7 News Belize

7 News Belize HeadlinesWednesday, September 28, 2016

Ministry of Education Ready to Hire Temps if Teachers Go On Strike
Last night, we told you about the meeting of the San Ignacio Branch of the Belize National Teachers Union. Those teachers were suggesting that the Monday strike should be extended, wi...
UDP Goes Into Overdrive To Keep School Open, But Are They Union-Busting?
And while the Education Ministry and the political directorate are going to extraordinary lengths to keep schools open, on the ground, UDP politicians were working their tails off today....
Is The Barrow Admin. Rattling The Union’s Chain?
So, is the Government concerned about provoking the teachers into more drastic action? These temporary replacements, in theory allows for the Ministry to keep the schools open, and it ve...
In A Tense Time, Chafing Between Cops And Media
And while the media was waiting on the outcome of today's meeting between the ministry and the school managers at the ITVET, one of our media colleagues got into a little back and ...
Jail For Repeat Offending Fishermen
Today in the Magistrate’s Court, two men went to jail for fisheries offences. Now usually these offences only carry a fine, but brothers, Ergil and Marvin Patt, who both have a history...
ACP Williams Says Cops Should Follow Up On Leads In McAfee Doc
"Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee" premiered on Saturday – and since then we haven't heard anything about police following up on the many actionable pieces of inform...
Is Police HQ Playing Favourites With Northside?
And while ACP Williams can't really speak for the investigators – it's because they have their own bosses to answer to in their formation.  Back in Chester's formation, which ...
Making Manatees Matter
Belize is home to around 1000 Antillean Manatees, the largest population in the world. And though the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute has done its best to ensure ...
Re-Branding Belize City From “Bad-Man Town” to Business Center
Belize City: if you're not from here, you probably know it as the murder capital of the country. Couple the crime problem, with its tendency to flood, its squalid slums, the old bu...
Making Business More Affordable
We also asked the Mayor to discuss regime change in the trade licenses fees and property taxes. It was unveiled last week Thursday, after months of consultation with the business sector ...
Mayor Agrees (Verbally) With Integrity Filings
While we had the opportunity, we asked the Mayor if he is willing to disclose his assets to the Integrity Commission, like the PUP did last week. Now, the Commission is presently not ...
Youths From All Over The World In Belize
This week Belize is hosting the 4th Caribbean Youth Leaders' Summit. Over 100 delegates from 20 different countries throughout the Caribbean, Costa Rica and Namibia have gathered in B...
Cops, The Community and Crime
Today we met the Southside police commander in the St., Martin;s Area – on Complex Boulevard. That’s the very same street that has seen so much gun violence and murders recently. He ackno...
Marijuana Da Maya Mopan
Cops from the Independence Village came upon a weed plantation this morning. A team of Special Branch and CIB Officers set out at around 4 this morning where they went searching in an area...
Belize Men’s Volleyball Looking Promising
The FIVB International Men's Volleyball tournament continues tonight at the SCA multipurpose center in Belize City – and team Belize continues to surprise. After their loss to Guatemala on...
Medals Coming Along At Codicader
Volleyball isn’t the only thing Belize is excelling at in this year’s CODICADER games. Ashanti Carr won the gold medal in the triple jump event, as well as earning a silver...
BEL and Belize Bank Beneficent With Ms. Bregal
Today Dangriga resident, Alexandrina Bregal, received the keys to her new house. The house is the 300th constructed by Hand in Hand Ministries’ through their “Build for Change Prog...
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7 News Belize - News:
Important Note: This Internet version of 7 News is a verbatum transcript of our evening television news script. Many interviews on our newscast are conducted in Creole. In the interest of clarity for our foreign readers, we attempt to paraphrase the Creole quotes in English

Ministry of Education Ready to Hire Temps if Teachers Go On Strike

Last night, we told you about the meeting of the San Ignacio Branch of the Belize National Teachers Union. Those teachers were suggesting that the Monday strike should be extended, with no clear announcement as to when exactly it would end.

That's a suggestion that National President Luke Palacio committed to take back to the Council of Management for final approval. But, the Ministry of Education isn't waiting around; they've sprung into action to keep schools open, at all costs.

The ministry and the Managing Authorities of schools countrywide are activating contingency plans, prepared for the strike to continue past Monday.

Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber and officials of his Ministry met representatives of those school managers today at the ITVET compound, and the news coming out of that meeting is that teachers will be hired on a temporary basis. They will be there to fill in and make sure that children are taken care of for however long the teachers decide to strike.

The Ministry sent out a release this evening saying quote, "The Ministry of Education and the Attorney General's Ministry will prepare a Statutory Instrument that will provide authority for the temporary employment of emergency replacements to substitute during industrial action. Potential emergency replacements will be recruited by Managing Authorities to be deployed if necessary if industrial action exceeds a certain amount of days." End quote.

Today, our news team waited outside that Ministry and Management meeting, asked Education Minister Faber about this unprecedented, emergency action:

Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education
"We are task as the Ministry of Education to make sure that there is that efficient provision of education in this country and if it means that there is going to be the kind of industrial action that we'll see a prolonged interruption in the education services of this country; we are forced to act."

"Our move is to indeed convene a meeting of the national council, NC the national council for education and the NCTVET which is required by our education act and rules that we consult before making signing any statutory instrument into effect. We proposed to meet with the NC and the NCTVET on Friday and to consult with them. The union president in fact is a part of I believe both of those entities so he will be present, he will be invited; if he has not received the invitation I extend that invitation now."

"In an effort to try to ensure that we are doing things legally, I intend to sign the statutory instrument to amend the rules to allow for this permit to teach to be extended to allow for the hiring of teachers to assist in emergency situations like industrial action. I intend to have that signed and good to go by the end of the weekend, we have said of the managing authorities that is the general managers and the board chairs and whoever else is involved with the hiring that they should proceed with finding people who will meet the requirements of the permit to teach. Anybody who is in that category and the school's management sees if fit that they can be of assistance in keeping the doors of the school open, those are the person we have encouraged the management, the managing authorities to add to their list of potential person to be hired as temporary teachers."

"We have parents who have indicated to the schools listen if the teachers are not going to be there we are going to come in, we are going to help out and there is nothing necessarily wrong with that in theory but legally you cannot just bring anybody into the school system like that. There are concerns of course that we have and so we want to do things on a proper legal footing."

This afternoon, less than an hour after those morning meetings were completed, news of this intended SI went viral on Facebook, and condemnations of Faber's actions were swift and numerous. We put a few of those criticisms to him today, and here's what he had to say in response:

Micah Goodin - Krem
"How do you respond to criticism that this is perhaps another move by government at union busting?"

Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education
"Well I don't understand how that could be.."

Reporter
"Because we democratically have the right to demonstrate?"

Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education
"Ah no and I need to make that clear. Industrial action is properly warranted according to the education act and the accompanying rules and the amended rules; industrial action is warranted when there is a properly constituted labour dispute. All is now aware that in fact the 3% increment that the prime minister proposed for referral is not on the table."

"They made is clear, you've seen their flyer, it's not about the 3, it's about the country. That the 8 demands are what they are striking for so the closes you could have gotten to a labour dispute was for that 3% to be brought in. So as far as we are concerned this strike does not properly constitute a reason under our rules for the teachers union to be striking."

Daniel Ortiz
"Sir are your emergency measures not properly classified as scab labour or strike breaking?"

Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education
"No and you will know that the obligation, the mandate to me as minister of education and to my ministry the ministry of education that we must ensure that there is the delivery of education services in this country. You could term it whatever you want in terms of being whatever; but that is my obligation that is my job that is my responsibility that is the responsibility of my ministry - to make sure that the children of this country and by extension the citizen of this country because it's not limited to children alone; that they are offered education services and if there is something that is impeding that delivery of service, then is my obligation to try to find other mechanism to do that and that is exactly what we are doing."

Daniel Ortiz
"Couldn't this be interpreted as the government trying to muzzle the teachers?"

Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education
"Let me remind you again, I said it just now but let me be clear. This morning this meeting was with the managing authorities. General Managers for primary schools and board chairs and even their principals who serve on the board representing managing authorities at the secondary level; our purpose this morning was not to say to anybody support the government, you have to do what the government - that's not our purpose. Our purpose was to say to these managing authorities that under the law you're obligation is to make sure that schools remain open and that the services of education are offered."


UDP Goes Into Overdrive To Keep School Open, But Are They Union-Busting?

And while the Education Ministry and the political directorate are going to extraordinary lengths to keep schools open, on the ground, UDP politicians were working their tails off today.  Cabinet tasked area representatives to visit schools in the constituencies and make direct appeals to the teachers and principals not to participate in a strike.  We found out about it when two city reps showed up at Wesley Lower school , which is one block from our studio. We waited for them to finish and asked what the meeting was about:…

Tracey Taegar-Panton - UDP Area Rep, Albert
"We have been meeting with the teachers and with the principals and the management of the schools to share with them government's responses to the eight point demands that were made by the BNTU management - because we think it is important in terms of decision making that both sides of the conversation be well represented so that teachers can make up their own minds. We are certainly concerned that schools needs to remain open, our children need to be in school and we're hoping that we can appeal to our teachers to look at things objectively and be able to keep schools open on Monday and keep children in school."

Jules Vasquez, 7News
"You're union busting."

Hon. Michael Finnegan - UDP Area Rep, Mesop.
"Tracy and I responsibility, is to make sure that we visit every school in Belize City and we will talk to every teacher, individually as was done this morning at Grace Primary School, individually as was done at Calvary Temple Primary School, and as a group that was done here at Wesley School."

"And the government wants to make it extremely clear that we do not have any quarrel with any teacher in the country of Belize and the teachers have a right to strike and that is the constitutional right, and we live in a democracy, but the teachers must be given the two sides of the story."

Jules Vasquez
"However sir, answer the question if you don't mind, what you're doing here is you're telling the teachers, do not be loyal to your union, do not follow your president, follow us, the government."

Hon. Michael Finnegan - UDP Area Rep, Mesop.
"To be educating people, is not union busting. We are...only one side was presented, in fact no side was presented to them because they did not came back, they never come back to the teachers. They sat with the prime minister and sat with him for almost five hours and presenting a letter 18 hours later, and the first paragraph, "in your meeting with us today" it means that the same night they write the letter Jules."

"But you see in my view this is not bout teachers, this is not about representing the interests of the teachers, this is about toppling the government of Belize."

Jules Vasquez
"What was the reception today Tracey?"

Tracey Taegar-Panton - UDP Area Rep, Albert
"I think we had a very good dialogue with the teachers, we were mostly listening to the concerns of the teachers but they were also willing to hear our views on the matter. I think it was open, it was receptive, we did ask them to look at things objectively and then to make a decision from there as they see fit."

Jules Vasquez
"However, are you aware, what I've heard, that many of the teachers resent the government because those same teachers in there have to improvise have to spend their own money in order to prepare their classrooms."

Hon. Michael Finnegan - UDP Area Rep, Mesop.
"But that is what BNTU should do. That is exactly what BNTU should do; make a list of demands to make our classrooms better and to make our teachers work in a better atmosphere and to work in there with dignity, and respect and with love, that is the job of the BNTU, their job is not to try to topple the government! Ah? There was just an election! Their job, Jules, is to try to topple the Dean Barrow Administration; Blind-eyed Jamesy could see that!"

Jules Vasquez 
"You want to tell the union what is their job, but they're advocating so that the children they educate - this is what they say - so that children they educate can live in a better, just society, free of corruption which they believe your government represents, Sir."

Hon. Michael Finnegan - UDP Area Rep, Mesop.
"What corruption my government represents? Noh, but then you could argue it. Tell me what corruption my government represents."

Jules Vasquez  
"Sir let us not go into it because we could be here all day."

Hon. Michael Finnegan - UDP Area Rep, Mesop.
"So when our teachers and children fail PSE, so we must follow and seh, the children 50% of they are failing, so what should we do, bring teachers from the Caribbean and international to teach the children at school? That is unfair and disrespectful to our teachers. It is not the teachers that have they children fail they examination."

Jules Vasquez  
"Well you can't blame the children."

Hon. Michael Finnegan - UDP Area Rep, Mesop.
"There are a compilation of things that cause that, noh di teachers."

Jules Vasquez   
"If next week Monday this school is closed down. Is it then okay for me to say that you tried and you failed?"

Hon. Michael Finnegan - UDP Area Rep, Mesop.
"Well let's wait and see. And I think since morning we have been dealing with extremely reasonable people. I like what we are seeing. I love what we are seeing."

Jules Vasquez
"But you know that everybody who run against you in Mesop. they seh di same thing. They like what they are seeing election morning, but they don't like what they see election night."

Hon. Michael Finnegan - UDP Area Rep, Mesop.
"But let's wait and see, let's wait and see, the proof of the pudding is in the eating."

Finnegan told us that he and Taegar visited the majority of schools in Albert and Mesopotamia.


Is The Barrow Admin. Rattling The Union’s Chain?

So, is the Government concerned about provoking the teachers into more drastic action? These temporary replacements, in theory allows for the Ministry to keep the schools open, and it very deliberately undermines the leverage that the BNTU had with the strike – what the Prime Minister called "holding parents to ransom."

So, we wondered if the Minister has considered that the teachers may feel compelled to match and exceed government's strategy with their own equally drastic plan of action. Here's how he answered that one:

Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education
"I am not trying to pick a fight; I'm merely trying to do what is required of me, as I'm obliged to do under the responsibilities that have been task to me as Minister of Education. I really hope we don't have to have to get to any point of employing replacement teachers; I really would love to see that people turn to work on Monday and that they give the government its due opportunity to fix issues. I think it is clear in all the 8 demands made that there is movement to try to resolve these issues. If it was that people were trying to send a signal in last Monday's rally and demonstration that we are serious about you doing something; message well received. And if it is they even need another day and are willing to take the repercussions then take Monday. In fact our plan says we will try to put replacement teachers by Wednesday and so we are even giving a few days but beyond that I'm telling you we will have to act and act responsibly; however much people will interpret that to mean me picking a fight or the government wanting confrontation or trying to displace people out their jobs - that is choice they are making."

"If the government was doing nothing then that is another issue. The unions in particular the BNTU in their response to the prime minister after the Thursday meeting, their letter to him on the Friday if you look at how they classify the 8 things there is not an item as far as I recall where they say nothing is being done on this issue - you check it. Every issue and you might argue with the percentage of or level at which any of those items are dealt with but nobody can say that none of them....the prime minister has said I'm doing absolutely nothing, I'm not responding."

Daniel Ortiz
"The cosmetic changes..."

Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education
"Sorry?"

Daniel Ortiz
"But cosmetic changes aren't real changes sir."

Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education
"Well you are calling them cosmetic, not everybody agrees with what you are saying. And much of what is being said in terms of the prime minister's position is being done not only by the government but in consultation with partners. And this is the point the prime minister makes you know, so when you say that they are cosmetic you are insulting the intelligence of the chamber who the prime minister has engaged with. You are insulting the intelligence of the other unions who the prime minister has sought their support, you are insulting the intelligence of the churches, so I wouldn't call them cosmetic."

"Is it that we should allow the BNTU to high jack the government? Was it not that we were elected to do a job?"

Micah Goodin - Krem
"Is this administration fearful that the BNTU might just topple the government?"

Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education
"(Laugh...) that's a loaded question and I like your passion in expressing your point. Listen we are not confused about who is the government you know and who is put here by the people to govern."

Faber told us that the teachers will be paid for last week Monday, which they missed to participate in that demonstration. They will not be paid for next week Monday's strike, and if it continues past Tuesday, on Wednesday, those temporary teachers will be deployed.


In A Tense Time, Chafing Between Cops And Media

And while the media was waiting on the outcome of today's meeting between the ministry and the school managers at the ITVET, one of our media colleagues got into a little back and forth with the police.  Amandala's Micah Goodin was outside on the verandah near a window and police said that he was in the wrong area, or perhaps thought that he appeared to be eavesdropping on the meeting.  Police asked him to move – but he refused and so they sent for backup in the form of the Northside Strike Team.  The northside officers came and urged him strongly to move, and after some back and forth, complemented by forceful reasoning, Goodin agreed and went quietly, with some protestation.  He joined the other media who were waiting not far away.

It's a small encounter that was defused without any physical confrontation, but perhaps it is indicative of some chafing between police and the media in these tense times.  Now even though this happened on the northside, and today we asked the southside commander about the importance of friendly police and media relations…

ACP Chester Williams - Regional Commander, Eastern Division South
"I understand that while the media have the agenda in terms of the news that they put out, that as a police organisation we cannot work in isolation of the media because we do have our message we need to get out to the public and the media is the vehicle that we should use to be able to do that."


Jail For Repeat Offending Fishermen

Today in the Magistrate’s Court, two men went to jail for fisheries offences. Now usually these offences only carry a fine, but brothers, Ergil and Marvin Patt, who both have a history of fisheries crimes, got a custodial sentence when they pled guilty to illegal entry into a protected fishing area near the Half Moon Caye monument, and illegally fishing in the area. The brothers were caught with a lobster bearing eggs as well as 4 juveniles – out of season. Marvin was sentenced to seven months in prison for each charge, while Ergil was sentenced to six months for each charge.

A third fisherman, Medardo Rivera, pled guilty to the same crimes and was charged $1000 for each offense. If he fails to pay the first fine by October 31, and the second by December 30, Rivera will serve six months for each offense.


ACP Williams Says Cops Should Follow Up On Leads In McAfee Doc

"Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee" premiered on Saturday – and since then we haven't heard anything about police following up on the many actionable pieces of information fleshed out by the film-makers. There were two murder conspiracies unveiled, one for American Greg Faull and the other for Orange Walk resident David Middleton. Now, we're not saying that documentaries are equivalent to police investigations, but there sure is some stuff in there that crime investigators might want to look at – because at least two persons told the cameras that they abetted murder. The Commissioner of Police hasn't responded to our request for a comment, and the cops have boxed the DPP out of the case, so we asked the only police officer we can speak to regularly, Assistant Commissioner Chester Williams.  He's a trained attorney and agreed that there are some leads in there that the police should be following up on:…

ACP Chester Williams - Regional Commander, Eastern Division South
"I think that it is something that the police can use to be able to probe more into the death Mr. Middleton from Orange Walk and to see how we can use some of the things that have been said as a basis to be able to look at some of these persons and interview them further."

Duane Moody - Channel 5
"Is there a possibility for any person to be charged with even conspiracy to commit in terms of I believe the caretaker, I think the woman that lured Mr. Faull, allegedly lured Mr. Faull the alleged killer; anything can be levied against these persons given what was revealed in the video?"

ACP Chester Williams - Regional Commander, Eastern Division South
"Like I said there are several interesting revelations and those are things that the police can look at."

Duane Moody - Channel 5
"Sir who would have to take that directive?"

ACP Chester Williams - Regional Commander, Eastern Division South
"Well the directives will have to come from the investigators who have the case, the case is not closed. A murder investigation does not have any statute of limitations so it is open still, the investigators still have hold of that matter and they can revisit those persons and revisit everything that has been said in that video."


Is Police HQ Playing Favourites With Northside?

And while ACP Williams can't really speak for the investigators – it's because they have their own bosses to answer to in their formation.  Back in Chester's formation, which is the Southside, they're more or less on their own.  The prosecution and tourism police unit answer to the northside commander, which also has the majority of vehicular resources.  That's why we listened with interest in July when the former police minister John Saldivar said that more resources would be placed in the southside – which is the country's largest crime hotspot.  And the Prime Minister also saw the need when he earmarked two vehicles for the southside. Today we asked if those have come through yet – and we were surprised at the response:…

Jules Vasquez
"You have recently been boasting that the prime minister would give the south a pair of wingles. Have you all received those vehicles yet, we are talking about patrols; do you all have that additional mobility that you've crying out for?"

ACP Chester Williams - Regional Commander, Eastern Division South
"Well yes the prime minister had promised us 2 vehicles and I must say that yesterday we received the 2 vehicles and I must give special thanks to the prime minister despite the economic challenge we are going through he saw it fit to provide us with 2 vehicles but of the 2 vehicles only 1 has been assigned to Southside and the other was assigned to north side."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir but north side as we know has statistically and geographically far less of a population, far less gang areas and far less crime and if I'm not mistaken north side already has the added benefit of the TPU the Tourism Police Unit which though geographically on the Southside answers to north side and the prosecution branch. So they have more resources already plus additional more resources. Is the Southside, your formation being discriminated against?"

ACP Chester Williams - Regional Commander, Eastern Division South
"Well I will tell you that I would wish that the 2 vehicles were assigned to us we really needed the two vehicles. We are significantly low in terms of where vehicular resources is concern and we do have a huge area to cover and like you rightfully mentioned the area is significantly gang infested. Many of times we find ourselves in difficult situations to be able to move around but the commissioner had made that decision and so we see how we move forward from there."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir but you're restating a fact. I'm asking outwardly it seems that the Southside is systematically discriminated against. How many vehicles does the entire Southside have right now?"

ACP Chester Williams - Regional Commander, Eastern Division South
"Well currently we have 3 vehicles and we are optimistic that in the not too distant future we'll be getting some through the US embassy and it will bring our vehicular resources to where we would want it to be."

Jules Vasquez
"So then if you all have 3 vehicles, if I'm not mistaken last I checked north side with the prosecution branch and the TPU has close to 10 vehicles if not more. So then is there a pattern of favouritism then with does not work in your Southside favour?"

ACP Chester Williams - Regional Commander, Eastern Division South
"Well I will not want to venture into saying. Like I said I would have wished that we had received the 2 vehicles; I think that we really needed the vehicles and hence the reason we had asked for them but the commissioner made that decision and he is the commissioner and we will live with it."

The tourism police unit which recently received two similar vehicles had some bad luck last month when of them was rear-ended.


Making Manatees Matter

Belize is home to around 1000 Antillean Manatees, the largest population in the world. And though the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute has done its best to ensure that these gentle mammals of the sea are protected, dozens of manatees die every year because of preventable human interaction, such as collisions with boats or getting caught in gill nets.

Today, CZMAI launched a promotional video created to highlite the importance of manatee conservation:

Jamal Galves- Program Coordinator/Research Biologist at Sea to Shore Alliance
"Belize like I always mention, is the last stronghold for Antillean Manatees in the world, so our efforts here are crucial not only for Belize, but for the rest of the world. Manatees are important to Belize in that they are the only nutrient recyclers in our waterways, they eat nine to ten percent of their body weight daily, and they excrete a lot which provides food for small fishes and crustaceans and we know how Belizeans enjoy seafood. If you want to enjoy those fishes stocks, you have to keep manatees around and it has an economic value as well. Many people in the tourism sector benefits from manatees."

"Last year we had 42 dead manatees, the year before we had 33 if I am not mistaken. If it continues along that direction, there is a possibility that we can see manatees become extinct within our life time if measures are not put in place to ensure that. Majority of these incidents occur in the Belize river mouth area, and this is the area that the manatees traverse a lot. They need to be there to get fresh water, they need fresh water to survive and it's also an area used heavily by humans, particularly for tourism aspects. So we need to find a level playing field whereby tourism can exist alongside manatees and not have on or the other push away the other."

The promotional video airs as an advertisement in our next commercial break.


Re-Branding Belize City From “Bad-Man Town” to Business Center

Belize City: if you're not from here, you probably know it as the murder capital of the country. Couple the crime problem, with its tendency to flood, its squalid slums, the old buildings, and its disorderly growth, and you get the picture…Belize City is...how can we put it?: A beautiful struggle. Charming, but  – not the kind of thing that exactly inspires confidence.

But, the City Council wants to turn that prejudice on its head. For the last few months, they have been working with branding experts from the Inter-American Development Bank. Today, after much planning and design, they unveiled a new logo, which will be the flagship icon to re-cast perceptions of this battered City by the sea.

We met the Mayor out on a parade to make a soft launch of this rebranding effort:

Darrell Bradley, Mayor - Belize City
"This is an activity that was really birthed by the IDB. We've been working with them over the last year on a branding campaign for Belize City and this week is actually the soft launch. They actually - IDB funded a consultant to come into Belize City and they actually designed a brand in collaboration with local stakeholders and having done a short consultation session with members of the private sector, members of civil society and young people. So what we're doing this week here is we're launching a brand, it's a soft launch so there will be formal activities in relation to promoting the brand but we want to have it be something that impacts the community so we decided to do a walkthrough of Belize City which is very quick. We have a brand kind of like a float that we launch in the September celebrations Independence Day parade likewise we have our councillors out here and we asked certain of the schools to just come out and we're giving them some treats with a bag of sweets with the brand on it. We're giving away t-shirts and we're trying to promote the brand so that people can take ownership of it. It's something that we wanted to be something that reflects the highest values of Belize City so that we're not only trying to sell something; we're trying to actually promote an idea. If you look at the brand itself it's a series of interlocking discs and one of the things that speaks to me about is it's celebrates the idea of Belize City as a diverse place; hands and hearts working together. Some people say it look like a coconut tree so that could reflect the fact that we have an environment we can be very proud of. Belize City is kind of easy and lazy and laid back; it can also represent the water. Some people were actually saying it looks like a carnival mass, a part of the branding exercise or the walk through this morning is that we've invited one of the carnival bands just to come out with us and try to get some energy throughout Belize City. The idea with the brand and this activity is that we want members of the public to be engaged. The brand isn't something we want to just stay in an office or to be on magazines or something like that, we want people to actually engage with it, take ownership of it and really be proud of the city that they live in."


Making Business More Affordable

We also asked the Mayor to discuss regime change in the trade licenses fees and property taxes. It was unveiled last week Thursday, after months of consultation with the business sector which calls Belize City its home.

The mayor told us that if everything goes well, business persons and property owners in this City will get a significant discount:

Darrell Bradley, Mayor - Belize City
"With the trade license reform that was a process that we engaged the private sector on, we spoke to them for a period of two years. Many of the ideas came from the partnership that we develop with the chamber of commerce and we're very pleased and happy about that process. I can't tell you that it would yield something that is successful but I can tell you that the methodology, the idea of active engagement over the course of two years. The idea of having consultants come in and having it be based on analysis and response and even now the public consultations that we're launching they're not very very well attended. The last one we had, had about 50 odd people but the questions were very good."


Mayor Agrees (Verbally) With Integrity Filings

While we had the opportunity, we asked the Mayor if he is willing to disclose his assets to the Integrity Commission, like the PUP did last week.

Now, the Commission is presently not functioning. But, in all this talk about good governance that the Teachers have pushed, we wondered if the Mayor is willing to do what they are legally required to as elected public officers. He told us that he has no problem with it:

Daniel Ortiz
"Is that something you would entertain?"

Darrell Bradley, Mayor - Belize City
"Well I have absolutely no problem with that. I think that as a leader we must lead by example and in relation to the disclosure of assets that's something I would encourage other elected officials to do and I would be fully prepared to do that. I would actually go on record to say I would commit to doing that by a certain time. I have looked at the requirements, it's actually kind of onerous but it's no problem in me doing that, I have nothing to hide and I think that we are moving towards better integrity and transparency in public life and I think we need to have more conversations about that. Not only about the idea of disclosure but it has to be comprehensive. One of the things that I have looked at and is very necessary is the idea of public sector reform. We need to ensure that that the public service is based on meritocracy. The idea of procurement of services, you need to ensure that the proper procurement rules and that those procurement rules are followed so that all of those things are a part of good governance."


Youths From All Over The World In Belize

This week Belize is hosting the 4th Caribbean Youth Leaders' Summit. Over 100 delegates from 20 different countries throughout the Caribbean, Costa Rica and Namibia have gathered in Belize to attend workshops that will better prepare them to guide the region. We spoke to Tijani Christian, the chairman of the summit, about this year's theme.

Tijani Christian - Chair, 4th Carib, Youth Leader's Summit
"So the theme for this year is agenda 2030 from rhetoric to action. It's looking at moving beyond just talk shops as we like to call them and look at how we would really do action to implement the SDG. We had a lot of dialogue, we had a lot of consultation, we are saying as young people now we've done a lot of talk, we've done a lot of consultations how can we now move to the next step which to implement. And so through this summit it's really around capacity building of our youth leaders because at the same time if you want someone to really do something you have to train them, you have to equip them with the skills to do so. So this youth summit is training our youth leader to the skills necessary for the implementation of the SDG. At the end of the day what we'll be doing is a collaborative effort across all the regional networks and groups to ensure that we implement strategically because the best way is to work wise."

Agenda 2030 is a UN initiative aimed at sustainable development by aiming to end poverty and inequality as well as to make serious strides in preventing climate change by 2030.


Cops, The Community and Crime

Today we met the Southside police commander in the St., Martin;s Area – on Complex Boulevard. That’s the very same street that has seen so much gun violence and murders recently. He acknowledged that the area is a challenge but says police have a seriously stepped up presence:…
A semi permanent vehicle checkpoint has been set up in the area on Lacroix Boulevard.

Marijuana Da Maya Mopan

Cops from the Independence Village came upon a weed plantation this morning. A team of Special Branch and CIB Officers set out at around 4 this morning where they went searching in an area 5 miles southwest of the Maya Mopan Village in the Stann Creek District.

That’s where they found the plantation with 36 mature marijuana plants with heights of about 9 to 10 feet. The officers immediately uprooted all the weed trees and burnt them completely. No one was seen in the area, so no arrests, connected to this plantation, could be made.


Belize Men’s Volleyball Looking Promising

The FIVB International Men's Volleyball tournament continues tonight at the SCA multipurpose center in Belize City – and team Belize continues to surprise. After their loss to Guatemala on Sunday, Team Belize managed to take two back to back victories against Panama on Monday night, and Nicaragua on Tuesday. Our cameras caught the action last night and Alex Courtenay reports:
And while the Belize Men’s Volleyball team looks to extend their winning record in a game against the Dominican Republic that should be starting right about now, another Belizean team is making its mark in Honduras. The girls from SCA are representing Belize in 19th CODICADER Games in Honduras. After a three set loss against Guatemala in their first game, the Belize team pulled off a victory against Nicaragua in three sets. Honduras did not fare any better, and also lost to Belize in three sets. On Tuesday, the SCA girls continued their winning streak, taking down Panama in three sets again. This puts Belize just one win away from earning a bronze medal in the games.

Medals Coming Along At Codicader

Volleyball isn’t the only thing Belize is excelling at in this year’s CODICADER games. Ashanti Carr won the gold medal in the triple jump event, as well as earning a silver in the long jump. Ashanti, along with her twin sister Ashonti, Hillary Gladden and Faith Morrisin, won a second silver medal in the 4 X 100-meter relay. Faith Morrison won herself a bronze in the 200-meter race, and Alec Betancourt earned a bronze in the Judo: 90 kilogram weight class.

BEL and Belize Bank Beneficent With Ms. Bregal

Today Dangriga resident, Alexandrina Bregal, received the keys to her new house. The house is the 300th constructed by Hand in Hand Ministries’ through their “Build for Change Program". Partnering with Belize Bank and BEL, Hand in Hand Ministries was able to provide Bregal and her daughter with a new, fully furnished wooden house. Volunteers from both companies joined forces to build Bregal her new home.


7 News for Wednesday, 28th September, 2016 from 7News Belize on Vimeo.


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