Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap, November 5th, 2017

A size 12 foot into a size 7 shoe

I keep getting cheerful little messages on Whatsapp from Evelyn Wever Croes, and her followers which keep me abreast of the ongoing political game of chess.

I took one month off from politics after the elections, patiently waiting for the formation of the government, and while there are stories told, there are a great number of stories which remain under covers.

The human drama, the psychological anguish, the emotional blackmail. I am interested in that, but no one seems to have time, or energy to delve into it.

What we hear is that in order to satisfy all egos and ambitions, this country would require 12 ministers, with a nice set up, complete with secretaries, coordinators, and coffee makers.

But our Formador, the leader of the MEP party, would like to see 7, just seven ministers:  4 for MEP, 2 for POR, not that they deserve it, and one 1 for RED.

How do you squeeze a 12 size foot into a 7 size shoe?

This woman is a miracle worker. And while she is having issues within her own party trying to satisfy her own people’s grandiosity, her smile never wavers and her little encouraging notes remain pleasant in tone.

“We’re almost done, we agreed on medicinal Cannabis; we agreed to disagree on AruParking, we’re taking our time to build a strong foundation for the future.”

So they are discussing the issues-du-jour, but are squabbling over portfolios. Some portfolios are lucrative, some not. Apparently tourism is the sexiest, most desired; education and health leave everyone flat!

Thus, I took a month vacay from the simmering pot, stunned from the fallout of our elections. Sure, I welcomed the coalition formation, anything to stop the green machine, but was amazed by a number of things:  How our former MinPres retained his popularity, AND how he abandoned the throne in a huff. He must be the only politician in the history of mankind to ever do that, winning the elections and conceding the battle, without consulting his 300-strong entourage about anything. They are now unemployed.

I want to read about that drama. How do these coordinators feel about looking for jobs? Or for the lucky ones, how do they feel about going back to their old, boring government desks, at a pay cut? Yes, they got paid more as coordinators. How do they feel about the election results now, and how it affected their lives?

And all of those high and mighty green-machine ministers, returning to parliament as ordinary MPs, how do they feel about their careers? Their choices? The leadership they followed and their own leadership?

Have we learned anything? Did we gain any insight?

Those are the interesting stories. Are they plotting their return to power, or do they have coffee in the garden at 6am, with lots of time on their hands to smell the roses.

Does the former MinPres have coffee in the garden at 6am, with lots of time on his hands to smell the roses and help the former First Lady with shopping and laundry?

I am living to know. He was tired getting into the third consecutive political race, his team was divided, too many things said, too many things done, he shouldn’t have run!

Evelyn, we’re behind you, seven is the lucky number!

 

Education needs Attention: Free Legal advice for the Department of Education

As you perhaps remember Olivia L. Sjiem Fat transitioned from Paralegal to Legal Advisor by writing a thesis, “The right to obtain an education and the freedom of education” in Aruba,” which she successfully defended at the University of Aruba, recently.

The thesis deals with the conflict between the government’s obligation to subsidize all schools in order to secure the opportunity for every child to obtain a decent education here, and the autonomy of these school organizations in the private sector, i.e. SMOA and SKOA, to run their schools in the manner they see fit.

I decided the materials are interesting and should be widely read, we freshly remember the frustrations and law suits between the former MinEdu and the various foundations, apparently, that conflict is anchored in law, which must be changed. Olivia writes:

The reality we live in:

Aruba’s applicable laws and regulations regarding elementary education were written in 1972. Back then the Dutch law from 1920 or 1930, regarding elementary education, was used as inspiration. Nowadays, because of technological developments schools use different materials and resources which have not been incorporated into the applicable laws e.g. the use of internet (wifi), computers, digital boards and/ or in some cases air-conditioning. Consequently, a gray area of conflict between the school-boards and the government continues to fester. The government of Curacao for example tried to tackle this problem by updating the law to current standards, by incorporating all these costs or at least specifying what will and what will not be subsidized.

Q: Can the Aruban government ask the parents of a child to pay a certain amount of money as tuition, or does the law require the schools to be tuition free?

A: Aruba does not have a law which states that the government is responsible for all costs related to education. So at this point the government CAN ask parents to pay a certain amount of money towards tuition, and this should be set at a reasonable amount.

Olivia adds that as a progressive country Aruba is obliged to work towards 100% Free Education. This may take ten, twenty or even thirty years. But as an enlightened country we must work towards that goal, with long term planning. It is essential for the politicians to start working on a plan to prepare an assessment of the current situation and start formulating a plan to reach that 100% Free Education goal.

It is important that parents should take some responsibly in this matter; however, as long as laws aren’t updated, and policies remain unclear, school-boards find it difficult to enforce a policy that is not anchored by law.

Parents would have no other option but to follow rules and regulations, if we had any rules and regulations.

Q: Who is supposed to pay for the cost of having air-conditioning in schools? By law, is this the responsibility of the government or of the subsidized school-boards?

A: Olivia is of the opinion that this can be negotiated, then school-boards will enjoy more autonomy AND bigger responsibility in controlling costs. The government and the school-boards should be open and transparent about the amount of money each school is receiving. The existing law also states that in case a school-board controls more than 1 school, the board has the autonomy regarding the way money is distributed, and this is one aspect of the law that needs to be changed, to prevent a situation where one school is better funded then the other.

Regarding the payment of air-conditioning:

Olivia believes that the decision that air-conditioning is no longer a luxury is not a decision that can to be taken lightly. And in her opinion, this is not the most burning of all issues. What should be immediately addressed is whether and why certain schools do, and others don’t, receive a budget covering the cost of having an air-conditioning system in place.

Olivia would like to start the process by adapting a law which clearly states that that every school with a certain number of students is entitled to a certain number of air-conditioned classrooms.

Q: Who is supposed to pay for the maintenance of the school buildings. By law, is this the responsibility of the government or of the subsidized school-boards?

A: The current policy is that the cost of the big renovations and extensive annual maintenance is subsidized by the government while the small fixes, are to be paid by the school-boards. But because certain school-boards cried bloody murder in the media denouncing the burden of maintenance, and pushing it back on the government, successfully, we today unfortunately suffer from the mentality that the government is responsible for everything.

Q: When appointing a principal of a subsidized school (private organization) who has the authority to set the requirements regarding admission to certain schools? Government or school-boards? And in case the government would like to have a say, which legal instrument, should it be using?

A: The school-boards have an ample autonomy when it comes to appointing their own staff and leaders. However, because the government pays ALL salaries – all educators are on government payroll — the government can for example make policies regarding salaries.

If the government makes changes via a Landsverordening, a National Decree it cannot be disputed, but sometime in order to save time, the government uses a Ministerial Decree, which doesn’t hold water in court and its validity is often subject to challenge.

 

Celebrity pups, social media influencers

The Ritz Carlton Aruba has always had a dog friendly policy, as long as they are small, under 20 pounds, but lately they raised the bar on friendliness by inviting celebrity pups Sprout, Mochi and Ella Bean for a stay at the resort.

The dogs are all influencers on instagram, Ella Bean, a 4 pound puppy-mill rescue with 103K followers, Mochi, a 3 year old maltipoo from NY, with 94.4K followers and Brussels Sprout, with 76.9K followers, also from NY.

They were picked up in a limo from the airport with their respective humans, and enjoyed a royal lobby reception and enhanced pet amenities in their rooms, including fluffy doggy beds, treats, toys, their own beach cabana, special life jackets with a shark fin attached, and gourmet menus at all the resort restaurants including the sushi bar.

They experienced non-motorized watersports at Vela where they also met a local influencer, celebrity pup Ringo the Gringo, 97.1K followers — he works on behalf of St. Pepper here, and told the VIP visitors about the work of dog rescue organizations on the island. They posed for pictures on the resort’s eternity bridge.

Then they all went paddle-boarding, wearing their life-jackets.

I have been a follower of Crusoe celebrity dachshund for few years, he is huge sensation, I hope he will be invited here one day, I am living to meet him. Admittedly, I adore that stubborn my-way-or-the-highway breed, and I am one of Crusoe’s 466K followers together with Louella Brezovar, Resort Manager at the Ritz Carlton who also favors low riding wieners.

Check the dogs out on instagram, the pictures are very cool and I hope dog–owners from around the world will pay attention.

I almost forgot, while their humans were getting an in-room massage, the doggies were getting groomed by Fluffy=Paws, in room, of course.

Mondo Cane. It’s a dog’s life.

The take-away says Yahira Santoni, Communications Manager, The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba, the dogs made the Ladies & Gentleman working at the resort very happy, they delivered joy.

(Oxcytocin is to blame, the hormone produced when we bond with a baby or a dog, or anything cute; it makes us feel good about the world. I think Oxytocin is also a good dog name).

 

There’s a new chief in town, the sheriff of Noord

We have a new chief of Police in the district of Noord, Captain Gino Winklaar, a proud member of Korps

Politie Aruba, a graduate of the Police Academy of the Netherlands.

We met him at a Hyatt Regency resort function recently and we all found it especially rewarding to have him around as a guest. He is in charge of the hotel community on Palm Beach, and felt obliged to reach out on his first few weeks on the job. Kudos.

You know I had to quiz him, as soon as I met him:

It took him about three years to decided that he really wanted to join the men in blue. His father encouraged his law school studies, but mid-year at UA law faculty it dawned on Winklaar he was attracted to the daily application of the law, not to its intellectual pursuit. So he decided to apply with the force, a life-changing decision and a long term commitment.

He spent almost 6 years in the Police academy, they wanted to keep him in uniform in the Netherlands, but Aruba said, no way, he’s coming back home.

Then he enjoyed a fast career in Tourism Oriented Policing, as a coordinator with the Beach Police, followed by a stint as a policy maker in San Nicholas. Next came almost 6 years in the International Organized Crime unit — I bet he has interesting stories to tell — and currently as the district chef, chief of uniform units in Noord and our main tourism areas, he already outranks his father, Gino Winklaar Sr., who has more than 40 years on the force, thinking about fishing, and his upcoming retirement.

So what are your plans I asked.

Winklaar reports he is very customer oriented and aware of his status as a civil servant. For the Police headquarters in Noord, he plans going back to basics, making sure his colleagues are held accountable, doing what they are trained to do, while maintaining helpful and friendly ties with the community.

The job of your chief of Police, he explained, depends on the socio-economic climate of the island. If our social and economic situation improves and delinquency is in decline, we love the chief, and if faced by social and economic challenges crime escalates, we hate him. Winklaar believes that the rise in the number of challenges is rarely the Police’s fault, and they do their best under all circumstances, working for the community.

According to Winklaar the feeling of law, order and safety is always subjective; it depends on the age, the economic strength and the consciousness of the public, perceiving the same situation in different ways. A native of war-torn Syria or troubled Venezuela will appreciate our peace and calm much more than a native Aruban, who feels One Happy Island is the norm. Aruba has always been very safe and secure, and the media often takes the smallest incidents out of proportion.

Very much a family man, Winklaar, 38, likes to BBQ for the extended family on weekends, and dedicates the rest of his time to the force. While the men in blue sometimes work 16 hours a day, he feels it is his job to send them home after 8 hours, to refresh and recharge.

Educated, engaged and engaging. The contemporary chief of Police represents a new breed of uniformed officials!

From his on line profile: Police Captain in charge of Aruba’s Noord District and the Tourism Industry, formerly Manager Operations of an Investigations Unit. Experienced in International Crime, crisis management, community policing, immigration, tourism oriented policing, hotel security, crime prevention, strategy and tactics.

 

PwC Masterclass Leadership event, together we make music

PWC presented the Greatest Show on Earth with ringmaster Ruben Goedhoop, for the Masterclass Leadership annual endeavor to elevate the level of leadership on the island, under the slogan:”Only together we can make music.”

I arrived late, because of an earlier much-enjoyed commitment at a wedding, and heard the morning speakers Roland Croes and Luis Oduber “were good,” but that Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes’ insights on her role as one of Aruba’s leaders was “wow.”

Compliments Ronella, where can I read your presentation, please publish.

The real star power came in the afternoon with Javier Wolter and Eduardo de Veer both talking about leadership.

The unorthodox banker recruited marketing masters Armin, Jairo, and Ilan to produce a grand entrance and a spectacular finale merging boxer Mohamed Ali and exit strategist James Bond, including pyrotechnics.

The entertaining presentation kept the room up after lunch and the materials presented with the banker’s typical cadence, urgency and breathlessness, contributed to the total experience.

What did I learn? Javier got his street-smarts as assistant bar-hand at the Watergate watering hole where the movers and shaker of yesteryears picked up their jellied Zult, better known as an excuse for a beer. His book-smarts came from two Florida university degrees.

Javier expects a leader to possess competency, the ability to touch hearts, and trustworthiness. He expects him to have a clear vision for the future and amass a bank of loyalty over the years — a great number of influential friends who owe him, ready to applaud and support.

You must be charming and kill them with kindness, he advised.

His story about his dad was poignant. Dad apparently bought the young Javier a new car, and told him flat out that if he was planning to drive irresponsibly and kill himself it would be as if he had his mother in the front seat with him, and his dad and brother in the back. It was dad’s blunt way of asking him to beware of the dark unintended consequences of irresponsibility.

Javier also had a lot of clever lines, I wish I had written them down: “I learned that hard work does pay off,” and “I learned that some people were made for speed and some for comfort…”.

Not bad for a “banking trailblazer.”

Next up Eduardo de Veer, and he has star power. I think he was the main draw for the business community, eager to crack his code. He told them about private enterprise, and dished out some great tips: Flatten the pyramid, do the right thing, earn your title, and most of all make sure you have a sustainable ROI, attaining financial stability because without that, there is nothing.

I liked his “trust but verify” command, his “challenge the experts” philosophy and his by-now-famous ying & yang “the soft and hard hand”, strategy of mixing discipline and accountability with compassion and genuine care.

His best moment? At the Q&A session, he was asked about his attitude towards labor unions. Yes? No?. His answer was exquisite. He said that an organization that deserves a union should have one. If it is too busy to take care of employees’ needs and wishes, the union should/could step in and organize members. In his case, he declared, he took it upon himself to be his own company’s union leader, truly making sure the troops are happy, well treated, and celebrated at social and sports event, and that feel they are respected, cared for team members.

Eduardo started with “No farmers, No food,” and ended with “No profits, No fun,” we have to make sure we’re making money, otherwise nothing is sustainable.

The last speaker for the day, founding father of the PwC Masterclass Leadership, and best dressed director of the advisory department at PWC, Ruben Goedhoop, took to the stage for his intelligent take on what challenging leadership means.

‘One, set the tone. Two, set the right challenge. Three, keep the momentum going. Four, complete the challenge. Five, say thank you to staffers. Good stuff.

While at the Renaissance Convention Center all speakers of the signed a joint project whereby they will sponsor a leadership program for graduating students of the University of Aruba. This will give the students the opportunity to elevate their level of leadership and challenge them to grow.

 

A circle of successful and ambitious women

I spent some time with a bunch of overachievers on Saturday. We were invited to the Spa at Tierra Del Sol, for water aerobics, spa treatments, some inspirational conversation and lunch over chilled bubbly, all impeccably organized by Orol Henriquez, for Yrausquin, one of the oldest family businesses on the island, 65 years old and kicking.

Of course, getting a manicure on a Saturday is great, but what stood out was the surprising networking nature of the event.

We were seated in a comfortable room, fed delicious cappuccinos and asked a number of thought provoking questions, are you ready. Play this game with your friends and you will be gratified.

Did you have a childhood dream? Have you achieved it? Where do you stand now, in relationship to what you thought you would become.

Who was your inspiration along the way?

What are the qualities you posses which helped you get where you are today?

I have to admit, I rolled my eyes, right from the start, if there is something I hate, its psycho-babble on Saturday, but my cynicism did not last long. The women in the room with me rose to the occasion, they answered the questions openly and honestly, sharing childhood dreams, and their adult manifestations, it was a powerful conversation emceed by an enlightened man, yes, a man, Arie, the Mercedes brand manager.

My fellow warriors had a lot to say. They all turned out to be exceptional women, from different fields with diverse challenges and one thing in common: Stick-to-it-tiveness.

A medical professional, a banker, a printer, a makeup artist, a sales director, a marketing manager, a high school teacher, they painted their own self-portraits with personal stories, making us a closely knit community for the day.

There is something else they all agreed upon. Aruba.

Aruba is a pro-women island, providing us a good pot to grow in.

We are very fortunate for having such a supportive canvas, to paint our stories on.

Aruba Dushi Tera.