Nassau Guardian Stories

BEC looking to purchase six new generators

September 16, 2014

Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Executive Chairman Leslie Miller said the corporation is preparing to purchase six new generators.
He said a team from BEC will travel to Florida today to begin the process.
Miller did not say how much the generators will cost the corporation.
"We are going to send our team to take a look at [them] to see if they can fit into our arsenal that we have," Miller told reporters.
"Apparently those engines are some of the engines we use in Abaco, Eleuthera [and] Long Island. And it's a good deal I understand.
"We are looking at it, the viability of having those engines in The Bahamas very shortly."
Earlier this month, three generators at the Clifton Pier Power Station failed, leading to rolling blackouts -- the latest in a series of countless power shortages this summer.
It took several days before BEC restored those generators, much to the frustration of many residents who were without power for hours.
As a result of the downed generators, the corporation was forced to rely on its Blue Hills plant, which Miller said would result in an increase in the fuel surcharge on customers' bills.
The corporation's public relations officer, Arnette Ingraham, has said the price increase is not expected to be prolonged.
However, she said prices are also dependent on the global price of fuel and whether the corporation can maintain its generators at Clifton Pier.
According to Miller, the Clifton Pier and Blue Hills Powers Stations were operating at their optimum as of yesterday .
"We are in good shape right now as far as generating [at] Blue Hills and Clifton," he said.
"...Right now, we are in excellent shape. Let us pray to God that we stay that way."
Asked whether there has been a decrease in power demand, Miller said as of last Thursday the temperature dropped leading to a decrease in demand.
However, over the weekend, residents in western New Providence reported outages for up to eight hours.
And yesterday morning and last night, several residents, particularly in eastern New Providence, reported outages.

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Miller denies BEC played role in oil spill

September 16, 2014

Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Executive Chairman Leslie Miller yesterday denied the corporation is responsible for the recent oil spill on Adelaide beach.
A significant amount of oil washed ashore on that beach last week.
"It is suspected that one of those ships that pass through our waters on an hourly basis may have made a discharge," said Miller outside the House of Assembly.
"But, from what I understand, it has nothing to do with BEC, and I will give you all an analysis.
"...When you hear people casting aspersions on BEC...you need to analyze and see the types of different fuels that are mixed in those spills.
"Most of it is not fuel BEC [uses]. I dare say, in many instances, even jet fuel is in the mix."
In a statement, the Ministry of Transport and Aviation said officials were alerted on Saturday about the spill and acted immediately to establish a plan of action.
It said the Ministry of Environment and Housing dispatched technical officers from the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) and the BEST Commission visited the area and is preparing reports for review and action.
The statement noted that most of the oily debris had been washed away by the tide after an apparent clean-up effort by concerned citizens.
Save the Bays CEO Lindsey McCoy yesterday applauded the government's effort to investigate and find the source of the spill.
However, she said oil spills have persisted for more than 20 years and must be brought to an end.
"People from New Providence, especially those who live in the community of Adelaide, still fish in these bays. And we have concerns about the impact of continual oil pollution on the health of the fish populations and the consequent possible health effects on those who consume seafood extracted from this area," McCoy said.
In its statement, the ministry said due to the ongoing and "very longstanding environmental concerns at Clifton Pier (well in excess of a decade) and reports from the National Oil Spill Advisory Committee of the same, a Cabinet committee was appointed to review the Clifton Pier area and the associated reports".
It said the committee has made recommendations which include "the development and implementation of an environment management Plan and an independent environmental review of the entire Clifton Pier area".

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Teen pleads guilty to manslaughter

September 16, 2014

An 18-year-old man yesterday pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter before he went to trial for murder.
Donavan Burrell shot Gregory Rolle Jr. in the stomach outside a bar in March 2012.
Rolle died two weeks after the shooting. But before his death, he identified Burrell as his attacker.
Burrell also gave a videotaped confession. Rolle had reportedly beaten up Burrell on a previous occasion.
Justice Indra Charles sentenced Burrell to 15 years' imprisonment after taking into account the two years he had spent on remand.
Terrel Butler represented Burrell.

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Man admits to killing Enrico Major

September 16, 2014

The man accused of the murder of Enrico Major, the teenage son of jailed drug trafficker Dwight Major, claims he is guilty of the crime.
However, Justice Bernard Turner did not accept the guilty plea of Dwayne Peter Lockhart because it was equivocal.
Major, 17, was stabbed to death on June 1 on Baillou Hill Road South weeks before his high school graduation.
In his explanation of the crime, Lockhart claimed that he was defending himself against an attack from Major and Ken Johnson, whom he claimed were armed with knives.
Lockhart said, "They came to kill me. I really didn't want to take matters into my own hands. I would like to apologize to Mrs. [Keva] Major. I really didn't want to deal with it, but justice must be served."
After hearing Lockhart's explanation, Turner said he could not accept the plea because it was not an unequivocal plea of murder, an unlawful and intentional killing.
Turner said the matter would have to go to trial.
Lockhart, who was unrepresented at yesterday's proceedings, asked for a court-appointed lawyer.
He next returns to court on October 23 for a status hearing. Another man, Kervin Neely, is accused of abetment to Major's murder.
Dwight and Keva Major were both extradited to Florida on charges of conspiracy to import cocaine and marijuana into the United States. Keva Major was released in 2008 as part of a plea deal. Her husband is scheduled to be released in 2016.

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Expecting mother lands grand prize in 'I Love KFC' promotion

September 16, 2014

Brittany Porter drove away in a shiny 2014 Kia Sportage after opening the winning box at KFC's grand prize event that wrapped up its red hot "I Love KFC" summer promotion on Saturday.
The expecting mother was speechless when she realized she had opened the winning box that held the grand prize envelope. Porter, 22, was one of 10 Red Ticket holders randomly chosen by the KFC Prize Patrol during the popular promotion and invited to the grand prize event to open one of 10 boxes, each containing an exciting prize.
"I feel so excited. It feels like a dream," said a tearful Porter, surrounded by overjoyed family members and friends at the grand prize event held at KFC's Marathon Road location.
Porter, who is due to have her baby in November, said she received her winning sticker from KFC's Prince Charles Drive location.
The grand prize event, which featured fun for the whole family, culminated with the grand prize drawing, which drew a crowd of supporters and curious onlookers. The excitement was palpable as the 10 ticket holders selected their keys, placed them in front of their chosen boxes and waited for the instructions to open the lock. Only one of the boxes held the grand prize, but the remaining ticket holders did not leave empty handed.
Michelle Bowleg won an Apple iPod Nano; Levette Burrows won a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3; Angelique Roker won a 42" flat screen TV; Erica Humes won a Fitbit Flex; Quincy Lockhart won a 32" flat screen TV; Margo Mackey won a Samsung Galaxy S4; Judith McPhee won an iPad Mini; Orlando Rolle won a Toshiba laptop and Kissie Swaby won an HP All-in-One Desktop PC.
The grand prize, the 2014 Kia Sportage, was purchased by KFC from Sanpin Motors for the promotion.
The KFC Prize Patrol team had been cruising the streets of Nassau since July, rewarding hundreds of customers who showed their love for KFC by displaying "I Love KFC" stickers on their vehicles. Customers received the tickets after purchasing any Classic Combo, Mega Deal or Sandwich Combo at any of KFC Nassau's eight convenient locations. Customers spotted by the Prize Patrol were given the chance to randomly select an envelope that revealed either an instant-win prize or one of the 10 lucky Red Tickets.
"The promotion was extremely successful and it was such an amazing way to cap it all off," said Ash Henderson, director of marketing, Restaurants Bahamas. "We love showing our customers how much we appreciate them, and obviously the feeling is mutual."
For more information on KFC Nassau please visit www.kfcnassau.com, or like KFC Nassau on Facebook, www.facebook.com/kfcnassau.

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A deficit of trust

September 15, 2014

When it comes to the gambling issue, both the governing Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the opposition Free National Movement (FNM) have proven to be disingenuous.
Oftentimes, it appears their statements on the subject are motivated more by what is politically expedient than what is in the country's best interest.
During debate on the Gaming Bill in the House of Assembly last Wednesday, Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe, who has responsibility for gaming, branded Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis the "undisputed flip-flop" champion based on his changing views on gambling.
True, Minnis has earned a reputation as a flip-flopper, as we have pointed to many times.
Back in 2012, he told us he supported the regulation and taxation of numbers houses.
"You cannot have an illegal event continue within a country," Minnis said.
"What message are you sending out to the public? What message are you sending out when you cannot control systems or institutions within your country? But we will watch and monitor to ensure that we have proper regulations, and to ensure that the people benefit."
Later, he took a position against regulating web shops.
While Minnis has wavered on this issue and others -- most recently the gender equality bills -- the ultimate flip-flopping champion in the gambling scenario has to be the Christie administration.
After an ill-advised referendum in January 2013, which wasted well over $1 million of precious taxpayer dollars, the government went back on its word to abide by the results of that poll.
Wilchcombe nor any other member of the Christie administration can speak with moral authority in criticizing Minnis for his changing positions on the gambling issue.
We have long known that Minnis struggles to take a position and stick to it. That is one of the more obvious traits of his leadership style.
While Wilchcombe was busy throwing punches at Minnis over his flip-flopping, he should have been reminded that the excuse the government repeatedly gave for ignoring the referendum results is an unreasonable one.
Wilchcombe recently acknowledged that the government owes the Bahamian people an apology for its decision to go against the referendum results, but he insisted that money laundering concerns overrode the original commitment to honor the outcome of the vote.
"...When the Central Bank raises a red flag and says a problem is developing, we have to, because of our financial services sector being in jeopardy [and] facing difficulties, then we had to make a decision and the best decision was to regulate [the sector]," he said.
Similarly, Prime Minister Perry Christie said during the budget debate in June that his views on this issue "evolved in light of a new appreciation of the dangers we face from continuing to have an unregulated web shop industry that is not susceptible to sustained law enforcement under the law as it stands today and which, moreover still, is not paying its fair share of taxes".
But in this space on June 30, we reminded that the Christie administration was always aware and seemingly concerned about the money laundering issue.
In Parliament in November 2012, ahead of the gambling referendum, Christie said in a communication, "The web shop operators are unable to secure bank accounts for their businesses as they do not satisfy the relevant anti-money laundering rules.
"There are concerns regarding the way in which the cash generated from the business is legitimized. The web shops are used to facilitate the transmission of funds between individuals resident on different islands in direct contravention of the relevant banking and anti-money laundering rules."
Christie also noted in 2012: "Continued operation of the web shops in the manner outlined leaves The Bahamas exposed to international scrutiny and sanctions for failure to implement anti-money laundering rules. This position is not acceptable and needs to be addressed without further delay. It has been ignored for too long."
Continuing the Central Bank narrative, Minister for the Environment Kenred Dorsett also hit out at the opposition for its decision to vote against the Gaming Bill.
"While the opposition decides what side of history they will like to be on, this PLP government is moving this country forward," Dorsett declared during debate on the Gaming Bill last week.
The money laundering explanation is a convenient excuse, but it is clear that the government knew long before the referendum that this was a serious matter that could threaten the integrity of our financial system and our country's reputation.
Speaking of the government's explanation and arguments on this issue, prominent pastor Lyall Bethel noted on the Guardian Radio show "Morning Blend" on Friday, "It is disingenuous and insincere".
"If you are smart enough, you can see through them," Bethel said of the government's arguments. "They're like gossamer paper that you can see through and tear easily."
In his contribution to debate on the Gaming Bill last Thursday night, the controversial Fort Charlotte MP Dr. Andre Rollins said the government's explanation on why it changed its mind "has no merit".
On the gambling issue, he said the government is suffering from a deficit of trust.
Rollins pointed out that in 2006, the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, released by the U.S. Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, said there were more than 10 Internet gaming sites based in The Bahamas, although none were licensed by Bahamian authorities.
At the time, Wilchcombe said the government "was acutely aware" of the risks associated with these operations and was trying to find ways to deal with the situation.
Rollins told the House, "We didn't need the Central Bank governor to tell us we had a problem. We knew it. We knew all along.
"The fact remains, we took so long, both FNM governments and PLP governments, to do anything about it."
While the government is busy criticizing the opposition on this issue, it has also been found wanting in its handling of the matter.
Though failing to declare a "horse in the race", its desire for a "yes" vote in the 2013 referendum was clear to many.
When it did not get that "yes" vote, it needed an excuse to explain away why it could not accept the results of the referendum.
The government is now doing what it clearly wanted to do all along: regulate and tax the web shops.
The government of Prime Minister Christie is now left to pay the political price of bad decision making.
It is best that it focuses now on effecting the smooth transition to a regulated industry, rather than pointing fingers at the opposition.
Its shameless use of the name of the Central Bank governor in this matter is something many observers can see through.
What the gambling debate exposed more than anything else is that both sides of the political divide are content with feeding the electorate foolish, bombastic rhetoric that does nothing to build trust.
On this issue, it is evident that credibility has long been lost.
Opposition
While some in the opposition would wish us to forget the moves the Ingraham administration made toward regulating web shops, this is difficult to do.
We previously reported that, in April 2010, police warned of the dangers of an unregulated sector.
That report to then Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said intelligence received showed "the number racketeering business is lucrative business".
"It is growing by leaps and bounds and at an alarming rate," the report said. "The Central Intelligence Bureau strongly recommends that a full investigation be conducted to ascertain how it is possible for the Business Licence Department to issue legitimate business licenses for vendors to operate these illegal businesses without hindrance or intervention from the ministry/department."
It is unclear whether such an investigation ever took place.
In one of the more laughable statements of the Gaming Bill debate in the House last week, former Works Minister Neko Grant claimed that under the FNM administration, the intent of web shops was to "provide computers and access to the Internet for persons who for one reason or the other, did not have computers in their homes".
Grant said, "This was a legal business that received business licenses under the FNM administration. They were subsequently turned into full-fledged illegal gambling houses, as well as unauthorized banking entities.
"The fact that one has filed a false declaration for years as it relates to a business license should disqualify them from obtaining a gaming house license."
Does Neko Grant really expect intelligent Bahamians to believe the Ingraham administration did not know that the operations it was granting business licenses to were, in fact, conducting illegal numbers operations?
Does he not know that the Ingraham administration, of which he was a part, had in fact initiated a two-way dialogue with the numbers operators with a view to developing a mutually-agreed model for the numbers business?
Or does he really expect sensible people to buy that the government's aim in issuing business licenses to web shops was simply to encourage computer literacy?
We previously documented the efforts the former administration made toward regulating these web shops, before pulling back under pressure from the church.
We also wonder whether Grant would have made his personal views against gambling known had the then government continued efforts to regulate web shops, or had it been re-elected and pursued the issue as it committed to doing.
Grant, who was a minister in the Ingraham government, now tells us, "The social cost in terms of dysfunctional families, addiction, increased crime and poor working habits is greater than the benefits to the Bahamian people."
It is sometimes hard for us to take our political leaders seriously.
On the matter of gaming, there are several examples that remind us that political expediency too often trumps the national good.

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On the attack

September 15, 2014

Pastor calls PM's actions immoral, unprincipled
Prime Minister Perry Christie finds himself in a contradiction of sorts.
He has decided to place on hold the constitutional referendum bills while he consults with the church.
At the same time, he has gotten into a public spat with several pastors who have delivered a scorching rebuke of his decision to ignore the results of the 2013 gambling referendum.
A majority of the Bahamians who voted, voted against the regularization and taxation of web shops.
It is not clear whether Christie's response to the pastors and the response of Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, which were made on the same day, were contrived to discredit the pastors in their very vocal stance against regulating and taxing web shops.
While on the one hand the prime minister has spoken of the need to respect the church and take its views into consideration on matters of national import, on the other hand he has chastised some church leaders for criticizing his decision to go against the wishes of voters.
In a series of statements that confounded some, Christie said last week there is no religious leader who can give him a passport to heaven.
He said his decision to regulate web shops is not a sinful act.
The following day, Pastor Lyall Bethel, of Grace Community Church, said Christie had taken an "unprincipled and immoral" position on the matter.
"You said to the people 'I will abide, my government will abide by the wishes of the people'. You said that," said Bethel, while on the Guardian Radio show "Morning Blend" on Friday.
"No puppeteer made you say that. You said that. And so we say that it is unprincipled, and because you have said it publicly, not in a dark corner, it is immoral for you to go forward."
Bethel added, "If he wants to maintain that he is a Christian, then he should not take this as someone questioning his Christianity, but questioning the outworking of his faith.
"And so, my thing to him is, as I have said to him in many a meeting, Mr. Prime Minister, do not let it be your legacy that you were the one who brought in the ruinous spirit of gambling. Yes, it might have been there, but you are the guy who made it legal.
"You are the guy who threw it out to the public. You are the guy who turned a vice into a virtue and built an economy on it."
Christie insisted on Thursday that he is governed by his faith.
He said, "Whether I am seen to be doing the right thing or not, so long as I am [of] the belief that what I am doing is honestly intended to benefit the Bahamian people [and] is not harmful to them, it is not a sinful action that I am taking."
During debate on the Gambling Bill in the House of Assembly last Thursday, Davis also turned his guns on the religious leaders.
"I got word while I was in Samoa that members of the Bahamas Christian Council sat in the gallery Wednesday past to highlight the death of democracy in The Bahamas.
"Having heard this, I wondered whether these same pastors that preach about the wrongs of gambling themselves have accounts or accept benefits from these gentlemen? And I ask myself, why should I be asking myself that of our religious leaders? Why would they want to put me or anyone else in a position to be asking these questions?"
As Davis asks these questions of pastors, there are still lingering questions about the "benefits" political parties have gotten from these same gentlemen the government is working with to legalize and regularize their establishments.
Davis said as long as there was no attempt to bring order to the present web shop situation, everyone seemed happy to turn a blind eye.
It seems lost on Davis that it was the government that vowed to shut down web shops in the event of a no vote.
That is a commitment the government abandoned once the referendum -- which it clearly expected to pass -- failed.
The government now says it will take action against web shops that operate illegally once the industry is regulated.
We suppose that the resources it could not find to shut down web shops will suddenly be available to police the system.
In justifying the move to regulate web jobs, the deputy prime minister said the fact is that the government would be hard-pressed to close down web shops.
This whole episode has been a most unfortunate one.
Christie has long courted the church and even used it to justify certain political moves.
For instance, he still points to concerns raised by the church back in 2002 as the reason why the Progressive Liberal Party campaigned against the constitutional referendum, even after supporting the bills in the House of Assembly.
Instead of admitting that the decision to backtrack was done so for political reasons, Christie and the PLP continue to use the church in this regard.
The voice of the church, however, was of little consequence in 2013 when the Christie administration brought the gambling referendum.
Likewise, it is of no consequence now that it has decided to push ahead with the undemocratic decision to regulate the web shops.
On edge
With a weak official opposition voice on this and some other issues, Christie is on edge as Bethel and other pastors who were vociferous in their opposition to the gambling referendum continue their fight against legalizing web shops.
"I believe that our pointing out that the actions of the government are certainly contrary to democratic principles, I believe that has received resounding agreement with the [majority] of the Bahamian people, and I think they are feeling that, and so I believe they are using diversionary tactics," Pastor Alfred Stewart of New Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church told National Review.
The pastors are spot on in their conclusions that the actions of the government on this issue are contrary to democratic principles.
Christie had vowed to abide by the results of the gambling referendum.
He did not.
He later recognized that he made a mistake in taking the matter to referendum and that he should have legalized web shops upon coming to office.
The failed vote landed him in a conundrum, one that he cannot wiggle himself out of by getting into a public fight with the church.
The prime minister's faith is not in question.
As Christie rightly recognized in Parliament last Thursday, his faith is something personal to him and his god.
He also said, "Do not for one moment believe that any of you can arrogate unto yourselves a special right to see yourselves as more Christian, even if you wear a black shirt."
It was a direct swipe at the pastors who were in the House of Assembly nearly two weeks ago when the Gaming Bill was tabled.
They were dressed in black. The men said they were in mourning over the "death of democracy".
While the pastors' use of the term is clearly exaggerated, they made a strong point.
Their presence in all black and their objection to the Gaming Bill got under Christie's skin.
But the prime minister should know that it is nonsensical to get into a public argument with pastors over faith. It is distasteful, unbecoming and does nothing to help advance the cause for good governance.
It has only added confusion to the debate and has led to a situation that is hugely embarrassing for Christie and his government.
Christie has long lost credibility on the gambling issue.
He should not blame bad-decision making and poor judgment calls on being "governed" by his faith.
He should not confuse his actions as the leader of the nation with any discussions about "sin" or redemption.
Likewise, the deputy prime minister's attack on the church was regrettable and unhelpful in the debate.
It has taken the discourse into an arena that has confounded many observers.
At this stage, there is little Christie or Davis can do to adequately defend their undemocratic decision to trash the referendum results.
It is not likely that bickering with the church about morality and faith would assuage the anger felt by many whose votes at the polls on January 28 are now being disregarded.

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Critical role

September 15, 2014

Dr. Andre Rollins' relationship with his party is becoming more chilled and strained with each contribution he makes in the House of Assembly.
Anytime the Fort Charlotte MP gets up to speak, there is now an expectation that he will lash out at the Progressive Liberal Party and dig his claws deeper into the back of the leadership.
Last week was no exception.
While contributing to debate on the Gaming Bill, Rollins highlighted the government's "hypocrisy" and said the gaming issue will be "enough to cause it to be fired at the next general election".
He also said the government's explanation on why it chose to ignore the results of the 2013 gambling referendum lacks merit.
No one should be shocked any more by Rollins' harsh criticisms of the PLP and the Christie administration.
He has accepted, it seems, that he will not get another PLP nomination.
Rollins told us he is not concerned about getting re-elected.
"You deny me a nomination all you want, but at the end of the day, I don't get my power or my motivation from those individuals who have the power to offer a nomination because, ultimately, if the people want you, they're going to accept you no matter what label you fall under, whether it's independent, whether it's PLP, whether it's FNM or any other party."
Despite the fallout he is facing within his party, Rollins appears to be taking seriously his role as a backbencher.
The backbench's responsibility is to help keep the government focused on what is deemed to be the party's sacred philosophies and policies in government.
It is obvious he recognizes that the backbench is intended to be that opposition in a party to get the government to focus on doing things differently, if it is making decisions that would negatively reflect on the government or the party and damage the party's popularity in the country.
Indeed, it is not abnormal in the parliamentary system for there to be members on the backbench who may hold views that differ from the views expressed by the cabinet.
A strong backbench ought to be the staple of a democracy, the party's voice of conscience in Parliament.
One political observer opined that if Rollins' outspokenness is going to foster a culture within the Parliament, particularly on the government side, of having a strong, vocal backbench, that could only add to the further evolution and strengthening of our democracy.
The test will likely come at the time of his re-nomination.
The party would have to recognize and accept that what Rollins is doing is not necessarily destroying the party, but impacting how the electors see the PLP as a brand.
The PLP should not condemn Rollins, particularly since what he is saying is receiving popular support.
For that reason alone, the leadership of the party should stop and listen to what the MP has to say.
It is clear to us that Rollins understands the temperature of the country. He is man enough to articulate it.
The PLP may get an opportunity to save itself from an electoral defeat if it listens to members like Rollins, as opposed to being dismissive.
Faith
For now, Rollins is adamant he will not leave the PLP, despite strong internal calls for the party to take action against him.
When he joined the PLP in 2011, Rollins, former chairman of the National Development Party, said, "Just as I believe in our nation's potential for greatness, despite our present shortcomings, I am also confident that, notwithstanding the PLP's imperfections, this groundbreaking party still possesses the capacity for change."
On Friday, he told The Nassau Guardian he still has faith in the PLP.
"The PLP is where I am," he said.
"I believe the PLP has the capacity to effect change. If I see things happening that I don't agree [with] and I don't support, I make it known to the public.
"It may be that I have no future in the PLP. If the PLP decides that they don't want me, I cannot force myself on the PLP.
"But I'm not about looking for political cover or trying to do what is politically expedient in the hope that I would be re-elected as some would suggest.
"But I don't have time to suffer fools. If you are doing nonsense, I will say so, and if you have a problem with me speaking my mind because I am echoing what the Bahamian people are saying and feeling, tough.
"And if that means you have no place for me, so be it, but I hope you understand that just because you have some in the party who want nothing to do with me, that should not mean that I should be out there finding out who does in fact want me.
"I can't do that, and I haven't met with any other political party or parties. I can assure you of that."
In some respects, Rollins is echoing what many people are thinking.
There are tremendous frustrations and uncertainties faced by the electorate, the prime minister's repeated expression of optimism notwithstanding.
There are widespread concerns about the impact value-added tax will have after it is introduced in January.
As it approaches the midpoint of its term, much of what the Christie administration led voters to believe would happen in the near term has not yet materialized.
While there will always be those who remain faithful to the PLP and its message, many have lost faith in this administration.
Rollins' critical view of the government is in some respects a reflection of what these people are thinking and feeling.
Within the PLP, Rollins is no doubt experiencing great tension.
After he recently lashed out at Prime Minister Perry Christie and declared the country needs new leadership, there were suggestions made by many PLPs that the MP should address his concerns within the internal structure of the party.
Asked to respond to this, Rollins said, "I've done so, you know, and I'm very vocal internally, as vocal, if not more vocal internally than I am in the House of Assembly."
He explained, "The frustrations that I have experienced have been due to the fact that it's evident that my views and recommendations are falling on deaf ears.
"The fact of the matter is...I can only recall one meeting of the parliamentary caucus attended by the prime minister, so when the prime minister wants to hear me it's in the House of Assembly.
"I don't know why he chooses not to participate in the parliamentary caucus meetings, but if I feel as though my voice isn't being heard by my colleagues. I have a responsibility to have my voice heard in the Parliament by those who put me there, by the Bahamian people."

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One simple act of kindness

September 15, 2014

Now let me commence here today by asking you a simple question, which I'm sure I know the answer to; however, here goes with the question. Do you really appreciate it when someone is kind to you and thus does something for you which really brings great joy to your heart? Now I presume that the answer to that simple question is indeed in the affirmative for all of my most valued readers. Well then, as it is written 'As you SOW--So shall you REAP'. So it therefore logically follows, that as you treat others, particularly in their hour of need, when they're perhaps down and depressed, is exactly how you'll be treated by others during your 'Hour Of Need'.
So, as the title of today's article simply states, I'm asking you to do 'One Simple Act Of Kindness' for someone who is in need of attention today. Now of course, you do not have to limit yourself to just 'One simple Act Of Kindness'; you can indeed shine by going out of your way to be literally kind to everybody who crosses your path throughout each and every day, after all, it's The Spiritual Thing to do.....yes it is!
I am aware of the fact, that we do live today in a rather fast paced, quite materialistic and somewhat selfish world where it's all about me and mind, what I can get, how can I benefit today. Now of course, there's absolutely nothing whatsoever wrong with very aggressively pursuing our goals and objectives, and thus looking out for ourselves. However, at times we need to stop, look around and thus seek out those who are perhaps not quite as fortunate as we are blessed to be, and then go out of our way to be very kind to these Hurting Souls.
Yes indeed, 'One Simple Act Of Kindness' can turn someone's life completely around and thus assist them in having a most pleasant day, which perhaps otherwise would have been most painful for them. My Friend, never, ever lose sight of The Universal Law of Cause & Effect which the wise Emerson simply referred to as 'THE Law of Laws', that's how very important Emerson thought this law was.
So in conclusion, always keep uppermost in your mind The FACT, that what you put out each and every day in the form of thoughts and deeds will indeed return to you greatly multiplied at some time in the future. So do go out of your way today to be kind to one and all who you meet along the way, and you'll be building a great future for yourself.....yes you will!!
o Think about it!
Visit my Website at: www.dpaulreilly.com.
Listen to "Time to Think" the
radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

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Gridiron battle here in The Bahamas

September 15, 2014

The Texas Southern University (TSU) Tigers are now 3-0 this season after coming to The Bahamas and taking care of business with a 30-16 win over the Central State University (CSU) Marauders in the inaugural Bahamas HBCUX Classic. The game was played Saturday evening in front of a sparse crowd at the new Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
The Tigers managed to power their way into the end zone twice with a strong running attack; they also scored two touchdowns off passes from second-string quarterback Jamal Small. Small threw for 186 yards in his second start in place of Homer Causey, and ran for 108 yards on 13 carries.
The Marauders' only points of the first half came on a 32-yard field goal by John Adams. Texas Southern carried a 13-3 lead into half-time and appeared to be in complete control of the game.
At the start of the third quarter, Tigers' running back Daveonn Porter scored one of his two touchdowns to give them a 20-3 lead. The Marauders got back into the game with back-to-back touchdowns to cut it to 20-16, one on a 25-yard interception return by Christian Wilson.
In the latter part of the third, Tigers' Eric Medina kicked a 24-yard field goal, which was followed by Porter's fourth quarter four-yard touchdown run that put the game out of reach.
Almost 3,000 fans came out to see the teams battle in the historic game that was broadcasted by the HBCUX (Historically Black Colleges and Universities Experience) Network. This is the first year of a three-year contract between the HBCUs and The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. Each year of the contract, two historically black colleges or universities will square off against each other in the collegiate football game right here in The Bahamas.
"I think we're onto something really big. I just needed a shot to get out of the door and I preached time and time again, let me crawl first. We might make some mistakes, but we have the opportunity to learn from them. We had a good crowd out here and I think it was a good game, and that's what it's all about," said HBCUX Network President Curtis Symonds.
"The idea of my network is to show this kind of experience. People of all cultures need to see what we can do out here, as far as what we are all about. We get underestimated all the time about that, and what's sad to me is that people think you have to go to these major schools to get things done, but that's not the case. It's what you put into it that matters. When I look back at it, it's been hard and I took a lot of bumps and bruises over the last few weeks trying to get here, but what I told everyone is judge me on September 13, and if I didn't deliver something good, you can boot me out. I think I brought something here that's going to open doors."
The game this past Saturday was the first of two American college football games at the national stadium this year. The second is set for Christmas Eve, December 24, and will feature teams from Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in the American collegiate system. Both of the games are part of the Ministry of Tourism's "Sports in Paradise" campaign.
"It has been an incredible experience. I saw the stadium go wild when one of the teams scored a touchdown, so this has generated those that knew nothing about football. Hopefully, they will have developed a new interest in football. We have developed a good relationship with the HBCUs and out of this relationship we have already received six full scholarships which is a substantial investment, and they have expressed interest in working with us moving forward," said Director General in the Ministry of Tourism Joy Jibruli.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson said: "There are a couple historic things here. This is a fall classic which is basically a homecoming game. There is a younger market that I'm going after which is college sports. We know it's a huge market, and we're testing all of the systems here, getting ready for December."
The Popeyes Bahamas Bowl is set to be the biggest American collegiate football game ever hosted here in The Bahamas.

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World Chess Federation names three local players as candidate masters

September 15, 2014

After a strong performance at the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway, the World Chess Federation (FIDE) has named three local players as candidate masters.
Kendrick Knowles, Elton Joseph and Cecil Moncur had to score at least 50 percent in a minimum of seven games at the event to secure the prestigious title. They did just that, and The Bahamas managed to move up to an overall rank of 118 out of 174 countries, after coming into the Chess Olympiad ranked at number 158. The team moved ahead of perennial Caribbean chess powerhouses Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname. In the region, only Jamaica scored more match points by the end of the 11-round competition.
"This tournament was an important benchmark for us to set for ourselves, and what we were able to accomplish. This has really given us a lot of confidence. We see the potential of our players and now we just have to apply ourselves and get the proper training and coaching to do well in the sport," said Bahamas Chess Federation (BCF) President Andre White.
"We played against proven chess masters and were able to hold our own. The guys are incredibly motivated now to continue their training and to represent the country at upcoming international tournaments. They saw the results of preparation, and the efforts that we put into participating in this Olympiad were well worth it."
The trio being awarded the title have now increased the number of candidate masters in The Bahamas to four. Nathan Smith received the honor last year after his performance at the 2013 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Youth Festival. The young chess phenom won the gold medal in the under-8 division of the youth festival, which was held in Costa Rica. The tournament played host to more than 230 players from 16 Central American and Caribbean countries.
In Norway, the three chess veterans led The Bahamas to its best finish ever at the Olympiad, which the country had not competed in, in over 20 years.
A major player in the BCF's recent success is Serbian grandmaster Predrag Trajkovic who worked with the team for two months prior to the tournament and served as team captain during the Chess Olympiad. As captain he developed strategies and provided analysis of the opponents games.
The 42nd Chess Olympiad is scheduled to be held in 2016 in Baku, Azerbaijan, and the BCF is already making preparation for a team to attend.
More playing opportunities are expected to be offered to local chess players in the near future, and there has been some discussion of The Bahamas hosting an international tournament in 2015.

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D'Aguilar: BAMSI not a 'prudent' use of funds

September 15, 2014

A leading Bahamian businessman has questioned the government's decision to heavily invest in the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI), arguing that it is not a "prudent" use of funds, given the country's "horrible fiscal situation".
In an interview with Guardian Business, Superwash President and former Director of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Dionisio D'Aguilar stated that the North Andros agricultural facility should be a low priority for the government, given the country's constant power concerns.
"We're in a horrible fiscal situation right now, so is [BAMSI] really a prudent use of government money? The timing is wrong," stated D'Aguilar. "We've got so many other pressing concerns. Our electricity infrastructure is a disaster. Why aren't we putting resources into ensuring that we have power 24 hours a day, seven days a week?"
D'Aguilar, a vocal critic of BEC due to its continued inability to provide reliable power, slammed BEC's proposed reform approach last week, which would create a new company wholly owned by BEC with two divisions: one for transmission and distribution and another for generation.
Although D'Aguilar supports agricultural development in the country, he questioned whether The Bahamas has the capacity or resources to compete with regional agriculture competition, noting that similar initiatives to boost local produce in the past have largely failed.
"Why are we building something in Andros that is going to affect so few, whereas the fact that we don't have power every day affects everyone? Something needs to be drastically done.
"To go and take $50 to100 million to pump into Andros right now, with the power going off every day in New Providence, I think there's a better use for those funds," said D'Aguilar.
While the government initially issued $20 million in contracts to begin the construction of BAMSI's first phase in February, Prime Minister Perry Christie has suggested that the government would eventually invest approximately $100 million in the project.
The facility, which was originally slated to open at the beginning of September, has been impacted by delays over construction concerns.
Livingston Forbes, chief architect in the Ministry of Works, confirmed last week that BAMSI's major facilities are nearly 70 percent complete. However, Forbes did not expect the institute's lecture halls to be completed until early 2015.
However, Minister of Agriculture V. Alfred Gray dismissed doubts over the project's future, claiming that the government had invested nearly $50 million into the project to date.
"We have spent almost $50 million already and we have just begun...and so those who would like to see it fail, tell them keeping looking," stated Gray.
Both Gray and Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) Executive Chairman Arnold Forbes have stressed that the project remains within its budget, despite the construction delays.

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Okyanos praises stem cell legislation, regulations

September 15, 2014

A stem cell treatment facility in Grand Bahama has welcomed last week's Stem Cell Research and Therapy Regulations, praising The Bahamas for providing the necessary legislative framework to advance stem cell research.
A statement from the Okyanos Heart Institute confirmed that the institute is still in "close communication" with the government over its application and approval.
"We are in close communication with all appropriate parties regarding the processing of our application and approval.
"Cell therapy is the next phase in the evolution of medicine. The Bahamas has joined other countries such as Japan, Singapore, the European Union, Australia and New Zealand in providing a legislative and regulatory jurisdiction, so that this very promising standard of care can be brought forward," reads the statement.
Okyanos, which aims to treat coronary artery disease through cardiac stem cell therapy, has already invested over $10 million in the facility. The institute currently employs 17 people and is in the process of hiring additional staff.
Parliament passed the landmark Stem Cell Research and Therapy Bill last year amid concerns over billionaire fashion designer Peter Nygard's influence on the legislation.
Last year, the government additionally undertook a "full review" of Okyanos' proposal after it was revealed that Okyanos CEO Matt Feshbach had declared bankruptcy and was battling the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over a $3.8 million unpaid liability.
However, the government appears to have eased its concerns, with Prime Minister Perry Christie recently addressing the state of Okyanos' application in an interview earlier this month.
Speaking ahead of last week's tabling of the regulations, Christie said the institute would "most certainly" have its application processed in short order.
"Applications will begin to be processed. And where most certainly the group in Grand Bahama, that has spent over $10 million and is waiting for approval, [will] have its application processed," said Christie.
The stem cell regulations, tabled last week by Minister of Health Dr. Perry Gomez, would allow embryonic stem cell therapy only in "exceptional circumstances". The regulations further stipulate that all embryonic stem cells intended for therapy must be "previously derived", and prohibited the use of new human embryonic cells.
The regulations also call for the establishment of three regulatory bodies: the National Stem Cell Ethics Committee, Scientific Committee and Compliance Committee .
While the initial application fee for stem cell research stood at $2,500 in the tabled regulations, approved facilities would be required to pay an annual license fee ranging from $15,000 to $50,000.

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Resorts World Bimini to seek 200-300 more staff

September 15, 2014

A Resorts World Bimini (RWB) official has welcomed the completion of the first phase of its port facility, stating that the new services offered will have a significant impact on business and the island's economy.
RWB Director of Public Affairs Michelle Malcolm stated that visitor numbers are expected to rise sharply following the completion of a controversial ferry terminal in North Bimini.
"During the first three months of operation, we brought more than 40,000 visitors to the island, which represented some 80 percent of the annual 50,000 visitors that the island attracted prior to our arrival. Our hope is to return to those numbers, which will positively impact the economy on Bimini both directly and indirectly," said Malcolm.
She outlined a host of developments as RWB moves into its next phase, including a South Bimini airport and watersports facilities, aimed at further increasing the island's profile.
"Construction on our luxury marina hotel is progressing well. Our hotel will blend the intimacy and exclusivity of Bimini with top-of-the-line accommodations, and we are on target for an early opening date. Meanwhile, work also continues on the upgrade and expansion of the South Bimini airport.
"We will also continue to deliver the second and third phase of the port at Resorts World Bimini, which will include a permanent customs and immigration facility, as well as the development of a beach experience with a beach bar, watersports activities and a craft market at the end of the pier.
The North Bimini Ferry Terminal has been steeped in controversy since construction began in May this year. Environmentalists and concerned citizens have repeatedly challenged the development over fear that it would irreparably damage the surrounding marine environment and the island's fishing and diving industries.
Despite these concerns, Malcolm noted that RWB continued to see a steady increase in visitors through both ferry and private yacht traffic as it wound down the first phase of the resort.
"Business has been very positive. We have seen a steady increase in visitor demand... The casino continues to bring in robust business and, as the home to the largest marina in The Bahamas with more than 200 slips, we are attracting boaters at a consistently high level."
Malcolm claimed that RWB, the largest employer in Bimini, is still hiring Bahamians "on a daily basis" and would soon launch further recruitment initiatives before the end of the year to accommodate the increased visitor demand at the resort.
"We continue to hire Bahamians to fill current positions for the resort on a daily basis. The recruitment initiatives for the new hotel are in progress and several job fairs are being scheduled for the remainder of the year," she said, noting that the resort is seeking between 200-300 additional employees to supplement RWB's current staff of approximately 450.
RWB earlier revealed a series of new day-trip routes to the resort. Cruises from the Broward and Palm Beach counties in Florida will begin on September 18, 2014, while trips from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale will be available from October 14, 2014.

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Genting Group buys additional property in Bimini for 24.6 million

September 15, 2014

Malaysia-based conglomerate Genting has purchased 6.6 additional hectares in Bimini for $24.6 million, which will be used to further develop its Resorts World Bimini (RWB) operation.
In a filing to exchange holding company Bursa Malaysia last week, Genting Malaysia stated that the land acquisition would allow Genting Group to have "better control in terms of planning for future development and expansion".
BB Entertainment Ltd. (BBEL), a subsidiary of Genting that owns and operates RWB's casino, purchased the land from RAV Bahamas Ltd. (RBL). RBL currently holds 30 percent interest in BBEL.
Although RWB officials were unavailable for comment up to press time, environmentalists have speculated that the acquisition could be used for the construction of a golf course.
Speaking with Guardian Business, Save The Bays CEO Lindsey McCoy expressed deep concerns over the announcement and the threat it could pose to surrounding marine habitats, claiming that RWB had dredged an estimated 800,000 cubic tons of fill, four times the initially proposed amount, which she argued could go towards construction of a golf course.
"My main concern is that Bimini Bay Resort and Marina had talked about a golf course. Bimini's mangroves are some of the most critical habitats in The Bahamas," said McCoy, adding that a 2000 government survey demonstrated that the mangrove area near RWB was the most critical habitat in the country.
"It very much concerns me, knowing that they've purchased more land. It would be a travesty if that mangrove habitat disappears," said McCoy.
The Bimini resort recently finished the construction of the controversial North Bimini Ferry Terminal. Its construction was challenged and temporarily halted in the courts by environmentalists and concerned citizens due to concerns that the development could lead to substantial damage of the surrounding marine environment.

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Top lawyer: Govt stalling over FOIA

September 15, 2014

Save The Bay's (STB) legal director has called the proposed 2016 date for the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) "unacceptable" and said that the public is demanding government transparency and accountability.
Prominent attorney Fred Smith, QC, has hit out at the announcement that there may be no Freedom of Information Act brought to Parliament until 2016, saying the legislation is already long overdue and accusing government of stalling in an effort to avoid increased public scrutiny.
Smith, the legal director of fast-growing social and environmental advocacy group Save The Bays, which has campaigned energetically for the enactment of an FOIA, noted that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) promised to enact the legislation during the 2012 campaign but has failed to live up to that pledge.
"It is simply unacceptable," Smith said. "Five years after the election promise and on the eve of the new election is far too long for the public to wait for transparency and accountability in government.
"An FOIA exists in some form or other across the entire civilized world. It is a disgrace that The Bahamas is lagging so far behind in granting its citizens the fundamental right to know what is being done in their name and with their money by public servants and elected officials."
Smith was responding to the announcement by Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald that following his government's withdrawal of an FOIA passed just before the 2012 election by the former Free National Movement (FNM) administration, a revised version will not be presented to Parliament before spring 2016.
"Again, just like the FNM, they are kicking the can down the road, pushing the matter to the end of their term so as to avoid increased public scrutiny of their own actions and make FOIA the problem of their successors," he said.
"It's no wonder they are stalling - think of how many important public issues have arisen on the PLP's watch that an FOIA could shed considerable light on.
"Take for example the outrageous letter of intent signed by Renward Wells for a $600 million project without the approval of Cabinet, or the U.S. Department of State's complaints of a lack of transparency in the issuance of government contracts, or the still mysterious NIB controversy right at the beginning of their term. The list goes on and on."
Smith said of particular concern to STB is the ongoing practice of governments forging secret deals with foreign developers that often lead to significant environmental degradation and social dislocation.
"The scourge of unregulated development has its roots in
the lack of transparency and accountability. The public should know what the government has agreed to in its name, and should always have a say on what is done with its Crown land and natural resources.
"In the absence of freedom of information, The Bahamas has been run like a petty dictatorship by successive governments, which have treated our land, our patrimony, our Family Islands as if it was their own to sell to whom they wish and for whatever price they wish - usually next to nothing; prime ministers [as ministers of finance] who treat our treasury as if it is their own personal piggybank that can be used to fund whatever shortsighted projects they please."
Smith said Fitzgerald's disdain for the public was evident in his claim the delay is necessary as government is still in the process of deciding whether it should make the "over 100" amendments to the FNM's act, or "scrap it" and start it from scratch.
"And where exactly did they come up with these 100 amendments? With whom did they consult? Are they suddenly free speech experts?
"The public has a right to an open discussion on this matter in which advice and recommendations can be submitted by interested groups and individuals. Clearly, they don't have any respect for the citizens of this country, or for their sacred right to open and transparent government," he said.
Meanwhile, Smith said, the rest of the world clearly does understand the urgent need for FOIA in The Bahamas.
"Earlier this year, the government's own tax reform consultants from New Zealand insisted the legislation was crucial for the implementation of value-added tax, slated for January 2015.
And, the new U.S. Embassy charge d'affaires threw support behind FOIA in The Bahamas and pledged her country's help to see it in place, a pledge the administration has yet to even acknowledge," he said.
"Thus, with this delay, Fitzgerald's government is not only thumbing its collective nose at the public, but also at the international community and putting our global reputation on the line in the process. Bahamians must let them know we will not stand for it. We want action now."
Launched just over a year ago, Save The Bays has taken The Bahamas by storm. Begun as an effort to bring an end to the scourge of environmentally-destructive unregulated development, the grassroots movement quickly mushroomed to incorporate a variety of other civic and social justice concerns and grievances as other advocacy groups flocked to STB's banner.
In June, a pro-FOIA rally in Rawson Square organized by STB attracted 20 different organizations, together representing more than 60,000 people with diverse concerns ranging from environmental destruction and government corruption, to labor disputes and human rights abuses.
The grassroots effort now has more than 500 registered members, 17,000 followers on Facebook and 6,000 signatures on its petition calling for an Environmental Protection Act, an FOIA and an end to unregulated development in The Bahamas.

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MacDonald's executives receive team building training

September 15, 2014

Under the theme "Team building to lead", President and CEO of Benchmark Consulting Services Billie Bowe accompanied the senior leadership team of DanBrad Ltd., the MacDonald's franchise owners, to their first annual management retreat on Harbour Island, Eleuthera on Saturday, September 5.
The company's president, Earla J. Bethel, felt it was a great opportunity for her hardworking management team to travel to Harbour Island to refresh and rejuvenate. Equally, it was an ideal place to host a fun-filled, yet impactful team building session.
Bethel commented, "Billie very readily embraced and engaged our team. She quickly identified gaps in our team dynamics and offered practical solutions to close the gaps and strengthen the weak links. She put participants at ease 'out of the gate' and kept everyone on track," she said. "Billie diffused sidebars skillfully and effectively, while holding everyone accountable and attentive for several hours. Her sense of humor, anecdotes and personal stories kept our team hanging on to every word."
The idea for the retreat, to combine relaxation with learning, was conceived by the company's human resources manager, Sylvia Forbes. And according to all involved, it was well deserved after countless months of hard work and long hours put in by the management team.
Billie Bowe stated that she was delighted when contacted by MacDonald's in New Providence to travel with the group to Harbour Island to the first of many annual retreats planned by the company. "It was truly an honor to have been given the opportunity to work with this fine group of leaders," she said. She noted that, as Benchmark Consulting Services is located in Freeport, Grand Bahama, she felt especially proud to have been selected.
The training covered a variety of topics including, but not limited to, identifying various team types and team member personalities, the team building trust/relationship model, effective communication amongst team members, problem solving, understanding roles and responsibilities and, most importantly, establishing a clear purpose and a shared vision.
"It was amazing how quickly I was able to observe the immediate changes in the team's dynamics after only a few hours of pre-assessments and activities. They were fully engaged and opened their minds to the information shared with them. I could never have asked for a better group of leaders to work with," said Mrs. Bowe.
One participant, Mr. Shanendon Cartwright, marketing and development manager, had this to say about the training: "It was quite empowering and emphasized the many ways to build a strong team and transform and develop a superb work environment."
While the training session was condensed due to the dual purpose of the retreat, Mrs. Bethel noted that Mrs. Bowe was able to "very strategically and competently condense an eight hour session into five hours".
She ended by saying, "Billie provided practical solutions to help our team members resolve some issues in the workplace and made excellent recommendations for our team members to execute in order to achieve our goal of being a high performing management team. Billie left our team highly motivated and inspired to raise the bar."

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Wells to skip gaming vote
Wells to skip gaming vote

September 15, 2014

When members of Parliament vote on the controversial Gaming Bill before the House of Assembly, Bamboo Town MP Renward Wells intends to be absent, he confirmed yesterday...

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PMH maternity ward closed due to mold

September 15, 2014

An infestation of mold has resulted in the temporary closure of the Labor and Maternity Ward at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), Health Minister Dr. Perry Gomez confirmed yesterday...

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Ministry investigating Adelaide oil spill

September 15, 2014

A significant amount of oil washed ashore on Adelaide beach last week, the Ministry of Transport and Aviation reported yesterday.
In a statement, the ministry said officials were alerted on Saturday about the spill and acted immediately to establish a plan of action.
It said the Ministry of the Environment and Housing dispatched technical officers from the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) and the BEST Commission visited the area and are preparing reports for review and action.
"We note that much of the oily debris had been washed away by the tide after an apparent clean-up effort by concerned citizens," the statement said.
"The Department of Environmental Health Services will seek to determine the source of the oil emission and other
necessary clean-up and remediation actions as the investigation unfolds."
Environmentalist Sam Duncombe, a resident of the area, said the oil washed ashore for several yards along the coastline.
"It is a situation that is completely out of control," she said.
"It is entirely disrespectful. How long does it take to get this fixed? How long do we have to be exposed to these contaminates that are persistent in the environment?
"This situation has been going on for way too long for there not to have been a full investigation and a solution found to stop the oil from hemorrhaging out of that area."
Gary Vanhoek, dive instructor at Stuart Cove's, said he's been fighting this issue for years.
"I feel that everyone is pointing fingers at everyone else and no one seems to take responsibility," he said.
Vanhoek said Stuart Cove's can't take clients to certain dive sites due to the risk of placing them in contaminated water.
"You can come out on any given day and you will see the oil slick," he said.
"There is a cost to this. This is destroying tourism and the fishing industry over here."
Duncombe said her neighbor saw the spill on Thursday and took photos. The next day, the two attempted to clean up what they could, Duncombe said.
She said that she also had to warn visitors who tried to swim in the water.
"There was a family with a little baby and we had to warn them," she said. "We had to say to them, 'Listen that dark plume you are looking at, that's oil. You need to get out of the water'.
"We promote the country by showing beautiful pristine images of sandy beaches that go on for miles that are unpolluted and untainted and the reality is in New Providence, where 80 to 90 percent of the population lives, we are living in a polluted hell hole. It looks clean, but it isn't."
Duncombe said wherever the oil is coming from, the government must act to prevent further incidents.
"They need to figure out what is going on in the southwest New Providence and deal with it."
In its statement, the ministry said due to the ongoing and "very longstanding environmental concerns at Clifton Pier (well in excess of a decade) and reports from the National Oil Spill Advisory Committee of the same, a Cabinet committee was appointed to review the Clifton Pier area and the associated reports".
It said the committee has made recommendations which "includes the development and implementation of an Environment Management Plan and an independent Environmental Review of the entire Clifton Pier area".
"Notwithstanding that an environmental management plan will be implemented, determining the source of the pollution is a priority in eradicating this on-going issue," the statement added.
"The public will be kept updated on the implementation of the remedial recommendations by the Ministry of the Environment and Housing as necessary.
"The protection of the marine environment is paramount to the growth and development of the country and hence a priority to the Government of The Bahamas."

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