BHC Scandal Survey Results

1. Do you think the Privy Council was right to rule in favor of the newspapers?

Value Count Percent %
Yes 87 97.75%
No 2 2.25%

2. Is it likely the PLP will attack the ruling and allegations as UBP electioneering?

Value Count Percent %
Likely 83 94.32%
Unlikely 5 5.68%

 

3. Do you think the PLP will move to introduce anti-corruption legislation prior to the next election

Value Count Percent %
No 85 95.51%
Yes 4 4.49%

4. When do you think the election will be called?

Value Count Percent %
Summer 2008 33 37.08%
Spring 2008 21 23.60%
Christmas 17 19.10%
Not sure 12 13.48%
Immediately 6 6.74%

Awesome stuff, this survey worked out better than I could have imagined.  Now for the coolest part.  Where did my responses come from?

survey_response_map

Most interestingly, out of less than 100 responses there were two outliers, one in Beijing, China and the other in Mauritius.  I’ll leave it up to you to guess how the person in China thought the Privy Council should have ruled.

Posted in Uncategorized

New feature: Surveys

Thanks to recently discovering Survey Gizmo, I’ve decided to launch a survey engine to see if I can incorporate more visitor feedback into my postings.  So, without further ado, here is the first survey.

 

The survey has now been closed and I’ll be posting the responses around lunchtime.

Posted in Uncategorized

Privy Council Rules

It has just been announced that the Privy Council has ruled against the media ban on reporting about BHC.  No doubt, things are going to be interesting over the coming weeks.

Of particular interest:

They also awarded the costs, which could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, against the Government.

Awesome.  Even more of our taxpayer money has gone to poor use.

Posted in Uncategorized

Rhetoric 101: If you can’t win the argument, attempt to change the subject.

 

In a response made in yesterday’s Royal Gazette by Education Minister Randy Horton, rather than address the concerns raised with sound logic and reason, he resorts to changing the subject.  Unfortunately, Minister Horton’s attempt to chastise those asking the hard questions as somehow detracting from the accomplishments of those who graduated does not make sense.  The issue isn’t those who graduated, it is all of those who didn’t graduate who will remain disadvantaged.

“[The media is] placing far too much emphasis on what they consider are ‘the numbers’,” suggests Minister Horton.

It is not as if ‘the numbers’ were magically pulled from the air, they were provided by the Ministry itself.  How can he honestly and truly accept that we should all be blind to seeing that there is more to the picture than his cherry picked numbers.  Is Minister Horton willing to sacrifice our children in favor of political gain?

“The graduation rate is in no way inflated”

This is Minister Horton’s defense.  If by graduation rate he means the overall number of students, then indeed he is correct.  The hard numbers are consistent and they indicate that there is not a great deal of variation between the number of graduates last year and the number of graduates this year.  This is where you can compare the 48% announced last year vs. the 80% this year and think, does that make sense?  This when the actual number of graduates has stayed nearly the same?

What indeed is of great concern is the severe deflation of enrollment rates.  This is something which is of tremendous importance to the future of our children and should be discussed rationally and openly, not covered up or dissuaded as an issue to be dealt with in 2009.  The issue is important today and not having done the due diligence of collecting the right numbers is not an adequate excuse for those students who have been left disadvantaged.  Yet, rather than address this, Minister Horton changes the subject.

“I am disappointed by those who have tried to minimise the accomplishments of the class of 2007” suggests Minister Horton.

While no doubt many congratulations should be offered to the hard work of those responsible for the students who did pass, those who didn’t have been done a grave disservice and should not be swept under the rug and forgotten.

It is incredibly disappointing to watch Minister Horton minimize the damage that is being done to the future of our disadvantaged youth.   Their potential to survive in Bermuda’s workforce, to enjoy Bermuda’s prosperity and garner the benefits of the proposed racial equity law are being extremely limited.  

When you look at the percentage of students who make up the public school system, the majority are black.  If half of those are giving up on the school system and dropping out, that is a large percentage of our youth who will forever remain disadvantaged.  How can a government who proclaims itself interested in helping right racial inequity so easily sweep so many disadvantaged youths under the carpet in an obvious attempt to save face politically?

Rather than address the concerns raised with sound logic and reason, Minister Horton resorts to changing the subject.  Unfortunately, Minister Horton’s attempt to chastise those asking the hard questions as somehow detracting from the accomplishments of those who graduated does not make sense.  While those who graduated are deserving of congratulations, those who didn’t shouldn’t be sacrificed like pawns in a game of political chess.

Posted in Uncategorized

Fare hike: what’s in it for Joe Electorate?

No doubt the proposed fare hike for taxi drivers is long overdue.  However is it far to coincidental how the timing of the hike falls right in line with rumors of an election being called?  Further, the public still waits for improvements in service that have also been long coming, where are they?  There are improvements that could be made and systems put in place to measure service levels, and thus it should be expected that along with the hike, such announcements are forthcoming.  We, the electorate, can hope that while the taxi drivers are getting their much needed fare hike, that we will also getting a much needed improvement in the levels of service.

Breaking news from the Royal Gazette web site suggests that as of December 1st we’ll be paying 10.5% more for our taxi service.  No doubt this has been quite a long time coming as taxi drivers have watched their costs increase while their profits dwindle.  Few can argue with the plight of taxi drivers as fuel costs skyrocket. 

The timing of the hike is one which raises questions, however.  It takes us back to that old question, if there was no pending election, would similar action be undertaken?  For those who recall, the taxi drivers served as a major pillar of support for the Progressive Labour Party by ferrying party supporters to and from the polls in previous elections.  More recently, taxi drivers have become frustrated with the ill-fated forced implementation of GPS which has not yielded the promised results and the despair of rising costs.  Does the timing of this announcement make it far too coincidental?  Would it be too much to wonder whether this is little more than pre-election pandering and if an election weren’t in the cards, the taxi industry would get nothing and be quickly forgotten about as they have in the past?

The other issue that comes to light is the lack of improvement in service over the years.  GPS was a flop and no doubt many in the electorate will be disgusted by the rate hike should it not accompany strict measures designed to improve the reliability and service offered by the taxi industry.  Thus, tomorrow’s more detailed announcements could take two courses of action.  One which will prove that this is a case of genuine improvements for all, or the other, which suggests this is little more than simple electioneering. 

If this writer were to take a guess as to what improvements could be made, he would propose that the Ministry of Transport would create a special auditing program designed to assess the service levels of the industry.  This program would involve having random individuals test and rate the level of service offered around the island from response times, cleanliness, attitude, etc, all from varying locations and to varying destinations.  Those drivers who refuse to drive to certain destinations should be met with an instant fine and suspension of their license.  Other violations should also be met with fines and suspensions depending on their severity.

So, certainly allow the taxi drivers to have their rate hike for it is long overdue and they deserve it given the rising costs.  However, the public should be weary to watch whether this is a case of electioneering or genuine intentions to improve service overall.  No doubt improvements can be made and systems could be put in place to track levels of service, for to expect a commitment of improvement in service from the industry and our government at the same time as a rate hike would not be asking very much.   For certainly, just as fare hikes have been a long time coming for taxi drivers, so have improvements in service for the electorate.

Posted in Uncategorized

Cronyism disputed

This evening I was having a chat with a good friend of mine which turned towards the topic of the poor coverage offered by local papers and their lack of investigation into their stories.  His example was the recent case of accused Cronyism where UBP Senator Richards accused the government of unfairly creating specialized permits for limousines only weeks before the exact cars specified were brought in after having preordered them months ahead.

My friend had some interesting remarks which have left me wondering about this specific case.  His argument is that some 6+ months ago, the government put out ads in the newspaper and radio for those interested in acquiring licenses to operate limousine services.  Of which, he was one of only 6 entrepreneurs who turned up for the advertised meeting.

By his recollection, further information regarding limousine service was only shared with those 6 as originally the government had expected a greater turnout and did not feel it was worth continuing expensive advertising for such a small turnout.  Apparently, the specifications of the specific cars were provided in these original meetings.

My colleagues comments raise questions in my mind as to the validity of the claims of cronyism.  On one hand you have the undisputable coincidence of how entrepreneur David Durham knew months ahead of time what specific make, model and color of cars were required for the official announcement of regulations.  On the other, I have someone claiming that those specifications were made public in a meeting months ago which was well publicized.

Thus, it is hard to draw solid conclusions without hard evidence.  In the government’s denial of cronyism, there is no mention of publicized meetings.  Also, there are no records I have found of which such meetings were advertised in the paper.  Thus, it would be helpful if the government could provide some evidence to support the argument that such meetings were organized and publicized some time ago.

Without such evidence, unfortunately just about everything falls under the category of hearsay and can only be taken with a grain of salt.  It would be helpful to find more evidence supporting either side of this case in order to get a better picture of whether cronyism really plays a part.

Posted in Uncategorized

Milestone: 3000+ visitors a month

This Year's Visits by Month

Over the year that I’ve written this blog, I’ve watched it grow from zero readers when it began to today where I’ve reached 3000+ visits in a month.

The purpose of this blog as it has grown is to dispel rumors and myths so as to encourage people to seek truths with regards to our local governance along with share ideas of how we could be doing better.  We deserve honest and forthright governance that holds the interests of our people closest to their hearts.  Not their own.

If you believe in what I say and wish more people would listen, help make a difference by telling people about my site.  Convince them that they should read my arguments to understand what our government is doing and what questions they aren’t answering.  Force people to ask themselves why our government isn’t answering.  The more people you tell, the more they will tell, and truth shall spread like a virus.

If you have something to add, start a blog.  Speak out and spread the word.  The more people who voice their disappointment in the system and their willingness to place their vote not on party or racial lines, but on those truly committed to making our island great, the sooner we’ll get there.

With your support truth will spread.  With enough voters demanding truth and pressuring our government, whether PLP, UBP or unknown, they’ll finally start giving a damn about what the people think.

Make a difference.

Posted in Uncategorized

Startlingly poor statistical analysis

things appear to be going backward with the number of black executives declining from 29 percent to 27 percent in the most recent figures.

This was a statement from an article where Community and Cultural Affairs Minister Wayne Perinchief justifies the proposed racial equity law.  This is just another example of poor statistical analysis on the part of our leadership. 

29% black executives suggests that out of 100 executives, 29 are black.  Taking that 100 as a benchmark, that means we have a pool of 29 qualified well educated black executives to pull from.

Now consider the 10 new insurance companies that formed in only the last 3 months, let alone who knows how many others over the last couple years. Then ask yourself, if we have 29 qualified and well educated black Bermudians and you add 10 new companies, does that stretch the pool of available qualified black Bermudians? 

Well, using our benchmark of 100, only 7 new executives would need to be added to cause a shift to 27%.  That would mean that while the total number of black executives, 29, has not changed, the percentage would, thus giving us 27% of executives being black.  So, there are now 29 black executives out of 107.

Far too many people incorrectly see this as ‘things going backward’ in a clear misunderstanding of basic analysis.  In reality, lets say that on average those 10 companies each add 1 representative executive to our benchmark.  That means, we have 110 executives overall instead of 100.  Now we take our 27% of 110 which gives us 29.7, or rounded up, 30 black executives.

Is it possible that the number of black executives may well have increased  and not decreased?

Prove me right or wrong.  Show me the hard numbers over the last 5 years of:

# of black Bermudian executives
# of white Bermudian executives
# of black ex-pat executives
# of white ex-pat executives. 

No percentages, hard numbers.  Prove to me that there has been a decrease in the total number of black executives, not just the percentage due too the influx of new companies.

Posted in Uncategorized

Why Regiment sucks

There are times when being conscripted into the Bermuda Regiment can be bearable and then their are times when it just downright sucks.  This happens to be one of the latter.

Usually the Regiment is pretty reasonable about scheduling, a lot more reasonable than I anticipated when I first went in.  Weekend camps occur usually once every 6 weeks or so, or are at least spaced out by a couple weeks.  We usually get the Thursday night off after a weekend camp and we get 2 months off in the summer to break up the year.  Overall, the year was looking quite reasonable.  Right up until our schedule was changed three weeks ago.

Our new schedule is quite ridiculous.  We began the month with a full Saturday (we have to be there for about 7:00 am) of exercises and training, a Sunday morning (another 7:00am) parade practice and half the Monday for the Governor’s leaving parade.  The following Thursday we had off.  Then we had to return for Thursday last week, we had a weekend camp this weekend which meant the Friday night and Saturday up until about 6pm but thankfully Saturday night and Sunday off.  However, we have to be in camp for Thursday when we usually after a weekend camp we have it off and we have another weekend camp this weekend.

The only thing worse than having two weekend camps with two Thursdays in a row is that we have to be in camp over Halloween weekend, which just plain sucks.

Posted in Uncategorized

An open letter on graduation rates

Minister Horton,

The following is an open letter which I have posted on my blog (www.21square.com) and copied to both The Royal Gazette and the Bermuda Sun.

I am writing to express my confusion at the latest release of graduation rate statistics.  Unfortunately the quoted 22% jump is not clear to me as it is accompanied by a 31% drop in enrollment levels.  This leads me to wonder how graduation rates are calculated and whether or not dropouts are included in the calculation. 

Back in January, it was suggested in an article in The Royal Gazette that the way graduation rate statistics are calculated has been changed.

“In previous years, said Mr. Horton, students who were not enrolled in the BSC programme were included in published graduation rates, giving an inaccurate set of results. “

“He said previous statistics were also less reliable because there were was no way of knowing whether students had left the school system before graduating privately in Bermuda or abroad; if they were institutionalized; or if they dropped out in the traditional sense of the word. “

Could you please clarify for me the definition of those who are enrolled in the BSC programme and how the graduation rate is calculated for each school?  My understanding is that the new way of calculating measures students who enter Senior Four and leave with a BSC while discounting those who transferred to other schools or left the island.  However, this method would not yield accurate numbers for how many students entered Senior One, compared to how many left with a BSC four years later.  Thus, the statistics for those who did not progress through Senior One through Four are lost which makes an accurate measure of the number of individuals who dropped out difficult to ascertain.

Would you be so kind as to provide me a breakdown of how graduation rates are presently calculated along with dropout statistics and enrollment levels for Seniors One through Four?

Thank you kindly,

Denis Pitcher

Posted in Uncategorized