Jun 30, 2010

Education|St Augustine pupils must pay $300 fee

'There should be no fees charged for any registrations or whatsoever......we are going to send out another circular and anybody found in contempt of that we will have to determine what should be done about it ... because parents should not be forced to have to pay for something in the schools. The school system is free,’ Gopeesingh said at the launch of the government’s Clean and Beautify Trinidad and Tobago project at Crowne Plaza last Friday.

The requirements to register seen to have taken on new meaning for the school located in St. Augustine where a demand for $300.00 has been made as part of the registration process. Now don't get me wrong here I do understand the reason for the school asking for the additional funding but in this case they are asking the wrong people for the money.

Many of the students who were successful applicants after the passing the SEA examination received their welcome letter with the demand for the additional funding. This demand goes against the wishes of the Ministry of Education and the demand by the Minister that no registration fees should by paid by parents to government funded schools. Now we have a problem. The staff of the school obviously sees the need for the extra funding but would it not have been better to approach the Ministry for the additional funding in the first place? If that failed then they have the summer vacation period to raise the needed funds. 

Parents should have been asked to assist with the funding instead of it being part of the registration process. Many of the successful students come from poor families who may not be able to readily provide this funding as part of the registration process. Something has to give but at the same time I have to wonder about the process as it applies to the rest of the government funded schools. Do they have the same problem? This new government will act and it is in the interest of the school's principal to rescind that demand and come up with another plan. 

We all want the best for our children but there is only so much that many of the parents can afford. Maybe some of our readers can come up with an action plan to help support the efforts of this school to provide the quality of education with the required tools to get the job done for our children. We don't need conflict we need a smooth transition from primary to high school for these successful students - time to relieve stress not create undue hardships for the parents.

Jun 29, 2010

Top Cop|Canadian Dwayne Gibbs may be the next Commissioner of Police

A Canadian may be this country’s Commissioner of Police (CoP), after all.

Dwayne Gibbs, a superintendent of police in Alberta, Canada, who also has a doctorate in management, is expected to be approved by the Government on Friday, when, for the second time, it debates a motion on the appointment of a CoP in the House of Representatives.

Government sources disclosed yesterday that an investigative report on Gibbs, 55, showed he has never been affiliated with the recruiters, the Justice and Safety Institute of Penn State University, as was the case with the first choice nominee, Neal Parker, who was rejected by the House last Friday.

Now this is interesting news... According to Newsday the Trinidad and Tobago government is about to approve Canadian Dwayne Gibbs as the new top Cop in the Republic. There has been condemnation of the process recently when the country learned that the top five candidates were all foreign nationals. People cried foul and the PNM under Dr. Keith Rowley quickly said that they would only support a local candidate for the position of top Cop. Well it looks like we are going international and the decision will be made to install Mr. Gibbs as the new Commissioner of Police - this is long overdue.

Personally I don't care where the candidate comes from all I care about is that he can do the job and is the best qualified candidate from the list. I believe that the position should be held by one who obviously knows the law but at the same time have leadership qualities and the skill to manage the service properly. Well this gentleman apparently fits the bill. He possesses a doctorate in management.

Did anyone notice that the ministry of Health is now controlled by a person with managerial qualifications? That is the route to take. These agencies need to be managed properly and by simply promoting someone from within the organization does not guarantee success. Look where we are today!

There are many who are saying that a foreign Top Cop will not be respected by divisional officers. Well if they don't follow and support the new way of doing business then they don't deserve to be serving the nation as officers of the law - fire them! There is so much corruption that having someone coming in from the outside might just be the answer needed. One area that is very infuriating to me is that of those who say that by selecting a foreigner we are going back to colonial day. What kind of rubbish is that? Can someone tell me if our oil explorations are owned and controlled by locals or foreigner? Isn't this the life blood of the country's finances? Why not clamor for local control. The Chinese are now in control of the construction industry thanks to the PNM administration. The Chinese are now drilling for oil off shore and all I can hear complaints about is that a foreigner will now be the Top Cop?

Move on people the People's Partnership will partner with the right choices to move this county forward. Bring in the Canadian and shake up camp corruption.

Jun 28, 2010

Hazel Manning Strikes Out|No Moral Authority


Local Government Minister Chandresh Sharma has dismissed his predecessor in the post, Hazel Manning’s complaints that the People’s Partnership Administration is calling the long-overdue Local Government election on July 26 without the reforms planned by the PNM being put in place. Sharma yesterday said it was “morally and illegally wrong” for the former PNM Government to have shelved the Local Government election each year since July 2006.

Sharma responds:
“That is what she should be commenting on,” Sharma slammed. “Local Government reform has nothing to do with delivery of essential goods and services, it has nothing to do with recreation grounds or burial grounds. “It was a massive failure by the Minister not to hold the election. She has no authority whatsoever to comment on our decision,” said Sharma. Nomination day for the election is July 5.

Sometimes it is best simply to keep your mouth shut. After creating a stir in Arima by saying that before the PNM Arima was bush now comes her clamor for Local Government reform. This woman takes the prize because after all the years of PNM leadership we all know that nothing was done. As a matter of fact what the PNM succeeded in doing was lay the foundation for inept councilors to remain in office for four yeas in excess of their required term because no elections were called - what a shame!

Jun 27, 2010

Local Elections|Change is on the way!

“This is one of the many things the PP has to correct. The PNM has made a proper mess of San Fernando. The present council is the worst we have seen in the history of San Fernando,” Moonan asserted. He said many of the councillors who were Cepep contractors “have no interest in representing people.

They have an interest in representing themselves and exploiting those same people they employ.” He said the People’s Partnership Government should take the opportunity now to clean up the mess by deepening and strengthening the link between Local and Central Government. Moonan said San Fernando could only benefit from his experience.

I am quite aware that any aspiring candidate vying for political office will always criticize the previous administration as incompetent and even  "the worst we have seen in the history of San Fernando" however, I was surprised to learn that many of the councilors were Cepep contractors! 

This does not feel right and for some reason it looks even worse that they were members of a previously elected PNM council that remained in office for an additional four years while the political process was stifled by the very PNM government. This is one reason I am gratified that we are having local government elections.

If the people want back these ex contractors in the council then let it be done by way of the democratic process. These people remained in office because of so called local government reform that did not take place for the past four years leaving them in office for over six years - this was just wrong!

I already have my popcorn ready for the election results because I don't believe that these incumbents will be returning to office and to be honest I won't shed a tear - good riddance, it should be a swift exercise as we excise those who stifled the system to their benefit.   

The needs of the people should always be first not the needs of those in politics for their selfish gains... go and vote and vote in a new council that supports the interests of the people - follow the lead of the People's Partnership!

Jun 26, 2010

Yuh is ah Trini|"Pulling Bull"

Follow the Series on Trinizagada.com

Yuh know yuh is ah Trini series: 7
Yuh is ah Trini if yuh know what to "Pull Bull" means

Driver ah go take it here, driver gimme over there... now that is a calypso for all seasons and one that brings me to the topic of discussion today the means, the art, the knowledge of what "to pull bull" really means to a Trini. Indeed when Merchant sang "Taxi Talk" he was probably travelling in a car whose driver was "Pulling Bull"... well maybe, who knows?

Do you know what the term, "to pull bull" means? Of course you do, just as you know what a short drop is; no we are not talking about 'coconut drops! Dame a few coconut drops will surely hit the spot now but then again I could dream of it or head to Brooklyn to get some authentic Trini coconut drops. Ah the Trini dreamer will thirst for the delights of the nation.

Stop, well since I said stop then it has to be, "driver ah go take it here"! By now you should have realized that the topic of discussion has to do with a taxi or some form of taxi service. If you did then congratulations are in order and it means that yuh have some Trini genes imbedded in your DNA or simply put you lived in Trinidad and Tobago and experienced "pulling bull".

No sir, sorry going to Caroni and looking for someone pulling bull just won't do because first of all you must own a car - a licensed private car not a legitimate taxi. Now that we gotten past stage one of this discourse comes part two. You need some extra income and decided to use your privately owned car to earn some extra cash by 'picking up passengers" and charging a reduced fee or in some cases where the legitimate taxis don't work regularly the same legal fee to get from point A to point B.

In a nutshell my friend a private vehicle put in service as a taxi constitutes the basis for pulling bull. To use a privately owned car to charge a fee to get from one place to another that is not publicly serviced by the regular legitimate taxi service. Yes we are talking about PH drivers.  Having said that it should be noted that those drivers "pulling bull" are the life blood of night time transportation in Trinidad and Tobago because the legal taxi drivers fear being held up and robbed. Indeed the private drivers "pulling bull" risk their lives plying this trade especially at nights - they do what they have to do to earn the extra income.

Well maybe you have pulled bull or you may have been a passenger in a car whose owner was conducting the service known as "pulling bull". Whatever thoughts you may have about the service, good, bad or indifferent will not change the fact that this service is needed and is part of the cultural landscape of Trinidad and Tobago. At least now you know what is and how to "Pull Bull".

Now just for your listening pleasure and compliments of www.wackradio901fm.com here is 'The Merchant' with "Taxi Talk":

Jun 25, 2010

More Money for Chutney Artists|Carnival 2011 Trinidad and Tobago

Photo via Newsday Trinidad: Deputy Permanent Secretary of Community Development, Hermia Tyson Cuffie, Ravi Bissembhar and George Singh.

The Chutney artists will benefit from an election promise made by Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bessessar during the recently concluded general elections.

"In keeping with the promise made by Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar on the campaign trail before the elections, Chutney promoter, George Singh assured chutney stars that the pay package will increase for 2011.

Singh was addressing the prize-giving function held at Kapok Hotel, St Clair, Port-of-Spain on Wednesday evening."
via www.newsday.co.tt

"Caribbean Children" - Books written for Caribbean Children

Published by Macmillan, Joanne’s children's books: Go Barefoot; The Scottish-Island Girl; Sally’s Way and Digger’s Diner come with read along CDs sold exclusively through her web site www.caribbeanchildren.com. Her fifth title, "Ibis Stew? Oh No!" about the illegally hunted national bird of T&T, was released in December 2005 and sold 'like hot bread' over Christmas. Her story, "Racing the Rain" will be out sometime in 2006, included in the first of Macmillan Caribbean's new anthology series: Treasure House 1.
via www.caribbeanchildren.com

Jun 24, 2010

Illegal logging affecting watersheds

Environmentalists at the Courland Estate, where illegal logging has been taking place for sometime. Photo taken by Elizabeth Williams.  Photo Source: www.thetobagonews.com

"This is really a major problem in Tobago at this present time, most of the logging is being carried out on private lands and we have some limitations in that aspect," Forestry Officer Darren Henry said.

"When rain falls the velocity of the rain drops hits the surface that is exposed at a faster speed, and that encourages and causes surface erosion, which can lead to further erosion," Forestry Officer William Trim said.

They both said as a result of wild fires during the dry season some species of wildlife were now becoming extinct. An example was the striped owl, which laid its eggs on the ground.

The forestry officers were hoping that people will realise that their future existence also depended on the environment.

Soil erosion is a major cause of flooding in many areas. The illegal cutting of trees and the destruction of the forest bed protection can only result in problems for the areas so affected. This means that the filtration provided by the forest does not exist anymore leading to the erosion of top soil that clogs the rivers resulting in  a chain reaction that is not good for the environment. 

Jun 23, 2010

Social workers move into Cashew Gardens

A team of social workers went into Cashew Gardens yesterday to assess the needs of squatters who have been making a grab for state lands since the May 24 election.

Neither Minister of Food Production, Vasant Bharath, nor Minister of the People and Social Development, Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh, were present during the visit. The team met with residents and requested a list of the names of the illegal occupants and their status. Last week, Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal said the occupants were reluctant to give their names or say where they came from.

Spokesman Fabien Fairbain said yesterday they would co-operate with the ministry and provide the names of people who would have constructed homes within the past three weeks.

When the an administration decided to regularize squatters, as promised by the People's Partnership, this usually pertains to 'residents' who have been living on State lands for many years. It has been reported that many of the squatters who were part of the current land grab at Cashew Gardens refused to give their names. It is apparent that many of these squatters don't have tenure and are taking a leap of faith hoping that this new government would provide them with a deep for the land. 

This must not happen! Whatever the outcome the government must ensure that these land grabbers don't benefit from this illegal activity when many hard working families have been saving to purchase lands to build a home. 

This is not difficult to comprehend and even though there might be some people who are really in need of assistance from the government we simply cannot reward these lawless acts against the laws of the land. I do hope that the social services can sift through the names and find those who really need assistance and provide the help that is needed. However, we simply cannot give up state lands simply because some people believe that they have a right to it. 

There are too many hard working people out there who are making the sacrifices needed to climb the ladder of success. These are the people who help build the society and we need to find a way to help them too. The laws of the land must be obeyed - no free land. These are not the times of Isabella and Ferdinand and the time for the Cedulla of Population has long gone.

Jun 22, 2010

Run for Cover|Enil Resigns as PNM Party Chairman

In accepting responsibility for the defeat of the People’s National Movement (PNM) at the May 24 general election, the party’s chairman, Conrad Enill, and general secretary, Martin Joseph, have resigned.

Enill made the announcement at a press conference following a special PNM general council meeting at Balisier House, Port of Spain, yesterday. He read the resignation letters from himself and Joseph.

As you aware, the party was unsuccessful at the May 24 general election and as the chairman and national campaign manager responsible for co-ordinating our efforts to ensure success at the general election, I take responsibility for the results. As a consequence, I hereby tender my resignation as chairman of the party effective June 28, 2010,’ Enill read.

He said the move was to ensure the PNM is rebranded to win back the electorate at the Local Government election on July 26.

I don't believe Enill is speaking the truth. Maybe he is but it surely feels like he is running form the cutarse that is coming on July 26 when the population goes back to the poll for local government elections.

I have a good feeling that this is simply not a move to give the party the room it needs for Dr. Rowley to put his people in place for the re-branding of the PNM. This is just a case of waking up and smelling the coffee. Time to distance your reputation from the defeat that is coming and letting it bear down on Dr. Rowley's watch.

As I said this should be an interesting time for the PNM and it is my desire to see them lose control of the 9 corporations now under their control. I am aware that there are many scared pnm councilors out there but they were supposed to be there for two years and are not entrenched in the system because the PNM refused to have elections since 2003. These elections are due every two years.

Both Enil and Martin Joseph (general secretary) are running scared but should do the right thing and stand firm with the party that they love so much. Great is the PNM hold on now, Great was the PNM and they shall not prevail for this Local government election campaign.

Jun 21, 2010

Slaughter on De Main Road

I don't usually post tragic incidents like the one seen in the video above but over time I have noticed something that has brought me to this place in time. Vehicular accidents occur all over the world every day however, I have noticed that in Trinidad that the accidents result in the total destruction of the vehicle or vehicles involved. Vehicles are ripped to shreds and to the point that one cannot recognize the make of the vehicle involved in the crash. Is this a case of speed or simply an inferior product being sold in Trinidad and Tobago?

I have seen some really bad accidents here in the New York area and some really ugly looking outcomes nationwide but it seems to me that a great percentage of vehicular accidents in Trinidad result in the shredding of the vehicles.

I may be totally wrong here but with four lives lost one has to go back to the drawing board and come up with new strategies to curb these outcomes. A comprehensive overhaul of the traffic laws and enforcement on the main roads and especially on the highways are badly needed at this time. My condolences are extended to the families who lost love ones in this tragedy.

Jun 20, 2010

Local Government Elections|PNM Cutarse is signed sealed and will be delivered

It does not matter that the likes of former Leader of Government Business Kenneth Valley has already indicated an interest in coming out of his semi retirement from politics to help the PNM fight the upcoming Local Government elections - "dat cutarse is booked".  I say this to all who still support the PNM and I am very upset after reading the newspapers recently. 

We learned that the ex PM, Mr. Manning, had mostly foreigners employed at the residence of the Prime Minister including Nigerian security guards.

We also learned that to date no one had come forward to claim ownership of the Heights of Guanapo Church - "ah wonder why?"

We also learned of the corruption that took place at TTEC and the inaction of the government to take action to correct the wrong doing taking place. It is rumored that very important people connected to the highest office of the land was involved and profited from the contracts that were awarded. 

We have seen that homes were constructed on land that is shifting making the home unstable and unfit for habitation without an injection of millions of dollars to correct the problems - there was no oversight of these projects.

Now we have Rowley complaining about ethics regarding Jack Warner. Just remember he never complained about ethics when ex PM Manning named his wife as a Minister in government. There is so much to be upset about and these people are going to put on their red tee shirts and shout "great is the PNM, great is the PNM and they shall survive?" They should be ashamed to support such a corrupt regime. 

I know that there are many PNM councilors whom are nervous and are making plans for another role in the society. The mighty People's Partnership should be able to wrest control of many of these corporations now in the hands of the PNM. The defeat should be swift and done with precision - get rid of them all. I have said that there are patriots in other parties and it is time that the repeat offenders who are not performing to be replaced by a new group willing to do the people's work.

Root out the PNM, do it sooner than later - "not a damn seat for dem!"

Jun 19, 2010

Cashew Gardens Longendenville|Land Grab Homes Demolished

A contingent of heavily armed police and soldiers and members of Smart Security Services moved in today on home dwellers who recently constructed illegal houses on state lands, in Cashew Gardens, Longdenville. According to Hamid Mohammed, Operations Manager of Smart Security and a Justice of the Peace, the demolition exercise was approved by the Land Settlement Agency. Many home owners were distraught, including this young mother.
via www.trinidadexpress.com

As painful as the video was to look at (use link above to see video) and as distressing as the situation was one has to understand that no government can permit its citizens to simply move into state lands and set up shop/build a home without getting the requisite permission to build. 

These 'homes' that were demolished were part of the recent land grab that took place after the People's Partnership took office. The same situation existed when the NAR won in 1986. These 'victims' broke the law and I am certain that they were quite aware of this fact. 

The unfortunate thing is the distress that results from the actions of these citizens. Obviously the armed personnel were very compassionate in carrying out their orders as instructed by those responsible for the land. 
In the end we must not turn a blind eye to this phenomenon - squatting on state lands is illegal. The land grab that took place is illegal. These people broke the law!

We need to take care of our citizens but at the same time our citizens must also respect the laws of the land. This government will attempt to right the ship but at the same time we need to be cognizant that the State cannot provide homes for all the citizens.  

My heart goes out to the lady in this video and I am certain that she may be the recipient of some form of help from other citizens of the country. In the end let it be said here that the government did the right thing by demolishing these 'homes'.  We need to be humane but the laws of the land need to be upheld and respected by all. 

Jun 18, 2010

Mr. Jack Warner can hold Cabinet & FIFA posts

Four legal experts, former President Sir Ellis Clarke, Sir Fenton Ramsahoye SC, Sir Michael Beloff QC and Russell Martineau SC all unanimously agree that there are no laws which prohibit Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner from serving as Works and Transport Minister and as a FIFA vice-president. The issue was raised by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley.
via www.newsday.co.tt

The entire documentation of the opinions expressed by this very prominent panel can be read in its entirety from the link provided above. 

There is no doubt that this position was forthcoming. Mr. Warner's position at FIFA is an asset and not a liability to our country. Granted that the issue has nothing to do with the good that comes from Mr. Warner's position at FIFA the panel could not find any conflict of interest that could arise from Mr. Warner holding both positions. 

This opinion that was used by the Prime Minister to keep Mr. Warner in his present position without any demand to quit the FIFA position will not sit well with supporters of the opposition. However, it is time to move on the decision has been made. Let us now judge Mr. Warner on his ability to run the Ministry of Works and Transportation - that is the real test of his ability to serve the people. 

Jun 17, 2010

Human Trafficking|Trinidad and Tobago

MINISTER of National Security Brig John Sandy said yesterday that he will do everything within the law to ensure that human trafficking activity is stopped.

In a press release, Sandy, who was responding to this country’s ranking on the US State Department Trafficking in Humans Report, said human trafficking was a ’heinous and inhumane act’ committed against a person.

In the US report, delivered by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington DC on Monday, Trinidad and Tobago was ranked at ’Tier 2 Watch List’.

Yesterday, Sandy said he ’has taken note’ of the report, and is in the process of studying it and will be holding discussions with the relevant officials on the issue.

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said he would address the issue today at today’s post-Cabinet media briefing.

Tier 2 Watch List - sounds ominous indeed but what does this really mean? Well according to the US Government Tier 2 means the following:
Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.

The following link will take you to the U.S. Department of State (Diplomacy in Action) site that shows the list of nations on various lists and the various Tiers they have been placed.

To date, I am not aware of anyone who has been caught in trafficking humans in Trinidad and Tobago. There have been rumors and that is as much that I am aware of to date. I can't recall reading about missisng persons turning up in other countries and stating that they were taken as prisoners and placed in this evil system. I do hope that we can put a stop to this if indeed it is practiced in Trinidad and Tobago.

We have been labeled by the U.S. government and I am certain that this new government will take note and also ensure that we adhere to all international standards to position our nation as leaders and not victims with this labeling process (Tier System).

What is your opinion?

Jun 16, 2010

Broken Peoples Partnership Promises?|Orville London

TOBAGO House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary and People’s National Movement (PNM) deputy political leader (Tobago Affairs), Orville London has accused the People’s Partnership administration of making promises they clearly knew they couldn’t keep.

“What Finance Minister Winston Dookeran is saying now, he could have said ten months ago, he could have said one month before the General Election. He could have said that when they were doing their Manifesto,” said London.
via www.newsday.co.tt

Well I don't know what promises made that have not been kept considering that the new government's term in office has just begun. Mr. London's PNM made a lot of promises that they did not keep but this too is not new to the politics of Trinidad and Tobago. To date I have not heard the government announce anything saying that they are not able to keep any of the promises made during the election campaign.

As a matter of fact all parties campaigning for government make promises without knowing the exact state of the tresuary (unless they are in the position of sitting government) - that is just the way the political game is played. I don't know that this present administration has promised wage increases to the CEPEP workers and as a matter of fact I believe that it was ex PM Mr. Manning who made that promise. Mr. London has to be more specific and state the promises made that cannot and will not be kept by this administration.

The political games have officially begun with Parliament set for opening on Friday - interesting times are ahead - it should be a very interesting period in our history.

Jun 15, 2010

A Boost For Local Food Production

The renewed attention being paid by the new People’s Partnership administration to increasing T&T’s food production is welcome.

Food Production Minister Vasant Bharath has spoken about the possibility of retrieving some of the Caroni lands and rededicating them to agriculture and he also seems serious about ensuring that there is greater traction with regard to the mega-farms—only two of which have got off the ground. But while increasing the production of food locally is important, equal attention should be paid to improving the conditions under which much of the fresh produce in this country is sold. 

The visit by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to the Siparia market on Sunday has focused attention on the deplorable state of many of the nation’s produce markets. Vendors at the Siparia market who spoke with the Guardian complained about wooden stalls hurriedly thrown together, leaking roofs, the absence of storage space, no proper cold areas for the storage of fish, a lack of a regular supply of clean, running water, toilets that do not function, and inadequate security.

Indeed it is about time that our government of the day pay attention to producing as much local food as it can. We cannot survive as a nation by depending totally on foreign food production. Our economy, while successful because of our natural resources, needs to be diversified with food production playing an important role not only for our survival but also as a foreign income earner. This means that instead of importing food from the region we can now have enough production to impact the balance of trade with food items in the Caribbean region. If we can help ourselves first then we can do the same for the Caribbean region in areas other that oil and the corresponding filtering products.

The role of this newly installed government in the area of food production is welcomed and long overdue. We can now look forward to better days now that we are making an effort to make an impact on the food import bill. Now if everyone can have a back yard garden as we used to do in the "good ole days" then we will be able to help each other in the villages just as it was done long ago. We just may have come full circle here - this is a much needed change in attitude.

Jun 14, 2010

Arima Borough Corporation|Councillor Karen Nelson

Dr George Laquis, Chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Cancer Society, explains the workings of the new mammography unit to Councillor Karen Nelson of the Arima Borough Corporation at the official launch of the new Mam O Med Mobile Station.
Photo Source: Newsday

Talk about being out of touch with the 'happenings' of my home town... The photo above shows Dr George Laquis chatting with Councillor Karen Nelson. Many moons ago I worked with 'Karen' at the Ministry of Works in Arima. I guess much has changed with Karen now a fixture at the Borough Corporation. Hopefully a phone call should help and with it just maybe we can get some insight about the workings of the Arima Borough Corporation.

Jun 13, 2010

Preferred Choice for New Commissioner of Police|Local or Foreign?

"Questioned of a report in a daily newspaper that Canadian Neal Parker, a retired member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and currently Deputy Commissioner of the Antigua Police Force, is the preferred choice to be this country’s next Commissioner of Police, Persad- Bissessar said the last process for the COP was subverted. “The Government found a way to subvert it and bypass the law.” “I don’t know if it is a Canadian or not,” insisting that the People’s Partnership will abide by the law “until such law may be changed.”

The search for a top cop has been ongoing for the past two years, since the previous government rejected the Police Service Commission’s (PSC) nominee in 2008, complaining that the process of recruitment was flawed. Parker is one of five persons in line for the COP job. Told that some contracted workers at the Information Ministry were fearful of losing their jobs, Persad-Bissessar as everything else “we will have to review it. “If it is there are persons who don’t necessarily need to be there, we will review it.”

I am curious about this news report indicating that a Canadian citizen now serving as the Deputy Commissioner of the Antigua Police Service is now the top candidate for the post in Trinidad and Tobago. I was under the impression that a local candidate was at the top of the list taking into consideration the last person the Police Service Commission recommended but was rejected by ex-Prime Minister Patrick Manning.

If this is the case then was ex-Prime Minister correct when he rejected the last candidate? Please note that this rejection was in 2008 and to this date we continue to saddled with an acting Commissioner of Police.  I hope that if the Canadian citizen is indeed the preferred choice that the Antiguan government won't see this as poaching on their service personnel.

Whatever the outcome I do hope that the new Commissioner would be someone of integrity and someone who would not be intimated and be able to make sweeping changes that would rid the service of the malaise that has infected the morality of the service thereby weakening the effectiveness of the service's policing abilities.

Let's us hope as this new government has promised that the appointment comes sooner than later - we need to move on now and not procrastinate as did the previous administration.

Jun 11, 2010

What...Laptops cause children to become thieves, peverts and morons?

Laptop computers are very dangerous devices. Give children a laptop, and they stand a good chance of becoming thieves, perverts, and morons. And, while this may qualify them for a successful career as a politician or priest or pundit, I think we should encourage our young people to be more ambitious.
Now you may be surprised to know that laptops are so pernicious. I certainly was, and I thought I was fairly well-read in pedagogy. But, since the People’s Partnership confirmed two weeks ago that they would be fulfilling their campaign promise to give every child entering secondary school a laptop, academics such as UWI computer lecturer Noel Kalicharan and School of Education lecturer Rawatee Maharaj-Sharma, as well as letter-writer Pastor Allan Furlonge and others, have issued dire warnings against this plan.
via www.trinidadexpress.com

Oh my goodness gracious me. After reading the article in the Trinidad Express I was lost for words. Now the laptop program of the People's Partnership is going to create morons? What in heavens name are these so called educated people thinking?
The laptop program is use here in NYC with great success (my son is a recipient of one of those laptops). Don't these people know that there are programs that can be installed in the computers to ensure that certain sites cannot be accessed? The computers are monitored. How do I know that? Well recently many of the laptops given to the children at my son's school were 'taken back' from several students because they were not using the laptops to get their work done as it was intended. They lost their privilege of having a laptop to their work.
The program works like this, the kids are given the laptops to do their home work and to do research for class projects. There are rules to be followed regarding the use of the laptops. The one major point to note is that if the children achieve a 4.0 average they get to keep the laptop.
Yes the incentive to keep the laptop is based on performance. Children who have the ability to de well but lack the incentive to work hard will have the incentive of laptop ownership if they achieve the grades that the school sets for ownership.
All the fears of these educated professional can be avoided with proper planning and implimentation of the laptop program - just don't hand the children the laptops without making them work for it.
The program is a good one and can work if implimented properly.

Jun 10, 2010

Women in Charge!

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has placed two women in leading positions on the Opposition benches in the Lower and Upper houses of Parliament.
Port of Spain South MP Marlene McDonald was named as the Opposition Chief Whip, while former Arima MP Pennelope Beckles will return to the political limelight as Leader of the Opposition benches in the Senate.
This means that when the Parliament convenes next Friday, it will be an historic session with Kamla Persad-Bissessar as this country’s first woman Prime Minister, McDonald as the first woman Opposition Chief Whip and Beckles as the first woman Leader of the Opposition bench in the Senate.
Rowley made the announcement yesterday at a press conference at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Port of Spain, where he also named the six new Opposition Senators.
Pennelope Beckles who was rejected by former Prime Minister Patrick Manning as not being fit enough to run for political office is now the Leader of the Opposition bench in the Senate.

Mrs. Beckles was and is a supporter of Dr. Rowley prior to the elections and was eventually rejected for the Arima seat even though she was in incumbent parliamentary representative. Is Dr. Rowley showing the nation that the ex Prime Minister made the wrong decision by appointing Mrs. Beckles to the positon of Leader of the Opposition bench in the Senate? Maybe this is Dr. Rowley's way of appeasing Mrs. Beckles thereby ensuring that because of her popularity that she does not contest for the post of political leader of the PNM. She has been promoted as the ideal person to lead the PNM at this time. Dr. Rowley is the leader of the Opposition in Parliament but would it not be interesting if Pennelope Beckles becomes the leader of the PNM?

 I should also note here that I am not a fan of Marlene McDonald but I am sure she will add some fire as the Opposition Chief Whip.

What dey say dey say in Trinidad... and the word on the ground is that Pennelope is now smiling and is once again the darling of Arima!

Jun 9, 2010

AG to police: "Secure Guanapo church assets"

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has called on the Integrity Commission and the police to move with great dispatch and exercise their powers to protect the assets at the controversial church at the Heights of Guanapo in Arima.
Ramlogan made the call last night following reports that equipment and material were being removed from the site.
According to Ramlogan, the Integrity Commission and the police have the power to ensure that the scene is not tampered with and evidence which could hamper the investigations is not removed.
Even though the Attorney General’s office is not involved in the probe, Ramlogan said the assets may very well belong to the State and action ought to be taken to ensure the compound receives adequate protection.
via www.trinidadexpress.com

This church is in the news again and will remain in the news for as long as it takes to ascertain who owns the assets of the structure. Isn't it amazing that the Attorney General is speaking in term of protecting "assets that may very well belong to the state".

Nothing is being said or has come out of  the construction company working on the site. Nothing has been said or has been heard about he people who commissioned the structure. Nothing has been learnt about the people and money that is financing this project. As I said in  a previous post on this church: "Somebody will make ah jail tonight". 

Now we learn that the Attorney General is taking measures to protect the assets of the church site since as he stated, "the assets may very well belong to the State and action ought to be taken to ensure the compound receives adequate protection." 

As "dey say in Trinidad",  every tub will have to sit on their own bottom. Even Dr. Rowley supports this investigation. The Trinidad Express newspapers already has information posted regarding the site preparation and usage. 

Jun 8, 2010

Heights of Guanapo Church Probe Begins!

Let the investigations proceed and let every top sit on its own bottom.
This was the position taken yesterday by Opposition Leader, Dr Keith Rowley, on the new revelations made by architect Stephen Mendes confirming that former prime minister Patrick Manning was personally involved in the designs and development of the church at the Heights of Guanapo, Arima.
Noting that the current Government has announced that an investigation has been commissioned into the issue, Rowley said: ’As far as I am concerned that is how the matter should be dealt with. Clearly, there are questions there to be answered and clarifications to be sought. And to the extent that information has been made public recently about the position of persons who claim to have knowledge of how the project came into being and was being managed, and the involvement of UDeCOTT and other personnel, the investigatory route is the way to go.’
Noting that the issue had been the subject of discussion in Parliament, during the election campaign, and was therefore a matter of ’great public interest’, Rowley said the possible involvement of a State enterprise and a senior public official in it, ’confirms that it needs to be examined and the only way to treat with these things is through proper process’.
via www.trinidadexpress.com

Somewhere in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago someone or some people are having sleepless nights knowing that the probe into corruption regarding the construction of the church in the Height of Guanapo has begun. To date no one has stepped forward claiming ownership of the church - isn't that amazing?
Millions of dollars invested in  a place of worship and no one has claimed the church. As a matter of fact I don't think that those in authority know who the owner of the church is or they have chosen not to reveal this information.
This is where the press is asleep - they should have already revealed this information. I don't understand how no one has tried to interview the contractors to ascertain who hired them and who is financing the project. Someone has to be paying the people for the work done on the site - this is a $30 Million project.
Now we hear that the leader of the opposition, Dr. Keith Rowley, is all for the investigation and that those involved corruptly in the project will have to face the music and accept the consequences of their ill conceived purchase of a ticket to the gates guarded by St. Peter. Only time will tell and we will be on hand when the final verdict is read and the guilty participants are welcomed to the Royal Jail in Port of Spain.

Jun 7, 2010

Food security, critical importance

Over 30 farmers from different farmers associations met on the weekend with Minister of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs, Vasant Bharath, to discuss a variety of issues the farmers encounter daily.

The meeting was held at the PCU Conference Room, Ministry’s Head Office, Serpertine Road, St Clair. Farmers came from various associations including the Livestock Association, Beekeepers Association, Ricegrowers Association, Citrus Growers Association and South Cocoa Farmers Association.

Farmers described the meeting, that lasted approximately two hours, as productive. One by one they were able to express their concerns to the minister. Leading the discussion, on behalf of the associations, was president of the Cunupia Farmers Association, Anil Ramnarine.

Amongst the issues discussed were the high cost of fertilisers and insecticides, lack of water reserves, poor infrastructure (roads), lack of labour on farms, poor security in markets and lack of capital.

“The cost of fertilisers and insecticides are too high, one farmer lamented, we have to pay $600 dollars a bag of salts, which is hard.” Another farmer stated that there was a scarcity of labour on farms because a decent remuneration package is not guaranteed."
via www.newsday.co.tt

This is simply a case of getting our priorities right. Every nation need to be able to grow enough food to feed the population if  you want to achieve true first world status. No nation dependent on foreign sources of food staples can truly consider itself independent. 
Not everything could and will be grown at home and food will have to be sourced and purchased on the World markets. However food that can be grown at home should be aggressively cultivated and harvested to feed a growing nation. 
Support for the farming community is very important and this government has already given hope to the farmers with the promise of compensation for lost crops because of the drought, flooding and insect infestation.  Access roads and supplies to produce crops are necessary for success - this government seem to be fast tracking on the correct path to success. A true partnership with the people will reap the rewards that we seek and will ensure that our nation succeeds in providing the essentials needed for existence. I like what I have seen and wish the new governments success in all their endeavors. 

Jun 6, 2010

"Faced with some deep challenges"|Treasury is Empty folks!

One week after assuming the role of Finance Minister, Winston Dookeran says he’s faced with some deep challenges. Questioned about the state of the economy, Dookeran replied, “All I can say is that I am faced with some deep challenges. Over the next week or so I will liaise with the press.” Dookeran also stated that all the election promises made by the People’s Partnership “may be delivered on a phased introduction.” Dookeran was speaking in Caura following the planting of a croton tree to celebrate World Environmental Day yesterday. On the hustings Dookeran had said the T&T’s economy was strong but remains uncertain. Eight days after taking up office, Dookeran said he still supported this view “because the trends in the economy are not in the right direction.”
via http://guardian.co.tt/

If anyone out there need Mr. Dookeran to address the press in a few weeks to let us know the state of the nation's piggy bank then crapaud smoke all yuh pipe oui!
That statement including the phrase "faced with some deep challenges" in my view means that we don't have the necessary finance for projects that most people believe that we do possess. In other words we were duped by the PNM into thinking that everything was copacetic and that we were on the road to National recovery. What a farce and the fact that Mr. Manning called general elections could have been seen as a sign that all was not well with the finances of the country. We are in for difficult times and only the shrew thinking of the this new government will see us through these difficult times. Let's home that the team set up to look for new ways to generate income for the country can guide us through this difficult period. Keep searching Mr. Dookeran because we know that you can do it.

Jun 5, 2010

No to Ish and Fergueson|Attorney General Anand Ramlogan issues statement!

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan stated yesterday that he planned to write the attorney for United National Congress (UNC) financiers Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson, turning down the request for him to intervene to block their extradition to the United States and to allow them to face a trial in Trinidad and Tobago.

Speaking after yesterday’s post-Cabinet news conference at the Prime Minister’s St Clair office, Ramlogan said in the light of information appearing in the newspapers giving details of the plea the men were making to him, he requested the file and had been apprised of its contents.

He said he would decline the invitation to intervene at this stage, given the fact that the matter is before the Privy Council.
via www.trinidadexpress.com

I only hope that the people who have been been questioning how the new Attorney General will respond regarding the extradition of these two gentlemen (UNC Financiers)will now have the decency to respond appropriately now that the Attorney General has issued a statement. The statement clearly shows a hands off approach at this juncture thereby allowing the natural course of justice to apply. 
So for all those who believed that since these gentlemen had UNC links that the new government would bend the system to allow these gentlemen to 'have their way' and avoid extradition  well... 'Take Dat!".

Jun 4, 2010

Open up the PBR|Minister Warner attempts to move traffic in the right direction

WORKS and Transport Minister Jack Warner will today approach the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for approval of the opening up of the Priority Bus Route (PBR) to the general public, Monday to Friday, on a three-month trial basis.
via www.newsday.co.tt

I was concerned about opening up the PBR for use by the general public thereby defeating the purpose of the "priority status" for buses. No one wants the buses to be stuck in traffic when these vehicles could have easy access to the City of Port of Spain. Citizens have come to depend on the free flow of traffic on the PBR and reaching to work on time because of the priority access given to these buses. 

If the route is flooded with Maxi taxis and private vehicle then we will be back to an unacceptable situation that will simply frustrate thousands of citizens. 

It is hoped, as the article states, that access will be given to certain peak periods and only to high occupancy vehicles. I believe that this can work but at the same time many persons will "take a chance" and break the law by using the route without regard to the 'law'. 

Enforcement of the new rules will become an issue and could, at the same time, generate income if those "who take a chance" are caught and penalized (trust me, they will break the law).

There is a chance that this could work but at the same time it can become a major failure. At least they are making an attempt to alleviate the traffic issues and for that we have to give credit. 

Many government agencies need to be decentralized and moved out of Port of Spain to help move the flow of people away from Port of Spain. 

The Minister of Works and Transport is on the job and we need to give him our support. He has ideas and is willing to take chances to make the changes that are long overdue. I support his endeavors and wish him well. 

Jun 3, 2010

Dr. Lincoln Douglas|Minister of State in Ministry of the People and Social Development

 Dr. Lincoln Douglas
Yesterday, Dr Lincoln Douglas, Minister of State in the Ministry of the People and Social Development, was sworn in at a private ceremony at Knowlsey House, Port of Spain. Speaking after the swearing-in, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who this ministry was the brainchild of, said she envisioned the ministry as one that would have interaction and participation from the people, ’instead of them just coming up against the (government) bureaucracy’.
via www.trinidadexpress.com

Now that we have Dr. Douglas in place it should be interesting how this Ministry of the People interacts with the role of the Ombudsman. The Prime Minister acknowledged that the Ombudsman was the person that the people could take their complaints to however, she also noted that the system was not working.
This Ministry of the People would have offices located across the country where citizens can go and make their complaints. Now making a complaint does not mean that the problem will be quickly addressed. This is going to be the make or break Achilles heel of the new Ministry. The goal is to deliver and if they fail then the entire concept would have failed and with this failure the people will be saying, "same ole, same ole".
Let's go with the wait and see approach and wish them only success with this endeavor. After all we want progress and it this works then the populace will be less stressed and have the feeling like they have a place to go where their problems can be resolve. This also means that Local government issues will have to be remedied very quickly to deliver the requires services. Keep hope alive!

Jun 2, 2010

Mighty Sparrow|Education

Education" by Mighty Sparrow, the Calypso King. This calypso gave me great pain as the common entrance examination came around. This is a classic and should be played often to remind today's generation of the importance of a good education...

via www.youtube.com

Jun 1, 2010

Anti-Manning sentiment—Imbert | The Trinidad Guardian

“An expression of anti-Manning sentiment.” That was former works minister Colm Imbert’s response to the People’s National Movement crushing defeat by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s People’s Partnership on May 24. The People’s Partnership got 29 seats, while the PNM got 12. Imbert retained the Diego Martin North East seat with 9,349 votes over Congress of the People’s Garvin Nicholas who got 8,077. During a telephone interview yesterday, Imbert said: “I think it’s a combination of factors...There was an anti-Manning sentiment and I was much too close to the centre of Government to see it really. “It is difficult to understand the anti- Manning sentiment but it was there,” he said. “There was the sentiment we were in Government for too long. When you around too long, people decide it’s time to give someone else a chance. The longer you are in government, the more people you cross-thread.
via guardian.co.tt

Poor Patrick Manning even the people who stood by him are now finding it easy to the ex Prime Minister for the loss at the polls. Colm Imbert has now joined with the rest of those who can't come to terms with the trashing they received at the polls and have conveniently blamed Patrick Manning for their demise. 

In their eyes it had nothing to do with the arrogance shown by the party in general or the issue of the church in Heights of Guanapo or the misdealings of UDECOTT and the Tarouba stadium. No it had nothing to do with the abuse of power and the free for all spending while taps remained dry and highways were clogged with traffic.

These people are still in shock and cannot see their failures. Patrick Manning is the easy target and it will not stop until they back in government.

Someone needs to remind them that the new government thus far, have made all the right moves - these guys will not be back in government for a long, long time to come - good riddance to this crop of politicians. Let the party retool and come again with new faces and a better plan and just maybe the nation will listen again. Until then we wish the People's Partnership only success.





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