‘Need Government That Believes In Bermudians’

July 6, 2015

[Opinion column written by PLP MP Michael Weeks]

Since taking office, the OBA have demonstrated that their priorities are out of step with Mr. and Mrs. Bermuda. From breaking promises and being repeatedly caught in untruths, to implementing policies that have made it harder for Bermudians to get employment in our own country, the OBA have shown themselves to be out of touch and out of ideas.

Recently, Junior Minister of Community & Cultural Affairs, Ms. Nandi Outerbridge revealed that High Risk Programme, established under the PLP to offer counsel to families and young people who have been affected by traumatic firearm and other incidents, has been “realigned.” MP Outerbridge herself seemed unaware that the OBA’s definition of realignment was the termination of this essential family resource and community programme.

The OBA’s termination of the High Risk Programme has left over 400 young Bermudians without the necessary resources to assist them with addressing potential anti-social behavior and keeping them on a path of positivity, productivity and good citizenship.

The OBA believes that our at risk youth simply aren’t worth the annual $419,000 cost of keeping this highly effective programme operating. Yet the OBA have managed to find $77 Million for the Americas Cup and millions of dollars in tax giveaways for their friends in the business community. Millions which to date have had no impact on the the quality of life and pocketbooks of the average Bermudians. Combine this with massive OBA cuts in college scholarships, Financial Assistance and other helping programmes and a clear picture is being painted of a government that has very different set of priorities from most Bermudians.

The PLP’s position is that our Bermudian youth are just as valuable and vital as the wealthy, the privileged and the elite. We believe that we must invest in our young people and their families on the front end, by preventing anti-social behavior, as opposed to on the back end through policing and incarceration.

The decision to cut a $419,000 programme for Bermudian youth while tossing millions to the already prosperous shows a lack of foresight, a lack of vision and is as the older generation says “penny smart, pound foolish.” The OBA should ask themselves how much more might we ALL pay if our young people are marginalized, disaffected and not given the counsel and support they need?

Let’s look at who is involved in this Programme. Children whose parents and in some cases their grandparents have been caught up in gang violence or other criminal or violent behavior. It is young people who have demonstrated that they need extra help, extra guidance and extra care to keep them from becoming a future problem for themselves and others. Left to their own devices, some would make it and become positive contributors to society and role models to other Bermudian youths. The vast majority however, would slip through the cracks and become lost.

The High Risk Programme is working and is making a major contribution towards ending the cycle of violence, despair and hopelessness that has hurt our society and damaged the lives of countless Bermudians. It is giving Bermuda an opportunity to tell our youth that they do matter and that our country is too small to throw any Bermudian aside. Bermudians need a government that believes in Bermudians and that believes that investing in our youth has equal value to catering to the elite and privileged. Unfortunately, that is what Bermuda is sorely lacking today.

- Michael Weeks

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Comments (26)

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  1. Unbelievable says:

    I can’t wait for the OBA to respond to this and have to correct Michael Weeks. Again.

  2. serengeti says:

    Weeks is the guy that ‘believed’ 100 buyers were lined up for Grand Atlantic.

  3. San George says:

    Tough love Mike – otherwise we are the next Greece. Not joking mate. Government spending out of control, civil service needs to be cut, subsidies out of control. Unsustainable.

  4. Young Professional says:

    Honourable MP Weeks,

    I hear what you are saying, but as a swing voter I am stuck like a rock in a hard place. The PLP has not shown their relevancy to the sons and daughters of average Mr. and Mrs. Bermuda. There is no party that I can get behind and vote for with a clear conscious. The fiscal irresponsibility, ministerial interference, disregard of Technical Officers etc of the PLP can’t be forgotten. The OBA is on a clear path of sacrificing average families for the sake of fiscal responsibility. Mr. Weeks, please work to get the PLP in order so that you can get the support of the swing voter. Professionalism, integrity, innovation, transparency, and forward thinking are some of our values. Get it together PLP so that we can vote the OBA out!

    • PBanks says:

      I fear you’re less of a swing voter and more of a loyalist disillusioned by the PLP’s missteps of the past but willing to back your horse next time out.

      That’s fine, and nothing wrong with encouraging the political leaders to cut out the foolishness and get to work putting forward proper initiatives to benefit the country.

      But we should want the same of each of the MPs who are taking home a paycheck, paid by Bermudians.

  5. Oh enough already says:

    If Mr. Weeks is so concerned about the welfare of these 400 children who have been left without resources to combat anti-social behavior problems, why doesn’t he donate the salary he earns as an MP to assist them?

    It seems that the members of the PLP forget that under their tenure as government we have garnered over 1bn dollars in public debt as a result of their careless spending over the years and the children of Bermuda that Mr. Weeks appears to be so concerned about will be paying that debt for generations to come. The reality is that when your public debt skyrockets through the roof, cuts in government spending have to be made in order to get it under control.

    Is it unfortunate that school scholarships, youth programmes and the education system as a whole must suffer budget cuts? ABSOLUTELY! But the government cannot keep spending money that the public doesn’t have. Education should be a top priority and reforming the extremely marginalizing Public vs Private school divide is at the root of Bermuda’s issues in that regard but until the debt is under better control you cannot realistically expect not to have budget cuts across the board. OBA should address our education issues as best as they can with the resources available because you cannot expect Bermuda to move forward as a nation when our children have a second-rate education system that fails them. I have little faith in either party to make conscious and sensible decisions though… OBA is too indecisive and PLP is too brash and narrow-minded.

    • hmmm says:

      it was mid 30′s not 400+

      • Oh enough already says:

        “The OBA’s termination of the High Risk Programme has left over 400 young Bermudians without the necessary resources to assist them with addressing potential anti-social behavior and keeping them on a path of positivity, productivity and good citizenship.”

        Case and point.

        • Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

          I think you’ll find that the number was corrected a couple of days ago by the Minister to 35 people.

          I’m not saying that these 35 don’t deserve all the help out there, but a single programme for that few, when they can be helped elsewhere, and the money (a lot for only 35) can be used elsewhere is nuts.

          And if the PLP think otherwise, well.

  6. Family Man says:

    ‘Need Government That Believes In Bermudians’

    Thanks, I agree. It’s good we finally have one.

  7. What a bunch of “crap” P.L.P. M.P. Michael Weeks. If you wish to place the blame at the foot of someones “Party” then the Progressive Labour Party earned that “title.”
    We are faced with the countless problems of supporting many program due to mismanagement under the Progressive Labour Party leadership. We must pay, (if not mistaken)400:000 plus dollars interest per day on the debt your P.L.P. place all Bermudians in for countless years to come. So yes there has to be cut-backs.
    As for this B/S, “Yet the O.B.A. have managed to find $77 Million for the Americas Cup and millions of dollars in tax giveaways for their friends in the business community. Millions which to date have had no impact on the quality of life and pocketbooks of the average Bermudians.” That just isn’t true…We will, without any doubt, see and reap great profits off of the Americas Cup!

  8. Micro says:

    “We had to lie” – PLP

  9. stunned... says:

    running government is not a popularity contest, there is no requirement to endear itself to anything other than being efficient, effective, responsible and timely…this constant drivel of government not caring ad nauseum is painful to endure on a continuous basis.

    it’s political parties that must endear itself to the voting public – it’s the government who is tasked with the jobs and to get on with it. enough already.

  10. Reality Is says:

    We need Bermudians to believe in each other. Government can’t stop us lot from shooting each other, from sexually assaulting each other, from preventing each other a minimum level of education, from disallowing each other career advances. At some point you have to stop blaming Government and recognize our own prejudices.

  11. Kim Smith says:

    And we need Bermudians who believe in, and support, their government.

    • Real talk (original) says:

      But first we need a government that we can believe in…

      • Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

        You know, I’m going to offer something to think about here.

        Let’s presume that the OBA doesn’t care about Mr and Mrs Average Bermudian. They’re only in it for themselves. The whole friends and family business.

        Now, let’s also presume, from obvious experience, that the PLP isn’t any different.

        Basically, both sides are right and post parties are self serving.

        Would you prefer a Government who doesn’t care about the people but understands that for them to keep their money and make more, the rest of the Island has to be successful, so they piss off Mr and Mrs Average Bermudian by making difficult choices in order to stabalise the economy so they can keep making money and by default so does everyone else?

        Or would you prefer a Government who doesn’t care about the people and is determined to give them everything they want so that Mr and Mrs Average Bermudian is left with a debt that is completely unsustainable and unemployment gets higher and higher?

        Pick your poison.

  12. Mr Weeks, can we have the $42M the PLP spent on the Grand Atlantic that has sat idle for 4 years since being built. The PLP are so insane that they all act as though the OBA caused our economy to be in this state. Further Mr Weeks, Can we get the cost over-runs from Berkeley, TCD, Wharf, Dame Lois, etc. That’s another $100M there. Let’s not forget the ‘free’ things that your Party ‘gave’ away…that’s tens of millions there.
    You see Mr Weeks, those children and our seniors can certainly use that money now. Apologize to them and all Bermudians, that’s a start. Find some solutions is next. Complaining about the OBA…that’s just insane behavior.

  13. Unbelievable says:

    Michael Weeks attacking the America’s Cup being in Bermuda is another example of the PLP not understanding the economy.

    The America’s Cup is not a week-long event and then they are gone forever like the PGA. These people are here living in Bermuda for the next two years. In fact, they’ve been here for a few months already. That means rents, super market trips, clothing, schools, taxis, restaurants. It means that construction firms are still building the AC Village and the rest of the massive infrastructure up in the West End. 5 or 6 teams are coming to Bermuda to compete. That’s an average of 80 – 100 people which includes the team, support staff, shore crew, logistics, admin, etc. Plus families that probably about 1000 people.

    What more do you want? Do you see where Bermuda benefits in this?? No you obviously don’t. How many times does this have to be said?

    • Person who knows a little says:

      Well said.

    • steve says:

      and also, how about tax concessions for hotels creating work for local construction companies? If not for these (tax breaks), some projects would be scaled down or scrapped and more $ social funding required, do u See the Benefits? Do you think these developers are bluffing? Actually i know you understand all this perfectly, your just feeding ignorance to some of your base. You don’t have to, you already have their vote so try stepping up these rants and include a more responsible strategy…that along with being the first to step forward and state that your party has also done things that no one should be proud of. Perhaps you may win some votes from folks looking for an alternative to the OBA…and while i am handing out free election strategy-Find a grown up to lead your party you might get a few more votes.

  14. Spit Bouy says:

    ‘Need Government That Believes In Bermudians’

    @ MP Weeks,

    & the PLP would be that Govt right?? LOL

  15. NCM says:

    What utter nonsense from Mr. Weeks. He sits in parliament and should know that last Friday Minister Gordon-Pamplin clarified that the actual number of children in this programme was 32 (which includes kids with behavioural problems and high risk kids) and that this programme was merged into other existing programmes. But hey, the PLP never let the truth get in the way…

  16. Franklin Jr says:

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State”

    Replace state with PLP and it works pretty nicely, don’t you think?

  17. Christopher Notorius says:

    Mr Weeks you are part of the problem. Instead of assisting, you would rather tear down the work oBA is trying to do. Your idiotic dense PLP got us in this mess with their wasting of our money. Why do you continue to spread misinformation, and who do you thinkyou are actually fooling?

  18. Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

    Dear Mr Weeks,

    if having their priorities out of step with Mr. and Mrs. Bermuda means pissing people off in order to stabilise our economy and start to build on it so that these same Mr. and Mrs. Bermuda can have more opportunities in the future I’d have to agree with you.

    But I’ve learned from long life experience that sometimes the right decisions are the hard ones, the ones that both you and everyone else they impact hate them … until they come to fruition.