Government Responds: SDO Report

February 10, 2012

Minister of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Strategy Marc Bean issued an interim response to the Ombudsman’s report on the Tucker’s Point SDO released today [Feb.10].

The statement said, “Government will reply more fully to the Ombudsman in accordance with the Act by the given deadline of May 1st 2012.

“As the Ombudsman will be aware, Government has most recently placed the matter of SDOs fully in the public domain by requiring an SDO to be approved by the Legislature, rather than allowing the responsibility to rest solely on the Minister responsible for Planning.

“Furthermore, national interest considerations, such as SDOs, are the purview of Ministers, the Cabinet and the Legislature which is the highest policy making body of all of Bermuda’s democratic institutions.

“It is somewhat peculiar therefore that an Ombudsman would seek to enter into what is essentially a political process that has a proven track record of resolving issues of national concern within a democratic framework.

Minister Bean said: “Our Government was praised in this report for its amendment to the Development and Planning Act to require SDO’s to be approved by the legislature.

“This is one of many steps that our Government has taken to enhance governance and transparency in Bermuda. Regarding this SDO, there were numerous assessments done prior to the submission of the SDO to parliament, and conservation officers were comfortable that the additional conditions contained in the SDO were sufficient to protect the environment and mitigate any adverse impact.”

Minister Bean continued: “Our Government is, and will always be, committed to the environment. We have taken numerous steps to protect land from future development. The public should also not forget that the people of Bermuda received 15 Acres of protected land as part of this SDO. This land will be conveyed to the Government so that it is protected and never developed.”

The statement continued on to say that, “As the investigation was based upon an ‘own motion’ rationale, for which there are no guidelines in Bermuda law, it is left in doubt whether the outcome is without bias.

“Around the world, own motion investigations by Ombudsmen are rare. It is important to point out that an SDO is an administrative action taken by a Minister in conjunction with the Cabinet.

“The Ombudsman Act 2004 in Clause 2 of the Schedule to the Act precludes the investigation of an administrative action taken by the Cabinet, a Minister, or a Junior Minister.

“It is rather unfortunate that the Ombudsman would use the narrow basis of an own motion investigation that was subject to an inherent flaw to question Government’s commitment to good governance and in honoring its commitments.

“Furthermore, it should be noted that in the Ombudsman’s report, there isn’t a single reference to the word “unlawful”. Rather, she found maladministration in “the collective failure of due diligence to determine applicable law, international standards and best practice relevant to a decision of national priority”. The principles of the UK Environment Charter are embraced by the Bermuda Development Plan.

Minister Bean concluded: “The office of the Ombudsman was created by the PLP Government. Though we may differ on interpretation, I’m proud that this government has created mechanisms to scrutinise our decisions, and recommend improvements.”

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  1. Triangle Drifter says:

    Yup, more blah, blah, blah! Now we want till May for it to hopefully blow over & we will respond with the best spin possible.

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  2. verbal kint says:

    : “Our Government is, and will always be, committed to the environment. We have taken numerous steps to protect land from future development." Did Mr. Bean confer with Zane DeSilva before making this ridiculous statement. And what does the present stance on SDO's have to do with this one, put through before the changes were made. This statement is full of half-truth and diversion from the real issue. When will someone, anyone actually address an issue?

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  3. Argosy says:

    @verbal:

    PLP SOP.....

    [SOP = standar operating procedure....]

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  4. verbal kint says:

    Remeber that this is the same Minister who hasn't ruled on the planning appeals of DeSiva and Furbert. Forgive me if I don't assign him a lot of credibility. It doesn't take that effing long to review planning documents. That shows SOME commitment to environmental principles. To the people who support their party, I salure you for your stance. It is entirely something else to blindly accept bulls**t such as this.

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    • Maddog says:

      White supremacy is the belief, and promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds. The term is sometimes used specifically to describe a political ideology that advocates the social, political, historical and/or industrial dominance by whites.[1] White supremacy, as with racial supremacism in general, is rooted in ethnocentrism and a desire for hegemony and power, [2] and has frequently resulted in violence against non-whites. Different forms of white supremacy have different conceptions of who is considered white.

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      • Rick Rock says:

        So someone comments on how long it is taking to resolve an issue that resulted in, so far, at least one government Minister resigning, and you respond by talking about 'white supremacy'. Have you actually got a point, or are you just a jerk?

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  5. verbal kint says:

    “Furthermore, it should be noted that in the Ombudsman’s report, there isn’t a single reference to the word “unlawful”.

    I haven't read the entire document and don't intend to, but the other article on Bernews on this report quotes her as stating "acted unlawfully". Who got this part wrong? Or is this semantics (unlawful, unlawfully). Further, Mr. Bean chooses to quote the part of the report which praises Government and then turns around and questions the report's validity. You can't have it both ways. This constant evasion and double talk is maddening and is evidence of a Government with no clue as to how to represent it's constituents.

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    • J Starling says:

      From my reading of the report - admittedly not in depth - the report use the general language of saying 'the SDO action in question contravened the law concerning the need to conduct an environmental impact assessment; it failed to apply the proper procedures it was bound to do by the law.'

      So, strictly speaking, she may not have used the word 'unlawful' in the report, but she is saying it didn't follow the law. To use Minister Burgess' recent formulation 'if it's not wrong it's right' - in this case it should be rewritten as 'if it's not right, it's wrong' in the legal sense.

      Focusing solely on the narrow usage of the word 'unlawful' and ignoring the conclusions that it didn't follow the law (which in other words means it was unlawful) seems a questionable and superficial response.

      As said though, I've only skimmed through the report; it's quite a good read (in the sense of well-written and educational) in and of itself, concerning it's rather comprehensive review of relevant law, the planning system itself and the process of the Tucker's Point SDO.

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  6. verbal kint says:

    Anyone who wishes to attack my posts may feel free to do so. I'm off to bed. Tata.

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  7. pebblebeach says:

    @verbal...sleep well...your spot on...

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  8. Hmmmm says:

    More flowery waffle to sound important, but ultimately they failed. As the PLP like to point out....it is not unlawful, but it is yet another failure served to us. Cut the nonsense talk and speak plainly. We are sick of your better than us talk. We are your voters. Inefficient use of language to sound important. Sick of it. Deliver on your promises

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  9. Big Dog says:

    What a load of crud by the PLP again. Shoot the messenger and ignore the fact the PLP have again shown they are completely incapable of running anything much less the Government. What a bunch of amateurs.

    Who wrote their response? A primary school student? God help Bermuda.

    They would be better off accepting the Ombudsman's comments, addressing them sensibly and saying they will commission a proper report. But no, typical PLP nonsense.

    All a shame, but all typical.

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  10. Rick Rock says:

    Wow, he got that out quick. Less than a day to get out an extended press release full of waffle. But, as others have pointed out, he hasn't got round to sorting out the mess left by Roban, Zane and Furbert yet has he. Waiting until after the election I guess.

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  11. Cancer says:

    Hey! Hey! Hey'! Now now! "what we (the PLoP) do may be unethical but it's not really illegal" now go get your breakfast and stop complaining!!

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  12. Kim Smith says:

    The (new) Minister seems to have missed the point completely... and so goes matters of importance when they are viewed and often exploited in the political realm.

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  13. Oh Well!! says:

    Deal with the issue, the issue, the issue. What in the world is worng with accepting that you made a mess up.. And we wonder why our youth have such a hard time accpting truth. PLP are providing a good example for anyone to follow. If the leaders show contempt for the people, than the people will have contempt for them. They are just too caught up in themselves to see the real picture.

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    • Maddog says:

      It is not the Governments fault that your children don't listen,it is you dumb parents fault.

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      • Tornado says:

        And yet it is the governments role to teach discipline, teamwork, etc. when forcing conscription upon our young men? You old timers can't have it both ways...

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    • CommonSenseNBermuda says:

      I'll give it to the Ministers, they are certainly learning Diplomacy from their esteemed leader, Premier/ Finance Minister Paula "the Cog" Cox!

      "Diplomacy":- The art of telling someone to go to hell in such a way, they look forward to the trip!

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  14. Oh Well!! says:

    ahould be, 'PLP are NOT providing'

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  15. navin johnson says:

    does anyone really believe anything that comes out of the mouth of a PLP Minister? seriously......

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    • Rick Rock says:

      Good question. Even their supporters don't actually expect them to tell the truth or to follow through on the things they 'promise'.

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  16. Rockfish#1 and#2 says:

    Just spoke to family members who live in Bean's constituency.
    He would be well advised to answer the tough questions BEFORE he shows up on their doorsteps canvassing!
    eg. Why do you delay making decisions? What's with the DeSilva,Furbert fiasco?
    He must answer himself, NOT the sheeple!

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    • PEPPER says:

      Mark Bean, is like Brown...he was appointed to his new position by the cog...and he and the former premier are the best of friends.... Paula, you are going to be ousted very soon.....

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  17. Common Sense says:

    It is very disturbing indeed and a matter of great national concern when our Government slams the two persons who have been independently appointed to represent ALL of the people in their respective positions. These are, of course, the Auditor General and the Ombudsman. They are both highly qualified in their fields, both are scrupulous in their investigations, and both happen to be black women of strong character who have no political axe to grind.

    The response of this, or any Government, should be to take heed of their recommendations and take whatever action is necessary to comply with their recommendations and directions.

    Our Premier should now lead by example and if any of her Ministers cannot accept the advice of the Auditor General or the Ombudsman they should be removed from their Cabinet positions so that we, the people, know that we are heading in the right direction. The onus is now on our Premier and I pray that she is up to the task.

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    • Kim Smith says:

      Very well said, Common Sense! Thanks for the reminder that both the Auditor General and the Ombudsman are supposed to be objective... protected from political interference.

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  18. LaVerne Furbert says:

    In my opinion, the Ombudsman appears to be confused. I could see the sense in her report if the Government had granted Tuckers Point permission to build, however, that was not the case. As I understand it, permission was granted to Tuckers Point to build contingent on the results of the Environmental Impact studies which were required.

    As I read it, the Ombudsman is saying that prior to the Government granting the Special Development Order to Tuckers Point which stated that Tuckers Point had to carry out various environmental impact studies before being given permission to build, the Government should have required Tuckers Point to do the environmental impact studies before giving Tuckers Point the Special Development Order which required Tuckers Point to carry out various environmental impact studies. It makes no sense to me. It is not as if Tuckers Point were given permission to build carte blanche.

    The Ombudman has revealed that "During her investigation she interviewed officials from the UN, the Organisation of American States, CARICOM and several Caribbean governments. I wonder how much those investigations cost the taxpayer.

    Finally, it appears to me that the "experts" the Ombudsman consulted are at odds with the experts in the civil service. At the end of the day, Bermuda needs to know which expert opinion is the right opinion.

    By the way, I'm glad to see Dr. Paulu Karamefego got some recognition from the Ombudsman.

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    • Yup says:

      Q - "The Ombudman has revealed that “During her investigation she interviewed officials from the UN, the Organization of American States, CARICOM and several Caribbean governments. I wonder how much those investigations cost the taxpayer."

      A - It probably costs us taxpayers less to fund the whole investigation than it was to keep E. Brown living in the lap of luxury for one friggin' day when he was premier!

      Ombudsman = money well spent in the interest of BERMUDIANS
      E. Brown = Sitting pretty and laughing at us now

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    • Not distracted says:

      LT. The Ombudsman is not confused but keep trying to deflect. The facts are that there is to be an EIA not after the project is started and almost finished as in the Heritage Wharf but BEFORE. So the EIA was to be done BEFORE the Tucker's application was considered. This ignoring of the process resulted in the Department of planning refusing the Occupancy certificate up to the point the first ship was on it's way to dock and the powers that be overruled said issue. The Ombudsman has a duty to ensure that the proper procedures are followed without favor. The challeng you and similar supporters have is that many Ministers do not believe they are subject to the laws of the land as they are "Ministers" and therefore make the laws. trying to demonise the messengers will only make people suspect there is more that needs to come into the light of scrutiny. So much for open and transparency when every critique is assualted.

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    • Common Sense says:

      Right on "Not distracted". Whether LF likes it or not the Omundman is doing a superb job - not just in this matter but in everything she does, and we should all be proud of her because she is a role model to all of our young people.

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    • Rick Rock says:

      I think we get it LaVerne. The Ombudsman and the Auditor general are "confused", along with anyone else that is critical of things that aren't done legally or ethically. Although, as a Senator at the tome of the SDO, you're not exactly impartial are you.

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    • Rockfish#1 and#2 says:

      Well well,
      The Defender/8 votes is now calling someone else"confused"!
      Reminiscent of the Shawn Crockwell- You Tube.

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    • Pastor Syl says:

      @ LaVerne: Once again you are confused by something that appears very plain to me (and a few others, by the comments on this thread). An environmental study should have been carried out BEFORE the SDO was granted, which would probably have meant the SDO would NOT have been granted. One wonders what would be the result if the Ombudsman took a look at the process behind the granting of the permit for that unsellable eyesore on South Shore Road or the infamous Dockyard Dock. One hopes Government will learn from this and be scrupulous about the process regarding Zane DeSilva's bid to build on Devonshire Marsh.

      The Government tried to tout the Tucker's Point project as essential to tourism, but instead they are divvying up the land for fractional units and no hotel is even on the horizon. You don't even have the grace to feel ashamed of what your party is doing to this island. Instead you ridicule and cast aspersions on those who question or criticise what has been done and you seem to be oblivious to what is going on.

      The really sad part is that there appear to be a number of party supporters whose mantra seems to be "my party right or wrong." Such folk make it extremely difficult to hold reasoned conversations and dissuade me from believing I can "work to change the party from within" as you once suggested I do.

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  19. The nitty gritty says:

    Every day you pick up the paper, someone's got caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
    There are so many fingerprints all over the jar. There are people furiously trying to clean the cookie jar and there are people entrusted by this democracy to examine the fingerprints and hold them
    accountable. So even though there are no longer any cookies left in the jar and the people are
    making pledges to cut back on their need for so many cookies, I think it will be some time before
    mother can replace enough cookies to make a difference.

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  20. Soooooo says:

    "The Ombudman has revealed that “During her investigation she interviewed officials from the UN, the Organisation of American States, CARICOM and several Caribbean governments. I wonder how much those investigations cost the taxpayer."

    Probably cost no more than a phone call, unlike our Government, real people don't need a 1st class ticket to Talk to someone.

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  21. see da roots says:

    LF1: "The Ombudman has revealed that “During her investigation she interviewed officials from the UN, the Organisation of American States, CARICOM and several Caribbean governments. I wonder how much those investigations cost the taxpayer.

    LF2: "Finally, it appears to me that the “experts” the Ombudsman consulted are at odds with the experts in the civil service. At the end of the day, Bermuda needs to know which expert opinion is the right opinion."

    LF1: Email is basically free, is it not?

    LF2: I am pretty sure the environment min civil service also agree with the experts at the UN etc regarding the proper means by which to do EIA, and it is pretty lame on her part to try to imply that our Bermudian experts are somehow at odds with the global scientific and conservation consensus. Doing and EIA AFTER an SDO is not correct, btw.

    Ministers should not have the ability to short circuit the expertise of the Permanent Secretaries and the civil service, although this seems to happen often...

    Here is the Bda Environmental Charter (pdf), as hosted on the UKOTCF website:
    http://www.ukotcf.org/pdf/charters/bermuda.pdf

    The UK EIA process:
    http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/environmentalimpactassessment

    Bermuda's Planning EIA process:
    http://www.planning.gov.bm/Documents/Final%20Bermuda%20Plan%202008/Guidance%20Notes/GN106%20Environmental%20Impact%20Assessment.pdf

    While we are at it - how about a breakdown of how the PLP has funded science in Bda over the past 12 years. My bet is that budgets have been cut, not increased.

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  22. My two cents says:

    More bs, not one mention OF WHY THEY DIDN'T DO THE EIA.
    Simple question for simple people. Why wasn't the proper protocol followed, why no EIA? Why? Don't blame the civil servants as these minsters knew the protocol wasn't followed. Shame on skirting the issue as always. Wouldn't expect anything different from these clowns. Shoot the messenger and NEVER pay attention to the message is motto of the PLP. Marc Bean should resign his position of minister of environment as he is already considering implementing another plan to destroy our environment. Just sad and pathetic.

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  23. Cancer says:

    Don't you know if your not a PLP supporter.. Your confused? Really???
    Who's really confused??? Hmmm!

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