Labour and Immigration Minister Derrick Burgess said the information would alert authorities for people on the stop list or look out list before they arrive. "Second, by pre-clearing aircraft in this way, passengers can be cleared through the Immigration arrivals hall much more quickly and efficiently. "Third, a new border control system is being developed and implemented in the fall of this year to speed up processing of passengers while increasing the ability to identify high-risk passengers." He said airlines have been consulted and gave broad support. "However, because of various privacy statutes in other jurisdictions, they are unable to provide electronic manifests in the absence of a specific legal requirement, hence the tabling of an amendment to the Immigration Act." The electronic manifests will eliminate the requirement to collect landing cards on departure from Bermuda while the elimination of departure cards would bring Bermuda in line with countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, who receive electronic manifests and do not require travelers to complete a departure card. The Minister said it will also simplify the processing and storage of landing cards as there will only be a single card which will be collected on arrival into Bermuda. Once the new border control system is in place there will be no requirement for Bermudians who have the stamp: "Holder is registered as Bermudian" in their passport and/or possess a "Fast Pass" card to have to complete an arrival card. Therefore, the only document that a Bermudian will need to complete, when returning home, is a customs card. Mr Burgess said the Fast Pass card will be launched in a couple of weeks. The credit card sized identification will only be issued to Bermudians and it will allow them to get through the arrivals hall faster through a special line where they will not be required to present their passport.
March 10. Skippers Blythe Walker, Katrina Williams and Joshua Greenslade were the big winners during Bermuda Sailing Association's (BSA) inaugural awards ceremony hosted earlier this week by Bacardi Limited. Walker was chosen by a BSA Board of Governors as 2006 Male Sailor of the Year for an outstanding performance during last October's King Edward VII Gold in which he became the first local skipper since Peter Bromby to win the Petite Final competing against top ranked match racing sailors from around the world. "2006 was actually supposed to be my year off from sailing with a house renovation and second child," Walker told those gathered at the awards ceremony. "Nevertheless, I couldn't hold back from competing in the match racing." The son of legendary IOD skipper Jordy Walker, Blythe appears to be doing a fine job carrying on the family's sailing legacy, winning both the Anna-Roed Bell IOD Match Racing and Bacardi Nationals prior to last October's superb run in the Gold Cup. Walker is also a former Olympian, having represented Bermuda in the 1982 Games in the 470 Class. Williams was named Female Sailor of the Year following a string of highly impressive finishes last summer competing on the international scene. The Old Dominion University student placed 15th last August in the 2006 Cork Regatta in Ontario competing in the Laser Radial in a fleet of 167 boats. She also placed sixth ICSA College Single Handed Championships last fall. Greenslade, one of the Island's top future sailing hopefuls, was a straightforward choice for the 2006 Youth Sailor of the Year Award following a dominant summer in the Optimist fleet. The promising young skipper won nearly every youth regatta he entered last summer and managed to hold his own competing abroad in larger regattas. The Saltus Grammar School student also became the Bermudian to win the XL Regatta competing against 42 local and international junior sailors, and placed in the top ten competing in regattas in Uruguay, Denmark and the USA to cap off a memorable summer of racing.
March 10. Government will be taking a hard line on immigration infractions, says Labour Minister Derrick Burgess who warned it will not be business as usual under his watch. Speaking during the Budget Debate yesterday, he said a new policy would be introduced, particularly in the construction industry, to ensure that there will be an apprentice hired for a specific number of work permits issued. And he said existing immigration policies will be strictly enforced. These include:
March 10. New laws are on the way to crack down on people entering into sham marriages to cheat Immigration. Labour and Immigration Minister Derrick Burgess told the House of Assembly that phony matrimonial unions were a worldwide problem. He said: "On a daily basis, we pore through news clippings from countries including but not limited to: the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, the Caribbean and Europe." He said since an amendment to the Marriage Act, which requires couples to apply to the Registry General for a marriage licence and to publish their banns in the newspapers, it is thought there's been a reduction in sham marriages. "However more must be done. Later this year we will be tabling amendments to both the Marriage Act 1944 and the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 to make it an offence for persons to enter into a sham marriage or to arrange such a marriage for personal gain. In addition, we intend to make it difficult for a non-Bermudian to derive any benefit from the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act if we determine that they are in a sham marriage."
March 12. Government is to make businesses provide an employment profile to find out if their hiring practices are skewed against Bermudians. Labour and Immigration Minister Derrick Burgess said there had been a large amount of complaints from locals losing out to spouses of Bermudians or Permanent Resident Certificate holders. He noted some people mistakenly thought those groups were equivalent to Bermudians. He said: “This is not so! I must remind employers there is no category of residents that can be selected for a job over a suitably qualified Bermudian.” Construction and landscaping companies, when applying for work permits, are already required to submit company profiles listing the number of Bermudians and non-Bermudians that are employed by them. Mr. Burgess said the procedure was introduced because of complaints from companies hiring mainly Bermudians that they were losing jobs to companies that hired mainly non-Bermudians on lower wages. “As a result, those companies with mainly Bermudians were frequently forced to lay off their employees because they were not getting the work. “To discourage these unfair business practices, we started to demand an equal ratio of Bermudians to non-Bermudians.” He said many of those employers argued that Bermudians would not apply to their advertisements. “So they were instructed to look for Bermudian apprentices before they would be granted work permits. “You will be amazed at how motivated these employers became when told that the approval of their work permits depended on the recruitment of Bermudian apprentices. “There are very few who have not been able to recruit at least one or two Bermudians apprentices. One company has recently hired 12 Bermudians! This particular company has now added to the contracts of his non-Bermudian employees a requirement that they must train Bermudians. “When four of his work permit holders refused to do so, he sent them packing. While I must respect his privacy and not name him, I wish to assure him, and any other employer who adopts the same approach, that we will grant him work permits as long as he demonstrates such a positive attitude towards his Bermudian employees and cultivates that culture within his company.” The Minister reminded employers the existing policy showed the hiring hierarchy should be: Bermudian; non-Bermudian spouse (including the widow or widower) of a Bermudian; divorced parent of a Bermudian; Working Resident’s Certificate holder or permanent resident; non-Bermudian with a qualifying Bermudian connection; other non-Bermudians.
March 12. A million dollars has been spent on a master plan for the development of Bermuda International Airport over the next 20 years. The plan, which has been presented to Cabinet but not yet made public, contains recommendations on how facilities such as the runways and terminal buildings should be updated. According to Premier Ewart Brown, it needed an additional $450,000 to finance it on top of the original $625,000 budgeted. This overspend was listed as a “supplementary” amount by Government and discussed in Friday night’s budget debate. Dr. Brown gave brief details about the work, explaining that the US company HNTB had been contracted to produce the plan. According to a press release on that company’s website from June 2005: “Critical future investment decisions for Bermuda International Airport will be guided by a new airport master plan being undertaken by HNTB Corporation. “HNTB has received word that it has been retained by the Bermuda Government’s Ministry of Transportation & Tourism to lead the development of the master plan, which will provide a long-term strategic vision for the Airport. A key area of focus in the year-long planning effort will be a dual-track terminal evaluation to recommend whether Bermuda should expand its passenger terminal on its existing site or construct a new terminal. Other areas of emphasis are airfield improvements, Airport access and on-Airport land use planning for lands vacated by the US Navy.” During the debate in House, Leader of the Opposition Wayne Furbert asked the Premier if a contract had been drawn up for HNTB to do a certain amount of work for the $625,000 budget — and if so, what additional work was done for the $450,000 additional sum. Dr. Brown replied that the company had done “the initial project” but that Government then wanted to expand upon this “to the tune of the amount we are requesting to expand the master plan.” He indicated there would be no further information available during the debate, telling the House: “That’s all I have this evening”. Asked for details on the plan, Airport General Manager James Howes said work began in 2005 and continued last year. However, he said that because the plan had gone to Cabinet, he was not at liberty to comment on what was suggested in terms of expanding the current terminal or building a new one. Asked about the overspend, Mr. Howes said funding had been budgeted for in 2005 but not 2006 and the plan “took a little bit longer than originally planned”. It is anticipated the document will eventually be tabled in the House of Assembly.
March 12. A bid to introduce flights from Munich to Bermuda proved a "failure" despite Government spending more than $1.5 million on the scheme, the Premier has admitted. Ewart Brown told the House of Assembly: "This was one of our unsuccessful ventures in an attempt to develop business out of Germany. The vast majority of our efforts to bring in flights has obviously been successful but it would be disingenuous of me to stand here and claim that the Munich flight was a success. It was, in fact, a failure. I think this is quite an admission for me to make here." The Premier, who is also the Minister for Transport and Tourism, was explaining to MPs on Friday night how Government managed to go $1,577,900 over-budget in the Airport Operations department in the last financial year. He said the deficit was directly related to the Munich to Bermuda flight, prompting Opposition Leader Wayne Furbert to ask what the cost benefit to the Island had been. Dr. Brown explained that the Government had lost money on the Munich venture but had not abandoned its efforts to bring in visitors from Europe. "We still believe that there is a successful formula that can work," he said. "Right now we are in negotiations for a flight out of Milan." The $1.5 million was a one-off payment to Munich Air and Eurofly made because of a "risk-share" agreement negotiated by Government with the airlines to persuade them to start running the Munich flights to the Island. Government has similar arrangements with other flight operators, including American Airlines, where it has to stump up an agreed sum of money if plane seats aren't filled. In 2005, it was reported that airlines received $529,000 out of a possible $820,000 the previous year in guarantees, largely to cover passenger shortfalls on US Airways' Bermuda to Fort Lauderdale flight. Last year, the Government set aside $1.4 million in its budget for such agreements but the $1.5 million for the Munich flight was in addition to that amount.
March 12. Government announced that newly-arrived foreign workers will soon have to pass an English test or face being booted out, Labour and Immigration Minister Derrick Burgess has revealed. The test will apply to foreigners from non-English speaking countries. He told the House of Assembly on Friday: "You have heard the Bermudians in the news media, on talk radio and in this very House complaining of their experience, in restaurants in particular, when they have encountered a non-Bermudian waiter who cannot speak enough English to take their order and they end up getting a dish that they did not order. This does not bode well for our tourist industry. "Another downside to the language barrier is that persons cannot assimilate into our society and learn our culture when they cannot speak our language. This then causes conflict between Bermudians and non-Bermudians in the workplace." Mr. Burgess said he understood the challenges employers faced in recruiting from English-speaking countries. But he added: "It is unacceptable to have foreigners serving persons, whether it is in a restaurant, a hotel or a rest home, who cannot communicate effectively in English." And he said it was dangerous in a job where the employee has to also read prescriptions or the labels of dangerous chemicals. "Therefore I will be introducing a policy where work permits for persons from countries where English is not the primary language will only be approved subject to that person demonstrating to the Department of Immigration that he or she has a working knowledge of the English language." Once that person arrives they will be required to attend the Department to take a short test to demonstrate they understand English. "If he or she does not pass the test, the work permit will be withdrawn." The new policy could prove costly for employers who got it wrong, admitted Mr. Burgess. But he added: "I can assure employers we will work with their representative organizations to identify the job categories where speaking English is necessary and arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution. "But, ultimately, the onus is on the employer to ensure the persons they hire and bring to Bermuda can speak English."
March 13. Now that the Southlands proposal is open once again for public scrutiny, a new problem has emerged. Environmentalist Stuart Hayward fears a lot of people who want to inspect the Southlands Planning file won’t be able to get their hands on it because the rules require that only one person inspect the file at a time while inside the Planning Office. Mr. Hayward said in a letter to the Environment Minister: “Given its size and complexity, even the most experienced reviewers of such an application would require an hour or two to view and absorb the content of the application file. “Yet even if we were to assume the impossible, that individual members of the public spent no more than half an hour reading the file, in 10 business days only 160 people would be able to see the file.” The deadline for comment is March 23 at 5 p.m. In a seemingly unprecedented move last week, the Environment Minister agreed to re-open the public comment period on the Southlands special development order request after people decried the comment phase was circumvented because the file was submitted so close to the holidays. The Ministry initially said the timing of the submission was beyond its control, but eventually officials bent to public pressure. Now Mr. Hayward, chairman of the Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce (BEST), is applying more pressure, requesting that the Southlands documents be made available online. Mr. Hayward said: “Many more people would be able to view, analyze and comment on the proposal and the SDO if the information was available online.” It would be very unusual for the Ministry to make such a provision. However, according to Mr. Hayward, it is allowed by the London Borough Councils. BEST is also asking to have relevant documents from seven agencies made public including the Ministry of Health, the Department of Environment of Protection and the Department of Highways. Mr. Hayward said: “This information is vital for the public to have if this re-consultation with the public is to be meaningful.” Environment Minister Neletha Butterfield has said all along that public input is a critical part of the process. She said: “In following this course of action, my objective is to ensure that there has been adequate opportunity for public comment, and to consider all submissions that are made in respect to the published draft Special Development Order before a final decision is made.” The Environmental Ministry did not respond to questions on this topic by news times.
March 14. A full-day conference on trust and estate business this Friday will take a close look at proposed new legislative changes in Bermuda. A plan to bring in tough rules of registration regarding land trusts in Bermuda was withdrawn by Government at the start of the year amidst concern at the damage it would cause to the trust business sector. Labour and Immigration Minister Derrick Burgess has now tabled a replacement bill, the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act, which seeks to clamp down on the practice of "fronting", where a Bermudian illegally fronts a trust to buy and hold land on behalf of non-Bermudians. The new proposal is less intrusive than the original legislation, which was generally felt would cause great damage to the trust business in Bermuda. But whether it is workable or needs further "tweaking" in the eyes of the Island's trust operators has not been made public, but is expected to become so on Friday when the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) holds its 7th annual Trust and Estates Conference at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel. Robin Mayor, president of the Bermuda Bar Association, said the association had sent a submission to the Ministry with observations on the proposed legislative amendment and would decline comment until the Ministry had had a chance to respond. As part of the STEP conference Alec Anderson, who is partner and head of Conyers Dill and Pearman's trust and private client department, is due to talk on decisions affecting trustees and the proposed legislative changes. Lindsay McCann, vice chair of the Bermuda Association of Licensed Trustees will also look at the future of the Bermuda trust industry.
March 14. Listed below are the 2007 work permit term limit categories that allow expatriate workers to stay beyond one, three or six-years. Non-Bermudian employees on Work Permits, in their best interests, should note these carefully and ask their employers how they, as employees, stand and in what category their employers are.
Source: Ministry of Labour & Immigration
2007. Medical consultants Kurron Shares of America Inc won a five-year $13.5 million contract to help BHB develop a long-term health care strategy for the Island, beating a bid by world-renowned Johns Hopkins Medicine International. The decision prompted criticism from doctors, who claimed Kurron Shares was “minor league.” Also terminated was physician support contract with Greeley, which was not renewed in 2011. A number of other smaller contracts have either been terminated, not renewed or reduced. In total, net savings per annum are expected to be in the order of $4 million. The goal is to improve efficiency and find appropriate operational cost savings, while continuing to improve health care services. The continuous review is part of BHB’s commitment to consistently provide value to the community in the face of rising health care costs and the current economic challenges in Bermuda. It also reflects BHB’s responsibility to be prepared to meet the financial obligations of the KEMH Redevelopment Project, which includes making repayments for the new hospital facility from 2014 and funding the revitalization of the existing KEMH facility. BHB’s succession planning programme has identified Bermudians for senior leadership positions that were once held by consultants. With plans for the new hospital facility approved and a contract signed, the timing was right for a full review so that we only maintain those contracts whose role remains vital for us to meet the long-term health care needs of Bermuda. The Ministry of Health spent approximately $19.4 million on consultants between April 1, 2008 and January 31, 2010.
March 15. Princeton Nassoons return after long absence. This, Princeton University’s oldest all-male a cappella group, will spend their Spring break performing at various venues here between Saturday and March 25. One of America’s premier performance ensembles, the singers will be staying at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess and performing at venues throughout the Island. Founded in 1941, The Nassoons’ repertoire spans more than six decades of hits, and runs the gamut from up-beat pop tunes to harmonically-complex barbershop melodies and jazz standards. The group performs many of their own arrangements, several of which date back to the founding of the group. Thirteen men-strong, they require no microphones, sound equipment, or stage, combining tight harmony with entertaining skits and playful comedy designed to please audiences of all ages. It has been many years since The Nassoons visited the Island, but group president Michael Scharff said they were very much looking forward to rekindling what they hoped would become a yearly tradition of sharing their music with Bermuda residents. Already, they have received a great deal of support from Princeton alumni and people here, and are eagerly looking forward to returning. The Nassoons have performed across the US and internationally for heads of state and other dignitaries, and in December performed at the White House.
March 15. Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Theatricals rise again. Laughs, excruciating puns and the infamous all-male kickline are just some of the ingredients in this year’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals production, ‘The Tent Commandments’, which opens here later this month. Written by students Joshua Clay Phillips and Warland (Trey) Kollmer, the story unfolds around a circus and a sideshow in 1890s Europe. After a decree is passed that only one group can continue to perform, the two attractions are thrown into upheaval. As the circus and sideshow square off, a Japanese sword-swallower from the sideshow and the circus’ prized Austrian acrobat fall desperately in love. Yet their relationship is forbidden under the most sacred grails, followed by circus and freak show alike: ‘The Tent Commandments’. All the while, a newcomer to the circus, a French human cannonball, plots to steal the show away from the show’s star elephant, Ella Fintzgerald. As the circus falls into disarray amid forbidden love and deception, the French cannonball, along with his hunchback henchman, Ivan Ump, work to bring down the proud pachyderm. Fresh from its successful Woman and Man of the Year awards ceremonies, which honored actors Scarlett Johansson and Ben Stiller with some good-natured ribbing and a Hasty Pudding Pot, the show arrives in Bermuda ripe with love, intrigue, and dangerous aerial maneuvers after a four-week run in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a weekend of shows in New York City. Performances of ‘The Tent Commandments’ are from March 28 to 31 at City Hall theatre beginning at 8 p.m. For the third consecutive year, Hasty Pudding Theatricals will donate a portion of the proceeds from its four Bermuda shows to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Bermuda. Tickets can be purchased online at www.boxoffice.bm New-look BSoA opening March 23After months of preparation and weeks of sawdust, paint fumes and clutter, the Bermuda Society of Arts will reopen its doors on Friday, March 23 with the Spring Members Show. The official opening celebration, however, will take place during the opening of the Summer Members Show on Friday, June 8.
March 16. The tenth anniversary of the Bermuda International Film Festival kicked off with a Launch party and jam-packed film schedule at four theaters. Over, the last decade the festival has grown exponentially and this year 85 films from 32 countries will be shown. The Royal Gazette had the opportunity to review 18 of the feature-length films that will be screened over the eight-day event. The reviews for these films will be run on the same day of their first screenings in the festival, with the exception of Sunday’s films, which will be reviewed in tomorrow’s paper. The Royal Gazette will also be running a daily ‘What’s on at BIFF today’ information feature highlighting all the parties, events and films to be screened that day. Check the paper daily or the website daily to make sure you make the most of your BIFF 2007 experience.
March 23. Three of Harvard University’s finest close-harmony singing groups will do their bit for a local charity in addition to furthering the bonds of friendship between the US and Bermuda, and giving talks to local school children during their visit to the Island next week. Next Tuesday the Harvard Krokodiloes, the Radcliffe Pitches, and the Din and Tonics, in association with the US Consulate, will present a lunchtime concert for all ages, including students, at the Anglican Cathedral between 12 noon and 1.30 p.m. While admission is free, the singers will be performing in aid of Habitat for Humanity Bermuda, so donations will be encouraged. In addition, the visiting glee clubs will be giving additional performances at various venues around the Island, including The Bermuda National Gallery, The Reefs, Pompano Beach Club, the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, the Mid Ocean Club, Waterloo House, Coral Beach Club, and the St. George’s Club, and Mr. Slayton is encouraging the public to “grab your whole family and take in one or more of the shows at venues across the Island”.
March 23. Doctors on Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) were last night urged to declare whether they will gain patients in their own practices through the closure of the Medical Clinic. Bermuda Public Services Union leader Ed Ball alleged some health professionals on the BHB face "possible conflicts of interest" because their own clinics provide services which will be lost after the Government-funded centre is controversially shut down. He called for board members to either state publicly whether they would take Medical Clinic patients, or resign. Premier Ewart Brown has faced a backlash from the public since announcing the closure of the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital facility, which provides care to vulnerable patients including the elderly, homeless and mentally ill. Government has said patients will have access to the same services — including transportation, X-rays, eye exams, medication, and MRIs — via six private doctors across the Island. However those medics have not been identified.
March 23. Small construction firms could be forced out of business if a strict ratio of work-permits to apprentices policy becomes the rule in Bermuda. That is the concern of the Construction Association of Bermuda, which is questioning the policy shift and has taken out a half-page advertisement in today’s Royal Gazette to explain its own position. Alex DeCouto, president of CAOB, said the organisation supported the idea of encouraging Bermudians into the construction sector but the idea of a strict ratio of work permits apprentices will cause problems, particularly for the smaller companies and firms. The association points out that over-employment and the competition for skilled Bermudians has risen to such a high level that businesses at all levels are finding it difficult to keep hold of local staff and it views the ratio work permit/apprenticeship policy as flawed.
March 23. Premier
Ewart Brown unveiled his Sustainable Development Roundtable (SDR) yesterday, but
also revealed that he won’t ask the group to weigh in on the controversial
Southlands Special Development Order (SDO). The
Premier suggested it was too late for the SDR to formulate a recommendation
without interrupting the Environment Ministry process, already underway. He
said: “This development is in the hands of the Minister of the Environment —
and that’s where it is right now. And we will have to wait and see what the
Minister’s decision is. I think to do anything else would be to preclude the
necessity for the Minister to speak.” The new
panel has met once so far and the Southlands issue did not come up, according to
the recently appointed chairman Arthur Hodgson. Mr.
Hodgson further explained that he has not personally made a judgment about
whether the project is right for Bermuda. He
said: “I’m very sorry to say that I have not arrived at a decision where I
can give you a definitive opinion. And I certainly haven’t reached the point
where the Roundtable has discussed it. And we certainly haven’t reached the
point where I’ve been able to give the Premier any advice.” Both
men reminded the press that the work of the SDR is much wider in scope than just
Southlands, nonetheless the proposed hotel resort dominated a news conference
yesterday where the Premier’s new appointees were formally introduced to the
public. Dr. Brown’s panel is 13 members, five
fewer than the panel of his predecessor Alex Scott. The
Premier said: “In this administration we try to move from big and bulky to
lean and efficient.” Seven of the members are
new and six are from the previous Roundtable. Among those not invited back is
environmentalist Stuart Hayward, who, since leaving the Government advisory
committee, has become an outspoken opponent of the Southlands bid for an SDO. When asked how he’ll handle competing opinions
between his administration and the SDR, the Premier said: “We can agree to
disagree. One thing we made sure with this
group is that we went looking for adults. And we think we found them, we know we
found them. And when there’s disagreement there will be disagreement, but we
will handle our disagreements in the view of their relationship with Government
as advisors. We think that our advisors should speak to us first.” It
was a clear reference by the Premier that disagreement should be hammered out
between the two bodies privately, not publicly. However
he also said: “If we think a disagreement is of significance, we will share
it. There are insignificant disagreements and there are significant ones. This
is not going to be a secret society, but we also challenge the media to go
deeper than the surface.” Mr. Hodgson
similarly placed a burden on the media. He said: “We’re all familiar with
the fact that there’s nothing like getting an audience if you have a fight. However on the question of sustainable development,
what I’m hoping is that the press, in addition to pursuing their interests,
will take on board the long- term interests of the country. I
think that without the co-operation of the press, and all aspects of the press
in this community, the roundtable will be a flop, it will be of no value.”
is a fairly new addition to the Government process, first introduced in April
2005. Its primary role is to advise the Cabinet on a sustainable future for the
country in areas of economics, the environment and culture.
March 23. A spokesman for the
environmental group Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce said they
would consider appealing the Minster’s decision if a Special Development Order
was granted for the Southlands development. Former Director of the Department of Planning, Rudolph
Hollis, said he was concerned about final approval being granted in an SDO
before certain issues were dealt with. Ultimately,
the developers, Southlands Ltd., hope to turn the 37-acre property in Warwick
into a five-star resort with condominiums and living quarters for the staff,
while a new tunnel would put part of South Road underground. If
granted an SDO by Minister of Environment, Neletha Butterfield, the whole
project is anticipated to be completed by 2010. So
far, she has not published her decision on the fate of Southlands, but earlier
this month she took an unprecedented step when she reopened the public comment
phase on the property’s SDO request and issued a draft SDO. BEST
Chairman Stuart Hayward told a crowd of more than two hundred people who
attended a meeting at West Pembroke Primary School last night that the group has
already considered its next move if the SDO is granted. He
said: “We are looking at the legal route. And a judicial review is a
possibility. We could apply to the court to look at the Minister’s decision to
see if it was correct. We have asked a lawyer
to look into it.” Former senior civil
servant, Mr. Hollis, addressed the crowd about the Planning Department
procedures. He raised concerns about several aspects of the draft order,
specifically that final approval would be granted before several issues were
hammered out. He said that from his
understanding the draft stated that final approval would be granted before
issues such as waste management, staff housing, energy supply, landscape and an
environmental impact study were fully explored. He
said: “I am concerned because this is not approval in principle, which means
go back and sort some of these issues out before final approval is granted. When
final approval on an SDO is granted it becomes a legal document and we have made
a deal with the developers. What happens if the
study comes back and says it is not good for the environment? Approval will
already have been granted by then.” David
Wingate, former Government Conservation Officer said he was concerned about
losing open space in Bermuda, of which there was already very little, and
pointed out the impact on Bermuda’s endemic bird population. He
too asked why approval was being granted before many issues were addressed:
“It’s putting the cart before the horse. He
also said it did not make much sense to cut up one of the last large segments of
open land when there were a handful of vacant hotel sites that could be
redeveloped. The crowd burst into spirited
applause when he said: “I would like to think we could purchase back
Southlands as the public of Bermuda and the Government could then ask the
developers to reinvest in other abandoned hotels.”
March 24. The newly rebuilt
King Edward VII Memorial Hospital will be up and running by 2012, Acting Health
Minister Philip Perinchief insisted yesterday.
Mr. Perinchief said that was the time it had been
established the current hospital's life would come to an end. The
Minister also suggested for the first time that work would almost certainly
involve several phases of reconstruction at the existing institution, rather
than the creation of one completely new hospital. He
was speaking after announcing that experts from Johns Hopkins Medicine
International had arrived in Bermuda to launch a $200,000 three-month review of
the Island's healthcare needs. When their
investigation is completed, Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) will formulate
detailed plans for the rebuilding scheme. "Our
commitment is for the end of this year to have design drawings done. I would say
before 2012 we will have completion. That's when the life of this hospital comes
to an end," he said. Mr. Perinchief said
he hoped certain elements of the institution, such as the recently modernized
Intensive Care Unit (ICU), would form part of the new-look hospital. March 26. Bermuda Hospitals
Board (BHB) has hit back at claims its members have a conflict of interests over
the controversial closure of the Medical Clinic. Bermuda Public Services Union leader Ed Ball had
alleged some health professionals on the BHB stood to gain patients in their own
practices as a result of the demise of the Government-funded centre. However,
the BHB insisted it had not been involved in the decision-making process which
led to the closure — meaning no conflict of interests was possible. "The
board would like to state that the decision to close the Medical Clinic has
never been an issue decided at board level," said a spokesman on Friday. "The decision was made by Government and was
announced in the Throne Speech. As the clinic is fully Government-funded,
Government's decision to fund an alternative healthcare delivery model for
patients means that the closure is an operational issue at King Edward VII
Memorial Hospital and not one for which board approval was required. The
board would also reassure that it has by-laws in place that require any board
member to excuse him or herself from any issue for which there is a potential
conflict of interest. The person in question
leaves the room for any discussion and does not vote on the decision. However,
in the instance of the Medical Clinic, this was not necessary as the policy
decision was not discussed by the board." The
spokesman added that the BHB would help patients make the switch from the
Medical Clinic to private doctors across the Island. "BHB
is sensitive to the concerns of its Medical Clinic patients as they transfer to
a new delivery of healthcare with participating physicians in the community. We
will do all we can to ensure that this is a smooth transition and the clinic
will remain open until all patients are under the care of their new
physician." Premier Ewart Brown has
previously said six doctors have agreed to take on patients from the Medical
Clinic after it closes. Acting Health Minister
Philip Perinchief on Friday declined to name those medics — but said it was
likely more doctors would be added to the list in due course. The
Medical Clinic, formerly known as the Indigent Clinic, provides services
including transportation, X-rays, eye exams, medication and MRIs to vulnerable
patients including the elderly, homeless and mentally ill. Earlier
this month, up to 50 people staged a protest outside the House of Assembly and
accused Dr. Brown of failing to consult the public over its closure. March
26. Air travelers between Bermuda and London are one large step closer to a
consumer-friendly airfare price war. The Ministry of Tourism and Transport
announced last night that Zoom Airlines Ltd. was issued a Bermuda air transport
license, paving the way for British Airways to face competition on its London
route for the first time ever. Officials at
Zoom have one last hurdle to clear — obtaining operating licenses from the
United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority. If all goes well there, as expected,
flights could begin to and from Bermuda as early as June. Following
the announcement, Bermuda's director of civil aviation Ian MacIntyre said:
“Zoom is now moving forward with its plans to launch year-round, low-fare
services between London-Gatwick and Bermuda.” The
Zoom route will be exactly the same route flown by British Airways. Zoom’s
managing director told The Royal Gazette earlier this month that his airline’s
fares will be lower than BA’s and will be offered twice a week. Zoom
Airlines — which describes itself as the UK’s first dedicated low-fares,
long-haul airline — announced its application for a licence in Bermuda on
March 2. Over the past few weeks members of the public were invited to submit
their comments of support or opposition. The
plan is for aircraft to leave JFK in New York for Bermuda on Mondays and
Saturdays at 5.30 p.m. before taking off for London from here at 9.25 p.m. and
arriving at 8 a.m. The returning flights would
depart Gatwick for Bermuda on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m.,
leaving the Island for JFK at 5.10 p.m. on Wednesdays and 3.10 p.m. on Sundays
(all local times). Final schedules should roll
out within the next two weeks on the company’s website, according to a
March 27. Bermuda
has lost out to the likes of Guernsey and Ireland when it comes to attracting
captives linked to UK companies. A survey by risk
and insurance services firm Marsh shows that between 1995 and 2006 Bermuda’s
share of the UK-generated captive market declined from 19 percent to 15 percent,
while Guernsey and Ireland increased their share of the market significantly. The reason for the changing fortunes appears to be
down to the ability to secure the same benefits in offshore jurisdictions much
closer to mainland UK. “The increased
benefits and proximity to the UK of offshore domiciles, such as Guernsey and the
Isle of Man, have detracted from formations in Bermuda; we believe this trend
will continue. We also expect Malta to increase its number of captive formations
as it benefits from its membership of the European Union,” said Jonathan
Groves, head of captive consulting at Marsh. The
report on the growing popularity of captives with UK companies surveyed 94 of
350 identifiable captives owned by UK companies. In
the 11-year period used for comparison Guernsey’s share of the market
increased from 42 percent to 50 percent and the Republic of Ireland’s from two
percent to eight, by contrast Bermuda’s decreased by four percent, the Isle of
Man’s share dropped from 31 to 21 percent and Jersey and Gibraltar remained on
one percent. The two other significant jurisdictions of Vermont and Cayman both
dropped from two percent to one percent in the survey. Commenting
on Bermuda, the report states: “Bermuda’s attraction has remained for its
existing client base although new captive owners have opted not to establish
there primarily because the same captive benefits are available much closer to
home.” Information from AM Best and the
London Stock Exchange was used to supplement the Marsh report, which is entitled
“Fit for Purpose? Benchmarking the continuing contribution of captives.” The growth of protected cell companies appears to be
the reason for the growth in the number domiciled in Guernsey. And
the survey also reveals UK companies are increasingly considering captive
formation to implement sophisticated risk management regimes and address the
total cost of risk, and that more mid-sized companies are now making use of
captives, which in the past have been dominated by larger companies. Financial
services, manufacturing and service supply industries are the three sectors
owning the most number of captives. Mr. Groves
said: “The high level of captive use in certain industries is in part
historic. Many financial institutions established captives to address mortgage
indemnity guarantee risks during the 1990s and the majority of utilities at
privatization formed captives to manage historic liability exposures. “Other
industries, such as energy, have made significant utilization of captives over
the past 30 years given their exposure profile and variation in the capacity
available in the insurance market. This aside,
it is clear the three industries making most use of captives — financial
services, manufacturing and service supply — represent less ‘risky’
industries, reflecting the need for captives for everyday property and casualty
risks.” The survey also highlighted the
‘spikes’ in the formation of captives that occurred in 1994 and 2002 at the
height of the ‘hard’ market cycles. In its
report Marsh notes this pattern and comments: “Given the many strategic and
financial benefits that forming a captive can bring to a company’s risk and
insurance programme, a reactionary approach should not be necessary.” It
also concludes: “The proximity to the UK of offshore domiciles such as
Guernsey and the Isle of Man have detracted from formations in Bermuda and at
Marsh we see this as a trend that will continue.”
March 27. Government’s
Alternatives to Incarceration conference, which ended yesterday, shows what can
be achieved by changing the emphasis of the criminal justice system from
punishment to rehabilitation.
March 23. Premier Ewart Brown unveiled his Sustainable Development Roundtable (SDR) yesterday, but also revealed that he won’t ask the group to weigh in on the controversial Southlands Special Development Order (SDO). The Premier suggested it was too late for the SDR to formulate a recommendation without interrupting the Environment Ministry process, already underway. He said: “This development is in the hands of the Minister of the Environment — and that’s where it is right now. And we will have to wait and see what the Minister’s decision is. I think to do anything else would be to preclude the necessity for the Minister to speak.” The new panel has met once so far and the Southlands issue did not come up, according to the recently appointed chairman Arthur Hodgson. Mr. Hodgson further explained that he has not personally made a judgment about whether the project is right for Bermuda. He said: “I’m very sorry to say that I have not arrived at a decision where I can give you a definitive opinion. And I certainly haven’t reached the point where the Roundtable has discussed it. And we certainly haven’t reached the point where I’ve been able to give the Premier any advice.” Both men reminded the press that the work of the SDR is much wider in scope than just Southlands, nonetheless the proposed hotel resort dominated a news conference yesterday where the Premier’s new appointees were formally introduced to the public. Dr. Brown’s panel is 13 members, five fewer than the panel of his predecessor Alex Scott. The Premier said: “In this administration we try to move from big and bulky to lean and efficient.” Seven of the members are new and six are from the previous Roundtable. Among those not invited back is environmentalist Stuart Hayward, who, since leaving the Government advisory committee, has become an outspoken opponent of the Southlands bid for an SDO. When asked how he’ll handle competing opinions between his administration and the SDR, the Premier said: “We can agree to disagree. One thing we made sure with this group is that we went looking for adults. And we think we found them, we know we found them. And when there’s disagreement there will be disagreement, but we will handle our disagreements in the view of their relationship with Government as advisors. We think that our advisors should speak to us first.” It was a clear reference by the Premier that disagreement should be hammered out between the two bodies privately, not publicly. However he also said: “If we think a disagreement is of significance, we will share it. There are insignificant disagreements and there are significant ones. This is not going to be a secret society, but we also challenge the media to go deeper than the surface.” Mr. Hodgson similarly placed a burden on the media. He said: “We’re all familiar with the fact that there’s nothing like getting an audience if you have a fight. However on the question of sustainable development, what I’m hoping is that the press, in addition to pursuing their interests, will take on board the long- term interests of the country. I think that without the co-operation of the press, and all aspects of the press in this community, the roundtable will be a flop, it will be of no value.” The SDR is a fairly new addition to the Government process, first introduced in April 2005. Its primary role is to advise the Cabinet on a sustainable future for the country in areas of economics, the environment and culture.
March 23. A spokesman for the environmental group Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce said they would consider appealing the Minster’s decision if a Special Development Order was granted for the Southlands development. Former Director of the Department of Planning, Rudolph Hollis, said he was concerned about final approval being granted in an SDO before certain issues were dealt with. Ultimately, the developers, Southlands Ltd., hope to turn the 37-acre property in Warwick into a five-star resort with condominiums and living quarters for the staff, while a new tunnel would put part of South Road underground. If granted an SDO by Minister of Environment, Neletha Butterfield, the whole project is anticipated to be completed by 2010. So far, she has not published her decision on the fate of Southlands, but earlier this month she took an unprecedented step when she reopened the public comment phase on the property’s SDO request and issued a draft SDO. BEST Chairman Stuart Hayward told a crowd of more than two hundred people who attended a meeting at West Pembroke Primary School last night that the group has already considered its next move if the SDO is granted. He said: “We are looking at the legal route. And a judicial review is a possibility. We could apply to the court to look at the Minister’s decision to see if it was correct. We have asked a lawyer to look into it.” Former senior civil servant, Mr. Hollis, addressed the crowd about the Planning Department procedures. He raised concerns about several aspects of the draft order, specifically that final approval would be granted before several issues were hammered out. He said that from his understanding the draft stated that final approval would be granted before issues such as waste management, staff housing, energy supply, landscape and an environmental impact study were fully explored. He said: “I am concerned because this is not approval in principle, which means go back and sort some of these issues out before final approval is granted. When final approval on an SDO is granted it becomes a legal document and we have made a deal with the developers. What happens if the study comes back and says it is not good for the environment? Approval will already have been granted by then.” David Wingate, former Government Conservation Officer said he was concerned about losing open space in Bermuda, of which there was already very little, and pointed out the impact on Bermuda’s endemic bird population. He too asked why approval was being granted before many issues were addressed: “It’s putting the cart before the horse. He also said it did not make much sense to cut up one of the last large segments of open land when there were a handful of vacant hotel sites that could be redeveloped. The crowd burst into spirited applause when he said: “I would like to think we could purchase back Southlands as the public of Bermuda and the Government could then ask the developers to reinvest in other abandoned hotels.”
March 24. The newly rebuilt King Edward VII Memorial Hospital will be up and running by 2012, Acting Health Minister Philip Perinchief insisted yesterday. Mr. Perinchief said that was the time it had been established the current hospital's life would come to an end. The Minister also suggested for the first time that work would almost certainly involve several phases of reconstruction at the existing institution, rather than the creation of one completely new hospital. He was speaking after announcing that experts from Johns Hopkins Medicine International had arrived in Bermuda to launch a $200,000 three-month review of the Island's healthcare needs. When their investigation is completed, Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) will formulate detailed plans for the rebuilding scheme. "Our commitment is for the end of this year to have design drawings done. I would say before 2012 we will have completion. That's when the life of this hospital comes to an end," he said. Mr. Perinchief said he hoped certain elements of the institution, such as the recently modernized Intensive Care Unit (ICU), would form part of the new-look hospital.
March 26. Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) has hit back at claims its members have a conflict of interests over the controversial closure of the Medical Clinic. Bermuda Public Services Union leader Ed Ball had alleged some health professionals on the BHB stood to gain patients in their own practices as a result of the demise of the Government-funded centre. However, the BHB insisted it had not been involved in the decision-making process which led to the closure — meaning no conflict of interests was possible. "The board would like to state that the decision to close the Medical Clinic has never been an issue decided at board level," said a spokesman on Friday. "The decision was made by Government and was announced in the Throne Speech. As the clinic is fully Government-funded, Government's decision to fund an alternative healthcare delivery model for patients means that the closure is an operational issue at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and not one for which board approval was required. The board would also reassure that it has by-laws in place that require any board member to excuse him or herself from any issue for which there is a potential conflict of interest. The person in question leaves the room for any discussion and does not vote on the decision. However, in the instance of the Medical Clinic, this was not necessary as the policy decision was not discussed by the board." The spokesman added that the BHB would help patients make the switch from the Medical Clinic to private doctors across the Island. "BHB is sensitive to the concerns of its Medical Clinic patients as they transfer to a new delivery of healthcare with participating physicians in the community. We will do all we can to ensure that this is a smooth transition and the clinic will remain open until all patients are under the care of their new physician." Premier Ewart Brown has previously said six doctors have agreed to take on patients from the Medical Clinic after it closes. Acting Health Minister Philip Perinchief on Friday declined to name those medics — but said it was likely more doctors would be added to the list in due course. The Medical Clinic, formerly known as the Indigent Clinic, provides services including transportation, X-rays, eye exams, medication and MRIs to vulnerable patients including the elderly, homeless and mentally ill. Earlier this month, up to 50 people staged a protest outside the House of Assembly and accused Dr. Brown of failing to consult the public over its closure.
March 26. Air travelers between Bermuda and London are one large step closer to a consumer-friendly airfare price war. The Ministry of Tourism and Transport announced last night that Zoom Airlines Ltd. was issued a Bermuda air transport license, paving the way for British Airways to face competition on its London route for the first time ever. Officials at Zoom have one last hurdle to clear — obtaining operating licenses from the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority. If all goes well there, as expected, flights could begin to and from Bermuda as early as June. Following the announcement, Bermuda's director of civil aviation Ian MacIntyre said: “Zoom is now moving forward with its plans to launch year-round, low-fare services between London-Gatwick and Bermuda.” The Zoom route will be exactly the same route flown by British Airways. Zoom’s managing director told The Royal Gazette earlier this month that his airline’s fares will be lower than BA’s and will be offered twice a week. Zoom Airlines — which describes itself as the UK’s first dedicated low-fares, long-haul airline — announced its application for a licence in Bermuda on March 2. Over the past few weeks members of the public were invited to submit their comments of support or opposition. The plan is for aircraft to leave JFK in New York for Bermuda on Mondays and Saturdays at 5.30 p.m. before taking off for London from here at 9.25 p.m. and arriving at 8 a.m. The returning flights would depart Gatwick for Bermuda on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m., leaving the Island for JFK at 5.10 p.m. on Wednesdays and 3.10 p.m. on Sundays (all local times). Final schedules should roll out within the next two weeks on the company’s website, according to a Government spokesperson.
March 27. Bermuda
has lost out to the likes of Guernsey and Ireland when it comes to attracting
captives linked to UK companies. A survey by risk
and insurance services firm Marsh shows that between 1995 and 2006 Bermuda’s
share of the UK-generated captive market declined from 19 percent to 15 percent,
while Guernsey and Ireland increased their share of the market significantly. The reason for the changing fortunes appears to be
down to the ability to secure the same benefits in offshore jurisdictions much
closer to mainland UK. “The increased
benefits and proximity to the UK of offshore domiciles, such as Guernsey and the
Isle of Man, have detracted from formations in Bermuda; we believe this trend
will continue. We also expect Malta to increase its number of captive formations
as it benefits from its membership of the European Union,” said Jonathan
Groves, head of captive consulting at Marsh. The
report on the growing popularity of captives with UK companies surveyed 94 of
350 identifiable captives owned by UK companies. In
the 11-year period used for comparison Guernsey’s share of the market
increased from 42 percent to 50 percent and the Republic of Ireland’s from two
percent to eight, by contrast Bermuda’s decreased by four percent, the Isle of
Man’s share dropped from 31 to 21 percent and Jersey and Gibraltar remained on
one percent. The two other significant jurisdictions of Vermont and Cayman both
dropped from two percent to one percent in the survey. Commenting
on Bermuda, the report states: “Bermuda’s attraction has remained for its
existing client base although new captive owners have opted not to establish
there primarily because the same captive benefits are available much closer to
home.” Information from AM Best and the
London Stock Exchange was used to supplement the Marsh report, which is entitled
“Fit for Purpose? Benchmarking the continuing contribution of captives.” The growth of protected cell companies appears to be
the reason for the growth in the number domiciled in Guernsey. And
the survey also reveals UK companies are increasingly considering captive
formation to implement sophisticated risk management regimes and address the
total cost of risk, and that more mid-sized companies are now making use of
captives, which in the past have been dominated by larger companies. Financial
services, manufacturing and service supply industries are the three sectors
owning the most number of captives. Mr. Groves
said: “The high level of captive use in certain industries is in part
historic. Many financial institutions established captives to address mortgage
indemnity guarantee risks during the 1990s and the majority of utilities at
privatization formed captives to manage historic liability exposures. “Other
industries, such as energy, have made significant utilization of captives over
the past 30 years given their exposure profile and variation in the capacity
available in the insurance market. This aside,
it is clear the three industries making most use of captives — financial
services, manufacturing and service supply — represent less ‘risky’
industries, reflecting the need for captives for everyday property and casualty
risks.” The survey also highlighted the
‘spikes’ in the formation of captives that occurred in 1994 and 2002 at the
height of the ‘hard’ market cycles. In its
report Marsh notes this pattern and comments: “Given the many strategic and
financial benefits that forming a captive can bring to a company’s risk and
insurance programme, a reactionary approach should not be necessary.” It
also concludes: “The proximity to the UK of offshore domiciles such as
Guernsey and the Isle of Man have detracted from formations in Bermuda and at
Marsh we see this as a trend that will continue.”
March 27. Government’s
Alternatives to Incarceration conference, which ended yesterday, shows what can
be achieved by changing the emphasis of the criminal justice system from
punishment to rehabilitation.
March 27. Government’s Alternatives to Incarceration conference, which ended yesterday, shows what can be achieved by changing the emphasis of the criminal justice system from punishment to rehabilitation.As the new Prisons Commissioner, John Prescod, noted on Monday, this has been a long time coming. When Westgate Correctional Facility was opened in the early 1990s and Casemates Prison was closed, one of the primary reasons was to give inmates more rehabilitation in a better setting than Casemates could possibly provide. That has not happened, and the new process aims, to avoid sending minor offenders to prison at all. That should guarantee that the recidivism rate, at least for people getting prison sentences, will fall. But the success of ATI will not be demonstrated by how many people go to prison, but how many people return to court. It is hard to argue with the basic principles of ATI. People who commit minor offences, whether for petty theft or minor drugs possession charges, should be able to turn their lives around with the support of the system. And there is little doubt that much of the crime problem is rooted in drugs. ATI follows the logic that reducing drug abuse and demand for drugs will also reduce crime. But it must be clear that drugs rehab and community service cannot achieve this on their own. People turn to crime for any number of reasons, but the way to move them from crime to the straight and narrow is to ensure that they have the tools to hold down a job and recognize that this is a better way to live. That will require an immense education and training effort, and the community also needs to be prepared to take on “risky” employees and neighbours. All the rehabilitation in the world will be wasted if the “graduates” cannot get a job or a roof over their heads. However, this is an immense gamble for employers and landlords who are being asked to accept on faith an unproven system, at least for now. That is why the tracking and supervision of the programmes must be first class. People who enter the programmes must be held accountable and must obey the rules that are laid down. There will be times when heart-rending cases come before the courts. But individual needs have to be balanced against the credibility of the programme and in the end, the people who successfully complete the programme will lose if backsliding is allowed. This is a brave effort to solve the Island’s crime and drugs problem. It needs the support of the whole community and rigorous keeping of standards by its administrators if it is to succeed.
March 28. The Attorney General told a meeting that Bermuda’s public education system needed dramatically restructuring from pre-school to the senior level. Local educators claim Bermuda's public, or government, school students lag two years behind public school students of the USA in English and Mathematics. Senator Philip Perinchief, a former teacher, said at least three public high schools were needed on the Island in the east, west and central parishes, as opposed to the two central senior schools Bermuda has now. He also called for an institution offering vocational education to replace the long-closed Technical Institute and a community college awarding four-year degrees. “Too long in my experience we continue to be satisfied with mediocrity,” he said. The Minister was speaking at Cathedral Hall in Hamilton where a team of education experts from the UK who were carrying out a review of Bermuda’s public schools invited comments from the public. Premier Ewart Brown and Education Minister Randy Horton also attended but did not speak. Two simultaneous meetings were held in St. George’s and Sandys as part of the wide-reaching inquiry, which is aimed, in part, at pinpointing why less than half of the Island’s public senior school students are graduating with a Bermuda School Certificate. Professor David Hopkins, from the Institute of Education at the University of London, led the review. He told the Hamilton meeting: “The purpose of these meetings is to give you an opportunity to talk directly to myself and my colleagues so that we can be certain we are feeding authentic views into our report.” His team is visited every one of the Island’s public schools and will present a report to Mr. Horton by April 30, 2007. The recommendations for change will take effect from September 2007. Professor Hopkins said he wanted the contents of the report to be “as public as possible”. “One of the recommendations is that the implementation is monitored,” he said. “I have a feeling from the Minister that he feels likewise.” Scores of people attended the Hamilton meeting and gave their views on why the public education system is failing. One female teacher questioned whether public schools should be abolished altogether. Suggestions made by members of the public included that retired teachers be used as mentors in the classroom, that Afro-centric learning be introduced and that the curriculum be made more flexible to meet different children’s needs.
March 31. Support for Bermuda’s buoyant economy is now at its highest point in more than two years, according to a new poll. Nearly two thirds of people — 65.6 percent — described the economy as either good or excellent in a Royal Gazette survey earlier this month. It represents an increase from 63 percent in January, and is the third consecutive rise from our polls. Statistics dating back to November 2004 show the figure had remained consistently in the 50s until the past few months. The latest survey was carried out about a month after Finance Minister Paula Cox stated that for the fifth Budget in succession Government was raking in far more revenue than projected thanks to the booming economy. However, some people have argued the economy is overheating, and that extra spending could lead to rising inflation rates. Asked their opinion on economic conditions in Bermuda, 13.1 percent described it as excellent, slightly down from 14.6 percent in January, and 52.5 percent said it was good, up from 47.9 percent two months ago. Meanwhile, 29.5 percent said the economy was only fair, up from 26.8 percent, and 5.0 percent said it was poor, down from 10.7 percent. Reflecting on the results, Chamber of Commerce vice president and restaurateur Philip Barnett said many businesses were thriving thanks to international visitors attracted to the Island by the economy. “The economy is certainly giving a lot of opportunity to individuals,” he said. “It’s definitely a better environment than in the past, especially with the growth of international business. In the heyday of tourism, you knew you would make your money in the summer and lose money in the winter. Now, with international business the way it is, you get people coming here for a week all through the year, buying goods and services. It helps companies flourish.” Questioned on their views of the way the economy is heading, 55.2 percent said it was moving in the right direction, 28.5 percent said it was going in the wrong direction, and 16.3 percent were unsure. In January, 50.1 percent had said it was moving in the right direction, with 27.7 percent holding the opposite view and 22.1 percent not sure. It was announced earlier this year that Bermuda’s residents had the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in the world. Bermuda’s total GDP — the market value of all the goods and services produced — rose by 9.1 percent in 2005, mainly due to the expansion of the international business sector. The Island’s total GDP was estimated at $4.857 billion, or $76,403 per head, more than $10,000 more than second-placed Luxembourg. This compares with the US figure of $41,600, Canada’s $33,900 and the UK’s $30,100. However, earlier this month Opposition Senator E.T. (Bob) Richards, an economist, blasted Government for allowing the economy to overheat. Mr. Richards said credit — which had grown 161 percent since 1998 — was vastly outstripping inflation. He said the construction boom was doing nothing to help house ordinary Bermudians. A breakdown of the poll shows overwhelming support for the economy among the richer section of society. Among people with a household income of more than $100,000, 83.6 percent described it as good or excellent, with just 1.6 percent saying it was poor. Of those bringing in less than $50,000, 50.1 percent said it was good or excellent, with 17.5 percent saying it was poor. Men had a more favorable view than women, with 74.0 percent saying good or excellent, compared with 57.7 percent of women.
April 1. Bermuda’s three fire departments are unified into a single national fire service. After 76 years of existence the volunteer St. George Fire Brigade became history, along with the Bermuda International Airport fire service. Both are absorbed into the Bermuda Fire Service to form a comprehensive emergency service that will span the Island. The 35 volunteers of the former St. George Fire Brigade have expanded training opportunities using such facilities as the smoke and heat chamber at the Hamilton fire headquarters. They will be trained up as emergency medical service providers, giving the East End a rapid response team able to administer immediate medical assistance to casualties awaiting the arrival of an ambulance. Likewise the full-time staff at the airport’s fire department become part of the national fire service and receive cross-training. The current St. George fire station is also to be replaced with a new facility in the town, most likely in the Tiger Bay area. Volunteer fire-fighters in St. George may find themselves being called upon to deal with emergencies as far away as Dockyard if the need arises. They will also be given “Crash Fire Rescue” training needed to deal with airport incidents.
April 1. TCD began an island-wide deployment of an Electronic Vehicle Registration (EVR) system. Based on radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, EVR will be used to maintain an accurate registration of the island’s 47,000 vehicles and motorcycles. RFID tags on each vehicle will interact with strategically placed readers around the island to ensure that all vehicles are properly registered, insured and inspected. The system operates similar to electronic tolling, popular in high volume traffic centers around the world and will address those vehicle owners who would prefer to break the law by driving around in an unlicensed or uninsured vehicle. TCD data indicates this number is approximately 8% of Bermuda’s vehicle population.
April 3. During a dinner with Bermudian students in Canada, Premier Ewart Brown defended his position on closing the Medical Clinic and the gay and lesbian cruise planned by Rosie O’Donnell. On the topic of the Medical Clinic closure, the Premier said: “Health care should not be based on a person’s financial status, but on a health situation.” And he promised his new system would provide “a higher level of care” for those formerly served by the clinic with over 13 doctors, which have signed on, some of which will make house calls. He added: “Transportation will be provided when necessary and the needy will have prescription access.” In defense of Rosie O’Donnell’s Norwegian Dawn cruise from New York for gay and lesbian families, Dr. Brown cited Bermuda’s anti-discrimination laws. He said: “If we discriminate against a cruise ship, then we would have to send a homosexual detection unit to the airport.” The dinner, which was the last stop on the Premier’s college tour, was sponsored by the Bermudian public, the private sector and the Nova Scotia Business Inc., the business development agency for the province. The event attracted 80 Bermudian students, attending Canadian universities such as Dalhousie, St. Mary’s, Mount St. Vincent, St. Francis Xavier and Acadia University. Other questions asked by the students focused on topics such as the environment, the hospitality industry and affordable housing. However, the dinner, which was held at the World Trade Convention Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Saturday, had a second goal, which was to help students network. Twenty recruiters representing Bermuda’s public and private sector including Butterfield Bank, the Bermuda Hospitals Board and New Venture Holdings Ltd, the island’s largest business sector employer, were seated among the students during dinner. As part of the evening, a networking game designed by the Bank of Butterfield gave recruiters the chance to rate students on their networking skills and those who achieved the highest score won prizes. At 18,600 points, Omar Lodge was by far the best at networking and received a lap top computer. While in the 10,000 point range, Anthony Effs won an Ipod, Omar Dill received a round trip to Bermuda and Jason Wade won a cell phone. Danielle Cross, a 21 year old psychology major at St. Mary’s University, said: “As soon as I graduate I want to get a job in my field, which is social work. Being here will help me communicate with different representatives and pass my resume around. Hopefully I can keep in contact with these people when I look for a job later on.”
April 5. Since it was erected 23 years ago Cable & Wireless’ enormous satellite dish, visible from Middle Road in Devonshire, has become something of a Bermuda landmark. For much of that time the earth station provided the Island with an essential telecommunications links with the world, via satellites orbiting the planet 24,000 miles above. But now the station’s days are numbered. Fiber optic cables have made its technology obsolete and preparations will shortly get underway to dismantle the eye-catching structure. C&W announced the demise of the dish last week at the same time they revealed plans to install a $22-million fiber optic cable that will link Bermuda with the US. It’s a classic case of out with the old and in with the new. C&W Bermuda chief executive officer Eddie Saints said the earth station’s end was an inevitable consequence of rapidly advancing technology. “Back when it was built in April 1984, satellite technology was at the forefront of communications,” Mr. Saints said. “It enabled us to communicate via 200 other facilities around the world. “Then fiber optics came in and high-speed data communications. Satellite technology became redundant. The satellite is 24,000 miles away and so by the time the signal has reached another earth station, it’s already traveled 48,000 miles. That meant there was a delay, so the earth station became less used. The cost of using it was high, especially the Intelsat rentals, and the maintenance was expensive as metal corrodes fast in Bermuda’s conditions. So it was decommissioned about 18 months ago.” After exploring options for the station, C&W has finally decided to tear it down — and that is no small task. The colossal dish comprises 400 tons of aluminum and steel sitting on a pedestal. The building below houses banks of complex electronic circuitry. C&W plans to ship the metal overseas. Detailed plans for dismantling and demolition will be drawn up over the coming weeks to ensure the operation will be carried out safely. Only then will the heavy work start.
April 5. Bermuda’s balance of payment surplus jumped an astonishing $347 million last year to reach $901m, with big rises in income from travel, business services investment income and employee salaries more than offsetting a near doubling of the deficit in the Island’s transportation services sector. Even though Bermuda imports goods and services to the tune of $2,482m, it ends up with the near billion-dollar current account surplus because of the $3,382m of goods and services it trades back to the rest of the world. For comparison the Island’s largest trading partner the US has not enjoyed a surplus since 1991 and recorded a deficit of $856.7 billion last year. Bermuda’s surplus in 2004 was $403m, in 2005 it was $554m, but last year it shot up to $901m. The biggest driver for the surplus was the exporting of labour and services to the international business sector, where receipts jumped to $3,382m from the $2,666m recorded in 2005. On the negative side of the equation the dependence on imported goods and services amounted to $2,482m, a year-on-year increase of $370m, creating the final surplus of $901m (the extra million apparently coming through ‘rounding’ up). The yearly picture was completed after the fourth-quarter figures for 2006 were released by the Department of Statistics, showing Bermuda made a current account surplus of $194m with the rest of the world during the final three months of the year, an $87m improvement over the same period in 2005. The goods trade deficit for the whole of 2006 went up $133m to $1,068m, the value of goods imported was $1,094m compared to goods exported from Bermuda which were almost half the 2005 total, at only $26m. The increasing demand for local businesses to service the needs of international business on the Island was evident in the $129m jump in the domestic services sector to $563m. Business services accounted for $557m to the current account surplus, with $846m in receipts for services to non-residents and a decline in payments for overseas services ($288m). Increased visitor numbers in 2006 helped the travel services portion of the balance of payments to a $41m boost to bring in a surplus of $231m. Local businesses sold goods and services valued at $508m. Bermudians also spent more overseas, rising $38m to $277m compared with 2005. There was an almost doubling of the cost of transportation services in the economy with the 2005 deficit of $140m jumping to $270m. Government services that were recorded as a deficit of $23m in 2005 ended up as a $44m surplus in 2006. Looking at the quarterly figures, during the final three months of 2006 the goods trade deficit went up $34m compared to the 2005 period to $266m. That was also a $17m jump from the third quarter of 2006. Imports to the Island far out-weighted exports with $271m worth of imports coming in between October and December compared with only $5m of exports. The value of Bermuda exports was down $2m on the previous quarter and down $6m year-on-year. Wages, salaries, investment income and other employee benefits paid to residents working in the international business sector formed a strong component of the positive current account. Total receipts from non-residents grew $171m to $814m. There was a $27m surplus in travel services, up $7m from the same period in 2005, with tourists to the Island spending $27m more in Bermuda than Bermudians spent during overseas trips. Transportation services presented a $75m deficit for the quarter, which was $10m higher than the previous quarter, but business services gave a $45m surplus increase to $143m compared to the last quarter of 2005.
April 5. People claiming medical assistance will have to visit a Government office to be means tested from next week. Acting Health Minister Philip Perinchief insisted the move was necessary to stop people from abusing the system — but conceded it would be unpopular with some. Mr. Perinchief revealed the plan yesterday while defending the controversial proposal to close the Government-funded Medical Clinic, which provides healthcare to vulnerable people including the elderly, homeless and mentally ill. From Monday, people who were previously assessed for indigent status at Bermuda Hospitals Board will have to visit the Department of Financial Assistance in Global House, Church Street. There, they will have to provide proof of ID, a letter of referral from a medical doctor, a list of medications and, where necessary, a verification via the Department of Immigration. People with savings of more than $5,000 will not be eligible for assistance. Explaining the new system, Mr. Perinchief said: “It’s to prevent or reduce any likelihood of abuse of the system by those who claim to be indigent. We must have a balance somewhere regarding how we spend the taxpayers’ money. A lot of people may feel somewhat disgruntled, but those who meet the criteria will continue to get assistance.” Health Permanent Secretary Warren Jones added: “There will be people who say ‘you are not going in my pocket’, but if you are sitting there with $35,000 in the bank, we need to be aware.” Government says the new system is related to the closure of the Medical Clinic, but that the centre’s patients will not be affected at this stage. It is hoped the scheme will bring a standardised criteria for determining indigent status, meaning that people can apply in one venue for medical assistance, food vouchers, housing allowance or other financial assistance. Speaking about the Medical Clinic’s closure, Mr. Perinchief said 13 GPs and three other specialists across the Island were now willing to take on its patients. He said an announcement on how the closure will be handled, including its time scale, would be made next week and volunteers from Red Cross and Meals on Wheels were lined up to provide transportation for patients, and that Government was standing by to provide a minibus service if necessary. “We will not close this clinic until we have every aspect of the healthcare of these patients in place,” he stressed. Announcing the clinic’s closure in his Throne Speech last year, Dr. Brown said patients’ dignity was being undermined. Since then, more than 2,000 people have signed a petition calling for it to stay open. Defending the closure, Mr. Perinchief said: “The fact we would even have a clinic specialized to the indigent is to sectionalize them out of the main population, almost to make a spectacle of them. “It’s this Minister’s view that those who are less economically well-off ought to receive at least the same level of care in respect of their health.” Asked why a service many patients claim to be happy with was now being changed, Mr. Perinchief said: “That’s because they don’t know of any even happier alternatives. We think they will be even happier once we roll out their plan. I was on a visit to the clinic a couple of weeks ago. The general view is of course that they want to know the details. There are one or two who are uncomfortable on the closure, and they expressed that. Once I’d spoken to them, I wouldn’t say they were enamored with the idea, but they were far more comfortable.” Mr. Perinchief said under the existing system Medical Clinic patients can only get treatment on four half-days a week. That will significantly increase when they are transferred to GPs across the Island, he said. He added that the idea to close the clinic had been around for years. “It’s not a question of going to sleep one night, waking up and saying this sounds like a good idea,” he said.
April 5. Five-star hotel operator St. Regis is understood to be the mystery group poised to run a re-developed hotel resort at the former Club Med site. The luxury brand operator is believed to be in the final stages of negotiations to put its name to a multi-million dollar project that will see the demolition of the derelict Club Med property and the creation of a 150-unit property with apartments and villas. Premier Ewart Brown revealed investment banking firm Bazarian International as the key player now favored by Government to pull together the hotel development scheme in the East End. Although Carl Bazarian, the founder of Bazarian International, said he could not name the luxurious hotel operator lined up to run the new hotel, an investigation points to St. Regis as being the mystery group. St. Regis is part of Star wood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, a group which owns, operates, franchises and manages hospitality properties under eight brands, the others are Sheraton Hotels, Four Points by Sheraton, Westin, The Luxury Collection, Le Méridien, W Hotels, Element and aLoft. Clues to the identity of the top hotel operator were dropped during the press conference given by Dr. Brown and Mr. Bazarian in which Mr. Bazarian said the operator in question already had well-known resorts in Bora Bora and Anguilla. Bazarian International has also previously been involved in hotel developments in Bora Bora and Anguilla. St. Regis Hotels and Resorts is headquartered in White Plains, New York. On its web site St. Regis markets itself as being in the top tier of world’s luxury hotels and notes the diverse range of creative, famous people who have chosen to stay at the New York St. Regis Hotel, including movie star Marlene Dietrich and painter Salvador Dali. The hotel in New York, “an original Beaux Arts classic landmark” was built by Colonel John Jacob Astor IV in 1904, and is consistently ranked one of the world’s finest hotels. St. Regis hotels can now be found in Washington, Rome, Aspen, Florida and California, London, Beijing and Shanghai, as well as Bora Bora in French Polynesia and the Temenos Villas in Anguilla. According to St Regis’ web site customers can expect: “An effortless arrival experience sets the tone of a spectacular visit - much like the welcome offered by a gracious friend at a fine private residence. Meticulous and discreet personal service is flawlessly delivered by carefully noting and recalling your preferences from preceding visits.” The company states: “From New York to Beijing, each St. Regis is desirably located. We are honored to offer the extraordinary world of luxury awaiting you at St. Regis Hotels & Resorts.”
April 5. Flags were flown at half mast across Bermuda in honour of Dr. Pauulu Kamarakafego (Roosevelt Brown), who died on Tuesday at the age of 75. Dr. Kamarakafego, of Middle Road, Southampton, died at a friend’s home after receiving palliative care at Agape House following a short illness. Tributes have been pouring in from across Bermuda and the world for the civil rights campaigner, United Nations development officer and ecological engineer. Dr. Kamarakafego led the fight for ‘one person, one vote’ as chairman of the Committee for Universal Adult Suffrage in the early 1960s. Yesterday black activist and author of ‘Second Class Citizens, First Class Men’, Dr. Eva Hodgson paid tribute to her peer. She said: “I had a warm relationship with Roosevelt Brown. It was as a direct result that in 1968, when I published ‘Second Class Citizens, First Class Men’, it was the first time his contribution to the Committee for Universal Adult Suffrage was acknowledged in a public fashion. “The reason he appreciated it was at that time the environment in Bermuda was so hostile to him. He said he could not even find employment. However he did end up having a career through the UN.” Dr. Hodgson, co-founder of the National Association of Reconciliation, said: “Roosevelt Brown was a very non-conformist person in a lot of ways and in a conservative environment that takes a lot of courage. In every country and society in which he lived, he challenged the authorities because of his own perceptions and approaches.” Dr. Kamarakafego - full name Dr. Pauulu Roosevelt Osiris Nelson Brown Kamarakafego - fathered a rainbow family of children across the world. They are: Suzanne Darrell of Bermuda; Wendy Browne of Canada; Ghrandu, Moulbo and Flumo Kamarakafego of Liberia; Tchilumba Kamarakafego of Democratic Republic of Congo; Tchilumbo Kamarakafego of Zanzibar; Keibu and Ronniba Kamarakafego of Kenya; Baizum of Vanuatu; Carla Kamarakafego of Nicaragua; Catherine Mckinley of Costa Rica; and Mahatma Kamarakafego of Nicaragua. He was also brother to Irene Maybury, Egbert Brown, Dianne Gumbs, the late William ‘Sonny’ Brown, Virginia Hall and Genieve Gardner. Dr. Kamarakafego had recently been invited to become a Deputy Director General of the International Biographical Centre (IBC) in Cambridge, UK. The centre produces biographical directories about individuals of high prominence across the world. Among the tributes from around the world was a message from Enrique Roman Hernandez, Vice President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples. Dr. Kamarakafego founded the Bermuda Friends of Cuba in 2000. Mr. Hernandez said: “It is with utmost grief and consternation that we have come to learn of the death of our unforgettable friend, brother and comrade, Dr Pauulu Kamarakafego. “His loss is not only to his family and friends, but as well a loss to Bermuda - which he so outstandingly well represented in so many international events of which he took part; to the progressive movement in the Caribbean region; and particularly a loss to Cuba, too, which always found in Pauulu a true brother. “May Pauulu rest in peace, as his memory and solidarity deeds will forever be present among us, his Cuban brothers and sisters.”
April 5. Bargain flights between London, Bermuda and New York will soon be on sale, the managing director of low-cost Zoom Airlines insisted yesterday. Jonathan Hinkles said he hoped to launch ticket sales for the twice-weekly flights in a fortnight. Yesterday, he admitted the Scottish company was not quite ready to start selling the flights but that it was "not far off". "It's all still moving forward," he said. "I don't think it will be long. We are fairly close to where we need to be." Zoom - which describes itself as the UK's first dedicated low-fares, long-haul airline - already has permission from Bermuda's Air Transport Licensing Board but still needs approval from the UK's Civil Aviation Authority. CAA spokesman Jonathan Nicholson said: "Zoom has applied and is being actioned. The timescales for processing will really be down to the speed the applicant can get everything in place and provide us with info." If Zoom is successful, it will give travelers their first alternative to British Airways on the direct London Gatwick to Bermuda route. It will also provide competitive fares for travelling from the Island to New York JFK. Meanwhile, another airline hoping to start flights from London to the Island said this week it was still in negotiations with UK operator Silverjet. Fly First Class executive vice president Gabrielle Griswold said she could not say any more until a deal was signed between the two companies. Fly First Class, a luxury "boutique airline", has been trying to get the five-times-a-week flights from London Stansted off the ground since November 2005. Its website www.flyfirstclass.biz says the service - which would continue to Wilmington, North Carolina - is due to start in the first quarter of 2007. But Mr. Nicholson said: "Fly First Class has not applied to the CAA for a licence.
April 7. Curbs on single and childless foreigners owning cars are on the cards as Government clamps down on Bermuda’s increasingly clogged roads. And a bill will be passed in the coming parliamentary session limiting the amount of cars available to expatriates in companies holding more than ten work permits. The measures were among a slew of initiatives announced by Premier Ewart Brown who hinted free public transport was on the way. Measures include:
Premier Brown has ruled out, for now, a return to the law abolished in the mid-90s, where drivers who sold their used car had to agree they wouldn’t purchase a new one for 12 months. He said that option wouldn’t produce the results and go far enough. “We also took into account the economic impact on removing that option from the local population,” he said. But Government is planning to move against the second-hand car market which it blames for increasing vehicles on the roads as people upgrade but happily cash in on their old one. A 2002 transport report showed that 52 percent of vehicles on the road were second-hand. New restrictions might allow motorists to offload cars overseas so there was no net gain of vehicles on the road. The Premier said many of the policies were still being worked on, including the curb on car numbers for foreign workers in larger firms. He could not say how many cars the employer would be expected to ration out. “The details are still being worked out. We are working with international business as we speak to work out the details. But it will be done by a formula that will give the business a certain number of cars and they will work out the distribution in-house. The measure would limit the expat from “buying a car at will” and also place the burden on employers to know their workers and assess their genuine needs. Additionally the Ministry of Tourism and Transport is actively formulating a policy on car ownership by our guest workers that will operate as a significant deterrent to the single or childless worker or couple owning a car. We don’t think we are being punitive at all. We think Bermuda provides an environment for expatriate workers like no other. We think we are extremely friendly and extremely flexible to guest workers.” Work is also being done to curb abuse of assessment numbers with landlords leaving apartments empty to allow their family to run more than one car. Another trick, soon to be outlawed, is where landlords nab an assessment number for their own family’s use before renting out an apartment. It’s thought at least 200 cars could be taken out of circulation via rigorous enforcement of the one car per assessment number rule. Premier Brown said the initiatives were just the beginning of a concerted effort to tackle congestion which will also look at changing traffic flow. “You will hear before the end of the summer another list of measures that will be taken by the Government. We are determined to reduce traffic congestion — both by vehicular ownership and also through traffic management.” Bermuda has more than 1,000 cars per square mile. And Government is working on bringing in free transport to encourage motorists to switch. “I would like to see it as soon as possible,” said Dr. Brown. “There is a significant reduction in revenue that would occur but we think in the long term it’s a worthwhile investment for a country of this size which can’t allow traffic congestion to spoil the quality of life.” Lost public transport revenue could be recouped by a variety of methods including increased gasoline tax said the Premier. “But even if we didn’t (recoup) sometimes the Government has to invest in the future. That’s called sustainable development.” He said it was very difficult to change Bermuda’s pro-car culture. “What we are trying to do is close some of the doors that lead to abuse. We will chip away at that culture but I don’t know we will ever rid the Island of the culture which makes people proud of their vehicles and anxious to use them. But it is our job to regulate the environment.” He added: “The resolution of our traffic problems requires bold and decisive action from Government and a willingness on the part of the community to make personal sacrifices. “The response of the community to these proposals will assist me in making the case for this change.” Government is doing everything it could to make public transport a better option said Dr. Brown with more buses starting on Monday on the 7, 8, 10 and 11 routes. And, by May 14, it should be possible to get a bus every 15 minutes even at non-peak times on those routes. Dr. Brown said mini-bus services were improving but he hoped more entrepreneurs would show interest in running water taxis — particularly between Hamilton, Paget and Warwick.
April 7. Top lawyer Cherie Booth — wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair — arrives in Bermuda today ahead of a court hearing in the case of murdered teen Rebecca Middleton. Ms Booth, one of the UK’s leading QCs, will represent the Middleton family at a Supreme Court judicial review on April 16 and 17. This will revolve around the brutal rape and murder of Canadian visitor Rebecca, 17, at a remote spot at Ferry Reach, St. George’s in July 1996 — for which no one has ever been convicted. Two men were arrested in the case with Kirk Mundy, then 21, claiming to have had consensual sex with Rebecca and blaming co-accused Justis Smith, then 17, for the killing. Before Police completed forensic tests, prosecutors accepted Mundy’s guilty plea of accessory after the fact and he was sentenced to five years behind bars. Smith was tried in 1998 for premeditated murder, but Judge Vincent Meerabux ordered jurors to acquit him part way through the trial, ruling there was no case to answer. Rebecca’s family has campaigned ever since to have the case brought back to court. Director of Public Prosecutions Vinette Graham-Allen decided last March not to reinvestigate the murder or consider fresh charges of sexual assault against Smith and Mundy. The judicial review, expected to be heard by Chief Justice Richard Ground, will see Ms Booth deal with arguments as to whether there should be a re-examination of the evidence and pursuit of fresh charges. It is understood Ms Booth will stay with friend and fellow lawyer Justin Williams in Tucker’s Town.
April 9. Premier Ewart Brown missed a golden opportunity to lead by example when he announced Government’s plans to limit the numbers of vehicles on the roads last week. That’s because Dr. Brown and his Cabinet, through their use of GP cars, are the leading exemplars of the abuse of the one car per household rule in Bermuda. There would have been no better way of showing that the Government was serious about reducing the number of cars on the road than having all Ministers give up their most obvious perk. Not surprisingly, that was not among the Dr. Brown’s proposals last week. Instead the package of changes primarily targets expatriates, who will cost the Government no votes. Some of the changes make sense. Government has made some good progress on making public transport more accessible, but must do more. The crackdown on abuse of assessment numbers is long overdue, and the move to impound vehicles of illegal drivers is also welcome as a safety measure, as is the long-awaited demerits system, although neither of the latter two policies will have a major effect on the amount of traffic. The moratorium on truck licenses will do something to reduce traffic, and should include a crackdown on licence holders. All Bermudians are tired of seeing trucks and vans being used as second cars. What is not clear is whether this is a total moratorium, with no licenses being granted at all, or a cap, in which existing licence holders can replace vehicles or new licence holders can get vehicles when businesses close or scale down. The most controversial aspect of Dr. Brown’s proposals concerns expatriates owning cars. It would be naïve to think that the Transport Ministry believes this part of the community is solely responsible for the growth in traffic, but it is being made solely responsible for limiting its growth, while Bermudians are being given a free pass, unless and until restrictions on the secondhand car market come into effect. At the same time, employers are being given an unwanted and unwarranted responsibility, through a yet to be announced formula by which companies employing ten or more non-Bermudians will be given a certain number of car licenses and will dole them out to their non-Bermudian employees. Whether this policy will be enforceable remains to be seen, and it seems likely that it will be abused. One wonders too whether Government itself will be subject to the same policy. Clearly, the main goal of the policy is political, since expatriates cannot vote and there will always be Bermudians who support putting the boot in into expatriates whenever possible. A better policy on car ownership would be a points system, in which age, family, length of residence in Bermuda, physical needs and the like were all taken into account, and which applied to Bermudians and non-Bermudians alike. Thus, a 25-year-old single person would have less right to own a car than a couple in their 30s with two school-age children. Instead, Government has taken the easy way out by targeting non-Bermudians and abrogating its responsibility for granting car licenses to employers. Instead of taking the opportunity to lead by example by reducing the number of GP cars, and then inviting all residents to make a joint sacrifice, Dr. Brown has picked on voiceless — and voteless — expatriates.
April 9. The Marsh Folly community in Pembroke has little faith in Government promises — and it’s hard to blame them. In 1987 residents were told their unsightly landfill would be transformed into a public park that would be the envy of the country. Months passed, then years, then decades and the park never became a reality. This year marks the 20th anniversary of that broken promise. “It’s been like this so long I can’t even hardly remember,” said Muriel Roach standing just outside her home. She’s on Perimeter Lane where she has lived with her husband for 40 years. In that time she has experienced Marsh Folly as a dump, an open air incinerator and now a horticultural waste plant. Mrs. Roach easily recalled when Harvard University researchers showed up on her doorstep in 1986 to talk about the Government’s master plan to beautify her neighbourhood. She said: “I remember when they interviewed us and they were at Bishop Spencer and people all went to look at the plans.” It was an exciting time on Perimeter Lane. So much so that Mrs. Roach politely excused herself, disappeared into her home for five minutes, and re-emerged with a copy of the actual plan Government gave to her family two decades ago. She held in her hands a comprehensive fully colour 30-plus-page promise of rolling fields, trees and walking trails. For all these years the immaculately cared for document sat on Mrs. Roach’s bookshelf. She would never once think of throwing it away. She said: “Look it’s so pretty. This is what we were looking forward to. Of course we would keep it.” Perimeter Lane is a narrow road that hugs the north side of the Marsh Folly Horticultural Waste Site. The homes on this street are closer to the former landfill than any other neighbourhood, and as a result, the broken promise has perhaps affected people here more than anywhere else.
April 10. War veterans are celebrating after Government pledged to end six decades of inequality over pension benefits. Finance Minister Paula Cox yesterday pledged to “repay those who valiantly served their country” by removing vestiges within the Pensions and Gratuities Act which precluded some black war veterans from receiving benefits. Ms Cox said that, until now, Second World War veterans who served as part of the First Battalion, Caribbean Regiment, Bermuda contingent, had never been adequately compensated for their service to Bermuda. The Minister said benefits would be improved for those former soldiers, who were members of the black branch of the Island’s armed forces, known locally as Bermuda Militia Artillery. Medical, dental and pension benefits will be extended, while pension benefit will be doubled from $400 to $800 per month, said Ms Cox. Yesterday, veterans and their families said they were relieved at the news — but expressed their regret it had taken more than 60 years to happen. Veteran Earl Darrell, 81, from Warwick, said: “It’s about time something happened. This should have been done in 1946. It is 62 years since we came back from this extravaganza overseas. It’s a hell of a story.” William (Dougie) Roberts, 86, from Somerset, said: “It’s a great day and it’s about time. It won’t make any difference to my life, except that it means we are at last being rewarded after all these years.” Raymond H. DeShield, son of the oldest surviving veteran, 98-year-old John N. DeShield, from Pembroke, said: “It’s something that’s long overdue for veterans. “This will help my father, especially at his age — he requires medical treatment to maintain himself.” Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Ms Cox said: “We are here today to signal how we as a Government propose to chart the way forward in redressing some of the longstanding vestiges of racism and inequality in our treatment of our war veterans. This is long overdue. We are seeking to repay and honour the contributions of those who valiantly served their country. They did it because it was the right thing to do — not because they were seeking handouts but out of duty, honour and sacrifice to their country. They made their sacrifice and their needs were not seen to have been properly met on their return. In the 62 years since the end of World War Two, veterans in Bermuda have endured mixed fortunes largely based on their race or the nature of their service. Indeed some black war veterans have never been adequately compensated for their service to their country.” Senator David Burch, the Minister responsible for Defence and a former soldier, said: “Today’s announcement ranks among the most gratifying of this job and serves as further motivation for many of us to continue to serve and effect real change. These amendments are significant steps forward to honour the service of so many of our sons of the soil who fought so bravely for democracy and freedom, more than six decades ago. The low priority previously ascribed to veterans’ affairs in Bermuda has disheartened and discouraged many of us. Many have abandoned hope of seeing resolution of these long outstanding issues. These men are the heart and soul of Bermuda, and we believe that these new proposals are critical steps towards properly recognizing their service and sacrifice.” Sen. Burch said members of the home-guard who defended Bermuda during the war would now be properly rewarded. “This home-guard provided invaluable, necessary full time service and as such must be recognized with the full benefits,” he said.
April 11. The Chamber of Commerce has warned that new transport laws could send the wrong message to International Businesses. Last week Premier Dr. Ewart Brown announced that a slew of new transport initiatives to reduce congestion on the Island’s roads. These included curbing the number of single and childless foreigners owning cars and limiting the amount of cars available to expatriates in companies holding more than ten work permits. Yesterday Chamber of Commerce executive vice president, Diane Gordon, said: “The membership is concerned at the proposals stated and in particular limiting car ownership by certain categories of workers as this appears to be sending the wrong message to our International Businesses, all of whom we support and any impact incurred on them will have very serious results on local businesses — a large percentage of those businesses being Chamber members. “International business remains the life blood of Bermuda and we need to work with our partners to ensure the continuing success of our Island. We do not wish to divide our guest workers who live here nor do we wish to present the wrong message for those recruiting to our Island. Mrs. Gordon said the Chamber recognized and supported the need to address congestion problems on the Island. "We look forward to working with the Government and all of our other industry partners in addressing the concerns expressed.” The Chamber has more than 800 members. Last week when the Premier announced the raft of changes he said he was still in talks with businesses about the details. He added: “But it will be done by a formula that will give the business a certain number of cars and they will work out the distribution in-house. We don’t think we are being punitive at all. We think Bermuda provides an environment for expatriate workers like no other. We think we are extremely friendly and extremely flexible to guest workers.” Transportation figures for 2006 stated that there are 21,978 private cars and 19, 087 motorcycles in Bermuda.
April 12. Bargain flights between London, Bermuda and New York will be running from June 8, Premier Dr. Ewart Brown announced. Zoom Airlines is offering one-way flights between the Island and London Gatwick from $249 including all taxes, fees and charges, a saving of up to 73 percent compared with British Airways. Flights will operate twice weekly and will be available in economy or premium economy seats. Prices between Bermuda and New York's JFK Airport will be revealed shortly. Zoom, which describes itself as the UK's first dedicated low-fares long-haul airline, has pledged the service will offer an excellent and affordable alternative to the established airlines. Passengers will be able to buy tickets from tomorrow.
April 14. A new transport schedule which would see a bus every 15 minutes on several routes will not be unrolled as expected because bus drivers were not consulted. Visitors and locals were stranded across the Island yesterday because buses were out of operation from 10 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. while the drivers attended two Bermuda Industrial Union meetings. In the second meeting they decided that the new schedule would not roll out as expected this month. On April 6 Premier Dr. Ewart Brown announced Government was doing everything it could to make public transport a better option. He said more buses would be put on the 7, 8, 10 and 11 routes within days. And by May 14 it should be possible to get a bus every 15 minutes even at non-peak times on those routes, he said. But yesterday BIU president Chris Furbert said the drivers had yet to look at a hefty document which outlined the new roster system — or agree to it. Because they had not signed off on it the new schedule would not be in operation, as Dr. Brown announced. He pointed out that the bus drivers were not necessarily disagreeing with the new schedule but wanted to examine the document before signing off on it. He added that this was not the Premier’s fault. He said: “The Premier did not drop the ball on this. He had announced that it was coming before this point. Joint collaboration meetings should have taken place but for various reasons did not. I know that the perusal committee is now looking at the new roster document.” Mr. Furbert also apologized for the inconvenience caused by the meetings. A Government spokeswoman said: “In response to the decision of bus operators refusing to work the new and improved bus schedules that would have provided increased bus service until midnight, the Ministry of Tourism and Transport said it was extremely disappointed that it will not be able to deliver this new service as planned.” Earlier in the day bus drivers joined hundreds of other Government workers to express their anger at the Government walking away from negotiations with the union over staffing issues at a new recycling plant. That meeting ended at 2 p.m., but bus drivers remained behind and held their own meeting for another hour. The buses were back in operation at 3.30 p.m.
April 16. The name of Bermuda International Airport was formally changed to and became the L.F. Wade International Airport. It was renamed to honour the late L. Frederick Wade, a Bermuda Member of Parliament and leader of the Opposition in the days before the Progressive Labour Party formed the Bermuda Government.
April 16. A court hearing aiming to get fresh charges against two men suspected in the rape and murder of Canadian teenager Rebecca Middleton began. James Guthrie QC, representing the Director of Public Prosecutions, acknowledged the family of the 17-year-old suffered "great injustice" through the failure of Bermuda's authorities to bring the alleged culprits to justice. But, he said, it would be legally wrong to re-open the case against Kirk Mundy and Justis Smith, the pair arrested for the crime in 1996 when Rebecca was stabbed, raped and left to die on a remote road at Ferry Reach. Cherie Booth QC, representing Becky's father Dave Middleton who has brought the judicial review, argued the Director of Public Prosecutions Vinette Graham-Allen was mistaken in saying the case cannot be re-opened. And Ms Booth, a top human rights lawyer who is married to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, listed reasons why Smith and Mundy should face fresh charges of sexual assault, kidnap and torture. She said the original murder trial against Smith was wrongly thrown out by a judge and Mundy should never have been permitted to plead guilty to a lesser charge of accessory to the crime. He got five years in jail. When fresh evidence came in against Mundy, attempts by the Crown to have him face a murder charge were blocked by the Privy Council appeal court in London. "Astonishingly, this is the only sentence either man has served for this hideous crime. They've expressed no remorse for the fact that Rebecca was abused, de-humanized and killed," said Ms Booth. She argued that the DPP erred in law in making her decision not to press charges, and did not consider Rebecca's human rights. The case continues this afternoon with Mr. Guthrie's arguments that the Director of Public Prosecutions was correct. Becky's father, Dave, and her mother Cindy Bennett have both traveled to Bermuda from their home town of Belleville, Ontario, to listen to the case.
April 16. The judicial review of the Rebecca Middleton case today is a precedent-setting event in Bermuda, according to one of the lawyers involved. It will see top human rights lawyer Cherie Booth QC argue that the decision last year of Director of Public Prosecutions not to reopen the 11-year-old case and press fresh charges against the suspects was wrong. According to Kelvin Hastings-Smith, also working on the case for the Middleton family, judicial reviews are common in Bermuda but he has never heard of one before attacking a decision not to prosecute. “If the court agrees it doesn’t then mean there will be fresh charges. If the court is with us then the court can order that the decision be quashed and it goes back to the DPP, who will have to consider her position,” he explained. Becky Middleton was tortured, raped and murdered at a remote spot at Ferry Reach, St. George’s in July 1996 while on vacation from her home in Belleville, Ontario. Kirk Mundy and Justis Smith were arrested, with Mundy claiming to have had consensual sex with Becky. He said he found Smith killing her when he returned from washing himself in the sea. Before Police completed forensic tests, prosecutors accepted Mundy’s guilty plea of accessory after the fact - meaning he knew a crime had been committed and assisted or sheltered the offender — while Smith was charged with premeditated murder. In October 1996, Mundy was sentenced to five years behind bars for the accessory charge. Although new forensic evidence later came in that led to him being charged with murder along with Smith, the Privy Council ruled in 1998 that this prosecution could not go ahead. Later that year, Smith went on trial for premeditated murder, but Judge Vincent Meerabux ordered jurors to acquit him part way through the trial, ruling there was no case to answer. The judge’s decision was described as “surprising” by the Privy Council, but it said it was not possible to overturn the decision. Becky’s family has campaigned ever since to have fresh charges laid against Smith — now 28 — and Mundy — now 31. The former is a free man while Mundy is serving time for an armed robbery he was on bail for at the time of Becky’s death. He will be deported to his native Jamaica upon his release. Dave Middleton, Becky’s father, requested in 2004 that Director of Public Prosecutions Vinette Graham-Allen review the case and consider fresh charges against the pair. It is not possible for them to be re-charged with murder under Bermuda’s ‘double jeopardy’ legal principle — still in place despite being abolished in England and Wales in 2005 — that prevents the same person being tried twice for the same crime. Mr. Middleton therefore asked Mrs Graham-Allen to consider alternative charges of serious sexual assault, kidnap or torture. Deciding against this in March last year, she said it was not possible because the constitution also prevents someone being tried for a second time on a charge arising out of the same facts as the first. “The family was obviously devastated by the decision,” said Mr. Hastings-Smith. His firm’s suggestion that Mrs Graham-Allen’s decision could be appealed to the Supreme Court prompted the two-day hearing kicking off today. Ms Booth, a human rights specialist, was approached by the Middleton family and agreed to take on the case. She will be lead counsel along with a team from Appleby, Bermuda. Another British QC, James Guthrie, has been enlisted by the DPP. Should Mr. Justice Ground decide that the DPP was correct not to re-open the case, there are still avenues open to the Middleton family. They could launch an appeal or pursue a private prosecution against the suspects in Bermuda or even the European courts. However, Mr. Hastings-Smith said: “Our focus at this time is in seeing the judicial review process through to its conclusion.”
April 16. The UBP has accused the Government of bias in its naming of public places after national heroes. The Opposition last night criticised the renaming of Bermuda International Airport, saying the choice was politically-motivated and undemocratic. An official dedication ceremony will today rename the facility L. F. Wade International Airport in honour of the late Progressive Labour Party leader Frederick (Freddie) Wade. Mr. Wade became leader in 1985 and is widely recognized as having laid the foundations for the party’s first election victory in 1998. He died two years earlier, aged 57. The PLP Government says dedications of public buildings, sites and streets are a part of its 1998 election platform. Last year it named the Hamilton bus terminal after driver Hubert (Sparky) Lightbourne, and in 2002, honored Registrar General Valerie T. Scott at the Parliamentary Registry Building. However, the UBP says Government should be restricted to putting names forward, with the final decision resting with an independent committee. John Barritt, Shadow Minister for Legislative Reform and Justice, said: “While we have great respect for the late L. Frederick Wade and his political career, the announcement by the Progressive Labour Party last week that the airport is to be named after him, raises an important and vexing issue. Naming public sites after prominent Bermudians, as the PLP promised some time ago is a project being undertaken in the name of promoting national pride. We in the United Bermuda Party support that aim. What we do not support is the PLP’s view that since it is the government of the day, it is the only game in town. The Government’s involvement ought to be no greater than having the right to suggest names of those they believe ought to be honored. Other interested people and organizations in the community ought to have the same right, so that the results can truly be said to be rooted in the community, rich in diversity as it is.” He added: “Members of the PLP seem to believe that being elected to Government has given them the sole right to decide what is good for Bermuda and for Bermudians. Bermudians should be alarmed at how quickly the PLP is prepared to cut the rest of us out of the picture if they think they can get away with it, and insulted by what that says about the their lack of respect for the people they are supposed to be leading.” Mr Wade’s widow Ianthia, who has campaigned for more public recognition of national heroes, last night said that her husband’s contribution rose above politics. “There are so few people who have had places named after them, how can it be politically motivated? It is important for young people to be able to recognize the people who have made Bermuda what it is. My husband was PLP but his commitment was to making Bermuda a better place for all Bermudians. What he was trying to do was look at the system and make it better for everybody.”
April 16. The old Holiday Inn/Club Med now-derelict site, instead of being without any human occupation, was, until today when they were finally ejected - the home of trespassers, more than 33 homeless folk who have took refuge in the formerly vacant staff dormitories of the once bustling hotel, despite the many "no trespassing" signs. They joined forces to form a ‘People’s Alliance’ in a bid to make the derelict building a better place to live. Many of those concerned are skilled and have jobs but are unable to afford the Island’s high rents and cost of buying a home. They have been dubbed Bermuda’s ‘working poor’ – part of a growing segment of the population caught in the housing trap. They ranged in age from 14 to 56 and bonded together to pool skills and food under the People’s Alliance banner. They included skilled laborers, carpenters, beauticians and even some Government workers. They ran the Alliance to ensure each resident has access to food and that their most basic needs were met. Some visited grocery stores to see if they would give food that would otherwise be thrown away. Their efforts were successful and they had a relatively good supply of nonperishable food. They had power and furniture, some found there, others scrapped, plus TVs and more, inside the rooms. The property looked like it had been battered by a strong hurricane. All escaped the exorbitantly high rents and costs of housing elsewhere. They were aware that they would be forced to leave if the property is leased, but were happy that they had a roof over their heads and were not forced to live in Bermuda’s public parks and beaches. This is a side of life other Bermudians and tourists do not see, except when publicity results when the Police are called.
April 17. L. Freddie Wade's long-time friend Dame Lois Browne-Evans led a chorus of tributes yesterday as the Bermuda International Airport was renamed in honour of the former Opposition Leader. Dame Lois was given three minutes to offer remarks and talked extemporaneously for almost 30, ignoring signals from organizers to wrap it up. She quipped from the podium: "No amount of signaling could get me to stop saying these good things about L. Freddie Wade." Mr. Wade succeeded Dame Lois as leader of the Progressive Labour Party in 1985. She said: "Bermudians have a way of forgetting the sacrifices that some have made. I'm so glad the PLP, under Premier Ewart Brown, has decided to name this airport in honour of Freddie Wade." Heartfelt tributes also came from Premier Ewart Brown, Mr. Wade's widow and his children. Daughter Michelle Wade fought back tears as she spoke before the standing room only crowd. She said: "The legacy that you speak about is not just about a politician, but a father who shared and sacrificed his life for a better Bermuda for all. And if I may say so, without support, patience and sacrifice from our mother, other family members and our friends, this legacy might have taken a different road." Hundreds of people, including countless Government Ministers, crowded into the departure ticketing area of the airport for the ceremony. At least four Opposition officials were also in attendance including Leader Michael Dunkley, despite a press release the night before raising concerns about the way Government renames public facilities. The timing of the Opposition statement partly stole the limelight from the Wade family, critics allege. Mr. Dunkley did not agree. He said: "We still think they can enjoy the spotlight. That's one of the reasons I'm here today because, as we said in our press release, we respect what the honorable Freddie Wade has done. We'd just like to see a better process in place that will benefit the community going forward." At yesterday's event Premier Brown told the audience he is "personally committed to the fulfillment of this Government's promise to do more than just pay lip service to our foremost sons and daughters." It was a strong suggestion that more public facilities will be named after national figures of the past. It's not clear if the Opposition's concerns will be taken into account.
April 18. A suspect who could face fresh charges over Rebecca Middleton’s death cannot have a fair trial because the public has convicted him of murder in their own minds, his lawyer claimed. Charles Richardson was fighting a bid by the Middleton family to have his client Kirk Mundy and fellow suspect Justis Smith tried for sex assault, kidnap and torture since efforts to try them for murdering the Canadian teenager were bungled by the authorities. He argued in Supreme Court yesterday that huge international media interest in the fact no-one has been convicted for the killing would make it “impossible” to find an unbiased jury if fresh charges were laid. “Newspapers have spilled gallons of ink in pursuit of this story. As a result, the pulse of public opinion in this country already has my client convicted of murdering Rebecca,” he said. He added later: “It’s my firm belief that the feeling’s so strong that any jury being asked to put that aside would be asked to perform mental gymnastics of Olympic proportions. They would not be able to put it aside.” Cherie Booth QC is representing the Middleton family in the bid to have the case reopened. She has claimed it was right there has been an outcry over the “injustice” in the case, but a judge could direct a jury to ignore media coverage. Rebecca, 17, was on vacation from her home in Belleville, Ontario, when she was stabbed raped and sodomized before being dumped on a remote road in Ferry Reach on July 3 1996. Mundy and Smith were arrested days later. Ms Booth has zeroed-in on how Mundy told Police he had consensual sex with the teenager — which she says was a lie — and implicated Smith in the murder. Ms Booth said this never should have been accepted but an “inexperienced” prosecutor did so and allowed a plea bargain whereby Mundy pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the crime in exchange for a pledge to testify against Smith. He got five years in jail. Later attempts by prosecutors to charge Mundy with murder after fresh evidence came in allegedly linking him to the crime were blocked by the Privy Council. Smith’s murder trial was thrown out by a judge, with attempts to re-try him also blocked by the Privy Council. During the course of a judicial review hearing this week, Ms Booth has argued that a decision by Director of Public Prosecutions Vinette Graham-Allen not to re-open the case was wrong. She told Chief Justice Richard Ground that Bermuda’s top prosecutor placed too much emphasis on the rights of the suspects in coming to the decision, and not enough on the rights of Rebecca and her family. She pointed out the ‘double jeopardy’ rule preventing a person being tried twice for a crime dates back to a time when a defendant could face the death penalty for offences such as rape and murder. Now this is no longer so, she said, there must be more emphasis on the human rights of the victim than in past centuries. “Rebecca’s life has gone. Her parents know that only too well. There’s not the chance of the redemption Mr. Mundy has had by being allowed to take his exams in jail. There’s no second chance for Rebecca,” she said. She pointed out that England and Wales have already abolished double jeopardy to allow repeat trials in special circumstances. “This is not an ordinary case. In fact this is a unique case...we say that those special circumstances are sufficient to amount in today’s world to justification for you to quash this decision (by the DPP),” she told the court. She added that a sex assault trial would not breach the double jeopardy rule on repeat prosecutions anyhow, because the original charge against Smith and Mundy was murder but a new case would focus on alleged acts before Rebecca’s death. Ms Booth argued that Mundy should not be allowed to “hide” behind the plea deal struck in 1996 as it only extended to him not facing a murder trial. Mr. Richardson, however, said the agreement remained in place, and was a further reason new charges now would be wrong. He also stressed his position that the only crime Mundy is responsible for is the accessory charge he was jailed for. James Guthrie, QC, representing Mrs. Graham-Allen, said on Monday that she was right to rule out new proceedings. Mr. Justice Ground adjourned the matter after hearing all the arguments, and said it would take at least three weeks to make his ruling. Rebecca’s parents, Cindy Bennett and her ex-husband Dave Middleton, attended the judicial review and are considering returning to the Island to hear the outcome. “I’m feeling very confident. I’m so glad I came to hear this,” said Mrs. Bennett. Mr. Middleton commented: “I thought we got the point across. It is a special case.”
April 18. Allegations were made that the Rebecca Middleton rape and murder case demonstrates weakness in prosecuting sex offences in Bermuda. Cherie Booth QC alleged in Supreme Court this week that evidence against suspects Kirk Mundy and Justis Smith meant it was wrong they never faced charges of sexually assaulting the Canadian holidaymaker. Representing the Middleton family in a bid to achieve this now — eleven years after the 17-year-old died — Ms Booth said the history of the case showed “what we say is a culture of impunity regarding sexual offences against women in Bermuda”. However, lawyer Charles Richardson, representing Mundy, said recent tough sentences meted out to sex attackers by the Island’s courts demonstrated the opposite. Mr. Richardson took exception to an affidavit submitted by Dr. Carol Shuman as part of the case for the Middleton family, which, he said, described “apathy and indifference towards sexual offences” by Bermuda’s prosecuting authorities. The allegations from Dr. Shuman, a psychologist and supporter of the Middleton family, have not been read in full to the court during the case. They will, however, be considered by Chief Justice Richard Ground as part of his decision whether it is right or wrong to reopen the case against Mundy and Smith. Rejecting this stance, Mr. Richardson pointed to recent sentences of 25 and 30 years meted out to convicted sex attackers in Bermuda’s courts. “These courts do take seriously the prosecution of sexual assaults in this country” he said. Mr. Richardson maintains his client’s innocence of all accusations, except being an accessory to the crime against Rebecca for which he was jailed in the months after her death.
April 18. International business expressed "great concern" about Government's controversial plan to restrict car use for expatriates. The Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC) said it had a meeting with Premier Ewart Brown on Friday and is keen to work with Government on alternatives. Earlier this month the Premier announced plans to curb the number of single and childless foreigners owning cars and to limit the amount of cars available to expatriates in companies holding more than ten work permits. In a statement released yesterday ABIC said it had held a productive meeting with Government to discuss the recent traffic proposals "some of which had caused great concern to its members and employees". ABIC said it had agreed to work with Government and other businesses to thrash out creative solutions for traffic throughout the Island and particular Hamilton in the rush hour. ABIC Chairman David Ezekiel said: "The transport reform proposals highlight the need for collective action from all sections of the community to help solve the problems of traffic congestion in the city. We will, along with other industry bodies, work with our members to find solutions, and will shortly be contacting our members with proposals as to how we move forward on this issue. Based on our meeting, we are confident that, by working in partnership with Government, we will identify solutions that will address this issue in a timely manner and avoid the creation of a long-term problem for the island." ABIC represents more than 130 international companies incorporated in Bermuda. Earlier this month Chamber of Commerce executive vice president Diane Gordon said new transport restrictions could send the wrong message to international businesses which was the life blood of Bermuda. "We do not wish to divide our guest workers who live here nor do we wish to present the wrong message for those recruiting to our Island."
April 19. The Ministry of Health has refuted suggestions that physicians will increase charges because they will be taking on indigent patients following the controversial closure of the Medical Clinic. Cash currently used to run the facility, formerly known as the Indigent Clinic, will in future be used to help fund their treatment at private GPs and specialists across the Island, a Ministry spokesman stressed yesterday. The Ministry was responding to a letter in the daily newspaper which suggested doctors would put up their charges from about $75 to $125 per visit to help accommodate former Medical Clinic patients, many of whom are homeless, elderly or mentally ill and unable to afford their own treatment. A Ministry spokesman said: “The Ministry of Health wishes to note that, contrary to suggestions by a letter to the editor in the newspaper, there is no evidence to suggest that physicians are going to raise their charges in direct response to the closure of the Medical Clinic. It was noted that the funding for this initiative will be supported by the indigent subsidy that presently supports the Clinic. The spokesman said some private physicians already provided free medical care to indigent patients “out of a personal belief to provide quality healthcare to all”. Such physicians would now receive compensation for those patients and for any new indigent patients they treat in the future, the spokesman added. More than 3,000 people have signed a petition protesting against the closure of the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital facility, arguing that it gives vulnerable patients access to treatment, prescriptions and medical supplies under one roof. However, Government has stated it is likely to shut the clinic down in any case by the end of June.
April 19. School buses could be in the works if a pilot programme currently running works out. Premier Dr. Ewart Brown announced the new initiative yesterday and said it was part of his traffic decongestion plan. Students from Bermuda High School, Mount Saint Agnes and Saltus have been encouraged to take ferries into town and then hop on board a bus which will drop them off at their respective schools. The bus does one run in the morning and two in the afternoon, to cater to students who leave school immediately and those that stay for after school programmes. Headmaster of BHS, Roy Napier, said: “So far it has been great. It is a free service and started on Tuesday. “We have been in communication with parents letting them that this was coming and already there are about 20 kids from BHS using the bus. Parents seem happy with the efficiency and safety of the bus.” Dr. Brown said: “This is another critical piece of our traffic decongestions plan which is aimed to deal particularly with the historic congestion from the west end into Hamilton.” New legislation was drafted before Christmas to enable the Government to use the Bermuda Host buses - the airport limousines. In the House of Assembly in November Dr. Brown said: “Every Bermudian knows when the private schools are not in session the traffic is a lot better. So we looked at the schools and said why don’t we find a way to provide you with private buses. That way you can pick up all your kids and you wouldn’t have 50 or 60 vehicles on the road.” A study by the Department of Transport a couple of years ago showed traffic was 16 percent worse when school was in. It is hoped that parents will use this new option instead of driving into town simply to drop their kids off.
April 20. Bermuda Hogges management yesterday announced the Island’s first professional football outfit, ending weeks of speculation over the team’s final composition. Stephen Astwood and Damon Ming were confirmed as the Hogges’ two franchise players, while former English pros and team co-owners Shaun Goater and Kyle Lightbourne were was also included among a squad of 22 players that was released by team co-owner Paul Scope. The full squad is as follows: Timmy Figureido, Jason Williams, Darius Cox, Robert Wilson, Jelani Scott, Dennis Zuill, Jared Peniston, Damon Ming, Omar Shakir, Stephen Astwood, Shaki Crockwell, Lashun Dill, Ralph Bean Jr, Devaughn DeGraff, Raymond Beach, Kwame Steede (captain), Michael Parsons, Domico Coddington, Shaun Goater, Kyle Lightbourne, Seion Darrell, Clevon Hill. The Hogges host Harrisburg City Islanders in their season-opener a week today at the National Sports Centre. Said Scope: “We are very pleased with the squad we have. I think we more or less got who we wanted, and we are just glad to have got a lot of logistical things completed this week.” Scope has already made plans to travel to the US this weekend to personally size up his team’s first United Soccer League (USL) Division Two opponents. Hogges will be without team skipper Kwame Steede who is recovering from minor knee surgery, while striker Beach and midfielders Seion Darrell and Devaughn DeGraff will also miss next week’s season opener at the NSC. Both Beach and Darrell have Regiment commitments while DeGraff will be sidelined through religious obligations. With the Hogges due to face Harrisburg twice in a 36-hour period, apart from the trio of Beach, Darrell and DeGraff, all those on the team roster are likely to get a game against the visitors, Scope said.
April 20. Increased tourist arrival numbers and improved hotel occupancy over the last three months have given hoteliers something to smile about. Mike Winfield, co-chairman of Bermuda Alliance for Tourism (BAT), chairman of BAT's airline committee and chairman of Bermuda Hotel Association, said he was pleased with the first quarter results. On Wednesday Premier Dr. Ewart Brown announced that arrivals were up air arrivals for the first quarter were up 17.8 percent compared to last year, overall visitor arrivals were up 23 percent. He also announced that hotel occupancy was up 20.9 percent when compared to occupancy levels from January to March 2006. He said: "There is no question that the first quarter results show significant improvements on last year and for that hoteliers are pleased. The new airlines and the lower airfares are impacting the market significantly. We are beginning to get the image of Bermuda in to the minds of our target market." He said the arrival of Zoom's London to Bermuda service and the decision by British Airways' to slash their prices day's after the Zoom announcement could also positively impact arrivals numbers. Mr. Winfield said: "With the dollar so low Bermuda is now an attractive place to come for the European market. Now that it is almost $2 for the £ sterling it is quite attractive. I am looking forward to seeing business from these markets, particularly the German and Italian market." But he added that for 2007 to be seen as a success it was important to also get the September and October arrivals back up to levels seen before 2001. Prior to 9/11 and Hurricane Fabian those months were part of the Island's summer season and saw large numbers of tourists descend on the Island. Since then though numbers have dropped significantly in those months. Mr. Winfield said the arrival figures for January to March are great because they have traditionally been seen as the low season and hoped to see the Department of Tourism build on this momentum.
April 20. An outside company is being brought in to help run Bermuda’s hospitals. Hospitals chief David Hill says specialist assistance is needed to oversee the rebuilding of King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH) and a number of other imminent key projects. Shadow Health Minister Louise Jackson last night attacked the move, claiming too much cash and time had already been spent bringing in overseas teams to carry out a string of reviews of healthcare on the Island. Fears have also been raised that the new company would threaten existing positions — but Mr. Hill yesterday assured staff no redundancies were planned. Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) approached five potential firms earlier this month, with the preferred option to be unveiled in May following interviews from a selection panel. Officials yesterday said the decision to bring in external help came after recent reviews of the future of healthcare. They refused to name the companies in the running or the amount the move will cost. “Following a status review, it was felt external management support would help existing BHB management and staff in their goal to improve services, modernise patient care and move towards building a new hospital,” said a statement. “This search reflects the significant projects currently being undertaken by BHB beyond its normal remit of delivering healthcare services to the Bermuda community. The additional managerial support will enable BHB to draw on a pool of highly experienced healthcare specialists during this demanding time.” As well as rebuilding KEMH and the Mid Atlantic Wellness Institute (MAWI), ongoing projects include maintaining and improving ageing facilities and equipment. Mr. Hill said: “At this time, as we face a larger than normal agenda, it was felt our management would benefit from additional support.” Acting Health Minister Dale Butler said: “The pressures on BHB at the moment are immense. We believe it is in Bermuda’s best interests to provide additional, specialised healthcare management support to the hospitals now rather than waiting and hoping these multiple pressures to not impact the service provided to our people in the months and years to come.” Mrs. Jackson pointed to a succession of outside assistance the hospital has called on in recent years. These include:
Mrs. Jackson said: “This country has been paying millions of dollars for consultants to come here. They have done report after report and we seldom see the results. Then we roll over a couple of years and they are back again to get another report. Now they have to go and find another company to come in and help. I can’t see the need. I would like to know what they are going to bring to the table and how much it is going to cost.” Asked about the cost of the project and which companies were vying for the role — including speculation that Kurron Shares could be lined up — a BHB spokeswoman said: “BHB is extremely mindful of cost and each company’s financial bid will be evaluated by the panel as part of the selection process. This will ensure the best value is achieved. Although there has been speculation on who is competing, it would be unfair and unprofessional to identify which companies are or are not involved. Once a company is selected that company will be announced. However, they are all highly qualified in their fields.” In a letter to staff, Mr. Hill addressed fears over threats to jobs. “I would like to stress up front, following concerns raised, that there are no planned redundancies. You will know that our problem is actually recruiting people, not reducing numbers,” he said. Bermuda Public Services Union leader Ed Ball said he was monitoring the situation.
April 22. Officially opened by Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance , the Hon Paula Cox, JP, MP was the Somerset Long Bay East Nature Reserve, including Pitman's Pond.
April 23. The number of tourists visiting Bermuda increased by almost a quarter in 2006 to more than 635,000, according to new figures released by Government. The latest Quarterly Bulletin of Statistics revealed that 635,272 air and cruise passengers visited the Island last year — an increase of 22.9 percent on 2005. Despite the buoyant visitor figures, the number of jobs in the hotel industry fell by 178 to 2,936 from October 2005 to October 2006. The bulletin attributes the decline to “employment reductions within major resort hotels and... the imminent closure of a major hotel for renovations.” The number of cruise ship visitors leapt to 336,299 in 2006, a rise of 36 percent. Air arrivals increased by almost 11 percent, reaching 298,973 last year — the highest number since 2000, when 328,305 air arrivals were recorded. Hotels benefited from the influx of visitors last year with revenue rising 4.5 percent to $275.8 million from $263.83 million the previous year. Small hotels and cottage colonies earned about 16 percent more and resort hotels three percent more in 2006. Revenue for other types of accommodation dropped by almost five percent. The bulletin describes the last three months of 2006 as “robust” in terms of air visitors. The number increased by more than 14 percent to 62,291. Cruise ship arrivals, meanwhile, dipped six percent in the fourth quarter to 48,847. American air passengers made up nearly three-quarters of all tourists visiting Bermuda, with 20 percent more of them coming to the Island in the fourth quarter of 2006 than during the same period in 2005. “Increased airline capacity was partially attributable to the 19.4 percent gain in the number of visitors from the UK,” said the bulletin. “In addition, the number of air travelers from all other countries rose 11.6 percent. The year-over-year number of Canadian visitors fell 17.6 percent for the quarter.” The extra air visitors boosted hotel occupancy, with resorts reaping the most rewards. They had 30,485 guests in the final quarter of 2006, compared to 26,638 in 2005. Housekeeping accommodation saw a rise in visitors of almost 27 percent, guest houses five percent and private homes 18 percent. Air visitors are estimated to have spent more than $80 million in Bermuda during the last three months of 2006 — an increase of more than 17 percent on 2005. The bulletin said: “This accounted for an injection of $11.9 million in foreign exchange earnings into the local economy.” Their spending on shopping, entertainment and transport rose 17.8 percent or $2.7 million and spending on food and accommodation rose 17.1 percent to $62.9 million. Cruise ship visitors were estimated as spending $221 each, parting with some $10.8 million during the final quarter of 2006, a 4.4 percent decrease from 2005. The cruise ship tourists account for less than 12 percent of tourist spending. Cruise ship staff are estimated to have spent $1.3 million in the final quarter.
April 24. More than a third of families’ spending in Bermuda is now going on housing — nearly double that of the US. Mainly due to rent increases, households spent more than $740 million on housing in 2005, a rise of seven percent on the previous year’s figure of $694 million. Statistics show 34 percent of household consumption went on housing — dwarfing the amount spent on education (4 percent), clothing (3 percent), healthcare (5 percent) and food and drink (14 percent). The corresponding figure for housing in America is just 18 percent. Critics yesterday said the data, from Government’s Quarterly Bulletin of Statistics, underlines claims that not enough has been done to provide affordable housing on the Island. Sheelagh Cooper, Coalition for Protection of Children chairman and Habitat for Humanity board member, said many families were struggling to cope with increasing rents. “This news doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Mrs. Cooper. “The proportion of people’s income that is being spent on housing has been rising for the last ten years. It shows no sign of stopping. The rising rent is a reflection of Bermudians who are overcharging their own people. It hits the bottom third of society very hard. We have as many as one third of black Bermudian families living in small dwellings completely inadequate for their needs, unable to afford even the more basic rent. When people spend so much money on rent, they can’t buy nutritious food. Many women go to prison because they fall so far behind in their rent they end up being taken to court by debt collection companies.” Government has faced repeated criticism over the low number of affordable homes projects it has delivered. Schemes completed in recent months include Anchorage Villa and Butterfield Lane, which brought a total of 28 units, but United Bermuda Party MP Jon Brunson last night said more needed to be done. Reacting to the statistics in the absence of Shadow Housing Minister Kim Swan, who is off the Island, Mr. Brunson said: “It is not a surprising statistic. It has been building for years. The housing costs being borne by working class Bermudians are unacceptable and stand as an indictment of the PLP Government. It leaves no room for young Bermudians to get their piece of the rock. This is a fundamental problem that has only got worse since the PLP came to power. It is even more unacceptable when one considers that PLP policy was to limit housing costs to 25 percent of household income. They’ve given Bermudians no reason to believe they can ease the situation. They’ve never done it and, on the basis of what we’ve seen, they never will. The only real success that this Government can claim is that they’ve presided over a construction boom of high-end condominiums that are only in reach of high-end earners, not working class and young Bermudians.” Schemes underway or in the pipeline include the delayed 100-unit Harbour View Village lottery-winner project at Southside, the 38-unit Perimeter Lane development, the 54-unit Westcott Road project at Southside, the 24-unit Ewing Street mixed use development and the 100-unit affordable housing complex at Ireland Island. The Government report shows that overall household spending was up 7 percent to $2.4 billion in 2005. Most major components increased with the notable exception of clothing, accessories and footwear, which declined by more than 10 percent. Factors contributing to the rise include growing employment earnings and prices, according to the report. Housing Minister David Burch was contacted in vain for a comment.
April 24. Premier Ewart Brown last night declared himself “excited” by the increased number of tourists who visited the Island in 2006. The Government’s latest Quarterly Bulletin of Statistics reveals that the amount of visitors rose by almost a quarter compared to 2005. Air arrivals in the final quarter of the year increased by 14 percent to 62,291 with those visitors spending $80 million on the Island. Dr. Brown said: “Perhaps most telling of our success as a tourism destination is the increase in air visitor expenditure. The 17.3 percent increase to some $80 million is phenomenal. The positive effect on all sectors of our economy is encouraging and validates our efforts to promote Bermuda as open 365 days a year.” The bulletin showed that air arrivals spent $62.9 million on accommodation and food and $2.7 million on shopping, entertainment and transport.
April 25. Monday’s front page confirmed news that has already been out for some time — the 2006 tourism year saw a strong upsurge in visitor arrivals, the first sign of real improvement since before 1998. That’s good news, and no one doubts that a strong and viable tourism industry is important for Bermuda for several reasons: it reduces the Island’s dependence on international business; it provides jobs to Bermudians who are either not interested in or do not have the particular skills international business demands; and it makes for a healthier environment for the whole community. The amount visitors spend in Bermuda is more important than the raw arrivals figures. While overall arrivals were up by 22.9 percent, overall spending rose by an estimated 17.7 percent, a lesser but still substantial increase. Air visitors rose by 10.9 percent, the highest level since 2000, and their spending, which is more important to the island than cruise spending, was up by 14 percent at $389.2 million. This is significant, because it means that visitors individually spent more than they did in 2005. A large proportion of that spending was estimated to have gone on accommodation and food, which increased by 14.3 percent to $303.1 million (more on that below). Spending on shopping, entertainment and transport rose by $10.3 million or 13.6 percent, which was more or less on par with the overall figure for air arrivals. All of that is good news. Cruise arrivals jumped 36 percent for the year, and as has been noted previously, exceeded air arrivals for the first time in decades. Cruise spending also increased by 39 percent to $74.8 million, roughly on par with the increase in arrivals. Per capita passenger spending averaged $212 apiece, compared to $217 a year earlier. By comparison, air visitors spent an average of $1,300 each on their vacations. That means that it takes around six cruise passengers to equal the amount spent by one air visitor, and emphasizes why air visitors are more important then cruise passengers and must be nurtured. Curiously, the estimated rise in air visitor expenditures is not reflected in hotel revenues, which rose 4.5 percent overall, or hotel employment, which begs the question of how the spending estimates are determined. It is also notable that apart from a surge in bookings for housekeeping accommodation, the biggest increase in visitors came with people staying in private homes at 15 percent. There’s nothing wrong with that, except it suggests paid accommodation remains expensive for potential visitors and houseguests put less money into the economy than paying guests. Houseguests now make up 24 percent of all air visitors to the Island, the second highest group after those staying in resort hotels. Government continues to refuse to break out how many visitors come to Bermuda on vacation as opposed to for business reasons. That makes it impossible to determine how many people are coming as a result of Bermuda’s tourism initiatives and it is dishonest of Government not to make the figures known. So what does this all mean? First, Bermuda’s tourism industry staged a recovery in 2006 and it appears to be continuing through 2007 and credit must be given to the Tourism Ministry and its industry partners for that, including the Premier. It is now nearly May, and the course of the year is already pretty well determined. With more air capacity coming on and all hotels (except Wyndham) up and running, it is likely the Island will have a good year, barring an unforeseen event or a severe downturn in the US economy. Having said that, the benefits of the recovery do not appear to be flowing fully through to the hotel sector, and there is a risk that cruise arrivals — which are projected to have another record year — may be making life uncomfortable for more economically valuable air visitors. The upsurge in arrivals also makes a strong case for the need for more hotel beds — regardless of where they are located, although it is encouraging is that arrivals increased strongly in the last quarter of 2006 and in the first quarter of this year — the so-called shoulder months when hotel vacancy levels tend to be higher. Now it is up to all Bermuda residents to ensure that our guests have safe and happy visits to the Island and tell their friends all about it when they get home.
April 25. A Canadian national newspaper has run a damning editorial on the botched handling of the Rebecca Middleton rape and murder case. The Globe and Mail, which sells an average of 330,000 a day, said an ongoing judicial review represents “a final chance for the British territory to remove this stain on its reputation and to send a clear message that the days when sex assaults were treated lightly are over. “ Rebecca, 17, from Ontario, was stabbed to death while on vacation in Bermuda in 1996. No-one has ever been convicted of the killing. Last week, top British human rights lawyer Cherie Booth QC represented Rebecca’s family in pressing the Supreme Court for the case to be re-opened. She argued that suspects Kirk Mundy, 31, and Justis Smith, 28, should be charged with sexual assault, abduction and torture since earlier attempts to try them for murder were bungled. “We say the issue at the heart of this case is whether the court can put right a grave wrong in this case and ensure that finally justice is done, not just for Rebecca and her family but also for the integrity of the judicial process here in Bermuda,” she said. Ms Booth claimed it was wrong the suspects did not face sexual assault charges from the outset and the history of the case showed “what we say is a culture of impunity regarding sexual offences against women in Bermuda”. Ms Booth asked Chief Justice Richard Ground to overturn a previous ruling of Director of Public Prosecutions Vinette Graham-Allen that the case should not be re-opened. Mrs. Graham-Allen maintained that her decision was correct, but during the judicial review her lawyer James Guthrie QC said she regretted that the Middleton family had “suffered great injustice” due to a catalogue of errors before she was in her post. He listed these as starting with the Police investigation, and continuing with an error by the Crown in allowing Mundy to plead guilty to a lesser charge of accessory to the crime instead of facing a murder charge. In addition, said Mr. Guthrie, a Supreme Court judge should never have halted the murder trial of Smith, and “with the benefit of hindsight” it was wrong that neither man was charged with sexual assault. Chief Justice Richard Ground is set to deliver his ruling later this month. The Middleton case has been followed closely in Canada, and the Globe and Mail said in yesterday’s editorial that a contributing factor in the botched prosecution “was a culture in which sex crimes have not been typically regarded as the heinous acts they are.” The newspaper told its readers that the Supreme Court review offers the Middleton family “a glimmer of hope” amid “this travesty of justice”. It drew a parallel with the high-profile case of US teenager Natalee Holloway, who disappeared while on holiday in Aruba in 2005. Her body has not been found. “Her parents ended up filing a civil suit in the United States against the two brothers the police believe were involved in her death. They have been charged but not brought to trial in Aruba. Bermuda can and should do better than that. It’s time to correct past wrongs and finally bring some justice to the victim and her family,” said the Globe and Mail. Responding to news of the editorial, Kelvin Hastings-Smith, a Bermuda attorney also representing the Middleton family, said despite the international interest in the Middleton case, the paper’s strong stance was unexpected. “If this was an editorial leader I’m surprised, and it goes to show how seriously Canadians consider this matter and how Bermuda’s got a bit of a blot on its reputation,” he said. He pointed to sex offence statistics in relation to Ms Booth’s claims about a culture of impunity regarding such crimes against women in Bermuda. “Between 2000 and 2004 we have 16 convictions for sexual assault out of 204 cases reported to the Police, which I think says it all,” he said. Asked, however, whether the outcry is likely to have a bearing on the outcome of the judicial review, he replied: “No. I think the Chief Justice will divorce himself from all the media attention that there has been on this matter. I can’t speak for him, but he will concern himself with the evidence that was filed and the evidence before him in respect of what is obviously a very difficult case.”
April 27. The Island's second-largest taxi dispatch firm is gearing up for a legal battle to keep its licence to operate. Radio Cabs, which has around 200 vehicles, was served with a letter on April 13 stating that its permission to operate was suspended by the Director of Transport for failing to use the controversial GPS system. It became law last year that the high-tech satellite navigation systems must be fitted in all cabs. They are designed to track cars in order to send the nearest available vehicle to each job, and regular spot-checks have been carried out since the policy change. However, some drivers have branded the systems an expensive and unnecessary move. Radio Cabs is fighting the suspension of its licence over the GPS issue, and has engaged lawyer Delroy Duncan. In a letter to the Public Service Vehicle Licensing Board on Monday, Mr. Duncan said there was no legal obligation on Radio Cabs to use only a "mobile data terminal" — ie GPS — to assign jobs to drivers. He said it was unfair and unlawful to penalize the company for not using GPS "when the operators of the said motor vehicles refuse to receive, accept or turn on the mobile data terminals in their vehicles to receive the jobs assigned to them." And, he said, the letter suspending the licence was not valid, because it was not written in the correct form. Mr. Duncan accused the board of "flagrant breaches" of the Motor Car Act and "the rules of natural justice" and said Radio Cabs would seek damages. He asked for the matter to be heard by a Magistrate, although no court date has yet been fixed. In the wake of the news, Gilbert Trott, president of the Bermuda Taxi Association, reaffirmed his organization's position that members should follow the law. He said: "Certainly I've stated on more than one occasion that the Bermuda Taxi Association stands by the law. Radio Cabs is a private dispatch company. And as the association representing the industry there is nothing much that I can say. If the law requires them to use the systems the way the law says then they should abide by the law. The other two cab companies are abiding by the law." Radio Cabs owner Edward Darrell declined to comment on the situation yesterday, saying the matter was in the hands of his lawyer. However, he confirmed that his drivers were still working despite the suspension of the licence.
April 30. Hundreds of people participated in a weekend fundraising walk organized by an environmental lobby group. The Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) estimated that between 300 and 350 joined yesterday's stroll which took them from Warwick Long Bay to the Southlands property and back. Sales of T-shirts commemorating the day raised more than $11,000 for the taskforce, which will spend it on projects opposing the development of Southlands and promoting sustainable development. "It was a tremendous success. It was nice to see the solidarity and support," said BEST chairman Stuart Hayward. "The walk sent the message that there are a lot of people who are opposed not just to the development of Southlands. We are not opposed to hotel development, but to the concept of building on green space when there are already pre-developed spaces that would be better to build on." Developers behind a planned five-star resort at the Southlands site in Warwick have requested a special development order (SDO) from the Ministry of Environment to speed up its construction. If granted, the SDO would also allow part of the project to be built on environmentally protected land. Mr. Hayward said the funds raised during yesterday's walk would go into coffers earmarked for a Judicial Review if Minister Neletha Butterfield gives the green light to the SDO. Other projects will also benefit. BEST is producing a video of key speeches made at a lobby meeting held at West Pembroke Primary last month, including those from wildlife champion David Wingate and former Planning Director Rudolph Hollis. In addition, a forum on the topic of tourism development is planned. A panel of experts will be assembled, said Mr. Hayward, including economists, scientists and people pushing for the development of Southlands.
2007. May 1. A
Bermuda-registered company has received approval in the US to conduct a large,
randomized study to track the effectiveness of a vaccine being developed to help
smokers break their addiction to nicotine. Celtic
Pharma has been given clearance for a Investigational New Drug application (IND)
for its vaccine TA-NIC. The vaccine is said to
work by causing nicotine that enters a patient’s bloodstream to encounter and
then be bound by the TA-NIC vaccine, which creates an antibody too large to
cross the blood-brain barrier and therefore reduces or eliminates any
pleasure-giving stimulation from the nicotine. The
treatment is designed to curb the craving for nicotine and lead to smokers
giving up the habit.
May 2. Court witnesses could be given more protection and help in a bid to ensure they give evidence.The introduction of a witness protection programme will be planned during a conference next week when the two-day meeting of experts on May 10 and 11 will focus on a ‘No Witness, No Justice’ programme already implemented in England and Wales. Fewer trials are collapsing there, and more witnesses giving evidence thanks to the scheme. Introduced in 2003, it focuses on everything from identity protection for those fearing reprisals to help with childcare and transport. News that similar moves are being considered in Bermuda has been welcomed by the mother of murdered teenager Shaundae Jones. The 20-year-old was gunned down in Dockyard four years ago, three months after giving evidence in relation to the stabbing death Tekle Mallory at Paget Ice Queen in 2001. No-one has been convicted of either murder. A man was extradited to Bermuda from Jamaica in connection with the killing of Mr. Jones, but had firearms charges against him dropped two years ago after a key witness failed to testify. Shaundae’s mother Marsha believes her son’s Ice Queen murder testimony may be linked to his death. He had not wanted to be a witness, she said, but she told him it was his duty. She speculated yesterday that a witness programme could have protected him, and that if one is implemented, it could yet bring his killer to justice.
May 3. Seventy-five years ago, Lady Cubitt, wife of then-Governor Lieut-Gen. Sir T.A. Cubitt, was so distressed by the number of destitute, elderly people living in our community who, despite having worked hard all their lives, were unable to maintain themselves in old age that she was moved to found the Lady Cubitt Compassionate Association (LCCA). Its purpose was the relief of poverty, suffering and distress of local families.Incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1945, its focus also included the protection and care of neglected and needy children. As a result of this in particular, the Association became the only “approved society” under the Protection of Children’s Act, 1943 and received Government grants for use in this regard. By 1956 the LCCA had 82 children under its care, five of whom were placed for adoption until, in 1970, Government assumed all responsibility in this regard. Rev. Alton Thompson, who served as chairman of the now-defunct Cases committee for over 20 years, remembers those earlier years well. “We had a lot of work to do with children — finding homes for them, and sometimes the decisions were very, very difficult, but the LCCA was fulfilling a great need, particularly with the children. I found it rewarding, so much so that when I scaled down some of my work with various organizations, I decided to stay with the LCCA because it was dearest to my heart, and still means a lot to me,” he said. Today, the Association’s stated mission is to improve the quality of life, health and well being of those who are in medical, financial or emotional need, with particular care and compassion for children and the elderly, and it goes about its business in a very low-key way.
4. The Education Review team made ten published recommendations to fix the
public school system, with the first six of them needing to be implemented as
soon as possible in order to improve the current system. They are:
May 4. Bermuda remains the
world’s number one captive domicile — but it faced plenty of competition
from rival jurisdictions attracting the attention of risk managers at RIMS this
May 4. Bermuda remains the world’s number one captive domicile — but it faced plenty of competition from rival jurisdictions attracting the attention of risk managers at RIMS this week.Barely 30 yards away from the impressive Bermuda booth, was the station of the number two offshore captive domicile, the Cayman Islands. And a couple of strides farther down the aisle was the Vermont booth. Elsewhere in the hall, the British Virgin Islands, Barbados, Hawaii and Guernsey all had a presence, all fighting for the same captive business that Bermuda wants. Captives offer corporations a means of self-insurance and hosting them has been the bread and butter of Bermuda’s insurance market for decades. With the evolution of more sophisticated risk management by companies, many more captives are likely to be established in the coming years. The Vermont booth attracted plenty of visitors — even if most were more interested in sampling its delicious free ice cream than in talking about captives. “Vermont and Bermuda are both leaders in the industry — arguably the leading onshore and offshore captive domiciles,” said Daniel Towle, director of financial services for the state of Vermont.
4. The Bermuda Chamber of Commerce plunged into an insolvent position after
suffering a $292,7927 loss in 2006, mostly as a result of Government ending the
chamber’s contract to run the Island’s five visitor service bureaux.
The losses swallowed up all the chamber’s
previous cash reserves and, as of the end of last year, left the business group
with a deficit of $192,456. Discussions are
being held with the Department of Tourism seeking assistance to shoulder some of
the financial burden caused by the loss of the visitor bureaux, which have
resulted in staff redundancy payments alone estimated at $80,000. The
chamber had previously been receiving an annual subsidy of $540,000 from
Government to run the bureaux. Outgoing Chamber
of Commerce president Peter Everson referred to the financial statement as a
“bleak picture” when he addressed the chamber’s annual meeting at the
Fairmont Princess Hotel, which was attended by around 250 members and guests,
including Premier Ewart Brown and numerous Government ministers and officials.
May 4. Hamilton Condominium Complexes: What they cost in 2007.
May 7. The 330,000-plus readers of the Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada have been told of a "dark day for Bermudian justice" by the newspaper's editorial pages. The daily publication closely followed the Rebecca Middleton case and the recent judicial review in which new charges could have been filed against the Canadian girl's alleged killers. However, in a decision revealed last week, Chief Justice Richard Ground decided he could not violate the letter of the law, even though the law gave him the discretion to do so if the case was exceptional. In the end, Mr. Justice Ground rejected the claim made by the Middleton legal team which included British Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie Booth, QC. There will be no new investigation, no new criminal case. The editorial writer said of the Chief Justice: "The door was open. Chief Justice Ground chose not to walk through it. And so a family is left at a dead end on a long, agonizing road to find justice for their murdered child. And a judicial system is left so tied in knots by legal technicalities that it can't reverse what it clearly recognizes as its own grave errors, even in the face of public outcry both within and without its borders. It's a dark day for Bermudian justice."
May 7. Immigration Minister Derrick Burgess has detailed the passport requirements for Bermudians travelling to the United States.In a statement to the House of Assembly on Friday he said he wished "to address the confusion in some sections of the community regarding United States authorities' recently-announced requirements for passports held by Bermudians travelling to the US and the decision to deny new Bermuda passports to British citizens who formerly held Bermuda passports." He said that since the British Overseas Territories Act 2002, Bermudians can travel to the US visa-free using their British Overseas Territories Citizenship (BOTC) passport, with the Bermudian status stamp. The 2002 UK Act allowed Bermudians to hold both a BOTC and British Citizenship (BC) passport. It means Bermudians can also travel visa-free to the European Union on their BC (British Citizenship) passports. Mr. Burgess said that in order to travel to the US without needing a visa, the passport must be issued in Bermuda; it must show the holder is a BOTC or a British Dependent Territories Citizen; and it must have an official stamp showing the holder is Bermudian. Those who are both British Overseas Territories Citizens and British Citizens are free to carry two passports. However, a BC passport must have only been issued at the British Embassy in Washington, DC. Mr. Burgess said it was important to clarify the situation because for decades Bermudians had been allowed to travel to the US with Bermuda birth certificates and passports issued by the Bermuda Government. He said: "However, the relatively recent need for increased security has made the US authorities insist on the stamp being placed in the passport to show that the holder is Bermudian. "A BDTC or BOTC passport issued in Bermuda and bearing the stamp showing that the holder is Bermudian is a true passport proving the holder's territorial right of abode."
May 8. The handling of the Rebecca Middleton murder case was criticised in a documentary beamed out across Canada on Sunday.A CBC video journalist followed Dave Middleton, the father of the slain Canadian teen, as he went through a recent judicial review aiming to get fresh charges against two suspects. Entitled ‘Seeking Justice in Bermuda’, the broadcast, which reached an estimated 500,000 to 800,000 viewers, depicted Mr. Middleton’s heartache when the bid failed. No one has ever been convicted of the rape and murder of 17-year-old Rebecca, from Belleville, Ontario, who was on holiday in Bermuda when she was killed in 1996. On Friday, Chief Justice Richard Ground rejected an application from British human rights lawyer Cherie Booth — acting for Mr. Middleton — that Kirk Mundy, 31, and Justis Smith, 28, should face fresh charges of serious sexual assault, torture, and kidnap because murder proceedings against them were botched. Mundy and Smith were arrested days after the killing, with Mundy claiming to have had consensual sex with Rebecca. He said he found Smith killing her when he returned from washing himself in the sea. Before Police completed forensic tests, prosecutors accepted Mundy’s guilty plea of accessory after the fact — meaning he knew a crime had been committed and assisted or sheltered the offender — while Smith was charged with premeditated murder. However, Smith’s murder trial was thrown out by a judge. The current Director of Public Prosecutions, Vinette Graham-Allen, acknowledged during the judicial review that Mundy should never have been allowed to plead to the lesser accessory charge, and Smith’s trial should not have been halted. However, she argued that the law does not allow the case to be re-opened at this stage, and Mr. Justice Ground upheld this in his ruling on Friday. CBC documentary-maker Peter Wall showed Mr. Middleton’s frustration that no one has ever been brought to justice for his daughter’s murder. “When the whole thing fell apart, they basically washed their hands of it and said there was nothing more than we can do,” he said of those working in Bermuda’s judicial system at the time. “It’s like a lot of things in life — it’s not the problems you have but how you handle them, and I don’t think this problem has been handled very well at all in Bermuda.” Mr. Middleton plans to appeal against the decision of the Chief Justice in the Court of Appeal. CBC news host Carole MacNeil revealed that this could cost Mr. Middleton an additional $150,000 on top of the $100,000 legal bill he already faces for the judicial review. The programme was available for viewing online at cbc.ca/sunday.
May 8. Governor Sir John Vereker announced today he is stepping down in October.He will be replaced by career diplomat Sir Richard Gozney, who is British High Commissioner in Nigeria. Sir John, who arrived in Bermuda in 2002, said five years was the longest stint of any Bermuda Governor since Lord Martonmere in the 1960s. He said: "I am delighted at Sir Richard's appointment. He is a distinguished diplomat. I know him and have worked with him and from my discussion with him I also know how keen both he and his wife are to come to Bermuda." It's expected Sir Richard, who is in his mid-50s, will arrive in the beginning of December with Deputy Governor Mark Capes filling in during the interim. At a press conference at Government House Sir John, flanked by his wife Lady Vereker, said he had enjoyed his time in Bermuda and will have plenty to do in his remaining five months in the post.
May 8. The Opposition is calling for greater accountability from Government Ministers when it comes to late financial reporting.The statement comes in the wake of the Auditor General’s annual report which revealed $523m in Government money is unaccounted for. It’s a problem brought on by tardy filings from a slew of Government QUANGOs and public funds. Deputy Opposition Leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin said: “As the Auditor says, the Government’s Code of Conduct places responsibility for late reporting squarely on the shoulders of the Ministers responsible. Were they to crack down in a wholehearted way, the problem would be well on its way to a complete resolution.” Mrs. Gordon-Pamplin is also the Shadow Minister for Finance. In one section, her statement reveals what may be a discrepancy, or perhaps an out-of-date list. She outlined four Government funds and branded them as the “worst offenders”. They are: Contributory Pension Fund, Government Employees Health Insurance Fund, Hospital Insurance Fund and Mutual Insurance Fund. However Minister of Finance Paula Cox explained that two of those funds — Contributory Pension Fund and Government Employees Health Insurance Fund — have been submitted for audit. She further explained that the other two ‘offenders’ have been under the control of the Bermuda Health Council since 2005, where the new Chief Executive has made it a priority to bring all financial reports up to date.
May 9. The site of the former NASA station at Cooper's Island could once more become Bermuda's link to outer space. The out-of-bounds area of buildings and infrastructure abandoned by the US space agency when it left the Island in 2001 is being viewed as one of two likely spots for a commercial satellite operation. The other site possibility is also a former US establishment, the one-time US Navy listening post and research base at Tudor Hill in Southampton. Both are being considered as the best spots for an earth station to track and communicate with orbiting space satellites. At the end of last week TerreStar Global revealed it had signed a letter of intent with Government to build a satellite operations facility in Bermuda after the Island became part of the UK Outer Space Act last November. Bermuda's geographical position will allow TerreStar to carry out satellite operations for North American satellites and for a planned European satellite network. Mobile communications provider TerreStar is a subsidiary of Motient Corporation and plans to own and operate the first next-generation mobile satellite integrated with terrestrial communications networks and to offer a 4G IP network. The company said it was working with Government to "re-develop existing, but currently unutilized, building sites in Bermuda" for the location of a new satellite station. A spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment, Telecommunications and E-Commerce this week confirmed the two sites under consideration were the former NASA base at Cooper's Island and the site of the old US Navy base at Tudor Hill. NASA opened its Cooper's Island base in 1961 and it was used as a tracking and communications facility for various space programmes, including the Mercury and Apollo missions and space shuttle flights because of its key geographical position in relation to launch trajectories for space vehicles blasting off from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The base was shut down in 2001 and is now a collection of abandoned buildings and related structures. Part of the area has already been earmarked by Government as a future nature reserve and visitor centre. Tudor Hill was an important listening base for the US Navy during the Cold War and played a role tracking Soviet submarines heading for Cuba. It opened in 1955 and was decommissioned in 1995.
May 9. Government efforts to crack down on tax delinquents are having a beneficial impact, according to the Auditor General, but his findings reveal there is still a lot of work to be done.Government is owed $42 million in taxes and pension contributions. The latest Auditor General annual report publicly outs the employers and land owners who are the most delinquent. They are singled out in the back pages of the AG’s report if they owe more than $40,000. Arrears in the area of payroll taxes totaled $10.8m spread among 67 employers, past due pension contributions totaled $2m among 24 employers, and there are 13 land tax payers who meet the $40,000 threshold, leaving the Government short an additional $1.3m. Some names appear on more than one of the aforementioned lists. For example the Hamiltonian Hotel & Island Club is at the very top of all three dubious lists. According to figures as of March 2006, the Hamiltonian owed $561,854 in payroll taxes, $346,408 in land taxes and $232,357 in pension contributions. To square its debt to Government, the Hamiltonian would have to write a cheque for $1.14m. It’s an unlikely occurrence because the hotel has been closed for years and has been on the AG’s delinquent list for a long time. Below are top ten delinquents in each area.
Land Tax Arrears:
Closer scrutiny of the numbers reveal interesting truths. For example, the explosion of the construction industry in Bermuda does not seem to negate the number of construction firms skipping on their payroll taxes. Of the list of 67 employers owing more than $40,000 To Government at least ten are on the Auditor General’s arrears list.
Payroll Arrears - Construction Firms
David and Donna Dunkley are consistently climbing rungs on the list of people in arrears on land tax.As of last year they owed $251,943 to Government coffers. David Dunkley is a widely known name because he resigned from the United Bermuda Party not long ago in what many consider the beginning of a three-person high profile political exodus. In 2005 the couple owed $190,523. In 2004 is was $137,798. At this point the land owner furthest behind in tax payments is the Hamiltonian Hotel. The Somerset Bridge Recreation Club has trouble paying its payroll taxes. The arrears total $91,006. The amount is noteworthy because the Sports Minister recently promised $200,000 of Government money to the White Hill sports facility. If about half of that grant was given back, the club’s debt would be cleared. It’s an unlikely proposition however. At the time the grant was announced, Minister Randolph Horton said the money would be used to “upgrade their facilities for such things as the addition of changing rooms, improved bathrooms and additional lighting and other structural refurbishment”. He said nothing of payroll taxes.
May 9/10. Construction work on the five-star St. Regis hotel at the former Club Med site is to begin this year, Premier Ewart Brown pledged at a public meeting last night.Dr. Brown said he wanted to reassure “pessimists” that ambitious plans to transform the derelict building would not go the same way as a string of similar proposals which have collapsed in the past few years. Speaking at the Progressive Labour Party meeting in Clearwater School, St. David’s, Dr. Brown told a crowd of about 50 people that the luxury resort could help rejuvenate St. George’s. “The pessimists among you will say: ‘So what, there have been others who said they were going to build.’ I appreciate and understand your pessimism, but let me tell you I made a commitment: in 2007, construction will begin on the new hotel in St. George’s. I can promise you it will be delivered. “Bermuda now has some buzz. Bermuda is popular again with the Wall Street companies, who invest hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s why that site is going to be developed.” He said work would begin as soon as Carl Bazarian, of Bazarian International, the investment banking firm behind the scheme, completes negotiations over a lease with the Ministry of Works and Engineering. "Carl Bazarian is a very serious and committed developer. I’m very confident that he will keep his word. We need to see that building leveled. We need to see it gone. That will the very first phase of the work done. I wanted to come here tonight and reassure you that nothing has got in the way. The brand that’s been mentioned is St. Regis. You don’t get a much more luxurious brand that St. Regis. Club Med is to St. Regis as a dwarf is to a giant. We are bringing something that can make a difference in the town. I have challenged the mayor and alderman to help make St. George’s alive again. It’s been too sleepy. Business doesn’t thrive in a town that sleeps.” In recent years, a succession of developers have been lined up for schemes at Club Med, which closed in 1988. Proposals for a $210 million five-star hotel with piazza-style colony housing fell through two years ago, while plans for a five to seven star hotel with a Nick Faldo signature 18-hole golf-course were scrapped last November. A storm of controversy has surrounded the derelict site in recent weeks, after a dozens of homeless people moved in as squatters. The new St. Regis resort is expected to be completed in three years. It is likely to have up to 150 units, comprising one- two- or three-bedroom apartments and villas, and will be a maximum three storeys high.
May 11. Government is to overhaul the registration of land rights through Land Title Registration.Ministers want to modernize Bermuda’s registration of deeds and documents in order to speed up property transactions and make ownership records more accurate. They claim it will make buying and selling houses easier and reduce fraud. The new system will harness information technology to change the way in which deeds and documents are stored. Ministers say it will lead to a more efficient use of the Island’s limited land resources and assist in the renovation of derelict properties. Under proposed legislation, there will be a statutory requirement to present documents at the Land Title Registration Office following property completion dates — ending private custody arrangements and the lodging of paperwork at the Registry General office. Government says the new electronic system will end costly investigations of title and provide up-to-date records of land rights. However, it could take 15 years to implement. The Public Consultation Document states: “Initial projections indicate that it will take approximately 10-15 years to arrive at a point whereby as a result of Land Title Registration a comprehensive register exists for the Island.” According to the Government, Land Title Registration will result in improved security of tenure, increased market value and less boundary and ownership disputes. As the registration programme moves forward, Land Title Registration will assist with the identification of owners of derelict property with a view to bringing these back into beneficial use for the community.
May 11. Immigration Minister Derrick Burgess has detailed the passport requirements for Bermudians traveling to the United States. In a statement to the House of Assembly last Friday he said he wished "to address the confusion in some sections of the community regarding United States authorities' recently-announced requirements for passports held by Bermudians traveling to the US and the decision to deny new Bermuda passports to British citizens who formerly held Bermuda passports". He said that since the British Overseas Territories Act 2002, Bermudians can travel to the US visa-free using their British Overseas Territories Citizenship (BOTC) passport, with the Bermudian status stamp. The 2002 UK Act allowed Bermudians to hold both a BOTC and British Citizenship (BC) passport. It means Bermudians can also travel visa-free to the European Union on their BC (British Citizenship) passports. Mr. Burgess said that in order to travel to the US without needing a visa, the passport must be issued in Bermuda; it must show the holder is a BOTC or a British Dependent Territories Citizen; and it must have an official stamp showing the holder is Bermudian. Those who are both British Overseas Territories Citizens and British Citizens are free to carry two passports. However, a BC passport only has to have been issued at the British Embassy in Washington, DC. Mr. Burgess said it was important to clarify the situation because for decades Bermudians had been allowed to travel to the US with Bermuda birth certificates and passports issued by the Bermuda Government. He said: "However, the relatively recent need for increased security has made the US authorities insist on the stamp being placed in the passport to show that the holder is Bermudian. A BDTC or BOTC passport issued in Bermuda and bearing the stamp showing that the holder is Bermudian is a true passport proving the holder's territorial right of abode."
May 12. Up to 150 workers building the $100 million Tucker’s Point Hotel and Spa downed tools yesterday for six hours. One of their key demands is a ballot on the right to unionize the construction workers of the Somer’s Construction Company. There are also concerns over contractors and sub-contractors taking illegal deductions from employees’ pay checks, threatening foreign workers with deportation if they unionized and lack of health insurance. The work stoppage by 100 to 150 workers from Somer’s Construction started at 6 a.m. yesterday. The picketing ended just before 12 p.m. Last night union leaders called on Government to change employer legislation to crack down on companies failing to comply. Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert said last June the company was served with the letter of recognition. Although the company does not want employees to unionize, it has not put the issue to a ballot. Under Bermuda’s labour laws, a company is required to hold the ballot after 14 days or face arbitration. Despite repeated attempts, The Royal Gazette was unable to obtain a comment from vice-president of Somer’s Construction, Mark Butt. Ross White, vice-president of the BIU Construction Division, hoped the work stoppage would highlight the concerns. Mr. White said: “Once the complaints go in front of Labour Relations the length of time for the complaint to be heard is too long. They are not dealt with in a timely manner. “We were pointing out with the work shut-down we were trying to bring to light these employers are violating the law without recourse.” Mr. Furbert added: “Labour legislation is there to protect the employer and the employee. The challenge now is to have the employers follow the law of the land. Penalties need to be added because right now it is just a slap on the wrist for violations of the law. I would hope this would encourage other companies to sit down with employees to address any concerns they have. Yesterday was about ‘enough is enough’. It is time to give employees what is rightful and just. They can take the high road or the low road. I hope they take the high road.” Minister of Labour and Immigration, Derrick Burgess issued a statement saying: “The Labour Relations Office has been apprised of the dispute and is assisting with mediation.”
May 12. Vulnerable witnesses and victims of serious crime could be moved abroad prior to court trials to prevent intimidation.Attorney General Philip Perinchief said the measure was likely to be included in new legislation aimed at improving the Island’s criminal justice system. “We are looking at witnesses being sent abroad before trial,” he said. “They would be temporarily located somewhere else, out of the jurisdiction, for example in the UK.” He said that continued protection for witnesses after they have given evidence in court could also be on the cards plus stiffer sentences for those convicted of witness intimidation. “It’s a question of us being able to make these witnesses feel as comfortable as possible. In the long-term we need legislation that would assist that.” Senator Perinchief said though witness intimidation was not unique to Bermuda, the size of the Island exacerbated the problem. In a small country such as Bermuda there arises, I suppose, a culture of protectionism for the accused who very often is somebody’s ace boy,” he said. It’s certainly a culture that is counterproductive to bringing about justice in this country and it’s one we are going to tackle head on.” The Minister was speaking after a two-day conference at Elbow Beach Hotel which focused on whether Bermuda should launch a witness and victim care programme based on a successful UK initiative called No Witness, No Justice.
May 16. Norwegian Cruise Lines will join Royal Caribbean in offering cruises next year that leave from East Coast port of Baltimore, the Maryland Port Administration announced. NCL’s Norwegian Majesty will offer ten seven-day cruises from Baltimore to Bermuda from June 2008 through August 2008. Its first cruise will set sail on June 21, 2008.“We are delighted to welcome Norwegian Cruise Lines for what we hope is the beginning of a long, successful relationship,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a statement. About 125,000 passengers embarked or disembarked from Baltimore last year, according to the port administration.
May 16. A final verdict on horse and carriages during Hamilton’s Harbour Nights will have wait until the Bermuda Police Service releases the findings of its investigation, according to a statement from the city’s Mayor.Safety concerns over horse and carriage rides reached a boiling point after two spooked horses stampeded into a crowd of people at the first Harbour Nights celebration of the year on April 25, three weeks ago. Nineteen people were injured, including one woman who was seriously hurt and required an extended hospital stay. Since then horse and carriage operators have been temporarily banned from Harbour Nights. Last night, the Corporation of Hamilton announced it will keep the temporary ban in place at least until Police release their investigative report. A Police spokesman confirmed the investigation is ongoing. Hamilton Mayor Sutherland Madeiros said: “It is important that we balance the safety of the public with the desires of tourists and business owners within the city of Hamilton. “We have considered the tragic incident that took place at Harbour Nights three weeks ago and have decided to temporarily suspend horses and carriages at the weekly event until we receive and are able to take into consideration the official police account of what happened. At that time, the Corporation will make another announcement in regard to future policy on the issue.” Members of the public, and even horse and carriage operators, have been split over what the Corporation of Hamilton should do next. Some believe the horse and carriage rides are essential to the old city flavor that tourists enjoy, others say a permanent ban on horse and carriage rides in the city is the only way to properly protect the public.
May 17. Six stamps commemorating Bermuda’s signature training vessel, the Spirit of Bermuda, will be released today.This is the second of four stamp issues by the Bermuda Post Office this year in its efforts to portray all areas of Bermuda’s heritage, culture and history. The stamps, which depict six different views of the sloop, from the laying of the keel, sea trials to its arrival in Bermuda will be available at post offices today. The Spirit of Bermuda was built in 26 months by Rockport Marine in Rockport, Maine, USA, but the original inspiration for the sloop comes from an 1834 oil painting by John Lynn. The ten cent stamp is a view of the hull construction, which was made upside-down over a wooden mould and the 35 and 70 cent stamps depict the sea trials of the sloop. After the sloop was launched on Saturday, August 13 last year, it went through extensive sea trials in Maine before 32 crew sailed it to Bermuda. On September 30, last year the Spirit of Bermuda approached Bermuda from the Southwest side, which is depicted on the 85 cent stamp and then proceeded to Hamilton Harbour, which is on the $1.10 stamp. The $1.25 stamp depicts the sloop powering upwind in Bermuda’s Great Sound. On June 21 this year the Bermuda Philatelic Bureau will issue the next six stamps, which will commemorate the 400th Anniversary of Jamestown.
May 18. An addiction specialist believes hallucinogenic drugs and amphetamines are on the rise in Bermuda. And he says drug activity should rise in the summer months because students will return from overseas with newly-formed habits.Speaking at a Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education (PRIDE) meeting Kenneth Matthew said the level of drug use and drugs on the Island tend to spike during summer months. Mr. Matthew, who is the founder of Trust Recovery a 12-step based recovery programme said people need to start addressing the drug and alcohol problem instead of sweeping it under the carpet. He said: “Those of us in the addiction business know that when summer comes students come back with some of the things they have learned, and not all of them were in the classroom. “And we’ve got to be equipped with up to date information because barbiturates and hallucinogens are becoming a big thing here just like in the US.” While marijuana, heroin and cocaine have always been drugs of choice on the Island he said he believed that and hallucinogenic drugs were on the rise. He said that the drugs were growing in popularity in the US and being smuggled to Bermuda more frequently. And a Government study into drug use completed in January and due to be released in coming months should point to the growing popularity of drugs like ecstasy and amphetamines, also known as speed, in Bermuda he said. His company’s motto is “teaching recovery using straight talk” and yesterday he said parents need to bring back tough love. He said: “We need to stop worrying about what our kids think of us and give them tough love. If they live under your house they have to follow your rules. And grandparents need to stop bailing them out. That’s a major problem here, too many parents are not getting involved in their kids lives.” Mr. Matthews explained that without tough love parents are enabling their children in addiction.
May 18. Bermudian schoolchildren will get the chance to meet a former commodities trader described as having one of the quickest mathematical brains on the planet next week.Students at Berkeley Institute, CedarBridge Academy, Clearwater Middle School, Harrington Sound Primary School and Saltus Grammar School will benefit from workshops with American Mike Byster, who uses tricks and games to make learning maths fun. A former trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Mr. Byster now travels the US as a volunteer teacher dubbed the Human Calculator. He is being brought to the Island by the Investment Bermuda charity and the Berkeley Institute board of governors. Investment Bermuda director Anthony Witherspoon, a consultant to the Ministry of Education, said: “I saw Mike on 20/20 (an ABC news show in America) and it talked about his extraordinary maths talent. I was just blown away. He can do computations in his head in a matter of seconds. I contacted him and he indicated that there were thousands of schools trying to get him to come. After a little persuasion, I persuaded him to come and give workshops. Mike is said to have the fastest mathematical mind in the world. He will be providing maths workshops at several schools on the Island next week and will be meeting with the Premier on Monday.”
May 18. The parade will begin at 1 p.m. and will start at Bermudiana Road.Travelling south on Bermudiana Road, the parade will take a left onto Front street and continue East until it reaches Court Street. The Parade will then take a left onto Court Street going North until Dundonald Street. It will take a left on Dundonald Street and will go West until Cedar Avenue where it will take a Right. The Parade will continue on its regular route around the Tennis Stadium and will end in Bernard Park.
May 19. Opposition MP John Barritt has re-launched his bid to change the law to allow prosecutors to launch an appeal on any grounds if a defendant has been acquitted.Currently the Crown can only appeal on matters of law but Mr. Barritt's bill would allow appeals to be launched on other grounds. Mr. Barritt said the absence of this law had stopped the Crown from reopening the notorious botched Rebecca Middleton murder case. In late 2004, Mr. Barritt tabled a bill to allow prosecutors to appeal for a new trial if a judge had thrown out a case by ruling there was no case to answer — as happened in the Justis Smith murder trial. That bill would have allowed the Director of Public Prosecutions to appeal on fact or mixed law and fact but Mr. Barritt dropped the bill after getting indications that the Government might table the bill itself. But nothing has happened and now Mr. Barritt said he sensed a changing mood on the Government benches.
May 19. For the first time since the United States Naval Air Station closed in 1995, a US Fleet Forces Band is returning to the Island to fulfill a variety of engagements, including participation in the Bermuda Day parade.The 35-member Band was invited here by US Consul General Gregory Slayton following an initial request from Minister of Social Rehabilitation Dale Butler, although it has been Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs Wayne Perinchief who has been responsible for much of the follow-through. The largest of the Navy’s twelve Fleet Bands, directed by Lt. Cdr. Ralph G. Barrett, USN, will arrive in Bermuda on Monday, May 21 and commence live performances on May 22 with visits to CedarBridge Academy and the Berkeley Institute. That afternoon, smaller ensembles will visit the ‘Westmeath’ and ‘Matilda Smith’ rest homes. For their final performance of the day, the full complement of musicians will perform in tandem with the Bermuda Regiment Band during the regular Tuesday night ‘Destination Dockyard’ festivities. On Wednesday, May 23 the Band will first perform at Saltus Grammar School before giving a public concert on the steps of City Hall at noon. In the afternoon the woodwind ensemble will play at an official invitation-only reception at ‘Camden’, hosted jointly by Mr. Slayton and Mr. Perinchief. On its last full day in Bermuda, the Fleet Forces Band will march in the May 24 parade along Front Street, with a final spectacular performance at 5.15 p.m. at Bernard Park. “I am deeply honored to re-introduce the United States Fleet Forces Band to Bermuda after an absence of more than a decade. This joint endeavor is just one more example of the ties that bind our countries together, and I thank both Minister Butler and Minister Perinchief for their strong partnership in making this historic event a reality,” Mr. Slayton said.
May 21. Bermuda’s prison population dropped by almost a quarter in three years, Government has revealed. The decrease means the Island plummeted from having the joint second highest prison population in the world in 2003, to being at least 181st last year.Minister of Social Rehabilitation Dale Butler attributed the success to the Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) initiative, which provides community programmes and supervision to ensure incarceration is a last resort for non-violent offenders. “We’re delighted that we’ve seen this change. One of the key recommendations of the Tumim Report was to stop imprisoning people for misdemeanors (less serious offences) and we have done that,” he said, referring to a damning report in 1992 calling for a radical overhaul of the criminal justice system. At the time ATI was launched in 1999, said the Minister, “we were more punitive than rehabilitative and persons were being incarcerated at an alarming rate, averaging approximately 300 each year, for seemingly minor offences such as driving while disqualified”. In 2003, the Department of Court Services evolved under the umbrella of ATI to administer supervision in the community and expand rehabilitation programmes. The Department developed an integrated management system bringing the courts, treatment service providers, Corrections and the Police together to work in tandem. Statistics revealed by Mr. Butler on Friday show the Island’s prison population dropped from around 350 incarcerated in 2002/03 to 266 in 2006 — a decrease of 24 percent — as a result. Over the same period, the number of people under community supervision rose from 165 to 326. The re-offending rates for those on community supervision was 7.26 percent in 2005/06, which Mr. Butler hailed as a demonstration of ATI’s effectiveness. He also praised the fact that there was no re-offending in the drug court treatment programme and parole during that period as “remarkable”.
May 21. Premier Ewart Brown’s “lavish” lifestyle last night came under fire after he and his entourage spent more than $280,000 of taxpayers’ money on overseas trips in a ten-month period. Dr. Brown racked up a $23,000 hotel bill during a one-week stay in London — an average of nearly $4,000 a night — sparking accusations from the Opposition that he is “living the life of an Indian princeling at the height of the British Raj”. The Premier, who is also Tourism Minister, splashed out nearly $8,000 on one return flight to the UK, and $19,000 on gifts during a tour of American colleges, according to figures released in Parliament on Friday. Dr. Brown’s companions on his 16 trips from last July to the end of last month — including security staff, former Press Secretary Scott Simmons, Chief of Staff Wayne Caines and Cabinet Secretary Marc Telemaque — cost a total of $130,000, while the Premier himself spent $155,000. The total amount spent by Ministers during the period was more than $560,000, although this does not include those for Acting Health Minister Philip Perinchief and Public Safety and Housing Minister David Burch, who do not sit in the House of Assembly. The figure spent by all Ministers for the 12 months leading up to July 2006 was $630,000. Dr. Brown’s most expensive outing was a seven-day Overseas Territories Consultative Council (OTCC) in London, which cost $36,000 for himself and $21,000 for his companions Mr. Simmons, Mr. Caines and Civil Service head Kenneth Dill. The Premier’s OTCC bill included $6,400 on airfares, $23,000 on his hotel and $5,700 on transport. His most costly airfare during the ten months was a $7,900 return ticket to London for a series of tourism meetings last August, while the bulk of $25,500 spent on gifts went on college tours in Huntsville and Alabama in March. On average, each of Dr. Brown’s 79 days away cost the public nearly $2,000. Shadow Finance Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin last night described the statistics as “hair-raising”.
Other findings included:
The Premier could not be reached for comment over the weekend.
May 21. The independent review into Bermuda’s failing public education system cost almost a quarter of a million dollars, it has emerged. Education Minister Randy Horton, in answer to parliamentary questions from former Opposition leader Grant Gibbons, revealed that the final bill for the inquiry — which resulted in a damning report being delivered earlier this month on the Island’s public schools — was $241,411. Mr. Horton said the Bank of Bermuda would pay half the amount with the rest coming from public funds. Professor Hopkins and his team of five education experts — including two Bermudians — were paid $144,925. Mr. Horton added that Professor Hopkins had not been asked to undertake any other work by Government but that he and his team had offered to assist with “progressing” the recommendations from the review. In a television and radio broadcast on May 3, Premier Ewart Brown said the review — launched after more than half the Island’s senior school students failed to graduate last year — confirmed “what we know as a community to be true”. Shadow Education Minister Dr. Gibbons told The Royal Gazette that the Hopkins report came to many of the same conclusions as a document delivered to Government last November by the Association of School Principals. “How could the Minister not pay attention then?” he said. “He is even a member of this association. I think it’s very disrespectful.” He added: “It’s very easy to come along with a consultant and tell everybody what most people know and basically point fingers. It’s another thing entirely to actually implement change and make it work. I have no problem with Mr. Hopkins. I have a problem with the way this whole thing has been handled up to this point.”
May 21. Opposition leader Michael Dunkley Friday night defended his family’s dairy in the wake of Premier Ewart Brown’s allegations of unfair monopolization.Mr. Dunkley dismissed the Premier’s claims that the Dunkley family’s control of the Island’s milk supply was protected by United Bermuda Party-inspired legislation. He said Dr. Brown was attempting to distract the public from a row over the Island’s $1 million vehicles emissions testing contract, which was awarded to Bermuda Emissions Control (BEC) — a company run by the Premier’s cousin Donal Smith. Dr. Brown had suggested the UBP had shown racial double standards by accusing Government of cronyism over the emissions testing contract while ignoring its alleged part in protecting the dairy monopoly. “As for the Premier’s attack on my family’s business, I am not surprised,” said Mr. Dunkley. “It is his style to attack individuals, to deflect attention and to push the race button when questioned about questionable deals. I will not be deterred by this approach. “The Premier is under-informed about the dairy industry. I am proud of my family’s business; proud that we have served Bermuda well for more than 100 years. We operate in a free-market environment, where competition can emerge from any quarter.” The embargo on imported milk was introduced through the 1997 Importation of Milk (Prohibition) Act while the UBP was in power. However, Mr. Dunkley said it was intended to protect local diary farmers, and was passed with full support of both sides of the House of Assembly including, he claimed, Dr. Brown. He added that at the time he declared his interest as CEO of the production plant that buys milk from local dairy farmers to pasteurize and distribute. Mr. Dunkley backed UBP Senator E.T. (Bob) Richards, whose attack over the emissions testing contract sparked anger in the Senate last week.
May 22. The Premier yesterday unveiled two measures to alleviate the financial burden on senior citizens.Speaking at a meeting with the Bermuda Senior Islanders group, Dr. Ewart Brown pledged to make healthcare more comprehensive and affordable for the older generation. He also announced that seniors will no longer have to pay the annual TCD driver’s licence renewal fee. The Premier said that Government is drawing up a scheme to give seniors assistance to help them attain higher quality healthcare. Currently there is a gap in coverage for those over the age of 65. Thirty days after retirees turn 65 they are no longer well insured. This forces most to dip into their own limited resources in order to buy coverage above the basic level provided by the Government’s Hospital Insurance Plan (HIP). The Premier’s initiative — being developed with Acting Health Minister Phil Perinchief — would do away with basic healthcare coverage and provide retirees with a more comprehensive insurance coverage. Dr. Brown said: “This programme will treat you with the same services that you get when you are working.” To pay for the programme, Dr. Brown and Mr. Perinchief are to explore a scheme whereby the 20-64-year-old workforce pays slightly more so they can have better healthcare when they retire. The Premier said: “All that is required of the workforce is a nominal surcharge. It would be barely noticeable. And the math is simple: you work now and get covered later. The future is paid for by the present. We’re working out the numbers, but it looks very possible, very do-able.” He told the meeting: “We will have people pay into the system when they are young. For every month, every year that you are in the workforce, you will be covered a certain amount of months or years after you are 65.”
May 22. A passenger on a cruise ship and another on a private jet have both died after being suddenly taken ill.Mexican Manuel Diaz, 63, collapsed yesterday afternoon on a plane Police believe was bound for the US from Bermuda. Mr. Diaz was given CPR on board the jet while it returned to the Island so he could be rushed to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital by an ambulance waiting at L.F. Wade International Airport. However, he was pronounced dead by a physician at the hospital at 5.30 p.m. American Larry Lynn Hamilton, 64, collapsed while watching a show with his family on board the Empress of the Seas, docked at Number One Shed, in Front Street, yesterday. He was pronounced dead by the ship's doctor at 8.30 p.m. No foul play is suspected in either of the deaths, although Police have said an autopsy is likely for each.
May 22. A new nine-storey hotel due to be built on the Par-la-Ville car park site in Hamilton is not certain to be a Ritz-Carlton, the world famous chain said last night. Planning documents for the multi-million dollar scheme — which was granted a special development order (SDO) last December—- include the luxury hotel chain’s name and developer Unified Resorts has said publicly it welcomed the opportunity to bring Ritz-Carlton to Bermuda. But Vivian Deuschl, Ritz-Carlton’s corporate vice president for public relations, told The Royal Gazette that no contract had been signed committing the chain to the project. “Speculation is really all that I can tell you that it is at this point,” she said. “Discussions are always going on with developers and there could very well be discussions going on. Bermuda has been on and off the table for many years because it’s such a wonderful destination. Even if there are discussions going on there is nothing confirmed.” The proposed hotel — opposite Bermuda Stock Exchange on the corner of Par-la-Ville Road and Church Street — would be the first development in Hamilton to break the city’s seven-storey limit for buildings. Environment Minister Neletha Butterfield granted the SDO last December to fast-track the project and construction is expected to start this year. This newspaper contacted Ritz-Carlton yesterday after a local news website reported that the hotel plan could be in jeopardy because of a row about underground car parking. The report suggested that Unified Resorts would have to build the car park at a cost of $25 million but the Corporation of Hamilton would benefit from any revenue. When asked about the story, Ms Deuschl said: “There are no current plans for a hotel in Bermuda — (it’s) still a rumor.” Unified Resorts director Donal Smith would not comment and Ted Adams, the company’s president and chief executive officer, said: “I don’t know about any problems. From our standpoint everything is fine. I have no idea what this is about.” Corporation of Hamilton secretary Kelly Miller said: “No issues have been raised by the developer with the Corporation.” She said the Corporation would only benefit financially from car parking spaces which replaced the ones it would lose because of the development.
May 23. Police say an autopsy is likely following the death of American Larry Lynn Hamilton, 64, who collapsed on Monday evening while watching a show with his family on board cruise ship the Empress of the Seas.The vessel was docked at Number One Shed, in Front Street, at the time. Mr. Hamilton was pronounced dead by the ship's doctor at 8.30 p.m. No foul play is suspected. A host of cruise ships have brought thousands of passengers to Bermuda over the past few days. The Azamara arrived in St. George's with 530 people aboard on Monday, and has been docked in Hamilton throughout the week before leaving tomorrow. On Monday, the Empress of the Seas arrived in Hamilton carrying 1,600 passengers. It leaves for St. George's today before departing the Island tomorrow. The Norwegian Spirit arrived on Monday with 2,200 people before leaving later in the day, while the Explorer of the Seas arrived yesterday and leaves today. The Norwegian Majesty and the Norwegian Crown both arrived on Tuesday and leave on Friday. The Norwegian Dawn arrived last Thursday and left on the same day.
May 23. Opposition MP Michael Dunkley called for a shake up on how Cabinet ministers are paid after parliamentary questions revealed there are no strict guidelines on who is deemed part-time and who is deemed full-time. There is a difference of $50,000 per year with full-time ministers pulling in $150,000 and part-time ministers getting $100,000. But Mr. Dunkley noted that two of the most important Cabinet ministers — Finance Minister Paula Cox and Education Minister Randy Horton are part-time. Other than Social Rehabilitation Minister Dale Butler, all other Ministers are full-time. Asked how ministers were assessed Premier Ewart Brown said there were no statutory definitions or guidance on determining whether or not a Ministerial position is full-time. But he said the Premier bore in mind criteria such as the size and budget of the Ministry, its workload, the number of full-time Ministers required to enable good governance and economic factors. Mr. Dunkley said: “His answer seems to me to reveal a Government which is either so disorganized or more likely, couldn’t care less which Ministers are full- and which are part-time. What seemed to be important for the Government was being able to jack up the salary, and make a little bonanza of an extra $50,000 a year (that’s all some working men and women earn in a year) available to whoever wants it.” And he added: “Guess who tops the list of part-time Ministers? The Honorable Paula Cox, Minister of Finance — the Minister who carries more responsibility on her shoulders than any of the rest of them and the Minister of Education, Hon. Randy Horton. These questions and subsequent answers show that the method used by the PLP Government to arrive at the latest remuneration levels is severely flawed. The next United Bermuda Party Government will ensure that this policy is reviewed and that Members of Parliament do not directly set their own compensation package.”
May 25. With thousands of people having either walked the entire length of Bermuda or run from Somerset to Hamilton — or both — in the past month, there is one group of business professionals who have been kept particularly busy. The past month has given sports massage and body wellness experts packed appointment schedules as athletes and walkers seek out treatment to ease away the pains and strains of their exertions, or, in the case of the May 24 runners, look for a competitive edge with a relaxing massage before the big day. The closeness of the End-to-End walk and the May 24 Marathon Half Marathon Derby makes May a particularly busy month.
May 25. Questions have been raised about why Government’s new Electronic Vehicle Registration (EVR) initiative, which calls for the installation of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags in cars and trucks as of next month, does not include motorcycles and mopeds. It is hoped the RFID tags will reduce the number of vehicles operating without a licence — estimated to be in the region of just under 6,000 — and translates into a loss of $11 million a year because Government is unable to enforce licensing requirements.While the new system is being welcomed by many, Government’s decision not to tag the more than 22,000 motorcycles on Bermuda’s roads is being questioned by the Opposition, especially as the majority of traffic offenders are believed to be motorbike owners. Opposition MP John Barritt said it made a “mockery” of the system and is calling on Government to review the system which goes into effect in a week. Mr. Barritt added that while the new system would be used to identify uninsured and unlicensed vehicles, it was important to see what other capabilities existed, and how the Government planned to ensure fines were paid. This concern was also raised by another Opposition MP, Trevor Moniz, who welcomed the new technology, but felt that unless the Government was able to enforce these new rules, it would all be “pointless”.
May 25. Police officers, firefighters and prison staff will be allowed to work until they are 60, under a new law approved by the Senate.MPs in the House of Assembly passed the Public Service Superannuation Amendment Act 2007 two weeks ago, and on Wednesday, it gained cross-party support in the Senate. The bill will allow those in the public sector to work later into their years, past the current retirement age of 55 for Police, fire and prison staff, and of 60 for other employees, such as teachers. Civil servants will now be able to carry on until they are 70, with the prior approval of the head of the civil service. The Public Service Superannuation Amendment Act was introduced by Finance Minister Paula Cox to address the falling birth rate and a growing older population. The Island's 20-64-year-old workforce is set to fall by 21 percent by 2045, from 40,428 to 31,950. However, the number of seniors is projected to increase by 140 percent, from 7,728 to 18,506. This will result in a decline in the ratio of workers to retired people of 5-1 to 2-1. To ease the ageing crisis — which is a global problem — the law will be amended to allow people who have retired from the civil service to rejoin without losing their monthly pensions claims. In introducing the bill, the Government also pointed to recruitment problems in the Police and Prison Service, saying that losing experienced staff to retirement at 55 is only exacerbating this problem. Officers will now be able to carry on working, subject to a review of health, conduct and performance. The public service pension scheme will also be amended to allow temporary, part-time and casual Government employees to participate, through regular contributions.
May 25. The first phase of a controversial 96-unit affordable housing scheme is well underway.Premier Ewart Brown and Housing Minister Sen. David Burch said that 38 workers have been toiling away on the Loughlands site in Paget to ensure the housing development is on schedule. Already 21 units are near completion. When plans for the development were announced last year residents complained it would bring more congestion to the area and felt their needs were overlooked when the Special Development Order was granted. But this week Dr. Brown said the congestion issue was a misconception and Sen. Burch said studies into the traffic flow of the area had been done. Dr. Brown said: "This building does not mean 96 new cars because the people who move in here are already living in Bermuda, so many of them already have cars." Sen. Burch explained that Works and Engineering completed a traffic study and made suggestions about where the entrance would be placed. And he added: "We have made amazing progress anyone living in this neighborhood knows how much activity there has been on this site. These buildings are the first phase of the project and they contain six three-bedroom units and 15 two-bedroom units." Dr. Brown said the Minister and his team should be commended for their hard work and determination in bringing affordable housing to the Island. He said: "Nearly a year ago the Minister approached me and asked me if I would be interested in rezoning the property from tourism to residence because it was of national importance to have more affordable housing. This site is an example of this Government's commitment to housing." Along with the 96 homes the site will also have a nursery which will be housed in the original building on the Paget property. The site is also an example of public-private partnerships the politicians pointed out. The Government struck a deal with developed Gilbert Lopes in March 2006 to purchase the condos from him and then sell them at below market price, for approximately $450,000. With over 500 people on the list for the Loughlands units Sen. Burch said they would be allocated to people on a first-come first-served basis, but that they would only go to first-time buyers. The second phase is scheduled to begin in January 2008. May 25. Government's Health Insurance Plan (HIP) has come under attack by doctors who claim they are receiving lump payments months in arrears and without the necessary documentation for verification. And they are questioning a new initiative placing Medical Clinic patients on the HIP scheme, saying it is unlikely they will be able to afford the associated costs. At present, the clinic’s patients are not charged for treatment — however, once the facility closes, such persons will incur 20 per cent of medical costs in accordance with the Government scheme’s regulations. “They had 100 per cent coverage at the clinic. HIP only pays 80 per cent, there’s still 20 per cent remaining. Who’s going to pay for it?” one local practitioner demanded. “The programme doesn’t work now. Doctors aren’t being paid on time as it is. How is this extra paperwork going to affect the payment process? Will it just add further strain to the system?” The doctor said the problems had been going on for a decade or more. He added he was slightly sympathetic towards HIP staff as it was his understanding the department doesn’t have a computer system, but those feelings were balanced by the vast displays of incompetence. “Government is no longer reconciling HIP payments,” he said. “It’s public knowledge — or it should be. It’s something (the Auditor General) Larry Dennis has pointed out in his report over the years. Doctors submit an application for payment and every now and then Government sends a lump sum — which isn’t itemized. There’s no account number or patient listed. It’s gotten to the point that some doctors are proposing to do what the dentists do, to tell their clients they have to pay up front and collect the money back from HIP.” Questions to Health Minister Philip Perinchief were not answered by press time. In his Annual Report for 2004, the Auditor General highlighted several concerns with the financial reporting of the Hospital Insurance Fund which manages HIP, stating it was three years in arrears and that he could not offer a qualified audit opinion because he had “insufficient documentary evidence” to investigate claims.
May 26. The closure of one of the lanes of Longbird Bridge caused "chaos" at the Airport on Thursday. A portion of the Causeway, Longbird Bridge, has been closed to marine traffic since early May and closed to two lane traffic and heavy trucks since Wednesday. And the Ministry of Works and Engineering and HSBC Bank of Bermuda have been in talks to fund a feasibility report on repairing the causeway — though the Government received $11 million in 2002 from the US to replace Longbird Bridge as part of the Baselands deal. An employee at L.F. Wade International Airport said the surprise announcement on Wednesday evening that the bridge would only be open to one lane of traffic caused headaches for many. The man, who did not wish to be named, has worked at the Airport for years and said: "There were people lining up out on to the road side. Trying to get into the US customs area was impossible. I have never seen it this bad in all my time here. I believe flights were delayed because so many people were stuck on the wrong side of the bridge. It really caused a problem at first. When I got to work midmorning there were people everywhere but it seemed that we had it under control after lunch." New manager of the L.F. Wade International Airport, Aaron Adderley, was not available for comment yesterday. Ministry of Works and Engineering Permanent Secretary Derrick Binns confirmed that Ministry had “discussions with the Bank regarding funds for a feasibility study for the crossing across Castle Harbour”. Bank of Bermuda press officers were contacted but did not respond by press time. The bridge was built by US troops more than 50 years ago and was maintained by the US troops till the late 1990s. In August 2005 The Royal Gazette reported that the bridge would have been past its original predicated life but for a compressive rebuild done by the Ministry of Engineering in 2000 and 2001. The construction prolonged the bridge’s life by an estimated five or six years. However the bridge was hit hard by Hurricane Fabian on September 5, 2003 and its hydraulics and computers were damaged. In 2002 the Government was given $11 million as part of the Baselands deal signed in Washington D.C. In the deal, the US refused to pay to clean up the pollution of its two former bases, but did give the Island $11 million for the bridge, which has been plagued with mechanical problems. In 2003 then Works and Engineering Minister Alex Scott estimated it would cost from $15m to $30 million to replace the bridge. Dr. Binns added that he was not able to say when people would be able to use both lanes at the moment.
May 28. Buying real estate in Bermuda remains one of the best investments to be made on the Island despite the steep increase in property prices during the past seven years. That is the assessment of Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty, which the company backs up with an analysis of the property market since 1995. In the years from 1995 to 1999 the local property market remained fairly stable in terms of units sold, this was due to high interest rates that touched 9.5 percent and mortgage lenders requiring deposits of between 25 and 30 percent. "These two factors alone prevented many hopeful homeowners from removing themselves from the rental pool," said Susan Thompson, of Coldwell Banker. Things changed in 2000 when the North America housing boom, a growth in international business in Bermuda and falling interest rates all combined to boost demand within the Island's property market. The increase in house prices during the past decade is reflected in the movement of the "mean price" — lining up all property prices from cheapest to dearest in a line and then locating the median (middle) price. In 1998 the mean price was $345,000, in 2006 it had risen to $875,000. Over the same period the average property price rose from $590,000 to $1,147,000. Mrs Thompson said: "Real estate in Bermuda is still one of the best investment deals that you can make. It is consistent year after year and that is what these figures show. This is good news for property owners and new purchasers alike. Other good news is that more and more people in Bermuda are able to own their own property, contrary to what we may be bombarded with in the media. From 1999 to 2001 the number of units sold increased by 59 percent in Bermuda, which translates to a higher ownership rate. Following an initial dip in 2002, these rates have continued to climb incrementally year over year and are higher than historically recorded if you look at the entire period." Analysis by Coldwell Banker shows the luxury property market spiked in 1998 and 2005 with total sales topping $80 million in both years. The most recent figures from 2006 show that market fell back to $60 million last year. There is also evidence to the continuing strength of the condo market, which saw a boom starting in 2003 after a busy spell of land transactions heralded a spell of condo-building and a subsequent increase in the quantity of condos available. In her market analysis Mrs Thompson said: "Buyers often question whether the purchase of a leasehold property is a wise choice given the number of condominiums now available on the market. The number speak for themselves. There has been a steady increase in pricing of condos throughout our 10-year study with noted increase since 2000."
May 28. New regulations limiting the number of Bermudians selling condominiums to non-Bermudians have been discussed in the House of Assembly. Only a series of specified units will be eligible to be held or bought by non-Bermudians, according to the Bermuda Immigration and Protection (Designation of Eligible Condominium Units) Regulations 2007. Labour and Immigration Minister Derrick Burgess told the House the move was necessary because 37 percent of the Island's residential properties were owned by non-Bermudians. "That's a lot. I don't think anywhere in the world you would find that," said Mr. Burgess. Shadow Labour and Immigration Minister Trevor Moniz warned the move would lead to a devaluing of properties owned by Bermudians, and a rise in the value of condominiums owned by non-Bermudians. Regulations on the issuing of licenses over letting properties were also discussed under the Bermuda Immigration and Protection (Rental and Use) Regulations 2007. The new law states the Minister may not issue a permit to a non-Bermudian to rent out a unit unless the person who is to rent the land is Bermudian or is ordinarily resident on the Island. Non-Bermudians who own the unit jointly with their Bermudian spouse will be exempt from this rule — prompting an accusation from Opposition United Bermuda Party MP John Barritt that the legislation is discriminatory. Another regulation discussed was the Bermuda Immigration and Protection (Land Holding Charges) Regulations 2007, which states that non-Bermudian land-owners will have to pay fees of up to 22 percent the value of their land. Mr. Moniz said he did not object to the legislation because he understood such a policy already existed. Draft regulations on all three pieces of legislation were moved on Friday without any objection.
May 29. Doctors have attacked Government for snubbing world-renowned Johns Hopkins Medicine International’s bid to serve as management consultants to Bermuda Hospitals Board. Last night, Premier Ewart Brown again faced accusations of cronyism following the awarding of the $13.5 million five-year contract to Kurron Shares — a lesser known firm allegedly run by one of his friends. One prominent physician yesterday criticised Kurron’s 2004 report into Bermuda’s hospitals and suggested the group should not have been chosen for another key role in shaping the future of healthcare on the Island. On the overlooking of Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins — widely considered to be one of the leading medical institutes in the US — the medic told The Royal Gazette yesterday: “It doesn’t make any sense. They had the perfect opportunity to get one of the most renowned hospitals in the world on board. It’s a shame. If you have the opportunity to raise everything up for the benefit of the patients, it seems stupid to me to not do that. Johns Hopkins is universally recognized and you should want to work with them. It’s good common sense. It’s like having Oxford or Cambridge University being turned down in favour of a group from Wales or somewhere.” Three years ago, Kurron’s report highlighted a string of failings at BHB, including millions of wasted dollars, poor leadership and lapses threatening the safety of patients and staff. However, the doctor yesterday said the report suffered from a “lack of definable scientific methodology and principles, lack of clear evidenced-based conclusions and alarmist language with dubious conclusions”.
May 29. Dame Lois Browne-Evans, the leader of the Progressive Labour Party for much of the 1970s and 1980s and Bermuda's first female Attorney General died early this morning of a suspected stroke. She was 79. A statement from the Cabinet Office said Dame Lois, who would have celebrated her 80th birthday on June 1, was rushed to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital last night. She passed away a short time later at 12:55 a.m. Dame Lois was Bermuda's first female barrister, Bermuda's first female Attorney General, and the first woman to become Opposition Leader in a British Commonwealth country when she became leader of the PLP in 1968. She served as leader until 1972 and again from 1976 to 1985. At a press conference at Cabinet Office this morning Premier Ewart Brown said: "Last night our nation lost a piece of its soul. Dame Lois taught so many of us what it means to fight and win. She was a sister of the struggle and at times the struggle was violent. But like Martin Luther King, Dame Lois did not wage the struggle with her fists, she did it with words. She always honored democracy and she always bowed to the law, even when Lady Justice seemed to betray her. She was champion for justice not just for blacks, but for all people." The Premier has requested all flags be lowered to half staff. Flags at all Government buildings have already been lowered in honour of Dame Lois. A condolence book was set to be available for signing at the Cabinet Office from lunchtime today. It will be available during normal business hours for members of the public to pay their respects. At the wishes of the family, Dame Lois' 80th planned birthday celebration on Friday has been cancelled and a state funeral is being planned.
May 30. Bermuda was united in mourning yesterday as word spread of the passing of legendary political leader and lawyer Dame Lois Browne Evans.Dame Lois, who would have turned 80 on Friday, was rushed to hospital late Monday by ambulance. She died at 12.55 a.m. yesterday of a suspected stroke. Flags across the island stood at half mast as the trailblazing dynamo was lauded by politicians from all sides. She was Bermuda’s first female barrister, Bermuda’s first female Attorney General, and the first woman to become Opposition Leader in a British Commonwealth. Dame Lois was also the first black woman to be elected an MP when she won the Devonshire North seat in 1963, a seat she held for 30 years during which time she led the Progressive Labour Party twice from 1968-1972 and then from 1976-1985. She stood down from office at the 2003 general election after helping mastermind the switch to single-MP seats — something which she had long championed. Fiery but fun-loving, Dame Lois commanded tremendous respect and yesterday tributes poured in from all sides of the political arena. Premier Ewart Brown said: “Last night our nation lost a piece of its soul. Dame Lois taught so many of us what it means to fight and win. “She was a sister of the struggle and at times the struggle was violent. But like Martin Luther King, Dame Lois did not wage the struggle with her fists, she did it with words. “She always honored democracy and she always bowed to the law — even when Lady Justice seemed to betray her.” He added: “She was a champion for justice — not just for blacks, but for all people.”
May 30. The decision to revoke listed protection for an 18th century merchant house due to “no on-site parking” has come into question after it emerged the property was given planning permission for a driveway.Environment Minister Neletha Butterfield de-listed the ‘Queen of the East’ after the owner’s agent said the property could no longer attract tenants due to lack of parking space. However, the Planning Department approved a planning application for a driveway in January last year. The proposal, by the Shipside Trust, was for a sloping area on the east side of the house to provide enough space for two vehicles. The decision to de-list the ‘Queen of the East’, at 26 Crow Lane, comes during Heritage Month and has led some conservationists to call for Ms Butterfield’s resignation. Yesterday The Royal Gazette discovered that a neighboring building — ‘East Broadway Marine’ at 22 Crow Lane, was also de-listed by the Government, in July, 2003. The Grade Three 18th century house is the sister building to ‘Queen of the East’ — both were built by George Darrell, son of a Chief Justice of Bermuda. It was demolished to make way for ‘Windward Place’ — a five-storey office complex, following a planning application by the Paragon Trust in January, 2004. Another property in the same lane, the old Island Coffee building, was also razed to make way for the Renaissance Re offices. Situated in an area of prime real estate, conservationists fear the ‘Queen of the East’ will now face the bulldozer.
May 30. A company that has played a significant part in arranging tourism events, conference events and excursions in Bermuda for the past 40 years has suspended all operations and issued a statement suggesting it will not return.With the peak tourist season just beginning, the company behind the Hawkins Island 'Don't Stop The Carnival' theme parties, tours and events and glass-bottom boat excursions on the 68ft Reef Explorer from Hamilton has pulled the plug on its operations. The BIC Group of Companies has even de-activated its web-site, which now exists only as a one-page site featuring the four-paragraph statement that the company had suspended all activities as of noon on Monday. The group comprises of Bermuda Island Cruises and Bermuda Incentives and Conventions and is headed by CEO Kyle Messick. The company was started by brothers Derek and Donald Morris. Derek Morris declined to comment yesterday. Premier and Tourism Minister Dr. Ewart Brown's press secretary Glenn Jones, said: "The Premier is aware of the BIC developments. We regret this group has departed from the tourism scene. However, we believe there are young Bermudians who will come to the stage and more than compensate for this absence."
May 31. An equality group is urging people to write to Tucker’s Point Club officials urging them to take extra measures to protect historically significant graves located within the club’s property.Last week people taking part in the third Government-backed race summit visited Tucker’s Point and claimed the graves of former black residents were not being respected — claiming golf balls were landing on the site. Now the Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda (CURB) group has written to the general manager of the Tucker’s Point Club, which owns the golf course the cemetery is located on. Lynne Winfield, President of CURB, is also urging its members and supporters to do the same. Last week Tucker’s Point Club executive, Peter Parker, denied suggestions the graveyard was being desecrated and said care was taken to make sure it was treated with sensitivity and respect. CURB has submitted measures to the company that it claims would “restore honour” to the site — which still invokes racial resentment — some 80 years after Tucker’s Town’s black inhabitants were uprooted. Identifying and suitably marking the graves that exist outside the walled cemetery, plus some form of covering to prevent balls from landing there, a new entrance gate and public access, are among the suggestions.
June 1. Finance Minister Paula Cox has pledged Government will boost efforts to share out its small contracts as she mounted a defence of the untendered award of a $1 million-a-year contract to a relative of the Premier.Controversy has raged after Bermuda Emissions Control — run by a cousin of Ewart Brown — won the sole contract for vehicle pollution testing on the Island. In an interview with The Royal Gazette, Ms Cox was asked why the public couldn’t be told what the general policy was on why a sole bid could accepted instead of inviting multiple tenders. She said: “I think the general policy would have been articulated in the answer to the parliamentary questions, but generally contracts over $50,000, usually it’s a Cabinet policy that we tend to advocate them going out to tender. If you are going to abrogate that rule there has to be for good reason — either because you are talking about specialist expertise or because there is a limited pool or only one provider for those services. Generally the rule is over $50,000 you go to tender but there is a rationale if the case is made and it’s defensible by the Cabinet to have an exception.” Asked why that emissions contract couldn’t have at least been opened up to multiple bids she said the rule could be modified on occasion because of time constraints or issues of expertise. The Finance Minister was challenged on why Financial Instructions, the rules which govern the awarding of contracts could not be made public. But she stuck to the line that it was internal Government business. “I don’t think it is appropriate that they are put out into the public domain. What is seen as important is when you have contracts and RFP’s (requests for proposals), that they go out and people have the opportunity to bid and they know what is being advertised. There is a move by Government to let people know in a timely fashion about a number of Government contracts so you have more people subscribing for them.”
June 1. Nomination day for the vacant Alderman and Common Councillor positions with the Corporation of Hamilton will be Thursday, June 14.Mayor of Hamilton Sutherland Madeiros called for people to put their names forward for the roles after the Corporation announced the date yesterday. The Alderman position became vacant following Mr. Madeiros’ election as Mayor last October, while the new councilor will replace Jim Butterfield, who resigned earlier this month. Nominations should be made between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 14. Should more than one nominee for each position be received, an election will be held on Thursday, June 21, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. If there is only one nominee for either post, that nominee will be appointed automatically. To be eligible to run, candidates must be a registered voter or the nominee of a registered voter within the City of Hamilton. Nomination forms and information regarding eligibility for the vacant positions are available from Corporation secretary Kelly Miller on 292-0916 or e-mail email@example.com
June 1. Auditor General Larry Dennis is now in possession of police documents relating to the BHC scandal. Yesterday, the Government financial watchdog declined to say if he was now re-examining the case or if he will be making any recommendations in relation to the evidence obtained by detectives.But he did confirm to the Mid-Ocean News that he has received copies of thousands of pages of case notes and documents that the police compiled during the 2002-2004 probe.
June 2. A new executive officer has been appointed to the Human Rights Commission - after almost a year without anyone in the post.Ayo Johnson, public affairs officer at the Department of Communication and Information and a former journalist at The Royal Gazette, will take on the role on June 12. The position has been vacant since David Wilson handed his notice in last summer following a disciplinary hearing. He stepped down after Rod Attride-Stirling, then chairman of the HRC, called for jobs to be lost over its repeated failure to produce annual reports in compliance with the Human Rights Act. Mr. Johnson, who was born in Sierra Leone to a Bermudian mother, worked for six years as a print journalist before becoming a civil servant two years ago. In the past he has produced a youth television series, served as a member of the board of directors of Amnesty International Bermuda and led human rights advocacy campaigns on the Island and in the UK. Mr. Johnson, a member of the International Association of Business Communicators and the International Documentary Association, has an entrepreneurial background, having owned and managed a restaurant and a small tour operator in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and worked in independent film in New York City. He completed a Georgetown University/University of Oxford joint programme in international human rights law, holds a diploma in computer technology from New York University and is currently pursuing studies in strategic communication management with the International Association of Business Communicators and graduate studies in sustainable development with Imperial College, London.
June 4. The Premier’s warning that Government could “suspend further business” with the Governor was not an idle threat, a source close to the country’s leader claimed last night.Ewart Brown said in a television and radio broadcast that his Government would lose confidence in Sir John Vereker if the Governor did not take swift action to discover who leaked a highly confidential Police file containing allegations about Dr. Brown and other Government MPs to the media. “In that event, we will have no choice but to suspend further business with him,” warned Dr. Brown, in what is believed to be an unprecedented threat from a Bermudian Premier. His statement on Friday evening was dismissed as “posturing” and “nonsense” by two constitutional law experts at the weekend. But the insider — himself a legal expert and former parliamentarian — told The Royal Gazette yesterday: “The Ewart Brown I know does not posture. You find one instance in the entirety of his political career, particularly as Cabinet Minister, where he has threatened something or promised something that he hasn’t done. He does not cock a gun unless he is willing to pull a trigger.” The broadcast followed publication on Friday in the Mid-Ocean News — The Royal Gazette’s sister paper — of the contents of a secret Police file on an investigation into alleged corruption at Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC). The newspaper claimed Dr. Brown, former Premier Dame Jennifer Smith, Government backbenchers Renee Webb and Nelson Bascome, former PLP MPs Arthur Hodgson, Arthur Pitcher and El James and construction boss Zane DeSilva were investigated during the probe by fraud squad officers. None have ever been charged with any offence concerning BHC. Mr. James, former Bermuda Cricket Board president and national team manager, said he had never been contacted by the Police concerning BHC and described the Mid-Ocean stories as “malicious”. He said he did help some out-of-work men form a group which was awarded two BHC contracts when he was a backbencher. But he added: “I did not receive any money from it. The money went to the boys. It looks like it’s a lot of mess being stirred up pre-election to try to sway the voters. “It was a shock to see my name. I have never been contacted by the Police or by anyone. This maliciousness is really out of control. I stand on my integrity and feel maligned by such garbage.”
June 7. Concerns have been expressed over the impact of a gunpoint robbery against two US visitors, as Police remained tight-lipped about the investigation. Two masked men broke into an East End guest house in the early hours of Tuesday, threatening and beating a man and his wife before making off with cash, jewellery and a digital camera. The husband suffered fractured ribs and his wife suffered bruising to her face. Both were treated at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and flew home later that day. Police have not named or identified the guest house beyond saying it is not in St. George’s. They have put more than a dozen officers on the case and stepped up patrols, but a spokesman said yesterday no update on the manhunt was available.
June 7. Bermuda last night edged closer towards a constitutional crisis after Public Safety Minister David Burch called on the Governor to relinquish control of the Police.Senator Burch — speaking less than a week after Premier Ewart Brown threatened to “suspend further business” with Sir John Vereker — said the Governor should hand over his constitutional responsibility for the Police “in the interests of what is best for Bermuda”. His prepared speech to the Senate marked a clear escalation in what is thought to be an unprecedented row between the elected leaders of the country and Government House. The rift was sparked last Friday by a Mid-Ocean News story which claimed that a leaked Police dossier revealed that the Premier and a handful of former Ministers were investigated by detectives probing allegations of corruption at Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC). Pro-Independence Dr. Brown claimed in a television and radio address that evening that Sir John had not done enough to secure the Police file and warned him to get to the bottom of the leak or face a revolt by Cabinet. Last night, former Premier Alex Scott warned that the situation could spiral into “a local version of what happened in then southern Rhodesia; a Unilateral Declaration of Independence”. Former Home Affairs Minister Quinton Edness claimed that giving the Government total control of the Police would create “a tremendous conflict and lead us more and more towards a dictatorship”. The Opposition last night called for a Royal Commission to investigate the handling of the BHC probe. Dr. Brown yesterday refused to answer questions about his stand-off with the Governor. The Premier also declined to go into detail about when and why he asked Sir John to secure the Police file. One legal expert said the timing of his request to the Governor was key. “We do not know when the offending papers were removed or copied from the Police files,” he said. “If that removal or copying took place prior to the Premier’s request of the Governor to secure those papers, then this fiasco has all the hallmarks of a contrived constitutional crisis.” Sen. Burch yesterday claimed Sir John was “solely responsible” for the Police. The Constitution does afford the Governor special responsibility for the Police but the Police Act 1974 states that the service is under the command of the Police Commissioner.
June 7. A column by Marian Sherratt, Executive Director, Bermuda Council on Ageing. Government has just passed a bill to raise the mandatory retirement age for civil servants, and also made provision for them to be re-employed by Government without losing their pension benefits. What is behind this push to extend our eligible working years? Why would anyone want to work past the earliest possible retirement date?It is interesting to note that a fixed retirement age is legislated only in the Government sector. Within the private sector, retirement age is based on corporate or private pension fund policies. The standard retirement age of 65 is actually based on a myth. The idea came out of Europe’s heavy industrial era, and it Otto von Bismarck of Germany who proposed the world’s first old-age social insurance at age 70, beginning in 1889. It was not until 1916 that the retirement age in Germany was lowered to 65, and other countries followed suit. The myth of this retirement age is that Bismarck wasn’t giving very much away. Life expectancy in the early 1900s was approximately 46 years, depending on your class, gender, race, geographical location, and type of work. If we were to apply Bismarck’s idea now, it would be like Government and employers saying, “We promise you a pension — when you turn 100”. The German plan was based on the idea that “— those who are disabled from work by age and invalidity have a well-grounded claim to care from the state”. The key word here is disabled, and herein lies the rub. Never before have so many lived so long, and never have so many lived with so many chronic diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes, etc.). But, also, never have there been so many healthy, educated, older adults who are perfectly capable of working past the age of 65. The average life expectancy is now approximately 77, and you need only read the inside back page of this newspaper to know that we are living into our 80s, 90s, and even 100s. In fact, the population of those over 80 is the fastest growing segment of our population. This is why we call it an ageing population, and we’re not alone. Ageing populations affect every man, woman and child in Bermuda, Japan, Canada, UK, the USA, and many more countries around the world. What does this mean for you and me, and the civil servants who may be able to stay in their jobs until age 70, or those who may now be eligible to return to work for Government and not lose their pensions. I recently spoke with a gentleman in Hamilton about retirement and the high cost of living in Bermuda.
June 8. An apparent truce between the Premier and Governor may have averted a looming constitutional crisis — but Government remained on the attack last night over the Bermuda Housing Corporation scandal.Attorney General Philip Perinchief and the Police last night sought to stop the media from publishing or airing further revelations from the Police investigation into the BHC scandal, just hours after Sen. Perinchief pledged to “protect the reputations of your public officials from further unfair attack” at a hastily called press conference just after 4 p.m. A closed hearing on the injunction application held before Chief Justice Richard Ground last night was adjourned until next week for further argument. Sen. Perinchief spoke out just a few hours after the Foreign Office in London issued a joint statement from Sir John Vereker and Dr. Ewart Brown which appeared to be aimed at defusing public concern about an escalating row between the pair. Dr. Brown warned the Governor in a televised address last Friday that Government would “suspend further business” with him if he did not ensure the source of a leaked Police dossier on a corruption probe into BHC was tracked down. Yesterday’s statement said Scotland Yard was being brought in to investigate the leak and that the Premier had assured Sir John, who retires in October, his Government would continue to work with him. Attempts to uncover the mole have already led to a raid by Police at Bermuda Broadcasting Company and a visit by senior officers to the offices of the Mid-Ocean News, sister paper of The Royal Gazette. Justice Minister Sen. Perinchief told the media yesterday:
June 8. An archaeological dig kicks off tomorrow with the aim of discovering more about life in bygone Bermuda. The National Trust’s Archaeology Committee is heading the project at the Verdmont historic house in Smith’s. A number of Bermudian students and volunteers will work on the dig, which is the second to be carried out at Verdmont.Richard Lowry of the committee said: “As archaeologists we are interested in the social as well as architectural history of Verdmont, using artifacts to tell the story of all the people who lived and worked at the site, not just the people in history books. Last year we were astonished at the wealth of archaeology we uncovered from a small number of test pits. These included intact 19th century bottles, 18th century ceramics, a wide variety of animal bones and even an iron cauldron. These finds are very helpful in piecing together what people ate and how they lived. Based on the artifacts recovered from these test pits we are now able to target specific areas, which we hope will further our knowledge about the people who lived and worked at Verdmont.” Members of the public are invited to visit the dig, which runs until the end of the month. Anyone wishing to volunteer can contact the National Trust on 236-6483 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily updates on the dig will be posted at the website verdmontarchaeology.blogspot.com.
June 8. Bermuda sailor and official Peter Shrubb has just been named an umpire for the finals of the America’s Cup due to start later this month off Valencia, Spain. Shrubb, who has been putting in a lot of time officiating international regattas around the world including being the chief umpire last year for the Women’s World Championships in Denmark, has so far worked numerous series in the Louis Vuitton Cup. And then this week he was named as an umpire for the America’s Cup final series pitting Team New Zealand against Alinghi from the Swiss syndicate. Team New Zealand thrashed Luna Rossa 5-0 on Wednesday to win the Louis Vuitton Cup to get the opportunity to try to grab the America’s Cup back from the Swiss. Shrubb said yesterday from his apartment in Spain: ‘’It’s not bad is it? I was named (as an umpire) a couple days ago.” When he started his international career as an official, Shrubb said: “I would have never have thought about getting to this point. You know that it out there but you never think that you will make it to the finals of the America’s Cup.” Shrubb has been in Valencia since March umpiring the numerous races which all lead up to this moment.
June 8. Over
the next few decades Bermuda’s temperature will steadily drop, with shorter,
cooler summers and colder winters. Why? Because the Gulf Stream, which brings
warm water up from the south, is changing — as a result of global warming.
June 8. Hamilton will be closed to cruise ships next year. The dramatic change will see all vessels routed to Dockyard for the 2008 season, the consequence of an industry trend towards watercraft too large for the city to support. A Government spokesperson yesterday declared the change was unavoidable: “As a result of internal scheduling and corporate decisions made by certain cruise lines serving Bermuda, Hamilton will not have a regularly calling ship for 2008. “However, this is an unintended consequence of the very real situation that the Ministry of Tourism & Transport has been emphasizing for some time. The smaller, niche ships are becoming fewer and fewer. And as the number of small ships is decreasing the level of competition is increasing — in the end it’s very difficult to attract smaller, niche cruise ships.” The announcement was met with skepticism in some circles. Both the Corporation of Hamilton and the Chamber of Commerce insisted that smaller liners could be found to fill the void. “The Corporation is of the opinion that we wish to have a cruise ship and, even if they’re not building ships the size of the ones that are on Front Street right now, there are smaller niche ships where people have a fair amount of disposable income that we would like to see enter Hamilton,” said Hamilton mayor Sutherland Madeiros. “It’s important to us. We have to disagree with Government on this point. The fact is that there aren’t any ships of the size that now come into Hamilton being built in the foreseeable future but we can look for something else. Government doesn’t think we need any cruise ships and we believe we do.” He added that the move could cause big changes to the popular Harbour Nights, held throughout the cruise season each Wednesday. “It could mean the end of Harbour Nights. It all depends on the scheduling of the cruise ships at Dockyard. At the moment a lot of the cruise ships coming in are day ships. People aren’t coming into Hamilton to shop because they want to see the island. But next year, as I understand it, there will be ships staying overnight. If necessary we will change Harbour Nights to accommodate that. Hopefully, people will be ferried into Hamilton. In which case we will have to (construct) a transportation hub to accommodate those ferries. It could be a real problem for Harbour Nights and for retailers. At the moment, you get off the ship in Hamilton and you walk across the street. You get back on when you feel like it. “If you want to use the bathroom, the ship is right there. A lot of cruise passengers tend to be older people. I’ve seen a number of wheelchairs. With (the new plan) they would have to get off the ship, on a ferry, off the ferry, back on the ferry, back on the ship. It’s not easy. It’s not convenient. I suspect passengers would like to get off in Hamilton.”
June 9. Zoom Airlines inaugural flight from London to Bermuda arrived at the L. F. Wade International Airport 11 minutes late yesterday. The airline carrying 149 passengers was scheduled to arrive at 4.15 p.m. but did not land until 4.26 p.m. because of a late passenger. The owners of Zoom Airlines, brothers Hugh and John Boyle and passengers were met by Junior Tourism Minister, Senator Wayne Caines; Airport general manager Aaron Adderley; Director of Civil Aviation, Ian MacIntyre; and designate Director of Civil Aviation Thomas Dunstan. Premier Ewart Brown was unable to attend because the House of Assembly was sitting. The plane was met with a double spray of water from the airport fire truck hoses about ten minutes after landing. In a statement earlier yesterday in the House of Assembly, Dr. Brown expressed his enthusiasm about the new flight. "For the first time in 40 years, travelers with have a choice in carrier when they fly direct between Bermuda and London. As Minister of Tourism and Transport, it has been my long standing commitment to the public that increased competition on air traffic routes will lead to lower fares. This has proven true with New York routes, with the Boston route, and now will also be the case for the critical link between our country and Europe." Dr. Brown went on to explain that the tourism numbers will rise as a result of this new flight. He also said that since European visitors tended to stay longer than North Americans, hotels would benefit also. Mr. Adderley also expressed his excitement about the new venture. He said more available seats meant more visitors and more business for Bermuda. Sen. Caines said this new flight was opening up the European market. Hugh and John Boyle said they were absolutely delighted to be in Bermuda. "Today is important for Bermuda's aviation history," John said. Zoom Airlines Ltd. is a UK-based sister company to Zoom Airlines Inc., the existing Canadian low-fares full-service airline which launched operations in 2002. Zoom flies Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, with space for 270 passengers, on transatlantic services and has two on-board travel classes, premium economy and economy. The current schedule has Zoom flights departing Bermuda on Tuesday evenings at 7.30 p.m. and arriving into London Gatwick at 6 a.m. on Wednesday while the Saturday evening flight from Bermuda will leave at 9.30 p.m. and arrive in London at 7.55 a.m. Sunday. Flights to Bermuda will depart London at 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and arrive in Bermuda at 4.15 p.m. while the Sunday flight leaves at 11 a.m. and arrives in Bermuda at 2.15 p.m. Tickets can be bought for as low as $149 each way.
June 9. A replacement structure is to be erected alongside Longbird Bridge to ease traffic chaos while a five-year programme of maintenance work is carried out.Longbird Bridge has been restricted to one lane in recent weeks because its infrastructure has been deemed unsafe following damage from storms and the environment. Motorists have complained the lane closure has led to lengthy tailbacks, while the queues have also been blamed for flight delays at the nearby L. F. Wade International Airport. In a Ministerial statement in the House of Assembly yesterday, Works and Engineering Minister Dennis Lister explained why work would be carried out. “In order to continue to allow the use of the bridge by commercial, public and emergency vehicles, and so to minimize the effect of the deterioration of this bridge on the people of Bermuda, the Ministry has elected at this time to restrict the traffic over Longbird Bridge to one lane,” said Mr. Lister. “The restriction that has been put in place is a temporary measure. The Ministry has already moved on a course of action that will ensure that unrestricted two-way traffic will be active on the causeway as soon as is possible. The solution that is being pursued by the Ministry involves the erection of a replacement structure alongside Longbird Bridge that will ensure that there will be no further restrictions necessary between its erection and the completion of the Ministry’s long-term management strategy for the replacement of the existing crossing within the next five years.” Mr. Lister described the bridge, which was constructed in 1953 by the US Army Corps of Engineers, as being in a “very poor state of repair”. He said rust had caused some structural sections to lose 75 percent of their steel and that there were multiple deficiencies in the electrical system used to operate the movement of the bridge. “It is clear that due to the age of the bridge, the severely corrosive environment and storm damage, the bridge could not be maintained at full strength indefinitely,” he said. Responding last night, Shadow Works and Engineering Minister Jon Brunson said Mr. Lister had failed to mention a number of key points about the bridge. Mr. Brunson said the US Navy — which was previously responsible for the bridge — and Works and Engineering were both aware of its deterioration in 2001 or before. “Why has it taken this Government more than five years to finally begin addressing what has now become a seriously critical situation?” asked Mr. Brunson in a statement. “The fact that this Government knew about the state of the bridge since the late 1990s and has done nothing can only be described as serious negligence and a disservice to the people.” Describing the Longbird and Causeway as a “lifeline to the airport and east end of the Island”, Mr. Brunson predicted that inconvenience would be magnified when Cup Match takes place in St. George’s later this summer.
June 12. A visitor suffered facial injuries when he was assaulted by three robbers who stole his cash, jewellery and other belongings.In the latest in a string of attacks on visitors to Bermuda, the 24-year-old American was set upon by the gang as he walked along Penno’s Drive, St. George’s on Sunday, at 12.30 a.m. Police say the men initially attempted to befriend the victim, but he ran away when he grew suspicious of their behavior. They then chased after him before assaulting him and stealing his Discman, gold chain with a cross pendant and wallet containing cash and personal items. The American suffered a bruised right cheek and abrasion to his right elbow in the incident.
June 12. A bill to ensure all war veterans get pensions and benefits, regardless of race, received its second reading in the House of Assembly.The Pensions and Gratuities (War Service) Amendment Act 2007 removes the clauses which precluded some black veterans from receiving benefits after serving their country. In amending the original Pensions and Gratuities Act of 1947 it extends medical, dental and pension benefits, and doubles pensions from $400 to $800 per month. Veterans of the Second World War who served as part of the First Battalion, Caribbean Regiment and Bermuda contingent are among those who have never been adequately compensated. Local veterans who defended Bermuda during the World Wars were denied pensions and benefits as the law only provided for those veterans who served overseas. Many of these former soldiers were members of the black branch of the Island’s armed forces, known locally as Bermuda Militia Artillery. Making the second reading of the Act yesterday, Finance Minister Paula Cox said how saddened she was to read the initial reports surrounding the Bill. “I thought of Paradise Lost, and I think what we’re seeking to do today is Paradise gained,” said Ms Cox. She told the story of Drummer Joe Lemon — so named due to the colour of his skin — who served in both World Wars but who could not find employment on his return. He eventually contracted bronchial pneumonia and died after a fire broke out in the place where he was sleeping rough. The soldier was burned to death, unaware that he had been eligible for medical treatment. Ms Cox said: “His body was not recovered for several days because nobody knew he was sleeping there. He died without knowing he and his family had this opportunity.
June 12. MPs have approved a $2.4 million scheme to electronically tag cars, in a bid to crack down on the eight percent that are currently unlicensed.Unveiling the plans in the House of Assembly on Friday, Premier and Transport Minister Ewart Brown said the Transport Control Department loses $1.8 million a year in uncollected revenue. The new law will make it compulsory for drivers to have tiny electronic tags mounted on their windshields. These will be scanned by devices attached to utility poles and also handheld versions that will flag up untagged and therefore unlicensed cars. A court summons will be automatically issued, and any motorist removing or destroying the tag will be subject to a maximum fine of $10,000. The Opposition United Bermuda Party questioned whether the plans would turn Bermuda into a “Big Brother” state and asked how Government intends to employ the new technology on a long-term basis. Shadow Tourism Minister David Dodwell asked: “Is this an invasion of privacy? Is it Big Brother? Is that the next stage? What’s the cost? Is it a Government cost or is it going to be passed on to the consumer? How is this going to solve Bermuda’s traffic problems? There are literally no facts and figures that say this is the right thing to do.” Dismissing the criticism, Dr. Brown said the technology would help the Police fight crime and was supported by the insurance sector. “There will be a public education effort that will quite likely show Bermudians this is not Big Brother. The technology does not allow any snooping on the part of Government,” he added, comparing the critics to “the people who favored typewriters over computers — and we all know how history unfolded there.” Dr. Brown said the law would initially affect only cars, but motor bikes and auxiliary cycles would be phased in at a later date. The legislation will now go to the Senate, with the issuance of tags to Bermuda’s 22,400 cars slated to begin on July 1.
June 13. The public had a right to know the contents of a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation scandal which makes serious allegations about public figures, it was argued in Supreme Court this afternoon.Saul Froomkin, QC, is defending Bermuda Press Holdings, the publishers of The Royal Gazette and its sister paper the Mid-Ocean news against attempts by the Police Commissioner and Attorney General to gag the media from airing further revelations from the secret file. Mr. Froomkin rejected allegations made by Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief that the report was stolen and a breach of confidence was committed when ZBM news and the Mid-Ocean News reported on it recently. However, he said, even if the file were deemed to be confidential: "There is confidential information which the public may have a right to receive and others, in particular the press, may have a right and even a duty to publish even if the information has been unlawfully obtained in flagrant breach of confidence and irrespective of the motive of the informer." The Royal Gazette has been advised not to carry details of the reports for legal reasons. This morning in court it was revealed that the dossier in question has gone missing. In an affidavit, Mr. Jackson said although copies of the top-secret documents have been recovered, the whereabouts of the original is unknown. An international investigation into the leak has been launched. In addition to Bermuda Press Holdings, the Bermuda Broadcasting Company, DeFontes Television Centre and the Bermuda Sun are also named as defendants in the court case and are contesting the injunction. Asking Chief Justice Richard Ground to gag the organizations from publishing further information from the dossier not already in the public domain, Delroy Duncan, lawyer for the Commissioner and Attorney General, argued this could undermine public confidence in the Police. He further argued that those figures put in the spotlight by the media reports have not had chance to respond to comments made about them in the Police file, it is alleged that at least two of the defendants have handled stolen goods in receiving the documents, and publication cannot be justified with the reason that it is in the public interest. "Making money is not a good enough reason. Selling papers is not good enough reason. Sensationalizing is not a good enough reason" argued Mr. Duncan.
June 13. Proposed changes to US tax laws put forward by senior members of the Democratic Party are likely to feature high on the agenda of Premier Ewart Brown and Finance Minister Paula Cox when they meet US lawmakers in Washington this week.At a Cabinet Office press conference yesterday, neither politician was giving much away when it came to likely topics of conversation. But the threat of new tax legislation that could impact on the Island's international business sector has become more real since the Democratic Party seized control of both the House of Representatives and the US Senate in mid-term elections. US Presidential hopeful Barack Obama, for example was one of three Senators who proposed legislation that seeks to recover an estimated $100 billion a year in tax revenue claimed to have been lost to overseas tax havens. Sen. Obama mentioned Bermuda when he spoke on the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act in February this year. The bill proposed that income from a trust or corporation set up by Americans in a low-tax jurisdiction should be taxed as US income. "This bill provides an initial list of offshore secrecy jurisdictions where these evidentiary presumptions will apply," Sen. Obama said. "Taxpayers with foreign financial accounts in Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands or Dominica, for example, should be prepared to report their accounts to the Internal Revenue Service." In April, more senior Democrats were proposing a severe clampdown on what they see as tax avoidance.
June 14. Chief Justice Richard Ground will rule on Monday on whether the media should be gagged from reporting further revelations from a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation scandal. Police Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief launched a Supreme Court action after ZBM and the Mid-Ocean news published extracts of the documents. Their lawyer, Delroy Duncan, has argued that the report was stolen and therefore a breach of confidence committed when the reports were aired and published. He said the court action was launched because the Police fear further disclosure of "sensitive" material from the documents. The court has already heard that the whereabouts of the original documents is unknown, although copies have been recovered. The leaked dossier reportedly revealed that Premier Ewart Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith and former Ministers Renee Webb and Arthur Hodgson were all investigated by Police looking into the BHC allegations. Construction boss Zane DeSilva was another prominent person investigated as part of the probe into allegations of corruption at the BHC, the documents reportedly showed. When the investigation finished in 2004, then acting Director of Public Prosecutions Kulandra Ratneser said many of those investigated could only be accused of bad ethics. Mr. Ratneser also said some of the people investigated escaped prosecution due to Bermuda's antiquated corruption laws. Since the BHC scandal - which is believed to have cost the taxpayer $8 million - one person has been convicted. Terrence Smith, a BHC officer, was found guilty and jailed last year on 41 counts of fraud. Mr. Duncan has argued that the media should be gagged from publishing further information from the dossier not already in the public domain as this could undermine public confidence in the Police. He further argued that those figures put in the spotlight by the media reports have not had chance to respond to comments made about them in the Police file, it is alleged that at least two of the defendants have handled stolen goods in receiving the documents, and publication cannot be justified with the reason that it is in the public interest. Saul Froomkin QC, acting for the publishers of this newspaper and its sister paper the Mid-Ocean News, said there is no evidence the report was stolen, and that even if the file was confidential the public have a right to know its contents under the Bermuda Constitution which protects freedom of expression. In addition to Bermuda Press Holdings, the Bermuda Broadcasting Company, DeFontes Broadcasting and the Bermuda Sun are also named as defendants in the court case and are contesting the injunction.
June 15. The island’s public school system could be on the brink of meltdown where teachers operate in a climate of fear, according to a damning report by overseas experts. And the findings also hinted at wider problems in the island, including allegations of cronyism within the Civil Service and “a fear of speaking up in the Bermudian community” which “may not be restricted to the education system”. The report also charged that the Ministry of Education “seeks to implement Cabinet or Ministerial initiatives not through brokerage but either by diktat or stealth”, and that the education system has, if anything, deteriorated in the past decade. A summary of the Hopkins Review of Public Education in Bermuda was released by Government last month, along with a list of recommendations that the experts made. At the time, Premier Ewart Brown described the report as “the most meaningful and comprehensive” review of the education system ever conducted, while Education Minister Randy Horton said his Ministry would examine ways in which the recommendations could be enforced. The Mid-Ocean News has now received a complete copy of the report, which describes the Ministry’s leadership as “dysfunctional”, adding that “there is no sense of corporate leadership, of there being a senior leadership team approach to running the affairs of the Ministry”. The report, compiled by a team of six experts following an inspection of schools in March, did single out some teachers for poor performance, but added that “overbearing” civil servants, rather than classroom staff, were largely responsible for the system’s failure. Acknowledging that the findings “present a fairly bleak picture” of the school system, the report said: “The culture at senior level is properly focused on discharging Cabinet and Ministerial decisions, but this is not balanced by a sense of providing a service to the wider range of clientele — notably schools — on behalf of Government. “A major problem with this culture is that it suppresses initiative and constructive criticism alike.
2007. June 16. An updated Parliamentary Register has been published and the public is being urged to double check that the information is correct.The Parliamentary Registers can be seen at the Parliamentary Registry Office, all Government Post Offices, all Police Stations, the Bermuda Library, Magistrates' Court and the Department of Communication and Information. The public can also check their details online at elections.gov.bm. If changes need to be made forms can be downloaded and either mailed, faxed or hand delivered to the Parliamentary Registry Office at the Valerie T. Scott building on 60 Reid Street. Parliamentary Registrar Randy Scott said: "As with all age groups, we are reminding them that their opinion doesn't count unless they are registered to vote. However, we consider 18 and 19-year-olds to be a very important voting segment and we are challenging them to do their part and get registered." For more information call the Parliamentary Registry Office at 297 -7738 or 293-8683 or elections.gov.bm.
June 16. Premier Ewart Brown was yesterday named as one of 23 physicians who will take on patients from the doomed Medical Clinic.Dr. Brown — medical director of Bermuda Healthcare — has repeatedly faced accusations of a conflict of interest since announcing the closure of the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital facility in his Throne Speech last November. In the House of Assembly yesterday, new Health Minister Michael Scott made a Ministerial statement announcing his early plans for a string of issues he aims to tackle. Talking about the controversial closure of the clinic, scheduled before the end of the month, Mr. Scott revealed the Premier was among a list of private physicians to whom patients will now be assigned. The list also contains a number of doctors who have worked at the Medical Clinic, including Dr. Stanley James, Dr. Ronald Lightbourne and Dr. Samantha Price. The Medical Clinic provides care to vulnerable people including the homeless, elderly and mentally ill. However, Dr. Brown claims its patients suffer from a lack of dignity. In March this year, his motivations for closing the clinic were called into question by Opposition MP Trevor Moniz, who pointed to the Premier’s plans to convert the historic Winterhaven building, in Smith’s, into a healthcare clinic.
June 16. Form filling at the Airport will be slashed while authorities will be better able to keep out undesirables when a new passenger monitoring system goes live in December.Yesterday MPs passed an act allowing passenger lists to be e-mailed to Bermuda once a plane or boat begins its journey here. Labour and Immigration Minister Derrick Burgess said it would give Customs, Police and Immigration more time to prepare to deal with people on the high risk list, stop list or look out list. And he said the mailed lists would help to speed the processing of inbound and outward bound passengers. From December, returning Bermudians will not have to fill in an arrival cards while no one will have to fill out a departure card however non-Bermudians will still have to fill in an arrival card. Under international law the change required a special act which prompted yesterday's passing of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act (No. 2) 2007. Mr. Burgess said the confidentiality of the information, obtained by swiping a passport, would be kept by Immigration. He said: "Currently employers from time to time call Immigration and ask whether a staff member who's called in sick has left the Island. We don't release that information, neither will we in future." He said all information acquired by Immigration was kept confidential.
June 16. A bill to merge Bermuda’s fire services was passed yesterday with all-party support.Community and Cultural Affairs Minister Wayne Perinchief said a review by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate and by Government’s own Management Services had recommended it would improve efficiency by having everything under one command structure, to be known as the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service. He said all airport firefighters had signed up to the amalgamated service, which also brings in the St. George’s volunteer service, and that the new structure had begun earlier this year. While expressing support for the general concept, United Bermuda Party leader Michael Dunkley said the proper procedure was to pass legislation then make changes rather than the other way around. He urged Government to exercise fiscal restraint with the newly enlarged service. Under the Act, any fire engines, assets or firefighting equipment belonging to the Corporation of St. George’s will be transferred to the Government. The St. George’s Fire Brigade is now incorporated into the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service. The Fire Services Amendment Act 2007 establishes the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service as a Government Department — replacing the Fire Services Department. As well as the new name, the Service gains more responsibility. The purpose of the Bill is stated as: “to make the Service responsible for the provision of fire and rescue services for the whole of Bermuda, including the Airport and St. George’s, where services are presently provided separately”. The General Manager of Bermuda’s airport is also represented on the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service Advisory Board.
June 18. Chief Justice Richard Ground has ruled that the media should not be gagged from reporting further revelations from a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation scandal.Making his ruling this morning, Mr. Justice Ground said that having weighed up the balance between the media's constitutional right to inform the public about serious allegations concerning important public figures and the need to protect the confidentiality of the Police investigation, the balance comes down firmly against restraining the media. However, he granted an application from the plaintiffs for his judgment to be appealed tomorrow morning in the Court of Appeal. In the interim period, Bermuda's broadcasting organizations and the Bermuda Sun have been ordered by the Chief Justice not to report any further revelations from the dossier. The Mid-Ocean News and The Royal Gazette have agreed to extend a previous undertaking made not to publish further material until the legal proceedings are resolved. Police Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief launched Supreme Court action after ZBM and the Mid-Ocean news published extracts of the documents. Their lawyer, Delroy Duncan, argued in court last week that the dossier was stolen and therefore a breach of confidence was committed when the news reports were aired and published. He said the court action was launched because the Police fear further disclosure of sensitive material from the documents although the nature of the un-reported sections of the file was not revealed in court. Mr. Justice Ground also heard that the whereabouts of the original documents is unknown, although copies have been recovered. Two arrests have been made by Police investigating how the media obtained the file. The leaked dossier reportedly revealed that Premier Ewart Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith and former Ministers Renee Webb and Arthur Hodgson were all investigated by Police looking into the BHC allegations. Construction boss Zane DeSilva was another prominent person investigated as part of the probe into allegations of corruption at the BHC, the documents reportedly showed. When the investigation finished in 2004, then acting Director of Public Prosecutions Kulandra Ratneser said many of those investigated could only be accused of bad ethics.
June 18. A Special Development Order was granted for a 220-suite hotel to be built — very close to the proposed Southlands development.The Grand Atlantic Resort and Residences will be built in Warwick on the plot of land which currently holds derelict buildings, green space and an area zoned ‘woodlands’. The SDO was made public last week and the Opposition spokesman for Environment, Cole Simons, said it was another example of the Government’s “fast-tack decision-making” and branded it “anti-democratic”. He added that it showed the Government was not able to work within its own framework, the Bermuda Development Plan. The hotel built on the 13.1 acre Warwick site on South Road. To the east of its border is Astwood Walk and the Warwick gas station, the plot stretches westward just beyond the bend in South Road where it junctions with Dunscombe Road. According to the plans, the hotel will rise nine storeys with 220 rooms offering a maximum total of 706 beds, including a six-bedroom penthouse suite. There will also be two five-storey high blocks of 20 two-bedroom fractional ownership apartments, five three-bedroom villas, 20 three-bedroom units in two-storey blocks and 22 two-bedroom and ten one-bedroom units. Also foreseen is a twin two-storey retail area on an approach road to the hotel and resort. There will also be terrace and dining room restaurants, a beach bar and grill terrace, lounge bar, ballroom, swimming pool, spa, fitness centre and roof top tennis courts. The SDO, which was in Thursday’s official Gazette, said that the owners — Atlantic Development — would have to provide training for three years to at least 50 percent of its Bermudian employees. It also stipulates that before a building permit is granted the Development Applications Board have to approve the external appearance and landscaping. The Chief Environmental Health Officer will also have to sign off on all sewage treatment and disposal as well as plans for the collection and distribution of rainwater. But Opposition MP Cole Simons said he was concerned that another SDO was being granted for hotel development. He said: “Its decision to grant an SDO to Grand Atlantic Resort and Residences owes more to its push to project a ‘can do’ image than to sound, people-based planning and respect for public input. “The go-ahead for the development of the 13-acre Golden Hind site, along with the impending SDO for the nearby Southland’s, will effectively wipe out the last large green space in Warwick. The PLP Government’s reliance on SDOs is anti-democratic, and an admission that it is unable to work within a system that was designed to ensure people have a role in decisions about the future of the island.” He added that there does not appear to be an overall plan for development in Bermuda. “There is, moreover, a frightening lack of foresight at work - a lack of overall planning discipline - that prevents the country from making smart decisions about how our disappearing open spaces should be best used. The most glaring breakdown in the system is the PLP failure to update the Bermuda Development Plan, leaving us to face the current wave of hyper-development with a plan that was put together more than 15 years ago. A spokeswoman for the Bermuda National Trust said it applauded the discussion to build on a site which has previously been used as opposed to untouched land. But, she added: “It would have been an additional benefit if the SDO had clearly delineated and protected the Conservation Areas (an area that contains important natural features within which development is precluded or controlled), within this parcel of land, so that the development does not encroach onto them.”
In the last decade 16 Special Development Orders have been made
June 18. A National Policy on Disabilities was applauded by members of Parliament on Friday, but the Opposition now wants words put into action. Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs, Wayne Perinchief, presented the National Policy to the House of Assembly to cross-party support. He said it aimed “to ensure that disabled persons have every opportunity to reach their individual potential and to see the removal of barriers that prevent their full participation in Bermudian society”. Mr. Perinchief classed a disability as a long-term health condition lasting more than six months, which can include physical, emotional or learning difficulties. According to the 2000 Census, disability affects 3,000 residents on the Island — five percent of the population. Almost a quarter — 23 percent — of 16 to 64-year-olds reported back or spine problems, while 33 percent of seniors suffered from arthritis. Among 200 people with a learning disability, 118 were cared for by relatives — many of whom were over 60-years-old. Mr. Perinchief said: “These statistics speak volumes about the magnitude and impact of disability on people in our community — from disabled persons themselves, to their friends, family and support networks.” He said the National Policy was the result of action by then Minister of Health and Family Services Patrice Minors, who appointed a Committee to address the issue in January 2005. The committee was formed to develop a National Policy, by setting down guiding principles; objectives in access, housing, health, education, transport, communication and training; overall goals and objectives. Technical officers from the National Office for Seniors and the Physically Challenged assisted in drafting policy, and the team reviewed legislation not only from Bermuda, but from other countries around the world. Mr. Perinchief said: “The report indicates that, in Bermuda, people with disabilities are subject to violations of their human rights, a lack of understanding of their abilities and incomplete or non-existent accommodations required to participate fully in everyday life.” He said parents of disabled children felt their children’s needs were not being “accurately identified and consistently met” within the education system, while qualified people remained unemployed through discrimination.
June 18. Courtland Boyle has been elected unopposed to the position of Alderman of the Corporation of Hamilton. Mr. Boyle, who has been a Common Councillor of the Corporation for the last four and a half years, is vice president of W. J. Boyle & Son Ltd., which operates four shoe stores in Hamilton. Bill Black, Deputy Mayor of Hamilton, said: “On behalf of the Corporation of Hamilton, I would like to congratulate Courtland on his appointment as Alderman. Courtland has done a wonderful job as a Common Councillor and I look forward to a continued relationship with him as a fellow Alderman.” Additionally, four candidates — Peter Aldrich, Irving Hendrickson, Kathryn Cole Gibbons and David Sullivan — have been nominated for the position of Common Councillor. An election will be held at City Hall on June 21 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the post of Common Councillor.
June 19. News that another Special Development Order has been granted for a hotel on South Road has caused concern among residents.Yesterday The Royal Gazette spoke with members of the public in Hamilton about the recent announcement that the Minister of the Environment granted a SDO for the Grand Atlantic Resort in Warwick. The hotel will be nine-storeys high and is situated on a 13.1 acre plot, some of which was zoned as woodlands. It is also near the proposed Southlands development, which has already been granted an SDO. The Royal Gazette asked nine people what they thought of the recent use of SDOs for hotel development — seven said they were against it. Dee Williams, who is an accounts manager, said: “I don’t think it is a good idea we are overdeveloped as it is and we are taking up a lot of the open space left on the Island. There are too many buildings going up.” While Geoffrey Frith, the president of Container Ship Management, thought it was wrong to supersede current Planning laws. “Why do we have a Planning Board and a Development Act if we do not use it?” he asked. “I am against the way it is being done. It seems to be going over the procedures that are in place.”
June 19. Shock and sadness were expressed yesterday over the death of former Deputy Governor Peter Lloyd, described as "one of the finest men" to serve Bermuda.Married to a Bermudian, Margaret Harvey after they met during a cruise off of Africa, it was Mr. Lloyd's work in the Foreign Service that brought him to Bermuda's shores in 1974. He served under three Governors until 1981 when he left for the Cayman Islands to be Governor in his final post for the British Government. And though he spent many years travelling for the Foreign Service, his son Charles said his parents never dreamed of retiring anywhere but Bermuda. He said: "My mom is Bermudian and they had traveled our whole lives so when he retired it was to go back to Bermuda. My uncle lives in Bermuda and we have a lot of family so it was an obvious place to retire to." Diagnosed only a month ago with a brain tumor, he was in London, England for treatment and, though his son said he was recovering well from his surgery on Friday, Sunday night he took a turn for the worse. However, his death leaves a legacy that not only survives from his diplomacy days, but also for his time spent in retirement in Bermuda. His first posting was as a District Officer in Kenya in 1951 until 1960. He became second in rank in the Colonial Service from 1960 to 1961 in Kenya before leaving to be the Colonial Secretary in the Seychelles until 1966. Other appointments before Bermuda included Fiji from 1966 to 1970 and Hong Kong from 1971 to 1974.
June 19. The Auditor General was arrested last night as the investigation into leaked documents alleging corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation took a new twist.Larry Dennis spent the night in custody at Prospect Police Station following a raid by detectives on the Office of the Auditor General. Flanked by four plain-clothed detectives and three uniformed officers, Mr. Dennis was escorted out of Victoria Hall at 7.15 p.m. and into the back of an unmarked Police car. Three boxes — one sealed with orange tape marked ‘Evidence’ — were placed in the boot of the vehicle. A source said last night that the raid was carried out in connection with the BHC investigation. Police descended on the offices of the Government fiscal watchdog at 3.45 p.m. yesterday. Uniformed officers stood guard in Reception while detectives carried out a search of documents in offices to the rear. Even the cleaner was turned away as detectives — one wearing forensic latex gloves — carried out a three-and-a-half hour investigation. Bemused staff refused to comment as they left the offices at 5.30 p.m. Then at 6.45 p.m. a young man dressed in blue T-shirt, khaki shorts and white trainers carried a white sealed cardboard box from the City Hall car park into the building, accompanied by Mr. Dennis’s wife, Nancy. The young man — a family relative — handed the box to waiting detectives and left immediately, as Police took the box into offices at the rear. Last night another source claiming to be “a friend of the family” said that Mr. Dennis had been threatened with imprisonment unless he produced documents connected with the BHC inquiry.
June 19. The media should not be gagged from reporting further revelations from a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) scandal, Chief Justice Richard Ground has ruled.However, the public should not expect more from the file which makes serious allegations against public figures including the Premier yet — the ruling will be challenged at the Court of Appeal today. Delivering his judgment at Supreme Court yesterday, Mr. Justice Ground said the balance between protecting the confidential Police file and upholding the constitutional right of the press to report serious allegations concerning important public figures favored the media in this case. “The (BHC) allegations are not gratuitous, in that there is some evidence to support them, as set out in the material so far reported. Nor do the allegations concern the private personal life of those concerned. They touch upon their conduct in office. In those circumstances, I think that the public interest is genuinely engaged, and this is not a case of the public being officiously interested in matters which do not concern them. I think, therefore, that the balance comes down firmly against restraining the media’s freedom (of) expression,” he said. Police Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief launched court action against the Island’s media outlets after ZBM and the Mid-Ocean News published extracts from the documents on May 23 and June 1 respectively. The leaked dossier — said to run to thousands of pages — reportedly revealed that Premier Ewart Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith, former Ministers Renée Webb and Arthur Hodgson and construction boss Zane DeSilva were investigated by Police looking into allegations of corruption at the BHC. When the probe concluded in 2004, then acting Director of Public Prosecutions Kulandra Ratneser said some of those investigated escaped prosecution due to Bermuda’s antiquated corruption laws. Only one person has been convicted since the BHC scandal, which is believed to have cost the taxpayer $8 million. Terrence Smith, a former BHC officer, was jailed last year on 41 counts of fraud. The Island’s media outlets united in opposing the bid to gag them from publishing more on the BHC probe, citing their right to freedom of expression. A hearing last week before Mr. Justice Ground heard how the Mid-Ocean News report prompted the Police to convert existing inquiries into the leak into a full-scale criminal investigation. Two arrests were made last week in connection with this. Mr. Justice Ground also heard that the whereabouts of the original documents are unknown, although copies have been recovered. The Commissioner and Attorney General asked for a ban on the so-far unpublished sections being reported, although the contents of these were not outlined during the hearing.
June 20. The Court of Appeal will rule next week on whether the Chief Justice was right not to stop the media reporting further revelations from a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) scandal.Mr. Justice Richard Ground ruled on Monday that the right of the public to know about the probe into serious allegations about public figures including Premier Ewart Brown outweighed concern that the file was a confidential Police document. Police Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief launched the action against the Island's media outlets after ZBM and the Mid-Ocean News published extracts from the documents on May 23 and June 1 respectively. The leaked dossier, said to run to thousands of pages, reportedly revealed that Dr. Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith, former Ministers Renee Webb and Arthur Hodgson and construction boss Zane DeSilva were investigated by Police looking into allegations of corruption at the BHC. The Commissioner and Attorney General asked for a ban on the so-far unpublished sections being reported, although the contents of these were not outlined during the hearing. Less than 24 hours after Mr. Justice Ground ruled against this, the pair took their fight to the Court of Appeal. The panel of three judges, President Justice Edward Zacca, Sir Austin Ward and Gerald Nazareth heard legal arguments yesterday and this morning. During submissions, there was a strongly-worded exchange between Saul Froomkin QC, for this newspaper and sister the Mid-Ocean News and Delroy Duncan for the appellants about the latest developments in the Police hunt for the source of the leak. This saw two men arrested and released last week, and Auditor General Larry Dennis arrested and released after 24 hours in custody in a move criticised by Mr. Froomkin. The appeals justices announced at the end of proceedings that they will rule at 10 am on Monday. In the interim period, they have ordered that Bermuda's broadcasting organizations and the Bermuda Sun should not report further material from the dossier until the appeal concludes. The Mid-Ocean News and The Royal Gazette have agreed to extend a previous undertaking made not to do.
June 20. The authorities mounted a challenge yesterday to the Chief Justice’s decision not to stop the media airing further material from a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) scandal. Mr. Justice Ground ruled on Monday that the right of the public to know about the high-profile probe into serious allegations about public figures including Premier Ewart Brown outweighed concern that the file was a confidential Police document. “The (BHC) allegations are not gratuitous, in that there is some evidence to support them, as set out in the material so far reported. Nor do the allegations concern the private personal life of those concerned. They touch upon their conduct in office,” he said at the time. “In those circumstances I think that the public interest is genuinely engaged, and this is not a case of the public being officiously interested in matters which do not concern them. I think, therefore, that the balance comes down firmly against restraining the media’s freedom (of) expression.” Police Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief launched the action against the Island’s media outlets after ZBM and the Mid-Ocean News published extracts from the documents on May 23 and June 1 respectively. The leaked dossier — said to run to thousands of pages—- reportedly revealed that Premier Ewart Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith, former Ministers Renée Webb and Arthur Hodgson and construction boss Zane DeSilva were investigated by Police looking into allegations of corruption at the BHC. The Commissioner and Attorney General asked for a ban on the so-far unpublished sections being reported, although the contents of these were not outlined during the hearing. Less than 24 hours after Mr. Justice Ground ruled against this, they took their fight to the Court of Appeal. Their lawyer, Delroy Duncan, repeated arguments made in front of Mr. Justice Ground last week, asking the appeals justices to find that the Chief Justice did not weigh the balance correctly. Mr. Duncan argued that the publication ban should be granted on grounds including that the documents are confidential. He also cited a fear of what Deputy Commissioner Roseanda Young called “more confidential, and possibly unsubstantiated information” being released.
June 20. A 23-year-old Bermuda icon is being dismantled over the next ten weeks to make way for newer and more efficient technology. The Cable and Wireless satellite Standard A Earth Station antenna, which has been a landmark since its construction in April, 1984 was the largest commercial satellite dish in the world measuring 30 meters wide and 300 metres in diameter. However, having to relay a signal to a satellite 24,000 miles away and then wait for the signal to return to Bermuda caused a second delay, which, is too long for the high speed modems so prevalent today. New fibre optic cable called Gemini Bermuda will increase communications capacity said Eddie Saints, Chief Executive of Cable and Wireless Bermuda, yesterday. "The fibre optic cables we will be introducing to replace the earth station will provide data communication at the speed of light. Much faster than what the satellite was doing, which will help with the broadband data. This will satisfy the growing demand for diverse, reliable high-speed data and broadband services, which cannot be provided by the smaller capacity of the current cable," he said. "It will also enable us to provide direct international access to all three diverse fibre optic cable systems serving Bermuda from our Teleport facility in Devonshire parish, benefiting Bermuda's International business and residential community." And introducing the cable is only one of a list of updates on the Cable and Wireless location. Other plans for the site are a new power plant with a data centre to support the company. The cost will be about $22 million for the updates and the 800-mile-long cable Gemini Bermuda, which will be operational by October 2007. Dismantling the satellite will take close to ten weeks and the contract, which was won by M.R. Construction, will be close to $750,000. And as of yesterday, one panel of the 400-tonne satellite dish had come down to make way for the Gemini Bermuda fibre optic cables, which will have 700 times more capacity than the previous cables attached to the satellite dish. It will run to Manasquawa, New Jersey where terminal equipment will be based. Cable and Wireless already runs two other fibre optic cables to Tortola and then onto the United States and from St. David's to Tuckertown, New Jersey. A third line with Gemini Bermuda, however, will help give the company back-up should one of the lines fail, according to Mr. Saints.
June 20. Members of the legal community said Premier Dr. Ewart Brown and former Minister Nelson Bascome have the right to sue the Island’s media organizations for libel and slander over allegations from a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) scandal. Two writs were filed at the Supreme Court Register shortly before 10 a.m. yesterday as the Police Commissioner and Attorney General began an appeal to overturn Monday’s ruling by the Chief Justice that the media should not be gagged from reporting more from the leaked file. The first writ, the 159th to be filed in 2007, stated: “Ewart F. Brown vs. 1) Bermuda Broadcasting Company 2) Bermuda Press (Holdings) Ltd. 3) DeFontes Broadcasting Company Ltd. 4) Bermuda Sun Limited.” Lawyer Charles Richardson is representing the Premier. The second writ stated: Nelson Blake Bascome vs. 1) Bermuda Broadcasting Company 2) Bermuda Press (Holdings) Ltd. 3) DeFontes Broadcasting Company Ltd. 4) Bermuda Sun Limited.” Mr. Bascome was formerly the Health Minister and he is being represented by Victoria Pearman. Mr. Richardson said neither he nor Ms Pearman would comment on the writs. Yesterday, lawyers said the Premier and former Minister should be allowed to pursue their legal options like anyone else, but some commented that a libel trial could prove to be very interesting because the politicians could have to take the stand.
June 20. The Bermuda Housing Corporation affair could bring the issue of whistleblower legislation back to the fore.More than a year ago, then Public Safety Minister Randy Horton pledged that a law to protect staff who highlight allegations of fraud and corruption would definitely be introduced to the Island. Mr. Horton was speaking amid clamor for an overhaul in the law in the wake of the BHC fraud trial which saw Terrence Smith jailed for eight years. He told the House of Assembly in May 2006: "The Government is pleased to state that there will be public and private sector whistleblower legislation on the agenda as part of our criminal law reforms." Since then, the Opposition United Bermuda Party has called for whistleblower legislation on a number of occasions, and has recently stated it will bring the law in if it gets into power. Countries operating whistleblower legislation include the UK, where individuals who disclose information to expose malpractice are protected from victimization and dismissal, and the US, where employees who call attention to violations are protected by a wide variety of federal and state laws.
June 20. Employees at the Bermuda Broadcasting Company walked out yesterday alleging poor working conditions and will return today on a “work to rule” basis, refusing to do overtime or other non-contractual requests.ZBM’s 7 p.m. news broadcast was scrapped as around 35 staff were locked in talks with elements of the board last night with a shop steward voicing disgruntlement over the lack of a pay rise for four years, poor working conditions and equipment which is always breaking down. One source said: “We always get promises they are going to address things but nothing ever happens.” Another meeting with management is planned for 8.30 this morning. At lunchtime yesterday workers formed a picket line outside the ZBM/ZFB Radio and Television Studios in Prospect, Devonshire. Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) president Chris Furbert said: “They are not happy with the way management is treating them. They have had enough of the working conditions, lack of conditions, and the work environment. They said they will not be doing any work until they meet with the board to put issues on the table. It was supposed to be cleared up some time ago. Hopefully the issues will be addressed at a board meeting.”
June 20. Plummeting popularity levels and mounting controversy could cost Premier Ewart Brown his job, a Government MP predicted last night.The parliamentarian said the furor surrounding the Premier just eight months into his leadership was causing even former supporters to question his worth. Recently Dr. Brown risked a constitutional crisis after threatening to suspend relations with the Governor who he blamed for not protecting leaked Police files from the probe into the Bermuda Housing Corporation. The fall-out has seen media gags, the arrest of the Auditor General and the Premier announcing his intention to sue the media. The MP, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed people in the Premier’s own party and even within Cabinet, were voicing concern. “The people lobbying to get him in last time are the people most upset now whereas the people who didn’t support him are saying: ‘We told you so’. People gave him the benefit of the doubt and hoped he would pull his socks up. There’s disquiet. It reflects badly on the party. I don’t know what is going to happen. I know some of the MPs are definitely upset and some Cabinet members are definitely upset with respect to what’s going on. It tarnishes the Cabinet as well as other MPs in parliament and members of the party.”
June 20. Premier Dr. Ewart Brown and former Government Minister Nelson Bascome are suing the Island’s media organizations for libel and slander over revelations from a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation scandal.The writs were filed at Supreme Court yesterday morning, minutes before the Police Commissioner and Attorney General mounted an appeal against Monday’s ruling by the Chief Justice that the media should not be gagged from further reports on the leaked file. Lawyers Charles Richardson, representing Dr. Brown, and Victoria Pearman, representing Mr. Bascome, asked the Court of Appeal at 10 am to halt the appeal until their clients’ libel action — launched at 9.52 am according to Ms Pearman — was heard at Supreme Court. The Premier and Mr. Bascome are suing the same media organizations subjected to attempts by the Police Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief to stop them publishing further extracts. They are the Bermuda Broadcasting Corporation, Bermuda Press Holdings — publishers of this newspaper and sister paper the Mid-Ocean News — DeFontes Broadcasting Company and the Bermuda Sun.
June 20. The Auditor General was yesterday released from Police custody 24 hours after detectives investigating the leaking of documents over allegations of corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation raided his offices. Police executed a search of the home of Auditor General Larry Dennis before releasing him on bail. No charges have been filed and Mr. Dennis was told he was bailed to report back to Hamilton Police Station on August 22. Politicians last night branded his arrest a “witch hunt”, with the United Bermuda Party saying “things have gone too far”. As detectives accompanied the Auditor General in a search of his home yesterday, this reporter and a Royal Gazette photographer were pulled over by Police officers and warned not to continue our observations. All of this happened on a momentous day for press freedom and free speech in Bermuda — when an appeal by the Attorney General and the Police for an injunction against further media reporting of the leaked dossier was briefly stalled, the reason being that Premier Dr. Ewart Brown and Government MP Nelson Bascome have filed writs against the Island’s media for libel and slander. Lawyers for Dr. Brown and Mr. Bascome argued the injunction should stay in place — effectively silencing the media from reporting any further information from the file — until the libel hearing. The bid was rejected by the court. Mr. Dennis was arrested and placed in custody on Monday following a raid on his Hamilton offices. Detectives removed three boxes — one marked “evidence” — believed to contain copies of the documents leaked to the media. The Auditor General was taken to Prospect Police Station and then transferred to Hamilton Police Station for interview at 11a.m. yesterday. At 2.45 p.m. Mr. Dennis left with three detectives in an unmarked car to accompany them on a search of his home in Smith’s parish. The Royal Gazette followed but at 2.55 p.m. our vehicle was stopped in Middle Road near Tee Street by two Police officers on motorbikes. Despite being on a public road, we were asked for a driving licence and proof of insurance, then asked: “Why are you following that car? We have to ask you to desist. You are interfering with an investigation.”
June 21. The death has occurred at age 85 of well-known businessman Malcolm Lloyd Gosling, former president and chief executive officer of Gosling Brothers, who retired two years ago as its chairman.Born on May 1, 1922, Mr. Gosling was educated at Saltus Grammar School, Ridley College in Canada, and Pennsylvania University. In 1942, during the Second World War, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, and was trained in Quebec before being posted to England, where he served as a Pilot Officer. At the end of hostilities, Mr. Gosling returned to Bermuda before proceeding to Toronto University, where he gained a business degree, and then joined the family business, with which he remained until his retirement in 2005. His business acumen was held in high esteem throughout the firm. In addition to being a successful businessman, Malcolm Gosling was also an avid sportsman whose name was synonymous with tennis and golf. For many years he was one of Bermuda’s best tennis players, and achieved a similar standing when later he switched to golf. A former president of the Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association, Mr. Gosling was also a member of the Coral Beach Club, the Riddell’s Bay Golf Club, the Mid-Ocean Club, and for many years was president of the Bermuda Golf Association. In 1994 the Bermuda Government honored him with a Special Achievement Award for his distinguished and sustained contributions to tennis and golf. Mr. Gosling retained many connections with Second World War-related organizations. A life member of the Royal Air Force Association and Royal Canadian Air Force 407 Squadron, he was also treasurer of the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps Overseas Association, a former president of the Bermuda War Veterans Association, and trustee of its Poppy Appeal Fund. Mourning Mr. Gosling’s loss are his wife Mary, whom he married in Vancouver in 1950, daughters Nancy, Nea and Penny, son Edmund Malcolm, sister Nea Willits, and nine grandchildren. Predeceasing him were brothers Edmund (Teddy) and Francis (Goose). Funeral arrangements are pending.
June 21. The Auditor General was arrested for alleged possession of stolen documents and not revealing his source, according to reports last night.Larry Dennis was arrested on Monday and detained in Police custody for 24 hours before being released at 4.15 p.m. on Tuesday. Detectives searched his Hamilton offices and his home in Smith’s in the hunt for the source of a Police dossier leaked to the media which claimed Premier Dr. Ewart Brown and members of the Government were investigated over alleged corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation. On his release, Mr. Dennis would not say why he was arrested but that “no charges” were filed and that he was bailed to return to Hamilton Police Station on August 22. A source, however, told The Royal Gazette last night: “He was arrested because he would not reveal the source of his information. The official charge was that he was handling stolen goods and not revealing the source. The Police have the copies, but the Supreme Court said a few weeks ago that copies are not stolen documents.” A Police spokesman refused to comment on Mr. Dennis’s arrest, saying: “The Bermuda Police Service reserves its comment for the appropriate place and time.” The whereabouts of the original Police dossier into the BHC allegations is unknown. In the legal wrangle over the media’s publication of the file’s contents, Chief Justice Richard Ground said in the Supreme Court that it was unclear whether the documents had been stolen or whether they had simply been copied and distributed to the media. Last night Mr. Dennis would not comment, but said he was shocked to become the subject of a Police investigation. “I was horrified and angered by what was happening,” he said. “However, I can’t complain about how it was done and the treatment by the investigating team.” Mr. Dennis — the Government’s fiscal watchdog — has continually called for more legislative protection for ‘whistleblowers’. In his 2006 Annual Report, which stated $800 million of public funds were unaccounted for, Mr. Dennis said: “One recommendation (in Appendix Two) requires special mention this year. In my 2003, 2004 and 2005 annual reports I expressed concern at the number of frauds and misappropriations that were detected in recent years in Government entities. “In my 2004 report I recommended that the Ministry of Finance consider seeking ‘whistleblower’ legislation to encourage public employees to report apparent malpractice or other wrongdoings, and to protect employees who do so. “The legislation should be supported by practices that demonstrate that reported malpractices are investigated fully without fear or favour, that whistleblowers are protected, and that perpetrators of misappropriations and fraud are dealt with firmly.”
June 21. Social Rehabilitation Minister Dale Butler denies there is a whispering campaign within the PLP against Premier Ewart Brown.Two PLP MPs told yesterday’s Royal Gazette that supporters were turning on Dr. Brown after recent controversies which has seen him threaten to suspend relations with the Governor and launch a libel action against the press. The hunt for the missing Bermuda Housing Corporation documents has also seen Auditor General spend 24 hours in a Police cell and Government launching legal action to stop the media from publishing more revelations. One MP claimed the dissent had reached Cabinet level with some believing Dr. Brown had become a liability.
June 21. A 22-year-old holidaymaker plunged four decks of a cruise ship and later died in hospital after apparently trying to slide down a banister after a night out in St. George’s.Richard Mulloy, from Boston, Massachusetts, was pronounced dead at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital just after 3 a.m. yesterday after the accident on board the Norwegian Majesty, which is berthed at Ordnance Island. Police confirmed last night that they received a report of the fall onboard the Norwegian Cruise Line ship at about 1.15 am and were investigating the death. “It appears that Mr. Mulloy had returned to the ship with his cousin after they had a few drinks together at a nearby St. George’s establishment,” said a Police spokesman. “Around 12.25 a.m. the men were on the fifth deck of the ship intending to go to the disco on the seventh deck when the 22-year-old American man fell from the fifth deck to the first deck. “Two nurses on board attended the scene and discovered the victim in an unresponsive state. They immediately gave him CPR and tended to a head wound sustained from the fall. Mr. Mulloy was then rushed to KEMH via ambulance where he subsequently succumbed to his injuries at 3.11 a.m. and was pronounced dead by an on-call physician.”
June 22. Mistakes have been revealed in Government documents which classed up to 150 charities as ‘delinquent’ for failing to get their accounts in order.The Registrar General admitted there were errors in a Senate report which listed 98 non-profit organizations as failing to submit their accounts within a year of the fiscal year end, and 149 failing to do so within six months. The Bank of Bermuda Foundation and Women’s Resource Centre “were listed in error” according to the department. Registrar General Marlene Christopher told The Royal Gazette: “The Registrar General wishes to apologize to the Bank of Bermuda Foundation and the Women’s Resource Centre for inadvertently including their organizations in the list of delinquent charities provided to the Senate last week.” She added that during the past week financial returns have been received from: Bermuda Olympic Association, The Bermuda Regiment Charitable Trust, The Coalition for the Protection of Children, Bermuda Bible Society and Hamilton Rotary. More than a third of Bermuda’s charities were listed as ‘delinquent’ in the Senate report, presented by Sen. Wayne Caines, Junior Minister for Labour and Immigration, in response to a Parliamentary Question by Sen. Gina Spence Farmer, Shadow Minister for Community and Cultural Affairs. Sen. Spence Farmer asked for the names of registered charities which had failed to submit accounts to the Registrar General within six months and one year of their last financial year, as required by The Charities Act 1978.
June 22. Communications consultant Kathryn Gibbons has been elected as a Common Councillor, the Corporation of Hamilton announced yesterday.Mrs. Gibbons — the wife of United Bermuda Party education spokesman Grant Gibbons — fought off competition from rival candidates Peter Aldrich, Irvin Hendrickson and David Sullivan. She will share responsibility for managing the City of Hamilton with Mayor Sutherland Madeiros, three Aldermen and four other Common Councillors. Mrs. Gibbons, who also works as a freelance writer and editor, previously spent five years as director of marketing and communications for six Gibbons Group companies. Before moving to Bermuda 25 years ago, she held managerial positions in marketing and communications for a number group of companies in the US. Mrs. Gibbons said: “I am delighted to have been elected. I look forward to serving the City of Hamilton and the people who live, work and play in it every day.” Mr. Madeiros said: “On behalf of the Corporation of Hamilton, I would like to congratulate Kathryn on being elected as a Common Councillor. I was particularly pleased that we had such a diverse group of candidates competing for the position and I would like to thank them for their interest and participation. Kathryn has a strong communications background and I think she will bring a great deal of talent and energy to the Corporation.” A second election for the post of Common Councillor, to replace newly appointed Alderman Courtland Boyle, will be set in due course.
June 23. Bermuda is planning to bury its 550 containers of asbestos at the Government quarry, Works and Engineering Minister Dennis Lister has revealed.He said the asbestos was stored in shipping containers at two locations — with 420 at the Government quarry and 130 at the former US Baselands in Southside. Responding in written answers to parliamentary questions from Shadow Works and Engineering Minister Jon Brunson, Mr Lister said Government had approved a report by Atkins Consulting of the UK that recommended disposal of the stored asbestos through burial at the Government quarry.
June 23. Developers are advertising for hotel staff for Southlands despite the resort still awaiting the go-ahead of a Special Development Order.More than 40 applicants — mainly Bermudians — have already registered their interest, although developers Southlands Ltd. say there is no official advertisement as yet. Controversial plans for the 300-suite Jumeirah Southlands resort are currently awaiting the final decision of Environment Minister Neletha Butterfield. The five-star cliff side resort would be operated by the Jumeirah Group and offer tourist accommodation in a variety of suites and condominiums. Situated along Warwick's South Shore it will feature 300 balcony suites, five restaurants and bars, a nightclub, spa, pools, equestrian centre and a conference centre. Jumeirah Southlands would be the first 'luxury resort' to be constructed in Bermuda for 35 years. Environmentalists and residents campaigning against the 37-acre resort want to protect the land as open space. They say the development will destroy the shore line and natural habitats, as well as increasing congestion on surrounding roads. The Dubai-based Jumeirah Group aims to open the 497-bed resort by the summer of 2008, pending the SDO and approval of building permits.
June 25. Bermuda has been likened to a “Police state” by Cayman Islands commentators reflecting on the arresting of Auditor General Larry Dennis.Cayman Net News has urged its own Government not to “dare follow the Bermuda model” should events similar to the Bermuda Housing Corporation affair happen there. They add that the Caymans stands to benefit by attracting new and existing international businesses put off by any damage to the Island’s reputation as an offshore financial centre. In an editorial on Friday last week, Cayman Net News stated: “Our sister British Dependent Territory, Bermuda, is often held up as an example for the Cayman Islands . . . but recent events there have cast great doubt on the wisdom of such a proposition, and should serve as a lesson for the government and the voters here.” The article refers to “bluster and threats” from Premier Ewart Brown towards Governor Sir John Vereker, before adding: “The Bermuda government has also reacted to the publication of embarrassing reports by raiding the offices of local media organizations and the offices of the auditor general. Even more astonishingly, in a move typical of a police state, the auditor general himself, whose office (as in the Cayman Islands) oversees the Government’s fiscal conduct, has been arrested. We hope that none of our own government officials would dare to follow the Bermuda model should similar events occur here.”
June 25. The United Bermuda Party is in London this week to discuss its call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Bermuda Housing Corporation investigation.Opposition Leader Michael Dunkley and Deputy Leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, along with Cole Simons and Dr. Grant Gibbons, will meet with members of the British government and Parliamentary officials. Today they will meet with Sir Philip Mawer, who is the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, as well as members of the House of Commons Committee for Standards in Public Life. Tomorrow they plan to meet senior officers at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office with responsibilities for Bermuda. A spokesman said: “Their meetings will also be used to underscore United Bermuda Party concerns about recent events related to the BHC investigation and their call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry. They believe that the people of Bermuda have a right to know what happened with the BHC investigation and the handling of that investigation as it has a direct bearing on their confidence and trust in government and the criminal justice system." The call for the Commission came after The Royal Gazette’s sister paper The Mid-Ocean News ran a story from a leaked Police dossier centering on allegations of corruption at the BHC. The documents reportedly revealed that Premier Ewart Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith and former Ministers Nelson Bascome and Renée Webb were all investigated by fraud squad officers looking into the BHC allegations.
June 25. Work on the Land Title Regulation Bill is expected to start in the autumn.The bill will change the way in which deeds and documents are dealt with following the completion of certain property transactions. It will also mean that all deeds will be held at the office of the Land Title Registry Office — instead of at people’s homes or at the Registry General. Minister of Works and Engineering Dennis Lister told the House of Assembly: “The process of the Land Title Registration will then involve the legal authentication of rights or interests in a parcel of land and the creation of a definitive record of ownership in the form of the Land Title Register following which it will no longer be necessary to undertake lengthy investigation of title each time a property is sold or mortgaged.” He added that it will reduce the likelihood of disputes concerning ownership. Already a Project Team has been established and includes land registration professionals, lawyers and surveyors. They have been holding public meetings as well as other stakeholders. The team have also created a Public Consultation Document which has been published on the Government website, gov.bm.
June 25. After serving 12 years as the Anglican Bishop of Bermuda, Bishop Ewan Ratteray announced his retirement, which will take place next year.Bishop Ratteray has served the second longest stint in office after that of Bishop Arthur Heber Browne who was in this position for 24 years. Sixty-six years-old when he relinquishes his post on March 30 next year, Bishop Ratteray said he gave notice now so that the church had plenty of time to think and pray for a suitable successor. Bishop Ratteray said: 'It is my hope that the life of the Diocese will continue to prosper and grow in the years to come under a new Father in God." The Archbishop of Canterbury, who has authority over Bishops of the Diocese of Bermuda, has been informed and the Synod of the Anglican Church of Bermuda was told in a meeting on Saturday.
June 25. Pressure on doctors has been eased by a new on-call system at the Maternity Ward at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, Health Minister Michael Scott told fellow MPs.An obstetrician — childbirth specialist — is now available at weekends, thus giving a break to medics who would otherwise be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Minister said the new system was one of the most significant new initiatives of the year as he tabled Bermuda Hospitals Board’s annual report for 2005-06. Other projects throughout the year included the changing of the name of St. Brendan’s mental health facility to the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute to break the stigma associated with the institution. The hospital also launched an Ethics Consultation Service, to help patients and families deal with the often complex decisions related to care and the impact those decisions have on their lives. Experts at the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation praised the move, according to Mr. Scott. Meanwhile, BHB supported a total of 14 post-secondary students and staff with scholarships, giving them the chance to pursue academic studies in areas of healthcare including nursing, occupational therapy, psychology, physical therapy, pharmacy, social work and diagnostic imaging. Mr. Scott pledged the hospitals would become “truly centres of excellence” under the new leadership of BHB chairman Herman Tucker and CEO David Hill, with outside help from American consultants Kurron Shares. He said the Johns Hopkins review, due for completion in the coming weeks, would help this.
June 25. The Court of Appeal this morning upheld the decision of the Chief Justice not to gag the media from reporting further revelations from a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) scandal.However, the ruling does not mean full details of the top-secret file are likely to become public just yet. The Police Commissioner and Attorney General, who have been seeking the injunction against the media, are now seeking permission to take their fight to the Privy Council in London, the highest court of appeal in the UK. It was revealed in court this morning that the Privy Council was poised to hear legal arguments about this at 10.30 a.m. this morning, just 30 minutes after the Court of Appeal delivered its ruling. However, President Justice Edward Zacca said this was not necessary. Instead, he and fellow judges Gerald Nazareth and Sir Austin Ward will hear lawyer Delroy Duncan, representing Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief, argue in favour of going to the Privy Council tomorrow morning. Saul Froomkin QC, representing this newspaper and sister paper the Mid-Ocean News told the court he would oppose this. In the meantime, the judges ordered that Bermuda's broadcasting organizations and the Bermuda Sun should not report further material from the dossier until the matter is decided. The Mid-Ocean News and The Royal Gazette have agreed to extend a previous undertaking made not to do. The judges also ordered the Police Commissioner and Attorney General to pay the legal costs of the media organizations relating to the appeal.
June 26. Premier Ewart Brown launched a stinging attack on the justice system after the Court of Appeal refused to gag the media over a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) corruption allegations.The Police and Attorney General — who pressed for the reporting blackout — will today make a last ditch attempt to appeal the decision before the Privy Council, the highest possible court. Dr. Brown has accused the Opposition of engineering the leak in a pre-election bid to destabilize his Government, and has initiated libel action against the media over published extracts from the dossier. According to a statement from Dr. Brown’s spokesman Glenn Jones, if the Privy Council bid fails to gag further publications: “Bermuda’s long standing supremacist oligarchy would be vested with legal license to intensify the ongoing UBP/media tyranny.” The statement conveys the Premier’s anger at yesterday’s Court of Appeal verdict, which cemented a ruling by Chief Justice Richard Ground that freedom of the press to report on the BHC probe outweighs concern that the documents are confidential. “This is a disappointing day for all Bermuda’s innocent citizens. Our judiciary has taught us confidential documents related to Police investigations are fit to print - even if the subjects of the investigation have been fully exonerated of criminal wrongdoing,” he said.
June 26. Hours after the Mid-Ocean News published revelations from the leaked BHC Police files the Premier was on national TV threatening to withdraw cooperation with the Governor unless he helped to catch the leakers.That statement alone, made before Government stoked up the pressure further by attempting to gag the media from using more from the files, prompted viewers throughout Bermuda to ask themselves 'What is he so afraid of?' In the same public address the Premier said the BHC investigation had exonerated him from any unlawful act. Yet rather than leave it there Dr. Brown went on the offensive claiming a "politically linked conspiracy involving high offices" was behind the leak. The Premier's handling of the whole affair has been questioned by numerous commentators including critics within his own party. One PLP MP, speaking on condition of anonymity last week, told The Royal Gazette: "It is not so much what has been reported. Are there other things coming? No one has anyway of knowing. They don't know, that's the point. "People are very concerned, they want to see what else is there, they want the gag lifted." Last week the Premier indicated he wasn't afraid of further revelations. He told Hott 107.5 radio: "I want to repeat — they can reveal anything they have in the file about me personally. I know that we are totally in the clear and have been exonerated after an investigation that apparently included Scotland Yard, the FBI and Homeland Security, so there was no issue there." However he dismissed calls for him to answer specific allegations leveled at him in the leaked Police dossier. He said: "Where do I start? Am I supposed to start answering allegations just because they're included in a Police investigation? 'When did you stop beating your wife?' and then it becomes ridiculous and I think it's demeaning, it's embarrassing, it's insulting."
June 26. Attempts by the Attorney General and Police Commissioner to gag the media over a leaked Police dossier over the Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) corruption allegations will be heard in the UK.Their lawyer, Delroy Duncan, was this morning successful in persuading Bermuda's Court of Appeal to refer the matter to the Privy Council in London as a matter of "major public importance". However, the media remains temporarily gagged until the appeal is heard which could take months. Mr. Duncan argued this morning that the appeal would be rendered pointless if the media is not barred from making further revelations in the meantime. Bermuda's broadcasting organizations and the Bermuda Sun have been banned by first the Supreme Court and later the Court of Appeal from reporting further material since the injunction proceedings were launched by the AG and Commissioner earlier this month. The Court of Appeal panel - President Justice Edward Zacca, Sir Austin Ward and Gerald Nazareth - said they had no power to extend the order. Meanwhile, the Mid-Ocean News and The Royal Gazette have on a number of occasions agreed to extend a voluntary undertaking not to publish further extracts from the dossier. However, Saul Froomkin QC, representing those newspapers, told the court this morning: "They are now in a position where they say they are not able or prepared to give an undertaking and if they are going to be prevented from publishing in the public interest, they want some court to tell them that." However, Mr. Duncan then revealed that the Privy Council was in fact sitting in London simultaneously with this morning's Bermuda court hearing.
June 26. "Bring it on." That was Michael Dunkley’s response after Premier Ewart Brown claimed re-opening a Police probe into illegal drugs involving Dunkley’s Dairy staff could prove embarrassing for the Opposition leader.And Mr. Dunkley said the Premier was seeking to shift the emphasis from embarrassing allegations coming out of the leaked BHC files. Yesterday Dr. Brown voiced his dismay at the Supreme Court ruling which he said meant all confidential Police files were fit to print. That decision meant other people could be persecuted even though they were never prosecuted said Dr. Brown. He added: “The Opposition Leader comes to mind because we all know a former employee at his company was prosecuted for smuggling drugs while on the job. “It’s my understanding Police questioned Mr. Dunkley. If those Dunkley Police files were stolen from the confines of the Police Department and splashed in the newspapers, it would be grossly unfair; I expect there would be a lot of embarrassing, if not suspicious, information about the Opposition Leader in those old Police files. It would be wrong for those unproven investigative findings to become media fodder.” And the Premier continued that the Opposition Party Chairman Shawn Crockwell also came to mind. He said Mr. Crockwell was: “An ex-con who infamously stole $600,000 worth of drugs from the courts. Only about $100,000 of the stolen drugs was ever recovered, according to published reports. But the UBP Chairman served his time and as far as the community is concerned he repaid his debt. If someone conspired to sensationalize his 10-year-old Police files in the press, I would be eager to help him fight off the conspirators - even though much of what he took is still missing. This legal fight is not only about protecting the innocent, but the rehabilitated as well. It is about protecting the good names and good reputations of all citizens.” Speaking from London where he has been meeting British politicians and diplomats, Mr. Dunkley said the Premier was “desperate and irrational. The fact of the matter is with the drug case two individuals were tried and convicted. I am happy to have that case opened up. I have nothing to hide and would be pleased to let it be in the public domain. If he wants to be rehashing it then fine — I doubt he wants to take that challenge. He said I was questioned — I was never questioned as a suspect, I was questioned as a witness and I went on the stand.” Two years ago two former Dunkley’s Dairy employees were convicted of conspiracy to import close to $3 million worth of marijuana in October 2003 in a Dunkley’s Dairy container. Michael Madeiros, 41 and Steven Flood, 39, were sentenced to ten year’s imprisonment.
June 26. The leader of the Opposition condemned the Premier for leading the Island down a path that will lead to “no good”.Michael Dunkley spoke after Premier Dr. Ewart Brown claimed a UBP victory would mean a return of the 40 Thieves, a small white oligarchy that once ran the country. Mr. Dunkley said: “The Bermuda public has in the last 24 hours watched Dr. Ewart Brown lash out at people in a manner that demeans the Office of the Premier and insults people. “The Premier’s comment that a UBP victory at the polls would mean a return of the 40 Thieves to power is almost beneath comment, but not quite. Beyond the fact that it is hugely insulting to the good men and women of the UBP team, who have come together from all walks of life to build a better Bermuda, Dr. Brown is once again resorting to his “back to the plantation” rhetoric, which is very much about manufacturing bogeymen and conspiracies and very little about Bermuda today.” One must keep in mind that the Premier’s comments were made before and after the Court of Appeal judgment on matters related to the BHC scandal. It is clear he is trying to stir up enough controversy to cloud the hard realities of the BHC reports, which indicated widespread corruption at the highest levels of our government.” Mr. Dunkley also said Dr. Brown’s suggestion that the UBP leaked the allegedly stolen police dossier was incorrect, and a “red herring”. He reiterated that the UBP has condemned the leak and supported a Police investigation into the matter. He added that the author - ‘Son of Soil’ - of an email sent across the Island airing many of the allegations which the press have been barred from reporting claimed to be a disillusioned PLP supporter. Mr. Dunkley said: “The fact is that the Premier is not dealing with the allegations revealed in the BHC reports, and this must be a concern for everyone who wants Bermuda to do the right thing. Right now, people are wondering where his regime is taking the country. Everyday international press coverage is calling into question our commitment to open, democratic government, with some media even invoking the specter of Bermuda as a Police state. It is all hugely disappointing and disturbing. “We think the Premier would do well to explain himself fully. Right now, this Government is doing everything in its power to prevent people from knowing the truth.” He added that his party felt the Island could benefit, now more than ever, from a Royal Commission into the scandal.
June 26. A representative of the Post Office’s Philatelic Bureau will be travelling to the 2007 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. this week.Stanley Taylor, will take part in the festival themed “Roots of Virginia Culture” in keeping with the 400th Anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia. As part of the celebration, the bureau will present Senator John Warner (Rep. Virginia) a complimentary First Day Cover and full set of philatelic items from the Bermuda to Jamestown commemorative series that was released last week. The presentation will take place on June 27 in the Russell Senate Building. According to a press release, Recently, Bermuda has been acknowledging the historical ties between Jamestown, Virginia. In April, the Bermuda Regiment Band and other local bands travelled to the US to perform at the Virginia Tattoo. And again on June 21 when the Philatelic Bureau released its latest commemorative stamp series honoring Jamestown.
June 26. Friday marks the closure of the Medical Clinic and Government admits not all of the patients have been transferred to doctors. The impending closure was announced in the Premier’s Throne Speech in November, last year and the Ministry of Health along with the Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) have been coordinating the transfer of patients.In one last attempt to speak to patients the BHB announced a final closed meeting for tomorrow at 3.30 p.m. in the first floor conference room of the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. However, last week Permanent Secretary of Health Warren Jones conceded there was no way all patients will be transferred before the clinic doors close on Friday. “We recognize that some of the clients will not have been into the clinic before it ceases to provide clinical services,” he said. “Although it will no longer provide clinical services, there will be assistance available after June 30 for those patients to transfer to a physician. We encourage those who have not, to go to the clinic to receive assistance to transfer to a physician.” Mr. Jones further stated that if patients or participating physicians have questions they can contact the Chief Medical officer Dr. John Cann, the director of clinical services at BHB Kathy Lewis or himself at the Ministry of Health. The clinic, which will close on Friday, has been at the centre of controversy after Premier Ewart Brown announced its termination in the Throne Speech last November. In his speech, the Premier explained the clinic must be closed because of the assault on the patients dignity having to go to one clinic due to their financial situation. However, those opposed to the plan and some clinic patients demanded answers by collecting thousands of signatures and organizing two protest marches. At the end of May, the Ministry of Health mailed a pamphlet detailing the transition plan for the Medical Clinic patients to every resident on the Island. And on June 15, the newly appointed Minister of Health, Michael Scott read out the names of 23 doctors who will be available to patients of the closing clinic.
June 26. A Bermuda hotel has started work on a multi-million dollar new development, expected to be complete by the 2009 tourist season.The Reefs’ new project, a Private Residence Club (PRC) expected to cost “north of $50 million”, will be comprised of 19 two-and-three bedroom residences and will feature a spa on the patio of every unit. Residents will also have access to an infinity pool, whirlpool, club lounge and state-of-the-art fitness centre. The PRC will be located immediately west of The Reefs property and owner and Shadow Tourism Minister David Dodwell admits that he began looking at developing the area more than 25 years ago. He didn’t obtain the land until 2004 but calls the endeavor a “dream come true”. The units have been on sale for the past three weeks — $345,000 for a two-bedroom unit and $370,000 for three bedrooms - and have been selling well according to Mr. Dodwell.
June 27. The most senior law lords in the UK will determine whether Bermuda’s media can report on a leaked Police dossier containing allegations about the Premier and other politicians — but their decision could be up to a year away.The Court of Appeal yesterday agreed to an application from the Attorney General and Police Commissioner to have the Privy Council in London decide whether Chief Justice Richard Ground was right to rule that the freedom of the press to report the allegations outweighed concern about the confidentiality of the file. Shadow Justice Minister John Barritt warned last night that the decision to take the case to the highest possible court for a British overseas territory could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars — but legal consultant and Progressive Labour Party supporter Julian Hall claimed it was the only way to get a “pure legal decision”. In the meantime, the Island’s media remains temporarily gagged from reporting on the Police file, which concerns an investigation into corruption at Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC). Saul Froomkin QC, representing The Royal Gazette and its sister paper the Mid-Ocean News, told the Court of Appeal yesterday morning that the Government’s appeal against Mr. Justice Ground’s decision could take between eight and 12 months to be heard. He said the media would be prevented from publishing anything until then, despite winning two previous court hearings on the matter. AG Sen. Philip Perinchief and Police Commissioner George Jackson first applied for an injunction against all media after the Mid-Ocean News published stories on June 1 containing details from the BHC file. ZBM television news broadcast extracts on May 23. Mr. Justice Ground refused the application on June 18 and the Court of Appeal upheld his decision on Monday. Their judgment said: “We are unable to say that the learned Chief Justice wrongly exercised his discretion and we dismiss the appeal with costs.”
June 27. Britain has sounded the warning bells to corrupt and politically backward colonies — shape up or the Governor will sort you out.In a paper being circulated to Premiers and Chief Ministers of all the Overseas Territories, Lord Triesman, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said some jurisdictions were better managed than Britain. But he said others had governance issues. The paper, an updated version of a 2003, document said: "In certain Territories there are governance issues which need to be addressed — including corruption, financial management and regulation of financial services. In some cases, the lack of developed civil society, strong legislature and/or vibrant press mean there are few checks on the executive. The geographical location and size of some of the Overseas Territories make them vulnerable to drug-trafficking and associated crime." Lord Triesman has asked Governors to make it widely available locally and it has now been placed on the Bermuda Government House website and the website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. But it was unclear last night what lay behind the reissuing of the paper which had only tiny amendments from the one issued four years ago, although it was thought allegations about the sale of Crown lands in Turks and Caicos might have been a factor. Asked if any of the memo was a directed at Bermuda, Deputy Governor Mark Capes said: "The document reflects the reports and views of all the overseas territories." The document says Britain's remaining territories vary considerably. It goes on: "Many of the Overseas Territories have made great strides in their own development. In some, standards of governance and implementation of international standards are equal to, or in some cases exceed, the standards in the UK. In others governance and implementation issues have given rise to concern. If not addressed, as well as having serious implications for the well-being of Overseas Territories citizens, they could give rise to significant contingent liabilities for the UK." The paper urged Governors to keep a close watch to ensure, among other things:
June 27. Principals, teachers and others working in the Island’s public schools will meet tomorrow to air fears that they are being left out of plans for crucial educational reform.The leaders of Bermuda Union of Teachers, the Association of School Principals and Bermuda Public Services Union claim Government is failing to involve or inform their organizations about changes planned for September. Mike Charles, general secretary of the BUT, told The Royal Gazette last night that an interim executive board set up in the wake of last month’s damning Hopkins Report - which concluded that the public school system was “on the brink of meltdown” - was meeting in secret to decide how to implement recommendations for improvement and excluding teachers from discussions. The board - chaired by Bank of Butterfield chief executive officer Philip Butterfield - has been tasked with pushing through improvements recommended by UK professor David Hopkins and his team, who carried out a review into the failing public school system earlier this year.
June 27. Opposition leaders hammered home their concerns over the plight of Auditor General Larry Dennis to Foreign Office officials in London yesterday.Opposition leader Michael Dunkley and party colleagues met Helen Nellthrop, the deputy head of the Overseas Territories Directorate, and her staff. Mr. Dunkley told The Royal Gazette: "The Premier's recent behavior and the Bermuda Housing Corporation scenario got an airing — and the arrest of the Auditor General. We spent a lot of time talking about that — talking about accountability and the independence of the Auditor General." The UBP quartet, which includes Deputy Leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin and MPs Cole Simons and Grant Gibbons had planned to push for a Royal Commission into the Bermuda Housing Corporation investigation during their trip. Mr. Dunkley said London was already aware of that initiative. "It's something they would consider but until all the legal hurdles are cleared I told them it was premature to move forward and they agreed with that. But it's definitely on the table." And the team also pressed for assurances that the Independence issue would only be decided by referendum. Mr. Dunkley said the meetings were just a starting point while he also said he had fruitful talks with other figures including the Shadow Trade and Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.
June 27. Sources close to Auditor General Larry Dennis claimed last night that he had been authorized by former Police Commissioner Jonathan Smith to hold Police documents relating to the Bermuda Housing Corporation corruption investigation.Last week, Police hunting the documents raided both Mr. Dennis’ home and office for the papers and Mr. Dennis was arrested and held in Police custody for 24 hours before being released uncharged. However the source said: “He had permission to have those Police files — anything to do with the BHC investigation.” The Royal Gazette understands a member of the Auditor General’s staff worked side by side with Police for most of the inquiry in what was labeled as the largest ever investigation into the disappearance of public funds. It was also claimed both Government and Government House were aware of the arrangement. The Auditor General was arrested for alleged possession of stolen documents and not revealing his source as Police hunted a dossier leaked to the media which claimed Premier Dr. Ewart Brown and members of the Government were investigated over alleged corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation. He has been bailed to return to Hamilton Police Station on August 22. Mr. Dennis — the Government’s fiscal watchdog — has continually called for more legislative protection for “whistleblowers” as he has hit out at the number of frauds and misappropriations that were detected in recent years in Government entities. The whereabouts of the original Police dossier into the BHC allegations is unknown. In the legal wrangle over the media’s publication of the file’s contents, Chief Justice Richard Ground said in the Supreme Court that it was unclear whether the documents had been stolen or whether they had simply been copied and distributed to the media. However, earlier this month, the Premier’s Office sought to characterize the documents as “stolen”, attacking the media for using the word “leak” in a press release. The statement added: “That word choice is clearly inaccurate. The accurate characterization would be ‘theft’. In this criminal case, the BHC documents were stolen — taken by a thief (or thieves) who should be tracked down for breaking the law.” Lawyer Tim Marshall said the use of the word theft could be prejudicial if anyone arrested in the hunt for the missing files ended up in a jury trial. “If it is a jury trial that may be an issue,” he said. However he said the courts could boot out the case before it got going on the basis that those arrested did not have stolen documents but merely photocopies. Two other people were arrested and then released in connection with the leaked Bermuda Housing Corporation files while Police also raided ZBM news and visited the Mid-Ocean News office after those organizations ran stories based on the documents. The portions already printed by the Mid-Ocean News reportedly revealed that Premier Ewart Brown, former Premier Dame Jennifer Smith and former Minister Renee Webb were all investigated by Police looking into the BHC allegations. Construction boss Zane DeSilva was another prominent person investigated as part of the probe into allegations of corruption at the BHC, the documents reportedly showed. When the investigation finished in 2004, then acting Director of Public Prosecutions Kulandra Ratneser said many of those investigated could only be accused of bad ethics. Mr. Ratneser also said some of the people investigated escaped prosecution due to Bermuda’s antiquated corruption laws. Since the BHC scandal — which is believed to have cost the taxpayer $8 million — one person has been convicted. Terrence Smith, a BHC officer, was found guilty and jailed last year on 41 counts of fraud.
June 27. Construction work on Bermuda’s sixth fast ferry is on course to be completed by mid-September, Government announced yesterday. The catamaran — currently being built in Bridgeport, Connecticut, by Direktor Shipyard — will be similar in structure to the Warbaby Fox which was officially launched for the East End of the Island last year. It will accommodate 350 passengers. The Director of Marine and Ports Services, Francis Richardson, said he was pleased with the building progress of the ferry so far. He said significant hull construction will be completed this week. Once constructed, and following sea trials, the new ferry will join sister catamarans Resolute, Serenity, Venturilla, Tempest and Warbaby Fox in full commuter service to the public. Premier Ewart Brown, who is also Ministry of Transport, has stated he is keen to step up the number of options available to people seeking to find alternative ways to get around. Earlier this year, Bermuda’s fast ferry project was held up as a model to be considered for use across the region at a meeting of Caribbean leaders in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
June 27. Plans have been submitted to transform a derelict hotel site into a new resort and marina. The Eden Group aims to create a mixed development resort at the former Lantana site in Sandys. Covering 9.70 acres, it will feature both hotel accommodation and residential leasehold properties.The land is already zoned as tourism but will also cover 0.48 acres of agricultural land and 0.40 acres of ‘green space’ along its north-east edge. The Eden Group is an international company based in London. Situated between the Railway Trail and the coastline north-west of Somerset Bridge, the resort will include 18 hotel suites in a main ‘Manor House’ complex, plus 20 residential units with driveways and 33 shared-ownership villas. Amenities include a spa, restaurants and bars, plus beachside and poolside facilities. In a letter to the Department of Planning, agents Conyers and Associates state: “Until 1998, Lantana was a successful tourism resort which has since been disused and over the subsequent years, fallen into a state of disrepair. “The proposal includes the provision of various shoreline amenities arranged around and adjacent to the existing beach which would be enhanced and protected through the addition of one new breakwater and the refurbishment of the existing breakwater. The primary purpose of this breakwater is to protect this vital beach amenity.” The resort — covering a total 95,703 sq ft — will also operate a water taxi service. The supporting letter to the application says: “The new dock is seen by the developer as a fundamental part of the resort’s strategy for transportation, with links to Hamilton and other areas of the island, and is intended to become a major gateway into the resort. “The provision of such marine facilities will take pressure off the roads and is viewed as a highly desirable transport solution for the resort as well as being consistent with the Government’s stated goal of providing inter-modal transport services. “Our client’s reputation as an international developer will ensure that the scenic quality and visual amenity of this part of Bermuda will be greatly enhanced.” The Lantana land was put up for sale for $18.5 million last August after plans to develop it into a luxury spa resort failed to materialize. A ‘breaking ground’ ceremony took place in February 2005 with the resort planned for 2007. It was described as a 40-suite hotel complex with 17 beachfront villas and marina, spa and conference centre. However, when backers Tanner and Haley pulled out and then applied for bankruptcy in the US, the remaining investors decided not to pursue the project. The original Lantana Resort was developed by the late John Young and was one of the first ‘cottage colony’ resorts in Bermuda. Opened in the 1950s, it built up a reputation for friendliness and excellent service, but closed in 1998. Premier Dr. Ewart Brown, Minister of Tourism, last night said: “Tourism has reached such an incredible surge that anyone looking for a hotel room this summer is going to find it very difficult. Hotels are full. “While that’s a nice problem to have, we must act. So whenever I hear of plans for new hotel development I am thrilled because it means our tourism product will have the space it needs to grow."
June 27. Drivers are reminded to use designated lots and to observe posted signs at beaches after chaos at Shelly Bay park this weekend.The Department of Parks removed the main access gate, which leads to the playground at Shelly Bay Park in order to repair it and over the weekend found drivers parking there. Until the repairs are complete a chain has been erected to keep cars out and the Department of Parks has also asked drivers not to park in front of the chained entrance so maintenance crews have unobstructed access. A spokesman for the department said: "We ask that in the interest of safety, particularly for the children playing within the playground area, park users must refrain from parking in this area and use the designated car park. We also ask that vehicles do not park in front of this entrance chain as emergency vehicles must have access at all times. While the parking problem is a recent one at Shelly Bay Park, the Department of Parks would also like to remind drivers of rules at other beaches. At Clearwater Beach drivers should not park their vehicles so that cars cannot turn around on the open lawn next to Gombey's Restaurant and on Elbow Beach's Tribe Road the lower section is designated no parking to allow room for turning. Visitors of West Whale Bay Park are warned to leave access for residents of Landmark Condos because any vehicle parked illegally at beaches will be ticketed and may be towed at the owner's expense. However, the spokesman added: "The 2007 summer season promises a very busy, active and exciting time at the parks and beaches and the Department of Parks appreciates the cooperation of the general public in helping to make this a safe and enjoyable summer at the parks and beaches." For further information contact the Department of Parks Park, Ranger Office at 236-5902 or 239-2355.
June 27. KeyTech Ltd., the parent company of the Bermuda Telephone Company, yesterday announced 2006/07 net income of $9.1 million — a fall of $2.6 million from the previous year.In a statement yesterday, the company said costs relating to accounting changes after securing control of Caymans-based telecom company WestTel impacted on the results. And KeyTech added that a Government decision to reduce BTC's local access charge — the per minute fee paid by international carriers to BTC for originating and terminating long distance calls — reduced net income by $1.8m. BTC is preparing a legal appeal of this reduction. KeyTech also made a $21m investment in capital assets — up $4.3m on the previous year — to maintain existing plant and improve its networks, and also support provision of new services. The Bermudian company now has a controlling interest in WestTel, meaning that KeyTech now accounts for losses of WestTel in excess of its percentage equity holding. This accounting change resulted in a $1.3m negative impact on net income. Under the same accounting treatment KeyTech will report future profits in excess of its percentage equity holding. KeyTech chief executive officer Sheila Lines was upbeat about the acquisition of WestTel as the company's fifth subsidiary. "We are excited by both the revenue growth to date and the potential future for WestTel," Ms Lines said. "The controlling interest will enable fast implementation of synergies between WestTel and our Bermuda based operations." In its statement, the company explained that a $1.5m increase in expenses came about as a result of the launch of M3 Wireless's easyConnect service and the development of technical and business plans to build a new submarine cable to Bermuda. "Wireless technology is evolving rapidly, and both business and residential customers increasingly rely on fixed and mobile wireless services to meet their communications requirements," Ms Lines said. "Our investment in new wireless services is essential to the medium and long term competitive positioning of KeyTech. We also know that robust and affordable international connectivity is critical to Bermuda's business and residential customers. Thus, when the government announced a tender process to award licenses to build an additional cable in Bermuda, we pursued, and continue to purse, that opportunity aggressively."
June 28. The significant role Bermuda played in the settling of the US is becoming clearer as a result of archaeological discoveries at Jamestown in Virginia. And the link between the two countries was underscored when St. George’s mayor Mariea Caisey joined the likes of US president George W. Bush in placing an item in a time capsule marking the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. An archaeological dig at the US city has uncovered bones of cahows, turtles and hogs, alongside Bermuda stone that may have been used as ballast on the Deliverance and Patience — in 1610. A delegation of 25 from Bermuda was invited to the 400th anniversary celebrations at Jamestown. Ms Caisey placed a Bermuda Cedar friendship cup in a time capsule, a significant recognition for Bermuda as others invited to place objects in the capsule to mark the city’s historic anniversary included the US president himself. Dr. George Cook, of the St. George’s Foundation, said: “Bermuda was chosen to be in this significant group. Mariea placed a friendship cup in the capsule and it really is a story of a friendship that spans four centuries.” Jamestown was settled by English colonists in 1607, but they were left struggling for survival after a nine-ship relief fleet was reduced to seven when an Atlantic hurricane struck. One of that fleet, the Sea Venture, was shipwrecked on Bermuda and its survivors eventually built two ships to sail to Jamestown the following year. It is from these two ships, the Deliverance and Patience, that the cahow, turtle bones and the Bermuda stone discovered in an archaeological dig at Jamestown are thought to have come. The arrival of the Bermuda ships, together with fresh supplies from the Island, are seen as a critical turning point in the survival of the struggling Jamestown community. The recognition that Bermuda has received from Jamestown and Virginia could help develop more links with the US in terms of tourist visitors wishing to come to the Island to learn more about those historic links. In the Jamestown visitor centre there is even a “Bermuda room” with artifacts and information about the Island and the role it played in the establishing of a community on the fringe of the newly discovered country even before the famous Plymouth Rock landings many years later. A cruise ship boarding terminal at Norfolk also contains a Bermuda room that allows passengers boarding their ships to learn about the Island.
June 28. Public transport and garbage collection will be disrupted this morning due to a union meeting by Government workers.Residents have been warned to expect cancelled bus services and delays in trash pick-ups as the Bermuda Industrial Union presents its arbitration award to members. A Government spokeswoman said last night: “The Government is advising the public today that tomorrow, at 10 a.m. the Bermuda Industrial Union will be holding an important meeting for all of its union members within the employ of the Bermuda Government. As such, residents can expect an interruption in the following Government services between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. All bus routes will be affected, however the Department of Public Transportation will provide a supplementary shuttle service for visitors. All ferry service between Hamilton, Dockyard and St. George’s is expected to run per normal. However, there will be no Rockaway (Southampton) service as of 9.15 a.m. and no Paget/Warwick service as of 9.45 a.m.” She added: “The Parks Department services will be interrupted, and it is expected that Works and Engineering (garbage collection, Quarry and Tyne’s Bay) services will be interrupted. The public will be notified as soon as all services have resumed.” Chris Furbert, BIU President, said last night: “This is not industrial action, it is to present the arbitration award for the Government’s blue collar workers. The process started in March of this year and concluded on May 14. The decision has now been made and the pay award is to be presented to the workers tomorrow. We asked the Government for permission to have this meeting.”
June 29. Senators passed a bill to cut Airport queues and boost border security on Wednesday.It will require airlines to supply lists of arriving and departing passengers. Public Safety Minister David Burch said the information would alert authorities for people on the stop list before they arrive. And passengers can be cleared through the Immigration arrivals hall much more quickly and efficiently. Government is also working on a new method to speed up processing of passengers. The electronic manifests will eliminate the requirement to collect landing cards on departure from Bermuda while the elimination of departure cards would bring Bermuda in line with countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, who receive electronic manifests and do not require travelers to complete a departure card. It will also simplify the processing and storage of landing cards as there will only be a single card which will be collected on arrival into Bermuda. Once the new border control system is in place there will be no requirement for Bermudians who have the stamp: "Holder is registered as Bermudian" in their passport and/or possess a "Fast Pass" card to have to complete an arrival card. Therefore, the only document that a Bermudian will need to complete, when returning home, is a Customs card.
The ousted head’s allegations are supported by a
host of court affidavits and e-mail records. His
claim is that a cadre of Government Ministers and senior civil servants
attempted to bully both him and the United Bermuda Party MP into a course of
action which would have affected the outcome of a discrimination complaint local
businessman Harold Darrell had initiated against the Bank of Bermuda. That case
is still ongoing seven years after it was first filed. According
to Mr. Wilson, Neville Darrell’s dismissal was preceded by a heated meeting
with former Human Affairs Minister Terry Lister. That
tirade, which allegedly brought Mr. Darrell close to tears, apparently saw Mr.
Lister scold him “for entertaining the Harold Darrell complaint against the
Bank of Bermuda” and warn there were certain cases he would have to ignore in
his tenure at the Human Rights Commission, that at times he “would have to
tear down the temple, and that on other occasions, (Mr. Darrell) would simply do
nothing”. Mr. Wilson believes his own fall
from the civil service was brought about by a targeted conspiracy involving
former Human Affairs director Brenda Dale, former chairman of the Human Rights
Commission Rod Attride Stirling, current Human Affairs director Myra Virgil and
former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Community Affairs and Sport,
Derrick Binns. He further alleges that former
Community Affairs and Sport Minister Dale Butler was aware of what was happening
but showed no support, despite unfair comments in the media from Mr. Attride
Stirling which led to Mr. Wilson’s professional disgrace. “I
am now looking at the full picture, the way Neville Darrell was pushed out of
the office when we had that first ministerial interference from Terry Lister.
I’m looking at my situation — I was not dismissed
for annual reports or the managing of any cases, I was dismissed for upholding
the law with respect to how the Harold Darrell matter was handled. My
demise wasn’t about late annual reports, it was because I stood my ground and
resisted intrusions into my office, which enjoys independence in cases.”
June 29. Governor Sir John Vereker is refusing to comment on recently revealed allegations of corruption within Government.The allegations, revealed in this newspaper four weeks ago, were made during a two-year fraud squad investigation into the disappearance of millions of dollars at the publicly-funded Bermuda Housing Corporation. Premier Ewart Brown, along with former Housing Minister Nelson Bascome and prospective Progressive Labour Party candidate Zane DeSilva, were at the centre of the police probe, although no charges have ever brought against any of the men. Kulendra Ratneser, the island’s top prosecutor at the time, said that unethical behavior involving elected officials had been unearthed but that there was little that could be deemed criminal under the law. Sir John was kept fully briefed in the progress of the investigation and, once it wrapped up in August 2004, declared: “I hope that lessons are being learned in the appropriate places.” This week the Mid-Ocean News *p(0,10,0,9.4,0,0,g)> e-mailed Deputy Governor Mark Capes, asking if Sir John could expand on his comments. We asked what lessons and which places he was referring to specifically. We also asked if he was referring to the behavior of Government Ministers, including Ewart Brown and Nelson Bascome. We also asked if Sir John believes that the full contents of the police investigations should be made available to the public, if he was satisfied the investigation reached a satisfactory conclusion, and what impact the events of the past four weeks have had on Bermuda’s international reputation. In an e-mailed response, Mr. Capes replied: “I have to advise that the Governor is not available for comment.”
June 29. Government has rejected the Bermuda Industrial Union's bid to get a 35-hour week. Bus services and trash pick-ups were disrupted yesterday as hundreds of workers gathered at the union's headquarters to hear the results of an arbitration hearing into the request. Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert declined to comment. He will hold a press conference on Monday to outline the union's position but it is thought the union has accepted Government's position for now. The union voted last year to reduce hours for members from 37 to 35. The plans however, were criticised by Bermuda Employers' Council president William DeSilva Jr., who warned that cutting hours would either hit services or land the taxpayer with a hefty overtime bill. Then Shadow Finance Minister Grant Gibbons also criticised the plans, citing concerns that it could make Bermuda less economically competitive. But Mr. Furbert argued statistics showed that a 35 to 36 hour working week was not uncommon in Bermuda and the move would have a limited impact. Citing figures from the Government on the working week in sectors ranging from the fishing industry to retail, education, and international business, he said that the average in 2004 was 35.9 hours. It is also understood workers were given a 3.8 percent pay raise for this year. Last night Shadow Labour and Immigration Minister Trevor Moniz said: "I'm not convinced at this stage that a shorter working week is called for. Without some convincing arguments I would not be in support of it. Countries which have adopted a shorter working week, such as France, are now starting to roll it back because it has made them less efficient and competitive. I think that would happen here. It would reduce the efficiency of the Government workforce and cost the taxpayer." A Government spokesman said transport stoppages and disruption of other services ended at around noon yesterday.
June 29. Bermuda Aviation Services Ltd. is suing the Government over what the company says is a breach of its exclusive rights to provide private jet services at L.F. Wade International Airport.The company, together with its subsidiary Aircraft Services, has filed a writ against Premier Ewart Brown, in his capacity as Minister of Transport, as well as Attorney General Phil Perinchief, in a case to be heard in commercial court. BAS chief executive officer Kenneth Joaquin said yesterday that the company's exclusivity deal extended to 2014, but new competitor the Sovereign Group was being given permission to offer a rival private jet service. Sovereign is in the process of converting a former US Air Force building on Southside into a private jet passenger terminal. BAS believes Sovereign has not had to compete in a tender process for the right to offer the service. And the Ministry would be going against the advice of its own technical advisors if it gave Sovereign permission to operate private jet services, BAS claims. "Presently we are not aware who the principals are behind the Sovereign Group," Mr. Joaquin said yesterday. "But it is our understanding that they are currently involved in constructing a facility for the purpose of providing private jet services. We have also been made to understand that they were not required, as BAS was, to compete in an open tender to be able to provide this service. Additionally, we are aware that technical advisors to the Ministry of Transport (the Air Advisory Committee) had recommended that no other service provider should be allowed to operate a private jet facility at the airport." Mr. Joaquin said BAS had won an exclusive right to offer private jet services through an open tender in tender in 1997. The deal was extended through to 2014 four years ago, he added. He added that BAS had to pay for the right to operate at the airport and had additionally invested nearly $800,000 to improve ramp surfaces and facilities.
June 29. A tourism industry expert said it was important not to overplay increased arrival figures - in case it put people off coming to Bermuda.Mike Winfield, chairman of Bermuda Hotel Association and President of Cambridge Beaches, said overplaying such figures could drive away potential visitors. The comments come in the wake of statistics released by Premier Ewart Brown showing that during the first quarter of this year, arrivals figures increased by 24.8 percent in January, 12.6 percent in February and 17.9 percent in March. Dr. Brown said the figures pointed to a need for “hotel development as many of the Island’s hotels are filled to capacity with guests”. But Mr. Winfield, who is also the co-chairman of Bermuda Alliance of Tourism, said yesterday it was important not to scare away potential visitors and said there were still many rooms available in July and August. He said: “Yes there are times in June when Bermuda’s hotels are full and that is a cause for celebration but there are many days when there are rooms available as well. We do not want to send the wrong message, that there is no room, and scare off airlines and visitors.” Earlier this week, in a press release Dr. Brown said the growth was “stellar” when compared to other Islands. His press secretary commented that during the same period most of the Caribbean region was struggling to attract new business. In particular they pointed to Islands declining arrivals figures in the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica and Montserrat and said “only” the Cayman Islands was showing a similar increase in arrivals. They attributed the figures to the Caribbean Tourism Organization's latest statistics report. But further inspection of the report reveals that 66 percent of the destinations listed saw a percentage increase in arrivals during the same period and while the Cayman’s figure is close to Bermuda’s, Cozumel trumped Bermuda with arrivals increasing by 35.1 percent over the period. Mr. Winfield said the reason some of the Island’s competitors were having issues raising their arrivals figures was due to new US immigrations laws, which require all US citizens to have a passport when travelling outside the country. But the law is not hurting Bermuda because its visitors are “well heeled and already have passports” he said. Another reason is that the tourism industry as a whole was working together to improve the overall product, including customer service, and generate fresh ideas to attract visitors. “It may have taken a while to increase standards,” he said. “But now visitors are getting an experience that is worth the high price they are paying. From our ferries to taxis and new restaurants, everything has improved.” And he said so far it looked like the 2007 beach and sizzle season would be better than last year’s but said it was important to increase arrivals during the November - March spa and golf season in order to have a health tourism industry. The Ministry is already hard at work wooing European airlines in the hopes that the new market would help the Island during the ‘off season’ months, he said. In-depth statistics of the first quarter released today reveal:
Sixty-three percent of people working in hotels and other visitor accommodations are Bermudian.
June 29. Former Environment Minister and chairman of the Sustainable Development Roundtable Arthur Hodgson has been granted permission to build a six-storey office block.The Development Applications Board has approved Planning application for the building in Court Street, Hamilton. Although the maximum storeys specified for Court Street is four, the fifth and sixth floors of Mr. Hodgson's block will be set back with a terrace, enabling the development to comply with height regulations under the 2001 City of Hamilton Plan. An existing building between St. Andrews Church and the Recorder Building will be demolished to make way for the construction, which consists of a basement for storage and service rooms, plus an office at lower ground level. The ground floor will contain a retail store and a pergola — a feature also planned for the fifth floor. There is no proposed on-site parking for the development, which will cover 23,036 square feet. Last night Mr. Hodgson, Environment Minister from 1998 to 2000, said he was part of a team of developers named Abbot Holdings Ltd. It was still not decided which businesses would occupy the building, but Mr. Hodgson said they would be primarily the legal profession. "I'm just one of the people involved with the application," said Mr. Hodgson. "I'm an attorney so I am hoping to relocate my practice Richmond Law to the building." Asked whether there was any conflicting interest with regards to his role as chair of the Sustainable Development Roundtable, Mr. Hodgson said there was "no connection". "I was not aware of, and am not expecting any controversy," he said.
June 30. A review of healthcare in Bermuda is underway as the Medical Clinic prepares to close in two weeks. Responding to questions over the apparent change in position by the dental organisation on the Island, Minister of Health Michael Scott said: “It is important to note that the decision to close the Medical Clinic has provided us with an opportunity to look at the services that we should provide and the method of delivery of those services. “This exercise will continue in an effort to improve the overall care provided to the community.” Yesterday marked the target-day for the Medical Clinic, formerly the “Indigent clinic” to close with the transferal of 512 of the patients to private doctors. After a meeting with the patients on Thursday, however, Dr. Stanley James, attending physician at the clinic, comforted patients telling them the clinic would remain open. But also urged them to call or visit the clinic to make sure they had a private physician once the clinic at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital closes.
June 30. An education boss from overseas is likely to be appointed to help implement recommendations from a damning report into why so many of Bermuda’s students are failing.Education Minister Randy Horton last night told the House of Assembly about seven people “of the highest caliber” had already been in contact with Government for the position, which he described as a CEO. He said it would be a consultative role and would last for a maximum of two years. “The person selected to be the CEO will be one who is well versed in being able to galvanize all stakeholders, in moving initiatives forward.” Mr. Horton was speaking as a motion was moved to appoint a joint select committee — comprising Progressive Labour Party and United Bermuda Party members — to consider, review and report on the suggestions in Professor David Hopkins’ review into the state of education on the Island. “The most important person is going to be this CEO that we bring in,” said Mr. Horton. “Already, we have been in contact with something like seven or so people. All are of the highest caliber, people who are world-renowned in education reform. We are not going to settle for anything but the best.” Earlier in the debate, Opposition MPs Grant Gibbons — the Shadow Education Minister — and John Barritt, had called for the public to be given access to the meetings of the joint select committee. They both questioned what role such a committee could play when there is an interim executive board has already been implementing Prof. Hopkins’ recommendations for several weeks. Dr. Gibbons and Mr. Barritt both backed the principle of the move to set up a joint select committee. The motion was passed.
June 30. The number of black executives has fallen while white males hold nearly half of the top jobs, according to the latest figures.A workforce survey by the Commission for Unity and Racial Equality (CURE) shows the number of black executives fell from 29 percent to 27 percent while white males are at 49 percent. Releasing the figures, collected from 587 companies in the year ending August, 2006, Community and Cultural Affairs Minister Wayne Perinchief told The House of Assembly that laws were on the way to make things fairer. He said: “CURE has developed legislative proposals for workforce empowerment which will make it mandatory for industry to develop and implement equality of opportunity strategies. This proposed legislation will require Bermuda employers to review their policies and procedures to ensure that all racial barriers to opportunity are removed. Additionally the legislation will require that employers provide evidence of this review and also evidence that plans and programmes are being implemented to effect race equity in their work environments.” The latest statistics showed black women, at 39 percent, were the biggest group in those earning less than $24,000 while white males, at 54 percent, were the largest group among those earning more than $96,000. Mr. Perinchief said: “Regardless of a small labour pool and the limited availability of a trained and/or professional Bermudian workforce, regardless of skin colour, there is still much room for improvement on the part of companies in ensuring that their workforces are increasingly diverse and representative.” He said CURE used the data to work out how to tackle the problem. “Workforce inequities and systems of discrimination, regardless of intent, are indefensible and demonstrate a total disregard for corporate social responsibility,” he said. “Commitments to ensuring equal opportunities in employment for all must become evident in their execution.” Mr. Perinchief said race in the workforce workshops were planned for employers and human resources managers at the National Workforce Empowerment Conference scheduled for late September. And in October CURE will hold a meeting for all race relations stakeholders such as Citizens Uprooting Racism (CURB), Amnesty and the National Association for Reconciliation with the objective of coordinating efforts for race reform.
June 30. The Premier has told reporters in the Cayman Islands that Independence is his goal for Bermuda, but timing is essential in order to successfully realize it.Dr. Ewart Brown spoke on his stance on Independence following the Caribbean Overseas Territories meeting this week. According to the Caymanian Compass newspaper, Dr. Brown said: “It is a matter of timing and political sense as to when that issue is put before the electorate. It is my personal belief that all living things should seek to be independent. Those people who would like to see such a vote (for Independence) or other method lose, would like to rush into it tomorrow. Those of us who would like to see it succeed, will take our time and try to choose the correct time.” Dr. Brown made no mention of his remarks in his address to the House of Assembly yesterday, and did not respond to a request for comment by The Royal Gazette. However, he told yesterday’s protest by young Bermudians — organizers of which said they were anti-Independence — over the Bermuda Housing Corporation scandal: “I am a supporter of Independence but on that we will have to agree to disagree.” There were fears Dr. Brown would push for Independence after he threatened to “suspend further business” with Governor Sir John Vereker over the leaked Police dossier which claimed he was among several ministers questioned over allegations of corruption at the BHC. Dr. Brown accused Sir John of failing to protect the file and said he should be responsible for finding the source of the leak. Although the potential crisis subsided, the row left many unsure of his intentions. Before assuming the role of Premier last October, Dr. Brown stated that Independence was a key objective, but he has also indicated it would not be an initial focus of his leadership.
June 30. Bermuda has sent the largest ever squad to the Island Games with around 250 athletes set to compete in Rhodes, Greece.The showpiece event starts today and will be the biggest Island Games ever staged with over 5,000 athletes from 25 Islands taking part. Athletes competing in archery, athletics, basketball, cycling, football, golf, sailing, swimming, tennis, triathlon and volleyball will represent Bermuda. They finished in fourth place in the Shetland Islands in 2005. The Member islands competing are: Aland, Alderney, Bermuda, Cayman, Falklands, Faroe Islands, Froya, Gilbraltar, Gotland, Greenland, Guernsey, Hitra, Isle of Man, Isle of Wight, Jersey, Minorca, Orkney, Prince Edward Island, Rhodes, Saaremaa, Sark, Shetland, St Helena, Western Islands, Ynyns Mon. All member islands have to have populations of under 125,000. It will be Minorca’s first appearance.
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