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Ways to Improved Royal Decorations Applications for local Honorees .

Dear Editor,
As a Community spirited person, I saw a headline in your newspaper dated April 28th, 2018 that got my full attention which stated 24 Royal Decorations, none from St. Maarten. In the article the main reason no-one from St. Maarten was nominated for a Royal Decorations had to do with the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma in September and therefore the lengthy applications process that has to be filled in by the Royal Decorations Committee before October.

Mr. Editor, I had a hard time trying to understand why our local Royal Committee chose for some odd reason not to send up any of their nominations which should have been done and vetted before Hurricane Irma. I think there needs to be more publicity carried out by our local Royal Decorations Committee on how anyone can recommend and complete an application to nominate somebody who has contributed to their community and island for a royal decoration. The Committee then can make sure all relevant information is factual, screen and vet the potential honoree’s credibility and then send in the application to the Governor who forwards to the Kingdom Committee. I also would like to recommend that our local Royal Committee give out the application forms to all the different Community centers, public library and other easy access points where the average person has access to the forms.
I also would advise the Royal Decoration Committee to put the names of all past honorees with a text of why they have been recognized in our local museum or library for student projects and the community at large to get familiar with their local heroes and heroines. This will also teach our young people how to honor and recognize our own leaders and people who have contributed to our beautiful island in some form or fashion.
Mr. Editor, as an Educator, I give my students a research assignment to write a brief report about their favorite Leader or Manager. To my surprise, none of the 14 students could mention a Leader or Manager from St. Maarten. The main reason is that they didn't select our leaders because there is not much written data in the public library about our leaders, and secondly, they are too busy to be interviewed.
St. Maarten has a lot of persons who have given so much to their community and island which still go unrecognized today. When I think about within my own family, especially my father Gordon Morris Lake, better known as “Mooch,” I can write a book about him being the best diver, the best fisherman in the Caribbean who has represented St. Maarten for several decades in tournaments all over the world.
He has won swimming races to Anguilla seven times; he was a great soccer player and was the chauffeur for five Lt. Governors of St. Maarten. He has given back so much to the St. Maarten community out of a good heart.
Another person in which I am very proud of is my brother, Tony Lake who is the only St. Maartener to be inducted into New Hampshire School of Tennis Hall of Fame in the United States. You know what it is to be inducted into a New Hampshire School of Tennis Hall of Fame in another country, but it goes unrecognized in your own island.
Other local unsung heroes are Rafael Skeete, Marco London, Aston Lake, Jerry Morris, Marcia Cooke and many more too numerous to mention.
In closing, I wish our local Royal Decorations Committee much success and I hope they take some of my recommendations and points into consideration for this year. Applications of honorees and getting the community more involved by making the application forms more accessible for the average person would lead to a more exciting and transparent process.
Maurice Lake


Hurricane Industry: Sectors for Success Turning the tide towards true regional resilience.

mountains10062018From the moment we become of age you are aware of your surroundings, you then quickly realize that you are residing in a hurricane zone. Hurricanes are an integral part of the Caribbean lifestyle and experience from the time of its inception. From 1960 to present the Caribbean can say that there has been approximately 12 to 14 major hurricanes that has passed through the islands leaving in its wake a series of ravaging effects. Over an estimated 2 million lives has been lost within this time, over $120 billion has been spent on public and private damages that can be estimated, and not to mention the cost related to public and private organizational and public displacement expenses.

In the foreword of the 1994 Pan American Health Organization article called “A World Safe from Natural Disasters − The Journey of Latin America and the Caribbean” there is a representation of their priorities in combating life lost and property lose as a result of natural disasters. The following statement has a very hopeful tone of relevance for us as a nation of islands as we begin to gain an alternative perspective on the next steps that we have to take as a people. “A second purpose is to share the optimism and enthusiasm of disaster professionals at witnessing a slow but steady evolution in the Region − from the fatalistic acceptance of disasters to the determination to take steps to avoid them whenever possible or minimize their effects through long−term disaster reduction planning.”

On average there are at least 100 conferences on hurricanes preparedness within the Caribbean region. That is equivalent to an untold quantity of public, man and company-hours being invested in activities that seemingly can be used in a productive manner in relationship to developing scenarios towards turning the tide towards developing a new resilient approach for the Hurricane Industry. What makes the Hurricane Industry an Industry is the fact that we can conclude together that we have a product or a product line (category one to five hurricane types), we have a market (news broadcast agencies, meteorological agencies, airline agencies, natural disaster rapid response specialists, etc.), we have several types of business models that have come to life (considering the various institutions regional and global who are tasked with the preparation, execution and the assisting with monetary injections and technical support, evacuation models, etc.), and finally there is a clear distribution model (dealing with good practices, disaster specialists, national readiness protocols, etc.). So to put it in simple terms we have a well-oiled manufacturing operation that we can measure and get stats from.

We as a Caribbean people can benefit from changing our focus to developing “experience models for global impact”. Following are some inspirational approaches, that have been identified: the Macworld WWDC (Worldwide Development Conference) and their many proactive projects, the Microsoft powerful and relevant organizational and team building “workshops”, the Samsung “launch” videos and their community programs, looking at initiatives like how the National Football League incorporated MIT in the NFL’s Next Generation Statistical Sports Analysis Conference dealing with for example real time player tracking technologies, developing new mind blowing simple to use presentation tools, looking at the new innovations towards medical advancements, looking at the relevant and encouraging announcements in the logistic and space race arenas: namely the work being done by Elon Musk, there are many relevant and hopeful dynamics playing out as we speak.

It is time for the region to become rigorous and envisage a strategy of no tolerance towards lives neither lost; or making room for any form of public property damages. It is time to identify those minds and professional experts who are clearly interested in turning the tide towards true resilience for the Caribbean region. In 2013 Shane L. Koyczan said it best when he said, “If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces." Let us make art together. Recorded in the Business Insider May 30, 2018, The president, Dr. Warren Smith, of the Caribbean Development Bank in one of his recent speeches represented the following towards ways to triumph over setbacks. Dr. Smith urged regional leaders and development partners to work collaboratively and proactively to address the Region's vulnerabilities by building resilience in technology, agriculture, and regional airline connectivity. "Our Region has had to cope with countless natural disasters and other shocks throughout its history. And we have demonstrated repeatedly our ability to 'bounce back' from such disastrous events, However, our responses have been largely reactionary; and the cost of responding has been rising steadily, undermining other efforts to get onto a sustainable development platform,"

Nobility is needed to take on the mentality to engender an innovative mental determination to be involved with active resilient change initiatives. How can this be achieved? Initiating pilot programs across the region facilitating social and economic recovery and providing for hands to be on the plow when dealing with finding true sustainable and resilient scenarios for the region. Looking at the initial remarks from the Management Concepts.com we would read the following in their Jul 13, 2016 post about “Embedded Change Management contributes to Organizational Resiliency” The Oxford Dictionary defines resilient as “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.” Recognizable resilient behaviors include a positive attitude, optimism, perseverance, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. We need to understand and have foundational clarity about our vision and its accompanying objectives. Basically we need to have a plan, a personal plan, a regional plan, an international plan, and a plan that governs our understanding of our role amongst the stars.

Let us, as a Caribbean Body of Nations, be proactive by looking at for example what The Rockefeller Foundation did by launching the Asian Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) in 2008 to help cities strengthen their capacity to prepare for, withstand, and recover from the projected impacts of climate change. Regionally the Caribbean is at the dawn of a new time. The present future has many clues as to facilitate us having a renewed focus for success considering this great Hurricane Industry of potentials. Let us turn the tide together.
by ir. Damien Richardson

Reference: Request for a review of Mrs. Nelson's performance as principal of P.S.V.E.

To: The Chairman of FAVE Board
May 26, 2018
Reference: Request for a review of Mrs. Nelson's performance as principal of P.S.V.E.
Dear Mr. Duncan,
The situation in 2016-2017 became so tense that the board was called in to mediate between management and staff. It was recommended by Mr. Duncan that we put all of this in writing. Teachers received numerous warning letters for petty issues, targeted for having a difference of opinion than Mrs. Nelson.
We ended last school year (2016-2017) by submitting to Mrs. Nelson for the board, a review of our first year with her. This document was signed by all staff members. This review highlighted serious concerns that members of staff had with her communication skills, vindictiveness, lack of empathy and procedures that did not have the students or teachers best interest at heart.
We started this school year with Mrs. Nelson reading a lengthy reflective speech about her first year in her capacity as Principal at P.S.V.E. She acknowledged that she made many mistakes and promised to change her approach to the management of School. She acknowledged teachers who she didn't acknowledge during the year as having the right perspective. She asked us to give her another chance, as she like everyone else is not perfect.
Mrs. Nelson asked for another chance and for a few months she tried to exercise her version of patience, sought advice and utilized suggestions that were made by members of staff. Then the era of 'peace and love' began. Peace and love was used to shut up members of staff, diminish situations presented and was used as a holy form of expletive. During our School Development Plan workshop in April 2018, where an invited guest was present, this expression of “Peace and Love” was also used by Mrs. Nelson. At that time an invited guest pointed out how negative it came across and it seemed not to be genuine.
We expected vision, structure, transparency, guidance, honesty, effective communication and strong leadership skills. We got pieces of the vision, incompetence, discrimination, hypocrisy, poor structure, deceit, divisiveness and a damaged social environment.
Pieces of the Vision (CCSLC versus PSVE)
1. We were told that the school is going to start with the CCSLC program, but teachers were given inadequate information and were directed by the Public Relation personnel to research information via the internet.
2. Parents received information before the teachers.
3. We were assured that no one should worry about their job security, because everyone would be absorbed into the new system.
4. On May16, 2018 the staff received an email that informed us of a structural change that involved the appointment of two coordinators, who will be taking responsibility for the lower and upper school. The tasks of the Job Training Coordinator/ Counselor have been absorbed by the function of the Coordinator.
5. On May 17, 2018 we learnt that our Job Coordinator's position has become redundant under the new program, even though the P.S.V.E. program will be continued for the coming 3 years, where Job Training is a requirement for completion of the P.S.V.E. program. A staff member who is the current Job coordinator, was informed that her position has become redundant effective school year 2018-2019.

Incompetence
1. Mrs. Nelson kept a teacher on staff for five weeks, during the investigation of his alleged improper conduct, knowing that students could be at risk.
2. Proper scheduling was not done during the ETE Practical and Theoretical exam (April 9th- May 25th 2018), thus numerous classes were without instruction during that period. Before the ETE Theoretical exams a meeting was held and teachers brought forward the fact that the students would be missing many classes, yet the invigilators exam time table remained the same. As a result the students have not received classes for the majority of term 3, but are expected to do the School Based Exams, which will start on June 15th, 2018.
3. Based on hurricane Irma, the ministry granted some adjustments in regards to the ETE exams. The starting time was 30 minutes later, to give students time to eat (start time was at 8 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m.). In Addition to that the students received an additional 30 minutes at the end of the exam time. However, this vital information was only communicated the day before and the day of the first ETE exam to the invigilators and on the first day of the ETE exams to the students.
4. The Principal of the Academic Section sent an email with the time table of the CXC exams in advance to Mrs. Nelson, requesting rooms for the CXC students, which were to be administered at the P.S.V.E. campus. Room 111 is the designated Visual Arts room. On May 15th, 2018 the ETE Math exam started at 8 a.m. and at 8:30 a.m. the Visual Arts CXC teachers and head of Examinations realized that room 111 was in use and therefor had to remove all the Visual Arts materials to a different room. This took quite some time and also caused a disruption for the ETE Math exam students.
5. A pilot group was chosen in Form Two to do the CCCLC program (Mathematics and English), but Mrs. Nelson cannot definitively explain how the students in this pilot group will be placed in third form since language choices need to be made. In addition to this, the streaming of students (P-Stream/ B-Stream) has to be taken into consideration as well.
Discrimination
1. Harassment of some Guyanese teachers and labels them as 'the problem in the school', which was admitted by her in a staff meeting. The same statement was repeated to the Human Resource Manager in the presence of students and staff members on May 22, 2018 on the school compound when she could not locate a Guyanese teacher.
2. Selected teachers are allowed to come to school late in order to drop off their children in the mornings, while others cannot.
3. Teachers are placed on substitution duty in an ad-hoc manner that overuse targeted teachers.
4. When teachers are gathered, only selected teachers are asked if they have a class, while the others receive warm smiles and greetings.
Hypocrisy
1. Complimented a staff member on her performance, then recommended her termination.
2. When teachers punch in late they receive a letter, however Mrs. Nelson is late at times as well.
Poor structure
1. Positions are created and terminated at her whim.
2. Reshuffled teachers in order to make other positions redundant.
3. Existing year coordinators were not informed that they were relieved of their duties for the school year 2017-2018.
Deceit
1. Constantly lying.
2. Met with the staff for over two hours on May 18, 2018 where she was asked who else would be losing their job and she acknowledged two persons. The first sentence out of her mouth indicated that two members of staff would not be returning. However, before the end of the day, another teacher received her termination letter.

Poor Communication
1. Students inform teachers of important changes, even when persons are terminated.
2. Outside persons also offer their sympathy and support when we ourselves do not know what has happened in our school.
3. Parents receive documentation of dates and plans before teachers do.
4. Emails contain expired and incomplete details.
5. Written Warnings are given without having first given a verbal warning.
6. Year coordinators met in 2016-2017 to determine the cutoff for each academic award (honor roll). Mrs. Nelson agreed to the criteria, but totally changed the criteria the next day without consulting those involved.
7. Recommendations for termination are given without due process.
Transparency
1. Newly created or available positions are not advertised to staff to allow interested persons to apply.
2. The two new coordinator posts were not presented as part of the new-structure.
3. Personnel was used in a sensitive student-based situation where Student Care was not adequately informed about the location and time of said meeting and principal was aware.
Divisiveness
1. Some accomplishments of teachers are celebrated more than others.
2. Biggest critics are given positions.
3. “Parking and stopping”( teachers talking to each other) is not encouraged
4. Management is divided: some are aware of major decisions while others are not and some opinions count more than others.
Damaged Social environment.

1.Teachers are demotivated.

2. Mrs. Nelson was very rude to some presenters at the School Development Plan sessions, although she reflected and apologized, respect should always be mutual.
3. She is very confrontational and selectively compassionate.
4. Poor cooperation with sister school, limited sharing of staff and attempts of socializing.
5. Poor leadership and interpersonal skills.
As we bring this school year to a close, we sincerely request that you hear our concerns, investigate objectively what we have been experiencing and place Mrs. Nelson in another position and appoint a principal with more educational leadership and interpersonal skills. We have lost confidence in her. Mrs. Nelson uses scare tactics rather than tested effective leadership skills that will motivate this vibrant and dynamic staff with hundreds of combined years of teaching experience. This is a very hardworking group of teachers, who are capable of taking P.S.V.E. into the future with positive leadership and guidance.
We are recommending that FAVE board facilitates an evaluation of Mrs. Nelson by every staff member. In addition to our recommendation we would like a response on the evaluation process on or before Friday Jun8, 2018.
Staff of St. Maarten Academy P.S.V.E.
The deadline of June 8, 2018 has passed however, the staff have not heard from the school board about their grievances. This shows lack of respect towards the staff at the St Maarten Academy P.S.V.E. Since the school board received this letter, harassment, victimization and discrimination have become rampant at the school.

Gregory Van Heke 

OPEN Letter to All Community Councils.

Dear Editor,
I have listened, heard, and read the recent discussions and workshops on hurricane preparedness. For this Hurricane season which officially starts June 1st, 2018.
As a Community spirited person, my motto for any hurricane season is to "Prepare for the worst and pray for the best". I would like to advise all Community Councils to start going around in their district and speaking to their residents to start cleaning up their yard of debris and pruning their trees.
We can't wait on Government to do everything for us. We as community leaders need to start working together and also encourage some of our contractors to also give back to our community. We need to get back to basics by everyone coming together to clean up your own backyard.
We also need to help our seniors and physically challenged in our district by removing their debris and pruning their trees
As a Co-Founder of the St. Peters Community Council, we use to organize pre-hurricane district cleanups with our residents along with Government and the Fire Department. The Fire Department did a fantastic job in community service by assisting us with pruning some of the tall trees within the district. This approach by all Community Councils will instill back pride, respect, unity and togetherness among the residents within the district.
I also would like to applaud our present Prime Minister in organizing the different workshops and meetings among the different Ministries to have a better execution plan of action prior and after any hurricane. We also need to encourage the private sector to put their company's plans in place for the hurricane season. I also would advise Government to have the police or VKS presence at every roundabout after any major storm to better communicate and direct your local traffic. We have learn allot from Hurricane Irma and this is the time for us to get it right and understand the Prime Minister is in charge prior and after an hurricane and to execute our
hurricane disaster plan for the island. I also would advise Government to test its 2018 hurricane preparedness plan by organizing a massive mock hurricane drill to see what changes need to be made before the peak of our hurricane season.
As a former Minister of VROMI and Advisor in the Cabinet of our Leader Theo Heyliger, who experienced and executed allot of pre and after hurricanes disasters, we should be more experienced in the field and work more closely with the different Community Councils to communicate relevant information to the residents within the districts.
Government also needs to set up a better communication channel within the different district when it comes to relief and distribution of goods for the community. Who better knows the community than the Community Councils which can assist Government with the distribution of relief goods? We just have to assign one contact person with the Council to liaison and communicate back to the rest of the council for pre and after cleanups and distribution of relief goods.
In closing, I am appealing to all Community Councils to take charge and start walking through your districts to inform residents to go through their hurricane preparedness checklist start preparing for the hurricane season. Don't wait until last minute to start cleaning up loose debris and pruning your trees. I also would advise all Community Councils to start working with government to identify the hurricane shelter within your district.
I believe every district should have a hurricane shelter in place in their area for the hurricane season. The Ebenezer Community Council should advise Government to designate the PVSE School Gym as a hurricane shelter for the residents of Ebenezer. We shouldn't wait until last minute as Community Councils and residents to start preparing for this hurricane season.
Maurice Lake

Open letter to ConocoPhilips.

I feel very much obliged to let my voice be heard on behalf of the concerned people of Curaçao, in particular those who are directly or indirectly dependent on the Refinery of Curaçao for their daily basic needs and their survival. In general I am also obliged to express my great concern for the overall well being of the people of our islands who are living moments of a challenging financial and economic situation.
Let me state firmly that in no shape or form am I attempting to defend or protect neither PDVSA as a company nor Venezuela as a country. With 300 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, both PDVSA and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela should be able to look after their own.
Following years of failed negotiations and litigation between two giants in the oil industry, ConocoPhilips has won arbitration against PDVSA.
The details of the war, at this point, for us are not relevant. What is relevant is where Conoco-Philips has elected to “pursue enforcement and financial recovery of its award to the full extent of the law.
Both ConocoPhilips and PDVSA are present and effective in the global oil industry. They both have oil processing , refining and storage facilities throughout the entire world. Both have an extensive gasoline station network throughout the US continent. PDVSA sells gasoline through it’s CITGO gas stations while ConocoPhilips does the same through it’s Philips 66 gas stations.
Both ConocoPhilips and Citgo’s headquarters are located in ‘Houston’s Energy Corridor District’. Conoco Philips lawyers could have easily hop over and place their embargos on PDVSA’s Citgo assets within the United States
ConocoPhilips however choose not to fight this war on their home turf, but has chosen to fight this war in the Dutch Caribbean, namely Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and Sint Eustatius respectively. ConocoPhilips has shown no regard what-so-ever for the consequences these actions may have on the already fragile economies of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and Sint Eustatius.
During the eighties the American Government launched the Caribbean Basin Initiative, with all its good intentions. It then was also in the interest of the United States not to have poverished nations due to weak economies in America’s then so called backyard. For certain items that were part of the initiative, the lobby distance between a.o. Texas (Houston) and Louisiana had proven to be very short.
What we are experiencing now is in line with the blatant selfishness and disregard that communities have learned to expect from such multinationals and or interest groups. When you choke some of the largest flows of cash in a small economy; you inadvertently choke that economy. ConocoPhilips has never created or maintained not one single job on our island. Yet ConocoPhilips sees it fit to put thousands of jobs in the small fragile economy and labor market at stake.
If all goes according to plan, ConocoPhilips will get it’s cheque, PDVSA will collapse and the score will have been settled. ConocoPhilips might tell us.....Nothing Personal, just business!!!!! A salient side effect will be the fact that thousands of Dutch Caribbean Nationals will have to move on or even migrate to find a new job. A bloody shame that our people will have to pay such a high price for a relative small amount of a company with 73 billion in assets.
Shame on you ConocoPhilips for choosing not to fight this war on your own turf in the Energy Corridor in Houston;
Shame on you for the anguish you have poured in the hearts and homes of Dutch Caribbean families.
Shame on you for choosing to victimize innocent bystanders who have nothing to do with the conflict between ConocoPhilips and PDVSA.
You are acting like a bull that is out to destroy our economies without regard.
ConocoPhilips please find a different ball field on your own turf and leave us in the Dutch Caribbean alone!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maria Liberia-Peters,
Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands-Antilles.
Curaçao, May 13th 2018.


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