~ Cooperation, funding, higher education law needed ~
POND ISLAND--University of St. Martin (USM) is hoping to embark on a major phased- expansion of its facilities later this year, which is estimated to cost approximately US $8 million combined.
PHILIPSBURG--The Compliance Team of the Tax Administration on August 21 began going door to door visiting businesses.
That University of St. Martin (USM) is planning a US $8 million expansion (see related story) will no doubt be welcomed in academic circles. After a somewhat difficult beginning the island’s highest institution of learning over the years has cemented its place in society.
This news comes after the recent announcement of a new law course there too. Financing for the latter has already been secured, according to Minister Richard Gibson, so it is not supposed to become an additional burden to the university.
Also in today’s paper is the signing of an agreement in principle between USM’s School of Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning (SCELL) and St. Maarten Service Training Academy (SSTA) to execute an accredited Customer First Online Training Programme. This is likely to be appreciated by the business community in a tourism destination where quality service is paramount.
Regarding the expansion, the idea is to embark on fundraising activities to make the first phase with a price tag of between US $2 million and $2.5 million possible hopefully still this year. The second phase is estimated at $4 million.
While these intentions are certainly admirable, one can’t help but wonder how realistic it is to expect such considerable amounts from the private sector. After all, the local economy’s performance hasn’t exactly been stellar of late and the low season is far from over.
Nevertheless, those involved deserve credit for taking up the challenge to make the Dutch side’s university what it can and really ought to be. It’s true as well that a modernised, upgraded facility could attract more students, which would, of course, increase revenues to help pay for it.
So, while the initiative should indeed be backed by the entire community, a word of caution is in order. Before starting any construction, make sure the money for at least that part is already in the bank.
This newspaper is not in the habit of arguing that Dutch Second Chamber members should not get involved in matters pertaining to the three Dutch Caribbean countries. While it’s true that the bulk of their voters are in the Netherlands, with no kingdom parliament they are the ones de facto controlling the Kingdom Council of Ministers.
Although Aruba, St. Maarten and Curaçao have an autonomous status they are bound by the charter that makes defence, foreign policy and judicial security kingdom affairs, along with guaranteeing basic rights for all Dutch subjects, including those on the islands. Financial supervision was added in recent years and for the latter two also Plans of Approach regarding law enforcement.
All this made it increasingly important to have parliamentarians in The Hague, regardless of their support base, supervise what is decided there on a day-to-day basis in relation to the former colonies. They may not always do so to the liking of islanders, but it’s certainly better than nothing.
Regarding Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (the BES islands) the Dutch legislature is even directly responsible, because these territories became an integral part of the Netherlands as extraordinary public entities per 10-10-10. The most recent questions about National Representative Gilbert Isabella (see related story) are therefore nothing out of the ordinary.
However, it seems a bit childish to put departing Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk on the spot over the term for which Isabella had been appointed, especially since Plasterk’s PvdA party is not part of the current process to form a new Dutch Cabinet. Apparently the Minister had indicated the appointment would be for only three instead of the six years mentioned in the WolBES Law and this turned out not to be the case.
With all that’s been going in what now is known as the Caribbean Netherlands and particularly in Statia, the topic appears to be a bit of a non-issue. The elected representatives also had to be aware of the legal term and without changes to the legislation concerned that obviously needs to be respected.
Sure, Plasterk may not have kept his promise, but it’s hardly the end of the world. If Isabella did something terribly wrong one could perhaps understand the problem, but no such mention was made.
KINGSTON, Jamaica--A smooth start to the new school year in Jamaica is in doubt as the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) snubs Government’s latest wage offer.
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL
For the North Atlantic...Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico:
1. Satellite images, reconnaissance data and surface observations indicate that the remnants of Harvey are close to redeveloping into a tropical depression over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico about 150 miles west of Merida, Mexico. Advisories will likely be re-initiated at 10 am CDT on this system. The low is forecast to move to the northwest at about 10 mph across the western Gulf of Mexico, possibly reaching the northwestern Gulf coast late Friday.
This system is likely to slow down once it reaches the coast, increasing the threat of a prolonged period of heavy rainfall and flooding across portions of Texas and Louisiana into early next week. Harvey could also produce storm surge and tropical storm or hurricane force winds along portions of the Texas coast later this week, and Tropical Storm or Hurricane Watches could be required later today for portions of the coast of northeastern Mexico, Texas, and southwestern Louisiana.
Interests in these areas should monitor the progress of this system and refer to products issued by your local National Weather Service office for more information.
* Formation chance through 48 hours...high...near 100 percent.
* Formation chance through 5 days...high...near 100 percent.
2. An area of disorganized showers and thunderstorms stretching across the Bahamas, southern Florida, and the adjacent waters is associated with a trough of low pressure. Any development of this system during the next few days should be slow to occur while it drifts northward over Florida and the adjacent waters. Environmental conditions could become a little more conducive for tropical or subtropical development over the weekend when the system begins to move northeastward over the western Atlantic.
Regardless of development, very heavy rain and flooding is possible over portions of the Florida peninsula during the next few days. Please refer to products from your local National Weather Service office for more information on this system.
* Formation chance through 48 hours...low...10 percent.
* Formation chance through 5 days...low...30 percent.
SINGAPORE--Researchers who warned half a dozen robot manufacturers in January about nearly 50 vulnerabilities in their home, business and industrial robots, say only a few of the problems have been addressed.
PARIS--Paris is on track to welcome more tourists this year than ever before after a bumper first half, a senior official said, though some would-be visitors might think again after the Barcelona attack.
COPENHAGEN--Police on Wednesday identified a headless female torso washed ashore in Copenhagen as that of Swedish reporter Kim Wall, who they believe was killed by a Danish inventor on board his home-made submarine.
WASHINGTON--Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says in her new book that Donald Trump made her skin crawl by stalking her around the stage in a campaign debate and she wonders if she should have told him to "back up, you creep."
WASHINGTON/TOKYO--The U.S. Navy on Wednesday said it had removed Seventh Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin after a series of collisions involving its warships in Asia as the search goes on for 10 sailors missing since the latest mishap.
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL AL092017
1000 AM CDT Wed Aug 23 2017
...HARVEY REGENERATES INTO A TROPICAL DEPRESSION...
...HURRICANE AND STORM SURGE WATCHES ISSUED FOR PORTIONS OF THE TEXAS COAST...
SUMMARY OF 1000 AM CDT...1500 UTC...INFORMATION
ABOUT 535 MI...860 KM SSE OF PORT OCONNOR TEXAS
ABOUT 470 MI...755 KM SE OF PORT MANSFIELD TEXAS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...35 MPH...55 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NW OR 310 DEGREES AT 9 MPH...15 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1006 MB...29.71 INCHES
WATCHES AND WARNINGS
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY:
A Storm Surge Watch has been issued for the coast of Texas from Port Mansfield to High Island.
A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the coast of Texas from north of Port Mansfield to San Luis Pass.
A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the coast of Texas from the Mouth of the Rio Grande to Port Mansfield and from north of San Luis Pass to High Island.
The government of Mexico has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for the coast of Mexico from Boca De Catan to the Mouth of the Rio Grande.
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:
A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for...
* Port Mansfield to High Island
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for...
* North of Port Mansfield to San Luis Pass
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for...
* Boca De Catan Mexico to Port Mansfield Texas
* North of San Luis Pass to High Island
A Storm Surge Watch means there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, in the indicated locations during the next 48 hours.
For a depiction of areas at risk, please see the National Weather Service Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic, available at hurricanes.gov.
A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.
A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.
Interests in southwestern Louisiana should monitor the progress of this system for possible watches this afternoon.
For storm information specific to your area in the United States, including possible inland watches and warnings, please monitor products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast office. For storm information specific to your area outside the United States, please monitor products issued by your national meteorological service.
DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
At 1000 AM CDT (1500 UTC), the center of Tropical Depression Harvey was located near latitude 21.5 North, longitude 92.5 West. The depression is moving toward the northwest near 9 mph (15 km/h) and a track toward the northwest or north-northwest is expected for the next 48 hours. On the forecast track, Harvey should be approaching the Texas coast late Friday.
Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph (55 km/h) with higher gusts. Some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Harvey could become a hurricane on Friday.
An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft recently reported a minimum central pressure of 1006 mb (29.71 inches).
HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
RAINFALL: Harvey is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 10 to 15 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches over the middle and upper Texas coast and southwest Louisiana through next Tuesday, with heavy rainfall beginning as early as Friday morning.
Harvey is also expected to produce total rain accumulations of 3 to 9 inches in portions of south, central, and northeast Texas and the rest of the lower Mississippi Valley. Rainfall from Harvey could cause life-threatening flooding.
STORM SURGE: The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water is expected to reach the following heights above ground if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide...
Port Mansfield to High Island...4 to 6 ft
The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast near and to the northeast of the landfall location, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances.
For information specific to your area, please see products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast office.
WIND: Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch
area by late Friday, with tropical storm conditions possible by
SURF: Swells generated by Harvey are likely to affect the Texas, Louisiana, and northeast Mexico coasts by Friday. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
BRASILIA/CARACAS--Dismissed Venezuelan prosecutor Luisa Ortega said on Wednesday she had evidence that President Nicolas Maduro was involved in corruption with construction company Odebrecht.
PENEDO, Brazil--Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva told Reuters on Wednesday that his recent conviction for corruption might mean that his Workers Party will have to field a candidate other than him in next year's election.
LAS VEGAS, Nevada- - Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr. declared a truce on Wednesday after weeks of vicious verbal attacks, offering praise instead of profanities at the final press conference ahead of their much anticipated fight.
ZURICH- - Liverpool scored three goals in 12 dramatic first-half minutes, two of them from Emre Can, on their way to a hugely entertaining 4-2 win over Hoffenheim which took them back to the Champions League group stage after a two-season absence on Wednesday.
In last week’s Letter to the Editor, I wrote concerning the importance of evaluating our representatives in Parliament on a yearly basis and not waiting until election time. I also mentioned that SMCP is busy developing a Parliamentarian report card that will indicate how well or how poorly our MPs are doing in the following six areas: attendance, participation, representation, supervision, legislation and interaction.
Furthermore, I explained the reason for and nature of the report card and presented an extensive description of the first benchmark, namely attendance. Here, I will expound on the following benchmarks: participation, representation and supervision.
Participation is one of the benchmarks that is very obvious. We can see and hear when an MP is taking part in meetings in the standing committees as well as in the central committee and the plenary sessions of Parliament. An MP is expected to participate by questioning, commenting, offering suggestions and proposals, voicing his/her opinion, presenting and defending motions, critiquing presentations of colleague MPs and by voting and motivating his/her vote.
The public expects an MP to make valuable and meaningful contributions in all of these meetings. Yet we all know MPs who speak but say nothing, who do not address the topic at hand but beat around the bush. We also know MPs who do not read or study the documentation, which becomes obvious in their superficial and unsubstantiated contributions.
Representation: our constitution in article 44 states that Members of Parliament are elected to represent the entire population of St. Maarten. In other words, an MP does not only represent his/her voters, a particular social or economic group or even his/her party. For this reason, the constitution stipulates in article 61 that Members of Parliament are “not bound by a mandate or instructions” but are free to vote according to their conscience.
A good example of this is, when Dr. Lloyd Richardson, a member of the UPP fraction, remained in Parliament and voted in favour of the NA/DP/USP 2016 budget. Sadly, just before the voting the rest of the UPP fraction walked out of the meeting but Dr. Richardson had placed the people’s interest above party politics!
Representing the people also means defending the people’s cause and bringing their concerns to the floor of Parliament and presenting these to Government while demanding answers and solutions. For example, the people had and still have great concerns regarding the Pearl of China Project, the dump, the prison, GEBE, the new hospital, etc., yet Parliamentarians have not seen the need to bring these issues to the floor of Parliament.
Another area related to representation is attending meetings abroad and not reporting back to the people. When it comes to representing the people, MPs, if they are not sick, should attend all meetings of Parliament. Sadly, in the past, numerous meetings have had to be cancelled due to a lack of quorum. Parliamentarians who decide to stay away from meetings for political or unsubstantiated reasons are actually not doing the job that they are being paid to do.
In addition, it should never be that a Parliamentarian or a Parliamentary fraction blatantly refuses to represent the people, as the UPP fraction did when it refused to represent the people at the IPKO meetings in the Netherlands last June. If something like this happened in the private sector that representative would be fired on the spot but in Parliament and St. Maarten this type of behaviour is accepted and rewarded with yet another four years in Parliament.
To supervise means to control, oversee, monitor, inspect, be responsible for, and to have the oversight and direction of. Supervision is one of the key functions of Parliament and of each Parliamentarian, yet it is the one function that Parliament pays the least attention to. How much oversight of Government is being carried out by our Parliamentarians? One of the reasons the oversight function is compromised is because Parliamentarians who belong to the coalition, consider the Government “their Government” and often a Parliamentarian refers to a Minister as “my Minister.”
Unfortunately, this mind-set is a direct result of Parliamentary democracy where our Ministers are appointed by Parliament. The best way to guarantee a true separation of powers is to have the people elect the Ministers or at least the Prime Minister and then let him/her select the members of the cabinet. In this way, a Parliamentarian would be more objective in the execution of his/her supervisory function.
The constitution gives Parliament many instruments by which it can carry out its oversight functions. A Parliamentarian can question a Minister verbally as well as in written form. Parliament also has the right to give Ministers instructions via motions. Furthermore, the right of interpellation and inquiry or the right to approve or amend the budget are very serious instruments at Parliament’s disposal.
Besides, through the annual reports of the High Councils of State, Parliament obtains insight as to how Government is functioning as well as advice about how to mitigate and correct situations in Government. But what does Parliament do with these reports? Absolutely nothing! Our Parliamentarians need to take the supervisory aspect of their function much more seriously!
Leader of the St. Maarten Christian Party
My wife never turns off the lights in our house, especially at night. She says it’s a nuisance turning them off and on again all the time and besides it wears them out faster. I say it runs up the electric bill and gets too expensive.
Queenie, what do you say?—Lights On, Lights Off
I say there is merit to both sides of this argument, plus a couple of factors you have not mentioned.
True, fluorescent lights wear out faster the more often they are turned on and off, while incandescent bulbs wear out faster the longer they are left on. Add to that the fact that incandescent bulbs use more electricity than fluorescent bulbs of the same wattage. So “on” or “off” would seem to be determined by what kind of bulbs you are using.
However, you might want to consider that a dark house indicates that either there is nobody home or everybody is sound asleep – a possible invitation to potential burglars. So it might be a good idea to leave at least a few lights on here and there as a deterrent – and to help your (nosy) neighbours see anyone trying to enter your home uninvited so they (hopefully) can call the police. You might even want to set up a few lights on timers to confuse said potential intruders.