In The Spotlight
First let me thank Algemeen Pensioenfonds St. Maarten (APS – General Pension Fund St. Maarten) for putting together an informative pension seminar on May 19, 2017 with the theme “Your Future is Our Day to Day.”
The conference was opened by Ms. Rachael Geerlings followed by opening remarks by the Honorable Minister of Finance Mr. Richard Gibson Sr. Mr. Gibson opening speech gave a bleak picture of trillions of underfunded pension obligations in various states in America. He referred to an article in the Financial Times with the headlines “US faces crisis as pension funding hole hits $3.85 trillion”.
The article mentions that for Chicago it has been estimated that they are underfunded as far as pension liabilities are concerned with an amount that equals 19 years of the total tax revenues Chicago expects to receive. Mr. Gibson went on to say that this is a looming crisis that not only Chicago is facing, but it is a looming pension problem that keeps increasing.
Last week Wednesday, the Central Committee of Parliament, once again, invited the Independence for St. Martin Foundation (ISMF) to give a presentation regarding holding a referendum to determine whether the people of St. Maarten desire to become independent or not. This is the fourth time that the ISMF was in Parliament presenting its case. The first presentation was held in March 2016. Hereafter, the Central Committee reconvened, in September 2016, to give the ISMF the opportunity to answer questions that the MPs had posed in the first round in March. The Chairlady of the Central Committee then advised ISMF to submit a petition, requesting Parliament to convene a consultative referendum at the earliest possible date. In January 2017, the ISMF submitted said petition which was debated in March 2017 during a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee of Petitions. After deliberating whether the petition met the necessary criteria, the Committee of Petitions eventually decided to send the petition to the Central Committee of Parliament for further handling.
In her role as Chairperson of the Central Committee and as a member of the Committee of Petitions, MP Sarah Wescot-Williams, made it very clear that to be able to convene a referendum, Parliament must approve a national ordinance regulating referenda. She mentioned that, there are only two ways by which such a national ordinance can be presented to Parliament. Either, it is initiated by one or more Members of Parliament, or it is proposed by government to Parliament.
Prior to last week’s meeting with the ISMF, Members of Parliament had three occasions to deliberate the matter of holding a referendum. Hence, one would have expected that, when the Central Committee met last Wednesday, Members of Parliament would have been able to discuss and deliberate strategically on the way forward as far as holding a referendum is concerned. After all, the Central Committee should be the body that gathers pertinent information and then submits its recommendations to Parliament, so that the necessary preparations can be made for a public meeting of Parliament where binding decisions are taken.
The ISMF’s petition was simply requesting Parliament to hold a consultative referendum within this term of office, thus, no later than 2020. However, instead of dealing with the topic at hand, our honourable MPs, once again, felt the need to deviate from the subject and to grandstand and give lip service to the topic of independence.
They should have known by now, that, for a referendum to be convened, the first thing that must happen is the drafting of a national ordinance. The draft then will need to be reviewed by the Council of Advice before it can be presented to Parliament for approval. The only way for the draft national ordinance to get to Parliament is if the government prepares such a draft, or if one or more parliamentarians take the responsibility to have the ordinance drafted.
In the Central Committee, members of parliament are expected not only to grandstand and to give lip service but also to ask pertinent and critical questions. Questions such as: will Parliament initiate the draft ordinance or will Parliament pass a motion charging the government with the drafting of the national ordinance? What about an awareness-campaign to enlighten the people about the pros and cons and what independence would mean for St. Maarten, so that they can make an informed and intelligent choice? How much will such a campaign cost? How much will the referendum cost? Is their money on the 2017 budget to cover the cost of the awareness campaign? Will Parliament allocate money on the upcoming budgets for the campaign and for the referendum? Do we need a referendum steering committee? What role will the ISMF play in the preparations leading up to the referendum? What is the target date for the referendum? What is the anticipated trajectory leading up to the referendum?
These are the issues, questions and concerns that I expected our parliamentarians to discuss during this meeting with the ISMF. Instead, Members of Parliament strayed from the topic of the referendum and repeated what they had already said about independence. Only MP Rodolphe Samuel came close to raising the critical questions.
Are our Members of Parliament serious about holding a referendum or about St. Maarten becoming an independent country? I do not think so for the following reasons: The first meeting between the Central Committee of Parliament and the ISMF was held in March 2016 yet the parties of the MPs, who now boast about being long-time ardent advocates and supporters of independence, did not include the topics of referendum or independence in their 2016 manifestos. The very comprehensive 2016-2020 governing programme “Stability for Prosperity” of the current Red, White and Blue coalition is also totally silent on the issues of referendum and independence.
During the 2017 budget debate, not one Member of Parliament requested that funds be allocated towards a referendum awareness-campaign or a nation-building campaign or for the planning and organizing of a referendum. Furthermore, during the meetings in the Central Committee with the ISMF not one MP volunteered to accept the responsibility to initiate the required draft national ordinance that would lead to parliament eventually approving the convening of a referendum. Consequently, SMCP concludes that Parliament is not really serious about Sint Maarten convening a referendum or becoming an independent country in the near future.
Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party
My wife and I worked hard for many years and limited our spending so we could save up for retirement. Now we are out of debt, our house is paid for and we can afford some luxuries that we couldn’t up to now, but some of our friends are accusing us of showing off and bragging when we talk about what we have been doing.
Queenie, are they right or are they just jealous of us?—Living it up
Maybe a little of both. Try not talking about your new extravagances unless your friends bring up the subject.
A guy I work with is having an affair with a married woman we both work with. This makes things very uncomfortable around the workplace because of the way they behave with each other.
Queenie, should I say something to one of them, or to our boss, or should I tell his wife or her husband?—Disgusted colleague
If everyone else in the workplace knows, your boss probably does too and if it is affecting everyone’s work performance it is up to him to speak to the two adulterers about that aspect of their behaviour.
As for the wife and husband, one or both of them may already know. MYOB!
The Final act of a Pan man
Playing a last tune on his pan
Caressing his pan
With tender loving hand
Ringing out pan melody
His heart heavy
Playing his heart out
For his mother funeral
That this was his farewell
The last time his hand
Will caress this guitar pan
Just before taking time
Out from the pan
Saying goodbye to his
Guitar pan that he love
To follow his mother
The one that he love even more
Than any other
Caressing his pan
For the very last time
With tender loving hand
Telling his pan softly goodbye
To join his loving mother
In the sky
Goodbye to our Pan Man
Goodbye to our Music Man
Goodbye to a cultural Icon
Goodbye to Neville Chester York
"Here I stand; I can do no other,” is the side script on a red pair of “All Star” knock-offs. It is Luther Year in Germany and everything sells. A candy shop has a special a grand selection of Praline in a deluxe box in shape of a Gutenberg-Luther Bible. Tetzel’s money boxes play a song when souls are released from Purgatory and jump into heaven.
Transparent umbrellas with built-in speakers will provide you with a divine “voice” from above when you go through a storm. And a replica book press à la 1600 is geared up to provide you with your favourite Biblical text. Ah, what would the world be without magic and marketing!
Hardly two weeks ago and 500 years after Luther unchained the Reformation, the Pope canonized three shepherd children in Portugal, who 100 years ago were jailed and threatened with being boiled alive in olive oil when they claimed the Virgin Mary appeared to them. The Fatima children’s reported visions would go on to strengthen the faith of Portugal's persecuted Catholics and make the small farming town of Fatima one of the world's foremost pilgrimage sites, with around 6 million visitors a year. It is one of the best “money bags” of the Church and Luther’s Reformation seems to have had no effect in Portugal.
As long as people are into magical thinking, they will throw their money and support at anything to satisfy their hocus-pocus fancy. Harry Potter, only a hardly disguised resurrection story, became a world success and spooks in all young minds of today.
President Trump, with his Papal Corporate Culture of grand fanfare and who rejects humanism, takes the world for an Abrahamic religious tour along centres of magic, from Mecca, or nearly, to Jerusalem and Rome. His ecumenical religious magic and the Fake News that it produces is not likely to have much success.
Magic is very competitive as any Potter child knows and the problem in the Middle East is not one of religion but one of inequality and horrible poverty. While Princes live in magnificent splendour, the man in the street dies from malnutrition and maltreatment.
ISIS and Al Qaeda had easy recruiting amongst millions of illiterates, not because of religion, but because of poverty. And once again in history, the USA is found on the side of the usurper, not on the side of the suffering masses.
The collective allied power of the new Trump coalition will simply wipe them off the face of the earth, like nasty flies. And the masses will cheer the Trumpists on, like many fascists and magicians before him.
Luther’s Reformation failed miserably.
By Jacob Gelt Dekker
It should feel good to know that also in St. Maarten there is support for the plight of the people of Statia in their battle with big bad Holland. It is, however, unfortunate to read that the arguments that are used are rather inaccurate. This is most likely results from the lack of knowledge of the exact circumstances. In a letter to the editor, Mr. Elton Jones mentioned that in anticipation of the evaluation the Dutch pre-emptively tried to have the islands absorbed into their constitution as so-called Kingdom Islands.
I am one of many concerned parents that have a lot of questions since the two letters were given out by the schoolboard of Saba Comprehensive School last month. The seriousness of these letters is quite alarming. It makes me really wonder how the school got into this financial mess in the first place.
Now we are losing good teachers, some teachers have been here for years. One teacher has been here for 12 years. If all our Caribbean teachers have to go and we have the CXC system, the schoolboard can't expect to bring in Dutch teachers from Holland to teach CXC. They don't know the system and English can be a barrier. What will happen to those children in Form 5 for example? They are the ones that will be in the examination class.
If the classes are to be less, I am sure the quality of education will drop, despite what the schoolboard is claiming. I have spoken to different educational professionals, and they are very worried themselves about the direction our secondary education is heading.
There needs to be more stability in the school. Starting with a schoolboard that represents parents, teachers and children, not a schoolboard that is handpicked by the government. There needs to be at least 5 schoolboard members, not only 3 that they have now. There needs to be elections for a schoolboard in my opinion.
The school belongs to all of us, not only a selected few. The teachers in the school have tried their utmost best with all our children. It is not an easy job, but I say thank you for all you do. It is much appreciated!
I have been up there by the school so many of times, and you can feel it is not a happy environment. What changed? What went wrong? Who will take responsibility for all the issues the school is facing? Schoolboard, Principal, Island Government, Dutch Government, who? The parents waited long enough for the schoolboard (SEF) to arrange a meeting, so we had to take it upon ourselves to do it.
There was an urgent letter/notice, signed by 50 parents/guardians, requesting the schoolboard to attend a public meeting to discuss serious issues that are facing/affecting Saba Comprehensive School.
Due to the fact that these issues are very important and crucial, with the time also drawing near for the school to go on summer break, we need to know what is going on.
Even though this meeting is last-minute, we hope that all stakeholders will attend this very important meeting to receive the clarification that is badly needed.
A concerned parent
There’s this guy I really like. He’s good-looking and friendly and smart and everyone likes him. My problem is that he’s shorter than I am and I would feel funny going out with him and having people staring at us. And the idea of leaning down to kiss him instead of reaching up kind of freaks me out.
Queenie, am I being too picky?—Tall girl
Dear Tall girl,
I think you are. What is more important to you – how a man looks or how he treats you? Think carefully before you answer.
I was reading chapter 78 of the Book of Psalms, and immediately my mind started to race. My mind passed on someone whom I respect for their insight in life, who once told me that I should tackle the social behaviour of the community once in while in my letters to you. I also thought of Proverbs 22:6, and came to the conclusion that if same-sex behaviour has to be accepted, then put back the bible in the schools.
I believe the same argument that is used to accept same-sex behaviour (LGBT) is the same argument that can be used to oblige atheists to accept the billions of us who believe in God, and what is written in the Bible long before all of us who are currently alive, were born.
Even if I do not want to see people's openly homosexual behaviour and desire for the same sex, I am obliged to accept it, so they too have to accept my way of acquiring my desire for the knowledge of God. They even demand related rights and claim that those desires are legitimate. My desire for God is also legitimate.
If we want to compare who has the more logical argument, just look at the anatomy of man and woman and then compare it to what is written in the Bible and what everybody has experienced during his or her lifetime. It is all there in the Bible. Two women or two men cannot produce a child; it takes a man and a woman to do that, so that the same-sex couple can adopt that which was produced by the normal coming together of a man and a woman. Genesis 1:28.
Many believe they were born that way, billions more believe and live in accordance with that which is written in the Bible. Put back the bible in the schools. If one thinks that I am against LGBT, let me put it this way. Just check who is fighting tooth and nail for the world to accept that which is forbidden in the book that I believe in. Children who are instructed in the ways of the Lord, are less likely to end up in jail. Save the children!
Russell A. Simmons
I’m pregnant and I’m watching my weight carefully because I can’t do much exercising. I look really huge, but my doctor says that’s because I’m so short and that really I’m doing just fine.
The thing is, people, including especially my mother-in-law, are always telling me I’m getting too big and how I must be eating too much.
Queenie, what’s a polite way to respond to such comments?—Pregnant, not fat
Why be polite to people who are rude to you?
Tell the ones who do not know you are pregnant, “I’m not fat, I’m pregnant.” Tell the ones who do know, “My doctor says I’m doing just fine. Would you like his phone number so you can argue with him?”
Pope Benedict XVI had a love for wearing 18krt golden medieval vestments, which weighted so heavy that he required the assistance of two or even four helpers. Followed by a procession of richly adorned Cardinals, the Princes of the Church all with biretta and golden rings as signs of their royal status, the Pope still puts on the biggest show on Earth. When His Holiness enters the Saint Peter’s Basilica, the richest religious temple in the world filled with endless wealth, he wears the “Triregnum,” a headgear with three crowns, also called the Triple Tiara.
My girlfriend and I have been going together for a couple of years and I have proposed to her but she won’t say “yes.” I think the reason is that she has known some abusive men and is afraid of getting trapped. In fact, she want us to see each other less often.
I get lonely and want to go out for lunch or coffee with other women just to have someone to talk to but she says that’s not okay because we are supposed to be exclusive to each other.
Queenie, am I being unreasonable or is she?—Lonesome lover
Your girlfriend does not seem committed to you, but seems to want you to be committed to her. This does not seem fair to me, but if you want to cater to her feelings, it would be a good idea to forget about other female companionship and stick to going out with only your male friends.
However, if it is marriage you want, you may have to find another prospective mate.
As my working visit to Beijing, China, continues, it is with a deep sense of loss that I received the news of the passing of Joyce Daniel-Romney, a lifelong friend and supporter.
Joyce was a humble, down-to-earth woman with a pleasant personality and an all-conquering contagious smile. She was an unwavering supporter of the SPM, the SPA and National Alliance, lending her strong support to me personally wherever my political career took me. She was a member of the National Alliance District Council in South Reward, helping to turn the district into a stronghold of the party.
But it was not politics that brought us together. Her warm character and tell-it-like-it-is attitude was endearing to all those who were privileged to have known her.
At times like this, words are never enough to express how we feel. That is because, when a friend or a loved one passes on, something in us goes with them. But as an unknown author said, “True friends are the ones who never leave your heart, even if they leave your life for a while...and even if they die they're never dead in your heart.”
Joyce was a true friend who will certainly never die in my heart.
On behalf of the National Alliance family and mine, I wish to extend sincere condolences to her husband, children and grandchildren as well as to her brothers and sisters and all the loved ones she left behind.
May her soul rest in perfect peace.
Prime Minister William Marlin
I’ve been dating an amazing man and am falling in love with him and he seems to like being with me, but he doesn’t seem interested in having sex with me. One time I even suggested it myself but he made some excuse about not being ready for that yet.
Queenie, should I stick with him until he is ready?—Frustrated
“Until he is ready” probably will be never, or he would have jumped at the chance when you propositioned him. He may be gay, he may be totally asexual, or he may be sexually dysfunctional, but he is not likely to go to bed with you any time soon, if ever – read “never.”
If you are willing to do without sex, stick with him. Otherwise, do both of you a favour – let him go and start looking for a man who shares your yearnings.
We are addressing this open request for help to the honourable people of Anguilla during this auspicious time of your 50th Anniversary (May 30) of the Anguilla Revolution. Firstly, we would like to congratulate you on your continued stability as a nation and wish everyone God’s blessings.
For the record, we the citizens of the Caribbean who have registered businesses, personal or business bank accounts in Anguilla over the past 10 years have had funds deposited in our bank accounts prior to March 24, 2016 confiscated.
The National Bank of Anguilla (NBA) (Private Banking & Trust Ltd. (PB&T)) was regulated by the Anguilla Financial Services Commission and not the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB). Both of these institutions acted improperly and they facilitated the removal of the Depositors funds from the PB&T.
The transgression took place under the nose of the Government of Anguilla, United Kingdom Government, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other Offices of the Government since they are all alleged to have been part and parcel of the decision making process that has led to this mistreatment of honest, hard-working Caribbean citizens and Anguilla nationals.
My Anguillian comrades, we are being taken unfair advantage of, and we need your support to ensure good judgement and honesty prevails to ensure the return of Depositors rightfully owned assets and the full guarantee of all Customer deposits.
Our rights have been violated and our assets were taken unjustly and we are all the victims of naked discrimination against foreigners and nationals.
Furthermore, no provision has been made for prompt, adequate and effective compensation as required by International Law.
There are numerous Anguilla registered companies and their shareholders that have been affected. One of the prime examples is a company called SATAY Limited which was incorporated since 2005 in Anguilla. SATAY Limited is a fully registered business with a CBTC Licence granted by the Ministry of Finance and existing under the laws of Anguilla to conduct business on the Island of Anguilla.
SATAY Limited has two local Directors on its board and this entity indirectly provided employment to seven Anguilla nationals through its business related alliance with Counsel Limited, a locally owned accounting firm.
Counsel Limited provides support to 11 other real Caribbean-based trading companies such as SATAY Limited. We (Depositors) are all residents in the Caribbean and engage in active business.
The shareholders of SATAY Limited originally chose to conduct business in Anguilla due to the ease of which transactions could be facilitated through the professionalism, dedication and prompt service they received from the Anguilla staff working at the NBA and Counsel Limited.
Secondly, we would like to present some background information so that everyone understands what has occurred in your banking sector and the present terrible financial situation. Until recently there were in Anguilla only two “domestic” banks, i.e. banks owned by Anguillian shareholders and not affiliated with any foreign bank, to wit, the NBA, and the Caribbean Commercial Bank (CCB). Both the NBA and the CCB had subsidiaries which were licensed to accept deposits from persons who were not citizens of Anguilla (the “Offshore Banks”).
Neither parent bank (the “Onshore Banks”), nor any other bank operating in Anguilla, was licensed to accept deposits from persons who were not citizens, or from companies beneficially owned by persons who were not citizens of Anguilla.
However, because the beneficial owner of SATAY Limited and the owners of the other 11 Caribbean based trading companies, are not Anguillan “belongers,” SATAY Limited’s operating bank account and the other 11 companies was for some reason opened in one of the two Offshore Banks, the NBA (Private Banking & Trust) Ltd.
From inception the NBA PB&T, in spite of being a separate legal entity, was operated by its parent, the NBA, as if it were no more than an internal department, and a cash cow, of the parent. PB&T sent deposited funds to the NBA which treated them as its own, using them as it saw fit. The Directors, Officers and management of the PB&T were oblivious to their fiduciary duty to protect the PB&T’s accountholders, even after the liquidity problems of the NBA became, or should have become, apparent to them.
On or about August 12, 2013, to protect the position of the Onshore Banks’ depositors, and without reference to the Offshore Bank’s depositors, both Onshore Banks were placed into Conservatorship, subject to the control of the ECCB.
The PB&T was not in Conservatorship, but, from the time of the appointment of the NBA’s Conservator, being that PB&T was a subsidiary of the NBA, the Conservator of the NBA was the de facto operating manager of the PB&T.
Consequently, the highly improper practices established during NBA’s pre-Conservatorship management of PB&T were adopted and continued during the Conservatorship to the ultimate detriment of the PB&T and its depositors. That the Conservator, like the NBA/PB&T managers he succeeded, might have a conflict of interest, and conflicting fiduciary duties to the two banks, appears to have been intentionally ignored by all concerned, including the ECCB, their appointed Conservator, and the directors, officers and managers of both the Onshore Bank and the Offshore Bank.
The ECCB and the Anguilla Financial Services Commission must be held accountable for the mismanagement of all local and Caribbean Depositors accounts as they willingly accepted deposits and allowed withdrawals from SATAY Limited’s account at the NBA PB&T.
SATAY Limited never received any official notice and was never made aware of the fact that the NBA was placed into Conservatorship on August 12, 2013 and was subject to the control of a Conservator appointed by the ECCB from that date until April 22, 2016. In any event the Conservator has never placed any restrictions on withdrawals from balances on SATAY Limited’s accounts or any of the other business accounts at the NBA.
Thirdly, SATAY Limited was operating as an active legitimate business with a bank account that was fully functional from 2005 up to April 2016.
No solutions or viable alternatives are being offered to SATAY Limited or any of the Caribbean based Depositors and their businesses at this time. We have no access to our bank accounts and irreparable harm is being done to our businesses and livelihoods.
Since appointment, the ECCB as Conservators of the Onshore Banks worked on a plan to restructure them (the “Resolution Plan”). That plan was implemented on April 25, 2016 with the merger of the two privately owned Onshore Banks into a new entity, the National Commercial Bank of Anguilla (NCBA), wholly owned by the Government of Anguilla.
The Offshore Banks had no part in the merger. All the assets of the Onshore Banks were acquired by the NCBA, but only some of their liabilities were assumed. Among the assets acquired are the PB&T’s depositors’ funds in the custody of the NBA. Among the liabilities not assumed is the obligation to pay to the PB&T or to the depositors of the PB&T any funds deposited prior to 24 March 2016.
The ECCB and one of its appointed Conservators (who is now the CEO of NCBA), the Receiver of the NBA (a former senior employee of the NBA), in collusion with the Government of Anguilla, sought to protect only its domestic depositors, and to do so at the expense of its Caribbean-based and other foreign depositors, instead of taking meaningful steps to correct the mismanagement of the assets of the Onshore Banks which led to their collapse in the first place.
The only way for Anguilla to exist with stability and integrity within the global financial system and region is by ensuring due diligence prevails and the money that was wrongly taken from the PB&T bank accounts and local registered companies is immediately returned to the Depositors.
Failing this, Anguilla will lose all credibility and stability in the international banking sector and we will all be going down a long road to financial loss through lengthy litigation processes.
The news of the Anguilla financial debacle is gaining media coverage globally and many more Anguilla nationals in the indigenous banking and financial services support sectors will lose their jobs as the locally registered Caribbean-based and international businesses will be forced to take their investments elsewhere and bank accounts will never materialise at the newly formed NCBA.
Our fate is in your hands and we implore the good people of Anguilla and local Government to implement appropriate regulation and legislation, judicious licensing, comprehensive monitoring and good governance to ensure the Caribbean based Depositors bank accounts and rightfully owned business assets are returned to us so that we would not lose faith in your system and can continue our good business relationships with Anguilla.
Seventeen years ago I went to Suriname for the first time. One of the things that caught my attention is that there were no very big tour busses. Neither for tours or for the rest of the public transportation. Even though the majority of the roads are twice the width of our roads and as I was explained, Paramaribo, where I stayed, is about four times the size of St. Maarten there were only what we call here Coasters (24 seats). Paramaribo counted approximately 200,000 inhabitants at that time.
On my arrival back on St. Maarten I spoke to people involved in importing motor vehicles in St. Maarten as well as politicians in government, concerning the imminent traffic congestion if the import of motor vehicles which was growing steadily is not stemmed. One of the answers that I got was that there were already discussions concerning traffic congestion, but at that time those involved in the harbour did not think it was necessary to make that a priority.
Later I understood why because as time progressed and seeing the developments I assumed at that time that already plans for more oversized busses were in the making. Because for years now we have had the same people in government, my question is who is to blame for the tight squeeze that we have at the Rhine road in Maho. I have another question though. Are there not daily tight squeezes all over the island? So is it only because Maho is feeling the squeeze now that mention is made of it in the papers?
Brings back thoughts of how the politicians reacted when a restaurant was closed because of hygiene conditions. I am sure you have letters from me concerning traffic congestion. With Public transportation in the hands of the public (government) there will be less traffic congestion. Place bus stops in the essential places. Guarantee public transportation to all points of the country. Better control on the gypsies and I can go on. If we do not control the import of motor vehicles and these, for St. Maarten, oversized tour busses and also if we do not stop the increase in the amount of motor vehicles per car rental, we are going to kill the goose that lay the golden egg.
The time share saga has already put a dent in the industry, and the cruise industry seems to be concentrating on quantity and not quality. The constant increase in numbers of cruise passengers has not done anything for the private sector in proportion to their sales. There is no option for free parking around the airport.
No everything must not be free; but when in years the minimum wage has not correctly been adjusted and everything else cost money and the cost of living is constantly and steadily increasing and the elected government officials are compensated for two years after, if they are re-elected to be able to ease themselves back into where they were before being elected, where is everyone going to get the means of paying for all of these extras which the majority of us cannot avoid, as a consequence of the inadequate governing for so many years?
So do not only deal with what causes the traffic squeezes but also replace the traffic lights at the Bernhard bridge for lights of which parts can be obtained when necessary or change the traffic situation on the spot. It is obvious that the lay of the land would call for moving back and shifting, but that is nothing new for us. The causeway is proof of that.
I almost did not mention that the slower the traffic moves the more gasoline is burned.
Russell A. Simmon
I admit to writing this with some trepidation and the proverbial shaking hands. I read in this newspaper some weeks ago and now confirmed yesterday about the “Asset Seizure Squad” and, if what I read is accurate, it is the scariest thing since the Nazis looted Europe. As I read the article yesterday, it would appear on its face that the Public Prosecutor can, with neither legal probable cause as determined by a judicial review nor any sort of due process, show up at your door, seize your house and belongings and then say “Prove to us (not the courts) just US that this stuff is really yours and that you bought it all with money that we approve of.”
And so would begin the chase. First you get a lawyer with a big retainer and a US $400 per hour rate. Then you start the dance. Because, according to the paper, this is not a judicial procedure and because, ostensibly you are merely a suspect because someone didn’t like your looks yet have been charged with no crime nor have any case to answer, who is the legal authority that says after you have been bankrupted with legal fees, “Ok... we believe you,... here is your house and car back?”
I am a serious law and order guy. I am all for convicting criminals and stripping them of their ill-gotten gains and hanging them up by their toes in the public square. I think the level of “quality of life” crime on this island is out of control and the mini criminals that get off with suspended sentences all the time should all be doing hard time. But having said that, turning the prosecutor’s office into what effectively now becomes a third world gestapo-esque arm of government that can come to your house in the middle of the night with no warrant issued after review by a judge and based on some rules ( not laws ) that are arbitrary and have neither been debated nor approved by the legislature, kick down your door and confiscate your personal property, is insane. In the real world, how hard would it be to do this all in a civilized fashion?
You think Citizen X is a criminal engaged in such activity that will warrant asset forfeiture? Great. Take your Proof ,... not your guesses, innuendos, here say, rumour and gossip.... but your hard Proof and stand in front of a court with real Judges and next to the guy whose stuff you are trying to grab and make your case. Give him a chance to defend himself without having to go thru bankruptcy to do it. Convince the judge that will hold you to an honest legal standard and get a legal court order to grab the stuff. That is what civilized societies do. In the name of all that is moral and right, don’t let those that describe St. Maarten as a “Banana Republic” be proven correct. Be tough on crime but be honest and fair in the way you do it.
My boyfriend is very good to me, but he has very little education and can only get low-salary jobs and now he been out of work for several months. He says he is looking for work, but he always seems to have an excuse for “not today”.
I am going to college and raising our son and I have a fairly good job that pays enough to support us, but it’s a real drag and I don’t see it getting any better any time soon.
Queenie, the only reason I stay with him is because I love him and I don’t think I could make it as a single mother alone.—Worn out
Dear Worn out,
You are a single mother supporting not one child but two – your son and your boyfriend.
Your boyfriend has no real motivation to look for work or to work at getting more education so he could find better jobs. Why should he, when Mommy (you) is willing to take care of him?
Give him an ultimatum: start helping out financially or get out and relieve you of at least part of your burden – and give you a chance to find a man who will give you something more than additional expenses.