My November 07, 2017 letter to PM Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Dr. Rowley

Congratulations on your 26th month as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Recent activities have caused me to reflect deeply on the inappropriate use of the Priority Bus Route (PBR).  (My running group has been training on the PBR.) 

 Here are 4 situations which need urgent attention:

  1. Private citizens have encroached on the road reserve and built buildings, garages, walkways, businesses and in one case an attractive 5 ft hedge.  It means that they are using the PBR to access their homes and businesses. This simply adds to the congestion problem along the east/west corridor. 
  2. There is very little policing on the PBR so drivers use it as their private race track.  (I have witnessed this several times on either Saturday or Sunday mornings from 5:00 am.)
  3. Maxi drivers routinely wait at traffic lights for passengers causing obstruction at intersections.
  4. The arrival of a PTSC bus at any stop is like a suspense movie.  An easy fix would be the development of an “Ap” or installation of signs at the bus stops advising commuters of the arrival of the next bus even if it is in an hour.  This will be of tremendous value to our “over 60” citizens who choose public transportation.

Yours Respectfully

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Communications
Citizen

My October 07, 2017 letter to PM Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Dr. Rowley

October 7th marked two celebrations: your 25th month in office and the seventh edition of TedxPortofSpain.

On our part TEDxPortofSpain has provided a non-partisan platform for ideas worth spreading and we can boast of having 60 talks on line by Trinidadians about Trinidad.  We have had more than one million views to date.  If we are unable to continue staging the annual conference, our legacy would be there in perpetuity.

On the other hand, your legacy after 25 months in office is illusive. I note that the report from the Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB) has been posted on the website of the Ministry of Planning and I know that Officers from the Ministry are on the media talking about vision 2030. Those are commendable efforts however they are no replacement for a clearly articulated vision by the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.  They lack the power of office which only you can add.

In the absence of a clearly articulated vision by you, the population will continue to be uncertain.  I quote the biblical statement, 1st Corinthians, “If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for battle?”

My best wishes for your 26th month in office and I do hope that the tide will turn in your favour and that soon you will provide us with a vision which we could all follow.

Yours Respectfully

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)

MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Communications
Citizen

My June 07, 2017 letter to PM Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Prime Minister,

Congratulations on your 2nd Anniversary as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.  

May I commend your government on the aggressive role being played by the “Joint Select Committee” to investigate the details of the sea bridge fiasco and suggest that your office move as aggressively to demonstrate to citizens your courage to take appropriate action which will arise upon completion of this exercise.  

I am but one citizen but data tells you that I am NOT one voice.  The three things which citizens clamour are Accountability, Collaboration and Transparency.

Yours for our country!
Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Comm
Citizen

My September 20th, 2017 letter to PM

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past
5 years.

Dear Hon. Prime Minister

I refer to your ‘Message on the Occasion of International Women’s Day 2017’ 

(http://www.opm.gov.tt/pms-message-on-the-occasion-of-international-womens-day-2017/ ) in which you said: ‘The Gender and Child Affairs Division of the Office of the Prime Minister remains focused on facilitating gender equity and equality by developing policies that promote the equal advancement of women and men.” 

In light of your statement, I am asking our Government to urgently develop a policy to provide free feminine hygiene products for low income women and girls. 

The City of Aberdeen in Scotland recently made these items free for low income women and girls, with very positive results. You can ask your wife and daughters about the cost of feminine products in our supermarkets and pharmacies .. they are not only expensive, but prohibitively so for many women and girls. Many of our girls miss days of school each month, as they cannot afford these essential products.  

Please live your words, and do something positive for the women and girls of our nation.

Thank you

Yours for our country!

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Comm
Citizen

‘Flatten the curve’ is example of clearly articulated, data driven gov’t policy—more please …

The statement that Trinidadians are undisciplined has never sat comfortably with me.

The statement insinuates that we are unable to carefully control the way we work, live, or behave, especially to achieve our goals. My intuition is that, as a people, we do what the system allows and whatever we can get away with.

Photo: Massy Trinidad All Stars at the 2017 Panorama competition.

Think of our panyards; they are clear examples of communities being goal-oriented, observing strict division of labour, following the instructions of the leader and accepting the consequences. Bands are unlikely to succeed if they break these rules.

Think of Mas Bands and the traditional Carnival Mas Camps. They know the goal, organise to deliver the products and, in the majority of cases, hit the road on time and within budget.

Parallel these thoughts with our excellent handling of Covid-19 and what you see is that the goal was clear. It was to flatten the curve. The consequences were articulated by WHO and most international media houses.

You knew that you could become seriously ill, die or cause the death of your loved one. The context and remedy were communicated—close the borders and stay home.

It is the first time that I have seen our politicians take the advice of the scientists and follow it to the letter.

I hope this marks a new era in our development, an era in which our politicians and leaders will listen and take action based on science and data and not on their gut feelings.

Photo: Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh (left) and CMO Dr Roshan Parasram.

But it is not as simple as following advice; a clear goal must be articulated and this is where we have failed big time over the past 62 years as an independent nation. Vision 2020 was an excellent effort but it fell by the wayside and Vision 2030 is a ‘gambage’—flashy but short on substance.

The ‘blue economy’ as articulated by the former People’s Partnership coalition government, like many other plans which were driven from the top, never really resonated with the population.

For example, if proper information is publicly provided, any citizen should be able to articulate the long term plans for any government project: like ‘flatten the curve’. But at the moment, those plans are not evident and the political rhetoric continues to be vitriolic and accusatory.

We have very little data to drive decision-making. And in this eleventh Parliament, no clear, strategic directions were articulated to ensure that the systems, structures and processes are put in place to strengthen our data-gathering capacity. We are not even sure which institution has the responsibility, and the Central Statistical Office (CSO) is lagging way behind.

Whoever forms the next government must focus on decision-making based on data. Otherwise our country will continue to lag behind on every indicator of development.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago supporters pose for a photograph during a break in Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Worse than that, the already decades-long brain drain will continue, and those of us left to make sense of the continuing chaos will have an almost impossible task.

For us to change the backward direction of our country, citizens have a responsibility to demand that our systems, processes and structures are designed to work in the digital space of the 21st century.

My August 07, 2017 letter to PM Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Prime Minister

I began writing to you in July of 2016 from the perspective of a concerned citizen.  So far I have made suggestions with regard to the following issues:

  1. The absence of a 5-7 year Strategic Plan
  2. The escalating crime situation
  3. The absence of opportunities for recently graduated returning nationals
  4. The Tourism Sector and our efforts at diversification
  5. The need to provide a secondary school for the children of Carenage
  6. The possibility of introducing a “Systems/Design Thinking” project in our schools
  7. The idea of the walkable cities and the positive benefits to be derived
  8. Road congestion
  9. Communications
  10. Making Chaguaramas into a “Bus only” zone
  11. Transportation as a quality of life issue

May I suggest that in your capacity as Minister of Public Utilities with responsibility for T&TEC that you encourage the company to lead the charge of deriving cost savings from the reduced use of electricity by following these steps:

  1. Do an audit of the cost of electricity utilized by various Ministries.
  2. Invest in timing systems to take the lights off for identified periods especially during the night time.
  3. Measure the cost over a period.
  4. Boast about the cost savings and encourage consumers to do the same.

Implemented successfully you will look smart and connect with people on a real level.

Yours for our country!

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Comm
Citizen

My June 07, 2017 letter to PM Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Prime Minister,

In your 21st month in office I wish to continue along the theme of Transportation.

I found the following bits of information on the IDB website where the “IDBG Country Strategy with the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago 2016-2020” is published and have lifted them verbatim for your consideration:

  1. Estimated cost of time lost and fuel spent due to congestion is US$267- 345 million per year.
  2. IDB Analysis of Mass Transit Alternatives in Trinidad and Tobago prepared in 2016 found that the Western corridor is 8km long and it takes as much as 36 minutes to reach POS; on the Eastern Corridor POS to Sangre Grande is 45 km long and could take up to 2 hours to commute; and, on the Southern Corridor POS to San Fernando is 45 km long and could take as much as 2 hours to commute.
  3. The National Climate Change Policy (2011) indicates that carbon dioxide emissions have doubled from 1990 levels of 1,313 Gg to 2,622 Gg in 2006, and highlights that this rising trend correlates with the increase in the number of registered vehicles from 150,000 to 275,000 over the same period.

These 3 facts rang alarm bells in my head and I wonder why despite your full knowledge of this, your government seems to be adopting the business as usual policy to the issue of transportation.  

I once again suggest that you appoint a multi disciplinary committee including urban planners and young change makers to present modern solutions to our transportation issues.  Taking this action will address 3 issues: congestion on the roads, reduction in commute time and vehicular congestion on the roads. 

It will also add some credibility to your campaign trail commentary about “transportation being a quality of life issue”.

Yours for our country!
Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Comm
Citizen

Nov 07, 2016 – Letter to Prime Minister Dr. Rowley.

Dear Prime Minister,

Today is the anniversary of your 14th month at the helm of our country and from all indications there is very little for us to celebrate.

On the campaign trail, you stated that the traffic situation is a quality of life issue which is intolerable.  You further promised a mass transit solution and inspired the population with your rhetoric about what we could do if we did not spend 4 hours on the road.

I am requesting an update on the status of the mass transit plan as you promised.

Yours for our country


Dennise Demming
Citizen

Jan 7, 2017 – Letter to Prime Minister Rowley

Dear Prime Minister,

Best wishes for 2017!

Congratulations on your 16th month as the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

I am taking the time share my views with you because I am not a single voice.  I represent hundreds of citizens who feel that you have neither re-assured us nor advised us of your plans and strategies.

I am hopeful that 2017 will be a year of action however it is necessary for you to communicate directly with us and communicate regularly.  May I suggest a   Monthly conversation with the Prime Minster.  I am specifically suggesting that the conversation take a slightly informal or casual tone and be casted in different locations with different stakeholders at outdoor venues which are historic.  For example, the February conversation could take place in the Grand Stand of the Queen’s Park Savannah and could talk about your dreams and hopes for culture and link those dreams and aspiration to the current economic circumstances.

May I suggest sir that your country needs an inspirational leader and that you have a short window to frame yourself as such.

Yours for our country

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Comm
Citizen

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.