A wake up call for Bermuda says Jahdia Spencer FDM

The Royal Gazette just wrote an eye-opening article Bermuda’s journey towards legalizing casino gambling was laid bare. It’s a narrative that reads more like a political thriller than a government initiative. But this isn’t fiction; it’s the reality of our governance, and it’s high time we, the people of Bermuda, demand better.


The article doesn’t just skim the surface; it dives deep into a cesspool of alleged corruption, unethical behavior, and back-room deals that have tainted both of our major political parties. It’s not the concept of gaming that’s the problem; it’s the glaring lack of good governance displayed by both the OBA and PLP when they’ve held the reins of power.


Consider the allegations: a tech company, MM&I, footing the bill for a Cabinet Minister’s trip to a crime-ridden city in Mexico, raising red flags about conflicts of interest. Or how about MM&I’s relentless lobbying of both OBA and PLP officials to secure an exclusive agreement for their cashless gaming system? This isn’t just business as usual; it’s a blatant attempt to manipulate our democratic process.


The saga gets interesting. We have Mark Pettingill, a former Cabinet member turned MM&I’s legal counsel, still privy to confidential Cabinet emails. This isn’t just a breach of protocol; it’s a mockery of the trust we place in our elected officials. And let’s not forget the accusations hurled by Marc Bean against Premier Cannonier, alleging corruption in the House of Assembly.


But the corruption olympics didn’t end there. The PLP, after rightfully calling out the OBA’s misdeeds, seemed to dive headfirst into the same murky waters. The planned trip by Crockwell (before his untimely death), Pettingill, DeSilva, and Burt to meet gaming operators reeks of the same back-room dealings they once condemned. But there’s more that’s really troubling. The article revealed that Zane DeSilva, a PLP member, just happened to “bump into” Shawn Crockwell, from the OBA, at the Hard Rock resort. Now, this wasn’t just a surprise meeting like you’d have with an old friend at the grocery store. No, this shows something much worse.

It proves that members from both main parties – the PLP and the OBA – were actually working together. But they weren’t teaming up to make Bermuda better.

The problem of corruption is now reaching the highest levels of our government. Mark Pettingill, was later made a Supreme Court Judge by the Governor. This is a big deal because it shows that corruption can even touch parts of our government that are supposed to be above politics.

Think about it: a man who was accused of using his political job for personal gain is now a judge. It’s like putting someone who was caught cheating in charge of making sure games are fair. This isn’t just surprising; it’s really worrying. It suggests that corruption can reach all the way up to places that are supposed to be our last defense against bad behavior in politics.


This isn’t an isolated incident. It’s symptomatic of a broader problem: a political culture that allows, and sometimes even encourages, such behavior. The casino debacle is just the tip of the iceberg in a sea of underhanded deals that have become all too common.


What does good governance look like? It looks like transparency, accountability, and a commitment to the public good above personal or party interests. It’s what the Free Democratic Movement (FDM) promises with their mantra of “clean hands and pure hearts.”


But let’s be clear: blaming entire parties might be an oversimplification. However, it’s high time these parties instituted rigorous checks and balances to prevent individuals from tarnishing reputations built over decades. Our political history deserves better than to be marred by such scandals.


As Bermudians, we deserve a government that serves us, not special interests. We deserve leaders who uphold the highest standards of integrity, not those who trade ethics for expediency. The casino article is a wake-up call, a clarion cry for change.


I applaud The Royal Gazette for this investigative piece. We need more journalism that shines a light into the dark corners of our politics. Only through such transparency can we, the people, hold our leaders accountable.


The corruption olympics may be live and televised, but we don’t have to be mere spectators. We can be the change-makers, demanding a Bermuda where good governance isn’t just a campaign promise, but a lived reality. Our future, with or without casinos, depends on it.

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