Minister Imbert’s arrogance!

Finance Minister, Engineer Colm Imbert has once again demonstrated an attitude of arrogance when he tried to call out the Regional President of BPtt and almost with scorn said she relied on technocrats for advice as if that was a problem.  Last time I checked, BPtt is a successful global organization managing a budget that is significantly larger than the national budget of Trinidad and Tobago. Maybe their success is because of their understanding of the value of collaboration and the importance of relying on technocrats and subject matter experts for advice.  Maybe our failure as a nation is because we ignore the technocrats and rely on politicians like the current Minister of Finance who has no track record in Finance.

The Minister’s intemperance in referring to BPtt’s action is almost as bad as Roget’s infamous “take your platform and go”.  I guarantee you that the decision to “pause” was not made singly by this Australian Accountant. It would have had major direction from BPtt’s global team.  To add insult to injury, the “Engineer Finance Minister” referred to other operators in the market including Shell, EOG and BHP Billiton. I wonder what is he channelling!

A day later the “Engineer Finance Minister” attempted to explain that he simply meant to convey that “like any person without discipline-specific expertise, will need to rely on expert technical advice to arrive at an informed decision.”  This was a good comeback but an oversized shoe is already in his mouth. I looked at the presentation in Parliament and made the following observations:

Firstly,  the “Engineer Finance Minister” does not understand that organizations like BPtt are designed for seamless transition at the head.  His comment that a lot is happening at BP is instructive. It reflects the approach used by our “Engineer Finance Minister” during the transition from the People’s Partnership to the PNM.  Put everything on pause until I understand what is happening here.

He commented that Mrs. Fitzpatrick is neither a geologist nor a petroleum engineer but merely an accountant so in deciding to press “pause” she had to rely on advice.  In his subsequent explanation of what he meant, he talked about the importance of being advised. I wonder what happened to the advice given by the now defunct Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB) which he preferred to dissolve rather than take their advice.

My third observation is about the tone and I wonder if the head was a Mr. Fitzpatrick instead of woman, if he would have been so caustic in his remarks.  Trinidad and Tobago would be well served if Mr. Imbert apologizes to the head of BPtt for any unintended conclusions which  his intemperance may have conveyed.

Demming: 3,777 teenaged pregnancies in past four years; and here’s why you should care… — Wired868

Dr Rowley’s Carenage interview suggests gun violence trauma at epidemic level.

This interview with Dr. Rowley and his constituents aggravated a deep wound in that area.  What I saw and heard was a man from within the constituency reliving the pain of the shooting death of his mother WPC Bernadette James and asking for some assurance that the shooting death of the 14 year old female by a Police Officer would be investigated.  Twice he mentioned that he was 7 years old when his mother was allegedly accidentally killed on the rifle range on a training exercise in Chaguaramas. He personalized the shootings for the Prime Minister by pointing out that the Prime Minister’s godson was shot on another occasion.  This brought the issue of police shootings very close to the Prime Minister and made me ask the question: What can be done?

Photo: An irate Carenage resident, who identified himself as the son of slain WPC Bernadette James, makes a point to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

The optimum approach would be collaboration between the Government and the Opposition but with the recent arrest of a former Attorney General current Opposition Senator, collaboration seems highly unlikely.  In 2015 under the Leadership of then Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, Trinidad and Tobago was listed as an adaptation partner in the Cure Violence programme which is having global success but as usual, when either the UNC or the PNM wrest power from each other, they simply discontinue initiatives and start over.  The Cure Violence model to prevent violence is currently being implemented in 10 countries across more than 25 cities and 60 communities.  Programs are expanding into new communities in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Latin America, as well as in the Middle East, including Syria.  Seems to me that since Trinidad and Tobago has some experience with the programme, we could stretch across the aisle in Parliament, discuss the benefits that could be derived and work towards implementation.  Read more about the Cure Violence model here.

The Cure Violence Programme came to my attention via a TED talk by Epidemiologist, Dr. Gary Slutkin who “applied lessons learned from more than a decade fighting epidemics in Africa and Asia to the creation of a public health model to reduce violence through behaviour change and disease control methods.  He is an Ashoka Fellow, a Professor of Epidemiology and International Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a senior advisor to the World Health Organization and the 2009 Winner of the Search for a Common Ground Award”.

A second area crying for attention is the thousands of people who have been impacted by deaths by shooting over the past 5 years.  It is reported that we have had 2,000 deaths by shooting and if we assume that each death impacted 10 people, then we perhaps have 20,000 people suffering some kind of trauma associated with gun violence.  Unless there is some meaningful intervention, it is likely that this trauma will lead to more violence.

Crime in Trinidad and Tobago is now at epidemic level and the solution lies in a collaborative approach.  It is time to depoliticize crime in the interest of the citizens of our country.

What happened? The Unfinished Project

I call this the creative dilemma. It is the knife edge where you decide if this is a “wuk” or if this satisfies your passion. Here’s a 2 our of 3 decision criteria which is useful. Will I make money? Will I learn something new? and Will It open my circle of interface? The activity has to satisfy 2 or the to get me involved.

Ayrid Chandler

Last year, I got to work with a lot of new clients and with that came new experiences. The main one that stuck with me is what I refer to as: The Disappearing Client #Ghost #Casper. This client would hire me to work with them, and somewhere between Phase 2 and the final phase, pull a disappearing act. Not respond to emails, messages, calls, just completely drop the project.

I recently saw one of those clients at a ‘social gathering’ and they acted as though this never happened, and the act of running into them had me wondering how to better prepare and safe guard against future instances like this. What do you do when a client has made a down payment, agreed to work with you, you’ve submitted work for feedback and never get it? Or you work through to the end, the client just has to give final…

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Zessers Come in all Forms!

Take away the gold chain and the ‘Zesser’ descriptor fits several other people in T&T.  Some of them drive Porche Cayennes, Mercedes Benz, Range Rovers, BMWs and other high-end cars.  Some of them live in specially outfitted high-rise apartments; they pay for tables where their friends lime or where they can prey on potential victims.  Some of them are sexually promiscuous, wear brand name or designer clothes and expensive red gold watches and I could go on and on about their abhorrent behaviours but the AG may know them better. 

So exactly what was the Attorney General trying to communicate when he attempted to threaten or scare those persons who wear big gold chains as a symbol of their authority and status among their peers? Why didn’t he use other examples of Zessers? Those who have moved from to multi-millionaires in less than 10 years, those who moved from tent rentals and scaffolding suppliers to almost billionaires in less than a generation.  He chose to focus on the gold-chain-wearing Zessers and has not considered that there are hundreds, maybe thousands of young people wearing costume jewellery to signal their belonging. Every generation has their outliers who externalize their symbols of belonging. 

The AG commented that the gold-chain wearing Zessers will be asked to prove that they purchased jewellery legally and that is commendable but while he’s at it there is a long list of other examples of Zessers whom he needs to ask to account for their material possessions  

 Stereotyping will not get us to the root cause of criminality, nor will it bring home the Mr. Bigs of our country. What the AG has done is stereotyped every youth from the ghetto as a misfit and a criminal simply because he chooses to wear a big gold chain.  Like the majority of citizens, I want you to trace the money, but stereotyping the young person on a fad is no way to embrace and encourage young people in another direction.

To bring home the Mr.  Bigs and really get to the root of criminality, you have to have the courage to dig close to home.  Find out who were the financiers of both political parties. Hold persons to account for their recent wealth from the Prison Officer who lives in a mansion to the Police Officer who parks his high-end car in the Police Station to the opportunistic landholder who just happened to own land which the government needed.  You cannot simply stand in Parliament and point at the ghetto. Remember the persons in the ghetto are simply collateral damage (according to a late Prime Minister) and they are desperate enough to do whatever is required. Go after those persons who are liquid enough to engage in major funding of illicit activity. To do otherwise is to engage in a meaningless charade.

There are Zessers who don’t wear big gold chains. 

Dear Editor: Asinine Thinking by Udecott left 200 motorists stranded in POS Parkade — Wired868

“It is asinine thinking to hold 200 motorists hostage in a car park because there is a glitch in your system. This is exactly what happened on Monday April 15 at the Parkade in Port of Spain. 40 more words

Dear Editor: Asinine Thinking by Udecott left 200 motorists stranded in POS Parkade — Wired868

Stop the Destruction of Chaguaramas!

My first visit to the seaside was Carenage, and in particular, Williams Bay.  We travelled by bus and eventually I would “borrow” my father’s Raleigh bicycle (before the permission was given), put the seat to its lowest position and ride to Carenage.  I remember that Pier 1 was not even a thing. Today, its building is imposing and it is home to several boats spewing sewage into Williams Bay. If you look closely, there is a slight shimmer on the water around the boats providing further evidence that “stuff” is being disposed of in the water.  This is the same location where families frolic in the sun oblivious of the sewage and pollutants.

Heading further west into the peninsula is depressing; you pass the dilapidated hoardings through which you catch glimpses of concrete structures at different stages of completion; the remnants of a dream of a museum, and on the right, the O2 Park where the hill is being or has been raped.

If you turn north and head to Macqueripe, you see a welcome sign saying “U Pick” which used to be a small business where you were able to pick your vegetables from the stem before buying them and recall that this very area was the home to recent Carnival Fetes.  Other locations in Chaguaramas have also been used to host fetes including one constituency’s “Bush Party”.

Astonishingly, a geologist is presiding over this destruction of the Chaguaramas Peninsula and that is troubling.  We may say that it is all in the interest of development, but I disagree. There are many instances in other countries where development was done in concert with nature.   We cannot continue destroying the natural beauty with which this country has been blessed.

They tell me that Chaguaramas has some of the most arable agricultural lands in the country and I believe them because of what I have experienced.  I have seen Howler monkeys swinging in the trees, butterflies flitting amongst the shrubs, parrots screeching atop bamboo clumps and the morning mist blanketing the golf course.  These experiences are precious and available freely to any citizen but they will disappear if we continue to abuse nature in the way that we are doing. Indeed, the monkeys are not as plentiful and the fauna and flora not as rich as when I first started exercising in Chaguaramas.

We have a collective responsibility to ensure that our employees (the politicians) act in our collective interest and in this case, it means that they must declare and protect Chaguaramas as a National Park.  It means stopping the continued destruction of the hills at O2, discontinuing the annual Carnival Fetes and Jouvert Parties which chase away all animal life and ensuring that the status of Chaguaramas as a National Park is attained.

Who would have thought that a Geologist would do otherwise?