Bati Bleki Buzz, Weekly Recap, July 21st, 2019

Every one badly behaved

The #me-too movement might have arrived on our shore, people are talking, about what’s right, and what isn’t.

They used to brush stories off with #BWBB, boys will be boys, and girls grow up early in the tropics, but recently there is more discussion surrounding the promiscuous theme.

Example: The recent arrests of a band leader, and his adult son, on two separate and unrelated charges of having relations with underage women. I believe denials were filed via respective lawyers.

Older men, younger women, this has been going on for a long time. An open secret in every society under the sun, only in the Caribbean, women mature earlier.

I even had a conversation one day with that middle-aged father, a style-styled savior, basically a self-righteous philanderer, and told him my dog Goose, is older than his girlfriend – Goose will be 15 in August. He dismissed my findings by stating how much he does for these lost kids, and that without him their lives would be in the gutter. End of discussion.

The girlfriend, a very beautiful early bloomer, seemed to enjoy the attention and the fuss. She strutted her stuff like a peacock, aroused.  I have no clue how old she was, but definitely tender.

Which raises the question, does a teenager know what’s good for her/him?

During a recent lunch conversation with some DJ friends who have their fingers on the social pulse, the subject of discussion was another band-leader, who fathered, brace yourself, at least one dozen off-springs with one-dozen different groupies. In a recent year, he had TWO babies in the making. Over grilled chicken and sautéed vegetables, my DJ friends lauded the band leader for his peacemaking skills, for getting all women to work together, in Carnival, helping put a carnival group together.

Then last week, we were treated to another episode of Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned, an old British saying that foresees the wrath and vengeance dished out by a woman feeing wronged, because her husband abandoned her in favor of another lady-love.

This man however, had no peacemaking skills at all, he started a new chapter in his life without closing the old one, which affected his wife greatly, and his daughter even more, and recently even his boss protested. This drama spilled over to social media, and aired all dirty laundry in public.

Well, whatever, at least they are adults, who cares, but #16 on the MEP list with just 237 votes, now stands to inherit the seat vacated by the unfortunate MEPFLIX saga. So bad behavior will be rewarded with a cushy job in parliament.

Perhaps we should look at #17 on the list with 525 votes or #29 with 972 followers, and entrust one of them with a seat in parliament, allowing candidate #16 to sort things out on the home front. Everyone is entitled to happiness, but peacemaking skills are essential.     

Perhaps the fertile band leader could open some coaching classes

A business without a sign

First things first: Congratulations to Divi Resorts, 50 years in business. Man on the Moon coincided with the opening of the first ocean-front casitas at Divi, on Wednesday, July 16th, 1969.

Then here’s my column for today

A business without a sign is a sign of shady business

When will the business community, and developers understand the value of signage?

When the Cinemas announced the construction of a new complex on Sasaki, their first move was to stack two containers and erect a mega sign, letting the public know what was going on.

I congratulate them on that.

Even before ground-breaking, we already knew what was coming,

That is an act of transparency. The developer announced his intentions and by means of a sign explained to the public the inconvenience of empty cement bags flying in the wind and lunch boxes rolling in the dust.   

For months we wondered what the winged monstrosity next to Superfood will bring, now we know, as soon as the developer needed tenants, he put up a sign. Not a minute before that. But we are grateful for the aesthetic look of the building. It is not an instantly shabby strip mall, like the ones popping up like mushrooms after the rain, along the highway.

Someone is building some other monstrosity across RBC bank, without the courtesy of letting us know.

Another is building in town across the cruise ship terminal, some uninspiring row of archy stores, without the courtesy of letting us know.

They cleared the terrain across the street from the bowling alley, some monstrosity is coming there. Guess what, without the courtesy of letting us know.

The list is long.

Since the MinInfra announced that assigned terrain would revert to the domain if untouched, would-be developers have been working their bulldozers overtime.

DIP was finally moved to lame protest reminding them, they have to solicit permits, if they unleash bulldozers into anything over 750m2.

The aanlegvergunning. You must apply for one, beforehand.

Like serving poop on toast. What does it matter? It’s poop. All that terrain was assigned, razed, and no one knows what’s coming, and if finances are in place to finish the projects.  

Bottomline: Developers avoid putting signs up on construction sites, to avoid scrutiny, and accountability. There should be a law for that.

If your development is legit, and your financing in place, and you spent money on architecture and design, logic says you should be proud to put a ring on it, as a sign of commitment. Let us know what you are doing, via a large billboard.

This secretive, crooked, opaque way of doing things got to stop.   

A Legal Nightmare: The Alverhick in SN, the developer named it after himself, Albert Vernon Hickenson

Curtis Fraser posted a few pictures yesterday on social media that woke me up.

Indeed, the Ghost of the Alverhick Hotel has been looming on the refinery gates since 1996.

And Curtis reports the owners of that abandoned building, were given 30 days to come up with a revitalization plan, otherwise, what? He did not say.

The post got incredible reactions, of course, this white elephant has been sitting in our midst, and because it has been there for twenty-three years, no one sees it anymore.

It blended into the background, and became invisible in the public sphere.

Mr. Hickenson was 91 when he built it according to my story, below, he built the hotel from cash from his pharmacy and other businesses, what I wrote then is still entertaining.

Can the SIXTEEN kids, the heirs of the late Mr. Hickenson devise a plan in 30 days? No, it is not reasonable, but they should start moving on a solution. This is a legal nightmare.

From the NEWS, October 29, 1996, also my book ISLAND LIFE

White catering tents had been put up Friday on the bare concrete construction foundation, as Mr. Hickenson was throwing a cocktail party in celebration of the laying of the cornerstone of his dream hotel, The Alverhick.

It all falls in neatly with the urban revival plan for San Nicolas, which includes an infrastructure of roads and highways, housing projects, and sports parks.

The Alverhick Hotel will stand proud offering 55 comfortably appointed rooms and a large casino within walking distance to the refinery, with shopping, entertainment, and services nearby (the Caracas Bar is situated across the street, as is BSL Laundry). Does it make commercial sense, we asked, to invest millions in a project that has smokestacks as a backdrop? Yes, says Richard Gibson Hickenson, the developer’s son. “My father has foresight and he sees in advance what other people don’t. This ten-million-florin investment is a sound business opportunity, and the idea of building a hotel has been on his mind for many years. The refinery often has technicians and engineers from overseas in need of accommodations. They now support the hotels in Oranjestad. Besides, getting a casino license for the property will allow the people of San Nicolas, some of them avid card and slot players, to stick around, thus creating jobs for the area residents and increasing commercial activity.”

At the cocktail party, the prime minister and the minister of finance didn’t spare their compliments. They applauded the initiative, financed out of private pockets. With no government guarantees and no special favors, an injection of cash into the economy makes them all look good, effortlessly. Projects like this are few and far between.

So by now you are probably wondering what is so special about a little 50-something-room hotel. Isn’t it just another initiative on an island dedicated to tourism? Right. Yet, Mr. Hickenson, the much-touted developer, recently celebrated his 91st birthday and is no doubt one of the most colorful characters in the San Nicolas scene.

He is the owner of a thriving business, Botica San Nicolas, the pharmacy on the main street. He runs the fully stocked modern drugstore with his wife. She’s a quiet, brooding, great-grandmotherly Dutch lady, always in comfortable shoes and a long, flowery, flowing gown. He was content to note that of his 16 kids, many showed up for the occasion from the U.S., Holland, and the neighboring islands. That much we did find out from him, as he declares his life story too long and too tiresome to tell. Albert Vernon Hickenson, widely known as Mr. Hicks around the neighborhood, left his native Trinidad with the dreams of becoming a lawyer and going to school in England. With his mother’s permission, he stopped in Venezuela first. “I came to Aruba in 1928 with money in my pocket,” he proudly declares, tapping it gently. He then embarked on a winding business career, beginning with a grocery store.

I walked around gleaning secondhand information from the crowd, the San Nicolas business community, who colorfully painted a mythical figure for me in the best exaggerated Caribbean way. Nobody has ever broken into Mr. Hick’s business, explained one, as people here believe he has magical powers. He keeps to himself, aloof and always mysteriously successful. Another described him as firm and meticulous and highly predictable, as San Nicolas residents have been setting their clocks according to Mr. Hick’s daily routine, his store opening and closing hours, all these years. When the Lago refinery closed, informed another, Mr. Hicks bought all the old electrical equipment, stored it in a warehouse, then sold it to the Coastal people at a handsome profit. He has incredible business acumen, strict but fair, they all agree.

“And he is in possession of more than your regular dose of courage,” says Richard, visibly awed by his father’s undertaking in the winter of his life. “Most of all,” Richard concluded, “my father is a good role model for senior citizens on this island. For him, life isn’t over until it’s over. He has been meaning to build a hotel in San Nicolas for many years, and he wasn’t going to let his age become a handicap when opportunity smiled his way.”

Each morning you can find Mr. Hicks opening the gate to his construction site and allowing workers in. He is the contractor and the foreman, the bookkeeper and the bank.

The Carib Celebrates 60 Years as the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino

Today, sixty years ago, July 18th, 1959, the opening ceremony of the new, swanky resort on Palm Beach took place in the presence of the Governor of the Netherlands Antilles, representing the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Antoon Arnold Marie “Teun” Struycken.

He gave a short speech, and we have a picture of the ribbon cutting in the archive.

Carl Wolff was recruited as the first General Manager of the Carib, by Executive House, from Chicago. For the casino, Clifford Jones and Jake Kozloff, both well-known in international gambling circles, were contracted to operate gaming. They had a limitless budget to bring the best entertainers of that time to perform in the “Klompen Klub,” among them Xavier Cugat, Harry Belafonte, Jack Benny and Liberace.

Just before opening, during the hotel soft opening period, the 120-member Washington Symphony Orchestra came to perform in Aruba for two days, all expenses paid by the U.S. government.

That was nice.

Remember, they have been busy since 1955, with building the road from Oranjestad to where the Holiday Inn now stands, to make the beaches accessible. This coastal road eventually led to the beautiful, new hotel, the first to be built, the Aruba Caribbean, a deluxe undertaking, with just 125 rooms originally. So when the official opening took place it was a national happening.

 Visionary politicians Juan Enrique Irausquin and Oscar Henriquez basked in the glow of the moment.

Once the ribbon was cut, Hildegarde, an American cabaret singer, gave an unforgettable rendition of her well known “Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup” song, accompanied by the orchestra of Eduardo Chavez, then a local folkloric show presented, and Padu Lampe fired up his piano.

I wish I could have been there.

Later on, to celebrate the resort 7th anniversary the recently married Royal Highness Princess Beatrix, who became the Dutch Monarch in 1980, and her husband of four-months Prince Claus of the Netherlands, joined the government of Aruba, for lunch.

It was July 22nd, 1966.

Would you like to know what they had?

The gold engraved menu on the occasion of their royal visit here included Lobster Medallions en Belle Vue, poached then sliced lobster with mayonnaise over greens. The appetizer was followed by the elegant Boeuf Wellington, center cut filet mignon wrapped in puff pastry, layered with pâté de foie gras, sitting in a puddle of sauce Perigueux, a rich classic, flavored with Madeira wine and black truffles.

Not just any vegetables, but Bouquetiere Aristrocrate, an aristocratic bouquet of veggies, escorted by crunchy Pomme Noisettes, the bite size hazelnut potatoes.

The Salad Mimosa, a layered fish salad chased the main course, then for dessert, Bavaroise Royale, a classic pastry cream.

The meal concluded with Le Café, and Les Liqueurs.

The royals sipped Chablis Premier Cru Vaillon 1962, and Champagne Dom Perignon 1959.

They had money, they had good taste.  

I wish I could have been there.  

When you consider that in those days, there were no large government guarantees for the development of resorts, and when you note that the government set up a corporation and financed the project by involving local and foreign investors, plus loans from Holland, you realize how visionary the construction project of the Aruba Carib was.

Of course, later our government guaranteed huge bank loans to private investors to finance their hotel projects, which got us in hot – Italian – water, but then it all worked out, it’s all paid off already.  

The Aruba Carib, now the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino carries the mission of Aruban hospitality excellence on. Besides, sixty is the new forty.

The MinSush, working on his pension plan

Incinerator. Why would the MinSush insist on an incinerator?

There must be a *WIIFM there.

That type of stubbornness reminds me of the All-Inclusive Law.

Why did we need it? Just as a muscle-flexing exercise?

Luckily it was never enacted, and our last and best line of defense is the Governor.

He can always throw nonsense away.

Even if he doesn’t like to flex his muscles, he has the final say.

And hopefully, the men in charge of our financial supervision will say rubbish, and trash the idea.

Europe is phasing incinerators OUT, and we are introducing one?

Three reasons why we don’t want it: It smokes like a chimney. It is a chimney. It will have highly negative effects on our air quality and our health.

The cost of $300 million, will have to be covered by us, indirectly perhaps, but at the end of the day by us. They will have to raise the tipping fee to recover the investment or sell the power they generate at a high cost. Why go from 9 cents to 60 cents a kilowatt?

The ashes, what shall we do with the ashes?

On the other hand, we already have a system in place. And ECOGAS just reached an agreement with Argos Cement, in Colombia, to export the environ-bales for the making of cement.

100% of our trash will be recycled in the existing system.

Cardboard, metal, aluminum, first, and now what’s left will become alternative fuel in the cement making industry.

Sticking to the existing system will result in a SMALLER carbon footprint

But the MinSush would like to pass some laws in Parliament. One to force ALL municipal waste to go to his incinerator, and TWO to force all residents and businesses to pay the Serlimar fee, even if they already use a private company to collect their household and commercial waste. 

Law ONE means the closing of ECOGAS waste processing company. Law TWO means that all clients will have to pay double or cancel their private collection, resulting in the closing of ECOGAS.

Aruba’s existing trash solution delivers zero waste, total recycling, and the exportation of the leftover RDF as alternate fuel for the cement industry in Colombia.

WHY undermine that plan in favor of a $300 million incinerator?

Hence pension plan idea.

*WIIFM = What’s in it for me

Two burning issues Trash & Blood

She is wrong, and misleading

The man who pulls ALL of GOA’s strings was fast to point out how wrong I was on IRRELEVANT matters, while never addressing the issues raised.

Such a smooth operator.

Repeat: The laws heading to parliament are of NO benefit to the general public. They will make SERLIMAR the only one receiving waste.

And the minister managed to talk around it.

The laws will also keep Kendall Aruba/Caribbean Trucking Company NV is business, especially now that they bought the equipment. If the RDF bales are shipped away there will be nothing to bury at Seroe Teishi. But we’ll get back to this another time.

Our only hope is Parliament. But of course the minister runs it. So we need to somehow find support, exploiting the fragmentation of the parties. Make sure Parliament members act in the interest of the community rather than the party they belong to.  We need to remind GOA that they are here to serve us. The public does not serve them. 

Saving Serlimar jobs for votes, and we have to pay for it?

That makes a mockery of the democratic system.

Parliament and GOA need to reconnect with a sense of responsibility towards the people of this island. Lastly, the people of this island need to vote in the interest of their island and not motivated by WIIFM.

(*What’s in it for me)

Remember the letter of the HOH specialist?

In point number five they stated:  Unreliable test results. LabHOH is a mess. Often, there are no test kits, the equipment is broken, and results get lost, it is a critical system and it is failing.

Last week, Amigoe columnist Nico v/d Zee exposed a classic case of fraud at the hospital, so unsophisticated and so evil, that it is hard to believe it actually happened here.

It is alleged that the DIRECTOR OF THE LAB, took it upon himself to handle all PaP-tests, and instead of sending them to a certified Dutch lab, he processed them under the table, with some pathologists doing the work after-hours. He charged full price for his garage-lab results, allegedly registering a company under his wife’s name at his home address, in the Netherlands.

I told you not very sophisticated. And Evil. And ugly/greedy.

One of my girlfriends almost bled to death because she could not get her condition diagnosed for 12 months. The tests never came back from the lab, she was told. When I finally drove her to the ER, she was in a crisis. A visiting Dutch doctor, took one look at her, and was moved into immediate action.   

So I experienced this evil, get-rich-fast-on-the-backs-of-those-ignorant-islanders first hand.     

The follow-up of Nico v/d Zee column reported that LabHOH management tried to fire Nico’s wife, who happened to work as a technician at LabHOH, and the union had to intervene to avoid unlawful dismissal.

The director’s niece most likely got instructions from above, to get rid of the suspected whistle blower.

Additionally, instead of picking up the crooks and throwing them in jail for CORRUPTING our system – wasn’t it supposed to be highly regulated –  the people in charge keep throwing mud around, hoping some would stick.

But they are spinning their wheels in vain. Justice is slow. But it is coming. After months/years of complaints, there is a forensic investigation ongoing.   

 

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July 20, 2019
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