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Gov.bm not working?

Gov.bm is opening ridiculously slow.  Actually, slow would be an understatement.  It is quite abysmal, I’ve tried opening it numerous times with no success. 

It’s been months that the site has been running slowly.  Something should have been done about this quite some time ago.

Update:  I finally got a response

————-

Server Application Unavailable

The web application you are attempting to access on this web server is currently unavailable.  Please hit the “Refresh” button in your web browser to retry your request.

Administrator Note: An error message detailing the cause of this specific request failure can be found in the application event log of the web server. Please review this log entry to discover what caused this error to occur.

 

Another update:

Gov.bm site is now back up and responding at a much more reasonable pace

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Constituency #3

St. David’s has gotten a pretty raw deal in recent years. 

  • We were originally the site chosen for the Airport and US Base, of which land was appropriated from St. David’s islanders so that it could be achieved. 
  • We may have had Agent Orange dumped sometime in the past. 
  • We constantly have to listen to airplanes take off and land
  • Since the base’s closure, we’ve become home to an unsightly and under-maintained boat yard that we have to pass every day that tarnishes the beauty of the east end.
  • Much of the old US base property has been allowed to become derelict and makes the area appear more run down.
  • Taxi service is abysmal
  • There is inadequate and poor lighting along the roads
  • We have to spend most evenings and weekends of a good part of the year listening to bikes race over by clearwater
  • St. David’s cricket club has become the host of concerts that play music so loud that there is no need for St. David’s islanders to buy tickets, let alone hope to sleep.

If the PLP really hopes to win 30 seats and have constituency #3 as one of them they’d better tell me what they’re going to do to about these issues.

Update:  I forgot to mention another one, no bus service after 6:30 pm

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Refused due to overdevelopment

For anyone who contends that our housing crisis is a simple case of supply and demand, you are unfortunately quite wrong.  While supply and demand play a factor in our housing crisis, so does legislation.  Especially as we have put heavy restraints on who can build what and where.  That is of course if you’re not the government, because if you were, the rules wouldn’t apply to you.

So here we play witness to both a housing crisis and a shortage of affordable retail space and the top priority on the agenda is to build new hotels.  Of course, resurrecting our tourism industry is important so we don’t rely on a one pony economy, but is it more important than affordable housing and living for Bermudians?

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Price caps are not the answer

Over on progressiveminds.bm a discussion has arisen over the concerns of continually rising cost of living and housing.  One solution that is suggested is that price caps should be considered.  I would like to contest that price caps are not the answer.  What we truly should be doing is ensuring that we can better manage our growth and not allow it to spiral out of control simply so we can say we have a booming economy.

I’ve written in the past about the concept of a Soft Close, one where we’d limit new business as we attempt to deal with our growing pains.  Part of this effort should be to do more to make it easier for businesses to reduce their on island presence.  One major factor in this is that telecommunications on this island to the outside world are pretty abysmal.  Anyone who works in IT and international business would understand that the combination of our high latency and poor bandwidth makes it incredibly difficult to conduct business between global offices and Bermuda.  These issues serve as a major impediment to the ability of offices to reduce their on island presence of unnecessary workers.

I’ve also written numerous times on the concept of "less is more" when it comes to tourism.  It simply does not make sense to be building more and more hotels to bring in more foreign workers to be employed in them.  It also doesn’t make sense to bring in more and more cruise ships so that we can further stress our infrastructure.

We need a leadership who will focus on fixing the fundamental problems long before rushing into new developments.

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UBP catering to the Taxi industry, not the electorate

The UBP’s pledges to the taxi industry are intriguing to say the least.  By no means do I think that the taxi industry shouldn’t get it’s fair shake, but I hold little support for an industry who, as a whole, offers terrible service to my constituency.

It is bad enough that many taxi drivers balk at me when I tell them I’d like a ride to St. David’s, let alone the costs of nearly $30 or more to catch a taxi home after a night in town.  The prospect of a 5% increase, a review of “shared rides” and premium rates for late night hours just make it worse.

Where are the changes to the taxi industry that benefit the electorate?  I’m tired of having to call up a taxi company and give directions on where to go.  I’ve been to places like Toronto and London and taxi drivers there either know the city inside and out or they count on “real” GPS solutions.  It is absolutely ridiculous that one should have to give directions on a 21 square mile island.  I’m also tired of being told that I can’t be served because I live way out in the country, which here in Bermuda is not all that far.

What guarantees will the UBP give the people that the taxi service will improve?  Will they commit to doing random spot checks to ensure that taxi’s do pickups within a reasonable amount of time and serve all destinations?  Will there be fines and penalties implemented for those who refuse service?

According to the article in the Bermuda Sun: 

The “range of measures” that the Opposition UBP says it will bring in if elected comes two months after Mr. Dunkley held an open meeting with taxi drivers and a day after the Bermuda Sun reported that disgruntled taxi drivers are vowing not to drive PLP supporters to polling stations to vote as they did in the 1998 election.

This sounds allot like the UBP is pandering to the disgruntled taxi drivers to buy votes at a convenient time without providing a well thought out plan that will also assist the electorate.  Is it becomming increasingly apparent that it’s election season and suddenly politicians are waking up to realize they need to serve the voting community?

Mr. Dunkley, what will you be doing for St. David’s islanders and the rest of the electorate who are fed up with poor service?

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No class or professionalism.

Jamahl Simmons displays no class or professionalism in his switch back into the PLP.   Months ago when he left the UBP he launched scathing attacks and criticism on the party claiming that racism is the reasoning for why Erwin Adderley was chosen over him for his Pembroke West branch.  As I don’t recall him ever naming names many of the attacks came off as personal and unsubstantiated, though they could not be dismissed easily as there may have been truth to his words.

So now after a few months of being an independent he has spun around the rejoin the PLP all while launching scathing personal attacks on UBP chairman Shawn Crockwell.  Noone could claim Shawn Crockwell as perfect, however one should recognize that having paid his debt to society and worked hard to find means to rise above his faults to become an upstanding member of his society, he deserves respect without the resurrection of his past every time someone wants to take a cheap shot.  Apparently it is Jamahl’s implication that all criminals are forever guilty regardless of the time they spend in jail.  If that’s the case than perhaps he should take a look at the party he’s joining, for clearly it is not without it’s own rehabilitated individuals who deserve that same respect.

The only thing Jamahl’s latest attacks bring into question is the validity of his claims with regards to the UBP.  What he has done is made it ever more clear that he is more interested in personal vendettas than setting things right.  If Shawn Crockwell had truly proclaimed him lazy than the best rebuttal would have been to prove him wrong through action, not petty retorts lacking real substance.

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Subprime fallout.

Will the fallout of subprime loans be the catalyst to push the United States economy into a recession in the coming months?

As my interest in studying the markets grow, I’ve taken to writing a little bit more about my limited understanding of them.

One of the theories I’m following is what impact the fallout of subprime mortgages will have on the overall markets.  It suggests that in a lending boom, banks run out of people to lend to due to low interest rates encouraging a large number of people to buy, so they start giving out subprime mortgage loans.  Due to the lower interest rates, variable rate mortgages are attractive because they are offered at a much lower rate than fixed.  What the common individual with poor credit and limited financial knowledge doesn’t account for, however, is that variable rate mortgages reset after two years and the interest rates can rise considerably in that time, as they have in the last couple years. 

Above is a chart garnered from a blog called At These Levels, though modified to indicate present standing in July.  What the above chart indicates is the amount, in billions, of resets of varying types of adjustable rate mortgages.Defaults_20070629

What is important to understand is that when someone with bad credit and limited financial understanding is given a loan (often when they cannot actually afford it), they may stretch their budget further than they will be able to manage when their rates reset.  So, now that interest rates are much higher and resets are occurring, people are suddenly watching as their low mortgage payments turn into high ones.  This can cause strain and for many is unsustainable, so people start dumping their homes on the markets in order to recover any possible value prior to being foreclosed on.

People begin missing their payments as they try to sell their homes.  Being as interest rates are higher, it becomes harder to sell homes and thus supply quickly outstretches demand and the inventory of unsold homes begins to rise.

 

Inventories_soar

Graphic  courtesy of WSJ online

The money to fund these loans comes from banks who acquire the money through selling bonds or bond based funds.

So, you buy a bond (guaranteed specific investment return) and the bank turns around and uses that money to give out subprime loans.

Many resets happen do to interest rate increases.  People with bad credit who are living paycheck to paycheck are now stretched and can’t meet their payments.  Mass sales of homes begin to happen as people try to beat foreclosures.  Housing bubble bursts (as it has been doing) and the banks start foreclosing.  Banks can’t sell homes at previous value to recover and end up with losses as they are in the banking business, not the housing business.

Assets listed by banks in the form of mortgages given out on the basis of securing bond based portfolios begin to look overpriced because homes no longer carry the value they once did and many are being forced to foreclose.  This causes the banks to then have to revalue the assets of the funds they offer which causes them to be revalued for lower than they were previously reported.   This results of this revaluation is said to be coming for the 3rd quarter in September.

If the revaluations are bad enough, investors then lose confidence in the markets and start dumping their stocks in hopes of taking profits from the recent bull markets.  What happens when investors flood stocks on the market?  Over supply, less demand.  We then find ourselves in a situation where we’re either approaching a major correction in the markets or the beginning of a recession as the combination of the poorer segments of the economy are now budget stretched and the higher segments lose a fair bit of their gains in the markets, people flee to safer investments as overall spending in the economy grinds to a halt.

Of course, I really know very little about the markets and these are just ideas formulated on a very basic understanding so I’d welcome input from those out there who are a bit more knowledgeable than I.  Looking back on it now, I wish I’d taken economics as my first year elective in university as opposed to psychology.

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10% extra, same great price

Christian Dunleavey over at Politics.bm has a really great quote when it comes to blogging and how timid our local media is at asking hard questions and getting real answers.

Thaao may be playing a character, but I’m not. I don’t make money from this, I have no corporate boss to tell me what to do, and no advertisers to please. I say what I say because it needs to be said, and our timid media is missing a huge swath of political coverage, may the chips fall where they may.

The issues I write about (accountability, racial tolerance, good governance, modernizing Parliament) are ones that are fundamental to a properly functioning democracy. I make no apologies for that, whether Thaao thinks it’s sincere or not.

Well said.

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Bruce Gordon’s accountability ladder

Through the magic of youtube I got to watching a number of clips of this years American State of the Black Union from back in February.  One particularly compelling clip was that of Bruce Gordon, former President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as he described the distinction between personality led organizations and process led organizations and their inherent success.

His words on this speak for themselves and are a key indication of the predicament we find ourselves within in our own country.  We rely far too heavily on personality led politics when we should be striving for process and proper planning.

One other thing I picked up on from this clip was in the comments where there was a plea for a link to his other comments regarding an accountability ladder.  Though I’ve been unable to find a copy of the video, I was able to find a breakdown of this concept recorded on a blog post:

Bruce Gordon, President of the NAACP and a true Black leader, elaborated on what he called an “accountability ladder.” Dr. Gordon described the ladder as an eight rung progression of accountability. The lower four rungs are where those with a “victim mentality” reside; the top four are occupied by “Accountable” or “Empowered” people.

-Victim Mentality-

8. Unconscious/unaware of their situation or problem.

7. Blaming others for their current state.

6. Can’t do anything about it, so why try?

5. Wait and hope the problem is taken care by itself or others.

-Accountable People-

4. “I messed up.” (Admit mistakes)

3. Find a solution.

2. Ask for help, but be willing to go it alone.

1. Make it happen.

From a young age my father used to tell me, “the only person who can stop you from achieving what you truly want is yourself”.  For a man who went from being a poor St. David’s bye that people laughed at for proclaiming he’d become a pilot to one who is recognized by the United Nations as one of a handful of international experts in aviation, I am incredibly thankful to have been taught to live in the upper rungs of the accountability ladder.  I just wish there were more Bermudians willing to as well.

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