A Beaconite was thrilled to work with the newspaper’s intern for the week, K’launi Williams, as part of Cedar International School’s outreach programme. It’s always fun seeing the news industry through the eyes of a new writer, and the Beaconite was impressed with his ability to jump right in to conducting an interview at a mental health fair on Saturday. She also enjoyed hearing about Mr. Williams’ creative writing projects and ambitions. The Beaconite is eager to one day read more of his work and wishes him well in what can be an immensely rewarding career.
Following Andrew Fahie’s arrest in Miami, it’s hard not to think about some of his decisions as premier in a new light. Of course, none of the United States’ allegations have been proven, and Mr. Fahie is considered innocent until proven guilty. But prosecutors’ depiction of him as a career criminal willing to abuse his powers to move drugs through the Virgin Islands for personal gain is hard to square with the persona of a dedicated public servant that Mr. Fahie attempted to project during his time in office. While reporting this week on Mr. Fahie’s pursuit of radar barges as border security during the pandemic, as outlined by the Commission of Inquiry, a Beaconite found it especially difficult not to read Mr. Fahie’s actions as self-serving. According to the COI report, the barges, which were contracted for around $2.4 million, were deployed without a tender process or approval from Cabinet and other relevant authorities. They also seem to have been largely useless. If the 3.6 tonnes of cocaine seized between November 2020 and April 2021 are any indication, some illegal entrants likely slipped into the territory as well, COI Commissioner Sir Gary Hickinbottom noted. Should Mr. Fahie be convicted of the charges, it will be hard not to wonder if keeping the borders closed was truly his intention.
On Tuesday, Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley shared some details of the new government’s plan to implement the Commission of Inquiry reforms, although still falling short of actually releasing the plan publicly. Immediately, a Beaconite noticed one thing missing: accountability. Although Dr. Wheatley claimed that responsibility would rest with Governor John Rankin to oversee the passage of the reforms, he didn’t mention any plan to grant the governor additional powers to ensure success, or to ensure that reforms are followed after being passed. The governor doesn’t have a vote in Cabinet and doesn’t sit in the legislature, and so the elected government would likely still decide what legislation is passed and whether it’s followed. Dr. Wheatley also made no mention of the kind of Constitutional reform that may provide for permanent, effective change. Given that, the proposal to “work with” the governor appears to be largely lip service, and it’s hard for the Beaconite to believe this so-called partnership would last very long before devolving into the kind of squabbling and power struggles that characterised the Andrew Fahie-Gus Jaspert era. Besides, she thinks that passing new legislation alone is not a cure for what ails the territory: If it were, the reforms passed by Mr. Fahie’s government in the leadup to the COI report might have been enough to result in a different outcome. The territory deserves real change, and that can’t happen by preserving the current system under different branding.
A Beaconite’s friend recently drew her attention to a job listing at the BVI Financial Services Commission for a records and inventory management assistant for which “male applicants only” will be considered. As several commenters pointed out, this stipulation is unnecessarily regressive for equal rights. The only possible explanation the job listing offers for the requirement is the “occasional need to lift 25-30 lbs.” But if that’s the case, why couldn’t the post just list the ability to lift that weight as a requirement? Most women can easily do as much, and some men doubtlessly cannot. Protection from discrimination is a fundamental right codified in the VI Constitution, and it is particularly disappointing to see such exclusions included in a job listing for a major institution. The listing closes today, and the Beaconite hopes that FSC reopens it after widening the candidate pool to what it should have been originally — and makes sure this doesn’t happen again. It seems crazy today to have to continue stating the obvious that ability comes down to a candidate’s individual talent, not their sex.