Disconnecting to buy local for sustainable living

Anyone know of a local alternative to #Microsoft and some other #software and #hardware technologies and upgrades?
Does sustaining local enterprise mean disconnecting from global technologies?
Those who know me know I do not like shopping and am an advocate to #BuyLocal so I would appreciate info so as to avoid that new #7%Tax in addition to the other taxes already … see more www.kris-rampersad.blogspot.com
for even more:
#knowledge products  #industry #sustainable alternatives, contact lolleaves@gmail.com @krisamp @lolleaves @glocalpot #GlocalKnowledgePot #Worldwewantpeople #SustainableDevelopment #SDG #SustainableLiving

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Reform, Conform, Perform or None of the Above cross winds politcial climate change

Some 50 percent did not vote. The local government elections results lends further proof of the discussion began in  Clash of Political Cultures: Cultural Diversity and Minority Politics in Trinidad and Tobago in  Through The Political Glass Ceiling, on the raging winds that blow in political climate change 
It must be something of comic irony, or ironic comedy that the matter of proportional representation has now surfaced not so much in the context of better citizen representation, but to give political parties more opportunity to potentially twart, stymie, and hijack the delivery of goods and services to citizens.
What is wrong with this map? It does not reflect the voting
turmoil within districts: and the spread of none voting pop.
Disclaimer: I have no rights to this photo
From the GIS report on local government elections

versions of the proportional representative system, or have no one noticed? That we might be in reform mode gives us adequate opportunity to take this giant leap forward, rather than hinge change on their now archaic recommendations that saw reform only within the context of already tottering institutions.

If the already acknowledged clearly deficient two-party West Minster system on which our governance is based, and the hung US Parliament to which our reform efforts are looking are not enough of a lesson on the potential ills of existing representative models, I’m not sure what is.
As I presented in Clash of Political Cultures: Cultural Diversity and Minority Politics in Trinidad and Tobago, the introduction to  Through The Political Glass Ceiling, the need for us to look for and devise a system and reconstruct institutions in ways that are relevant to our own realities has been in demand by a growing disenchanted electorate since the 1960s. The nature of our society cannot be force-fitted into the corsets of archaic PR and Westminster Systems. Low voter turnout, voters grasping at the promised potential of third party messiahs, all of whom seem unable to move vision into action, indicate a  national cry for accommodation of our diversity and that systems and institutions grow up to do so.
The picture of a red and yellow map, with a touch of green, depicting the election results totally skews the micro picture of how the voting went and does not reflect the political convulsions that are taking place within our communities which are struggling to articulate their discomfort and disenchantment with what exists.  

Talk of homeland, heartland, base support only reinforce the myopia and ignore the basic fact that the diverse nature of our society from its origins – its diversity – has never been addressed in or found resonance in governance. In fact, the diversity of cultures, ethnicities and interests continue to be stymied by a defective political party system, at national and local levels: the independent senator quota allowance to the President that is supposed to present the balance of interests and of power has never really been seen in that role; and representation at local levels has always suffered from political partisanship.  Why do we keep going back to these old, archaic, irrelevant political interpretations of our society when we have an opportunity to move forward? Why do we would want to further entrench such counterproductive political partisanship in the local government system, continuing to ignore the now at least 50 percent of the population who want to vote ‘none of’ in relation to the offerings, rather than find new, imaginative ways of accommodating our varieties. Not proportional representation, but a non-partisan local government system, that represents diverse interests (not necessarily ethnicities nor political parties) as put forward in the section of the report to the OAS on local government reform should be the starting point. Then perhaps, we would see parties transforming themselves to address issues – health, water, sanitation, access roads, electricity, information technologies (was that concept even used n any of the campain platforms?)

The opportunity to harness the best of us, to impact the political climate change sweeping not only or islands but the globe, drawing from the experience of our evolution diversity …. more: see articles below and  Website
Related links: Trini Politics is D Best
The human face of cnstitutional reform 
Making Local Government WorkNew Presidential Picong Tours & Worshop SpecialsSounds of a Party – a political partyOld Casked Rum: The Emperor’s New Tools#1 – Towards Constitutional Reform in T&T 

PM on local government reform

Local government election Oct 21

…govt to pilot amendment to Municipal Corporations Act

By Multimedia Desk

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar today announced that her government does not propose to postpone local government elections but intend to lay in Parliament, a Bill to amend the Municipal Corporations Act, 1990.

Persad-Bissessar made the announcement at a Post-Cabinet News Conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair.

Following is the full content of the Persad-Bissessar’s statement:

PP Government does not propose to postpone local government elections and also proposes to lay in Parliament, a Bill to amend the Municipal Corporations Act, 1990

Local Government Elections will be held on time

The life of local government bodies in Trinidad and Tobago came to an end on July 26th2013. By law, Local Government elections are due by within three (3) months after the life of the municipal corporations came to an end. Since the expiration of the life of the Local Government, there has been widespread public speculation that this Government would seek to postpone local government elections. Today I confirm to you that although it remains open to the Government to pass legislation to postpone any elections, the local government elections shall not be postponed.

It was following a meeting of the National Executive Council of the UNC, that I merely communicated to the national community that some former UNC Councillors had expressed the view that the local government elections should be postponed in order to facilitate the implementation of this Government’s proposal for local government reform as expressed in the White Paper on Local Government Reform which was published in July 2012.

Postponement of the Local Government Elections by the PNM

I am on record as having condemned the former PNM regime for suppressing the voice of the people by postponing local government elections for over four (4) years during the period 2006-2010. This was not the first time it had taken such action: The PNM had also postponed local government elections on three (3) occasions during the period 1962 to 1968 and 1974 to 1977. The population neither forgets nor forgives such disenfranchisement as there are many who remember the bitter struggle over the years for a democratic system of governance that puts the power in the hands of the people.

The Value of the Right to Vote

Ours is a young but vibrant democracy. It was only recently, in 1946 that the British Parliament granted universal adult suffrage to Trinidad and Tobago. At first, the right to vote was limited to persons 21 years and over. The 1976 Republican Constitution lowered this to 18 years. We must never take the right to vote for granted. The postponement of any election which is constitutionally due must only be countenanced in the most exceptional and extreme circumstances. War and famine come to mind as examples of appropriate circumstances.

In this context the postponement of local government elections by the PNM remains a blot on our otherwise proud and unblemished record as a democratic nation.

Manifesto Promise

My entire political career has been based on respect for the voice of the people. I am not about to change that now. It is essential that governance is informed and guided by the voice of the people.

In the 2010 manifesto to the People’s Partnership we declared our commitment to a genuine participatory democracy. We promised that we would never deprive you of what we view as your fundamental human right to vote and elect representatives of your choice.

Patron of the Local Government Forum of the Commonwealth

The postponement of local government elections is alien to the concept of people-centred development. At present, I am a patron of the Local Government Forum of the Commonwealth. My fellow patrons are the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the RT Honourable Helen Clarke and the President of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. I am therefore at the forefront of the international movement for the reform and strengthening of local government to give greater power to the people.

I will not follow the precedent set by some of our predecessors and use the burning issue of local government reform as an excuse to avoid facing the electorate. I am not a coward. I am not afraid of the voice of the people- on the contrary, I draw my political strength and inspiration from it.

The Admitted Need for Local Government Reform

That is not to say however, that local government reform can be put on the back burner. Indeed, there is a pressing and urgent need for it. Since Independence in 1962, there have been several attempts at local government reform. These include:

· 1965- Report commissioned by Dr Eric Williams from a committee chaired by Mitra Sinanan

· 1974- The Sir Hugh Wooding Constitution Commission

· 1983- The Chambers Administration Draft Policy Paper on Community Development and Local Government Reform, 1983

· 1989- The ANR Robinson Administration draft Policy Paper on “The Decentralization Process, Regional Administration and Regional Development.”

· 2006- The Manning administration’s White Paper on Local Government Reform which followed the Green Paper of 2004

Municipal Corporations Act over 20 years old

The present Municipal Corporations Act was passed in 1990. It is over twenty (20) years old. It must be revisited to address the rapidly evolving and changing social, economic and cultural environment of the 21st century.

Proportional Representation – Principles of Fairness Group

The concept of proportional representation has been advocated as a fairer and stronger system for many years now. It has had the blessing of the Wooding Commission in 1974. More recently, the 2006 draft constitution of the Principles of Fairness Group proposed a system of proportional representation for the election of Senators.

The idea was that parties should have a slate of Senators that is known beforehand to the public at a general election. Seats in the Senate would be allocated in accordance with the number of votes cast for a party. (See Section 69 of the draft constitution of the Principle of Fairness Group)

This is a unique and attractive idea that I wish to introduce in our local government elections. It will represent a historic foray into the virgin territory of proportionate representation which many feel, is an idea whose time has come.

Members of the Principles of Fairness Group

I am grateful to the members of the Principles of Fairness Group that introduced this idea. I think it is wise to incorporate it into the political and democratic process for the election of Aldermen which, by analogy, is the equivalent of party appointed Senators. The Directors of the Principles of Fairness Group were:-

  1. Marjorie Thorpe, PhD (Chairman)
  2. Archbishop Edward Gilbert
  3. Ken Gordon
  4. Bhoendradatt Tewarie, PhD
  5. Tajmool Hosein, TC, QC
  6. Arthur Lok Jack
  7. Hamid Ghany, PhD
  8. Patricia Mohammed, PhD
  9. Satnarine Maharaj and
  10. Noble Khan

The Constitution was prepared by a Sub-Committee comprising:

  1. Tajmool Hosein, TC, QC and
  2. Hamid Ghany, PhD

Strengthening and Deepening our democracy

The fundamental issue for me is the implementation of a policy to further democratize and strengthen the local government bodies in such a way as to allow the electorate greater control over the election of all persons who would hold office in all of the Councils.

The time has come to have the Aldermen elected by the population and not selected by the Councillors after an election. Our examples over the years have shown us that this process can be manipulated and controlled by political deal-making and political indiscipline to the detriment of the population who have no say in what the Councillors may want to do after they have been elected.

Proposed change in the law

In the circumstances I wish to state the following:-

  1. Local Government Elections will be held when they are due.
  2. My Government will table Legislation immediately to introduce a system of proportional representation for the election of Aldermen.
  3. Councillors will continue to be elected in the same way that they are now elected under the first past-the-post system.
  4. All Councils will have their complement of Aldermen increased to 4 to ensure that there is no inequality between Councils where Aldermen are concerned.
  5. The recommendations of the Elections and Boundaries Commission for the seat distribution and boundaries in existing Councils will be implemented.
  6. The current method for choosing Aldermen will be abolished.

Every vote will now count

By introducing a mixed system of election using the first past-the-post system for the existing electoral districts and a system of proportional representation for the election of Aldermen, my Government is seeking to expand the electoral process in local government.

The expansion will ensure that every vote will count in every district because those votes will be used to calculate the allocation of the seats of Aldermen. Even if a single party were to win all of the seats on the first past-the-post system, there will more than likely be an allocation of at least one Alderman to another party which will ensure that another political voice would sit on such a Council.

Proposed Aldermen to be known by electorate upfront

All political parties will be required to provide a list of names of potential Aldermen whose number will be equal to the number of the electoral districts and who themselves will not be candidates in those districts. This will be necessary to ensure that the electorate know in advance who the potential Aldermen are likely to be by seeing in advance the pool of names from which the Aldermen will be drawn.

Four (4) Aldermen to be chosen from list

Up to four (4) Aldermen in total will be chosen for each Council by extracting the names of those persons whom each party would like to see as their Aldermen from the lists provided by the said political parties. Such an extraction of names will be done in proportion of the total votes cast for each party for their Councillors in the various electoral districts within a Council.

Vacancies to be filled from unused names

In the event that any vacancies arise among the Aldermen during the term of office of a Council, such vacancies can be filled by drawing names from the unused portion of the list of names provided by political parties on nomination day. As a consequence of using this method the vacancies would be filled from lists of names that the political parties advertised to the public before the election was held. There will be no surprises.

Independent Candidates

As regards the status of persons who wish to contest electoral districts as independent candidates there will be no impediment to the existing system that will continue to permit persons to stand for election as independent candidates in any electoral district. Naturally, the rule that disqualifies a Councillor from being an Alderman will apply, but Independent candidates are more than welcome to stand for election as Councillors.

It is important that this reform to the method by which Aldermen are to be chosen in all of the local government Councils is implemented before the next local government election. Permit me to quote from former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who stated in 2006 that “…participatory governance, based on the will of the people, is the best path to freedom, growth and development.”

Urge all parties to support this historical change

I look forward to the support of all parties in this House for the measure which will strengthen our democracy and allow the electorate greater control over those who are put forward to serve as both Councillors and Aldermen by ensuring that every vote will now count and no vote will ever be wasted again in any local government election in this country because people may feel that their party does not have a chance to win in their district.

This measure is designed to empower our voters and enhance citizen participation in all elections.

Let me end by saying that Local Government Elections will be held on Monday, October 21, 2013.

The Tomb Raiders …. Return to the Quest for El Dorado

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You can support our efforts by purchasing copies of LiTTscapes, commissioning LiTTours & LiTTevents; or ask about collaborating on our upcoming publications on Caribbean heritage for ages 3-103. That way we all win through sharing knowledge and information. See krisrampersadglobal/home/about-me/books
For collaboration details email lolleaves@gmail.com or call 1-868-377-0326

Tombraiding has been Hollywood glamourised through the Indiana Joneses and Lara Crofts and a range of new video games that play on this land-based version of the kind of piracy that used to prevail on the high seas around the Caribbean. And it dates back to the Caribbean as a target in the quest for El Dorado so many millennia ago. Not to be confused with body snatchers, it ranges from the activities of hobbyists seemingly innocently eager to hoard a bit of history so they comb graveyards to gather bits and pieces from or off tombs, to petty thieves looking to earn a quick shilling, to highly organised crime networks trading in black market heritage goods with complicity by individual collectors or even museum dealers participating in a very lucrative heritage trade market.
It has been a raison d’etre of interest in the Caribbean since

See Also: http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2012/10/centuries-old-heritage-tomb-spanning.html#more

the first European explorers cast their eyes in this direction in the quest for El Dorado. With the world re-awakening to the value of culture and heritage and the Caribbean being a repository of histories and heritage of migrant streams from all the continents of the world, El Dorado is not just the bullion or traditional objects of value as gold and jewelry, but artefacts that may be believed to fetch high prices in the world market, or become part of heritage collections that may one day be sold to museums and archives for high prices. These lie underwater, on land, in documents and in the oral memory and traditions we hold.

This siphoning out of such assets and heritage, deprive local communities and populations of enjoyment and appreciation of their heritage but also of creating and generating incomes from legitimate heritage-based industries and activities. It was partly in response to this that UNESCO developed its albeit convoluted sets of conventions related to protection of natural, cultural, built, knowledge and information heritage, assets all aligned to a complex series of processes and procedures and international legal instruments. (See list below.) 

It is the stuff of movies, but as real as daylight. A range of these activities have gone unmonitored in Trinidad and Tobago, and indeed much of the Caribbean.
With little or no oversight mechanisms in place, it is virtually open season for heritage hunters and hoarders, regardless of motivation, to gather and dispose of as they wish – evidence of which we encountered on the inaugural LiTTour – Journeys Through Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago and described in the previous blog. 
Inadequate local legislation, deficient local structures and institutions, incompetent monitoring and enforcement authorities all contribute to making this a lucrative activity. High sounding national plans with little supportive resources, funds or mechanisms for implementation become recipes for failure.
Historic animosities fostered and entrenched between and among our populations also transfer to institutions that have grown up around heritage often piecemeal and hardly thought-out. Several institutions, most of them with overlapping jurisdictions, duplicate each other’s activities, holding heritage assets in a stranglehold whereby none can adequately perform their functions, and none can benefit. For instance there are at least six  public institutions, and several private ones and individuals with listings of heritage assets, duplicating each other with very little coordination among them.
Suspicion, mistrust, lack of confidence hang over these institutions which include bureaucratic government departments, agencies that include such front line institutions charged with guarding such assets as the National Trust and museum.
Indeed, an archaic museum model, run on a massa-type structure, borrowed from an old colonial rule (when those countries have evolved significantly more sophisticated systems) designed for a time when a country could have boasted of a single national museum still prevail, when a number of district and private museums now form part of the collective heritage system.
Even those charged with safeguarding heritage, foster a patronage approach and jealously guard their territory in obstructionist stances, holding culture and heritage in their deathgrips when they could be better served through collaboration and cooperation to release the full potential of the heritage sector for the development of communities.
Actions for heritage have in the large been shortsighted, piecemeal, often reactive, crisis oriented, a stop gap response to an immediate situation to avoid embarrassment or deflect from public rage until such rage can be redirected elsewhere and generally not thought out in ways that they can be of lasting and permanent benefit. And most are all-too-willing to state it is someone else’s problem and leave it there.
Deficiencies in the line agencies charged with heritage preservation Government agencies like the Trust itself, which is key as a frontline institution in heritage preservation and which glaring deficiencies have gone without being addressed for years.
But if you were to talk with anyone in the Trust, (s)he would also be pointing fingers in several other directions, including other government ministries and departments, who are also pointing at each other, the  National Museum of the lack of a proper museum system operating on an archaic model at a time when museums can no longer be regarded as static doormat institutions but are an active part of our living heritage (and maybe both point to one and the same obstacle).
I have spoken to several conservationists prior to and during this aroused interest in the Ganteaume tombs and the deep degree of distrust and lack of and loss of faith in the public institutions charged with heritage conservation (among others) and whose frustrations are no less than mine or my associates on that tour – and all with various degrees of a sense of powerlessness. Some have even also become tomb and beach combers and hoarders of heritage, taking for “safekeeping” because the institutions and persons charged with this function are not doing so. The argument that such activity helps in safeguarding such heritage predates the great battle between Egypt and England over the Sphinx or the Greek and British over the Elgin Marbles or the Indians and British over the Koh-i-noor Diamonds.  
And if you were to ask almost anyone in the conservation and heritage arena, they would tell you that the solution is with the local authorities – local NGOs or local Government who are falling short; or politicians or Government Ministries, Minister and officers; or the private sector (and as the old European childhood story says, ‘another ant took another grain of corn’ – lots of action and noise and committees and reports with no progress and no solution); at least no solution in which each sees himself/herself/themselves as a pivotal point to the problem(s). 
And therein is the problem: if we cannot take personal responsibility then of course, we have the situation like the McLeod House demolition; or the Ganteaume tomb, shedding tears after the fact and then go back to our business and lives until the next person highlight some other act of defacement or destruction.
How can we harness the energies of all the enthusiasts and institutions and others with direct and indirect interest to move forward with sustainable solutions and actions?
As I communicated to Mr Ganteaume, none of it is beyond any of us; it has been done by hundreds of other nations of the world; some much less resourced and much less enriched by the multidimensional and microcosmic heritage that we enjoy in Trinidad and Tobago; except that we often do not see it as such, but instead prefer to treat it as an albatross that some of us would prefer to pretend is a burden of no real significance.
The solution is to get on the same page.
From the range of all very positive and encouraging responses: ‘likes’ and comments and suggestions and emails and calls and contributions – I have received from around the globe on my last posting on the defaced tombstone in Mayaro, including some very distressed Ganteaume family members, it is clear that national sentiment for protection and conservation of heritage assets are high.
So why aren’t we doing something about it?
While we sit around in committees in grand talk sessions, drafting communiqués and reports, and plan PR site visits Rome burns, or rather, McLoed House is demolished and the tombraiders gather up their loot from graveyards and some of the other most valuable heritage around us and literally under our noses. I am heartened by the many responses I have had from persons who have been labouring, many of them behind the scenes, in heritage, and want to see us move forward in this in a constructive and positive manner, including Mr Henry Peter Ganteaume himself who has expressed an openness to help us work towards solutions. This is not an effort for any one of us; but for all of us. If we succeed in this, we have all of us to thank for it; if not, we then become little more than tombraiders. .krisrampersadglobal/home/about-me/books

The UNESCO Conventions and Instruments:
Please respect our copyrights
You can support our efforts by purchasing copies of LiTTscapes, commissioning LiTTours & LiTTevents; or ask about collaborating on our upcoming publications on Caribbean heritage for ages 3-103. That way we all win through sharing knowledge and information. See krisrampersadglobal/home/about-me/books
For collaboration details email lolleaves@gmail.com or call 1-868-377-0326