Nassau Guardian Stories

The importance of integrity in leadership

January 21, 2015

Dear Editor,
Integrity is said to be a personal choice made by someone who has the qualities of honesty and moral principles, or conviction. It is also truthfulness, consistency of character, or a lifestyle.
Therefore, it is imperative that good leaders lead with integrity, as a leader is someone people look to for direction. Leaders must promote healthy lifestyles and display them.
High standards and good qualities make a positive impact on others. Expected accomplishments should be clearly stated so that there are no confusions or frustration, enabling all to work toward the same goal.
In speaking about organizations, from time to time, the morale is often described as high or low. If the morale is assumed to be high the leader is applauded, however if it is low the leader is blamed. Morale is linked to productivity; therefore, leaders must instill positive energy in team members by letting them know that it is human to err, thereby making the working environment a happy place where one would love to come.
A leader should always be confident and calm. He should put out fires, not light them, so that high morale is maintained. Subjectivity is no motivation to a group and leaders using this tactic will not earn respect from their teams. Also, commitment must be shown to one's word or the leader will not be seen as a fair one.
Once you can gain respect from your team/ group the highest quality work can be achieved.
The leader's attitude should be a positive one and should always reflect that everyone in the group/team is a person. If the leader has deviated from the course set this should be communicated because people look to leaders for advice.
It is also important that leaders learn to think outside the box, differently or from a new perspective, by deciding which decision is the better. Additionally, issues should sometimes be put forward to the groups/teams for guidance.
By not making rash decisions, leaders avoid looking inept and increase the likelihood of reaching stated goals. Leaders should look to mentors for support but should realize that the last say depends on their gut instinct or the voice in their head.
In being a leader one must strive for excellence, honesty, and fairness, and confidence should be the hallmark. If a rule is made for a group or a team, but is only enforced on certain individuals within the team, the integrity of leadership is compromised and the targeted individuals lose respect for the leadership.
Let us remember that we are still a very young nation and should strive for excellence and build this beautiful country God has placed us in so when the baton is passed, the inheritance will be rich and the next generation will celebrate our uniqueness, commendable qualities, and our faith in God.
If a leader wants to pull the rug or create a scene, there must be commitment to his words
Leaders in Christian ministry should realize that the purpose of assembling together is to worship our God and give him thanks for the many blessings he has showered down on us, not to watch each other, because looking at anything for too long will result in you either liking it or hating it. Chances are that it will be the latter.
Let us elevate our minds and focus on those things that will positively transform our lives. Let us elevate our minds so that Amos 5:24 will become a reality: "Justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like mighty streams." Sinners will stand in awe and long for a relationship with our God, Christians will continue examination of their lives and strive for higher heights and deeper depths in God.
Your faith in God will soar and He will always remind you that He is your God and what He has done for others, He will do for you.
A Happy New Year to Bahamians everywhere and may the peace that only the Christ Child gives be with you! God bless and all the best.

- Lillian Dean

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Welcoming Baha Mar with smoke

January 21, 2015

Driving in to western New Providence yesterday you couldn't miss the fire at the landfill. Firefighters are doing what they can but it's been burning for days.
Travelling along the airport road near Lake Cunningham you could see the trajectory of the smoke. It was wafting toward the upper-class homes of the Skyline Drive community. It was blowing near Baha Mar, the billion-dollar resort many hope will rescue the Bahamian economy.
The landfill was formerly under the control of the government. It was poorly conceived and inadequately managed. We became used to fires at it from time to time. The reasons given for them then were spontaneous combustion or arson. The government handed over control of the site to Renew Bahamas last year.
This time the company that now manages the landfill said it was arson. The fire started shortly before 11 p.m. on Saturday.
"We believe this latest incident indicates a concentrated arson attack on the site and facilities, as our sources and surveillance indicate individuals entered the landfill after sunset and deliberately started the fire," the company said.
Fire chief Walter Evans pledged their full effort to end the blaze.
"We have advised the public at large, for those who have any respiratory challenges, because of the smoke to seek medical help," he said.
"We are going to do all we can to ensure that, that fire is extinguished in the shortest possible time."
Whether it was arson or not, the same problem persists. The landfill keeps burning every few months. It is a serious health hazard to those who live in the area. And due to its close proximity to the Cable Beach strip, it is also a hazard to hotel guests at Baha Mar. Who wants to spend thousands of dollars to come to The Bahamas and inhale dump smoke?
We have become too used to dump fires. Some of the worst of these cover large portions of the island. We recall smoke from one fire even blanketing Paradise Island in noxious odor.
Now that the government is out of the dump management business it falls on Renew to solve this problem. If arson is really to blame the company should enhance security at the site.
Too much is at stake for dump fires to remain the norm. We compromise the health of our citizens. We compromise our economic well-being. A raging dump fire blanketing Baha Mar for days could empty the resort with visitors vowing not to return. We don't want that.

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Commissioner says 2014 policing plan yielded 'exceptional' results

January 21, 2015

Notwithstanding increased murders in 2014 over the previous year, Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade yesterday hailed last year's Commissioner's Policing Plan as having delivered "exceptionally good results".
Greenslade said several policing priorities for 2015 will remain the same as last year.
Some of these priorities include the prevention and detection of crime, reducing the fear of crime, restoring and maintaining public trust, working with young people and protecting the tourism industry.
Much like last year, Greenslade pledged to increase saturation patrols in crime hot spots, extend the use of closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) and to deploy intelligence-led operations to prevent crimes.
The force will also continue its community policing, including Urban Renewal, in order to prevent crimes and identify problems within communities that give rise to crime.
"In revising this policing plan, I have taken into account those initiatives and activities which have had a positive impact on successful policing during 2014," Greenslade said.
"This plan delivered exceptionally good results in 2014 and many of the initiatives launched are continuing to produce benefits.
"Therefore, many of the strategic objectives and allied actions are being retained in this 2015 policing plan."
According to statistics released yesterday, crime decreased overall by 18 percent.
With the exception of murder, attempted murder and attempted robbery, every category of crime decreased by double digits.
Greenslade acknowledged that murder, which increased three percent nationally (119 to 123), and high incidences of shootings, left residents in fear and has negatively impacted their quality of life.
"Notwithstanding the decreases in major crime in 2014, the current levels of crime are not only unacceptable, but can have far-reaching implications for our tourism industry," he said.
"Although the risk of tourists becoming victims of crime is low because of our proactive tourism policing initiatives, the perception is otherwise.
"Hence, special emphasis will be given to high visibility policing in those areas of The Bahamas frequented by tourists."
The commissioner promised to deploy more patrol officers to Bay Street and other historic downtown sites, including beaches frequented by visitors.
He said bus stops, taxi stands, parks and public areas will be monitored, in some cases with the use of closed circuit television cameras, to ensure visitors are not interfered with.
He also pledged to crack down on hawkers and drug peddlers who seek to sell residents and visitors illegal wares and substances.
More officers, where possible, will be deployed to the government's school policing program, Greenslade promised.
He said the force will continue to work alongside the Department of Social Services to make interventions with at-risk children.
The force will also provide victim support services for families and children who have been directly injured as a result of crime.
This will extend to children whose parents, guardians or relatives have been arrested and detained in police custody.
The force also plans to reduce the high number of traffic fatalities through "traffic enforcement and education".
Forty-seven people were killed in traffic accidents in 2014, the statistics revealed.
Motorists speeding, driving uninsured, in unregistered vehicles, under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be targeted, Greenslade said.
Greenslade also pledged more resources to prevent and prosecute serious crimes.
"Every aspect of police expenditure will be reviewed to ensure that the service gives value for money and economic restraint is widely practiced," he noted in the 2015 plan.

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Man fined for gun and bullet possession

January 21, 2015

A man convicted of gun and bullet possession could avoid prison if he pays a $13,500 fine. Magistrate Samuel McKinney imposed the sentence after convicting Darren Armbrister in relation to the seizure of a 9mm pistol and 14 bullets last April. According to the evidence, police were on patrol through Balls Alley when they saw two men hurriedly leave a Honda Accord. The officers pursued the men, who eluded them.
However, when they searched the vehicle they found a loaded 9mm pistol under the passenger's seat.
Armbrister's ID was found in the vehicle.
He surrendered to police with attorney Michael Kemp more than a week later.
At trial, Armbrister remained silent and did not call any witnesses in his defense.
McKinney fined Armbrister $7,500 or one year in prison for gun possession. He was fined $6,000 or six months on the ammunition charge.
The sentences will run consecutively if not paid.
Mandatory minimum sentences were abolished two months ago.

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Real men in pink saving lives in The Bahamas

January 21, 2015

Last October, Bahamas Waste unveiled their big pink truck to raise awareness of cancer and during this special unveiling, Melanie Griffin, minister of social services and community development, said, "You cannot fight breast cancer, or any other form of cancer, with ribbons alone, you fight it with a team."
During the unveiling ceremony, Griffin took a selfie with the truck and launched the #BigPinkPics cancer awareness selfie promotion. From October through December 2014, Nassau residents joined the Bahamas Waste team and various cancer groups by taking #BigPinkPics with the colorful big pink garbage truck to help raise awareness of cancer and to advocate cancer screenings and early detection.
"I just want to thank everyone that was involved in the promotion," said Francisco de Cardenas, managing director of Bahamas Waste. "At the end of the day if we encourage just one person to get tested, it was successful."
The big pink garbage truck also displays Bahamas Waste's support of various cancer associations and charities, as well as listing the websites for Komen Bahamas and Ride for Hope. Ride for Hope represents six cancer groups including the Bahamas Cancer Society, the Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative, the Cancer Association of Grand Bahama, the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, the Sister Sister Breast Cancer Support Group and Ride for Hope.
Bahamas Waste knows cancer personally, as the company's Medical Waste Facility Manager Hartley Strachan is a two-time cancer survivor. The campaign shows that real men wear pink and the entire team at Bahamas Waste hopes that the big pink truck will encourage men to get screened for cancer, as they advocate for the screening and prevent of all cancers.
Griffin noted during the unveiling ceremony that the incidences of non-communicable diseases - breast and cervical cancer in particular - are a source of major concern in The Bahamas and indeed the world. Breast cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in females and was the third-leading cause of deaths in females in 2010.
Moreover, The Bahamas has the highest incidence of inherited breast cancer in the world and the average age of women at the time they are diagnosed with the disease is lower than that of women in the United States.
During the selfie promotion, nine winners were picked, receiving prizes including t-shirts, gift cards, fuel vouchers and free mammograms from supporting sponsors including Bahamas Ferries, FOCOL Sun Oil, John Bull, Starbucks, Caribbean Bottling (Coca-Cola), Micronet, and Fourth Terrace Diagnostics.
The winners included Patrick Terrance Robinson, Samantha Culmer-Kemp, Tonya Ferguson, Ajayi Bodden, Gennie Dean, Dexter Knowles, Christerlina Fox-Francis, Etteloy Etteloy and Bridget Flowers. The final and grand prize winner was Kayette Symmonett d'Albenas, who won an iPad in addition to the various gifts from the supporting sponsors.
Managing Director de Cardenas noted, "If someone got tested and found themselves with the beginning stages of cancer and started treatment, then we are all winners! We will continue spreading the word and will keep the truck out in the public eye as long as it continues to look good. Thanks again to everyone that sent their selfies, we truly are a beautiful country with beautiful people."
To see all of the selfies, visit the Bahamas Waste Facebook page.

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BORCO supports Bahamian culture

January 21, 2015

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama - Buckeye Bahamas (BORCO) helped the Junkanoo route in Grand Bahama sparkle just a little bit brighter this Junkanoo season with its continued support of the Superstar Rockers.
BORCO has been a long time supporter of the Rockers and donated this year to both their New Year's Day Junkanoo performance and their upcoming performance in the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, which will hold its inaugural event in May 2015.
"Every year the Superstar Rockers look forward to BORCO's donation to keep the Junkanoo culture alive and keep the youth off the streets," said Chauncy Gray, leader of the Superstar Rockers and a BORCO employee. "Junkanoo gives our youth a chance to explore their talents and BORCO's annual donation assists greatly with that."
BORCO's sponsorship of the Rockers is used for materials, including feathers, which are the most costly, white glue, boxes of tape, crepe paper, contact cement and Styrofoam. Airbrushing of Styrofoam materials and aluminum rods all have to be purchased each year because of the stress the parade puts on these materials.
In addition to materials, BORCO's donation helps to pay the monthly utility bills for the building that the Superstar Rockers use as their Junkanoo shack. "During Junkanoo season and when the season ends some groups have to pay rent because they don't own the buildings, but we were fortunate enough to have a building donated to us," said Gray. "However, we still have to maintain the building and pay all utility bills too."
BORCO's sponsorship of the group also goes towards the transportation cost of getting the costumes to and from the parade. It can take up to three 40-foot trailers to move all of the costumes from the shack to the parade line.
BORCO is extremely proud to sponsor this display of Bahamian culture, they are also proud of Gray and his team who work tirelessly to keep this group performing. "Our company and our staff are proud of our support of the Superstar Rockers," said Robert Gaffney, vice-president of international operations.
"We are looking forward to their performance in the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival later this year!"

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Prison officers call in sick

January 20, 2015

Bahamas Prison Officers Association (BPOA) President Gregory Archer said yesterday two-thirds of the prison officers scheduled to work yesterday morning did not show up.
While Archer denied the officers staged a sickout, he said the association has had enough of taking its members' concerns to management and the government with no resolve, including working conditions.
"I can't say why, but obviously if you report in sick then that means the officers are sick," said Archer when asked whether officers staged a sickout.
"I guess officers over the years have been working when they are sick; now they are sick and they are taking their time.
"The job is a stressful one and when you are sick and you are tired and you are still coming to work, at the end of the day it is going to tell on your body."
Pressed on the matter, Archer said, "Now with the officers calling in sick, I know they are sick. But they are also fed up and sick at all these things being thrown at them."
Prison Superintendent Patrick Wright could not be reached for comment.
When contacted for comment, Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell said he was aware of some officers calling in sick, but had no knowledge of any new concerns.
Bell insisted there was no disruption to operations yesterday.
In an interview with The Nassau Guardian, Archer claimed that several officers are not trained for their positions and the association must take a stand.
"You can imagine we are a correctional facility now and the Bahamian public does not even know these things," he said.
"The officers are not trained. There was a bill that was passed making us correctional officers...and the majority of the staff do not know what corrections is all about.
"So, we have laws that are in place now that we have to learn during the course of the day. This is unacceptable."
In August 2014, the BPOA supported the Trade Union Congress' threat to engage in mass industrial action throughout the country over unresolved issues within the law enforcement ranks and other issues.
Yesterday, Archer said while prison officers will never engage in industrial action, he is pushing for the association to become a union.
"We are true patriots to our country, but we can speak out," Archer said.
"And at the same time our voices will be heard. It has been too long that we have been agitating.
"Now it is time for us to move forward and to present to the powers that be our goal to become a union.
"We will probably be heard and we can be more respected if we do that, so that is something that we are looking at strongly."

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Gray: Disgruntled worker admitted to BAMSI fire

January 20, 2015

Agriculture Minister V. Alfred Gray said yesterday a disgruntled employee admitted to police that he set the fire that severely damaged a male dormitory at the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) in Andros.
The worker was reportedly upset because he hadn't received money owed to him by a contractor, said Gray, who added that he expects the police "to prosecute and let the chips fall where they will".
The police wrapped up their investigation into the fire on Sunday.
Superintendent Walter Evans confirmed that the fire started as a result of arson.
Gray said the police reported their findings to him yesterday.
"They know who's responsible," he said.
"He's confessed to it. It is what it is. I'm told it arose out of a dispute with the contractor and [the disgruntled employee] and that's the way he sought to settle it."
Gray said he is aware that some workers have periodically reported challenges with receiving payments from contractors.
But he pointed out there are better ways to resolve disputes.
"There's always a court and I was saying if he had gotten to the point where he needed a few dollars I would've given it to him and waited until he could give it back to me," Gray said.
"But we lost millions of dollars because of a few hundred dollars. It's just not sensible."
The fire started in the roof before 7 p.m. on Thursday and raged on for hours, Evans said.
The dormitory was 80 percent completed, according to officials.
Director of Works John Canton said the contractor will be responsible for rebuilding the structure.
"He does have insurance," Canton said.
"Any government contract requires the contract to have at least $1 million at risk insurance. So it would be the contractor's insurance that would be at risk."
Gray previously said the government intends to rebuild.
Since taking office, Prime Minister Perry Christie has touted BAMSI as one of the government's most important initiatives.
Gray said BAMSI is a part of Christie's legacy. He said he met Christie yesterday morning to discuss the developments in the case.
"The prime minister is distressed about the events as every responsible person would be," Gray said. "He is our leader and this...is his brainchild. I think he would be far more affected than most people.
"He is distressed over something like that happening, particularly for the reasons it would have happened.
"If it was accidental I think it would have been more acceptable. But we do not want people to take the law into their hands."
Gray added, "We are going to prosecute...to the fullest extent of the law because we don't want people to think they could just burn down government buildings and just walk away. The police have it and I expect them to prosecute."

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Belinda Wilson reinstated as BUT president

January 20, 2015

Belinda Wilson has been reinstated as president of the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) after a brief suspension, she told reporters

yesterday.
However, that didn't stop tensions from escalating outside BUT headquarters as Wilson and BUT Acting President Zane Lightbourne had a confrontation in front of their members, children and the public.
Wilson was suspended last December over two undisclosed, alleged "violations".
The appeals committee of the BUT lifted that suspension yesterday after it found no wrongdoing on the part of Wilson or BUT Treasurer Laurie Knowles.
Wilson called a press conference to convey the "good news" but Lightbourne and several other members of the executive committee stood at the entrance and warned members of the media not to enter the building.
Supporters of Wilson hounded Lightbourne at the entrance and told him he could never beat Wilson in an election.
"Nobody wants you," one member said.
"How do I leave this? How do I get my dues back, because this is foolishness," another member said.
For nearly 15 minutes, Lightbourne and Wilson argued over Wilson's authority to call a press conference on behalf of the union.
Wilson eventually stood at the entrance of the headquarters and gave a brief statement.
"The committee rendered their decision and the suspension of Belinda Wilson is declared null and void and of no effect. Hence, I will return to office effective immediately," she said.
"I want to thank God and I want to thank the appeals committee for hearing and deliberating based on the facts.
"We have been vindicated and I am prepared to lead this great organization.
"Each member of the executive committee must set aside their personal and hidden agendas and work on the mandates that the members have given to us."
Lightbourne retreated into the building only to emerge not too long after to say that the appeals committee's decision was "flawed" and the executive committee planed to appeal the decision.
"They had no power to make a definitive statement for the executive committee," he said. "The executive committee still has the final say."
Lightbourne added that he has no issue with Wilson and "does not want her job".
"Nobody wants that job," he said.
The pair once stood in solidarity when Wilson attempted to enter Anatol Rodgers High School but was denied entrance by school security.

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Child killer sentenced to 50 years

January 20, 2015

A man who abducted and killed a 10-year-old child was yesterday resentenced to 50 years in prison.
Clayton Cox, 49, was convicted of the murder of Scottie Andrews in 1998 and sentenced to death, the mandatory penalty at the time.
The sentence takes effect from the date of conviction.
Cox was resentenced to life imprisonment in March 2010 to comply with a Privy Council decision that said the mandatory death penalty was unconstitutional.
Cox, through his lawyer Roberto Reckley, appealed the sentence on the basis that the life sentence was unduly harsh and severe due to its uncertainty.
According to the evidence, Cox grabbed Andrews by the neck as he was taking a short cut off Baillou Hill Road on the evening of October 3, 1994.
Cox allegedly ordered Andrews' friend to get him a rug from his house and then sent him home. When the friend left, Cox still had Andrews by the neck.
The boy also said he saw Cox retrieve a piece of plywood from his home.
Four days later, Andrews' body was discovered between the back of a Seventh Day Adventist Church and its boundary wall.
The body was covered with a rug and plywood and the victim's pants had been pulled down.
The Court of Appeal noted that Cox had six previous convictions before committing the murder at 33.
He also showed no remorse, maintaining his innocence despite evidence to the contrary.
The court ruled, "As noted, the victim was a mere 10 years old. He was bludgeoned to death by a man nearly 20 years his senior for no known reason and abandoned in a church yard.
"In the absence of any matters of partial excuse, the circumstances of this offense must no doubt be weighed heavily against the appellant and puts the case at the high end of the scale as enunciated by Larry Raymond Jones."
The Jones case set a sentencing range of 30 to 60 years for murder.

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Report from Dec. 2 plane crash confirms right engine failure

January 20, 2015

The preliminary investigation into the December 2 crash that resulted in the death of an elderly American man confirmed that the aircraft experienced landing gear issues and right engine failure before it "ditched" in waters in southwestern New Providence.
According to the report, which was released by the Air Accident Investigation and Prevention Unit (AAIPU), the aircraft attempted to land at Lynden Pindling International Airport when it experienced difficulties.
"Reports indicate that the aircraft requested permission to fly by the tower to verify with Air Traffic Control on the status of the landing gears," the report said.
"Whilst flying around to resolve landing gear issues the aircraft then encountered a right engine failure making the aircraft difficult to maintain altitude, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing on waters six nautical miles from land southwest of New Providence."
The report noted that the pilot and all of the passengers were able to evacuate and were rescued by small boaters in the area.
"The aircraft submerged in approximately 6,500 feet of water about two minutes after touchdown and evacuation," the report said.
"After the rescue process one male passenger became ill, experiencing breathing problems and subsequently expired and pronounced dead by medical personnel who responded to the accident scene."
All other passengers were transported to Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) for evaluation and treatment and were later released.
The investigator, Delvin Major, described the weather as "visual meteorological conditions", which means that the pilot had sufficient visibility to fly the aircraft.
Eleven people were onboard, including the pilot.
According to the report, the pilot, Rufus Ferguson, is a Bahamian who is certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the Bahamas Civil Aviation Department. He also has valid first class medical certificates as required by regulations.
Eyewitnesses hailed Ferguson as a hero following the crash.
The aircraft, which is registered to Ferg's Air, was operating a flight from Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera, to New Providence.
"The Air Accident Investigation and Prevention Unit of the Bahamas Civil Aviation Department is conducting the investigation but the wreckage is inaccessible to investigators," said the report.
It is unclear when the final report will be released.

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'Barefoot Bandito' proposes to girlfriend at Marathon Bahamas

January 20, 2015

Eddie Vega might not have won Marathon Bahamas, but he certainly won the heart of his longtime girlfriend when the couple crossed the finish line on Sunday.
With hundreds of onlookers standing by on Arawak Cay, a barefoot Vega dropped to one knee and popped the question to Nilda Birch.
With her hand cupped over her mouth, a shocked Birch took a moment to respond.
When prompted by the crowd to give her answer she replied, "It's about damned time."
Birch and Vega have been together for more than a decade.
Vega coordinated the proposal with organizers of Marathon Bahamas, who had the DJ play "Here Comes The Bride" after Birch said yes.
Vega, who was born in the Philippines, moved to Guam at six and has lived in Raleigh, North Carolina. He made local headlines when it was announced that he would run Marathon Bahamas barefoot.
Now, he's making headlines for his impending nuptials.
"After being together for 13 years, I finally decided to propose to Nilda and I wanted to do it in a very special place and during a marathon event," said Vega, 55.
"Marathon Bahamas turned out to be that most perfect place to give up my bachelor status of 17 years and get hitched for the third time."
Sunshine Insurance Marketing Coordinator Rogan Smith congratulated the couple and said she hopes they return to The Bahamas to tie the knot.
"Most of time when people are watching the finish line, it's to see which runner crosses first," Smith said.
"But for the first time, people were waiting around to see who would get proposed to. Earlier during a TV broadcast, our chairman, Franklyn Wilson, let it slip that someone was going to pop the question, but no one knew who it would be. Most people were excited to see a barefoot Eddie coming down the final stretch barefoot. But when he dropped to one knee, it got explosive.
"We're just so very happy that he chose our event to propose to Nilda. They're such a beautiful couple and we hope that they come back to The Bahamas and get married. We at Marathon Bahamas would love to be a part of the celebration."
After the engagement, the happy couple walked over to the beach and buried their feet in the sand.

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Cuban detainee located to testify in RBDF hearing

January 20, 2015

Hearings into the alleged abuse of a group of Cuban migrants may finally conclude, as officials have located the final detainee who is expected to testify, attorney Wayne Munroe said yesterday.
The man, Alexander Vascuez, was expected to testify last July, but the Cuban government was unable to locate him.
Munroe said the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) advised him last week that Vascuez has been located and will testify.
Vascuez was part of a group of Cuban migrants who were allegedly abused by RBDF marines in 2013 after an escape attempt from the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.
Munroe said Vascuez will testify by way of closed-circuit television (CCTV).
"We are seeking to agree to a date now for the continuation," he said.
The hearings began in November 2013 and were placed on hold that December.
The Bahamas government had sought the Cuban government's approval in allowing Vascuez and Yordan Cantero to testify.
Last July, the Cuban government gave permission for the men to testify, but only Cantero showed up.
Vascuez was believed to be in the United States.
Munroe said he was not told where Vascuez was found.
"There may also be some testimony of other detainees," he said.
"We may need witness anonymity orders for their safety, because after they give evidence they will be returned to the detention center."

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Lack of jurors places criminal trials on hold

January 20, 2015

No criminal trials could be heard in the Supreme Court yesterday because there was no jury pool.
Head bailiff Jack Davis said his office did not receive the list of prospective jurors from the Parliamentary Registration Department until November.
Davis said the list had to be vetted by police and was not returned until mid-December.
According to Davis, exempted people such as doctors and lawyers had to be removed from the list, which is still being prepared.
He said the list may be ready by next week.
Judges have adjourned their cases until January 26 in hopes that a jury will be available.
At the opening of the legal year, Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson identified problems in empaneling jurors as a key reason for delayed trials.
"Of the 43 delayed trials we've studied in the past year to determine the key factors contributing to the problem, we've been able to ascertain that 47 percent did not proceed because of the inability to empanel a jury; 21 percent did not proceed because the virtual complainant refused to pursue the matter; 16 percent did not proceed because defense counsel was not available to appear in court; and another 16 percent did not proceed because the defendant was unable to secure counsel," she said.
Eight criminal courts are supposed to operate this month, according to Maynard-Gibson.

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Murder convict's bail application delayed

January 20, 2015

A bail application for a murder convict who suffers from heart failure and sleep apnea has been adjourned to February 26 to allow his lawyer time to get his medical records.
Attorney Ian Cargill, who represents Andrew "Yogi" Davis, said he needed the medical records to respond to an assertion by Dr. Hastings Johnson that Davis' life had been "prolonged" due to his incarceration.
Court of Appeal President Anita Allen noted that there had to be exceptional circumstances for the court to grant bail after a murder conviction.
She pointed out that the prison had invested in a sleep apnea machine, observing "they seemed to have gone above and beyond".
Davis was convicted of the 1999 murder of Constable Jimmy Ambrose and the attempted murder of Constable Marcian Scott at the now-closed Club Rock nightclub at a third trial on July 25, 2013.
Davis was convicted along with Stephen Stubbs and Clinton "Russ" Evans.
Davis' appeal against his conviction and life sentence faced numerous delays last year because the transcripts of the trial were not ready.
An application for bail pending appeal was filed last month.
His application for bail had to be adjourned in December because he was hospitalized.
Cargill also took exception to a supplemental affidavit from the Office of the Attorney General that alleged that Davis should be denied for the safety of witnesses.
Scott was murdered because he was a prospective witness and another witness was in protective custody.

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Quakoo Street is a feather in Greenslade's hat

January 20, 2015

Dear Editor,
On the very cool night of January 8, 2015 I sat waiting quietly and comfortably in the Quakoo Street Police Station for a relatively minute matter to be resolved. The experience, however, helped open my eyes to the intensity and enormity of unending complaints the busy police force has to face and respond to on a daily basis.
I was not there very long before a distraught mother walked into the station bewailing the fact that one of her sons was dead ("It doesn't matter 'what' he was!" she was quick to note through a consistent flow of tears), another imprisoned and that the life of the third had just been threatened by a gunman she said was no stranger to police.
The officers knew she was hurting; the mother herself had said it several times through her agonizing display of mournful hysteria. It was quite amazing and refreshing, I must add, to see how the officers allowed her to vent her frustration unabated. It proved to be an excellent move!
She had calmed down considerably before Sergeant 1299 Rolle invited her to the back to take her complaint. Moments later she reemerged with quiet sobs, but clearly relieved that someone had taken time to listen and also that an official complaint had been lodged.
Soon after, the sergeant walked outside and stood near the entrance to the station, seemingly taking in a good whiff of fresh air.
"How do you deal with such intense and highly charged situations? How do you do it?" I asked, clearly intrigued by years of skill. His short response was just as telling as his cavalier demeanor: "One day at a time, my friend. One day at a time."
I am quite certain that the commissioner is aware of the proven quality of his committed and tenacious workforce. The sergeant was on duty that night with three polished female officers behind the counter; one slender and fair-skinned and the other two of a darker hue; none were rookies, all skilled and highly competent professionals.
Commissioner Greenslade, if those officers, on duty that night, were an accurate reflection of the Quakoo Street Police Station in general, then I am left only to conclude that that station is a very fine feather in your huge hat!
- Right place at the right time

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Will The Bahamas continue to be found wanting at the close of 2015

January 20, 2015

Dear Editor,
A look at the national budget and debt over the decades reveals that spending and borrowing have grown exponentially. The country is in this mess because of both political parties, not just one or the other, so there is no point in casting blame. The country needs solutions.
With the national debt now over $6 billion, and off line liabilities estimated at $2 billion (or more), the country's debt to GDP ratio is close enough to 100 percent. If a 40 percent debt to GDP ratio was considered the correct target level 10 years ago by the political powers, what can and must be done?
First of all, the right thinking members of Parliament and senators from both political institutions must get together and force the accountability of the government.
Yes, this will upset the powers that be, but what are they going to do, fire all of them and go to a general election? Doubtful.
So here are a few ideas:
1. The government should move to accrual based accounting like businesses to get a more accurate picture of the damage that has been done and continues without clearly defined accounting.
2. Cut the budget by five percent each year for the next five years. Sure, some departments might need an increase, so others might have to be cut more than 5 percent for an overall decrease in spending. A good place to start is delegations. Should we not attend all these international conferences virtually instead of spending thousands upon thousands of dollars in airfare, hotel, per diems and more?
3. Sell "assets" like Bahamasair, the stadium etc for $1. In other words, shut them down or give them away. The country simply cannot afford the maintenance and ongoing losses.
Most importantly, those MPs and senators who agree privately that steps like this need to be taken, must find the courage to step out from the shadows of going along to get along, to set the country on a more sensible fiscal and economic course.
So, will The Bahamas be found wanting as 2015 comes to a close or will the resolve be summoned up to begin to repair the damage that has occurred as a result of not considering the long term effects of bad public policy?

- The Nassau Institute

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Establishing The Bahamas as an international track and field stop

January 20, 2015

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relays 2014 was a success. Thousands of Bahamians went to the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium last year for the inaugural event on the IAAF calendar.
Yesterday it was announced that more than 1,000 athletes from over 53 countries will be in The Bahamas on May 2 and 3 for the next world relays.
"Last year we really did very well. Our economic impact from this event was more than twice what we put into it. This year we're expecting to be better than we did last year. We think we're going to fill more seats in the stadium, we think we're going to have more people purchasing tickets earlier and ticket prices are also going to be slightly up this year," said Minister of Youth, Sports, and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson.
Johnson said a recent study conducted by a Canadian sports organization revealed that the 2014 relays generated an economic impact of $23 million.
The event will bring together many of the world's top sprinters and middle distance runners to compete in the 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x800m and the distance medley relay that replaces the 4x1,500m relay.
"The people of Nassau and the entire Bahamas are looking forward to welcoming athletes, officials, media and spectators from around the world for the second consecutive year," said Mike Sands, Local Organizing Committee (LOC) chief executive officer and vice chairman.
Johnson said the results of the impact study had given the government the confidence to negotiate another two-year agreement with the IAAF in Monaco, with the opportunity to bid for an even longer 10-year hosting contract once the current agreement expires.
The Bahamas has an opportunity with the event to place itself on the global track and field circuit. The stadium was a gift from the Chinese and thus far there have been mixed results with events hosted at it. Last year the American college football games were a flop in terms of attendance. Track and field, though, was a success.
"We want to be very sure that these large scale events that we're doing get the desired result," Johnson said.
"Part of it is promotion for tourism and bringing Bahamians together, but we also have to be responsible in our spending to make sure that it pays for itself while ensuring that the impact is widespread and significant enough for us to then lock ourselves into doing this on a long-term basis."
The event brings people from all around the world to The Bahamas. It helps fill hotel rooms. Johnson and his team should work to ensure that there is an annual global track meet here. They should also seek to find a better marketing scheme to ensure the other non-track events are better attended than what we have seen thus far.
The stadium is an important part of our tourism product. A successful schedule of international events there year-round may do more to boost stop over arrivals than many think.

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