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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online
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Workers at power firm Belco were last night ordered back to work after a strike was called over a stand-off with the company’s management. Electricity Supply Trade Union members were given a legal warning to end their industrial action after a court ruling. A spokesman for Ascendant, the parent company of Belco, said: “Ascendant Group Limited this afternoon obtained an order from the Supreme Court directing members of the Electricity Supply Trade Union to return to their full employment effective immediately. The order states that the ESTU ‘shall be restrained from contravening the Labour Relations Act 1975 by means of a strike or withdrawal of labour or any irregular industrial action short of strike which shall include picketing or any work-to-rule. It is expected that ESTU members will comply with the order and return to work with immediate effect and normal operations will resume.” Donald Lottimore, the ESTU president, last night declined to comment until union members had discussed the legal ruling. Staff downed tools yesterday after talks with management on Thursday night failed to end a deadlock sparked by the departure of four non-unionized Bermudian management staff and anger about the management style of Sean Durfy, Ascendant’s chief executive officer. The union imposed a work-to-rule at the company over the row two weeks ago. The court move came after the union stuck to demands made on October 4 to Ascendant, which also included the removal of Mr Durfy, as well as Robert Schaefer, the company’s chief financial officer. The union also wanted the reinstatement of four Bermudian management staff who had earlier left the company. Mr Lottimore said that after a meeting at the Bermuda Industrial Union headquarters yesterday, members had agreed to halt their two-week work-to-rule and voted for “withdrawing our labour to make sure our membership’s demands are heard”. He confirmed that the action was a strike and workers picketed Belco’s Pembroke headquarters until 5pm. Mr Lottimore said that the strike could mean power cuts and added: “There is a potential for things to be affected as long as we are at an impasse.” Ascendant warned earlier that the lack of manpower had made “an immediate impact” and the company could not guarantee an uninterrupted electricity supply. But the firm added that power for essential services would be maintained in the event of outages. A spokesman explained: “As the industrial action continues throughout the day, our ability to maintain a reliable electricity supply is diminished and there is an increased likelihood of widespread outages. Medical priority customers should consider attending the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital to ensure they have access to the required care and resources.” David Burt, the Premier, said the statement was “unhelpful, considering the need for both sides to work together in the best interests of Bermuda”. Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, said discussions to break the deadlock were continuing. He added: “This dispute has emphasized the importance of the issues at stake and where possible, this ministry will work to bring the parties together to achieve some resolution.” Mr Lottimore did not rule out the possibility of arbitration in a bid to end the deadlock. He added: “The key part of the dispute is the respect of the employees that we feel this particular CEO does not have.” Mr Lottimore said the union had made “considerable sacrifices” over the past ten years and accused Ascendant of using cost-cutting as a justification for the erosion of staff benefits. He was speaking after more than 100 unionized workers marched to the BIU for a four-hour closed doors meeting. The stepped-up industrial action came two weeks after the power union locked horns with management. Passers-by sounded their horns yesterday afternoon in a show of support for the picket line outside Belco. One power worker said that the industrial action was designed to get rid of Mr Durfy. He added: “He’s not listening, we want him out.” Signs at the Belco customer care office on Serpentine Road said it was closed and that the company “sincerely apologized for the inconvenience”. One elderly customer waiting at the closed office to pay her electricity bill said: “I just want to pay my bill — it’s an inconvenience for me. It doesn’t look like anyone is coming. Christmas is coming but it doesn’t look like any staff are.”
Measures, including putting work permits on hold, could be brought to bear against employers who manipulate worker contracts to dodge basic employee benefits. Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, said yesterday that he aimed to safeguard workers’ rights in tandem with the Labour Advisory Council, with “harsh sanctions” after fielding scores of complaints from employees in “dire circumstances” who had been coerced into “take it or leave it” work scenarios. Calling it “very prevalent” in the construction sector, Mr Brown said the problem spanned multiple industries, with contracts that skirted benefits such as health and social insurance. Typically labelled contractor or consultant contracts, which would normally be reserved for employees providing expert professional advice, Mr Brown said the “problematic” arrangements would leave workers covering their own benefits, without recourse to settling a wage that would compensate for the deductions. Mr Brown said amendments would be brought to employment, labour and union legislation, potentially in the next session of Parliament. These would also allow for the investigation of “unfair treatment of persons who are employed on a temporary, part-time or casual basis” who were not classed as employees under the present legislation. Mr Brown added: “The imposition of harsh sanctions and the suspension of work permits for employers who willfully defy the legislation are a few of the penalties being thoroughly and keenly considered by the Government.” Keith Jensen, president and chairman of the Bermuda Employers Council, said that a “hustle economy” caused by the economic downturn had tempted some employers into cutting corners. Mr Jensen told The Royal Gazette last night: “The BEC does not condone abuse of the law, but careful consideration has to be given to changes because of the potential impact on second jobs, legitimate outsourcing, and service relationships that are casual or part-time.” Penalties already existed for health insurance, social insurance and payroll tax infractions, he noted. Mr Jensen said that bosses sidestepping the law with employment contracts were putting themselves at “great risk”, such as liability for hospital expenses where staff were not covered as required. Health insurance is enforced by the Bermuda Health Council, he said, while skipping payroll carried “heavy penalties”, including for workers who failed to register as self-employed. Mr Jensen added: “It is a complex area. In construction, bona fide competitors welcome a level playing field where all pay their payroll taxes and treat their employees as they should regarding benefits. Good contractors compete on productivity, quality of their work and fair prices. The recent recession hitting the construction industry hard, however, in my opinion pushed some employers and employees into the ‘hustle economy’ where short cuts were taken to find ways to avoid taxes and other expenses, cut red tape and generally avoid their responsibilities as employers and employees.” He said each employment category had to be evaluated: homeowners casually employing painters or roof cleaners should not be required to take on laborers as employees, while workers with second or part-time jobs might not be regarded as employees under various areas of Bermuda’s legislation. Taxi drivers often work by renting the car for a period of time,” Mr Jensen added. “Some industries are heavily commission driven.” He said the council looked forward to the tripartite consultation process to “limit abuse without stifling innovation and creating another layer of bureaucracy”.
Bermuda deserves full disclosure on the details of the Jetgate scandal, a Progressive Labour Party backbencher said. Rolfe Commissiong said the One Bermuda Alliance must come clean over the scandal that led to the resignation of Craig Cannonier as premier in 2014. He said: “It is time for the OBA to do the right thing and release the full, unedited report that they promised so many years ago, into an investigation into the Jetgate affair.” Mr Commissiong was speaking at a press conference held at Alaska Hall yesterday. He said that the island’s reputation had been damaged by recent international media coverage. Derrick Green, an adviser to the OBA during the 2012 election campaign, made headlines this week after earning a top post with the New Jersey governor. Mr Green is being paid $140,000 a year as a senior adviser in Governor Phil Murphy’s Democratic party administration. The article said Mr Green was “tied to a campaign finance scandal under police investigation in Bermuda known as Jetgate”. Mr Cannonier was announced last month as the new Opposition leader, replacing Jeanne Atherden. At the time, he said that information on the scandal would be “coming forthwith”. Mr Commissiong said: “After almost three weeks, no further information has been produced.” Comments on an article published by The Royal Gazette this week questioned whether Mr Green had ever been hired by the PLP. Mr Commissiong said that to the best of his knowledge he had not. He questioned whether the country could trust Mr Cannonier. Mr Commissiong said: “This scandal unfolded while he was Premier of Bermuda. And the facts that we know of are fairly egregious. Failure to come clean on Jetgate does not give us any optimism.” Mr Commissiong said that Mr Cannonier had also given “contradictory information”. He noted that Mr Cannonier had said in an interview earlier this month that the Jetgate trip had “nothing to do with gaming”. Mr Commissiong said this statement clashed with an interview Mr Cannonier gave in May 2013 when he said the meeting was about gaming. An article on northjersey.com said this week that Mr Green set up a secret bank account linked to the OBA which received $350,000 from wealthy American businessmen, including Nathan Landow, a Maryland developer and Democratic donor. Mr Commissiong said: “If the scandal had not been uncovered by individuals within the PLP, we may very well have seen, by today, Landow Gaming and Resort.” Mr Green had an undisclosed commercial relationship with Mr Landow, who was interested in building casinos in Bermuda. It was claimed he was responsible for introducing Mr Cannonier to Mr Landow, though he denied that. Mr Cannonier, along with Cabinet ministers Mark Pettingill and Shawn Crockwell, travelled to Washington on Mr Landow’s private jet after he became premier. The trip raised questions in Parliament about whether Mr Landow had been offered a quid pro quo, such as a gaming licence or development deal. Mr Cannonier issued a statement saying Jetgate was “in the past”. He added: “I am focused on changing course for the OBA, concentrating on fiscal and social responsibility and holding this failing Government to account. I will not be diverted from this course despite the PLP’s mudslinging.” Mr Cannonier said the Government’s focus on Jetgate highlighted their “tried and tired tactic of deflection — to deflect from their own broken promises and failings, failing to the people of Bermuda.” He pointed to a purported planned trip to New York David Burt, then Opposition leader, was going to take last year with PLP MP Zane DeSilva, and former independent MPs Mark Pettingill and Shawn Crockwell. He said: “What Mr and Mrs Bermuda also want to know are the reasons for the Four Seasons trip.”
The Official Gazette will be posted on the Government’s website from November 1. All government and legal notices, as well as Bermuda regulations, will appear on a new official gazette page on the government website. Lovitta Foggo, the Minister for the Cabinet Office with Responsibility for Government Reform, said the decision to move from newsprint was about modernization and efficiency. The Government previously said it is expected to save taxpayers more than $300,000 a year. A government spokeswoman said that some notices may continue to be published on other media outlets “to ensure the widest possible distribution of the content”. Ms Foggo said: “The shift from using a traditional newspaper for official notices to the use of an online tool that allows access to notices on any mobile device is consistent with Government’s move towards becoming a digital leader. The Government recognizes the need to embrace a rapidly changing technological landscape.” Ms Foggo added: “We are committed to adapting our service delivery to meet the needs of our modern society. This new online Official Gazette allows the Government to fulfil its responsibilities efficiently and effectively. It’s part of a longer-term reform strategy that will see the public benefit from more comprehensive, secure and accessible digital services from the Government.”
Unionized Belco workers gathered outside the utility this morning for a sidewalk march to the Bermuda Industrial Union for a closed-door meeting. About 100 staff were advised to set off by Donald Lottimore, the president of the Electricity Supply Trade Union, and set off from Serpentine Road at approximately 8.15am. The latest developments come two weeks after the ESTU gave Ascendant Group, the parent company of the utility, 14 days to reinstate four Bermudian members of staff, among other demands. Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, said yesterday that talks had been continuing this week between the ESTU and Ascendant. ESTU workers have headed into the BIU building for unspecified talks after Mr Lottimore called for unity in a brief address to workers from the steps of the Ascendant offices. Workers have headed into the main room and shut the doors. Ascendant knows of the meeting and says there will be no impact on operations at the main plant.
The Bermuda Police Service have confirmed the hunt is still on for the person who fatally shot Colford Ferguson. Khyri Smith-Williams, 27, was found guilty of premeditated murder and the use of a firearm to commit an indictable offence in the 2011 killing of Mr Ferguson after a week of trial on Tuesday. A second person who pulled the trigger is said to be still at large. Troy Harris, a key witness in the trial, claimed in his testimony that while Smith-Williams confessed to him he played a part in the murder, it was Rasheed Muhammad who shot the gun that killed Mr Ferguson. Mr Ferguson, 29, was shot dead as he worked on a house near the junction of Mangrove Bay Road and East Shore Road in Somerset. A BPS spokesman said yesterday: “The investigation remains open regarding the murder of Colford Ferguson, as the evidence indicates that two persons were involved. Police are still appealing to members of the public who know of any information that could assist in identifying the other person involved in this brutal murder to call the Serious Crime Department on 247-1739 in the strictest confidence.” Anonymous calls can be made to Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 or anonymous tips can be sent via www.crimestoppers.bm.
Former health minister Jeanne Atherden has accused David Burt and Kim Wilson of lying to justify to taxpayers a $1.2 million public purse payout to Dr. Ewart Brown. The Opposition backbencher told The Royal Gazette that Mr Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, and health minister Kim Wilson were not telling the truth when they accused the former One Bermuda Alliance administration of ignoring the advice of the Bermuda Health Council over a reduction in fees for medical scans. “What is being said with respect to us having a vendetta and not listening to technical advice is not true,” Ms Atherden said. “It’s a lie and I put them to proof.” Former Progressive Labour Party premier Dr Brown owns two medical clinics which are set to receive more than $1.2 million from taxpayers as compensation for the fee cuts imposed by the OBA last year. The Bermuda Hospitals Board is expected to get $2.4 million for the same reason. Mr Burt and Ms Wilson have said the fee cuts were imposed to target Dr Brown, with the Premier describing them this month as an “economic vendetta” and the Minister of Health calling them “economic sanctions”. Mr Burt claimed the OBA Cabinet “disregarded the advice of the Bermuda Health Council”. Ms Wilson said the health council’s advice was to apply a new fairer methodology to the entire BHB fee structure and it was “extremely odd” that the OBA ignored that and applied it only to diagnostic imaging. Ms Atherden said neither had produced any evidence to show she ignored the advice she was given by technical officers at the health council, because the reverse was true. The health council, meanwhile, has refused to share with the public the advice it gave to her. “This business about a vendetta, I think that that is just so unbelievable,” she said. “The only thing I was targeting was the cost of healthcare.” She said it was hard to understand why public funds would be used to compensate private businesses whose owner chose voluntarily, as a provider of Standard Health Benefit services, to tie the fees he could charge to BHB’s fee schedule. “It is important that BHB only charges what it should charge and doesn’t get into the fact that other facilities are linked to its fees. The rationale for making these payments makes no sense to me. Where did that money come from?” Ms Atherden, a former Opposition leader, said when she was health minister she specifically asked the BHeC to look at whether the fees being charged at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for outpatient scans were appropriate. She was determined to bring them down because they had “gotten out of whack” over the years and were much higher than they needed to be. “The health council looked at it. They said they believed there should be some changes and if they implemented the changes, this is the impact in terms of the fee changes and the impact on the Standard Health Benefit. The health council are the ones that have the expertise in terms of looking at what type of charges should be paid, recognizing that they are able to make comparisons with other places, etc, in terms of what’s appropriate. I never got the schedule of fees. I never got into the nitty-gritty detail. Someone gave me a recommendation to say ‘put this in’ and I accepted it. I accepted the recommendation and said to Cabinet this is what was deemed appropriate at the time. You have got people talking about a vendetta but the bottom line is this: I was presented with an indication of how the fees would be changed ... and I accepted those proposed changes.” Ms Atherden said reducing the fees for scans meant health premiums did not go up for the “average man” — and that was the OBA’s focus. “If the fees being charged are wrong, you can’t say that just because somebody was getting too much that they have to keep getting too much,” she said. Dr Brown’s clinics, Bermuda Healthcare Services in Paget and the Brown-Darrell Clinic in Smith’s, are being investigated by police over allegations they ordered medically unnecessary tests for patients to boost profits. Dr Brown has denied the allegations. New fees for scans are due to come into effect on November 1. Neither Mr Burt nor Ms Wilson responded to a request for comment by press time.
The reinsurance industry is struggling to cover its cost of capital and needs to improve returns, given the substantial risks it covers. That was one of the takeaways from the AM Best Bermuda Insurance Market Briefing in Hamilton this week. Analysts from the New Jersey-based rating agency gave an overview of the island’s flagship industry before an audience at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. The five-year average return on equity of the global reinsurance market is 8.3 per cent, said Robert DeRose, senior director at AM Best. This was impacted by a negative 0.3 per cent return in 2017, a huge year for catastrophe losses. However, Mr DeRose pointed out that trend for annualized RoE has been falling steadily since 2013, when it was 13 per cent, through the first half of this year when it was 7 per cent. Driving the decline in profitability were a tightening of underwriting margins and lower investment earnings linked to persistently low interest rates, as well as increased equity on the balance sheet, Mr DeRose said. He added: “When you consider that their cost of capital is about 7.5 per cent, it really does demonstrate that reinsurers are under pressure to find ways to improve their returns.” Mr DeRose said that if loss reserve developments were excluded, then reinsurers’ five-year average RoE would fall to 4.5 per cent. “They need to do better than that, given the risks they take,” he said. Last year was an outlier, generating $131 billion of insured natural catastrophe losses, compared to the ten-year average of $51 billion, Mr DeRose said. Mr DeRose said that consolidation is likely to continue in the reinsurance industry, alternative capital is driving change and the market is still largely influenced by a handful of global players. It’s not all doom and gloom though. Increasing interest rates will offer opportunities for reinsurers to generate more income from their conservatively invested portfolios, for example. Mr DeRose added: “My observation is that reinsurers are still pretty opportunistic and innovative and they have the capacity to weather these headwinds over the near term. The majority of our ratings still have stable outlooks and that’s because their capital strength and their ability to maneuver through challenging market dynamics.”
Neil Speight has resigned as chief executive of the Bermuda Cricket Board, while vice-president Nyon Steede handed in his resignation yesterday. Four board officials have now resigned in the past six months, with treasurer Gershon Gibbons stepping down in May, followed by Clay Smith two weeks ago who opted not to seek a new contract as Bermuda coach after his contract expired three months ago. Lloyd Smith, who was voted in as president last November when Lloyd Fray choose not to seek re-election, received Speight’s resignation last Friday, before receiving another e-mail yesterday from Steede, who served as vice-president under Fray. “Nyon Steede handed in his resignation today,” Smith told The Royal Gazette last night. “I have been in a course all day and haven’t had a chance to speak to him or even respond to his e-mail. It’s a setback for the board that two good people have chosen to move on. Neil has the knowledge while Nyon has been a member of the executive for many years. Neil has found another job and will be leaving, though we don’t have a date as yet. He handed in his resignation last Friday. I’m surprised at both and haven’t been able to talk to either because Neil is in Singapore representing the ICC Americas.” Smith confirmed that Speight will not return in time for the BCB Awards Ceremony, which is scheduled for the CedarBridge Cafetorium at 7pm tomorrow. Speight first became involved with the BCB in 1995 as one of the six club representatives. Prior to that he was instrumental in getting National Sports Club back into the league and captained the team. Speight was treasurer of the board in 1997, when the entire executive under president Ed Bailey resigned. Speight, who was not present at the meeting, did not resign and was the only executive who was still present when El James was voted in as the new president a week later. Speight also served as treasurer under Reggie Pearman before later becoming chief executive in 2005.
Nearly one quarter of the Bermuda population will be aged 65 or older within the next ten years, a report said yesterday. Government statisticians predict the proportion of seniors will climb from 16.9 per cent in 2016 to 24.9 per cent in 2026. It would mean an increase of nearly 50 per cent from 10,755 to 15,825. During the same time, the number of seniors for every 100 people of working age is expected to rocket from 24.7 to 39.9, with the realities of the trends meaning greater demand on pensions and healthcare. Increasing the retirement age or removing it altogether, having more babies and trying to encourage young people to stay on the island through greater job opportunities were among proposals to tackle the issues. However, one finance expert warned it could take “decades” to reverse the pattern. The figures were revealed in the Bermuda’s Population Projections 2016-26 Report from the Department of Statistics. Government reform minister Lovitta Foggo said: “The report highlights some critical realities for Bermuda’s future population, and the Government is being proactive in finding solutions today, to ensure a better tomorrow for Bermudians. For our seniors, we continue to closely monitor the performance of our pension funds and are exploring the benefits of increasing the retirement age to 67. Similar reforms will be made to our social insurance scheme. Given the demographic shifts and the increase in non-communicable conditions, we know that health costs and the pressures on long-term care will continue to challenge us.” Other highlights in the report include a drop in the total population from 63,791 to 63,680 over the period, a fall in the yearly birthrate from 9.3 per 1,000 people to 7.3, and a rise in the death rate from 7.6 per 1,000 people to 9.4. John Wight, the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce president, said: “In the absence of taking any action to address Bermuda’s ageing population, this report highlights that by 2026 Bermuda will have fewer people than today. A drop in the general population is a concern; a stable or growing population is key to a healthy economy. The discussion in Bermuda needs to be one of how we grow our population, not do we need to grow our population?” Nathan Kowalski, chief financial officer at Anchor Investment Management, said: “We do have a very high rate of ageing in our population base, so there’s going to be all kinds of social and economic impacts that have to be tackled in terms of housing, care-giving and the whole provision of healthcare.” He added: “It’s not drastically unique to Bermuda but I think because we’re a small community we might see it a little bit more prominently. We’re not that big so we’re going to see this quite stark change in ageing.” The report told how the search for “affordable care providers for seniors” could become more difficult than finding childcare. Ms Foggo said a home care policy has been developed to encourage people to “age at home where possible”, providing funds for eligible seniors to receive care from qualified caregivers. Reflecting on housing needs for seniors, Ms Foggo said the Bermuda Housing Corporation, Age Concern and representatives from the health ministry are in talks about the ageing population and its needs. She continued: “Talks continue to address the long-term needs of independent seniors, as well as assisted-care facilities for our valued seniors. The BHC has also partnered with the Bermuda Housing Trust in assisting with retrofitting some of their properties to better assist our seniors’ housing needs.” The report states fewer births means “far-reaching consequences” for pension schemes such as the Government’s Contributory Pension Fund, as contributions by workers are generally paid out as benefits in the same year. It said falling birthrates could make it difficult for employers to fill vacancies with young Bermudians, while the increasing number of senior dependents means the workforce will need to support more people. The report states: “One possible option to address this would be to increase the mandatory retirement age of 65 in some industries or to eliminate it altogether as an earlier retirement age diminishes the labour pool. Aside from substantial immigration, another way to increase the labour supply immediately will be to bring more of the elderly into the workforce.” Advances in medical technology and healthier lifestyle choices could help reduce the death rate, it suggested, while more births could come about through “pro-natalist policies” such as incentives to have children. The report said improved employment options on the island could result in less emigration, and added: “More immigration can be achieved by a strengthening or diversifying economy that provides increased job opportunities.” Yet Mr Kowalski warned: “Demographics are like a giant aircraft carrier, they do not turn on a dime. Even if you did have a whole batch of babies today, it won’t dramatically change the demographic projections, they take decades to revert or change. But any kind of push towards having younger Bermudians come back to Bermuda, having more jobs here for young people — that’s what we all want.” The report also pointed out that shrinking numbers can have environmental benefits due to less strain on the island’s resources. A falling population can also lead to less demand for housing resulting in falling prices.
The visit has included two days of on-site property inspections with the department’s valuation survey technicians. The photo below shows them with their Bermuda colleagues.
See above story
All three Opposition senators will be replaced before Parliament reconvenes next month. Robyn Swan, Nandi Outerbridge and Justin Mathias have been told their appointments in the Upper House have ended. A new One Bermuda Alliance line-up will take their seats after Craig Cannonier, who became leader after a vote of no confidence in Jeanne Atherden, launched an attempt to change the course of the party. Ms Outerbridge told The Royal Gazette that Mr Cannonier had discussed the move with her and that he would be “starting with a clean slate”. She said it meant she could now devote more energy to an event-planning company she took over this year. Ms Outerbridge, a former St George’s MP, said: “It could be a blessing in disguise for me. It’s a sense of me now focusing on my business 100 per cent; that’s really what I want to do. When new leaders come in, they make changes that suit them. If that’s what he felt he had to do, I’m completely fine with that.” Mr Mathias was already due to step down. He had decided being a senator conflicted with his job as party chairman, from which he has since resigned. He replaced Nick Kempe, who was axed from the Upper House by Ms Atherden last November, although he has now been reinstated as Opposition Senate leader and shadow finance minister. The remaining two OBA appointments have yet to be announced. Ms Outerbridge said she would not rule out a return to politics. She added: “It’s not goodbye for ever, but in the near future? I don’t know. People of our age are very solution-driven, eager to not be involved in the bickering. I’ve been very involved in the Hamilton Parish Youth Soccer Programme for a number of years. I just feel like my time is better served in that position — it’s good to be hands-on in your community, not trying to fight over legislation.” Ms Outerbridge also stood down from her role as an OBA deputy chairwoman. She said: “I sent an e-mail to the executive just letting them know that with all of the major changes that have been taking place, I think it’s important for them to start with a clean slate all around.” Mr Mathias was to be replaced in the Senate by Victoria Cunningham after he took over as party chairman in July. He said he resigned that month but agreed to stay on until the end of the parliamentary session as major legislation was making its way through both houses. Mr Mathias said: “I definitely was not coming back in November because I felt it’s a conflict of interests when it comes to the duties of the party chair. My focus is always going to be about the youth and getting women involved in politics; that’s something I came into the party to do. I never came in to have any particular front-facing role.” Mr Mathias said he intends to keep “empowering” young people and women through involvement in the community, as well as being an OBA representative for the people of the Warwick North East constituency. Ms Swan was appointed to the Senate in July, as a replacement for Andrew Simons, who was also dropped by Ms Atherden. She said she understood the termination of her role was a matter of procedure owing to the leadership change and said she would see what options become available. Mr Cannonier said yesterday he would announce the other senators “in due course”. He added: “It is not unusual for a new leader to appoint their own team, as demonstrated with my Shadow Cabinet appointments, and I have said from the moment that I was elected as OBA leader that this party is changing course to be the party this country needs in Opposition and the party this country wants in government.” Mr Cannonier said an election will be held to fill the deputy chairwoman vacancy created by Ms Outerbridge’s resignation. He added: “I want to take this opportunity to thank Nandi, Robyn and Justin for their hard work and commitment to the party, and I hope they will continue to use their experience to help the party going forward.”
Argo Group International Holdings expects pre-tax catastrophe losses of approximately $25 million for the third quarter of this year. Hurricane Florence, Typhoon Jebi and other catastrophe and weather-related events during the three-month period are the sources of the losses for the Bermudian-based insurer and reinsurer. The loss estimates include claims costs net of ceded reinsurance recoverables and reinstatement premiums, and include losses related to certain aggregate excess of loss contracts. Mark Watson, the company’s chief executive officer, said: “As we indicated following the catastrophe loss events in 2017, we restructured our reinsurance programme for 2018 to incorporate a single retention that combined the reinsurance portfolios for Argo and the acquired Ariel Re, and we strategically increased our use of third-party capital. Our loss results for the third quarter of 2018 reflect these actions.” Argo warned that the estimates were preliminary and the actual net impact may end up being materially different.
Asset-management firm Alpha Innovations Ltd has picked Bermuda as the home for its headquarters. Alpha wants to reduce risk and fees for investors and achieve operational efficiency through innovation and the use of blockchain technology. Lawrence Newhook, Alpha’s chief executive officer, said: “The foundation of any institutional-quality investment-management business is strong regulatory oversight and for this reason, we chose Bermuda for our global headquarters. Bermuda has a sterling regulatory reputation in the asset-management industry and established laws to govern blockchain business. In short, Bermuda is where the funds industry and blockchain meet, and was therefore the perfect jurisdiction for Alpha Innovations.” Last month, Laureate Digital Securities, which is Alpha’s sister company, announced that it was setting up its headquarters in Bermuda. Laureate is also leveraging blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, to “tokenise” investment funds to create greater liquidity and access for new investors, as well as bringing greater efficiency to fund administration. Nicole Biernat, the chief operating officer of both Laureate and Alpha, will be based in Bermuda. Laureate’s offices will be at 41 Cedar Avenue, Hamilton. The two companies also share an office on Madison Avenue in New York. Alpha’s leadership team has decades of experience in the asset-management industry with firms including Point72, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, CITIC and Balyasny. “A key lesson from my 12 years at Point72 was never to compromise on the talent, which is one of the basic tenets on which we are building Alpha Innovations,” Mr Newhook, who is also CEO of Laureate, said. “Our management team has worked in the financial markets through numerous up and down cycles and is also well versed in the potential of blockchain technology. We’ve built an asset-management firm that solves many of the legacy issues that make traditional asset management funds unappealing. We are ready to lead the industry into the future and provide compelling investment options that inspire institutional investors to put their capital to work.” Alpha says its core directive is to identify unique sources of alpha, the relative outperformance of investment benchmarks, in investment strategies, isolate and extract that alpha, and deliver it to its investors through a framework which affords greater oversight and governance than what was traditionally available. David Burt, the Premier, said: “Our government has pioneered legislation to put Bermuda at the forefront of the blockchain revolution, and Alpha Innovations is exactly the type of cutting-edge company we are looking to attract. Bermuda has long been a respected centre for funds, and now we can be a jurisdiction for new technologies allowing the trade of digitized assets. We welcome Alpha Innovations, and invite the evolving asset-management industry to choose Bermuda as a global platform for business."
The family of a young father shot dead seven years ago said yesterday they were pleased a man had been convicted for his part in the killing — but that no verdict could bring Colford Ferguson back. Nkosazana Wilson, mother of his daughter Ny’Ashia Ferguson-Wilson, was speaking after Khyri Smith-Williams was sentenced to life in prison for premeditated murder of Mr Ferguson, who was 29, and use of a firearm to commit an indictable offence on Tuesday. A Supreme Court jury found that Smith-Williams, 27, was the getaway rider in Mr Ferguson’s killing. Ms Wilson said that the verdict had brought some closure to Mr Ferguson’s family. But she added: “To know that the person who actually shot him is still free kind of hurts a bit.” Ms Wilson said that her 11-year-old daughter knew the trial was taking place and that she had cried when she told her the verdict. She said that the two often talked about Ny’Ashia’s father “and how proud he would be of her”. Ms Wilson added: “The memories that we both have of him are what we hold close to our hearts now.” Mr Ferguson was shot dead as he worked on a construction site in Somerset in February 2011. He had celebrated Ny’Ashia’s 4th birthday, only two weeks before. Ms Wilson described Mr Ferguson as a very loving father. She said: “Whenever he was around, I didn’t exist to my daughter. She was daddy’s little girl. She adored him.” Ms Wilson added that the celebration Ny’Ashia had shared with her father for her 4th birthday was one of her daughter’s most treasured memories. She said that the little girl still talked about sharing a pizza with her dad that day. Ms Wilson added: “It was like her last memory of him.” She admitted the years since Mr Ferguson’s death had been hard on her and her daughter. She said that Father’s Day and the start of the school year were particularly tough on her and Ny’Ashia. Ms Wilson added that her daughter told her when she was aged eight: “‘Mommy, it’s not fair that other children’s daddies get to see them grow up and my daddy doesn’t’.” Ms Wilson said Mr Ferguson was a hard-working and loving man and his family and daughter meant everything to him. She added: “There’s a lot of things that I see her doing that I just wish he was here to experience.” Desmond Smith, Mr Ferguson’s older brother, said that just before his death Mr Ferguson’s passion for carpentry had led him to find regular work. Mr Smith added that he had never seen his brother as happy at other jobs and that it was the “perfect thing” for him. He added: “All the motivation for that was his daughter. When he had her is when he decided to buckle down and take care of her, and his life. That was his life, his daughter. He was an awesome father.” Mr Smith said Mr Ferguson was the glue that kept the family connected. “He was always trying to get us to get together. He would be calling and calling to the point of irritation. He always wanted for us to get together as a whole, complete family.” Mr Smith said the family had not been as close since his brother’s death. He added: “It’s really evident nowadays. We don’t get together like we used to.” Mr Smith, a reggae artist with the stage name Rivah, wrote the song Luv You Brah after Mr Ferguson was murdered. He said his brother was a “wholesome and loving” man, and that the support the family had received after his murder showed “how much love he gave people”. Keona Smith, Mr Ferguson’s cousin, added he was a “beautiful soul with a brilliant smile”. She said she remembered the day of Mr Ferguson’s death “like it was yesterday”. Ms Smith added her cousin had a hard childhood and lost his mother to cancer at a young age. She said: “Like most male children, he had his share of getting himself into trouble.” But she added: “One thing I can say, he wasn’t a troublemaker and was not into this so called gang life.” Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves sentenced Smith-Williams, 27, to life imprisonment for Mr Ferguson’s murder and ordered him to serve at least 25 years before he is eligible for parole. Smith-Williams was also given a ten-year sentence for the firearms offence, which the judged ordered should run consecutively. Mr Smith said that he was happy with the outcome of Smith-Williams’s trial. But he added: “There’s no way you can bring back Colford. That part is always going to be pain.”
One of five teens accused in the murder of Bermudian Lyrico Steede has been linked to a mobile phone left in a taxi on the night of his attack, Nottingham Crown Court heard yesterday. Mr Steede, 17, died in hospital on February 21 after being repeatedly stabbed on the night of February 13. The jury was told that DNA evidence retrieved from the phone had a one in a billion link to one of the accused, who is too young to be identified. Kasharn Campbell, 19, of no fixed abode, and Remmell Campbell-Miller, 18, from Sneinton Boulevard in Nottingham, are charged with the murder, along with two 17-year-old boys and a 16-year-old girl, none of whom can be named for legal reasons. According to the Nottingham Post, cab driver Thomas Yeboah testified that he had driven three young men from Bulwell, where the stabbing occurred earlier that night. The trio asked to go to Sneinton, a suburb of Nottingham, but ran off without paying the fare. The cabby said he had discovered the phone in the back, and kept it until police got in touch. A DNA trace left on a fingerprint was linked to one of the 17-year-old accused. Further tests showed that others had handled the phone, including “two unknown people”. The trial continues.
A plague of rats in the Botanical Gardens has been tackled by government pest controllers after complaints from the public. Parents said rats have scared park users near the children’s play area in the Paget park, which is Bermuda’s biggest. A mother of two who took her children to the hedge maze near the playground added the rats were “frightening, especially when you have little kids”. The woman, who asked not to be named, said: “We saw it last week; it was just one, but it was a large rat. Another mum jumped when she saw it. It ran off into the bushes in front of us.” Another concerned parent called the Government’s pest controllers after she saw “brave, large and numerous” rats on several visits to the gardens. She said: “The park looks amazing at the moment so it’s not because of anything there. I go there with my children frequently. It’s a popular place. I’ve been noticing rats around there for a few weeks.” She said she had spotted vermin around the banyan tree and playground “running along the ground, I couldn’t see where they were coming from. They were just around the place. I reported it to Vector Control; because it’s up to the public. I do it for feral chickens and mosquitoes as well; they’re the resource to take care of it.” The woman, who also asked not to be named, said other people had already flagged up the problem and the area had been baited. Government pest control staff warned parents to make sure youngsters did not play in undergrowth. The Vector Control service said in the summer that reports of rats had increased near trash collection points. The problem was blamed on residents putting out garbage early, despite the once-a-week collection schedule. A government spokeswoman said: “The Department of Health’s Vector Control Team is aware of an issue in the Botanical Gardens in relation to rodents. Officers are monitoring the situation and carrying out treatments as and when necessary. There are approximately 20 bait boxes in place within the gardens. A significant issue in the control of rodents within the gardens is that people are leaving food scraps behind them, this is a significant food source for the rodents. The department would like to appeal to all visitors to act responsibly and not to leave any garbage including food scraps behind them when they visit the gardens.”
A new quick service, gourmet takeout will open its doors on Front Street next month. Brew by Java Jive, an Island Restaurant Group operation, will offer counter service and will be located downstairs from The Pickled Onion. Philip Barnett, director and president of IRG, said: “We are calling it Brew because that is how we make coffee, beer and it is also a well-known colloquial term Bermudians use to greet each other.” Mr Barnett believes this will be a unique type of business for the area. “This will be something new for Front Street,” he said. “We closed Java Jive, so it is basically going to be the same foods and coffee serviced, that’s why we are calling it Brew by Java Jive.” Mr Barnett said the same staff who were at the Java Jive location will now be at Brew. “Our staff are amazing, they won the Best of Bermuda Awards for their customer service three years in a row,” Mr Barnett said. Not only will the restaurant be a quick-service takeout, customers have the ability to sit in while working, having business meetings or just to relax. The restaurant will have complimentary wi-fi service and the ability to plug-in connected devices to charge and work remotely. “We highly recommend people use the space for coffee meetings, after work for beers or a glass of wine. Our prices are reasonable and our food is excellent,” Mr Barnett added. The takeout will open at 7am. “We are not sure what time we will close yet, we will see the response to customer demands,” Mr Barnett added.
Closer links between Bermuda and the British Parliament would “cause unease”, the former Governor of Bermuda said yesterday. George Fergusson was asked by a UK parliamentary committee to consider the relationship between other countries and their former colonies and if these arrangements would be appropriate for Britain’s relationships with its Overseas Territories. Mr Fergusson, who was Governor of Bermuda from 2012 to 2016, told the Foreign Affairs Committee it was possible to “envisage a much more orderly, logical and accountable relationship” and highlighted France, the Netherlands and the United States as possible models. He added: “Most of that would involve direct representation to the House of Commons and that has some benefits — it means that the territories could call to account the relevant secretaries of state and it addresses a bit of a democratic deficit.” Mr Fergusson said the problem of representation without taxation could be resolved with an arrangement that meant Overseas Territories representatives in the British Parliament would have no right to vote on British financial affairs. But he added: “I think the really big obstacle to the neat, logical structure is that it would bind territories in more closely to the United Kingdom probably more than they want, and the slightly messy arrangement we’ve got at the moment, certainly compared to the French, is messy, but it reflects the wishes of territories, who I think would have — you’d need to ask them direct — but I think they’d have a reluctance at being tied in to Parliament. Bermuda in particular, Bermudians think of themselves as Bermudians, and becoming more legislatively connected with Britain would cause unease.” The committee asked why so many territories wanted to stay part of the “British family”. Mr Fergusson agreed with reasons put forward by witness Susie Alegre, the director of the Islands Rights Initiative consultancy group, who said factors included size and a sense of self. He added “security and sovereignty” to the list, but admitted that his only direct experience was in Bermuda and Pitcairn, where he was a non-resident Governor while High Commissioner to New Zealand and Samoa. Mr Fergusson said: “There’s an element of if it’s not broken, why fix it or change it?” Mr Fergusson told the committee: “Like everything else I think it varies across the different territories, some feel a greater organic attachment than others, for some I think it is a matter of convenience, not getting around to doing anything about it.” He and Ms Alegre were asked how good the relationship between the UK government and its territories was. Mr Fergusson said: “I think it’s almost fated to be difficult.” He added: “I think there will always be a degree of confusion and pushing and pulling. I’m now two years away from Bermuda. I don’t think it is worse than usual, I don’t think it’s necessarily bad. I think that things like the sanctions and anti-money laundering Act obviously would represent a little bit of a spike in spikiness. There will always be something around but I don’t think the relationship is too bad.” The witnesses were also asked about how the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office managed links between other government departments and Overseas Territories. Mr Fergusson said: “The Foreign Office has not very much to do with the Government of Bermuda, especially on a day-to-day basis. The Governor is obviously the main channel for that. Probably the government department that spoke most often to counterparts in the Government of Bermuda would have been the Treasury, to the Ministry of Finance. There were connections between the Ministry of Defence and the (Royal) Bermuda Regiment and sometimes events made those contacts be more frequent.” He added there was a “varied picture” across other territories because some had closer ties to the UK Department for International Development.
A key player in Bermuda’s Jetgate scandal has hit the headlines in New Jersey after he landed a top job with the state governor. Derrick Green, an adviser to the One Bermuda Alliance during the 2012 General Election campaign, is being paid $140,000 a year as a senior adviser in Governor Phil Murphy’s Democratic party administration, a report in northjersey.com, part of the USA Today network, said. The news site reported on Monday that he got the position after his company, Green Consultants, was paid $2 million by Mr Murphy’s campaign to help get out the vote for the state’s 2017 gubernatorial election. The article said Mr Green was “tied to a campaign finance scandal under police investigation in Bermuda known as Jetgate” a controversy that led to the May 2014 resignation of OBA premier Craig Cannonier, now the Opposition leader. An OBA spokesman said yesterday: “The information contained in the article is dated and pertains to US political matters concerning political consultant Derrick Green and the Governor of New Jersey. The One Bermuda Alliance is focused on changing course and being the Opposition the country expects and the Government it requires. This OBA, under the leadership of Craig Cannonier, is focused on the current state of Bermuda, and on creating a viable future for Bermuda and its people.” The northjersey.com article said that Mr Green set up a secret bank account linked to the OBA which received $350,000 from wealthy American businessmen, including Nathan Landow, a Maryland developer and Democratic donor. It said: “No one has determined exactly where the money went after Green and an associate withdrew nearly all of it.” Mr Green had an undisclosed commercial relationship with Mr Landow, who was interested in building casinos in Bermuda, and he was responsible for the introduction to Mr Cannonier. Mr Cannonier travelled on Mr Landow’s private jet to Washington, along with Cabinet ministers Mark Pettingill and Shawn Crockwell, after he became premier. The trip sparked questions in Parliament about whether Mr Landow had been offered a quid pro quo, such as a gaming licence or development deal. The controversy led to an ongoing police fraud squad inquiry into the donations to the Bermuda Political Action Club bank account. Former OBA chairwoman Lynn Woolridge said last year she was “not aware of whether BPAC continues to exist, as it was not, and is not, part of the OBA”. The Bermuda Police Service told northjersey.com they were “not investigating Mr Green at this time”. Mr Green’s appointment as a senior adviser on diversity, faith, urban and regional growth in the secretary of state’s office led to criticism from a New Jersey Republican politician. Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi highlighted to northjersey.com that Green Consultants employed a councillor who had previously been convicted of public corruption.
Five local chefs will sharpen their knives for battle as the City Food Festival gets under way at Fort Hamilton tonight. Antonio Belvedere, Elizabeth Blankendal, Mohamed Elfeky, Ebrahim Elassal, and Marcella Smith will take part in the event in an attempt to win a trip to the South Beach Food Festival in Miami next year. Mr Belvedere has worked in local restaurants and is now excited to be starting his own private chef business. Ms Blankendal is self-taught and became fascinated by international cuisine at an early age as she grew up in a multicultural household. She enjoys cooking with a range of ingredients to make elegant, tasty and attractive dishes. Mr Elfeky and Mr Elassal are both from Egypt and chefs at the Fairmont Southampton. Ms Smith is a mother of three and the head chef at St David’s Seafood and Grill at St David’s Cricket Club. Round One will have three of the competitors going head-to-head in an appetizer round tonight. It was originally planned to be held at Pier Six, but the venue has been changed because of the scheduled arrival of a cruise ship. Tomorrow, the other two will cook an entrée for judges before the winner from each round will take part in a dessert cook-off on Saturday. Contestants must use the five ingredients provided for all rounds but can also incorporate other pantry products into their dishes. Tickets are available to buy at ptix.bm.
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Everard Davis, a trailblazing broadcaster who managed ZFB, Bermuda’s second television station, has died. Mr Davis was 79. Mr Davis was also the first manager of the Liberty Theatre cinema, opened by the Bermuda Industrial Union in 1987. His daughter, Gina Davis, said her father was “there at the beginning” when ZFB Radio hit the airwaves in 1962. The radio station proved a hit and was followed three years later by ZFB TV. Ms Davis said Montague Sheppard, Capital Broadcasting Company founder, recruited “a group of young black men who wanted to do local broadcasting” for ZFB. The radio station was launched from a cottage on Berkeley Road, Pembroke, but ZFB soon set up shop on North Shore Road, Devonshire, when Mr Davis took charge. Ms Davis said: “He wasn’t even 30 when he became manager. He said he was the youngest ever manager to run a TV station. He had started off in sales, despite just having a high school education — he could sell ice cream at the North Pole — and he was extremely articulate, which one of the big things that got him into broadcasting. He had the voice.” ZBM TV was affiliated with the American network CBS, but ZFB ran content from the ABC network — and also pushed to develop unique local shows. Ms Davis said her father was “an innovator” with shows such as Good Morning Bermuda. The show went on the air early in the day, unusual for Bermuda, and was a quick success. Leola Stovell, who spent years as ZFB’s weather presenter, said last year that “everybody that was into anything would be on that show”. She added Mr Davis was “instrumental” in getting church services broadcast on the radio. Ms Stovell said: “He would think of things to do in radio and TV that nobody had tried before.” Among his community-spirited ideas was the broadcast of cartoons for schoolchildren when hurricane alerts kept them at home. Mr Davis was fond of attending ABC events in the US and befriended network celebrities, who would visit his family home when they came to Bermuda. Ms Davis said her father got to meet Jonathan Frid, the actor behind the vampire Barnabus Collins from the hit show Dark Shadows, which was popular on the island. She added an early job as a messenger for Government House was “probably how he got to know so much about dealing with people”. Ms Davis added: “Not only was he highly charismatic, he had a major sense of humour. He always had a joke and a story to tell.” Mr Davis also brought live international boxing matches to big screens in nightclubs and workmen’s clubs. But showmanship ran in the family — his father, Alick “Al” Davis, was a top local musician and gifted saxophonist. Elsie Davis, his mother, was active in St Paul AME and the Sunshine League youth charity. His daughter said Mr Davis, a father of six, was married first to Nathalie Davis, then Mildred Davis before Ingrid Austin became his “final life partner”. A memorial service will be held at St Paul AME Church in Hamilton on November 8 at 1pm.
A 27-year-old gangster will spend at least 35 years behind bars after he was found guilty yesterday of the murder of a father of one. Khyri Smith-Williams was found guilty of premeditated murder and the use of a firearm to commit an indictable offence in the killing of Colford Ferguson. That weapon has been linked to two other murders and other shootings. Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves sentenced Smith-Williams to life imprisonment for the murder and ordered him to serve at least 25 years before being eligible for parole. Smith-Williams, from Sandys, was also ordered to serve ten years for the gun offence, which will run consecutively with the murder sentence. Mr Justice Greaves said the case was both very serious and very sad. He said that Mr Ferguson had “unnecessarily and cruelly lost his life as a result of the gang violence in this country”. Mr Justice Greaves added: “Today we have another case in which an innocent has been gunned down. A child is now without a father.” But Mr Justice Greaves said that it was also a sad day for Smith-Williams. He said: “You chose the path of the gang life — and unfortunately for you it has brought you to this calamity. You, too, will deny your child a father. There are never any winners in these cases.” Smith-Williams offered condolences to Mr Ferguson’s family after the verdict was read. He added: “I know you guys are probably happy someone is going down for it.” Jerome Lynch QC, Smith-Williams’s defence counsel, said that his client maintains his innocence, and that it was “very brave of him” to say so. Mr Lynch said there was a “very real prospect” that an appeal would be launched. He added: “I think there are, in my mind, possibly one or two grounds which are certainly worthy of exploration. If you’re dealing with somebody who is facing 35 years of his life in jail,” Mr Lynch explained, “we’ve got to look at every possible stone and see if there’s anything under it — and that’s what we will do.” Inspector Michael Redfern, a police witness in the case, said the sentence sent a clear message to “stay away from the violence”. He added: “Stay away from the gang because there are no winners.” Mr Redfern thanked Mr Ferguson’s family for never giving up their search for justice. He said that Bermuda needed more people such as key witness Troy Harris to come forward. Mr Redfern added: “We are a tight community and this violence needs to stop. When we work together and when we stand up together, this is what the result can be. I think this message, hopefully, will go towards trying to eradicate the gun violence we have had over the years in Bermuda.” Mr Ferguson, 29, was shot dead in February 2011 as he worked on a house near the junction of Mangrove Bay Road and East Shore Road in Somerset. Mr Harris told the court earlier that Smith-Williams, a member of the West End’s Money Over Bitches gang, confessed his involvement in the killing to him and admitted that he had driven the getaway motorbike. He said that Smith-Williams told him another man, Rasheed Muhammad, had pulled the trigger and that the wrong man had been killed. Mr Harris told the court that he had two conversations with Smith-Williams about the murder — one in Westgate prison and the other at the defendant’s home after Smith-Williams had been drinking. But Smith-Williams told the court last week that the two had been in prison at the same time but had never discussed Mr Ferguson’s murder. He also admitted that Mr Harris had visited his home in Sandys, but denied that he was drunk in the presence of the witness. Smith-Williams denied he played any part in Mr Ferguson’s murder.
Diary of a traveling handgun
The 9mm semiautomatic handgun that killed Colford Ferguson was passed between rival gangs before it was finally seized by armed police and detectives in a dramatic raid on Khyri Smith-Williams’s Broome Street, Sandys home.
A set of rules drawn up to ensure “high ethical standards” in Bermuda’s gambling industry have been published. The Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission said the Casino Gaming Regulations 2018 were designed to guarantee games are fair, honest and played with “security and integrity” as well as “sound operational and financial controls” in casinos. The regulations also include provisions to make sure systems are in place to protect vulnerable players and that any fees or taxes are logged and paid. Jamahl Simmons, the economic development and tourism minister, said yesterday: “The Government is pleased to confirm that the first tranche of the regulatory framework for gaming was completed last month. The second tranche is expected to be unveiled shortly. I would like to extend my thanks and congratulations to the chairman, executive and acting CEO of the BCGC as well as the Attorney-General’s Chambers.” The Royal Gazette reported yesterday that the BCGC has advertised for a new executive director for what is thought to be the third time since the resignation of Richard Schuetz in July last year. But Leah Scott, the shadow tourism, transport and regulatory affairs minister, claimed the future for gaming in Bermuda was “bleak”. She highlighted amendments made last year to the Casino Gaming Act 2014, that “effectively neutered the independence of the commission” and made it “subject to the whims and wishes of the minister”. Ms Scott, also the One Bermuda Alliance deputy leader, added: “While the amendments to the Act do not allow the minister to determine who may be issued a casino licence, nor does it allow him, or future ministers, the ability to interfere with corruption investigations, the amended Act does require the commission to follow ‘general directions’ on gaming policy put forward by the minister, as well as granting the minister the authority to replace commission members as and when the minister considers appropriate. What is clear is that we now have a non-independent commission and no viable candidate coming forth to take up the post of executive director with the commission. The Government promised jobs and training opportunities would arise from the establishment of casino gaming. But Ms Scott added: “At the moment, the outlook for gaming, and its corresponding employment and training opportunities for Bermudians, appears to be very bleak.” The BCGC’s website said the regulations were available for inspection at its office on Hamilton’s Church Street and can also be found online. Although notice of the regulations was gazetted, with a notice that they could be inspected, the Government did not appear to have made a public announcement until it was contacted by The Royal Gazette yesterday. Michael Dunkley, a former premier now an OBA backbencher, called on Mr Simmons in July to provide updates on gaming. He said then that Mr Simmons had announced more than three months earlier that regulations would be introduced “without further delay”. Mr Dunkley added he intended to examine the regulations. He said: “In 2017, before the election, there was a great deal of work done on the regulations and I would be surprised if they threw all of that out and started again. We were working very hard through the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission to get those done and I was aware that they had made tremendous progress. Only because of the election did we not table those and move them forward in the House of Assembly. I was led to believe that the work done was solid work and a good footprint for them to use, so I’m at a loss to understand why it has taken another 15 months to get the regulations made.” No one at the BCGC was available for comment yesterday.
A woman walking her dog saw people running and one fall over the night Bermudian teenager Lyrico Steede suffered fatal stab wounds in a park in England. Natasha Hannon told Nottingham Crown Court yesterday that she and her husband saw three young men run past them. She said one was a little ahead and the other two were side by side close behind. Ms Hannon said: “They were in the middle of the road.” She said the man in front fell, but she did not know why. She added: “I’m not sure he misjudged the height of the railings. He certainly fell forwards.” Ms Hannon said the other two men followed him over the railing. She added: “One of them, it looked like he’d straddled across him. He went down low. He was punching male one or what I thought was punching.” Ms Hannon added the third man stood at the side of the two on the ground and two more people ran by and “jumped to the fence because after male [number] two had hit male [number] one, they got up and ran off”. She said one of the other two men was also “involved in a scuffle with male one”. Mr Steede, 17, was stabbed to death on February 13 at a park in the Stock Well area of Bulwell, a suburb of Nottingham. He died in hospital five days later. It is alleged that he was lured to the park by a 16-year-old girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and two men and two boys attacked Mr Steede and stabbed him. Ms Hannon told the court a friend sent her a text later to tell her a man had been stabbed in Stock Well after he was chased from a park. Kasharn Campbell, 19, of no fixed address, and Remmell Campbell-Miller, 18, from Sneinton Boulevard, Nottingham, along with the 16-year-old girl and two 17-year-old boys, who also cannot be named, are charged with Mr Steede’s murder. All five defendants deny the charges. Ms Hannon told Peter Joyce QC, for the prosecution, that she felt “sick” when she was told there had been a stabbing. She explained: “The fact that we were there and didn’t do anything. Neither of us had our phones with us. I thought it was a group of youths messing around at first.” Mr Joyce suggested she had felt sick because she had not done anything. Ms Hannon said: “If I’d known now what I’d known then, I would have done something.” The court heard earlier that Mr Steede had ran to a nearby house, collapsed on the doorstep and pleaded for help through the locked door. The woman inside said she had been too scared to open the door in case it was a ruse to gain entry, but had called emergency services. Ms Hannon told the court: “As we got to the bottom, male one, he was going into a garden. The kitchen light was on and I just assumed that was where he lived, so we just carried on walking.” The trial continues.
A murder accused denied yesterday that he was involved in the gun killing of a father of one. Khyri Smith-Williams told the Supreme Court that he had played no part in shooting of Colford Ferguson. Jerome Lynch QC, his defence counsel, asked his client if he knew who killed Mr Ferguson. Mr Smith-Williams said: “No, I do not.” Mr Ferguson, 29, was shot dead in February 2011 as he worked on a house at the junction of Mangrove Bay Road and East Shore Road in Somerset. Witness Troy Harris earlier told the court that Mr Smith-Williams had confessed his involvement in the killing to him and that he had driven the getaway motorbike. He said that Mr Smith-Williams said another man, Rasheed Mohammad, had pulled the trigger and that the wrong man had been killed. Carrington Mahoney, for the prosecution, said that Mr Smith-Williams had lied to the jury when he said he was not involved. Mr Mahoney told Mr Smith-Williams: “You and Rasheed Mohammad murdered Colford Ferguson that day.” Mr Smith-Williams said Mr Mahoney was wrong. He said: “Rasheed Mohammad had nothing to do with Colford Ferguson’s murder.” Mr Smith-Williams also denied being the rider of the getaway motorcycle. Mr Harris told the court earlier that he had two conversations with Mr Smith-Williams about the murder — one in Westgate prison and the other at the defendant’s home when the two had been drinking. Mr Smith-Williams, 27, said last week that the two had been in prison at the same time but had never discussed Mr Ferguson’s murder. He also denied smoking marijuana with Mr Harris and that he had never failed a drugs test while in Westgate. But Mr Mahoney said that there were ways to pass a drug test. He suggested to Mr Smith-Williams that just because someone had passed a test did not mean someone “wasn’t messing about with cannabis some months before”. Mr Smith-Williams agreed that was possible. Mr Mahoney also suggested the defendant’s earlier history showed a pattern of marijuana and alcohol use. Mr Mahoney added: “You have a problem with weed and drinking.” Mr Smith-Williams said: “No, I don’t.” The defendant admitted last week that Mr Harris had visited his home in Somerset, but denied that he got drunk in the presence of the witness. Mr Mahoney told the court that the case “pretty much stands or falls” on the evidence given by Mr Harris. He added that Mr Harris had “put himself in great peril” through his decision to give evidence. Mr Mahoney added: “Troy Harris is speaking the truth. This defendant participated in the killing of Colford Ferguson.” But Mr Lynch told the jury that Mr Harris would say whatever he needed to say to “suit his own purpose”. And he questioned if his client would provide details on the type of motorcycle used, the clothing worn, and the route taken to carry out the killing to Mr Harris, but not details on the circumstances of the shooting. Mr Lynch asked: “Or is it you are going to tell him how it was actually done? That’s the brag isn’t it?” He said that Mr Harris had never provided details on the murder itself “because he didn’t know — because that was not in the paper”. Mr Smith-Williams is charged with premeditated murder and the use of a firearm to commit an indictable offence. He denies both charges. The trial continues.
Two senior members of the One Bermuda Alliance have been suspended after an alleged incident at the party’s headquarters, The Royal Gazette can reveal. Sources said Tarik Smith, a deputy chairman, and Robyn Swan, the caucus chairwoman who was also appointed to the Senate in July, were alleged to have been at the centre of an altercation after a party meeting last month. Police later launched an investigation into the alleged incident. An OBA spokesman confirmed this month that a complaint had also been lodged with the party “by a party member who criticized the alleged behavior of another party member”. Ms Swan replaced Andrew Simons in the Upper House after he was dumped by then Opposition leader Jeanne Atherden. Mr Smith was announced as an OBA deputy chairman in August. He took over the vacancy created when Justin Mathias, who has since quit, was promoted to party chairman. A Bermuda Police Service spokesman has confirmed that officers are “looking into” the complaint. The party said at the time that the complaint related to an alleged incident where only the two people concerned were present. Police said yesterday there was “no update” and that the investigation continued. Mr Smith told The Royal Gazette last night: “I cannot comment at this time.” Ms Swan refused to comment when contacted. An OBA spokesman said: “As a police investigation is ongoing, we cannot comment except to stress that this is not a party matter.”
Joseph Best, Jr. has been appointed to the Bermuda Tourism Authority Board of Directors, replacing Allison Towlson who retired from the Board following her retirement from Chubb. Mr. Best holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Marketing degree from Cornell University and a Masters of Business Administration degree from Endicott College. He has earned professional certifications in Risk and Information Systems Controls, Information Systems Audit and is a member of ISACA and the Institute of Risk Management. Mr. Best will serve on the Audit and Risk Committee of the Bermuda Tourism Authority Board. “Firstly, I want to thank Allison for her years of dedicated service on the Board – with us since the very beginning. She was incredibly devoted to the job of restoring Bermuda’s prominence as a tourism destination; her contributions were invaluable,” said Chairman Paul Telford of the Bermuda Tourism Authority Board. “I’m delighted to now welcome Joseph onto the Board to help us take Bermuda Tourism to the next level,” Mr. Telford said. “With the creation of the National Tourism Plan nearing completion, Joseph comes aboard at a critical time. His wealth of experience in marketing and risk will be essential as the country implements the plan’s six-year vision.” Mr Best’s professional journey includes experience in the private sector in New York City, at Morgan Stanley and Ernst & Young. Joseph’s experience in the public sector includes working as an information and risk manager with the Bermuda Monetary Authority. He has also spent time as a risk management specialist in the Internal Audit Department with the Government of Bermuda. Joseph currently works within regulatory compliance for a local bank and has lived in Bermuda for more than ten years. “I look forward to working with the Bermuda Tourism Authority and using my skill set in the areas of audit and risk,” Mr. Best said. “The Bermuda tourism product is dynamic and evolving and I embrace the opportunity to help shape the industry’s future alongside my colleagues on the Board of Directors.” Mr. Best is a member of the local Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Chapter and is a past president of the Gamma Iota Lambda Chapter in Brooklyn, New York. He is married to Bermudian lawyer Kimberley Caines-Best and is the father of two children.
Ryan Davidge is the winner of the Bermuda Stock Exchange-sponsored investment quiz competition, scooping a $2,500 prize. Entrants in the BSX World Investor Week Quiz Challenge were invited to answer six questions embedded in a series of investment-related articles in The Royal Gazette this month. Of the 123 people who responded, 91 managed to answer all six questions correctly. Mr Davidge was one of them and his was the name drawn out of the hat to win the $2,500 BSX stocks portfolio. The 37-year-old father of two young sons said he had no experience of personal investment and was looking forward to having a go. He will have an account set up at Butterfield Securities (Bermuda) Ltd, the brokerage that donated the prize. Mr Davidge has been a property insurance broker for 14 years and works for Aon. He said he had not done any self-directed investing before, but had often considered it. So which of the 13 companies listed on the domestic main board of the BSX will he be investing in? “I’ll work that out after I get the investment account set up with Butterfield,” Mr Davidge said. “The thing about these companies is that we know a lot about them, because they’re in Bermuda and we use them all the time. You don’t have to look through a 500-page report to get to know about them. I would look at them as fairly safe investments and they will make more than money at the bank.” This year marked the second running of the quiz, after Timothy Kikuvi won the $2,500 prize last year. The six investment articles published by The Royal Gazette, which cover investment topics like the power of compounding, the importance of diversification, basic advice for a novice investor and a drill down into The Royal Gazette/BSX Index’s strong returns so far this year are all still available online. To find them, visit www.royalgazette.com and type “WIW” into the search engine. Backing The Royal Gazette and the Bermuda Stock Exchange as supporters of the investor education initiative were financial-services regulator Bermuda Monetary Authority and the CFA Society Bermuda. This was the second World Investor Week, an initiative of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions, of which the BSX is a member. Securities regulators and other interested parties in 80 countries participated.
• For more information, visit www.bsx.com.
Bermuda’s tenpin bowling queen Hattieann Gilbert has immortalized her story in a new book. Bowling My Way: 1962–1987. It traces Ms Gilbert’s career from a chance encounter with the sport to bowling stardom. She said: “It’s my legacy and it’s been worth the work. That’s what my heart was saying, and that’s what I did.” The self-published book starts with her first publicity after Ms Gilbert’s friends pestered her at age 19 to try “this new game called bowling” in 1962. The group went to the newly opened Lily Bowl in Shelly Bay. Ms Gilbert wrote: “I had no clue how this game went, but I soon realised what the game was all about and knew that this was truly a gift from above. As I never stopped playing the game from that night, the feeling seeped deep into my bones and Lily Bowl became my second home.” Ms Gilbert entered her first tournament in June 1962 and took “every prize one could win”. The photograph featured in The Royal Gazette at the time is reproduced in the book. Ms Gilbert, 75, said last week in bowling alley Warwick Lanes that she was forced to give up competitive bowling for medical reasons in 1987. She added: “I wish I could, and I might try. But my arm is not all that sharp.” Ms Gilbert became a household name through the sport under her maiden name, Morrisette. Her career, which went international, was recognized in the Bermuda Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. But the book also chronicles the names of her fellow players over the years. She said: “So many of the people that used to bowl with me have passed, and that’s sad. But the publishers have done a pretty good job.” Ms Gilbert started work on her book two years ago. She included fan letters from primary school pupils who followed her progress in overseas tournaments. Ms Gilbert said she looked forward to donating copies to the schools involved. She added: “Maybe one or two children might decide they want to be like that someday.”
The top job at the island’s gambling regulator is still vacant more than a year after the last executive director quit. Richard Schuetz resigned from his post at the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission in July last year and warned the island would “prove incapable” of keeping crooks out of the industry. It is understood the job has been advertised at least three times since then, most recently last week. Jamahl Simmons, the tourism minister, said in July Deborah Blakeney, the BCGC’s general counsel, would fill the role on a temporary basis But applications are again being sought for someone to take the job on a permanent basis and be “responsible for the daily operations of the commission”. The job advertisement said that duties included making sure gambling on the island was run “with the highest standards of honesty and integrity”. The advertisement added the successful applicant would be expected to work in a “co-operative and collaborative manner with all applicable agencies both within and outside of Bermuda”. Candidates must have seven years’ experience in casino gambling or regulation and anyone short-listed would have to undergo “robust” background checks. The advertisement added that whoever got the three-year contract “may not hold any other office or employment”. Mr Schuetz, a casino industry veteran, was appointed in 2015 and worked a notice period before he left the island last December to return to the United States. He suggested in his resignation letter that Bermuda should “seriously consider” ditching gaming altogether or risk its reputation as a clean financial jurisdiction. Mr Schuetz wrote: “My primary reason for resigning is that I have lost confidence that the Government of Bermuda and its legal system can provide the necessary protections to offer well-regulated casino gaming on the island. I sincerely believe that this island will prove incapable of keeping people with questionable backgrounds and behaviors away from the industry.” Alan Dunch, commission chairman at the time, quit his post last November after the Government tabled legislation to allow the tourism minister to fire members of the BCGC and issue policy directions to the regulatory body. Roger Gros, the publisher of Global Gaming Business Magazine, said the recent job advertisement was “sensible”. But he added: “The reputation of the Bermuda gaming industry now is not high. It’s going to be tough for them to get somebody who can really do the job and have that integrity that they need. I don’t know if they’re going to be able to find that person.” Mr Gros, who is based in Nevada, said “a lot of people” fitted the description advertised but most were already employed or working on a consultancy basis. He added: “To really draw them out and get them to sign a contract and come into a situation where it’s unclear that you’re going to have that transparency that a regulator needs is going to be very difficult.” Mr Gros said that “regulatory uncertainty” had affected the confidence of potential financiers of casino developments on the island. Ms Blakeney said last Friday that inquiries about the executive director position should be directed to Cheryl-Ann Mapp, the BCGC chairwoman, who was not in the office. The Royal Gazette was told its request would be forwarded by e-mail, but received no response. Mr Simmons said in July that the Government was looking for a replacement. He later added a “full and formal update on gaming” would be “provided at the appropriate time”. A series of questions, including when the public would get an update and what progress had been made to bring casinos to Bermuda, was submitted to the Government last Friday. No response to those was received by press time, although a spokeswoman said yesterday any inquiries about the job vacancy should be submitted to the “independent BCGC”.
Victims of crime who seek criminal injuries compensation may have to wait years for their claims to be processed, The Royal Gazette can reveal. The lawyer for a man shot four years ago said she was told by the Supreme Court last week that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board was “severely backlogged” and that his case had yet to be dealt with. Cristen Suess, of law firm Wakefield Quin, said she had chased the man’s claim for three years. She added: “Since submitting the application in 2015, we have contacted the administrator for the CICB, via the Supreme Court Registry, on at least 15 separate occasions to follow up on when his matter was due to be heard. We were advised by the court that due to various issues with staffing and budget restraints that his application has not yet been processed. Indeed, we spoke with the court on October 8 and were advised that the CICB was severely backlogged as a result of undergoing significant internal transitions and that we would be hearing from them shortly.” The CICB, funded with public money, does not appear to have released an annual report for years and the number of backlogged cases is not known. Neither Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General, who is responsible for the CICB, nor the board responded to a request for comment. Ms Suess’s client, who asked not to be named, worked in construction before he was attacked and now faces a financial struggle. The 26-year-old said: “It has affected me from working, being that I have nerve damage. It has caused me an excruciating amount of pain. I can’t really do much. I’m not even able to play football any more.” The father of one, who now lives in England, was attacked at a sports club by a man who was never convicted of the crime. The man said: “It was a very frightening thing to go through. I went up to the porch to give somebody something and somebody started shooting. I have permanent injuries. From my left hip down to my knee, I have nerve damage. My spine was less than a half-inch away from being severed.” The victim added he was frustrated by the failure to get his case heard. He said he planned to pay his legal bill out of any compensation payment. Gina Spence, a community activist, said she was aware of another case involving a shooting victim who applied for compensation last year but had yet to receive anything. Ms Spence added: “It’s really, really bad. They are on that long waiting list of people who are in dire need of help. The need is now. The impact on those that survive these incidents is immediate. The minute you are picked up and put in an ambulance, that’s when the dollars start. Many of these victims don’t have insurance and they face astronomical health bills.” Ms Spence said that the CICB needed an overhaul as laws to govern its operations were passed long before gun violence became a serious problem. She added: “It was never designed for this magnitude of incidents.” Scott Pearman, the Opposition spokesman on legal affairs, said: “Delays with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board are particularly unfortunate because the injured who are seeking aid are victims of crime — sometimes people who suffered injuries trying to prevent crimes.” He added that Bermuda had more than 30 tribunals and boards with people often confused about which to go to and that the system could be streamlined by bringing them all under one roof. Mr Pearman said: “Bermuda would benefit from a single tribunal system — allowing Bermudians to have claims and appeals addressed in one place, with one support system to consolidate, simplify, and expedite the many different procedures that exist now.” Victims of crime can apply to the CICB for compensation on several grounds, including coverage for expenses caused as a result of their injuries and for financial loss owing to a total or partial inability to work. The maximum payout for a claimant is $100,000. The board was given a $325,000 budget last year and paid out $138,388 in total to claimants. Government figures show that the number of claims made to the board has declined in recent years. There were 16 claims recorded in the 2017-18 financial year, with 13 processed, compared to 26 claims in 2016, with 19 concluded. In 2015, the year Ms Suess’s client lodged his application, there were 39 applications with 18 processed. The average time for processing claims was not given. There were 70 claims for compensation in 2008-09, when the average time to process an application was 15 months. The compensation board, appointed by the Governor this year, is headed by chairman Nicole Stoneham, a Puisne Judge, and deputy chairman Michael Scott, a government MP and former attorney-general. The other members are doctors Panagal Chelvam and Kyjuan Brown, and lawyers Tawanna Tannock and Paul Wilson. The previous board met only twice last year.
A new electronic land registration system will make it harder for fraudsters to steal property, the Land Registrar has said. Debbie Reid added her office had fielded complaints from people who said they had lost land, but a new electronic registration system would make it “very difficult” for deception to take place in the future. Ms Reid said: “We have had complaints at our office regarding people losing their land. Obviously we don’t go into the details — we are just a records office. We always advise people to seek the advice of an attorney. But it’s going to be very difficult for that to happen on the land title registration system.” Ms Reid was speaking at the Hamilton Rotary Club on the island’s new land title registration regime, which came into effect on August 27. The online Norwood information system, named after Richard Norwood who surveyed Bermuda in 1616, has been worked on since 2007. Ms Reid said the Norwood system removed the need for paper deeds and documents and was accessible online to everyone. She added: “Once property has been registered, it can’t be adversely taken by squatters because behind it there’s transparency. You can’t go on to someone else’s land and say that you never knew who the owner was.” Adverse possession or squatter’s rights has been used in the past to gain ownership of properties claimed to be abandoned when the new occupant has maintained the land for 20 years or more without challenge. The new system, set up after Parliament approved the Land Title Registration Act this summer, was praised by Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works. Colonel Burch said the online registry would end the “deplorable” history of property owners getting cheated out of their land. Ms Reid said that her office had “a full appointment book” of people who wanted to register, with ten applications being processed at present. She added real estate agents had “embraced” the new register. Ms Reid said: “We’ve been working with attorneys over the last 11 years trying to come to some sort of agreement with them. We couldn’t introduce everything they wanted, but we have tried to work closely with them to get it right.” Ms Reid added that Bermuda was one of the last countries to adopt an electronic system of land title registration. She said that when a property is registered, deeds are kept online with all historical documents attached. Ms Reid explained that registration is only compulsory when a property is to be sold. But Ms Reid said there was scope for examining the fee base to encourage other people, such as seniors, to sign on.
A recording of the last words of a Bermudian teenager stabbed in an English playground were played at the trial of five teenagers accused of his murder. Lyrico Steede told a police officer: “I am going to die.” The first officer at the scene told colleagues: “He says it happened in this area. He says he was stabbed in the back. The officer asked Mr Steede, 17, twice: “How many people attacked you?” The stabbed youngster said: “Four.” The policeman asked: “Do you know them at all? Do you know why they did it?” Mr Steede said: “No.” The device also recorded a woman officer who warned that the teenager was “semi-conscious”. She asked Mr Steede if there was anyone they needed to contact and the policeman said: “He shook his head.” The recording, captured by a camera and recorder worn by the police officer first on the scene, was heard by a jury at Nottingham Crown Court last Friday. Police rushed to Stock Well, Bulwell, Nottingham, on the night of February 13 after a woman called emergency services to report that a man had begged her through her locked front door to call police because he had been stabbed. The woman called emergency services after Mr Steede collapsed on her doorstep. The woman told an emergency operator: “I don’t know whether it is a joke or something. He told me ‘phone the police, I have been stabbed’. I am on my own with my children. It is dark outside. I tried to look through the peephole. He was pushing at the door.” The operator asked the woman if she thought Mr Steede was trying to get into her home. She told the operator that he had knocked on the door and said he was dying. The operator told the witness to ask for his name, but not to open the door. The witness said: “He is telling me, ‘just help me, I am dying’.” She told the court she was scared to open the door for fear it was a trick to get entry to the house. She added: “I didn’t know if someone was trying to get access to my house to trick me. I didn’t believe it was real.” Mr Steede, who was living with family in Nottingham, died in hospital five days later. Kasharn Campbell, 19, of no fixed abode, and Remmell Campbell-Miller, 18, from Sneinton Boulevard, in Nottingham, are charged with the murder of Mr Steede, along with two 17-year-old boys and a 16-year-old girl, none of whom can be named for legal reasons due to age. It is alleged that the girl lured Mr Steede to the playground. The four male defendants are alleged to have chased Mr Steede and stabbed him several times after he stumbled on a railing and fell. The five defendants sat in silence as the police footage, with Mr Steede’s face pixelated out, was played on TV screens in the courtroom. Matthew Evans, a paramedic, told the court Mr Steede was “drowsy” and he gave him oxygen to help his breathing. He added he radioed in a “Code Red back-up” and tried to inject Mr Steede with drugs in a desperate attempt to save his life. But he said he was unable to get a needle in “due to the veins being shut down due to low blood pressure”. Mr Evans said Mr Steede’s heart stopped beating and CPR and a ventilator were used. He was rushed to hospital in Nottingham, where he had emergency surgery, but died on February 21. Dr Stuart Hamilton, a pathologist for the UK’s Home Office, said Mr Steede died of brain damage caused by lack of oxygen caused when his heart stopped beating because he had lost so much blood. Dr Hamilton said the “most significant injury” was a stab wound to a thigh which struck the femoral artery, one of the body’s main arteries which supplies blood to the legs. He added Mr Steede had five cuts to his face, including one to the chin “down to the bone”. Both his lungs were also injured but Dr Hamilton said medical teams had managed to repair them. Under questioning by Peter Joyce QC for the Crown, Dr Hamilton admitted that he could not say how many knives were used. The trial continues.
A group of patients hit out yesterday after they were reportedly told that police are trying to look at their health records. Officers raided Bermuda Healthcare Services in Paget and the Brown-Darrell Clinic in Smith’s, which are both run by Ewart Brown, the former premier, in February 2017. At the time, police confirmed “a number of records” were seized and “significant steps” were taken to protect patients’ confidentiality. However, a press release issued yesterday stated patients at Bermuda Healthcare Services remained “extremely concerned” that medical files had not yet been returned. It said they were “up in arms as they have been informed that the Bermuda Police Service is attempting to examine their records without their permission”. Mahesh Reddy, the chief medical director at Bermuda Healthcare Services, said: “This is a gross breach of confidentiality. The information contained in those medical files is intended only for the patients’ physicians, not the Bermuda Police Service.” Dr Reddy’s medical credentials were called into question by detectives but later confirmed as acceptable by the island’s registration body for doctors. Dr Reddy was arrested in a raid but never charged with any offence. The Royal Gazette told last month how detectives were still investigating the two clinics over allegations they ordered medically unnecessary tests for patients to boost profits. The allegations have been denied by Dr Brown and he has not been charged with any offence. Wilma Fubler, a spokeswoman for concerned patients, said: “We, the patients, are calling on the Government to protect our right to confidentiality.” A BPS spokesman said: “As this matter remains under investigation, no further comment can be made at this time.”
Race relations experts from Oxford University are to visit Bermuda College for a special symposium. The event, Race and Resistance: Understanding Bermuda Today, will examine how modern Bermuda was shaped by its grim history of slavery and segregation. The conference was organized by the college and the Human Rights Commission with the Oxford Centre for Global History and the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities Race and Resistance Network. Eva Hodgson, a veteran civil rights campaigner, will be honored for her “life of academic pursuit and dedicated activism”. Three panels of speakers will discuss the role of resistance in Bermuda from foundation and emancipation, to desegregation and modern problems. One session will focus on how to tackle the legacy of racism and understand patterns of resistance in today’s Bermuda. Wale Adebanwi, director of the African Studies Centre at Oxford University, modern history professor Stephen Tuck, co-director of the Race and Resistance Research Programme at Oxford, will both be involved. Phyllis Curtis-Tweed, vice- president of the college, said: “Knowledge of our history is important to understanding our strengths and amazing accomplishments as well as patterns of socioeconomic and political disenfranchisement. It is from our stories of resistance that we can draw strength and formulate ways to transform our community. Bermuda College is pleased to be a part of this important event.” Lisa Reed, executive officer of the Human Rights Commission, added: “Bermuda has a rich history of activism through the varied contributions of artists, intellectuals, spiritual leaders and community groups. Much of Bermuda’s history, in particular its racial history, has been painstakingly researched and mapped by individuals seeking to give voice to untold stories in order to question and challenge oppressive practices. Often-times this advocacy has come at great personal and professional cost.” A publication based on the symposium will be developed for use in education. The event will be held on November 3 in room G3100 at the college from 9am until 5pm. Tickets must be reserved through www.bermuda-symposium.eventbrite.co.uk. For more information, e-mail email@example.com or phone 504-2543.
A diver told how a shark bumped into him underwater before it “took off” with fish and a spear from his hand. Tim Price was hunting invasive lionfish and planned to put any catch on the barbecue to serve for dinner. However, a dusky shark had other ideas and clamped hold of the prey, taking the weapon along with it. Mr Price was part of a group diving off Cooper’s Island on Saturday and had two lionfish attached to his spear — one caught by him and one by his friend, Vanessa Conway — as he made his way back to shore. The 28-year-old said: “It was right at that sunset time when you get a lot of fish getting active, it would have been about 6.50pm. The shark came up and bumped me, his entire side came up and hit my side, then he pulled off and I saw him circle in front of me. He came back and just bit on to the fish, one little flick of his tail and he took off. It was so strong I couldn’t hold on to the spear. The last thing I saw was the shark swimming away with the shaft of the spear sticking out. I figured he won, I’m not going to go after it.” Mr Price, of Smith’s, said the animal was a dusky shark between five and six feet long. With his flippers on, he was sufficiently bigger than the fish and it had “very little interest” in him. He said: “It was definitely really cool to see. Initially, of course, there is a little bit of panic when you see a shark, but they’re not something that you need to be terrified of; they’re just doing their thing.” Mr Price added: “They are very misunderstood and in the larger scheme of things pose very little threat to humans. It’s humans that pose a much more serious and realised threat to sharks.” However, without the lionfish for the barbecue, he and his friends went for pizza instead. Lionfish are native to the Indian and Pacific oceans, but began to be seen in the Atlantic in the 1990s and are presumed to have been introduced accidentally from home “exotic” fish tanks in southern Florida during Hurricane Andrew. The species has since spread throughout the Caribbean and Western Atlantic — the first lionfish was caught in Bermuda in 2000. They are said to be opportunist generalist carnivores, which means they will eat anything they come across that fits in their mouths. Lionfish upset the balance of nature as Atlantic fish are not instinctually aware that it is a predator and can put great pressure on already vulnerable populations and feed on juvenile fish. Lionfish culls and provisioning for restaurants are seen as a way of controlling their population. Mr Price said: “If people are interested in getting involved in lionfish hunting they should check out the Bermuda Lionfish Culling Programme Facebook page. “Lionfish are much more dangerous than sharks, not in that they — lionfish — are venomous but the potential they have to eat all the juvenile reef fish and crustaceans and kill the reef.”
The legal profession’s governing body has backed an objection to a bid to hire a top London barrister to challenge the Supreme Court ruling that quashed a ban on same-sex marriage. It is understood the Bar Council has told the Government that it does not support the application for James Guthrie QC to lead the Government’s appeal. The council is believed to have ruled the Attorney-General’s Chambers failed to show there were no island barristers with the appropriate expertise to argue the case. Walton Brown, the home affairs minister, confirmed in July that the Government would appeal the landmark court judgment that reversed the same-sex marriage ban. It is now up to the immigration department, part of his ministry, to decide if a temporary work permit will be approved for the QC. Mark Pettingill, lawyer for Rod Ferguson, one of the respondents in the case, said yesterday he was not surprised by the Bar Council’s decision. He added: “There are criteria that must be met in order for an application to be made to bring in overseas counsel and in this case the Bar clearly was not satisfied that it was warranted. What will be interesting is that it is a matter for the minister who announced the appeal whether he adheres to, or takes the position of, the Bar Council in allowing Mr Guthrie to come in or not.” Then Chief Justice Ian Kawaley struck down parts of the Domestic Partnership Act, which aimed to replace same-sex marriage with civil partnerships, in June. The appeal is due to be heard next month. A request for a special practising certificate must be made to the Bar Council for an overseas lead counsel before they can appear in Bermuda courts. Permission was sought for Mr Guthrie, a member of London-based 3 Hare Court, to act for the Crown. The website of his London chambers said Mr Guthrie, who has appeared in island cases in the past, was a “leading silk in civil liberties and human rights work”. Legal teams acting for the respondents, which also include gay rights charity OutBermuda and Maryellen Jackson, were given chance to object to Mr Guthrie and at least one challenge was submitted. The Bermuda Bar Association said it cannot comment on special admission applications. But it is understood the Bar Council, which is made up of nine elected members, as well as the Attorney-General in an ex officio capacity, felt the Attorney-General’s Chambers failed to meet the required criteria. The Bar Association website has an outline of the procedure for hiring an overseas lawyer. The website said: “Under the guidelines, Bar Council review the propriety of the use of foreign leading counsel for each hearing in which a client wishes them to appear before the Bermuda courts and for each application for a work permit from the Department of Immigration. If Bar Council determines that the use of foreign leading counsel is appropriate, then it issues a special practising certificate to that counsel for that hearing.” The minister consults the Bar Council for its view on whether an overseas lawyer will be admitted under immigration laws. The council must consider the legal complexity of the case and its importance before deciding if there are “exceptional circumstances” that need foreign expertise. It also takes into account the availability of local counsel who can “adequately present the case”. Bermuda is the only country in the world to have allowed same-sex marriage then banned it. The Domestic Partnership Act reversed a Supreme Court ruling from May last year, which had paved the way for gay couples to marry in Bermuda and on island-registered ships around the world. But Mr Justice Kawaley ruled the legislation was at odds with the Constitution, which protects the right to freedom of conscience and outlaws discrimination on the basis of creed. The Government did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.
Public opinion on the introduction of a living wage for Bermuda will be heard at a forum next week. People have been invited to listen to a panel of speakers and give their views after legislators approved a parliamentary report on the subject. Rolfe Commissiong, a Progressive Labour Party backbencher, said the event next Thursday will be “very productive”. He chaired the cross-party Joint Select Committee that considered the establishment of a living wage after he campaigned to set up the group in 2016. Mr Commissiong will be on the panel along with Cordell Riley, a statistician, Reverend Nicholas Tweed, the pastor of St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Martha Dismont, the founder and executive director of Family Centre. Mr Commissiong said: “This forum is designed to be the first public forum after the historic bipartisan affirmation and support in passing the report in the House of Assembly. The PLP is reiterating its commitment to the living wage and we think this forum will be a great opportunity to continue to educate Bermudians about the issue while the Government begins the process of deciding how it is going to implement the living wage, no doubt taking into account the recommendations of the report, and secondly to get feedback from the general public about this important initiative.” The PLP sponsored the event and it will be moderated by Kim Swan, another of the party’s backbenchers. Proposals in the document, approved by MPs in August, included the introduction of a $12.25 an hour minimum wage on May 1 next year and the establishment of a wage commission to determine the appropriate level for a living wage, which would be implemented in May 2021. Although calculations earlier arrived at a figure of $18.23, Mr Commissiong has said that was a “benchmark”. Mr Commissiong said, when the report was debated in the House of Assembly, that “most people would assume” the actual living wage rate would be between $19 and $21 an hour by the time it was in place. In its report, the JSC said it appreciated that statutory pay was not the only answer and also backed tax reform and ways to cut the cost of living in Bermuda. Mr Commissiong said he hoped the discussion, to be held from 6pm at St Paul Centennial Hall in Hamilton, would also consider income inequality and how that affected island residents. He added that countries with wide differences in earnings “usually” see a rise in social problems like gangs, violence and poor educational performance. Mr Commissiong said those problems, and others, had been “prevalent” in Bermuda over the past few decades. He added his fellow panellists came with “a very substantive and, in some cases, unique perspective that I think will make the discussion on the night very productive”. Mr Commissiong said: “We invite all Bermudians to turn out, not just the PLP Bermudians. It is being hosted by the PLP but it’s an event that will be open to everybody.”
Disney Cruise Lines marked its first trip to Bermuda with a plaque and key ceremony. The Disney Magic stayed in Dockyard on last Saturday night, with 2,399 guests and 1,024 crew on board, after its arrival from New York City. It was the first of five calls to the island scheduled for the rest of 2018. Walter Roban, the transport minister, and West End Development Corporation representative Carmen Tucker attended the ceremony and festivities. Mr Roban said of the weekend visit: “I am delighted that after many years of discussion with Disney Cruise Line, that Disney was finally able to come to our shores. It is an honour to welcome Captain Fabian, Disney Cruise Line executives, and the Disney Magic crew and passengers.” A celebration event at Heritage Wharf included a Marine and Ports tug salute, Gombey performances and a greeting from Bermuda Tourism Authority ambassadors.
Unionized Belco workers headed to the Bermuda Industrial Union headquarters yesterday for a meeting — a week after they backed a work-to-rule at the power firm. Electricity Supply Trade Union members were called to the meeting a day after the union is understood to have communicated with Ascendant Group, Belco’s parent company. The ESTU started the work-to-rule as a protest over the removal of four “qualified, displaced Bermudians” from the company. But the dispute also involved senior management. Donald Lottimore, the president of the ESTU, demanded the removal of Sean Durfy, the Ascendant chief executive, and Robert Schaefer, the chief financial officer. A work-to-rule means Belco staff will work basic hours, but overtime and emergency jobs are banned. Ascendant warned last week that the industrial action could stretch its resources and lead to power cuts for customers.
Bermudian actor Earl Cameron is to feature alongside other black stars who broke the movie “colour bar”. Mr Cameron will appear in the first installment of Britain’s BBC Two documentary series Black Hollywood tonight. The series premiere, at 9pm UK time, will turn the spotlight on breakthrough moments in modern black cinema with the success stories of films such as La Land and Moonlight. The programme highlights Mr Cameron as a pioneer in white-dominated cinema alongside Harry Belafonte and Diahann Carroll. He was interviewed, along with Mr Belafonte, on the experience of taking a romantic lead role at a time when interracial relationships were regarded as box office poison in Hollywood. Mr Cameron, 101, said he was aware “to a certain degree” of being a trailblazer when he appeared in the 1951 film Pool of London, the first British film to portray an interracial relationship. But he added: “To be honest, it didn’t strike me as breaking ground on the racial issue. Coming from Bermuda in 1939, which was a very racist island, the degree of racism in England didn’t surprise me. I had grown up with it.” Mr Cameron said the role was “normal and natural” — but that it was still “a first romantic role between black and white”. He added he had read about black-dominated films such as Black Panther, but that he rarely went to the cinema. Mr Cameron explained: “I live out in a small place in Warwickshire; I’m not in London any more. I don’t see many films these days.” The three-part BBC Two documentary, subtitled They Gotta Have Us, also includes filmmakers and actors such as Barry Jenkins, Jesse Williams, John Boyega, Don Cheadle, David Oyelowo, Debbie Allen, John Singleton and Natalie Emmanuel. Mr Cameron said he had never met Mr Belafonte — but knew Sir Sidney Poitier “extremely well”.
A union is marking its 100th anniversary celebrations by appealing for donations to help raise $100,000 to provide scholarships for young Bermudians. The Bermuda Union of Teachers will celebrate 100 years on February 1 next year and has organized a series of events this year to mark the milestone. Now the union is asking businesses and organisations to donate raffle prizes for its Centenary Raffle, in which 100 prizes will be raffled off to raise cash for the scholarships. BUT president Shannon James said: “We have already had some great events marking our 100 years, notably the Caribbean Union of Teachers conference and the CUT Games which was a huge success. However, when we started planning events to mark our centenary, we were very mindful of the need to further help some of those we teach which is why we decided to try and raise $100,000 for four scholarships. We sincerely hope that members of the community, businesses and organisations will help us get 100 fantastic prizes to raffle to help us reach our target.” Money raised will be split into scholarships in the name of the Union’s founders: the Reverend Rufus Stovell, Adele Tucker and Edith and Matilda Crawford. Mr James said: “By naming the scholarships after our founders, we are acknowledging our past but we are also investing in our future. We believe that is a very fitting way to celebrate our 100 years.”
Bermuda Union of Teachers
A murder accused yesterday dismissed evidence against him as lies. Khyri Smith-Williams claimed testimony from Troy Harris was fabricated. He told Supreme Court: “This guy made up the whole fiction story in his head.” Mr Smith-Williams is charged with the killing of father of one Colford Ferguson. Mr Ferguson was murdered as he worked on a house at the junction of Mangrove Bay Road and East Shore Road in Somerset in February 2011. Mr Harris earlier told the court that Mr Smith-Williams had confessed to him his involvement in the killing. He said that Mr Smith-Williams had said another man, Rasheed Mohammad, had pulled the trigger and that the wrong man had been killed. Mr Harris said that he had two conversations with Mr Smith-Williams about the murder — one in Westgate Correctional Facility and the other at the defendant’s home when the two had been drinking. Mr Smith-Williams, 27, said yesterday that the two had been in prison at the same time. He told Jerome Lynch QC, his defence counsel, that the subject of Mr Ferguson’s murder had never come up. Mr Lynch said that in Mr Harris’s testimony he had said that he and Mr Smith-Williams had smoked marijuana together while in prison. Mr Smith-Williams said: “I never smoked weed in Westgate. Weed’s not my thing.” He added that he had been tested for drug use while in Westgate and had never failed. The defendant also denied he had ever discussed Mr Mohammad with Mr Harris. Mr Smith-Williams admitted that Mr Harris had visited his home in Somerset, but denied that he got drunk in the presence of the witness. He is charged with premeditated murder and the use of a firearm to commit an indictable offence. He denies both charges. Mr Lynch asked his client to “cast his mind back” to the day Mr Ferguson was murdered. He asked: “Can you recall what you were doing?” Mr Smith-Williams said that he could not. He added: “My birthday was five days before that incident. I don’t even remember what I was doing on my birthday.” Mr Smith-Williams said that he had heard Mr Harris had a “vendetta against Somerset guys” since he was shot in November 2015. He added: “There were rumors going around here that he was going to bring down everybody in Somerset.” Leroy Mathurin, a police officer, said earlier yesterday that Mr Harris was not forced or offered anything in return for evidence against Mr Smith-Williams. His testimony backed evidence from police detective Michael Redfern on Thursday. Mr Mathurin said that he — like Mr Redfern — had been involved in the case since June 2016. He added that the pair had travelled to the UK to speak to Mr Harris about the 2012 murder of wheelchair-bound Lorenzo Stovell in Sandys. Mr Mathurin said that Mr Harris said he also wanted to give police information on another case. He added the two officers spoke to Mr Harris about the murder of Mr Ferguson in another interview later the same day. Mr Mathurin said: “The only thing he mentioned was the welfare of his family.” He added that Mr Harris did not ask the officers to return for a third interview to discuss the Ferguson case. But Mr Mathurin said he and Mr Redfern had visited Mr Harris again to “put the specifics” of the case to him. The trial continues.
The island’s power supplier is now halfway through a 14-day union ultimatum to reinstate four management staff, but neither side in the dispute would say if talks have taken place. Unionized Belco workers adopted a work-to-rule last Friday in the wake of an emergency meeting the day before. Ascendant, the parent company of Belco, warned that the industrial action could lead to blackouts. The company has tackled minor outages this week, but union staff have refused to work emergency shifts or overtime. Donald Lottimore, the head of the Electricity Supply Trade Union, gave the firm two weeks from last Friday to reinstate four “qualified, displaced Bermudians”. The union also demanded the removal of Sean Durfy, the Ascendant chief executive, and Robert Schaefer, the company’s chief financial officer. The standoff came after an announcement from Ascendant Group that four senior executives had been made redundant or resigned. Denton Williams, senior vice-president of Ascendant and CEO of Belco, and Zehena Davis, Ascendant’s vice-president of human resources, both quit. Michael Daniel, Ascendant’s senior vice-president and chief strategic development officer, and Carol Ross-Desilva, Ascendant vice president of organizational excellence, were made redundant. The controversy sparked concern from David Burt, the Premier, and Walton Brown, the home affairs minister. Ascendant’s board of directors said last Friday they were “reaching out” to the ESTU and the Government to begin talks. However, the company’s last public statement was a warning from Ascendant last weekend that the work-to-rule would leave the company short staffed, which could lead to “prolonged outages”. Belco reported an outage on Wednesday that left five customers without power in the Tucker’s Point area until early afternoon yesterday. Another seven customers near Gates Bay, St George’s, lost electricity yesterday, but power was restored by 5pm. ESTU’s restrictions mean outages that fall outside normal working hours could leave customers in the dark. The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the ESTU and Belco rules that emergency overtime is “required from time to time” because of “the nature of the electricity supply industry”. Industrial relations rules say that any “lockout, strike or irregular industrial action short of a strike” is illegal without at least 21 days’ notice. It is understood that the ESTU replied to a letter from Ascendant last night, but that no meeting date was arranged. The Royal Gazette asked Ascendant, the ESTU and the Ministry of Home Affairs if talks had been arranged or if arbitration was under consideration. None of them responded.
A man who hit a female American tourist in the face during a string of violent robberies has been ordered to appear in Mental Health Court. Jah-Rome Hill, 37, admitted attacking the tourist and two pizza shop employees, within hours of each other. He also pleaded guilty yesterday to three charges of shoplifting goods with a total value of $26.70. Magistrates’ Court heard that Hill attacked a 25-year-old American visitor from behind near Somerset Bridge on August 20. He covered the woman’s mouth, hit her several times in the face and demanded money. The woman told Hill that she had only a credit card and he forced her to an ATM at nearby Robinson’s Marina. The tourist escaped while she was at the gas station and shouted for help, but Hill ran away. Witnesses told police the attacker had distinctive braided hair and a bright T-shirt. Hill struck again in the early hours of the next day when he attacked two Four Star Pizza staff with a piece of wood as they left the Sandys branch at about 1.15am. Hill battered one of the men with the piece of wood and stole his wallet, which contained $170. Magistrate Juan Wolffe adjourned the case until October 29.
A witness in the case against a murder accused was promised nothing for his testimony, a police detective told a court yesterday. Detective Inspector Michael Redfern said that Troy Harris was not forced or offered anything to give evidence against Khyri Smith-Williams, who is charged with the 2011 killing of Colford Ferguson, a father of one, as he worked on a house at the junction of Mangrove Bay Road and East Shore Road, Somerset Island, in February 2011. Mr Redfern, of the serious crime unit, said that he had been involved in the case since June 2016. He told the jury that he and fellow officer Leroy Mathurin carried out the first of two interviews with Mr Harris at a prison in Birmingham, England, that month. Mr Redfern said they went to England to talk to Mr Harris to gather evidence in connection with the murder of wheelchair-bound Lorenzo Stovell on Boaz Island, in Sandys in 2012. He said that Mr Harris told the officers that he had other information he wanted to provide. Mr Redfern said that Mr Harris talked about the murder of Colford Ferguson in another interview later the same day. Carrington Mahoney, for the prosecution, asked Mr Redfern: “Did he make any requests of you before giving this information?” Mr Redfern said that Mr Harris had not. He added: “The only thing he highlighted was concerns for his family and himself.” Mr Redfern said that he believed at the time of the interview Mr Harris’s mother was living on Somerset’s Broome Street. Mr Mahoney asked: “Did you promise him anything before, during, after?” Mr Redfern replied: “No, sir.” Another interview with Mr Harris took place in July 2017 at Oakwood prison in Staffordshire, England. Mr Mahoney asked: “On this occasion did he make any requests of you? Did you promise him anything? Did you threaten him in any way?” Mr Redfern replied no to all three questions. He added that neither he nor the Bermuda Police had anything to do with Mr Harris being moved from Birmingham to a more modern jail in Staffordshire. Jerome Lynch QC, defence counsel for Mr Smith-Williams, said that there were at first a number of suspects identified by police in connection with Mr Ferguson’s murder. Mr Lynch told the jury that another man, Duante Darrell, had been “bragging” about having committed the murder, which was used as grounds for a warrant for police to search Mr Darrell’s home. Mr Smith-Williams, 27, is charged with premeditated murder and the use of a firearm to commit an indictable offence. He denies both charges. Mr Harris said that Mr Smith-Williams had confessed his involvement in the killing to Mr Ferguson. He added that Mr Smith-Williams had told him it was another man, Rasheed Muhammad, who pulled the trigger and that Mr Ferguson was the victim of mistaken identity. The trial continues.
Police have launched an internal inquiry after a driver alleged to have been “drinking the whole day” was allowed to walk away by officers having crashed his car. An e-mail exchange that came into the possession of The Royal Gazette — between a witness to the crash and Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell, the head of traffic policing — confirmed an investigation into the conduct of the two officers who attended the crash scene. Mr Cardwell told the female witness: “I am exceptionally disappointed and perhaps frustrated. What has happened flies in the face of all our efforts to combat instances of impaired driving.” The incident happened on Sunday night after the man was seen by Mr Cardwell drinking at the Spanish Point Boat Club in Pembroke. Mr Cardwell was at the club as commodore for the Bermuda Power Boat Association, which was holding its season-ending series races on Sunday. He told the witness: “The attending officers have reported they detected no signs of impairment at the collision scene. I happened to be at SPBC through the day on Sunday, organising and facilitating the powerboat races. I saw the driver at the bar the whole day, drinking beers.” He added that there was a strong possibility that the man was over the drink-driving limit when he got behind the wheel and crashed into a utility pole in the car park at grocery store M Soares & Sons on Spanish Point Road at about 9pm. Mr Cardwell told the woman he would make a report to Deputy Commissioner Paul Wright, who is in charge of service discipline, because there was evidence there had been a breach of “professional standards, code of ethics and code of conduct”. He added: “I am aware that the deputy commissioner will launch a formal internal inquiry, which is likely to identify a breach of the code of conduct and could result in the officers in question requiring retraining.” No one was injured, but power supplies were interrupted until a Belco crew repaired the damage. The witness, who asked not to be named, wrote to the police on Monday and said that the driver of the car was seen drinking alcohol by several people over the course of the day. She added that the two officers attending the scene did not conduct any sobriety field tests or demand a breathalyzer test. The witness said: “You could smell the alcohol on him. Why did the officers do nothing? Why are we left having to risk our lives as we come and go while he continues to be belligerent and get behind the wheel? What will it take? Him killing an innocent family before something is done?” A police spokesman said: “The BPS has received information that we will follow up on with a view to determining if the officers have breached any of the standards of professional behavior.”
A dairy farm accused by neighbors of causing a stink may soon have new owners and no more milking cows. A Department of Health spokeswoman told The Royal Gazette yesterday: “The Department of Health is aware of discussions ongoing between Green Land Dairy Farm and potential buyers. Officials from the department are monitoring the discussions and assisting to ensure that, whatever the outcome, the current issues will be resolved.” Michael Dunkley, MP for Smith’s North, whose family milk business is the farm’s only customer, said: “I’m aware there have been some discussions about a sale. I’m not aware that it’s actually been finalized.” Mr Dunkley, a former One Bermuda Alliance premier, added that owners Valter and Lidia Medeiros had carried out “significant work” to try to resolve the manure smell that sparked complaints from neighbors. He said it was “very clear” that the potential buyer planned to make tackling the problem “one of the No 1 priorities”. They were speaking after senior environmental health officer Armell Thomas suggested last week that the sale had been completed. Mr Thomas wrote an e-mail to area residents last week saying that the farm had been sold and would be taken over on November 1, although he did not name the buyer. Mr Thomas said in the e-mail: “The new owner knows the current issues and nuisance the farm has created for the past year and more. The owner is keen to resolve the stench immediately. I only found out about this today, as the new owner came to visit me at my office to inform me and our team. He has a plan for the smell and he will occupy three farms. He would move the milking cows to Spittal Pond; he would send the heifers to St George’s.” Mr Thomas thanked residents for their patience over the smell problem. He added: “The new owner’s first priority is to reduce the nuisance complaints and move forward in the best possible way for the public. I will not release the new owner’s name until it’s made public. He is willing to invest into the farm to improve the standards and conditions, and smell, and implement a feeding management plan to reduce the pigeon population. The new owner knows the responsibility and also knows he needs to act fast to resolve this matter.” Mr and Mrs Medeiros took over Green Land Dairy Farm, on government land at the corner of Store Hill and Middle Road in Smith’s, in November 2014. The couple negotiated a 25-year lease with the Government, the first two years of which were rent-free, to allow them to make $1 million of improvements to what they said was a “broken-down” facility. The couple gained planning permission for a covered cow shed and a manure pit alongside to create what they said was a far happier environment for their cattle. However, neighbour complained that the changes created an “unbearable” stench and an “epidemic” of flies and asked environmental health officers to step in. The farmers pledged this year to install specialist equipment to try to solve the problem. Mrs Medeiros said at the time: “We are doing everything we can do to try to make things better for our neighbors, but you just can’t make some people happy.” Both Mrs Medeiros and a spokesman for area residents this week declined to comment on the sale.
A new documentary featuring international celebrities and Bermudian figures, which is backed by Hollywood superstar Sharon Stone, will be screened next week. We the People: A Re-evolution of Economics and Politics features interviews with Deepak Chopra, a controversial US-based doctor, writer and speaker; Hollywood star Mark Wahlberg; and TV and film star Michael Beck. Claudette Fleming of Age Concern, David Burt, the Premier, and Dame Jennifer Smith, a former premier, also appear in the documentary. The film was directed by Emmanuel Itier and was produced by Bermudian businesswoman Dawn Zuill, with film star Stone as executive producer. The same team was involved in the award-winning documentary Femme: Women Healing The World, which also featured a mix of people from around the world. Ms Zuill said: “These amazing documentaries have inspired and encouraged a new way of thinking for me personally. Over the years, we have met countless new and inspirational people and through this journey I have found a purpose, a better way of being on this planet.” She told the public: “I hope you all take the opportunity to see this brilliant film and, more importantly, my hope is that you come away from it inspired” Mr Itier said: “We The People is a call for action, a call for you to run for office, whatever your office is, whether it’s your social club, your church, your legislature, your school district. “We The People is an invitation to become peace in action and for each of us to become a leader and be part of the change we want to see in this world.” The documentary has already won the Best Director Award at the Awareness Film Festival and the Global Citizen Award from the United Nations Association. It will be screened at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute on Crow Lane in Pembroke on October 18 as part of a partnership between Ms Zuill’s Queen Group and BUEI Films. The event will start at 6.30pm with a reception, which will include an opportunity to meet the director. Tickets cost $25 for BUEI members, $30 for non-members and $15 for students. Tickets are available at the BUEI gift shop or by phone at 294-0204.
A psychologist warned yesterday that the island could be under a “cloud of collective trauma” after generations of racial injustice. But Samvedam Randles said it could be difficult to tackle problems that people were faced with every day. Ms Randles said: “It is very hard to see your own trauma when you live in it, it is normal to you, but when you are with other cultures ... suddenly you have all these mirrors that are able to speak to you in a way that is very hard to do when you sit in it.” Ms Randles added: “I do not know anything about how your island is structured but it would have to be such a priority to sit with this, to sort this out, not about white or black, but what is our collective trauma on this island — that we simply keep swimming in and we can’t shift?” She was speaking as part of a panel at the Adverse Childhood Experiences conference, alongside Richard Honigman, a chairman at New York and Grenada-based vulnerable children’s charity Reach Within, and Christiana Awosan, a family therapist and researcher, who works in New York and New Jersey. The two-day event, scheduled to end today, was organized by Family Centre at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. It brought together Bermudian and international experts to raise awareness of childhood trauma and how to deal with it. Sharol Simmons, a retired clinical social worker, told the conference she had been involved with the Commission for Unity and Racial Equality, the first official government body set up to promote equal opportunities and bring the island’s people together. She said: “We conducted several workshops, not enough in my opinion, bringing whites and blacks together to talk about this whole issue, It was very good. There were some whites who just couldn’t get it. So I sit here, listening to this discussion, and I’m just listening and talking again; this just continues in Bermuda. I, as a black person, know what I have gone through, and am still going through. I have a nine-year-old grandson who’s going through it now, raising issues about the colour of his skin, and he’s fairer than myself, but he made a comment that bothered me about ‘I don’t want to be darker’. And I said, OK, where is that coming from? It’s not coming from the home environment. So I raise the question here, as a black person. I’m tired of it, I’m retired but I’m tired of this crap, this racism in Bermuda.” She said the only change she had seen was through the work carried out by Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda. Ms Simmons asked the panel — two of whom were white — what they felt and thought when they heard black people “stand up and talk about this situation with respect to racism?” She added: “I do understand there’s privilege that comes along with racism, but where is the humanity from whites in this country?” Ms Randles, a German-born psychologist and trainer who has lived and practiced in and around Boston for 30 years, said she could “feel the tiredness” from Ms Simmons. She added: “I do not know Bermuda that well but I can imagine that there is a cloud of collective trauma here that is very hard to address because you all live in it and you’ve lived in it for generations.” The panel was earlier asked: “What story would we tell if we got it right?” Dr Awosan suggested the newspaper headline: “Racial trauma is real and white supremacy is dead.” She explained that would mean people could then “really acknowledge” the trauma of racism, slavery and colonization. Dr Honigman told the conference strong relationships in families and society could bring change, such as improvements in educational achievement and a fall in levels of drug abuse. He said that the island would start to see a “major decrease” in conditions like asthma, obesity, heart disease, cancer and high cholesterol over generations. Dr Honigman added: “All these illnesses have been tied to adverse childhood experiences that have gone unrecognized and under-addressed. And society would improve, there would be more money available for beneficial aspects of society rather than having to make remediation.”
2018. October 10. Holiday home rental site Airbnb will collect a tax on the properties in return for extra marketing, the tourism minister said yesterday. Jamahl Simmons said Airbnb would collect the 4.5 per cent vacation tax direct from guests when they book an island getaway and forward the cash to the Government. The money will be used to help promote Bermuda’s tourism industry and will include “destination marketing” on Airbnb to target a bigger audience of potential tourists. Tourist services in Bermuda will also be highlighted on Airbnb’s Experiences webpage and allow property owners to promote themselves through the site. Kevin Dallas, chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said the link-up was “an exciting opportunity for our hosts and for our island”. He added: “This is another opportunity where Bermuda’s entrepreneurs can do what we’ve always been good at — making our customers feel comfortable, special, and welcome.” The new arrangement will start next month. Carlos Muñoz, a spokesman for Airbnb, said that collection of the tax would not affect property owners’ profits. He added: “It is much simpler for the guests — no added paperwork and no filings or any additional costs.” Airbnb’s Experiences page will also vet other tourism services like tours and restaurants before they are added to the website. Mr Muñoz said: “Airbnb has come to realize that a person’s greatest asset is their time and through Airbnb Experiences we provide a channel through which anyone with a hobby, or a passion, or a special skill or an interest can monetise their time, share it with somebody that may be visiting, and improve the overall experience for that guest in Bermuda.” Mr Simmons added: “The growth of vacation rentals provides an exciting opportunity to bring back the warmth, hospitality and friendliness that has lured tourists to our shores time and time again.” He added that the Government planned to monitor the sector for any housing problems that might result because of properties being used for Airbnb rentals. Mr Simmons said: “I think it’s important to note that we are aware of this and we do not want to displace Bermudians just simply because of an entrepreneur opportunity, but we also recognize that people have choices and want to enter the space.”
Bermuda Medical Specialties Group has added cosmetic plastic surgeon Peter Schwartz to its team of physicians. Board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, he specializes in cosmetic plastic surgery of the face, breast and body. Dr Schwartz is the chief of plastic surgery at Syosset Hospital. He also has privileges at North Shore University Hospital, Plainview Hospital and Glen Cove Hospital. With more than 20 years’ experience, Dr Schwartz specializes in various types of cosmetic plastic surgery procedures: facelifts, mini-facelifts, eyelid surgery, endoscopic surgery with small incisions, nose reshaping, breast augmentation/lift/reduction, liposuction, tummy tucks and many minimally invasive procedures. He also speaks fluent Italian, French and German. Dr Schwartz is a member of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the Liposuction Society of North America, the New York State Medical Society and the Nassau County Medical Society. Arlene Basden, medical director at BMSG, which is based at 3 Reid Street, Hamilton, said: “In addition to improving one’s appearance, cosmetic plastic surgery can be a medical solution for matters such as back and shoulder pain, loose skin and disfigurement due to accidents.” Dr Basden added: “Residents of Bermuda demand access to a very high standard of medical care that many go overseas to receive it. We are very fortunate that Dr Schwartz has made his talent available to us in Bermuda.” Dr Schwartz said: “The highest concern in my practice is the exceptional and individualized care of our patients, before, during and after cosmetic plastic surgery to improve their self-image and boost their self-esteem. Personalized excellence in cosmetic plastic surgery procedures is delivered through a continuous quest for outstanding medical knowledge with continuing education, combined with an artistic sense and use of the latest proven technological advances in cosmetic plastic surgery.”
Work is to be carried out to fix a range of problems at an ageing health clinic in Hamilton, the health minister promised yesterday. Kim Wilson said that the ministry had been in talks with staff and was working with the Ministry of Public Works to carry out repairs. She said: “The primary challenge is that the maintenance teams have been unable to fully repair the problems and restore the facility to minimum operations. Staff and management are equally concerned about the impact on our patients and the uncertainty of service provision. We are working to stabilize services in relocated venues. There are also concerns with previous structural problems and repairs under way which are not yet completed and were disrupting services before the health centre closure. We are now expediting these repairs to ensure they can be completed as quickly as possible.” Ms Wilson was speaking after staff at Hamilton Health Centre in Victoria Street met the management team in the building’s car park yesterday to register their complaints about the building. Ms Wilson said the government staff had “frank discussions” and that the Government appreciated their concerns. Ms Wilson added: “The health centre has been under stress over the past month due to a number of structural problems with the facility and, most recently, three floods at the Hamilton Health Centre, water quality issues and several unsuccessful attempts to resolve the problems. “The fire at Warwick Clinic further compounded the demands placed on our resources. Department of Health management and staff, along with the Ministry of Public Works, are working together to find the cause of the continued problem, in order to restore operations at the health centre. " She explained that part of the problem was caused by old pipe work in the building." The building itself is quite old and the piping is primarily made out of galvanized pipes. During the course of a flood several weeks ago, they recognized that the pipes were in poor condition and they needed to replace them with the PVC pipes. When the pipes busted, the pumps busted and they had issues with the pumps because of the plumbing issues, but public works are working with us diligently to try to repair all of that so we can get the services operational as soon as possible.” Ms Wilson was unable to estimate the cost of the repair work. She added: “We appreciate staff frustration as this has been going on over this period of time and there is no end in sight at this moment. We are deeply appreciative of their patience and share their primary concern with the impact on patients and the public. In the longer term, the ministry and Government will have to reconsider the adequacy of the health centre to meet the needs of public health services. This will be an ongoing discussion, but at this moment the priority is stabilizing services to the public and restoring the Hamilton Health Centre to be operational as soon as possible.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police Paul Wright is to retire next month, he announced yesterday. Mr Wright said that new commissioner Stephen Corbishley had “energised the senior leadership team as well as the rank and file of the service”. He added: “It is with this optimism in mind that I feel confident that the time has come for me to retire. I have had a stimulating and diverse policing career spanning 40 years, 34 of which have been with the men and women of the Bermuda Police Service, of whom I am so proud.” Mr Wright has worked in many areas during his career on the island, including community policing, criminal investigations, Special Branch, intelligence and serious crime. He has been either Assistant or Deputy Commissioner for the past seven years. Mr Wright began his career with Humberside Police in the North East of England in 1979 and moved to Bermuda six years later. Mr Corbishley said: “Deputy Commissioner Wright has given 40 years of his life to policing. He has shown exceptional leadership during times of unprecedented violence, economic challenge and constant change. Indeed, he has been at the forefront in developing a new community policing model for Bermuda that will be introduced over the coming months. He will be greatly missed by colleagues in the police and within other government departments.” Mr Corbishley added: “On a personal level, Mr Wright has been extremely supportive to me in my first months as police commissioner, enabling me to understand the needs of our officers and staff and most importantly the public service wanted by our local communities. I wish him the very best of luck as he retires as an exceptional police officer.” Mr Wright’s retirement will leave a gap in the top management of the police. The two assistant commissioners are Antoine Daniels, who joined the service in 1984, and Martin Weekes, who joined in 1988 after 11 years’ service with Kent Constabulary in England. If one of the two is promoted to deputy commissioner, the next ranking officers, all superintendents, are Sean Field-Lament, James Howard and Darrin Simons, who would be available to fill the vacant assistant’s role.
A witness in a murder trial was branded a liar by the defendant’s lawyer yesterday. Jerome Lynch QC accused Troy Harris of dishonesty in his evidence against Khyri Smith-Williams, who is charged with shooting Colford Ferguson as he worked on a building job. Mr Lynch told Mr Harris: “You have lied to police in the interviews you gave them and lied to the jury in the same way.” He highlighted apparent differences in statements Mr Harris had made in two police interviews and during his evidence in court. Mr Lynch questioned Mr Harris’s testimony from Tuesday about the first time police had visited him in the UK about the murder. He asked Mr Harris: “Do you remember saying you had no idea why they were there at all?” Mr Harris said: “I don’t know why they came at the time.” Mr Lynch referred to a transcript of the police interview that said Mr Harris had invited police to speak to him. He asked the witness: “Do you agree that what you told police is different from what you provided yesterday? You told the jury yesterday that you had no idea police were coming.” Mr Harris explained that he knew that he would be providing information to police — but that he did not know exactly when they would be coming to interview him. Mr Lynch also questioned Mr Harris’s friendship with Mr Smith-Williams. Mr Harris told the court earlier that he had met Mr Smith-Williams when he was aged 10 or 11. Mr Lynch asked if Mr Harris knew that around that age his client had lived in Austria. Mr Harris said that he did not know that Mr Smith-Williams had lived overseas. Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves interrupted and told Mr Lynch: “I don’t know where you are going with this.” Mr Justice Greaves added: “Let’s move on.” But Mr Lynch explained that he was trying to highlight that people said to be good friends knew about one another’s lives. Mr Harris, a former gang member, told the court on Tuesday that he had been shot in November 2015. But he said that he did not know who had pulled the trigger. Mr Lynch asked Mr Harris why he had not gone to his “good friend” Mr Smith-Williams afterwards to try and identify who was responsible. He added: “And yet the same person volunteered to you information about somebody that he says he was involved in shooting?” Mr Harris replied: “Yes sir — 150 per cent.” Mr Lynch also asked if Mr Harris had followed the news to research the shooting of Mr Ferguson. Mr Harris said “No. I don’t need to.” Mr Ferguson, 29, a father of one, was shot as he worked on house near the junction of Mangrove Bay Road and East Shore Road in Somerset in February 2011. Mr Smith-Williams, 27, is charged with premeditated murder and the use of a firearm to commit an indictable offence. He denies both charges. Mr Harris said that Mr Smith-Williams had confessed his involvement in the killing to him. He added that Mr Smith-Williams had told him it was another man, Rasheed Muhammad, who pulled the trigger and that Mr Ferguson was the victim of mistaken identity. Mr Lynch suggested that Mr Harris, who is serving a jail term in the UK, was motivated to give evidence against Mr Smith-Williams to make his own situation better. But Mr Harris told him that committing perjury could lead to his own prosecution. He added that he would be returned to Britain after the trial to serve out the rest of his sentence. Mr Harris also insisted that he had not been offered incentives for his co-operation in the case. He said that it was his conscience that motivated him to come forward. The trial continues.
Bermuda’s only ghost tour is expanding its offerings during October in partnership with Disney Cruise Lines. Haunted History’s popular experience was selected as a “Port Adventure” on board the Disney Magic, which made the first of five visits to the island last weekend. The East End tour has a Halloween theme throughout the month, with support from the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Meyer Travel Agency. In order to appeal to Disney, Haunted History had to offer more than its regular weekly tour. “They approached me about Haunted History very early on, but wanted it to have the ‘Disney difference’, an experience that their guests cannot get anywhere else,” Kristin White, executive producer and storyteller with Haunted History, said. “I decided that, in addition to offering a longer tour, a cool twist would be to add dining on the Deliverance replica ship.” Guests explore the ship and have a casual supper on board, which has a few ghostly touches added, Ms White placed fake bones and spider webs around the decks to increase the creepy factor. “St George’s Foundation is always looking for more groups to make use of Deliverance,” she said. “Yes, it’s a lovely space for people to learn about the early history of Bermuda, but it can also be an event venue. For Haunted History, the ship is great with a ghostly theme, so was an ideal supplement to the tour.” October is a busy month for Haunted History, which hosts extended Halloween tours with scary extras. “The week of Halloween has always been a highlight for us,” Ms White said. “There’ll be dinner discounts, special treats bags, and a few spooky surprises.” Haunted History was created in 2015 and tours run at least once a week. Ms White says that the success of Haunted History over the last four years is proof that people want a more interactive learning experience in St George’s. She said: “I add in a few ghost stories here and there, but mostly, I research and tell true stories. Before Haunted History, I’d hear people say that tourists aren’t interested in history. But I know that’s not true. I am eager to continue showcasing the unique history of the East End, and to explore partnerships with other museums and historic attractions.” The tour departs from Ms White’s store, Long Story Short, on Water Street every Thursday night at 8.30pm, with special Halloween Tours on October 28, 29, and 30.
Two Opposition politicians vowed to keep fighting for their constituents after they were dumped from shadow ministries in a One Bermuda Alliance shake-up yesterday. Jeanne Atherden and Michael Dunkley said they remained committed to the party despite speculation that new OBA leader Craig Cannonier is planning a future without them. The pair, along with Trevor Moniz, were sidelined without advance warning of the announcement of a new Shadow Cabinet line-up. They were the only three OBA MPs not at a meeting last month when their eight House of Assembly colleagues backed a motion to oust Ms Atherden and reinstate Mr Cannonier, a former premier, as Opposition leader and leader of the party. A party insider claimed the move sent a clear message that there was a push to ditch key players from the former United Bermuda Party, which merged with the Bermuda Democratic Alliance to form the OBA. But Mr Cannonier insisted he was not “trying to get rid of people”. Ms Atherden, a former UBP chairwoman, lost her shadow finance brief to Nick Kempe, the new Opposition Senate Leader. Mr Dunkley, who has been an MP for the UBP and OBA for 21 years, was Shadow Minister of National Security until the role was handed to Ben Smith, in addition to his social development and sport remit. Mr Moniz has served for 25 years between the two parties and was Shadow Attorney-General until he was replaced by Scott Pearman, who won a by-election in June, with the title of Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs. A party insider said: “Mr Cannonier has made a very bold and decisive move to remove portfolios from those that did not support him. While all three have made relevant contributions, this must be an indication that their time is up. Mr Cannonier’s move is not subtle and hopefully it will be heard.” The source added: “Presumably the aim is to get the old UBP guard out to make way for others to come in and fill the gaps.” But Mr Cannonier, who led the OBA to victory in the 2012 General Election, said: “This is about us changing course. Certainly we have the expertise to carry ourselves well within the House of Assembly.” He added: “This is about giving some of our newer MPs a chance to really get their teeth into the politics and sometimes you need to nudge people or you need to give them just a little push so that they get immersed into the process of getting Bermuda to a better place. This was never a move of trying to get rid of people. This really is about allowing some of the talent that we do have to flourish.” Mr Cannonier, who resigned as premier in 2014 amid controversy over a flight on a private jet owned by an American business tycoon, said the party had “some senior members” and the changes were “utilising that expertise and putting it into our new members”. Mr Cannonier confirmed he had not told the three axed shadow ministers about the shake-up and said that was not “something that is customarily done”. Cole Simons and Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, both former UBP MPs, survived the cull and both have extra responsibilities. Mr Simons added economic development to his education portfolio and Ms Gordon-Pamplin becomes the shadow health minister. She will also lead on financial matters in the House of Assembly because Mr Kempe sits in the Senate. Mr Cannonier, who now also has responsibility for public works, said he planned to have a team that listened to people and would be “vocal” in holding the Government to account. Ms Atherden said she looked forward to seeing the group “go out and do the job they said they want to do”. She added: “The only message that I read is the message the people of Bermuda are telling me — stay in there, we like what you’re doing, we respect your efforts.” She added: “I will be there as long as I’m an MP. I’ve made a commitment to my constituents and I will be working on their behalf.” Mr Dunkley offered his best wishes to the Shadow Cabinet members and said: “Leadership decisions are always questioned but not today by me, publicly. I know how tough it can be as a leader. After all, against the grain of public opinion, I gave Craig Cannonier a second chance after Jetgate and asked him to serve in the Cabinet.” He added: “I have no intention of stepping back at this point in time, I think the country faces too many challenges.” Mr Moniz could not be contacted for comment. Owen Darrell, the Progressive Labour Party chairman, said last night: “The OBA have once again reached into their old bag of UBP tricks by selecting a front bench that attempts to hide their true origin.” He added: “The deck of the OBA may have been shuffled and a few cards hidden up their sleeve but the OBA’s ideology remains intact.”
THE NEW SHADOW CABINET
A vision for the future of Bermuda’s electricity sector — involving nearly two-thirds of the island’s power supply coming from renewable sources within 20 years — has been put forward by BE Solar. The centerpiece of the plan is a proposal for an offshore wind farm, with turbines set up six miles west of Dockyard, and a growth in the amount of rooftop and utility-scale solar projects. BE Solar produced the 56-page report in conjunction with sustainability engineering firm Etude as an alternative to the Integrated Resource Plan already proposed by electricity utility Belco. The plan, which offers several different scenarios, is one of eight IRP alternative proposals that have been filed with the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda. A consultation period on the IRP alternatives is open, with the public being given until November 13 to submit their views to the regulator. Describing the preferred “optimum renewables” scenario, in The Bermuda Better Energy Plan, BE Solar’s report states: “Mid 2023 is a pivotal year for Bermuda’s energy history as a 60MW offshore wind farm comes online, significantly reducing the island’s use of fossil fuels in a single project. By the late 2030s several thousand electric vehicles, with a total battery capacity exceeding 145MWh, play an important role in providing demand response. By the end of 2038, wind and solar provide 64 per cent of the island’s energy for a stable cost. Around $100 million a year stays within the local economy that historically would have been spent importing fuel.” A 60-megawatt offshore wind farm could be established less than six miles offshore and would likely consist of 12 larger 5MW turbines or 20 smaller 3MW turbines, the report states. Capital costs for the wind farm would amount to about $300 million, based on the proposal’s estimated cost of about $5,000 per kilowatt. The estimate “reflects substantial cost reductions that have recently taken place in the industry, which would be expected to continue through to 2022”, the reports states, adding that weighted cost of capital was assumed to be 7.5 per cent. Fixed operational and maintenance costs were assumed to be $21 per kilowatt, amounting to $1.26 million per year. The report sees a massive role for energy efficiency measures in reducing overall demand for electricity on the island, with lighting, water heating and cooling offering the greatest opportunities for reductions of more than one third in power consumption, using existing technologies. Commercial and office buildings have great scope for cutting costs, particularly with lighting and cooling, the report adds. It cites case studies featuring recent building improvements. The Cumberland House office building, for example, achieved a more than 40 per cent reduction in energy consumption, by modernizing its lighting, sub metering and installing a building management system. The report states: “The cost of these works was $600,000 with retrofit measures completed in 15 months. The electricity consumption was nearly halved, and the project completely paid for itself in 33 months.” The optimum resources plan anticipates up to 84MW of solar capacity by 2038. It highlights several potential sites for bulk solar production, including the airport, St David’s and Cooper’s Island water catchment areas, Tudor Hill and the rooftops of some large buildings. The report concludes that electricity costs vary little between its cheapest and most expensive scenarios. The lowest cost, 22.56 cents per kilowatt hour, would come from Belco continuing to use oil fuel, combined with efficiency measures. The highest cost, 23.87 cents per kilowatt hour, is the optimum renewables option. However, maximizing renewables, with Belco burning LNG, has a huge environmental advantage, with carbon emissions 62 per cent lower. BE Solar calculated a lifetime average, or levelised, cost for renewable energy sources based on factors including capital cost, weighted average cost of capital, maintenance costs, system lifetime and capacity factor. The report sets out an “action plan” that starts out the building of consensus around an energy plan that Bermuda supports. The building of the offshore wind facility could be completed by 2023, the report states. It argues that liquefied petroleum gas could be a better bet for the island than LNG as it offers similar benefits in terms of cost and carbon, while providing greater flexibility for the island in an environment of declining fossil fuel use. As a result, it sees plans for an LNG regasification terminal being scrapped.
Family members can take advantage of vulnerable seniors when they are most in need of care, an expert has warned. Keeona Belboda, the manager of the Government’s Ageing and Disability Services, said there had been a “horrifying” rise in complaints about elderly people who signed over rights to relatives when they were sick. Ms Belboda added that relatives were among those who exploited situations where elderly people were in poor health. She said: “What we are seeing a real increase on is the number of persons that have been obtaining power of attorney when the senior is not in their best medical state. For example, if a senior has just had a stroke or something, persons are going to the hospital with the relevant power of attorney documents.” She continued: “If they’re being hospitalized or generally not feeling well, they’re generally not in their right frame of mind because they’re dealing with whatever illness they’re experiencing. There will be family members, friends, persons that know the senior personally, especially if they are aware the senior has funds, who will utilize that moment to gain power of attorney over them. They will get them to sign and they don’t understand what they’re signing.” A power of attorney agreement is designed to allow someone else to act in transactions on behalf of an individual. Ms Belboda said nurses had stepped in when they “pick up on something untoward” but other cases had gone unnoticed. It’s really horrifying.” The ageing and disabilities service is thought to have received about 25 complaints about rights over or access to property, which can also involve signing paperwork. Ms Belboda said that a senior might be moved into a pool house as a relative took over the main home. She added that bank transactions could also be an opportunity for exploitation. Ms Belboda said: “We have family members who will take their loved ones to the bank and have them withdraw, sometimes, significant amounts of funds. The banks have been a bit more keen to notice, so they have been notifying us. The only issue is that when we get notified, it’s when significant sums of money have already been withdrawn from accounts. Some are in their thousands, tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands. In the past 12 months there has been an increase but the difficulty that we have is if there is a senior parent and they have their son or daughter on their account with them, like a joint bank account, there is nothing that we can do because they’re considered to have access to those funds as well. We are trying to utilize this as a public education opportunity in terms of what seniors can do to protect themselves, ensuring that persons wait until they do their will and put their wishes on paper. She added that elderly people should also consider carefully who to entrust with their affairs. Ms Belboda said: “When you have the capacity to think for yourself, choose that person. I also say not so much a family member because they don’t always do what’s in your best interests, but a law firm — someone that doesn’t have a vested interest — to be your power of attorney, to make decisions for you.” She also asked the public to look out for older relatives and neighbors and to watch for signs that they are not coping. These include an unkempt appearance, inappropriate or dirty clothing, infrequent bathing, homes in disrepair, hoarding items and missing medical appointments. Ms Belboda said: “They might be losing weight, may not go on their usual routine — that’s when there may be something going on. That would be the time to probe and see if they can get additional information or if they’re just not sure, to contact our offices.” Ms Belboda was speaking after senior magistrate Juan Wolffe warned of an apparent increase in the number of older debtors appearing in court. Mr Wolffe said he had noticed a pattern of seniors unable to make ends meet as pensions failed to cover healthcare and living costs. He told The Royal Gazette he feared Bermuda might have “a population of elderly people who can’t afford their bills” and also warned that family members may have exploited older relatives for their own financial gain.
A former gang member and childhood friend of murder accused Khyri Smith-Williams told a jury yesterday that alleged victim Colford Ferguson died because of a case of mistaken identity. Troy Harris said that Mr Smith-Williams, a senior figure in the West End’s Money Over Bitches gang, had confessed to him his involvement in the gun killing of Colford Ferguson seven years ago. However, he added that Mr Smith-Williams had told him it was another man, Rasheed Muhammad, who pulled the trigger and that the wrong man had been killed. Mr Harris told the court that Mr Ferguson died as he worked on a construction site in Somerset because Mr Muhammad had given the wrong information to the defendant. He said that the intended target was Jakai Morris, whom he claimed was part of the rival Parkside gang in Pembroke. Mr Harris told the court: “Khyri was riding and then Rasheed shot the boy. Khyri didn’t shoot this guy, Rasheed shot this guy. He shot Colford. Colford was good people, he was cool people. He was an innocent person. Rasheed brought the wrong information and made things go all sideways. If you tell us there’s some Parkside guy in the area, everyone gets strapped up.” He said Mr Smith-Williams was a “three-star general” in MOB and that Mr Muhammad held similar status. Mr Ferguson, 29, a father of one, was shot while he worked on a house near the junction of Somerset’s Mangrove Bay Road and East Shore Road in February 2011. Mr Smith-Williams, 27, is charged with premeditated murder and the use of a firearm to commit an indictable offence. He denies both charges. Mr Harris said he was also a witness in the murder trial after the shooting of his wheelchair-bound cousin Lorenzo Stovell. The witness, who now lives in Britain with his daughter, told Carrington Mahoney, the prosecutor, that he was motivated to speak out because he wanted to turn his life around. Mr Harris also outlined what he said was the structure and rules of gang life. He claimed that gangs avoided attacks that involved innocent bystanders and that “serious work” had to be put in by members to climb the ranks. But he said the “rules and regulations” of gang life had been violated in the case of Mr Ferguson. Mr Harris told the court: “I wanted to change my life — all the madness — I’ve been in it for 14 years. They have no idea what we go through on the streets. All the funerals I have been to, all the times I have been shot at and shot — I had to get as far away from the country as I could. I have a daughter. I packed up and took her — it’s what I had to do to clear my conscience. Secondly, there are rules and regulations when it comes to this war. We don’t shoot mothers. We don’t shoot women. We don’t shoot children. We don’t shoot someone in a f***ing wheelchair and we don’t shoot innocent people. We don’t shoot innocent motherf*****s — what’s the point? You wasted bullets for nothing.” Mr Harris denied he had any other motive for revealing details of Mr Smith-Williams’s confession. He told the court that the defendant had shown him an Instagram picture of Rasheed Muhammad while they sat at Mr Smith-Williams’s Somerset home. He added that the defendant had said he was not “feeling him” any more because of his mistake in identification. Mr Harris said: “He told me he thought it was Jakai Morris — they had beef because Jakai got shot in the leg in Somerset.” He added that Mr Smith-Williams and Mr Muhammad “suited up” in dark clothing and travelled on a black motorcycle to Mr Ferguson’s workplace. Mr Harris said that membership of a gang was “like being in a prison but you are not in prison”. He added that trespassing on another gang’s territory would get rivals killed. Mr Harris admitted he had committed crimes over the years. He said: “That’s how we survive — we can’t come to town and get a job. You sell drugs — you can do nothing else.” Mr Harris told Jerome Lynch, Mr Smith-Williams’s defence counsel, that he had once set out to kill another gang-linked figure, Prince Edness, but that someone else had shot him first. He said someone he identified in court as “Bigs” had approached him about the proposed attack on Mr Edness and given him a weapon. He said: “He didn’t ask me to go kill him, but he knew I wanted to kill Prince because he was caught up in the case with my cousin, Jason Lightbourne.” Mr Harris said he had two conversations with Mr Smith-Williams about the murder of Mr Ferguson — one in prison and one after his release when the pair were drinking at the defendant’s home. Mr Lynch said Mr Harris detailed only the second confession in his second interview with police. Mr Lynch said: “I’m suggesting that you have changed your evidence from the first interview to the second because you knew he was not at prison at the same time as you and, if he was, it was for a matter of days and possibly he was in a different wing.” However, Mr Harris insisted that the discussion in prison did happen, but he did not feel the need to discuss it because he had already done so in his first police interview. He added: “Me and Khyri were in the same wing. We smoked weed together.” The trial continues.
Bermuda has been named the top island destination in the Caribbean and Atlantic by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler. The 2018 Readers Choice Awards, released today, ranked Bermuda above competitors St Vincent, Aruba, Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos. Bermuda is also featured on the front cover of the magazine’s November issue. The awards were based on surveys filled out by 429,000 readers, with separate top-five lists for different regions. The magazine said: “Though this small island sits in the North Atlantic, its climate is decidedly subtropical. A British Overseas Territory, Bermuda is a melting pot of British, American and Caribbean cultures, and offers a long list of things to do: snorkeling near pink-sand beaches, golfing, shopping, museum-hopping and more.” The magazine also highlighted the ease of traveling to the island from the US East Coast and the recent refurbishments at Rosewood Bermuda. Paulie Dibner, managing editor at Traveler, said: “We stayed in a suite that overlooked Castle Harbour and came with our very own golf cart perfect for zipping the 10 minutes down to the beach. There’s plenty to do in Hamilton if you want to walk around a bit — grab brunch one morning at Devil’s Isle — but there’s several restaurants and a gigantic spa on site, so I didn’t feel even slightly guilty for staying right where I was.” The Readers’ Choice Awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry and are commonly known as “the best of the best of travel.” Kevin Dallas, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said the spotlight on Bermuda in the magazine was “one of the biggest PR moments of the year”. He said: “The November issue represents two important validations for us as Bermuda’s marketers: we have validation from consumers who voted Bermuda to the top of the list and validation from industry experts who deem our destination worthy of a Condé Nast Traveler cover.” In April, Bermuda was featured on the front cover of Travel + Leisure, which included a first-person account of a young couple traveling to the island with their toddler.
The Bermuda Tourism Authority is encouraging the island’s tourism industry stakeholders to prepare for anticipated growth in the number of young families vacationing on the island over the next five years. This data point is underscored as the Family Travel Association holds its annual summit in Bermuda this week. Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Kevin Dallas addressed the group Monday and explained that children under 17 years-old were up 32 per cent in the first half of 2018 versus the same time one year earlier. Growth in the active family visitor segment is a component of the soon-to-be-released National Tourism Plan. The plan lays out a strategic vision for the industry over the next five years. “Across the tourism spectrum we have a lot of work to do to get ready for the growing number of young families,” said Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Kevin Dallas. “Transport is especially a struggle for young families, particularly if they’re trying to get out and explore the island. Increasingly families tell us how difficult and expensive it is to get the family to the beach and back and maybe out again for dinner. In transport, in the beach economy and in many other sectors of the tourism economy, there is a tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs to shape products and experiences for this growing audience,” Mr Dallas said. The Family Travel Association Annual Summit is taking place at the Fairmont Southampton through October 10, bringing together more than 100 family-focused tour operators, travel agents and media. The Bermuda Tourism Authority is one of the summit partners and was responsible for the pitch that attracted them to the island. The new National Tourism Plan will be released at the 2018 Tourism Summit. The summit is open to anyone with an interest in the tourism industry.
No checks are made to ensure taxis are on the roads for the required 16 hours a day, the Transport Control Department has admitted. The department confirmed that it had not kept records since 2010 as a result of “a policy decision”. A TCD spokeswoman said: “The information regarding the number of hours a taxi is on the road is not currently available. This subject is under review.” The Royal Gazette quizzed the department after taxi services struggled to keep up with demand when the island’s first roadside breath test checkpoints went into operation last month. More checkpoints are scheduled to be set up this weekend. Taxi operators complained that cabs operating from Hamilton were caught up in delays caused by the checkpoints. David Frost, president of the Bermuda Taxi Owners Association, said: “We believe that during the testing period of roadside sobriety checkpoints they should have a fast lane for taxis — many of the taxis were stuck. A normal stop is fine but during those checkpoints they should let us go so we can drop our customers off. Just during that period of time.” The TCD spokeswoman said officials were aware of the potential for disruption. She added: “The ministry understood going into road sobriety checkpoints that there may be some inconveniences and some challenges with the availability of taxis or minibuses during the late evening hours and early hours of the morning. Also, the minister was clear in the House of Assembly that public buses will not be running during the early hours of the morning. The public was urged to secure a designated driver or make transportation arrangements in advance if they intended to consume alcohol.” Members of the public have complained a lack of taxis was common late on weekend nights — a peak time for people who have been drinking and need transport home. The Ministry of Transport is to publish a Green Paper on transport which will ask for the views of the public. The transport spokeswoman said the paper will look at whether more taxis were needed to keep up with demand. Mr Frost added a major concern among taxi drivers was the lack of security. The TCD spokeswoman said: “All dispatchers are required to provide equipment that has a panic feature for emergencies. We support steps to enhance the safety and security of taxis such as internal cameras. The green paper process will provide opportunity to further address security.” There are 600 licensed taxis in Bermuda. But TCD said 30 were listed as off the road at the end of April for “various reasons”. There are 80 temporary taxi licences which can be used to supplement the taxi fleet, but none are in use. The TCD spokeswoman said a decision on whether the temporary licences would be used would be determined by the findings of the Green Paper. She added: It is a matter under active consideration.” A central dispatch centre for all taxis is also being looked at.
A workmate of murder victim Colford Ferguson warned him to hide minutes before he was shot dead, the Supreme Court heard yesterday. A statement from Ryan Furbert read out in court said he and Mr Ferguson were both sent to work at a site near the junction of Mangrove Bay Road and East Shore Road in Somerset on the day of the alleged murder. Mr Furbert said he walked to the bank after they stopped for lunch and on the way back saw a man with a full-face helmet ride past him. The rider saw him, turned around on East Shore Road and stopped at the intersection. Mr Furbert said the man pointed at him and sped away. He was frightened and phoned Mr Ferguson to warn him to hide inside the house they had been working in. Mr Furbert hid in a shed near the house and heard footsteps followed by three shots. He told police he tried to call Mr Ferguson again but there was no answer. Mr Ferguson, 29, was shot while he worked at the Somerset construction site on February 4, 2011. Khyri Smith-Williams, 27, is charged with premeditated murder and the use of a firearm to commit an indictable offence. The defendant denies both charges. Mr Furbert’s statement said he stayed hidden for up to 20 minutes before he fled, but was stopped by police a short distance away. Another witness, Mr Ferguson’s cousin, said he ran to the scene of the shooting after being told that someone had heard gunshots. He found Mr Ferguson on his back in a small bathroom at the house. The witness added that he understood photographs of Mr Ferguson’s body had been spread on social media, but denied that he had taken the pictures. Police officers later confirmed that Mr Ferguson was dead and that he appeared to have suffered gunshot wounds to his chest, upper arm and upper leg. Police also found seven spent 9mm cartridges near the entrance to the building. Mr Furbert’s statement said he had got into a fight with someone he understood to be associated with a West End gang in November 2010. He explained that he received a call from a friend who asked to be picked up at White Hill Field in Sandys. Mr Furbert saw a number of people sitting on a wall when he arrived at the field. He added that as he rode past, one of them, whom he identified as Tre Simons, smiled at him. Mr Furbert said the smile worried him, but he rode past again to try and find his friend. He said Mr Simons then stepped out and tore a $1,600 chain from his neck as he went past. Mr Furbert said he got off the bike to fight Mr Simons, who punched him in the face. He took off his helmet to use as a weapon, but left after those with Mr Simons “jumped up”. Mr Furbert told police he and Mr Simons exchanged words, and he was warned to “stay out of Country”. He later contacted his brother and the pair went out to look for Mr Simons. They were unable to find him, but found his motorcycle and battered it with a length of pipe. He added that he and Mr Simons had an argument at KFC in Hamilton about the stolen chain a month before Mr Ferguson was killed. The trial continues.
Harrison Isaac Sr, an architectural designer and veteran Scout leader, has died. Mr Isaac was 70. His son, Harrison Jr, said: “He transformed a lot of children’s lives. No one regrets their time as a Boy Scout with him as their leader.” Mr Isaac began as Group Scout Leader for the 1st Shelly Bay Scout troop in 1965 — a group he founded, aged 17. He revered the late Scout Commissioner Vivian Spring as a mentor and in 1995 opened a museum in Smith’s for Scouting in Bermuda. Mr Isaac also turned his skills as a designer and draughtsman to portrait drawing and sold his work for charity. He was also the last manager at the former Co-Op supermarket, next to the Bermuda Industrial Union headquarters in Hamilton, which he joined in 1996. Harrison Jr said his father introduced longer hours, hot meals and staff uniforms that “revitalised” the business. He added that his father founded an architectural design business in 1983 and later named it Hegni Architectural Design Services. The name was an acronym for his full name — Harrison Eugene George Nathaniel Isaac. Mr Isaac said: “He went into architecture on his own initiative. Like he did with everything, he followed it through to the end.” He added that his father drew designs and renovated homes and buildings around the island, starting with his own family home in St David’s. The junior Isaac called his father “a pond dog for life — he was from that Friswells Hill, Dock Hill area”. Harrison Isaac studied at Shaw College in Canada, where he qualified as an accountant. He worked at SRI Accounting when he returned to Bermuda. Harrison Jr said the family legend was that his father discovered accountancy by accident after he was sent to the wrong classroom, but he liked the subject and stayed. Mr Isaac earned an associate degree in Atlanta and moved his family to the United States before they returned home in 1981. He built up his business and accounting qualifications and by the 1990s, the Hegni group of companies included computing and management services. Mr Isaac told The Royal Gazette in 2002: “The secret of business success is to do something you like. If you enjoy what you do, you do it better.” Mr Isaac traced his family roots to Antigua, where he did missionary work and volunteered at an orphanage. His son said his father’s final “entrepreneur endeavor” was the Hibiscus Gift Shop in the Botanical Gardens, which sold flower-themed souvenirs of the island. Mr Isaac also ran the Bermuda Hibiscus Gardens Trail — a tour to help visitors learn more about Bermuda’s environment, culture and history. He died on September 24 after a battle with cancer. The funeral was held on Sunday at St James’s Anglican Church in Sandys
A 15-year-old schoolgirl warned about the perils of modern-day school life as she kicked off Mental Health Awareness Week yesterday. McKenzie-Kohl Tuckett from Warwick Academy said children faced pressure from teachers and parents to perform well in exams, bullying from school friends and unrealistic expectations of “perfection” promoted on social media. She highlighted research by the American Psychological Association, which showed nearly half of all teenagers admitted they suffered stress from pressures at school. McKenzie-Kohl said: “The pressure to perform well academically was the most significant, followed by the desire to please teachers. In addition, the combination of schoolwork, extracurricular activities and studying for exams leads to crammed schedules. Teenagers should be encouraged to reach out to their school counselors if they feel as if they can’t cope.” She was speaking at Warwick Academy, the venue for the launch of the awareness campaign, which this year is focused on the mental health of young people in a fast-changing world. McKenzie-Kohl said parents could set unrealistic expectations for their children, which could lead to burnout, anxiety and low self-esteem. She said: “How does one fix this? By lowering unrealistic expectations, allowing teenagers to accept themselves as they are, assisting them with identifying their unique strengths and encouraging them as they build on those strengths. The unconditional love and unwavering support of family is invaluable.” She said that young people wanted to fit in with their classmates, which meant they tried to live up to an “unrealistic level of perfection” on social media. McKenzie-Kohl added: “This can lead to strong feelings of inadequacy. Text messages and photos are so easily shared via social media and, depending on their nature, sometimes lead to public humiliation. Unfortunately, there are times when nothing spreads faster than bad news. Young people are focused on the likes gained on social media, which can lead to bad choices. Teenagers are able to connect with just about anyone, and a friend is only a friend request away. Having too many fake friends exposes adolescents and gives them a distorted sense of self-worth. In addition, there is no privacy on social media and many are constantly trying to maintain a make-believe image of themselves.” McKenzie-Kohl added that youngsters bullied at school faced greater dangers to their mental health. She explained: “Those who are bullied are at an increased risk for mental health problems such as depression. Not to mention the possible long-term damage to one’s self-esteem as a result of bullying.” Dave Horan, the principal at Warwick Academy, said: “I was incredibly proud of what she had to say. I was incredibly proud of the way she said it.” Mr Horan felt McKenzie-Kohl had captured the sentiments of “a large number of students. I think there’s a growing number of young adults her age who are very aware that they need to be equipped to deal with pressures that are very different to what we had to deal with as youngsters.” Mr Horan said the school had a responsibility to help pupils stay safe on social media. He added: “We’ve been spending a lot of time on that over the last few years — to try and help students navigate and also equip parents with the skills they need to have the right conversations as home.” Health minister Kim Wilson, who launched the awareness week, said: “Young people today have exposure to bullying online, and a constant stream of news through our TVs, phones and computers. But if we are proactive in education and we empower our children at an early age to be good digital citizens and make informed and responsible choices when they use online media, we can save lives and, certainly, much emotional distress.” Glenn Caisey, director of Mental Health Services at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute, added: “The mental health of our young people is precious. Identifying and responding to mental disorders in this age group is critical to give them the best chance at a fulfilling life.”
The latest edition of the story of former Bermudian slave Mary Prince, whose classic account was a bestseller of the abolition era, has proved a hot book once again. Staff at the Bookmart said the new edition, which includes a long-forgotten companion piece from fellow ex-slave Ashton Warner, has sold out its first run of 30 copies. A fresh shipment of copies is on the way to the bookstore, part of the Brown & Co store on Hamilton’s Front Street. Ms Prince’s chronicle overturned the myth that slavery on the island was benign compared with elsewhere. Mr Warner died of pneumonia as his story went to print as a pamphlet in 1831 — and his story remained unpublished until the latest edition from The Tecumseh Press in Ottawa, Canada.
On arrival at the Spanish Point home of Captain Ingham, her enslaver: “The house was large, and built at the bottom of a very high hill; but I could not see much of it that night. I saw too much of it afterwards. The stones and the timber were the best things in it; they were not so hard as the hearts of the owners.” Prince after Hetty, a pregnant fellow slave, died after a heavy flogging: “All the slaves said that death was a good thing for poor Hetty; but I cried very much for her death. The manner of it filled me with horror ... After Hetty died all her labors fell upon me, in addition to my own.” Prince was sold several times, and in 1815 went to the home of John Adams Wood in Antigua. She joined the Moravian Church — and, in 1826, she married Daniel James, a former slave: “When Mr Wood heard of my marriage, he flew into a great rage, and sent for Daniel, who was helping to build a house for his old mistress. Mr Wood asked him who gave him a right to marry a slave of his? My husband said: ‘Sir, I am a free man, and thought I had a right to choose a wife; but if I had known Mary was not allowed to have a husband, I should not have asked her to marry me. Mrs Wood was more vexed about my marriage than her husband. She could not forgive me for getting married, but stirred up Mr Wood to flog me dreadfully with the horsewhip. I have been a slave myself — I know what slaves feel — I can tell by myself what other slaves feel, and by what they have told me. The man that says slaves be quite happy in slavery — that they don’t want to be free — that man is either ignorant or a lying person. I never heard a slave say so.”
Warner said he decided to publish his account after he heard the experiences of other slaves: “To their simple and affecting narratives I could not listen unmoved. The voice of truth and nature prevailed over my former prejudices. I beheld slavery unfolded in all its revolting details; and, having been thus irresistibly led to peruse the authentic accounts of the real character and effects of the system, I resolved no longer to be an accomplice in its criminality, though it were only by keeping silence regarding it.” Warner grew up in the belief he was a free black in Kingston, the capital of St Vincent — but he was seized into slavery at the age of 10 by James Wilson, a plantation owner who disputed the terms of his manumission: “Mr Wilson insisted that I was a slave, and his slave, and he would have it so, in spite of my mother’s tears and my aunt’s entreaties. My poor mother was greatly distressed, and cried very bitterly. She entreated Mr Wilson, if he thought he had a just claim to me, to put me in jail till the question as to my freedom could be fairly settled; but he refused to do this, and when she continued her entreaties he grew angry, and ordered her not to stop in the yard, but to go away directly.” Warner also outlined the brutality of the plantation: “I have seen people who were so sick that they could scarcely stand, staggered out of the sick-house, and tied up to a tree, and flogged in a shocking manner; then driven with the whip to the work. I have seen slaves in this state crawl away, and lie down among the wet trash to get a little ease, though they knew that it would most likely cause their death.” On slavery: “It is not from what I have suffered in my own body as a slave, that I wish to publish this narrative, for I was better off than thousands of my poor countrymen — but I wished to relate not only my own case, but also all that I knew of slavery ... in the hope that it may help to make known the conditions of the poor Negroes to the English people, and stir them up to do away with slavery altogether.”
Professional debtors play the legal system and exploit the reluctance of creditors to attend court in an attempt to avoid payment, it has been claimed. Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe said only the prospect of prison could force some people to hand over the money they owed. Mr Wolffe said prison was used only as a last resort but it still had a place as a deterrent for people who make repeated appearances in debt courts. Mr Wolffe added: “There is a sector of persons who know the system, they know how it works. They know that they can get away with it for a certain period of time and not have to pay the money. We have persons in the courtroom who I call frequent flyers. We also have those who are, I will say, professionals at owing debts, so they actually will rack up debts, well knowing and hoping that the person who’s owed the money will not come to court. For example, we have persons coming to court who will go from house to house to house, not paying any rent, and they tend to target certain persons who are vulnerable. They will go to a house, rack up say $10,000, $15,000, $25,000-worth of rent well knowing that the individual is not going to take them to court or is going to be very slow taking them to court, or that they just want to get them out of their house and not seek to get them incarcerated.” Mr Wolffe said one debtor who owed back rent appeared in Magistrates’ Court five times in a row, which meant an appearance every eight months to a year. He saw a similar pattern with mobile phone bills, where customers swapped between communications firms Digicel and One, then got somebody else to sign a deal for them. He added: “I personally think, of the thousands and thousands of persons I’ve seen come through the courts, that if you remove that ultimate consequence then you are going to have, I think, more delinquent behaviour.The only thing that people who are owed money really have is that consequence that the person may feel they might go to prison. If we don’t have that, what does the court really have?” Mr Wolffe said: “I don’t call it a threat, I don’t see it as being a threat. Obviously, we do let persons know that there are consequences if you do not abide by court orders and one of those consequences is, ultimately, incarceration.” But he added: “There seems to be this conception that we are locking people up. Nothing could be further from the truth. We don’t do that on a regular basis. Do we inform people that could be a consequence? Yes, most definitely we do that.” Chris Swan, a lawyer who handles many debt cases, explained that people are not sent to prison for their debt, but for contempt of court if they breach a court order that set out agreed repayment rates. He added that in most circumstances defendants agreed the amount to pay back and committal orders were not made if the individual proved they could not afford the payments. Mr Wolffe said magistrates tried to “balance the interests” of plaintiffs owed money and those of the debtors. He added: “If you owe money for a Belco bill or Digicel bill ... if a company’s carrying a debt for people who owe money, then what do you think they’re going to do? It will be passed on to the rest of us by increased costs so that they recover some of that money that they’re probably not going to get. On the occasions when we have actually sent somebody to prison, on the odd occasion, it has been because it’s the absolute last resort. It has been sometimes years. Multiple chances have been given to the individual to pay and they have willfully neglected or refused to pay over a period of years.” Mr Wolffe said the courts were “sympathetic and empathetic” to the reality of the cost of living in Bermuda. But he added: “We have to draw the line somewhere, we cannot continuously give people breaks and them not show us that they are making any efforts.”
Boat owners got a reminder today from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on the safe zones to discharge sewage from their vessels.
Sewage is permitted overboard outside of no-discharge zones, beyond the near shore area — or greater than 500 metres from the nearest land. Waste is not allowed overboard in the enclosed areas of Great Sound, Little Sound, Harrington Sound, Castle Harbour, Hamilton Harbour or St George’s Harbour, as well as fisheries protected areas. A spokeswoman said that the Water Resources (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Boats) Regulations 2018 had come into force in August 2018. The restrictions cover the owners and operators of recreational boats, as well as live-aboard boats, charter vessels, and all other boats that sail or motor in and around Bermuda. Disposal options include certain marinas, shore-side sanitation trucks, or moving outside of the no-discharge zones. A brochure outlining regulations is available from Marine and Ports. Regulations also require an instruction sticker showing no-discharge zones to be visible adjacent to toilets on board. The discharge valve from the toilet or sewage holding tank should be set to closed whenever vessels are moored or at anchor in no-discharge zones. The instruction stickers and brochures are available from either the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Botanical Gardens, or from the boats and mooring section of Marine and Ports Services, in the old Paget Post Office at Middle Road, Paget. For more information, call 239-2356 or 239-2303, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Bermuda hosted its first Disney Cruise Line vessel at the weekend. Disney Magic docked at Kings Wharf, on its way from New York to the Bahamas. The 966ft vessel brought with it about 2,376 passengers and 945 crew. A special run of the ferry from Dockyard to St George’s was arranged for the visit.
Thirteen drink-drivers were caught on the second weekend of roadside breath tests, police announced yesterday. As well as taking impaired drivers off the streets, officers caught a motorcyclist with drugs and a machete. The rider failed to stop for a police checkpoint on Crow Lane outside Hamilton on Friday night. Officers chased the man on to Pomander Road in Paget before he ditched his bike and ran into Aberfeldy Nurseries. Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell, head of the roads policing unit, said: “Unfortunately, he put up a struggle and had to be Tasered. He had a machete on him and he had drugs — cannabis and cocaine rocks.” Mr Cardwell said the incident showed how the roadside breath checks could crack down on other criminals as well. He said: “We’ve had other motorcycles turn around on us and we’ve gone after them and they’ve been unlicensed or uninsured.” Another man arrested by police on Friday night had ten outstanding warrants. Officers chased another motorcyclist who drove the wrong way up one-way Corkscrew Hill to try to escape after he failed to stop at a checkpoint. The man, a disqualified driver, was later caught. Mr Cardwell said that Friday nights had been “substantially busier” than Saturday nights over the two weekends checkpoints had been set up. This weekend’s checkpoints were in Devonshire and Paget and more checkpoints were expected to be set up last night. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, went out with police on the Saturday night operation. He said: “It’s very important for legislators to see the actual fruit of the hard work.” Mr Caines believes the tests are a step in the right direction. He added: “The entire exercise, I believe, will save lives.” The checkpoints are not about racking up arrests. Mr Caines added: “More importantly, we are trying to change behavior.” He explained that a slow night for officers on checkpoint duty is a good night and that residents who see the roadside breath checks as a way to make arrests have the wrong mindset. Mr Caines said: “The right way to process this is that, ‘I will not drive with any alcohol in my system. There are people that are going to say it’s inconvenient, it is heavy-handed policing, and it’s uncomfortable for all of us. The object for us in Bermuda is to realize that we have to do a few things that are uncomfortable.” Mr Caines said: “We need to move away from Bermudians love to drink, to Bermudians want to live — and live healthily and happily.”
Motorists are being warned about a crackdown targeting illegal licence plates. The Transportation Control Department said the warning came amid an increase in personalized plates which do not conform to legal specifications. A spokeswoman said that, in most cases, offenders were not aware they were breaking the rules. She added that in some cases people were using approved licence plates to pass their vehicle inspection test and then replacing the legal plates with personalized ones. The spokeswoman said some plates contained lettering, pictures or objects that made them illegible or difficult to read. She added: “These licence plates are a matter of concern for the TCD as they present a safety hazard and are ultimately not in compliance with the law.” The spokeswoman said that all licence plates must have a white reflective background with black markings. The exceptions are loaner vehicles, which have a yellow background, and rental cars, which have a white background with red markings. Additionally, all letters or figures on plates should be the same size. She added: “Letters and figures should be seven-sixteenths of an inch broad and the total width of the space taken by any letter or figure, at least one and seven-sixteenth inches. The space between any two letters or any two figures shall be three-eighths of an inch, and the space between figures shall be one and five-eighths inches. There shall be a margin, between the nearest part of any letter or figure and the top, bottom or sides of the plate, of at least half an inch.” No other letters, figures or designs are allowed to be place near to, over or upon any letters or figures on the licence plate. Only personalized licence plates issued by the TCD are allowed. The spokeswoman said that TCD traffic officers would be conducting “routine checks to ensure motorists are in compliance with these regulations”. For more information contact TCD at 292-1271.
Young students got a lesson in putting safety first as the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service launched fire safety awareness week. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, took the fire safety proclamation to schools today. The service will be taking its message island wide, with this year’s theme: “Look. Listen. Learn. Be Aware — Fire Can Happen Anywhere.”
A group of high-performing athletes from the United States will provide training sessions in Bermuda this month. Up to 45 athletes from USA Track and Field’s Athletes Advisory Committee will host the Elite Athlete Summit held annually to set the organization's strategic goals for the year ahead and will boost the development of local athletes. The event, inspired by the Bermuda Tourism Authority, is due to take place from October 18 to 21 at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club. The tourism industry traditionally focuses on attracting sport teams and other groups at this time of year. Team USA Track and Field stars Darrell Hill, Kara Patterson, Will Claye and Queen Harrison are among those expected to visit the island. The group also aims to engage Bermuda’s students and inspire them into the sport of athletics while encouraging active lifestyles in general. Jeff Porter, the president of USATF, said: “The organising committee has been nothing short of amazing to work with and have ensured that our athletes will have a once in a lifetime experience in Bermuda. We are also excited to bring the world’s No 1 team to Bermuda and experience all the country has to offer.” Hazel Clark, the BTA’s newly installed director of sports business development, is a member of USATF and a three-times US Olympian. She worked with her colleagues in the sport to attract its annual retreat to Bermuda. Ms Clark said: “It’s exciting that the first piece of business I landed in the new job is with my former fellow athletes. I’m grateful to be working with a variety of on-island partners to ensure my first clients, many of them long-time friends, have a great Bermuda experience during their annual retreat.” Ms Clark is also a six-times national champion in the 800 metres. She joined the BTA in late July in the new position that was created as part of an organizational restructure to grow the volume of sports tourism business to Bermuda.
Seniors struggling with debt are appearing in court more and more, a top judge has warned. Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe said he was “concerned” by an apparent increase in elderly debtors landing in court. He added that limited pensions to cover healthcare and utilities costs were an issue and that, in some cases, family members may be “taking advantage” of older relatives. Mr Wolffe said the make-up of debtors’ court had changed in the past few years, although he still saw “frequent flyers” who must be warned they could face jail. He told The Royal Gazette: “I’m starting to get a bit concerned about the pattern of elderly people who come to court, people who owe money. That’s kind of sad because they can’t get employment so they’re like 70, 75, and can’t get a job but owe monies for hospital bills, telephone, utilities. Their pension only goes so far, so it’s racking up. The sad cases are when the landlord has had to take the very uncomfortable decision to evict them from their house and the elderly person doesn’t have anywhere to go, the immediate family is not really there to support. In those cases, I do not tell them about the consequences, I just don’t want to.” Mr Wolffe has noticed the trend over the past year and that it affected people aged between 65 and 85. He added: “We’re living longer, persons need to take care of themselves. There’s so much of a break down in the family unit, which means that people aren’t really taking care of their elderly person.” Mr Wolffe said a “level of ageism” means seniors were unable to work. He added: “A lot of these people, you see them in court and they are mentally sound, intellectually sound, they’re switched on, even somewhat physically sound but they’re not being employed and they’ve got bills to pay too. The longer you live, the more you’re going to need to sustain yourself and I think that in many cases the pension is not covering that.” Mr Wolffe explained: “We in the court see the trends, we see what’s happening before it happens. I think on a macro level we need to be concerned because we have, maybe, a population of elderly people who can’t afford their bills and that has other consequences to it.” He said that alongside hospital fees, the biggest cause of debt appearances were mobile phone bills and that this was an area where elderly people “are being used” by others. The senior magistrate explained that seniors signed agreements on behalf of younger family members who “go away, use roaming and elderly grandma and grandfather has a bill for $5,000 for a mobile phone that they didn’t even use, but they signed up because granddaughter wanted a mobile phone”. He said: “The other thing, elderly people who do have a home, because they worked hard for it, have someone living in their house with them, and just exploiting them, running up all sorts of bills. Grandparents are buying all the food in the house and the grandchildren or whoever are living off the home. I have no proof of this, I have no statistics, but I do think that there’s a lot more elderly abuse going on than we know about, because a lot of it is not being reported, I don’t think. I do get to see some of those things in my courtroom but I suspect that I’m only seeing maybe the tip of the iceberg in terms of those sorts of arrangements where persons are taking advantage of their elderly relative.” He added that unscrupulous tenants who have older landlords also seemed to play a part. Mr Wolffe said: “Unfortunately we have some people who will take advantage of the elderly and not pay their bills because they actually think that the elderly person is not going to have the energy or desire to take them to court and they well know that.” The magistrate’s views were backed by Claudette Fleming, the executive director of Age Concern Bermuda. She also highlighted the problem of elderly people signing up to mobile phone agreements for others. She added: “It expands to support for education, support for homes, support to renovate homes.” Dr Fleming said: “Many are being exploited by children, grandchildren. Many people sign things and don’t really understand what they’ve signed.” She added that a seniors court, similar to the Family Court, would offer “more restorative justice” in sensitive circumstances and “save the senior shame”. Dr Fleming said: “They could bring the family in to negotiate what the settlement will be and how they will make payments, just like how it works for child support, so that it’s not so devastating. At the end of the day, seniors need to live with their family members, you want to right the wrong but you don’t want to destroy that support system that should be there for them in the process.” She added there was no desire to “prohibit an older adult’s right to take a risk” if they planned to sign an agreement on behalf of someone else. But she said that seniors should always consider whether they can pay off debts if the individual failed to do so.
A boa constrictor snake was discovered on Friday night outside a residence in Sandys, according to police. A spokesman said the report of a juvenile snake came in at 6pm. The constrictor was “destroyed by a concerned citizen”, he added. Importing snakes to the island or keeping them as pets is illegal, but boa constrictors, which are kept in captivity in many parts of the world, have been found on the island before. A resident caught with one of the reptiles prompted a government warning in 2001. The snakes are non venomous but present a serious environmental hazard. Boa constrictors are found in tropical habitats through Central America and northern South America, as well as some Caribbean islands. Southern Florida is also host to an introduced population. The animals are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species treaty.
Bermuda’s poor taxi service is costing the island money, a business consultant and non-executive director of the Bermuda Tourism Authority has warned. Peter Everson said that an Uber-style ride-sharing service could take up the slack without killing off the traditional taxi service. He added: “We shoot ourselves in the foot. Every single visitor to Bermuda goes home with money they wanted to spend here. Why? Because they couldn’t physically get to where they wanted to.” Mr Everson added: “The taxi drivers are older than the average age of the population. They are not there when they are needed. If it wasn’t for the minibuses, we’d be dead in the water. Next April, there will be more tourists coming and guest satisfaction is going down because they all spend too much time waiting.” Research has shown that about 80 per cent of American visitors expected to find something similar to Uber on the island. Mr Everson said that a failure to provide alternatives to taxis would cause a decline in visitor confidence. He was speaking after he highlighted transport problems to an audience of business leaders at HSBC’s Harbourview Building. Mr Everson said the introduction of an Uber-type service would help to put money in the pockets of Bermudians. He added there was an increase in air arrivals of under-45s from New York and Boston, who wanted to spend less money in foreign-owned hotels and more on Bermudian experiences. Mr Everson said: “If we don’t sort transport out, we are going to get poor ratings and therefore we are not going to capitalize on those we have. Whatever the solutions are, we want them operational by April 1, 2019. That is six months away. Unless a taxi is pre-booked, trying to get something at 10pm is a big issue. Many taxis are tied up in corporate work, doing tours for cruise ship passengers or sitting at the hotels. It doesn’t leave an awful lot left for everybody else. If we did have an Uber-type service, the taxis will still have a business because the tours and corporate jobs and transfers to the airport will still be there — there will be business. I have sympathy with them but it has been on the table for 20 years that the service has been less than we need. “Every time a tourist spends 15 minutes waiting for a bus, ferry or taxi, they are not spending money. If they were told it will be 20 minutes at least they can go and do something but that doesn’t happen.” The Bermuda Taxi Operators Association declined to comment on the introduction of Uber-style services. But a spokesman said better distribution of the island’s 600-strong fleet would allow cabs to be on the road for longer. Glenn Jones, director of strategy and corporate communications at the BTA, said research showed that young city-based adults were more likely to use ride-sharing services. Mr Jones added: “We prefer to think broader than ride sharing. Ultimately, the experience the BTA aspires to create for visitors is one that’s completely frictionless. This is a sure-fire way to set ourselves apart from our competitors. From arrival at the airport to ground transportation to checking into hotels — the visitor experience should be without friction, a goal that is entirely attainable if we use technology and customer service together effectively.” Mr Jones said more information would be released in the National Tourism Plan, due to be released this month at the Bermuda Tourism Summit. John Wight, president of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, said: “Bermuda needs to adapt to the changing needs of its tourist and business visitors. If we want to retain those customers and have them come back to Bermuda, we are going to have to meet their services expectations. That encompasses a broader transportation model for Bermuda that includes taxis, buses, ferries and every mode of transportation.” Mr Wight added: “We want to very much protect the job of every Bermudian that we can, but at the same time, whether it be transportation or insurance or retail, businesses have to change and evolve with the needs of their customers.” The Government is to publish a transport Green Paper, which will canvass the views of the public. A spokesman for the Ministry of Transport said; “We are not actively exploring Uber or any services like that in Bermuda at this time.”
Cab drivers are forced off the roads at night because of fears about drunken passengers and security problems, the head of the industry’s trade body said yesterday. But David Frost, president of the Bermuda Taxi Operators Association, said the industry was looking at ways to increase the number of cabs on the roads on peak nights after complaints that there were few taxis available when police launched their first roadside breath test checkpoints last month. Mr Frost said: “Gone are the days you can pick up safely at night — almost every night driver has a horror story, a robbing — some have been held at knifepoint. Often at night the road becomes a racetrack. I’m willing to bet more vehicles get destroyed at night. Then you have people throwing up in you cab. What’s the recourse? The Transport Control Department will tell you to go to court, file a complaint and collect your money. In three months you may get them paying you back $10 a week for what can cost $600.” He added that the island’s culture of drink-driving also meant that taxi operators reckoned there was a higher risk of crashes at night because of impaired drivers and riders. Mr Frost was speaking as police prepared to set up roadside breath test checkpoints again this weekend. Mr Frost said: “We understand there are concerns out there and we know how dire the problem is. Every problem in the past has been caused by giving a simple solution to a complex problem.” He added that the BTOA had held several meetings to discuss improvements to the service and planned to meet government representatives to look at ways to boost taxi numbers on the streets. Mr Frost said taxis had been also been held up by traffic queues during last month’s breath test blitz and that cabs should have a fast lane to bypass police checkpoints. However, Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell, head of the police traffic unit, dismissed the call for special treatment for taxi drivers. He said: “No one gets a free pass through any roadside sobriety checkpoint. We work hard to keep delays to a minimum. We have arrested taxi drivers at the wheel of their taxi in the past for impaired driving offences, usually after they have been involved in a collision.” Mr Frost said that the average taxi owner spent 13 hours on duty but the hours could be increased by renting the vehicles out to other drivers. He added that owners would need to be sure that, in the event of a crash, relief drivers would have their own insurance. Mr Frost said: “We’re proposing to insurance companies that the individual driver is insured — the vehicle will be insured but the person driving also has insurance. Then the taxis will be on the road for longer and we can get some of these hours covered.” He added that many of the island’s 570 taxis focused on predictable weekday work like visitor tours and airport and hotel fares, as well as corporate clients, who paid for cabs to wait and reduced drivers’ time on the roads. Mr Frost said: “That corporate driver who is not working Saturday and Sunday would be able to make money as the car would still be on the road at the weekend.”
Directors at under-fire power firm Belco are prepared to meet union and government representatives to try to end industrial action at the firm. A spokesman for Ascendant Group, Belco’s parent company, said the board wanted talks to end a work-to-rule imposed by the Electricity Supply Trade Union after the departure of four members of the management team. He added: “The board will be reaching out to the ESTU and the Government shortly to agree a mutually convenient time to meet.” Union workers at Ascendant-owned energy provider Belco imposed a work-to-rule yesterday after four senior staff were either made redundant or resigned. Michael Daniel, Ascendant’s chief strategic development officer, and Carol Ross-DeSilva, vice-president for organizational excellence, were made redundant and Denton Williams, chief operating officer, and Zehena Davis, vice-president of human resources, quit. The union has demanded the return of the four Bermudian non-unionized staff and the removal of two top managers. Jason Hayward, the president of the Bermuda Trade Union Congress, accused Ascendant of a “ploy” to remove qualified Bermudians. Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, added that he had “grave concern” about the situation. David Burt, the Premier, said that the ESTU was “justifiably concerned” by management actions that were “simply not in keeping with the community responsibility we expect from the company”.
Industrial action at Belco could leave customers in the dark, the utility warned this morning. In a statement, the company said customers “may experience power outages” as a result of industrial action. Workers downed tools at the power company this week, culminating in the imposition of work-to-rule by the Electrical Supply Trade Union, after the departure of four members of the management team. Work-to-rule impacts overtime and emergency work. The ESTU has called for the reinstatement of the staff. The statement added: “The safety of our staff is our primary concern at Belco. There are always staff at the plant to monitor the engines and, if necessary, perform emergency shut downs. However, due to the current work to rule action, and starting this weekend, the company will not have adequate resources to both operate the plant and respond to issues on the network and our customers might experience prolonged outages. The company will continue to provide updates through local media channels as well as on social media on the Belco Facebook page. Belco management and staff thank customers for their understanding and patience at this time.”
The Gombey Festival showcase filled the main show ring at the Botanical Gardens with drumming, whistling and whirling regalia as troupes and international guests performed for an audience of hundreds. Gombeys were among the spectators, and children in Gombey costumes played on the hillside as onlookers lined Berry Hill Road. “Let the rhythm begin,” Lovitta Foggo, the Acting Minister of Social Development and Sports, told the crowd to open the event. Ed Christopher, the MC for the showcase, introduced Gombey Evolution, Wilson’s New Generation Gombeys, Gombey Warriors, H & H Gombeys, Place’s New Generation Gombeys and the Warwick Gombeys, as well as the Bermuda Donquili African dance and drum group. The crowd welcomed international guests Zayd Saleem, a Moko Jumbie stilt walker from the US Virgin Islands, and the Hermitage Shortknee Dancers, visiting from Grenada. Leon “Sparky” Place, this year’s honouree, was applauded as “an undisputed master of the Gombey arts who has no immediate plans to hang up his costume”. Mr Christopher added that Mr Place still continues to perform with his “beloved” Place’s Gombey Troupe on special occasions. Mr Place was nicknamed “the praying Gombey”, he said, and has left “an indelible stamp on Bermuda’s Gombey culture” over more than 60 years as a performer, mentor and captain. Mr Place brought a disciplined ethos to his troupe, the crowd heard. “I believed that children had to be of good deportment at home and at school — and if they were not, they could not dance,” Mr Place was quoted as saying. Mr Place thanked the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs for supporting the show, which grew last year from a one-day event to a weekend of commemorations. Under a clear, still evening, Mr Christopher called for a moment of silence for “those who came before us and who led the way”, listing off the names of leading Gombey figures. As the performances got under way, he said: “See how proud Bermuda Gombeys are? They carry on their heads peacock feathers — you can’t get prouder than a peacock.”
A veteran Gombey dancer was honored yesterday at the launch of a festival to celebrate the island’s iconic dancers. Leon “Sparky” Place, a former dancer and drummer with Place’s Gombeys, as well as traditional dancers from overseas were at Victoria Park in Hamilton to publicize today’s Bermuda International Gombey Festival Showcase. Lovitta Foggo, the acting social development and sports minister, joined Bermudian troupes Place’s and Warwick Gombeys, as well as the Hermitage Shortknee Band from Grenada at the park. Ms Foggo gave special recognition to Mr Place, who was recruited into the troupe when he was 10 with his brothers, Dennis and Reginald Jr. She said: “He had little choice in the matter — his father, known as ‘Scranny’, was the group’s founder and captain, and Gombey was a family affair.” Mr Place succeeded his brother Dennis as captain in the late 1970s. Ms Foggo said Mr Place was a disciplined mentor for younger dancers and was “exceptionally creative”. She added that Mr Place had added more than ten original steps to the troupe’s repertoire. However, Ms Foggo said: “Perhaps his most enduring contribution to the art is as a master costume designer.” She explained that he had pioneered the use of wool fringes on the Gombey regalia, an innovation that brought new dynamism to dance moves. Ms Foggo said the annual festival was set up to highlight the contribution of folk dancers who represented a tradition “passed down the ages, from generations of master Gombey dancers”. She was speaking as Zayd Saleen, from St Croix in the US Virgin Islands, walked through Victoria Park on stilts, which are a symbol of the islands’ Moko Jumbies’ towering role as protectors. Bermuda’s six Gombey troupes will join international guests today at the main show ring at Paget’s Botanical Gardens. The free event is scheduled to run from 5pm to 9pm. A symposium, called Gombeys and Traditions of the Diaspora, will be held tomorrow at the CedarBridge Academy cafeteria from 2pm to 4pm.
Simone Barton has been acclaimed as chairwoman of the One Bermuda Alliance. Mrs Barton, who ran for the OBA in Hamilton West for the 2017 General Election, was confirmed as chair after Nandi Outerbridge withdrew from the election, according to an Opposition statement this afternoon. She said the party was being “revitalised” under the leadership of Craig Cannonier, adding that it would not only hold the Government to account but be “ready to govern Bermuda in the way it so desperately needs”. She cited a decline in employment, GDP and retail sales, saying business confidence was “at its lowest”, and that the island had to be averted from “its rapid decline into another economic abyss”. She echoed remarks made by Mr Cannonier on Sunday, in the wake of poor Bermuda Business Confidence Survey results, saying the economic foundation left by the OBA was “swiftly being eroded”. Mrs Barton, an advocate for cardiac health, is the CEO of the Bermuda Heart Foundation and founder of CORE Heart Health Centre. Mr Cannonier called her “someone who does things and does them well”. The Opposition leader added: “She is exactly the kind of person the OBA needs and I am delighted to welcome her as our new party chair.”
Closed-circuit television footage of a 16-year-old girl accused of the murder of a Bermudian teenager in England was shown to a jury yesterday. The CCTV footage, taken from several cameras, showed the girl, one of five youngsters accused of the knife killing of Lyrico Steede in a children’s play park in the Nottingham suburb of Stock Well in February, just after the murder. The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was seen walking through the streets of Bulwell and waiting at a stop before she boarded a bus. Peter Joyce QC, for the Crown, earlier told the court that the girl had said in a police interview that a group of men, “ran Rico down and stole the iPad she had borrowed from a friend”. Mr Joyce asked Pauline Jarvis, a police CCTV co-ordinator, what the girl appeared to have in her hand at the bus stop. Ms Jarvis said: “An iPad type item.” The court heard earlier that the girl persuaded Mr Steede, who was 17, to travel to the park from his home in nearby Bulwell. He was chased by four men and stabbed repeatedly after he stumbled on a railing and fell. The court heard that the 16-year-old girl told police she did not recognize any of the attackers and went home after she was unable to find Mr Steede. Kasharn Campbell, 19, of no fixed abode, and Remmell Campbell-Miller, 18, from Sneinton Boulevard, as well as two 17-year-old boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are also in the dock charged with the murder of Mr Steede, who was attacked on February 13. Mr Steede died in hospital five days later. Earlier, Mr Joyce told the court that the four other defendants had lured Mr Steede to the park with the girl as an accomplice. The jury saw CCTV footage of Mr Steede walking to the bus station in Bulwell. Later film clips showed him walking to the playground with the girl. Footage from another camera appeared to show Mr Steede being chased by four men. Mr Joyce told the court that the girl was aware that Mr Steede “was to be attacked”. The jury heard that she had arranged to meet Mr Steede, who had moved to England to live with family, after she talked to him on social media sites Snapchat and Instagram. The trial continues.
The chief executive of the Bermuda Land Development Company will be out of his post this month under sweeping changes to Government quangos, the Minister of Public Works said yesterday. Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch added that a hiring freeze had also been imposed on BLDC, the Bermuda Housing Corporation, and the West End Development Corporation with effect from last month. He said the first phase of the quango restructure would mean that Francis Mussenden, the BLDC CEO, will “separate” from the organisation at the end of this month. Major Barrett Dill, general manager of the BHC, will take over management responsibilities at the BLDC the next day. Colonel Burch said that Mark Melo, the BHC finance manager, would assume financial responsibility for the BLDC on November 1 as well. He added that discussions with Anthony Richardson, the BLDC’s chief financial officer, about his future were continued “as he focuses on the completion of financial audits for six years that remain outstanding”. Colonel Burch said the BLDC board would continue unchanged under the new management team. He added that the responsibility for Daniel’s Head beach, site of a former Canadian military base, would shift from the BLDC to Wedco. Colonel Burch said: “It makes no sense that on an island of only 21 square kilometers, that we have three organisations, three CEOs, and three CFOs, and all the attendant offices, machinery and staffs carrying out very similar functions, for the most part, with a full demonstration of bureaucracy on display.” He highlighted the BLDC’s responsibility for property in the West End — despite being based in St David’s — as an example of inefficiency. Colonel Burch said the decision on the quango shake-up was made in July after discussions with the three quango chief executives. He added the changes were in line with two reports, Untangling Bermuda’s Quangos — A Review of the Quangos in the Bermuda Government presented in 2003 and the 2013 Sage Commission Report on Government efficiency. He said both reports had “largely languished on the shelf”. Colonel Burch said that he had met staff at the three quangos this week to discuss the changes. He added: “I assured frontline staff that their jobs are secure — and in fact in some instances, there may be expansion in some areas.” Colonel Burch said the second stage of the quango shake-up would focus on Wedco “with an eye on recommending greater efficiencies there as well”. He added that he had arranged to brief Christopher Furbert, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, on the staffing changes at the quangos. The minister said discussions continued on the island’s public golf courses, the fourth quango under his ministry’s control. He added that an update on their position was expected in the “not-to-distant future”. Colonel Burch said: “We view these changes as an opportunity to immediately effect some cost savings by eliminating duplication of roles, combining responsibilities, and bringing a sharper focus to deliver on the Government’s mandate to control costs and operate more efficiently.”
A two-way race for the deputy leadership of the ruling Progressive Labour Party is to be held. PLP officials confirmed an election will be held after Walter Roban, who has held the position for the past two years, and backbencher Scott Simmons were both nominated. They added there were no challengers for David Burt, the Premier, for leadership of the party, so he will be automatically re-elected. Owen Darrell, the PLP chairman, said the party was “thrilled at the level of excitement” around the annual delegates conference, Building a Better and Fairer Bermuda: The Next Chapter, which will be held from October 24 to 26. He said: “Delegates are signing up and a number of people will be running to fill spots in the party executive. We are especially enthused about the energy around the upcoming Throne Speech and the second year of delivering for the people of Bermuda.” He added: “The next legislative year will be a critical one as we address many issues impacting our country.” The party leader and deputy leader’s jobs are filled by election every four years at its delegates conference under the PLP constitution. Mr Burt and Mr Roban, who is also Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, were voted into their roles in 2016 after Marc Bean stepped down as the party’s leader for health reasons. Mr Simmons is a backbencher and former chairman of the party and has also served as its public relations officer. The Royal Gazette reported on Tuesday that Mr Simmons was said to have visited PLP branches in recent weeks to “get a feel” for the climate. Dawn Simmons, a former election candidate, has been nominated as chairwoman of the party. If she is successful against incumbent Damon Wade she will be the first woman to hold the post. Three people, Lauren Hayward Bell, Colin Gilbert and Alexa Lightbourne, have put their hats in the ring to become deputy chairman. Mr Darrell explained: “As per the party constitution, positions that have more than one candidate must be voted on at the annual delegates conference by the delegates. He said the party looked forward to “an inspiring conference”. The event will start with a speech from Mr Burt at St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church’s Centennial Hall on October 24, to which the public are invited.
Union workers at power firm Belco imposed a work-to-rule yesterday in the wake of controversial management departures. Jason Hayward, president of the Bermuda Trade Union Congress, demanded the return of the four Bermudian non-unionized staff, and the removal of two top managers at the utility. Union members at Belco, owned by the Ascendant Group, downed tools yesterday morning in protest at the Bermudian job losses, with about 100 ESTU staff gathered outside Belco’s human resources department on Pembroke’s Serpentine Road. Pausing after speaking to workers, Donald Lottimore, the ESTU leader, told The Royal Gazette: “We are at a critical stage right now.” The industrial action kick-started a day of talks between workers and Ascendant Group directors, including chief executive and president Sean Durfy. It was the ESTU’s second emergency meeting since September 14, when staff launched a protest over the loss of three marketing and communications staff. The dispute, which Mr Lottimore said had harmed morale at the company, included the dismissal of non-unionized staff. Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, voiced “grave concern”. Mr Brown added: “While it is the right of any private company to manage its resources and staff as it sees fit, it is disappointing that a company such as Belco, under the Ascendant Group, who has had such a longstanding history of investing in Bermuda, have chosen to act in this way.” Ascendant Group announced on Wednesday that Michael Daniel, Ascendant’s chief strategic development officer, and Carol Ross-DeSilva, vice-president for organizational excellence, had been made redundant. The firm added that Denton Williams, chief operating officer, and Zehena Davis, vice-president of human resources had resigned. Mr Durfy said that management was prepared to work with the union. He added: “My door is always open and I welcome further discussions.” A company statement said Ascendant management had met the ESTU executive over “challenges that the company is facing with respect to costs and reducing customers’ rates”. Mr Hayward accused Ascendant of a “ploy” to remove qualified Bermudians. Mr Hayward said this week’s dismissals were “extremely alarming”. He claimed: “These cuts come on the back of retaliatory redundancies that were made less than three weeks ago as a result of the CEO not being able to obtain work permits for expatriate workers to displace qualified Bermudians.” He said both Mr Daniel and Mr Williams, who had started as apprentices, had worked at the company for 29 years. Mr Hayward said the BTUC believed that the company’s management had targeted the four because they disagreed with the management of the company and the treatment of workers. He added that “approximately 20 qualified Bermudians” had been let go over the past three years. Mr Hayward said the union was “extremely shocked” at the departures of Ms Davis and Mr Williams, who had headed the last round of industrial negotiations. He added: “These departures come at a very peculiar time as their alleged resignations occurred in the midst of talks which were scheduled for this week.” Mr Hayward also demanded the removal of both Mr Durfy and Robert Schaefer, the chief financial officer, who was appointed in February. The BTUC also wants assurances on succession planning for Bermudians, an end to the “systematic outsourcing” of jobs, better training for staff and information on what savings from cuts in wages and benefits had been used for. The congress also said it wanted to know if the North Power Station would be operated and maintained by Belco employees. David Burt, the Premier, said last night that the ESTU was “justifiably concerned” by management actions that were “simply not in keeping with the community responsibility we expect from the company”. Mr Burt admitted the company’s management had a responsibility to shareholders. But he said: “Even a monopoly must act right.”
An international private jet charter firm has announced the opening of its Bermuda office in Hamilton. New York-based Star Jets International, Inc, will set up its operation in Melbourne House, on Parliament Street. Marc Bean will lead the operation. The company will operate as a private jet brokerage firm offering jets for family vacations, business trips, concerts and tours, roadshows, air cargo for art, medical emergencies, aircraft sale and management, and concierge services. The company is led by industry veteran, CEO Ricky Sitomer. Mr Bean, head of the Bermuda division for Star Jets, said: “We are excited to have a dedicated office here in Bermuda, in order to provide the highest level of customized, personal service to our current and prospective clients. Business persons, millennials involved in the tech space, high net-worth individuals, and groups of friends who all have specific requirements, are some of customers that we cater to.” Mr Bean, the former leader of the Progressive Labour Party, believes that the island’s reputation as a sophisticated, well-heeled jurisdiction, and its enviable proximity to New York City and the northeast of the US, were factors in the decision to open the Bermuda office. “Providing 24/7 jet concierge services, we have access to 14,000 international aircraft for our customers to chose from for on-demand charter, or our flagship Jet Card Programme that sells access to the fleet in blocks of 25 flight hours,” Mr Bean said.
• For more information contact 441-438-5387, or visitstarjetsintl.com
A veteran doctor who practiced in Bermuda for more than 50 years has died. Gordon Black, who was 91, grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, and arrived in Bermuda in 1957 for a residency at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and promptly fell in love with the island — and his wife Patricia. He worked in the Government health department as a medical officer after his stint at the hospital. Dr Black also served as prison medical officer and served the mentally ill at St Brendan’s, which is now the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute. He entered general practice in 1964 and was based in Somerset before he moved on to Hamilton in 1968. He worked in general practice and obstetrics before he retired in 2012 at the age of 85. Annabel Fountain, head of the Bermuda Medical Doctors Association, said Dr Black was dedicated to his patients. Dr Fountain added: “I have known Dr Black my whole life; he delivered me. He looked after me as a child, through my teens and during my school and university holidays until his retirement. “He was a mentor to me as I went through my studies and, when I returned home to work in 2010, he was the most trustworthy and loyal supporter.” Dr Fountain, a diabetes specialist, said she loved referrals from Dr Black because of their painstaking detail. She added: “He knew his patients so well and was able to recite their story over decades of his care, creating a thorough understanding for the reader of what was required. He was a pragmatic physician, who was careful with his prescribing and the costs associated with medical care. All of these qualities I aspire to emulate in my practice.” Dr Fountain said Dr Black was always available for discussion and advice. She added: “He was extremely dedicated to his patients whom he continued to visit in the hospital when admitted, long after the hospitalist programme was instituted. Earlier this year, Dr Black was awarded honorary lifetime membership of the BMDA in recognition of his more than 50 years of service to the Bermuda community. As president of the BMDA, it was a great honour for me to award Dr Black lifetime honorary membership. It was a special moment for us both. I will miss him.” Tawanna Wedderburn, chief executive officer for the Bermuda Health Council, said Dr Black had offered the council help when it first started. She said: “His most memorable advice was given when asked about the maintenance of patient records. Dr Black responded that it was more important to spend time listening to and caring for patients rather than learning how to navigate new IT systems. This advice reflects the essence of how important Dr Black’s patients were to him.” In 2013, Dr Black penned General Practice in Bermuda, about his time on the island and his experiences as a doctor. He said when it was published that he had always loved practising medicine and felt privileged to work in an occupation where he looked forward to going to work on Monday morning. He told The Royal Gazette: “Now I miss seeing patients and keep bumping into them in town and they give me a hug. Dr Black is survived by Patricia, son Chris and grandchildren Adrian and Annabelle.
Schoolboy gangsters have been ignored by police after they launched a reign of terror in a residential area, local people claimed yesterday. Residents in Friswells Hill in Pembroke said a gun incident on Tuesday night was sparked by a gang, some as young as 15, locked in a dispute with another group in Hamilton. They said a group of about 12 youngsters aged between 15 and 20 congregated outside homes around the clock and took part in antisocial behavior, including drug dealing. One single mother, who asked not to be named, said: “Over the last three weeks, the presence of boys in the area has grown dramatically. There is obviously a gang problem, but it’s a Town-on-Town (Pembroke) gang problem. These aren’t people coming from the country. The incident on Tuesday was not targeting any householder; this has been brewing for a while. There’s something going on, on the streets; that makes all these guys congregate there. All summer it’s been quiet, but in the past couple of weeks something has ramped up.” The woman warned: “I think there’s a serious gang war going on in Town right now and the police are not paying attention.” A car and house were damaged in the 10.40pm shooting on Tuesday. The attack came just after a police Community Action Team meeting held in the wake of complaints about trouble on the streets. The woman added: “The police drive by and they see 15 or 20 guys. But they don’t say, ‘Disperse, everybody leave.’ The police need to take more action. They need to be more present. You can’t just drive through doing the speed limit. It makes them feel the police are afraid of them. It’s intimidating when you have these guys in the front of your house; you fear you are going to have damage done to your property. Do I want to be the one to antagonize the gang on the street? I play it cool.” The mother said the root of the problem was a lack of help for at-risk young men and neglect of the Friswells Hill area. She added: “I’m just a mom. I have children. I don’t know where these children came from, what their house is like. I see some children in the same clothes all weekend. A couple of the little children are not in school. They can’t get a job; they can’t get on the Hustle Truck. These guys don’t have any fathers, and they don’t have any way of making money. They are selling drugs; they are stealing bikes. It’s one thing to be neighborhood children riding bikes together, but as they get older it turns into something different.” The woman added that abandoned and boarded-up houses in the area had helped breed street crime like drug dealing. She said: “If it looks like s***, people will treat it like s***. It’s such a sweet neighborhood. But as long as I have lived in Friswells Hill, the first thing I have seen the community do is this neighborhood watch thing, only because the number of men on the streets has risen. The woman added that area residents could help restore order with a trash clean-up, trimming trees and helping residents “take pride in their neighborhood”. Another woman from the area said: “They are only 16 or 17 and should be at school, but they have been weaned into the gang situation. I feel they have upset someone. The boys who came into the area are after somebody and they will be back until they get them.” The Bermuda Housing Corporation, which manages the Hustle Truck, said the programme was still operational, but declined to comment further. A Bermuda Police Service spokesman said: “It is believed Tuesday night’s shooting was gang related, however detectives continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding that incident.” He added officers were aware of the concerns of residents. “However, tackling antisocial behavior is not just a job for the police alone, the support of the community and relevant helping agencies is also vitally important.” Police have appealed for witnesses to the shooting incident. A Ministry of Education and Workforce Development spokeswoman said attendance officers monitored attendance and followed up on absences to check if they were legitimate. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said last night: “The Friswells Hill residents have a right to feel safe in their neighborhood, as should all residents in Bermuda, and I welcome having a dialogue with the community regarding the challenges we face in reducing violence.” Mr Caines added that he, along with members of the gang reduction team, have met with area residents on at least four occasions. “We will be out there to talk with residents directly this weekend.”
An American cruise ship passenger was fined $4,000 yesterday after she admitted possession of cannabis and drug equipment. Magistrates’ Court heard Meghan George, 41, from Pennsylvania, George was caught with two bags of plantlike material in her purse by Customs officers as she tried to board the Anthem of the Seas in Dockyard. Officers searched her cabin and found three marijuana pipes, a grinder and an electronic cigarette cartridge holding cannabis oil in her suitcase. She was arrested the next morning and remanded in custody. Bruce Swan, George’s defence lawyer, said she placed the drugs and equipment “without thought” as she packed for her trip. He explained she put the drugs in her bag to avoid smoke in her house from a neighbor's house fire. He explained: “She threw it into her bags in order to avoid the smoke that collected in her room and she didn’t realize what they were until after she made it to Bermuda. She understands that she broke the law and she had no intention of doing so.” The offence happened on Monday night. George pleaded guilty to four counts of drug possession. She apologized to the court and said she was unaware of Bermuda’s drug laws. She added: “This has been the biggest mistake I’ve made in my life and I’m sorry.” Magistrate Juan Wolffe heard that possession of cannabis has been decriminalised in Pennsylvania but is still illegal. Mr Wolffe reminded George that the legal position in the United States was not an excuse for breaking the law in Bermuda. Mr Wolffe ordered George to pay the fine before she left the island.
A former Bermuda resident nominated by Donald Trump to be the American ambassador to South Africa was convicted of immigration violations on the island. Lana Marks, now a designer of luxury handbags, was found guilty along with her husband Neville Marks of employing Lucia King, a black South African nanny, without immigration approval. Ms Marks, then aged 28, was also convicted on two counts of submitting false immigration documents. Both were given a 12-month conditional discharge, but were later cleared on appeal. The late Lois Browne Evans, the couple’s lawyer and the Opposition leader at the time, launched an appeal against the 1982 conviction. Dame Lois eventually withdrew from the case. The Supreme Court convictions against Dr Marks and his wife were quashed by the Court of Appeal after just ten minutes of deliberation in July 1983. But Dr Marks, at the time Bermuda’s only private psychiatrist, was ordered to leave the country just a week before the appeal was heard after his work permit was not renewed. Dr Marks also took legal action against the ministry over the work permit refusal. But the Privy Council, Bermuda’s final court of appeal, in July 1985 refused to grant Dr Marks permission to appeal a Supreme Court ruling that upheld the Government’s decision to not renew his work permit. The couple lived at Silver Dollar, on Knapton Hill, Smith’s, for many years, and now live in Palm Beach, Florida. Ms Marks was born in East London, in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Her website says she studied with the Royal Academy of Ballet and that she competed in international tennis tournaments — including the French Open. She later said in an interview with a South African newspaper that she had studied ballet at the Royal Academy’s South African affiliate in her home town. South African business publication Business Day also cast doubt on her claim to have competed in the French Open. The paper said their reporters had been unable to find any record of her having played in the tournament.
The Electrical Supply Trade Union is imposing work to rule, and demanding the “immediate reinstatement” of four Bermudian workers “displaced” at Ascendant Group, according to a statement issued by Jason Hayward, president of the Bermuda Trade Union Congress. The announcement came as David Burt, the Premier, tweeted: “As Belco staff raise issues of concern with recent redundancies, I sat down with ESTU members about the @bdagovernment’s concern for the loss of #Bermudian jobs. We will not simply ignore practices that do not meet the highest standard of corporate community responsibility.” In a statement Mr Burt said he had met with the ESTU today, along with transport minister Walter Roban and home affairs minister Walton Brown, after the departure of four senior Bermudian Belco executives. Mr Burt said: “It was important to meet directly with the workers’ representatives who are justifiably concerned at a pattern of action by the CEO and the board which is simply not in keeping with the community responsibility we expect from the company. The membership’s reaction to this growing and seemingly deliberate culture of uncertainty that has only affected Bermudians is not something this Government will ignore. The management and Board of Ascendant have a responsibility to their shareholders first; but my responsibility and the responsibility of the Government is to the people. As the union and its members work through these issues, the Government is committed to supporting fair business practices that meet the highest standard of corporate community responsibility. Even a monopoly must act right.” This afternoon, Mr Hayward said the BTUC, which has met today with the ESTU, was “gravely concerned with the manner in which Bermudian workers are being treated within the company”. It came after talks between workers and the directors and CEO of Ascendant Group, Sean Durfy. The BTUC accused Ascendant of a “ploy” to oust qualified Bermudians after four senior Bermudian staff were said to have been dismissed. Calling the move “extremely alarming”, Mr Hayward’s statement added: “These cuts come on the back of retaliatory redundancies that were made less than three weeks ago, as a result of the CEO not being able to obtain work permits for expatriate workers to displace qualified Bermudians. In particular, the workers are angered that Michael Daniel and Denton Williams, who both have served the company for 29 years respectively and had worked their from apprentice positions to senior management, were forced to leave. It is our understanding the board and the CEO targeted this particular group of senior Bermudians, which included Zehena Davis and Carol Ross-Desilva, because they did not agree with the manner in which the Board and the CEO were handling the affairs of the company and, in particular, the treatment of workers.” The group said it marked the second time in the past three weeks that the ESTU had to call an emergency meeting. Mr Hayward said that over the past three years there had been “approximately 20 qualified Bermudians” let go. He called the actions of the board and CEO “the straw that broke the camel’s back” and accused them of failing to value long-serving Bermudian staff. Workers are genuinely concerned about their job security and want clarity on the company’s direction moving forward. The ESTU is extremely shocked at the departures of Zehena Davis and Denton Williams as they were primarily responsible for heading the current round of industrial bargaining negotiations. These departures come at a very peculiar time as their alleged resignations occurred in the midst of talks which were scheduled for this week.” Along with working to rule and calling for the reinstatement of the four, Mr Hayward’s statement demanded the removal of both the CEO and CFO Robert Schaefer. The BTUC also called for clarity from Ascendant management on six points:
The statement closed: “It is the BTUC’s desire that the board of directors meet with the ESTU to bring a speedy resolve to this current impasse.”
The Bermuda Health Council has refused to reveal the advice it gave former health minister Jeanne Atherden before the One Bermuda Alliance government decided to slash fees for scans last year. Tawanna Wedderburn, the health council’s chief executive officer, said: “The health council has no comment on the matter at this time.” Mrs Wedderburn was speaking after David Burt, the Premier, and Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, claimed the health council’s recommendation on how much healthcare providers should charge for CT and MRI scans was ignored by Ms Atherden before last year’s election. They alleged she instead imposed bigger cuts in June 2017, which caused a sharp drop in income for the Bermuda Hospitals Board and Ewart Brown, a doctor and a former Progressive Labour Party premier. But Ms Atherden insisted the claims were a “false accusation” and questioned why the PLP, when in Opposition, did not object to the change in fees for scans when a Bill was passed in Parliament last May. The Government has said it expects to pay out a total of $3.6 million in compensation for lost revenue because of the fee cuts — $2.4 million to BHB and $1.2 million to Dr Brown. The Royal Gazette asked the health council last month to reveal the advice it gave the minister and if it differed from the fees that were set. Ms Wedderburn said at the time: “As public officers and per the Bermuda Health Council Act, the secretariat does provide advice to the Ministry of Health.” She added: “In a recent survey by the health council, the public asked us to be more transparent. As a result, our internal policy about information release is under review to increase transparency and the public’s understanding about our role, including in determining reimbursement rates. We will provide any information we can in due course. Our policy to release information is being reviewed, including information about technical advice.” New Opposition leader Craig Cannonier stepped into the row over compensation for the fee cuts at the weekend. He said the payments to “wealthy” Dr Brown were “Robin Hood in reverse”. But Mr Burt said: “Given the Opposition leader seems to now like the truth, he should start by telling the truth about why this vendetta was approved by him in Cabinet. The Opposition leader should explain to the people of Bermuda how he sat in a Cabinet that disregarded the advice of the Bermuda Health Council and approved this economic vendetta which negatively affected the hospital and caused this $3.6 million liability for the taxpayers of Bermuda.” A public access to information disclosure by the Ministry of Health this year included an analysis of MRI and CT fees. The document listed the fees set by the OBA on June 1 last year and a list of higher recommended fees — with the difference in price shown for each procedure. The difference was only $90 in some cases and in others more than $450. The difference is what the Government is paying to Dr Brown and the BHB for each procedure they carry out until new higher fees come into effect on November 1. Neither the ministry nor the health council responded to questions yesterday on whether the list of higher recommended fees shown in the analysis formed part of the advice the BHeC gave to the former minister. Ms Atherden also failed to respond to a request for comment.
A householder may have been targeted by a gunman after complaints about troublemakers in the area were made at a police meeting only hours earlier. Neighbours spoke out after several shots were fired at a house and a car in the Friswells Hill area of Pembroke. Ashfield DeVent, a former Progressive Labour Party MP and minister, who lives on Friswells Hill, said it was possible that the shooting was a bid to intimidate neighbors angry about trouble in the area. Mr DeVent said: “During the meeting I heard people got pretty vocal and came down hard on the people who were just hanging about, so there’s some belief among the neighbors that this might have been something to scare someone.” Mr DeVent said it was a miracle no one was injured or killed. He added: “There were more than enough shots fired that an innocent bystander could’ve got hit.” One man, who asked not to be named, said: “I was inside watching TV, then all I heard was ‘bang, bang, bang! I came to the front door, looked out, turned off my light, I came out. There was a bike in the middle of the road and people were firing shots up at the porch. They rode off, stopped down a little further, fired again and then they rode off again.” The man, who has lived in the area his whole life, said young people congregated in the area. He added: “If you got a bad apple in there, and someone’s coming for the bad apple, the innocents are going to have to suffer for it.” The incident happened on Tuesday night about 10.40pm. One 83-year-old woman said she was in bed when she heard multiple shots. She added: “I thought ‘Not again’.” The woman said: “It is disturbing because last night was the first time that I started to get a little fearful.” The woman added she moved to Friswells Hill 60 years ago and the area had been largely free of violence until the past few years. “It’s disturbing when you’re going out during the evening. I used to walk to church, but because people have been loitering you don’t want to walk down there by yourself.” Another resident who heard the shots said: “What is the solution? When is it going to end? What is it that we as neighbors are going to do to support the more immediate people that are impacted by the gathering of young people there? There’s an elderly woman who lives just along the corner of Border Lane by the grocery store, and she’s wondering what kind of impact that has on the elderly. We’re somehow breeding a culture of young men that see no alternative to this. I understand single-parent homes, I understand that we don’t have a perfect educational system, but what motivates a young person to join a gang? That’s the sad part for me.” She said residents may restore the area’s former neighborhood association in a bid to combat violence and connect with disaffected young people. Kevin Simmons, 27, said friends in the area gathered at his home for safety after the incident. Another 84-year-old woman said: “I knew it was coming soon because of all the activity that goes on around here. It’s getting really disgusting.” Mr DeVent added the problem needed a “comprehensive approach” from the Government to tackle unemployment. He said: “I would bet that a large majority of those who perpetrate these crimes have either not graduated from high school or struggling to find employment. If young people aren’t employable or can’t get employment they will eventually turn to something else to survive. If we continue this type of behavior and don’t find a solution I can only, regrettably, see it escalating.” Police confirmed residents had expressed concerns over antisocial behavior at the Community Action Team meeting. A police spokesman said: “In the next few days Community Action Team officers will return to follow up with area residents regarding this confirmed firearm incident, as well as their antisocial behavior concerns, while working with area MPs to identify long-term solutions.” Police appealed for witnesses and said they wanted to speak to anyone who saw two people on a motorcycle in the area around the time of the shooting. Wayne Caines, the national security minister, said last night that he was very concerned by the shooting. Mr Caines said that the Bermuda Police Service was using “all the appropriate resources to investigate”. He added: “I also want to reassure the public that all those who seek to cause disruption will be held accountable, and any actions of violence will be met with the appropriate response. Our ministry remains committed to implementing strategies to combat anti-social behavior.”
Lyrico Steede, a 17-year-old Bermudian stabbed to death in England, was “lured” to the scene of his attack, a jury in Nottingham Crown Court heard. Peter Joyce QC opened the case for the prosecution yesterday, according to the Nottingham Post, against the five murder accused. The college student, who resided in Bulwell, was attacked in a children’s playground after 7pm on February 13 in the region of Stock Well. He died from his wounds five days later. Four men allegedly aimed to “trap Lyrico and kill him”, Mr Joyce told the court, with the aid of a 16-year-old girl who could not be named for legal reasons. Mr Steede was said to have walked to the park with the girl around 7pm, with the four male defendants coming by taxi for the attack. The court heard that the teen had been “a sitting duck”, and was set upon after he tripped over a railing while trying to escape. The victim sought help at a residence, where he was found by police seriously injured on the doorstep. He was taken to the Queen’s Medical Centre in critical condition, and succumbed to his injuries on February 18. According to the Post, the jury heard that the group came “for one thing and one thing alone: to attack Lyrico”. Two males aged 17 are on trial with the 16-year-old girl, alongside with Kasharn Campbell, of no fixed address, and Remmell Campbell-Miller, 18, of Sneinton Boulevard. Mr Steede had lived in the UK for about five years to stay with family.
Health concerns have forced pupils out of their classroom just weeks into the new school term. Selessia Watson said that her son, Dantè, 7, and other pupils in the Active Learners Programme at Paget Primary had been relocated inside the school. She said the class comprises about eight children on the Autism spectrum. Ms Watson, 30, said the move was made by schoolteachers concerned over classroom conditions. She said that parents were alerted to the problem by teachers when their children returned to school after the summer break. Ms Watson said the classroom smelled “like a wet cardboard box”. She added: “You could smell it even before you got to the classroom.” Ms Watson said that teachers had approached the school about the issue before classes resumed last month. She said that a loud air purifier was put into the classroom to try and help the issue. Ms Watson added: “For children on the spectrum something loud like that is very distracting." She said the machine had to be run for the entire school day. Ms Watson described: “If they turned it off the floor would get soaking wet, and the walls would be dripping.” She said that the pupils were out of the classroom for the second week on the school term to take part in the Endeavour Programme. Despite the children being out of the classroom, she said the problem was not fixed. Ms Watson said teachers refused to take the pupils back into the classroom at the start of the third week — opting to move them instead to the staff lunch room. She said the class was forced to relocate again into an empty classroom. Ms Watson said the room was filled with junk, as well as pests. She added: “We went in there last week and had to put down mice traps.” Ms Watson said that the alternative classroom also presented another problem to pupils. She explained: “You can see all the traffic going in and out of the school, which is a big distraction.” Ms Watson said that she wanted testing carried out to determine if the normal classroom was safe for her son and his classmates. Ms Watson added: “They need to have a plan, and act like they care.” She said that concerns over health conditions had shuttered Cabinet Building on Front Street in 2016. Ms Watson asked: “What makes them think that children can go to school in it?” Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education, confirmed yesterday that the facilities team was tackling repairs to the Active Learners Programme classroom. Ms Richards said the team “will be removing cupboards, fixing lights and carrying out general cleaning of the room and fixtures”. She added: “Prior to a pre-scheduled school inspection, it was noted that the classroom air purifier was giving off an offensive smell and as a precaution, staff asked to be temporarily relocated to another room until air-quality tests were conducted.” Ms Richards confirmed that air-quality tests would also be conducted. She said that despite the problems “prior to the start of the year, no work was required in the classroom”. Ms Richards said that the “minor” work now needed came about as a result of a pre-scheduled inspection done on September 28. “The Department of Education wants to reassure staff, students and parents of our commitment to providing safe school environments.” Cole Simons, the Shadow Minister of Education, said the situation did not happen overnight. This is a manifestation of ongoing health and safety problems. This is evidenced-based on the fact the cabinets have to be pulled down, the lighting fixtures have to be removed, and the room has to have a deep clean.” Mr Simons said the situation at the school is another example of the lack of thorough and ongoing school maintenance. “It also reaffirms our belief that the facilities management team in the ministry is woefully under-resourced by this government, and as a result our unhealthy campuses are having an adverse effect on our students.” Mr Simons said the Government must commit to a facilities management plan “assessed annually, at minimum. With our affluence, our students deserve, and have a right to attend schools which have campuses which cause them no added stress or burdens. They should not be exposed to unnecessary health and safety risks.”
Police are reminding runners and walkers to remain vigilant and avoid dimly lit areas while exercising after an alleged incident this morning. The advice this evening comes after an alleged encounter involving a female jogger near Trimingham Hill, Paget. The alleged incident was described in an e-mail obtained by The Royal Gazette this evening. The woman said she was running in the area this morning at about 6.10am when a “streaker” emerged from behind a trash can. She described shining a flashlight on the man and screaming at him until we ran away. The woman said she then flagged down a man on a bicycle and told him what had happened. A Bermuda Police Service spokesman contacted this evening said he was unsure if a report about the incident had been made to police. He said that police recommended that runners and walkers exercise in pairs or groups. The spokesman said: “If you encounter such offensive behavior while out exercising, do not become confrontational. Instead, remain at a safe distance and get the best description you can of the offender.” He added: “Only if it is safe to do so, take a photo with your phone, if you have it with you.” The spokesman said that any incident should be reported to police immediately, including the time it took place, the location, and any description of the person involved. An accurate description or clear photo of the offender will further assist detectives in identifying and apprehending the individual committing these public acts of indecency.”
Fears over legislation designed to control loan sharks will be considered before a final Bill is presented to Parliament, the home affairs minister vowed yesterday. Walton Brown explained that submissions made during public consultation on the Debt Collection Act 2018 will be looked at by the Attorney-General’s office to see if any changes are needed. Mr Brown also promised that massive fees charged by collection agencies would be tackled under the proposed rules after lawyers warned the problem was not properly covered by the draft legislation. He said: “We are very encouraged by the feedback we have received regarding this Bill. Careful consideration will be given to the concerns and suggestions that were expressed. Our goal is to produce a final version of the Bill that is effective, will provide protection through accountability and oversight and one that will benefit consumers who are debtors, companies that extend credit and the agencies responsible for collecting debts. The submissions will be reviewed and shared with the Attorney-General’s chambers in order to consider amendments to the Bill where necessary.” Mr Brown thanked everyone who provided written responses to the Bill during the consultation period, which ended last month. The Royal Gazette reported on Monday that lawyers were worried the Act, as proposed, would not crack down on “punitive” and “exorbitant” fees charged by companies hired to collect debts. The Ministry of Home Affairs read through 19 pages of submissions and a spokesman said the points raised will be discussed “with the draftspersons in due course”. The spokesman added: “The issue of exorbitant fees will also be addressed in this Bill.” The legislation was designed to provide a regulatory framework for debt collection agencies under a new Debt Collection Licensing Authority in a bid to stamp out abusive practices such as harassing phone calls and “predatory” lending. Mr Brown told the House of Assembly in July that the debt collection Bill “represents the first tranche of proposals to address the Government’s Throne Speech commitment to introduce regulations for debt collection agencies, regulate payday lenders who lend money at extraordinary interest rates and bring banking, insurance and other financial service conduct under the umbrella of an updated Consumer Protection Act.” He added: “Further legislation will be proposed to address consumer services provided by the banking, insurance and other financial services industries after consultation with the public and private sector stakeholder groups.” The ministry was asked yesterday for more details on what the additional legislation would cover but none was received. Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe said he had given the proposed Debt Collection Act 2018 “some review”. He added: “It would have been nice if we were consulted before they actually drafted something up.” Mr Wolffe said: “Surprisingly, there are debt collectors who actually welcome legislation to regulate debt collection, so I don’t think you’re going to get too much issue there. I also think that what precipitated that Act might have been, I’m just speculating, might have been just one or two persons who maybe had a bad experience with debt collectors, maybe even in the court. I think that the vast majority of persons coming before the court ... their experience is one where they feel they were listened to, I think, anyway.” Sheelagh Cooper, the chairwoman of Habitat for Humanity of Bermuda and a social campaigner, welcomed the initiative. She said: “I am very pleased to see the attention being paid to the regulation of businesses that specialize in debt collection. This is vitally important as the penalties leveled and the interest rates charged are often exorbitant and this has made it virtually impossible for a struggling family to ever dig themselves out of that burden. Clearly there needs to be a court assisted vehicle for debt collection but a review of the terms and conditions set out by the collection agencies is long overdue for review. I commend Mr Brown for taking the lead here.“
A proposal to test the English language skills of foreign workers could come into effect later this month, The Royal Gazette can reveal. A Ministry of Home Affairs spokeswoman yesterday confirmed a draft policy is now under review. The spokeswoman added the proposals were “in circulation for consultation”, and that Walton Brown, the home affairs minister, would discuss the move at a press conference today. The Department of Immigration posted the draft English Speaking Work Permit Policy online on September 21 and gave an “effective” date of October 19. The policy document said that some employers were “finding it more and more difficult to recruit from English-speaking countries”. It added that “it is unacceptable to have foreign nationals serving persons, whether it is in a restaurant, a hotel or a rest home, who cannot communicate effectively in English”. The Immigration department said: “It is dangerous in a job where one has to also read prescriptions or the labels of dangerous chemicals. Consequently the following policy is being put into effect.” Job categories cited cover industries where the employee has contact with the public or where lives could be put at risk. These include:
Workers from countries where English is not the first language will be required to show evidence of a pass in an English as a second language course under the new policy. The statement added the department could not police proficiency in English. However it said it would act on “complaints from members of the general public that work-permit holders cannot speak or understand English or if public officers witness this deficiency themselves”. Workers already employed on the island will be given a language test at the Department of Immigration. The statement said: “If the language test results indicate that the person is deficient — they fail the test — in their understanding of and/or ability to speak English, the natural justice process will be administered and the employer and employee will be advised that the minister is considering revoking the work permit. Both parties will be given 14 days to provide a written response as to why the minister should not revoke the work permit.” Bermuda’s immigration policy already has regulations on English proficiency. But they are restricted to nationals who fall under the Portuguese Accord and who work in the construction industry. The restriction is a standard stipulation on Bermuda work permit applications and part of a 1982 agreement between the governments of Bermuda and Portugal, which covered terms for residence and employment for Portuguese contract workers. The new policy set proposes denying entry to Bermuda in cases where Customs or immigration staff observed first-time work permit holders who arrived and showed an inability to speak or understand English. People judged to not be fluent enough in English would not be cleared through customs and would be sent home at their employer’s expense. A source close to the Consultative Immigration Reform Working Group said the proposal did not originate from them. The working group drew up a report last year which has now gone to a bipartisan committee of the House of Assembly for review.
Women are “more needed than ever” to step up in politics, the island’s first Progressive Labour Party premier said yesterday. Dame Jennifer Smith, who led the PLP to its historic 1998 victory, said: “Women who are there in politics should each pick a protégée, someone they can manage and encourage to go further.” She added: “To aim towards bringing our statistics in line with the actual number of women in Bermuda would be a great accomplishment.” Dame Jennifer was speaking after she gave a speech at an event designed to celebrate the contribution of women to the PLP. Her speech on September 23 highlighted women as the backbone of party membership. Dame Jennifer said many of them, including herself, were guided by Dame Lois Browne Evans, who was the first female Opposition leader in the Commonwealth. She added: “I was not on the front lines at the beginning, but I was encouraged into volunteerism and taking responsibility for my own actions and I realised women could do that. I had the best mentor in the world with Dame Lois.” Dame Jennifer added that Ann Pindar was an early unsung hero of the PLP. She said Ms Pindar, a trade unionist and confidante of Dame Lois, was selected by the Bermuda Industrial Union to attend a conference in Barbados because no men were available. Ms Pindar brought home key documents from the conference, including a copy of a party constitution, that were used to form the PLP in 1963. Dame Lois and Ms Pindar passed on the documents to male party members to present them to the founding inner circle. Dame Jennifer said Ms Pindar revealed her role at a PLP founder’s day lunch in 2012, when she was 89. She added Ms Pindar also made an early, but unsuccessful, bid for the party as a candidate. Dame Jennifer told The Royal Gazette: “If it was tough for men to run, it was extra tough for women of that day. They had families and jobs. I was single, and worked at the Bermuda Recorder.” Dame Jennifer followed Dame Pamela Gordon Banks, who was premier in the last United Bermuda Party government and the first woman to hold the highest political role. Dame Jennifer’s speech was delivered at one of a series of commemorations planned for the 20th anniversary of the 1998 win. The party’s “mother-daughter soirée” at the Rosewood Bermuda resort was attended by 172 women. Kristin Burt, the wife of David Burt, the Premier, as well as Wanda Brown and Olga Scott, the wives of former premiers Ewart Brown and Alex Scott, were patrons. Dame Jennifer told the audience at the event that eight women ran for the PLP in the 2017 General Election and half of them won their seats. She added: “We need more women in Parliament because women bring a sensitivity with them, a history of being peacemakers, knowing how to deal with different personalities, being multitaskers, knowing how to make a way out of no way.” Dame Jennifer said women need to “stand up” and called for at least half of parliamentary candidates to be women. She added: “Today, there is more need than ever to encourage women to stand for election.” Corporate sponsors for the event were Wesley Miller of ENT Bermuda, Dorothy Crane Nursing Home and Bermuda HealthCare Services.
Performance artists from Grenada and the US Virgin Islands are to join in the Bermuda International Gombey Festival this weekend. The bright-coloured Shortknee, from Grenada, wear a wire screen mask over a whitened face and perform rhythmic stomping with bells around their ankles. Moko Jumbies, from the US Virgin Islands, walk on stilts up to 15ft high. Both are viewed as symbols of history, culture, and heritage in their home countries. They will join Bermuda’s Gombeys in performing at the Bermuda International Gombey Festival Showcase at the Botanical Gardens on Saturday, from 5pm to 9pm. Bermuda Donquili, a local group set up to perpetuate the traditional drum beats and dances of West Africa, will add to the multicultural angle at the four-day event which begins tomorrow. Michael Weeks, the social development minister, said: “I want to encourage the public to come out and enjoy this dazzling, energetic, cultural display. To have so many of the troupes gather together in celebration of our proud heritage is an opportunity not to be missed.” The Gombey Festival is held every year to provide continued exposure to folk art traditions. The troupes are a blend of Bermuda’s African, Caribbean, native American and British cultures. Mr Weeks said: “The traditions have been passed down orally from one generation to the next within families and the captains of each troupe determine the direction of the troupe and style that is taught. Thus within troupes there can be found subtle but distinct differences in beats, dances, costumes, headdresses, by which they can each be recognized. Freedom dance, junkanoo, cockfights, biblical stories, slow dance, fast dance, snake dance, and rushing back are all elements to watch for when observing a Gombey performance.”
The festival will also include:
A man denied smuggling $647,000 worth of heroin into Bermuda at a Supreme Court hearing yesterday. Omar Davy, 37, pleaded not guilty to the importation of the drug on July 28 and possession with intent to supply. Davy, a Jamaican national, also denied willfully obstructing customs officers by running away from the customs area at the LF Wade International Airport before officers could finish searching him and his luggage. It is alleged the haul was 220.88g of the controlled drug. Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons remanded Mr Davy in custody until January, when he is expected to return to the court for trial. Mr Davy was one of several defendants who appeared at yesterday’s arraignments session. Katrina Burgess and Cleveland Rogers are both accused of the premeditated murder of Marcus Gibbings, who was found stabbed to death at a Devonshire apartment on October 26, 2006. Ms Burgess, 47, and Mr Rogers, 51, who were not required to enter a plea, are expected to return to the court next month.
Two American tourists were fined a combined total of $12,000 in Magistrates’ Court for having prescription-based “medical marijuana” after spending several days in custody in Hamilton Police Station. Serenade of the Seas passengers David Hutchins, 23, from Amherst, Massachusetts, and Ronald Bernard, 57, from Rhode Island, both admitted to separate charges before magistrate Juan Wolffe yesterday. Mr Wolffe told Bernard it was “mind boggling” that he would risk carrying the drug into a foreign country. He fined Hutchins a total of $7,000 for the six offences and ordered that the full sum be paid before he can leave the island. Mr Wolffe heard that on the morning of Wednesday, September 26, Hutchins was disembarking from the Serenade at King’s Wharf, Ireland Island, when Customs officers noticed he had plantlike material and a vaporizer with him, which Hutchins admitted were his. A search of his cabin revealed chocolate, gummy bears, oil and wax, all of which contained active ingredients of cannabis. Hutchins, trembling uncontrollably in court, admitted five counts of importation of cannabis and cannabis products, along with the possession of drug equipment. Richard Horseman, Hutchins’s defence lawyer, said he had a medical marijuana card and took the drug to deal with spinal and mental health problems, including anxiety. Mr Horseman said: “There was not an intention to bring all of that on to the island. He was on a cruise and be brought along more than he maybe needed, which was a mistake.” He told the court Hutchins had been visiting the island with his family as his parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. His arrest meant his family had remained on the island after the cruise ship departed. Mr Horseman said Hutchins’s decision to bring the drugs to Bermuda was a “grave error” and that he had already spent more than two days in custody. Hutchins, who trembled as he addressed the court, apologized and said he should have made himself more aware of the law in Bermuda. He added: “I made a very big mistake. I had no intention to disrespect the island or the court system.” Mr Wolffe said he accepted that the drugs were not intended for distribution, but that drug offences were still serious offences. The court heard that hours after Hutchins was arrested, a Customs sniffer dog alerted officers to the cabin Bernard shared with his wife. When the door opened, officers detected a strong scent of cannabis. Bernard admitted he had the drug, and a search of his cabin revealed 10.36g of cannabis and a cartridge containing cannabis products, and was fined $5,000 for the four offences. Bernard pleaded guilty to four charges, including the importation of the drugs and possession of drug equipment. He said: “My intent was never to bring it on to the island, although I now understand that I shouldn’t have brought it into Bermuda’s territorial waters.” Bernard added he used the drug to help cope with knee and shoulder pain. He added: “I know that doesn’t make it right or acceptable.”
A man who almost collided with a police car while over the drink-driving limit was fined and banned from the roads for 18 months yesterday. Nedio Medeiros, 39, was arrested in the early hours of yesterday on Trimingham Hill in Paget. The court heard police were on mobile patrol near the Crow Lane roundabout at about 4.15am when they saw Medeiros’s motorcycle attempt to negotiate the roundabout. Officers said Medeiros, of Paget, switched lanes and forced the police to brake to avoid a collision. They pulled Medeiros over and noticed he appeared unsteady on his feet. Medeiros, who appeared in Magistrates’ Court hours after his arrest, pleaded guilty to drink-driving. He also admitted driving without a valid licence. Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe fined Medeiros $1,200 and banned him from the road for 18 months.
Violence against women must be treated as a “national priority”, the Government was told at the weekend. The Progressive Labour Party administration was urged to provide more funding and support for victims at a Women in Politics forum, which attracted about 70 people. Laurie Shiell-Smith, executive director of the Centre Against Abuse, told the forum that the Department of Health found in 2010 that one third of women in Bermuda will be affected by domestic violence. She said: “Centre Against Abuse is the only organisation on the island that provides a full complement of services for victims affected by domestic violence. Over the last ten years, Centre Against Abuse has assisted over 1,500 women, and while these numbers are astronomical, we also recognise that this is only a small segment of our community that actually comes forward that are affected by domestic abuse.” She was speaking at an event last Saturday organised by the PLP’s women’s caucus. The forum, held at the PLP’s Alaska Hall headquarters in Hamilton, included speeches by Dame Jennifer Smith, a former premier, and Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Government Reform. Ms Shiell-Smith highlighted the 1878 murder of Anna Skeeters, whose husband, Edward, had to be protected from angry women after they discovered he had killed her. She said: “While I’m not advocating for violence upon violence, I am advocating that, collectively, we as women can end violence against women because I am my sister.” Ms Shiell-Smith pointed out that Bermuda signed the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women last year. She said the island was now “legally obligated” to work towards the implementation of the convention, which included a commitment to end violence against women. She added violence against women had repercussions that involved health, labour, housing, finance and education, as well as the immediate impact on victims. Ms Shiell-Smith said: “Violence against women is a multi-generational scourge on those who are afflicted by it and it also leaves scars and behaviours that then can lead to the continued cycle of violence.” She added: “As a collective, I charge that we ensure that services such as Centre Against Abuse are fully funded by Government so that these vital services do not have to depend on donor funds to determine if they will continue or not. Bermuda is the only island in the Caribbean where this is not handled by a government.” Ms Shiell-Smith told The Royal Gazette yesterday that October 1 marked the start of an international domestic violence awareness month. She said: “That’s the very sad part about this, that Government has decided that this isn’t important enough for them to make it a focus, and this is actually a major issue in Bermuda, which has offshoots not just for violence against women but violence in the home, gang violence — if we deal with what’s happening at home we can actually cut down on some of the social issues that are happening in Bermuda.” Ms Shiell-Smith was asked on Saturday what progress had been made on the UN treaty. She said: “Bermuda signed on CEDAW last year, however, that’s all we’ve done.”The CAA, which helps about 120 women a year, needs $300,000 a year to fund its work, but has to rely on donations. Ms Shiell-Smith said: “The next step for the Government is to actually become involved and make this a priority. Under their government, they have a Department of Child and Family Services, unfortunately they don’t service the family, they just service the child. A place like CAA or the work that we do should be under that department or a gender affairs department.” She added: “This is a matter that doesn’t just affect women, it’s not a women’s issue, it’s a human rights issue.” The forum also included discussions on the representation of women in politics and how to strike a good work-life balance. Alexa Lightbourne, the caucus chairwoman and one of the event’s moderators, said: “While we initially wanted to host this intimate forum to accommodate 40 persons, we were overwhelmed with a room of nearly 70 diverse women engaged in learning and dialogue on key issues.”
A remorseless” gunman was jailed for life yesterday for the murder of wheelchair-bound Lorenzo Stovell. Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons ordered that Travone Saltus, 30, serve at least 15 years of the sentence before he became eligible for parole. She also ordered that a ten-year sentence for the use of a firearm in the killing should run consecutively with minimum murder term. Mrs Justice Simmons said time already served in custody should be taken into account. The court heard earlier the shooting, which happened as Mr Stovell sat in a party bus outside Woody’s Bar in Sandys, “shattered” Mr Stovell’s family. Laurie Stovell, Mr Stovell’s sister, wrote in a victim impact statement: “It was a joy to see him happy. He had been so depressed being in a wheelchair. He was determined to walk again by the time my son could walk.” She added that he had pleaded with him to get off the bus before it went to Woody’s. But she said Mr Stovell told her: “The worst they could do is kill me.” Ms Stovell added: “They are words that I will never ever forget.” She said when she heard about the shooting and saw that the bus was gone, she knew what had happened. Ms Stovell said: “I knew my brother was dead. I knew in my heart and soul.” She added: “The trial process resurfaced all the pain I felt. I still have no emotions towards the verdict. I do not get my brother back, now another family has to feel similar pain. No one wins in this situation.” Mrs Justice Simmons said the jury believed the evidence given by witness Troy Harris, who said Saltus had confessed the murder to him. She added: “The jury no doubt found that your murderous conduct was instigated by your membership in a gang, your need to demonstrate fidelity to that gang and that the gang has a requirement to ‘put in work’.” Mrs Justice Simmons said that Saltus had no serious previous convictions, but the shooting was aggravated by Mr Stovell’s disability. Mrs Justice Simmons said: “It meant he was especially vulnerable to an MOB attack that night. This was a gang-related attack, and you showed no remorse when you boasted to Mr Harris.” Mr Stovell, 24 and confined to a wheelchair as a result of an earlier shooting, was killed just after 10pm on September 23, 2012. The court heard that Mr Stovell was on the bus with friends and that it stopped outside Woody’s. The other passengers left the bus for the bar, but Mr Stovell remained in the vehicle with the driver. Mr Stovell was shot at through the window of the bus and suffered several gunshot wounds. The bus driver sped away to try to get the wounded man treatment, but Mr Stovell died of his injuries. Prosecutors alleged that Saltus killed Mr Stovell amid a tit-for-tat series of shootings in an effort to rise through the ranks of a West End gang. Mr Harris said Saltus told him in May 2013 if he wanted to establish himself in the gang, he would have to “put work in” and admitted that he had shot Mr Stovell to advance himself. Saltus was tried and convicted of the killing last year, but the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial over the evidence of Mr Harris. Carrington Mahoney, Crown counsel, said in the retrial that Mr Harris’s evidence was supported by the testimony of other witnesses. He told the court Mr Harris had nothing to gain by giving evidence other than a clean conscience. But Mr Horseman said Mr Harris was an unreliable witness and argued that many of the details he provided could be found in media coverage of the shooting. Mr Horseman highlighted Mr Harris’s long list of previous convictions and suggested he was trying to protect the real gunman. He added that there was no forensic evidence to link Saltus to the shooting or any witnesses that put him in the area when the shooting happened. Saltus told the court he had gone to Woody’s that night, but left before Mr Stovell was shot because he was felt ill.
Traffic on Kindley Field Road around the airport, at the stretch known as Stone Crusher Corner, will be affected by roadwork later this month, the Ministry of Public Works has advised. Trench work near LF Wade International airport will require a one-lane closure, starting next Monday through October 12, between 9am and 4pm. The ministry thanked the public for their patience.
A Progressive Labour Party backbencher could take on Walter Roban for the position of deputy leader. It is understood Scott Simmons has considered making a move for the role in the run-up to the PLP’s delegates conference this month. Sources told The Royal Gazette that nominations for the leader and deputy leader are due tomorrow. It is thought David Burt, the PLP leader and Premier, will not face a challenge but that Mr Simmons has been testing the waters to gauge support for a run for the deputy position. The party’s constitution rules that the two posts will be appointed by election every four years at its delegates conference, which is scheduled for October 24 to 26. An insider said yesterday: “There’s not a challenge for the leadership, but there’s a challenge for the deputy leadership. We will know by Wednesday, for sure, who is going to submit their names. By the constitution, every four years the office of the leader and the deputy leader has to be vacated.” Mr Roban, who is also Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, is expected to put himself forward to retain the position. The source said there had been speculation that Mr Simmons may also throw his hat in the ring. Without an official announcement, it is unknown what level of support he may get. Mr Simmons was said to have visited various party branches over the past couple of months to “get a feel” for the climate. Both the party leader and deputy leader must be elected members of the House of Assembly. With a career that includes policing, banking and hospitality, Mr Simmons is a former PLP chairman who has also served in media and public relations roles for the PLP. Mr Simmons declined to comment yesterday, while Mr Roban could not be contacted for comment.
Fresh criticism over the Jetgate scandal is a distraction from the problems the island faces, the new leader of the One Bermuda Alliance said last night. Craig Cannonier admitted that attacks over the controversial trip from Progressive Labour Party MP Christopher Famous and Ewart Brown, a former PLP premier, did not come as a surprise. But he said: “We, as a public, need to move away from these character assassinations and move to the issues of this country. The issues of this country have nothing to do with Craig Cannonier. They have nothing to do with Chris Famous. They have everything to do with Mr and Mrs Bermuda.” Mr Cannonier, who quit as premier in 2014 over Jetgate, was speaking after the OBA confirmed yesterday that he was the new leader of the party in the wake of a vote of no confidence in Jeanne Atherden by most of the Opposition MPs last month. He was sworn is as Opposition leader last Monday and became party leader as well yesterday. Mr Famous yesterday called for Mr Cannonier to answer more questions over the Jetgate affair which had caused him to “resign in disgrace”. He said: “Simply put, Bermudians deserve better. Bermuda has had only one premier in its history driven from office in disgrace — Craig Cannonier. Bermudians need to see for themselves and judge for themselves the original, unaltered report produced on the Jetgate scandal that Michael Dunkley and Craig Cannonier never allowed them to see.” Mr Famous said police continued to investigate the Jetgate controversy, which involved a trip to the US in a private jet owned by an American business tycoon. He said: “Questions still remain unanswered.” But Mr Cannonier dismissed the attack as a “character assassination”. He added: “It does nothing for the betterment of the issues of this country.” Mr Cannonier said Mr Famous should focus his attention on ordinary Bermudians, who he claimed were being hit with higher taxes while the wealthy were left alone. He added: “This is coming from a labour government, which should be, to its members, a major, major concern.” Mr Cannonier said last Sunday that payments made to Dr Brown in compensation for cuts in fees for scans imposed under the former OBA government were “Robin Hood in reverse”. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, revealed on Friday that Dr Brown was expected to be given more than $1.2 million in total for losses at his two medical clinics after fees for diagnostic imaging scans were slashed in June last year. Dr Brown declined to respond to Mr Cannonier’s broadside. He said: “Maybe after the Jetgate explanation.” Mr Cannonier said yesterday that Dr Brown had hidden behind privilege during the 2016 Commission of Inquiry into allegations of impropriety in public spending. He added: “He is a man who would not talk to the public about their money. How duplicitous can you be?” Mr Cannonier said that he was unable to comment more on Jetgate as the matter was still under police investigation. He added that the public could expect a more outspoken and vocal Opposition in the days ahead. “This is definitely an effort on our behalf to ensure that Bermuda recognises that we are alive and well. Maybe not as well as we can be, but we will be.” Mr Cannonier said that it was “a bit harsh” to say that Ms Atherden had failed to provide the strong leadership needed from the Opposition. But he added: “I do believe people were looking to see more of a presence. I’m not here to say that our former leader failed, per se, but what I do believe is that the public were looking for more from us.” Mr Cannonier said his Shadow Cabinet and Senate team would be announced over the next few days. Nandi Outerbridge, already replaced in Senate by former OBA chairman Nick Kempe, and Simone Barton, a former OBA election candidate, have both been nominated for the post of chairwoman. A special general meeting will be held next Friday to elect the new chairwoman. Michael Dunkley, who replaced Mr Cannonier as premier, ruled himself out of contention for the leadership race earlier yesterday.
A woman was banned from driving for a year and fined $800 after she refused to take a breath test. Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday that police went to the scene of an early hours single vehicle crash in Devonshire. Officers found that a car driven by Lakeisha Bell, 39, had hit a pole. They noticed that Bell, of Devonshire, was unsteady on her feet, her speech was slurred and her eyes were glazed. Bell was arrested on suspicion of drink driving but refused to take a breath test. Bell pleaded guilty to the offence, which happened on September 30 about 5.50am on Palmetto Road near Dock Hill roundabout.
Carlos “Lindy” Bosch, a former president of Bacardi International, has died. Mr Bosch was 91. Mr Bosch, a member of the Bacardi family, was instrumental in the relocation of the Cuban-born drinks dynasty to a new home in Bermuda in 1965. Bacardi, founded in Cuba in 1862, was forced from its homeland in the wake of the Cuban revolution of 1959 after its leader, Fidel Castro, introduced a hardline Communist regime and nationalized private property without compensation. Mr Bosch moved to Florida with his family and persuaded his father, José “Pepín” Bosch, the grandson-in-law of Bacardi founder Don Facundo Bacardí Massó and then president of the company, to set up in Bermuda. Mr Bosch told The Royal Gazette at the 50th anniversary of Bacardi in Bermuda in 2015 that it took two years to convince his father to move the company to the island. He added: “Somehow or other, the small team we had gelled and it just worked.” The original staff of five grew to 65 over five decades and Bacardi’s modernist global headquarters on Pitts Bay Road, originally designed by world-renowned Mies van der Rohe for construction in Cuba, became a landmark. Mr Bosch retired in 1975. A requiem mass for Mr Bosch, a father of four, will be held at 2pm tomorrow at St Theresa’s Cathedral, Cedar Avenue, Hamilton.
Soft drinks, sweets and other select items will be hit by a 50 per cent hike in duty rates as the first stage of the sugar tax kicks in today. The tax increases will rise to 75 per cent in April. Its phased implementation was agreed by legislators in June after complaints from business owners. Michael Dunkley, the former premier and owner of the wholesaler Dunkley’s Dairy, issued a statement yesterday that the tariffs were unlikely to sway consumers and improve health. Mr Dunkley added that he had declared his interests in the matter, and claimed the price would rise on grocery items to the detriment of small businesses. According to Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, the tax would not cause a proportional rise in prices. In Parliament this summer, the minister cited potential rises of 20 to 50 per cent for island-made foods, with bread possibly going up five per cent. Mr Dunkley called the tax “discriminatory” in its selection of products, and said its exemption for home bakeries “still has not been explained properly”. Implementing a sugar tax was pledged by the Progressive Labour Party in March 2017, among a raft of tax reforms promised before the July 2017 General Election. But Mr Dunkley accused the PLP last night of passing “poor” legislation in a “rush to tick the box of election promises”.
Premier David Burt insisted his “door is open” to the concerns of the business community after a survey found confidence plunged dramatically. The Premier also pointed to positive economic signs from the first quarter of 2018, but conceded there was a long way to go on the road to recovery. His remarks came as Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition, said that economic recovery begun under the One Bermuda Alliance risked “going backwards”. Bermuda Business Confidence Survey results released last Friday showed confidence fell to 86.4 points, the lowest reading since the survey was launched in 2014. Business leaders responded by calling for the island to change its approach to immigration and attract more working-age people to the island. Mr Burt said yesterday: “The Business Confidence Index is one benchmark for Bermuda. We can measure our future successes against where we stand today. We have a joint responsibility to work together to improve economic growth and diversification, to create business opportunities and jobs for Bermudians. My door is open. I am available to hear the concerns of the business community with a view to finding solutions together.” First-quarter results showed government revenues, air arrivals and employment were up, government spending was down and the deficit was down by 24 per cent. Mr Burt said: “The report highlights economic and external factors impacting Bermuda businesses and the confidence in Bermuda’s business environment. This is one snapshot in time and provides an opportunity for Government and business to work together to continue to strengthen our economy. Is everything perfect? No. We still have a long way to go.” Mr Burt noted his Budget pledge to provide jobs and careers for Bermudians by diversifying the economy, and aggressively finding new global areas of growth. He said: “This government is committed to working with local and international companies to grow the economy and create jobs for Bermudians.” Last night, Mr Cannonier said that the impetus from projects such as hotel construction, the airport redevelopment and balancing the Budget had been “lost”. He added: “The fact that we would be balancing the budget under an OBA government this coming fiscal year speaks to the issues many have in the business community. That will not be a reality with this government. In the last few weeks we have seen nothing but negative reports on the state of Bermuda’s economy, income levels or the level of business confidence. All this while we still wait to see the hundreds of jobs the PLP promised in fintech.” Mr Cannonier said the index report showed confidence dropping almost 20 points, with immigration “one of the major concerns”. The Opposition leader cited the Government’s Quarterly Bulletin of Statistics, with a $15.5 million drop in employment income over the first quarter of the year, as well as the 0.4 per cent fall in real GDP for the first quarter of 2018, and a decline in retail sales volume reported for June. He charged that healthcare costs had continued to climb, and criticized “new dividend taxes which will hit the small Bermudian businesses”. Mr Cannonier added that Bermuda was on “an economic knife-edge”, with the Government’s policies failing to stimulate the economy.
Payments awarded as compensation to Ewart Brown, the former premier, have been branded “Robin Hood in reverse” by Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition. Mr Cannonier said yesterday that, instead of helping “wealthy” Dr Brown, the Progressive Labour Party should be focusing on seniors with high healthcare bills and small businesses struggling with tax increases. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, revealed on Friday that Dr Brown was expected to be compensated for more than $1.2 million in total for losses at his two medical clinics after fees for diagnostic imaging scans were cut in June 2017. Financial supplements were also paid to the Bermuda Hospitals Board. Ms Wilson blamed the One Bermuda Alliance administration for imposing “drastic” cuts on the scans, and said the Government had intervened to “right a wrong”. Mr Cannonier asked yesterday whether the priority of the PLP was to Dr Brown or to “the welfare of the Bermudian people”. The Opposition leader said the payments, which come from the public purse, “should be a major concern to all taxpayers”. He added: “It is Robin Hood in reverse. With healthcare already at sky-high levels, despite pledges by the PLP to bring them down, how is what amounts to subsidizing a private sector provider, going to lower those costs for Mr and Mrs Bermuda? How is this going to help those who have to make a choice between paying healthcare costs, rent or food?” Mr Cannonier added that the Government had been good at raising taxes to eliminate the government deficit only to “lavish” it on a wealthy recipient. “What about those seniors on fixed incomes with high healthcare expenses, Bermudians who are struggling to make ends meet and those small business about to be hit by the sugar tax or tax on dividends. The OBA government raised taxes on the wealthy and international business while the PLP has raised taxes on Mr and Mrs Bermuda instead. What happened to all the rhetoric of ‘Two Bermudas’?” David Burt, the Premier, last night said that Mr Cannonier should tell the truth “about why this vendetta was approved by him in Cabinet”. He added: “The Opposition leader should explain to the people of Bermuda how he sat in a Cabinet that disregarded the advice of the Bermuda Health Council and approved this economic vendetta which negatively affected the hospital and caused this $3.6 million liability for the taxpayers of Bermuda. Between these payments and what he and his colleagues left the people of Bermuda to pay for Cross Island, it makes this government’s first quarter performance all the more impressive.” Last night, Dr Brown said: “I will not respond to this statement. Maybe after the Jetgate explanation.”
Former premier Michael Dunkley announced today he will not vie for the One Bermuda Alliance leadership. Although the MP claimed “many” of his party colleagues have been ineffective in the past year, he said it is time for them to unite. His statement came on the deadline day for nominations to fill the positions of OBA leader and chairman. Shortly afterwards, Craig Cannonier was named as the leader of the OBA. Mr Cannonier was sworn in as Opposition leader last Monday, following a vote of no confidence in Jeanne Atherden. Mr Dunkley, who was Premier for three years until the Progressive Labour Party swept to power in the 2017 General Election, said: “There has been a great deal of speculation on whether I would put my name forward during the nomination period to be the leader of the One Bermuda Alliance. After a great deal of pressure, support and consideration I have decided not to submit a nomination. The OBA has gone through a difficult period since the last election — many Opposition members have not been effective to this point and there has been a leadership change. Now is the time to bring the party together, to build the party and to bring renewed energy and enthusiasm to the important work that must be done.” Mr Dunkley continued: “Now is also the time to demonstrate to the people of Bermuda that no matter how difficult the challenge, the OBA will stand together for the betterment of our people. I have served in many leadership positions and with my experience and at this point in life it is not always necessary to be the focal leader. I can use my experience, ability and enthusiasm in other ways and I am willing to work with my colleagues to do what is required for the OBA and Bermuda.” He added: “We can and must hold all our leaders to account in their service with transparency, responsibility, accountability and integrity. These values must transcend words and promises. For the many who have expressed concerns about leadership past and present I encourage you to be an active part of ensuring that the leadership consistently actions these values.”
A healthcare worker is under investigation for allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior involving a child, the Bermuda Health Council has announced. A statement follows: "The Bermuda Health Council recently received information about an unregulated health professional who allegedly engaged in inappropriate touching of a sexual nature with a child. The allegations are being investigated as the council referred the matter to relevant authorities. In light of this allegation, the health council reminds the public to check if your health professional is registered, and practices in a safe facility before you receive healthcare." Tawanna Wedderburn, CEO states: “The health council supports safe, quality care. Through a recent survey we conducted, the public asked us to speak up. We are meeting that request. Unusually, we are taking this step to highlight this information because of the risks faced by the public including children and other young people. Generally, no one has the authority to check most health facilities or the practices of unregulated health professionals. It is important that there is adequate oversight of those delivering health services. We view this serious information not only as important information to share but as an opportunity to improve our health system and protect the public from future harm. We are partnering with agencies in the community to do research and will keep advocating for what is best for the health of Bermuda. The health council may be limited by our legislation to act on these matters, but we support the public in asking questions about their care and will always listen. We are also liaising with professional associations to encourage greater oversight of unregulated professionals. We encourage the public to contact us anytime they are concerned. Regulated health professionals include physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, allied health professionals, optometrists/opticians, and midwives. Unregulated professionals include those who practice acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic, social work, counselling, naturopathy, and various assistants to regulated health professionals (e.g. physiotherapy assistant). If you need to know which health professionals are registered to deliver care in Bermuda, visit our website at www.bhec.bm or call 292-6420. The health council will continue, as always, to advocate for the changes Bermuda’s health system requires."
High interest rates and massive fees are not tackled in new legislation designed to crack down on loan sharks, lawyers have said. A list of “significant concerns” was outlined by John Hindess of legal firm Marshall, Diel & Myers in a submission to the Government’s consumer affairs department before the consultation period on new debt legislation ended last month. Mr Hindess, a senior associate in the Litigation and Advice Team, wrote: “The Bill does not address the major problem with these agencies — the often punitive interest and fees that they attach to the debt. It says they cannot charge any such fees or interest that are unlawful and that they must be agreed but that is it. It should be more explicit and perhaps cap the interest and fees that these businesses can charge, Mr Hindess said. “There is no explicit exclusion of lawyers, accountants or banks who often carry out the work described in the Bill but who do not do it as their primary business.” He also said fines for failure to comply with the law were “draconian” and “far larger than in other jurisdictions”. Mr Hindess highlighted a penalty of up to $10,000 for offences in connection with licence-holders taking excess fees, which compared to a similarly worded clause in Australia where the punishment was $100. He said it is designed to cover offences by corporations and was “potentially concerning” because it “essentially means that a secretary at a company can be personally liable for offences under the Bill”. Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, said the Debt Collection Act 2018 would mean oversight by a licensing authority in a bid to “eliminate abusive practices” such as harassing phone calls and “predatory” lending when he tabled the Bill in July. But Chris Swan, of Christopher E Swan & Co, said: “One of the problems with the legislation, in my view, is that it’s a sledgehammer trying to crack a walnut. What it doesn’t do effectively is define things like harassment. There are debtors who actively tell collection agencies, ‘call me at the end of the month and tell me to make my payment’; that can’t be harassment.” He added: “One of the areas that has caused some concern is that there’s no legislation that actually says the debt collection fee that you can charge is ‘X’, it’s all based on the contractual arrangement you have with your client.” Mr Swan added that the legislation also failed to tackle “the issue of debt collection agencies collecting exorbitant fees”. He said aggressive collection techniques reported in other countries were not used in Bermuda. Mr Swan explained: “We don’t have the practices that people have in the States where you get letters and letters, phone calls at 2am and threats. The debt collection agencies here don’t descend to that level.” A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Home Affairs said the draft Bill “proposes to regulate agencies where their sole business is collecting debt. The aim is to eliminate abusive practices through the creation of a regulatory framework under which creditors and debt collectors may conduct business.” The spokeswoman said the legislation also wanted to “regulate payday lenders who lend money at extraordinary interest rates. Our current debt collection practices are creating further consumer indebtedness due to exorbitant interest and administrative charges. This indebtedness is compounded by the lack of transparency and accountability to the debtor within the industry. Currently there is no legislative requirement to have proper documentation from the creditor to verify the debt is owed, recognize the debtor’s right to review the paperwork from the creditor or provide proper accounting of debt and interest repayments documentation to the debtor. There is also no legislative authority to prevent predatory lending, misrepresenting or deceiving a debtor, making harassing phone calls, using deceptive documents, misrepresenting the amount owed or communicating with third parties. We are looking to address all of these problematic areas with the draft Bill.” The Government earlier emphasized that the proposed legislation was designed to regulate agencies “where their sole business is collecting debt”.
Former union leader Ottiwell Simmons is counting his blessings twice after almost losing a leg and then suffering from a stroke. The former Progressive Labour Party MP is recovering at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York after two clots blocked his blood flow — one that almost took his leg and one that could have cost him his life. His daughter, Emma Williams, said he is in good spirits and looking forward to returning home after the ordeal. “He’s the same old Otti,” Ms Williams told The Royal Gazette. “He is cheerful, gracious, humble and very grateful.” Speaking from his hospital bed, Mr Simmons, 85, added: “I didn’t want to become a one-legged man — I have enough difficulty with two legs. And with the stroke — I have never been through anything like this in my life, it was a new experience for me. I am grateful and thankful to have got though it. I’m blessed.” Ms Williams was with her father on September 14 when she noticed that his left leg had gone cold. She got him to King Edward VII Memorial where surgeon Herman Thouet realised that there was a blockage in his vascular system and that his leg was in jeopardy. Dr Thouet tried to transfer him to the Lahey Clinic in Boston but doctors there said it was too late and that his leg needed to be amputated as soon as possible. However, Ms Williams insisted they looked at other options. Eventually, Lenox Hill Hospital ordered him to be airlifted to them urgently where a team of vascular surgeons and cardiologists were ready and waiting to save his leg. Cardiologist Varinder Singh said: “Time of course is of the essence. Once the muscle dies, even if you restore blood flow to it you can still lose the leg. We were frantically working as fast as we could. We immediately began treatment. The next day his leg was warm, he was no longer in pain and he had a bounding pulse in the foot. We saved his leg.” A few days later, Mr Simmons was back on his feet and discharged from hospital. But as he was walking out of the hospital he suffered a stroke brought on by a second clot that led to his brain. Dr Singh, a cardiologist for Lenox Hill healthcare provider and private employer Northwell Health, recalled: “He couldn’t move the left side of his body. We found the clot, sucked it out, now he can move everything; no problem. Having done this for a long time, there is a big book and once your name is up, your name is up. His name wasn’t up. It was incredible.” Mr Simmons was president of the Bermuda Industrial Union from 1974 to 1996 and a figurehead for the labour movement. He was a key player in the General Strike of 1981, when more than 10,000 public and private sector workers walked off the job in protest at poor wages and conditions. He was also the Progressive Labour Party MP for Pembroke East from 1976 to 2007. Dr Singh said treating him was one of the best experiences of his career. “I got to know Mr Simmons and his daughter and they are just lovely, lovely human beings,” he said. “The first thing I said to him was ‘congratulations’. I said ‘thank your daughter every day because she saved your leg’.” Doctors believe that the clots may have come from Mr Simmons’s aorta and that age is likely the biggest factor. Ms Williams said: “He walks every day. Nobody wants to lose a limb but, for someone as active as he is, it would have been devastating. For me, there had to be another answer. When he had the stroke I just thought, what next? One thing I can say is that we have a strong faith and ultimately it’s God’s decision, not mine. After the initial shock, you pray. It took them five minutes to do the second procedure.” Ms Williams explained. “He had to rest, he was a bit groggy, but the next day he was up cracking jokes and talking. I just want to say thank you to the whole team it means so much. He has never been through anything like this — he has always been healthy. It was a humbling experience. He has a welcoming spirit, a loving spirit.” Mr Simmons added: “I am still a sick man, I have to make a reasonable recovery to get my leg functioning again. I want to thank the doctors, especially thank my daughter, and to thank my friends who rallied around me.”
King Edward VII Memorial Hospital is under a pink glow to raise awareness for breast cancer this month. The Mammography Department filter and Acute Care Wing main entrance will be lit up night to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Bermuda Hospitals Board senior imaging technologist Terricca Smith said: “BHB started offering mammography services in 1992 and since then have never wavered in our commitment to provide mammograms for all who need it. The pink entrance lighting shows the public that we continue to be dedicated to providing breast cancer education and testing. Research shows that early detection of breast cancer greatly improves survival rates, so we are eager for women to have regular mammograms.” Guidelines from the American College of Radiology stipulate:
Walk-in Mammogram Day will take place on October 25, from 9am to noon. For more information, follow Bermuda Hospitals Board on Facebook.
A family-friendly event has been set up to celebrate the arrival of the first official Disney Cruise in Bermuda. Bermudian business Savvy Entertainment has announced the Poseidon Games exhibition, a hydro flight display with athletes from around the world, to take place on Saturday, the same day The Disney Magic is expected to arrive in Bermuda for the first time. The ship is scheduled to remain in port overnight, departing Sunday afternoon. Organisers said the event at Cross Island is a follow up to last August’s Poseidon Games hydro flight competition. Anthony Blakey, Savvy chief executive, said: “The summer season is officially over. There are less family-friendly events on the island. It was important for us that we created this event that not only educates people about the hydro flight sport and culture but also showcases the beauty of Bermuda with the spectacular panoramic view at Cross Island and gives local entertainment and vendors the opportunity to showcase their talents and sell their goods to both locals and international guests.” The Poseidon Games Exhibition will feature three of the world’s top hydro flight athletes including Callon Burns, Bermuda’s only professional hydro flight athlete. It will also feature performances by the Beat Project, PHC Majorettes and Drum Corps and DanceSations. Kinezumi Water Sports, Play Games Entertainment, Anchor Restaurant, Lara Lo Sew Fab, Zoomables, Sun Kissed Hair and Henna and Jazzy Treats will also be there. Entrance will be free, but event-goers can purchase VIP tickets with tented seating, complementary drink tickets and opportunities to meet the athletes.
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October 20, 2018
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