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How long does it take for a delivery truck to drive from a bank on Frederick Street in downtown Nassau to Cable Beach? Maybe 45 minutes on a bad traffic day. How long does it take for the Bahamas Post Office to deliver an ordinary letter that distance? How about 20 days. And from the BEC office on Baillou Hill Road to Cable Beach? How about 21 days via our Government-run postal service?
I am quite
concerned about the direction in which the Free National Movement (FNM)
is headed. It appears that since Hubert Ingraham returned as leader of
the FNM in 2005 he has made it his mission to be the sole face of the
FNM. So much so, that some of the FNM's constituency offices barely
display the faces of the candidates, but are decorated with the image of
Ingraham. This continues a trend which was clearly evident during the
Elizabeth by-election. For the number of Hubert Ingraham's posters
nailed to trees and light poles, you hardly knew that Dr. Duane Sands
was the candidate in that by-election. No wonder he blew it after the
entire Cabinet invaded and occupied Elizabeth and brought with them the
full resources of the government...
"We need real campaign finance reform to loosen the grip of special interests on politics." - Tom Daschle
Every five years around election time, incessant lip service is paid to campaign financing. It can only be lip service because after the ballots have been cast, counted and catalogued, the notion of campaign finance reform retires to hibernation - that is, until the next general election. Therefore, this week, we would like to Consider This...what practical approaches can we realistically take regarding how we finance political campaigns in The Bahamas?
Unquestionably, politics has become an extremely expensive exercise. When one considers the cost of political rallies, paraphernalia, including T-shirts and other garments now available, flags, posters, signage, printing of flyers, advertisements, including newspaper, radio and television broadcasts and commercials, the cost is staggering. Let's not forget the direct cost of personnel employed by political parties; the cost of constituency offices, sometimes four or five, particularly in the Family Islands; the cost of electricity, water, and telephones; the cost of food and beverages; of political consultants; and the printing of party platforms. When these and other costs are considered, the real cost of staging a general election could very easily cost $250,000 per constituency or nearly $10 million per party. So how are political parties expected to finance such a mammoth undertaking?
Using the public purse
It has become commonplace for the government of the day to use the power of the public purse to significantly finance its party's political campaign. We observed this practice when the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was in power; we witnessed it in the by-election in Elizabeth two years ago; and we are seeing it again in the current general election. While this has been a common practice, the Free National Movement (FNM) government seems to have taken this phenomenon to new heights.
Shortly after announcing the general election of 2012, the government launched a record contract signing marathon. The $12 million contract for the construction of a new clinic in North Abaco and a multimillion-dollar contract for a new hospital in Exuma are a few examples of this.
Last weekend, amidst great public fanfare at police headquarters, the prime minister awarded $1 million to charitable organizations. Ironically, this is the same government that - only one year earlier - reduced the government's subvention to such organizations during the annual budget debate in the House of Assembly. This is the same government that discontinued the extremely effective YEAST program that provided a positive prototype for young Bahamian men at risk and the same government that canceled the effective and internationally celebrated urban renewal program established by the PLP.
No matter which party is in power, an intelligent and discerning public should look askance at the government of the day exploiting and abusing the public purse in order to win votes after elections have been called.
In The Bahamas, political campaigns are predominantly financed by contributions from persons, companies, and organizations that believe in the democratic process and want to ensure that the message of the political party that they support is widely and successfully disseminated.
In the absence of campaign finance laws, there are no restrictions on who can contribute to a political party and how much they can donate. Accordingly, anyone -- Bahamians and foreigners - can contribute any amount to anyone at any time without any accountability whatsoever. The real question that we must address for the future health of our democracy is whether this is a desirable practice?
It has become customary for political contributions to be made in private, sometimes on the condition of confidentiality and often in secrecy with only a select few members of the party knowledgeable regarding the source of the funds.
Campaign 2012 has seen a new development in political funding. During the last few mass rallies, the prime minister has publicly appealed from the podium for campaign contributions, describing it as a further deepening of our democracy by allowing the public to become investors in his party. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, it is unprecedented and uncharacteristic. We have never before seen this prime minister - or any other for that matter - beg for money from a public podium.
It therefore begs the question: why has he done so now, during what he says is his last campaign? He alluded to the answer to this question on Thursday past at a mass rally on R. M. Bailey Park when he said that he will not tolerate anyone in his Cabinet who has financially benefited from conflicts of interest.
We believe that he made this appeal for financial contributions because, while the FNM is still well-funded by those wealthy interest groups who support him in order to continue reaping his government's largess, some of his traditional sources of funding are less generous than they have been in the past. This is possibly because he has cut some of his more financially well-connected candidates for reasons already stated and reiterated again from that podium last Thursday in a purposefully vague but very revealing way.
Campaign finance reform
Clearly, as the prime minister is opening party funding up to the masses in ways never seen before, the time has come to enact campaign financing legislation. There are several things that can be done in order to impose strict controls for campaign fund-raising, primarily to level the playing field and to minimize disparate levels of funding campaigns by the various political parties. Campaign financing legislation should also establish disclosure requirements with respect to funding and spending in elections.
Such a law could introduce statutory limits on contributions by individuals, organizations and companies, which would remove the influence of big money from politics and should also prohibit foreign influences from invading the local political process.
There should also be limits on large potential donors to prevent them from gaining extraordinary political access or favorable legislation or other concessions in return for their contributions. Campaign finance laws should also provide for the capping of such funding and for the disclosure of sources of campaign contributions and expenditures. It should also limit or prohibit government contractors from making contributions with respect to such elections.
Campaign financing legislation could even provide for matching funds by the government for all the candidates in order to ensure that the playing field truly is level and to enhance clean elections.
Finally, in order to more vigilantly protect the public purse, the law should strictly prohibit a government from signing any new contracts after general or by-elections are called.
Campaigns will become more expensive as time progresses. As we mature politically, we should seek to ensure that political parties operate on a level playing field and remove the barriers to participation in the democratic process because of a lack of funding. If we want to encourage the best and the brightest citizens to enter into the elective political arena, we should seek to eliminate the observation of U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton that: "Elections are more often bought than won".
Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to email@example.com.
Thursday 8th November 2012 7:00 AM
HVS Chicos Hotel Investment Conference DAY 1 - THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8th, 2012 and DAY 2 - FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9th, 2012 Click HERE to see info on Day 2 7:00 am - 9:00 pm - REGISTRATION Grand Ballroom D 8:00 am - 8:30 am - NETWORKING BREAKFAST Grand Ballroom D 8:30 am - 9:45 am - GLOBAL, REGIONAL, CARIBBEAN, AND ECONOMIC OVERVIEW Grand Ballroom D Global Trends Stephen Rushmore, Jr, Chief Executive Officer & President - HVS Global Hospitality Services Global & Regional Hotel Performance Carter Wilson, Director - STR Analytics Overview of Caribbean Lodging Market Parris Jordan, Managing Director, Caribbean - HVS Global Hospitality Services Overview of Global Economy Dr. Avery Shenfeld, Managing Director & Chief Economist – CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank 9:45 am - 10:45 am – GENERAL SESSION Grand Ballroom D VIEW FROM THE TOP: INVESTMENT IN THE REGION Join our panel of Investors, owners and operators in a discussion of the major issues impacting the industry in the region today. The region has been impacted significantly over the past five years but we are starting to see recovery in the top line at least. But is this enough to get the investment and lending communities excited about the region again? What hurdles do we still need to get over? Where do these experts see opportunities? These experts will discuss what has attracted them to the region historically, the obstacles that the industry has been dealing with and how they are overcoming the impediments to successful operations, investment and development. They will discuss whether the challenges in the Caribbean region are significantly different than in other parts of the world or whether the same issues are present and what can be learned from the experience elsewhere. Finally, they will discuss how the industry within the region may evolve over the next few years and where their focus is. Moderator: David Larone, Director – PKF Consulting Panelists: David Brillembourg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer – Brilla Group Kenneth Blatt, Principal – Caribbean Property Group Dave Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer – Aimbridge Hospitality Michael Shindler, Executive Vice President of Hotels & Casinos – Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos 10:45 am - 11:00 am - NETWORKING COFFEE BREAK - SPONSOR EXHIBITS Foyer 11:00 am -12:00 pm – GENERAL SESSION Grand Ballroom D CARIBBEAN GONE GLOBAL - INTERNATIONAL INVESTORS Where did they come from and what do they want? In this important discussion comprised of experienced international investors representing various regions in the world, panelists will explain how perspective on the Caribbean has recently changed and appetite for Caribbean investment opportunity has consequently gone global. This discussion will examine how a variety of foreign family offices, institutions, lenders and emerging hotel brands have taken to the sand looking for opportunity to extend their reach into the recovering Caribbean region. Learn what they want and how they want it. Moderator: Bernard van der Lande, Managing Director and Senior Vice President – Hodges Ward Elliott Hotels Panelists: Pierre Charalambides, Founding Partner – Dolphin Capital Greg Rice, President and Founder – Solid Rock Advisors Jay Rosen, Vice President of Business Development – Davidson Hotels & Resorts Fausto Barba, Vice President of Finance and Development – Capella Hotel Group John Keith, Managing Partner – Caribe Hospitality 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm – BREAKOUT SESSION 1 A Grand Ballroom E DESTINATION MARKETING IN THE CARIBBEAN Join this prestigious panel of marketing and public relations professionals and reporters who will share insights and make recommendations for effective marketing techniques. This panel is geared toward the hotel operator and owner as well as anyone with an interest in tourism promotion for the Caribbean. Moderator: Leora Lanz, Managing Director - HVS Sales & Marketing Services Panelists: Gay Myers, Senior Editor, Mexico & Caribbean - Travel Weekly Laura Davidson, President and Founder - Laura Davidson Public Relations Gary Leopold, President and Chief Executive Officer - ISM Travel & Lifestyle Marketing Ed Watkins, Editor-in-Chief - Lodging Hospitality Simón B. Suárez, Chief Development Representative, Caribbean and Central America – Hilton Worldwide 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm – BREAKOUT SESSION 1 B Grand Ballroom F FINANCING A DEAL IN DIFFICULT TIMES The level of difficulty to finance hotel projects varies by region, project type and the sponsor’s track record. While construction financing remains difficult to obtain, funding for acquisitions appears to be loosening. Our panelists will discuss what pieces of the puzzle are needed to possibly make getting financing easier, the types of projects qualifying for debt, the current trends in financing terms and what the future holds on the financing front. Moderator: Jeff Higley, Vice President - STR Global Panelists: Lance Shaner, Chairman - Shaner Group Steve Carvell, Associate Dean - Cornell University, School Of Hotel Administration Peter Weiss, Director - Ackman-Ziff Real Estate Neil Bane, Senior Managing Director and Principal - Johnson Capital Sagar Desai, Director of Acquisitions & Development - Viceroy Hotel Group 1:00 pm - 1:45 pm - NETWORKING LUNCH Crowne Ballroom A Presentations from Task Force Leaders Announcement of 2013 CHICOS location from the host hotel and local Tourism Official. 1:45 pm - 2:45 pm - GENERAL SESSION Grand Ballroom D THE STATE OF THE GLOBAL GAMING SECTOR: PUTTING THE CARIBBEAN INTO CONTEXT What does the future hold for casino-style gaming in the Caribbean? In the broader “neighborhood” of Central and South America? How do these opportunities compare to those available in other gaming jurisdictions around the world? This panel will explore these questions and others, from the perspective of selected leaders with relevant experience operating and investing in casino-resort projects around the world – from Las Vegas to Asia to the Caribbean. Hear about how different regulatory regimes, infrastructure demands, capital structure difficulties, project returns and other key elements impact investment and operating decisions around the gaming world from a seasoned group of industry experts. Moderator: Adam Rosenberg, Managing Director, Global Head of Gaming – Goldman Sachs Panelists: Andrea Balkan, Managing Partner – Brookfield Real Estate Nicholas Hecker, Principal – Och-Ziff Real Estate Uri Clinton, General Counsel – Baha Mar Resorts 2:50 pm - 3:50 pm - GENERAL SESSION Grand Ballroom D CUBA VS. COLUMBIA INVESTMENT CLIMATES Who will be the next success story? While Cuba has been posted on the radar for so many years in anticipation of its long-awaited opening to foreign investment, Columbia is experiencing a genuine investment renaissance that has taken everyone by storm. Listen to this panel of savvy, market-specific investors debate the merits of each respective destination, focusing on the effects of transparency, rule of law, freedom of the capital markets, and graduation from age-old stereotypes as these Caribbean cousins compete for regional and international hotel investment. Moderator: Chad Meyerson, Director Global Sales – JetBlue Panelists: Jeremy Tang, Managing Director – Hemingway Capital Adam Cohen, Managing Director & Chief Operating Officer – Brilla Group Michael Register, Vice President of Development & Partner – Trust Hospitality Tim Ashby, Chief Executive Officer – Federal Regulatory Compliance Services, LLC 3:50 pm - 4:10 pm - NETWORKING COFFEE BREAK - SPONSOR EXHIBITS Foyer 4:10 pm - 5:10 pm – BREAKOUT SESSION 2 A Grand Ballroom E INNOVATE FOR INVESTMENT SUCCESS - OVERCOMING INVESTMENT CHALLENGES With the economy slowly turning around and foreign investors showing renewed interest in hospitality transactions, it is vital that new development projects are delivered successfully – which will in turn stimulate additional investment into the region. This panel discussion is intended to focus on critical implementation activities that are unique to the Caribbean region – and how governments, investors, and development teams can collaborate to conceive and deliver viable hospitality investments. The discussion is intended to be very practical – providing “real-world” guidance for developers based on the panelists’ extensive experience in development in the region (representing the views of Government, private developers, investors, and operators). Moderator: Kevin Goldstein, Director of Sustainability Services – HVS Global Hospitality Services Panelists: Patrick McCudden, Senior Vice President of Real Estate & Development – Hyatt International Patrick Freeman, Vice President, Real Estate and Development – Cisneros Group of Companies Mark Durliat, Chief Executive Officer and Principal – Grace Bay Resorts Vincent Vanderpool Wallace, Principal – Bedford Baker Group Amy Ironmonger, Associate – K&L Gates, LLP 4:10 pm - 5:10 pm – BREAKOUT SESSION 2 B Grand Ballroom F HOSPITALITY-DRIVEN MIXED USE RESORTS - PERSPECTIVES ON VARIOUS COMPONENTS A lively discussion of the hospitality driven mixed use model with an emphasis on several real estate components typically present within the model. The discussion will focus on these components from the perspective of physical facilities and issues, operating models, and ways to optimize cash flow and value. Moderator: John Lancet, Managing Director, Miami – HVS Global Hospitality Services Panelists: Neil Kolton, Director of Sales - Interval International Jonathan Nehmer, Principal - JN+A Design Alinio Azevedo, Director of Development - Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Nelson Parker, Head of Development, Americas - Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos German Rojas III Castillo, Senior Manager, Business Development - RCI 5:10 pm - 6:00 pm – BREAKOUT SESSION 3 A Grand Ballroom E OPERATIONS: MASTERING THE REBOUND In this highly interactive session we are looking at how operators and other stakeholders are maximizing gains as the Caribbean soars into recovery. Learn from industry experts their secrets to promoting destinations, leveraging opportunity, raising rates and keeping expenses in check. Moderator: Glenn Haussman, Managing Editor – Hotel Interactive Panelists: Nikheel Advani, Chief Operating Officer and Principal – Grace Bay Resorts Paul Burke, Chief Operating Officer – Kerzner International Honorable Haydn Hughes, Parliamentary Secretary of Tourism - Government of Anguilla Louis Alicea, Director of Development, Caribbean and Latin America – Wyndham Hotel Group Alejandro Acevedo, Vice President, Caribbean and Latin America – Marriott International 5:10 pm - 6:00 pm – BREAKOUT SESSION 3 B Grand Ballroom F OPPORTUNITIES, OPPORTUNITIES, OPPORTUNITIES Following four long years with stormy clouds due to the impact of the global economic recession, the silver lining is finally beginning to bring to the forefront some opportunities for investors with access to capital. Banks are emerging from the world of “pretend and extend” and are bringing some challenged properties to market; developers are taking a renewed look at stalled new builds; investors are getting tired of sitting on the sidelines and are looking actively for opportunities to reposition for the improving economy; and the existing hotels are exhibiting positive gains in RevPAR throughout the Caribbean. We look forward to discussing what form these opportunities take and some strategies to assist in bringing them to fruition. Investors, bring your wallets! Moderator: Cristina Lanao-Rossel, President - The BDC Group Panelists: Timothy Peck, Chairman – OBM International Roland Mouly, VP of Development, Caribbean, Mexico, Latin America, Americas – Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group Edgar Garin, Director of Franchise Development, Central & South America – La Quinta Inns & Suites Juan Morera, Deputy Director of Corporate Development – Grupo Posadas Fernando Fernandez, VP of Development, Americas – Sol Melia International Hotels 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm – COCKTAIL RECEPTION Cafe at The Great Hall of Waters - Royal Towers Lobby Click HERE to view there website
The government is again preparing to relocate staff in the General Post Office building which will be closed today due to structural problems, Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin said yesterday.
Postal services will also been suspended today. It is unclear when those services will resume.
In a statement, Hanna-Martin said postal services are "subject to further notification".
However, counter services will be available at each sub-post office location, including Shirley Street, Elizabeth Estates, Cable Beach, South Beach, Fox Hill and Grants Town.
Hanna-Martin said employees found debris in one of the offices in the building on East Hill Street when they arrived at work yesterday morning.
"As a result of this latest incident the ministry has determined to immediately put in place interim measures for the relocation of postal staff and protocols for the collection and distribution of mails while arrangements for finalizing a permanent location is completed," read the statement.
"That process of relocation to permanent premises is in train and premises have been identified with the collaboration of the Ministry of Public Service, which has responsibility for accommodations.
"...The terms of the acquisition of the new location are now being settled."
Hanna-Martin added, "The ministry wishes to give assurance of its fullest concern for the safety of the staff at the post office."
The building has had several challenges over the years.
In August 2013, the government said it was preparing to relocate staff after air condition challenges led to severe flooding in the building.
In February of that year, post office employees claimed that a large concrete slab fell from the ceiling and nearly hit a worker.
At the time, Bahamas Public Service Union (BPSU) Secretary General S. J. Miller said the building posed "serious health and safety problems" for employees.
Hanna-Martin has acknowledged that the building has fallen into a state of disrepair over the years.
There have also been air conditioning issues at the Elizabeth Estates, South Beach and Grants Town post offices.
In an effort to "facilitate the timely and orderly development" of Bimini, the government will establish an Office of the Prime Minister on the island.
A senior official will be posted to the office, which Prime Minister Perry Christie said would "strengthen the government administration" there.
He made the announcement during his speech at Monday's Bahamas Business Outlook, where he spoke at length about new developments expected to impact the economy in 2014.
Nine square miles in size, Bimini is currently undergoing major development at the direction of Resorts World Bimini, owned by the Malaysian Genting Group, which is expanding the already existing former Bimini Bay Resort to include an additional boutique hotel, a ferry terminal and other amenities projected to provide a significant boost to the local economy.
The project has stirred controversy, in part inciting claims that it has moved ahead without necessary permits, or due regard for the environment - claims Resorts World Bimini have denied.
Yesterday, MP for East Grand Bahama and shadow minister of finance, Peter Turnquest, questioned the need for an Office of the Prime Minister on the island, particularly during difficult economic times.
"The obvious question is 'to what end'? What exactly is this office going to do there? We've seen the Office of the Prime Minister in Abaco, we've seen the Office of the Prime Minister, which is now the Ministry of Grand Bahama... one would have to question what is the net benefit of all of these offices.
"Bimini like all out islands would have an administrator, and presumably he'd be the chief liaison with any government agency and the Office of the Prime Minister, and when you consider that the whole intent of local government is to devolve some of the powers of central government, how does that work in concert with establishing another central government agency on the island? It seems kind of counter productive in my mind," said Turnquest.
Bahamas Public Service Union (BPSU) President John Pinder expressed concern yesterday that employees at the General Post Office on East Hill Street are increasingly at risk at work despite the government's pledge to relocate them.
Pinder was contacted for comment after employees were sent back to work on Wednesday following a closure due to structural problems the day before.
He said he is pushing for the employees to be relocated as soon as possible.
"When the rain settles on that roof sometimes parts of that concrete ceiling can break away from the steel due to deterioration," he said.
"We do have that concern, and I wish they could get out of there immediately."
Pinder said the government has indicated to him that the employees will be permanently relocated, within three weeks, to the Independence Shopping Centre on Tonique Williams-Darling Highway.
On Monday, the Ministry of Transport and Aviation announced that employees had found debris in one of the offices in the building on East Hill Street when they arrived at work.
"As a result of this latest incident the Ministry has determined to immediately put in place interim measures for the relocation of postal staff and protocols for the collection and distribution of mails while arrangements for finalizing a permanent location are completed," read the statement.
Postal services resumed on Wednesday.
Pinder said employees have been placed on half-day shifts to limit their time in the building.
He said while the union understands a discontinuation of those crucial services would be a "major inconvenience" to the public, it is a concerning matter.
"It is unfortunate that the job they do caters to the general public in terms of putting those mails in the mail boxes," Pinder said.
"And, so, for them to shut down services would really be a major inconvenience to the general public, and we are trying to ensure the general public is not inconvenienced."
Pinder said he has also recommended to the Ministry that employees be given hard hats.
"The Ministry has removed all the tiles to make it more visible for them to see the cracks so that employees can be more vigilant to ensure that they don't go in any area where there is a possibility that the ceiling can drop down again," he said.
"The Ministry has indicated that they will do regular checks."
The building has had several challenges over the years.
I am quite concerned about the direction in which the Free National Movement (FNM) is headed. It appears that since Hubert Ingraham returned as leader of the FNM in 2005 he has made it his mission to be the sole face of the FNM. So much so, that some of the FNM's constituency offices barely display the faces of the candidates, but are decorated with the image of Ingraham. This continues a trend which was clearly evident during the Elizabeth by-election. For the number of Hubert Ingraham's posters nailed to trees and light poles, you hardly knew that Dr. Duane Sands was the candidate in that by-election. No wonder he blew it after the entire Cabinet invaded and occupied Elizabeth and brought with them the full resources of the government.
The FNM has seemingly placed all its hopes in Ingraham pulling off another win for the party. The party has unfortunately permitted the perception to pervade that Ingraham is the only one capable of winning a general election for the FNM. The party's debacle in the 2002 general election reinforced this perception. This does not bode well for the sustainability or future of the party. Ingraham's is the only image on the party's ads and the lone voice heard on commercials. All of the party's jingles and paraphernalia are centered around Papa. All of the current Parliamentarians go to great pains to ensure that they do not project their individuality too pretentiously. Even the new candidates have already been cowered into paying due homage to Papa and are very careful not to say anything that may annoy him.
The cult of ego that Ingraham has carefully cultivated over the years is now looming over the political landscape. He is hellbent on stringing out the dissolution of Parliament and in announcing the date of the election. The withholding of this information feeds some psychological need of his. The more he, the barefoot boy from Abaco, keeps an entire nation in electoral expectation the more it supplies this ego. Ingraham was calculating enough to move his deputy on the side at a time when it was too late to go to convention to elect a replacement. And the FNM, which questions nothing he does, will go into the general election without a deputy leader. How could a group of supposedly intelligent people accept this state of affairs?
This demagoguery culminated in the FNM's DJ changing the words of a popular gospel song to acclaim the majesty of Hubert Ingraham. The FNM's version of the song was: "There is nobody greater than Hubert". While the song was playing the entire sea of red swayed and exalted in the adoration of their god. Ingraham must have had prior knowledge of this song, as no one in that organization would dare play a song about him without his knowledge and approval. It was only after the frenzy and backlash that followed, which he did not anticipate, that Ingraham was humbled to apologize at the next rally.
In the first commandment, God admonishes us to have no other gods but me. The FNM would do well to heed this admonishment.
- Eric Gardner
The post of leader of the opposition is one of the more difficult political offices for all manner of reasons. Yet, it is a stepping stone to potentially the most rewarding elected office in our parliamentary system. The ultimate success of an opposition leader is becoming prime minister.
There are various criteria and circumstances which make for a successful leader of the opposition, among them, personal attributes and skills, luck and, "Events, dear boy. Events", as Harold Macmillan might advise.
The criteria for success form a singular question: Does a candidate look and feel like a potential prime minister? The answer is a complex judgement assessing whether an individual possesses the portfolio of personal and political character, and meets a certain threshold, making them suitable to serve as head of government.
Potential prime ministers are assessed by several inner and outer circles of evaluation and influence inclusive of party councils, members and donors. They are evaluated by opinion leaders, the media, and business and interest groups.
Yet, the ultimate test is that of voters, who, when asked for their five cents about whether someone seems like a prime minister, offer a visceral yeah, nay or perhaps. Choosing a leader can sometimes be more a decision of the heart and the gut, than primarily of the head.
Leaders are spoken of in terms of charisma, which speaks to the giftedness of an individual, as well as, "personal magnetism: the ability to inspire enthusiasm, interest, or affection in others by means of personal charm or influence."
The broader question of whether a leader of the opposition seems like a potential prime minister involves a litany of sub-questions. Is this person articulate enough to communicate a vision? Is this person thoughtful enough to think through complex questions of political philosophy, policy and governance?
Is this person a unifier, able to bring various factions together? Can they win their seat? Raise money? Oversee the party? Are their weaknesses something that can be overcome or mitigated, or are these weaknesses so outsized that they will prove disastrous for a party.
Does this person have gravitas? Does this person have public appeal and presence? And, a fundamental decisive question: Does an individual have good judgement, which is one of the defining attributes of a good leader.
The profile of a capable leader of the opposition and potential prime minister includes: effectiveness in public communication; public policy vision; organizational skills and party management; and general political skills.
Among the multiple intelligences required is the intellectual acumen necessary for serving as head of government, and emotional intelligence, which includes the ability to accept and integrate constructive criticism.
Dr. Hubert Minnis received a rare gift in politics when he was elected unopposed as leader of the FNM. Such gifts come with caveats, especially for those who skip the vetting process involved in a contest for the top spot.
The ongoing vetting process for whether Minnis is the best person to lead the FNM into the next general election is taking place within the party and the public. Even leaders who win out in a contested bid are constantly under evaluation.
In the UK, Ed Milliband defeated older brother David to become Labour leader following the party's defeat in 2010. The rivalry between the siblings for the top post will re-emerge if the younger Milliband is seen as vulnerable.
Leaders are compared to past leaders and potential competitors. Hubert Minnis will be compared to Hubert Ingraham, Perry Christie and others in the PLP and the FNM who may be potential party leaders. He will be assessed on his own merit and in comparison to others.
His performance as leader of the opposition has so far been unexceptional and at times poor. All leaders make errors of judgement. But, Minnis has exhibited consistently flawed judgement. There are telling and instructive examples.
Soon after the general election, and as reported in this journal, he announced, "that he will vote in favor of legalizing gambling if the government holds a referendum on the issue." This is more than a rookie error of judgement. It is a colossal misjudgement for the leader of the opposition to say that he would vote yes, even before a question or questions to be put to the electorate have been formulated.
Did he make this statement on such an involved and contentious issue in consultation with his party? By speaking so impulsively and rashly he seemed to bind his party to a position even as the government did not appear to know what the question(s) is/are at that time.
The point was made in a pastoral reflection by the Roman Catholic archbishop who counselled that there are many questions that need to be addressed prior to a referendum.
Minnis raised expectations, making the North Abaco by-election a test of his leadership. On both counts he failed. It is usually better to lower rather than raise expectations in politics - a lesson even novices tend to know.
He famously vowed to move to Abaco, promising a greater victory than Hubert Ingraham's May 7 win. He marshalled his forces in Abaco, spending considerable time in the constituency. Various of the party's by-election ads prominently featured him. Yet, when the party lost, he clumsily rushed to distance himself from the loss.
Then in a spectacular misjudgement that was divisive, crass and an extraordinary display of ingratitude to the man who sought to ride to his rescue in North Abaco, Minnis threw Ingraham under the bus, and then, "reversed back" with his comments about the former prime minister.
Minnis has thus far not only been inept in terms of political strategy. His public communications have been weak. He fails to inspire audiences at rallies as his speeches are ponderous, his delivery unexciting, mirroring the communications challenges that Philip Brave Davis has in his quest to succeed Perry Christie.
Many political careers are made or falter on the floor of the House of Assembly, including that of Hubert Ingraham who proved effective as both an independent MP, then as leader of the opposition, catapulting him into the prime ministership.
Minnis' parliamentary skills and performance are weak. He is not quick on his feet in the thrust and parry of debate. In the UK, Sir Alec Douglas-Home continually stumbled over policy details in the House of Commons. This made his supporters constantly nervous when he spoke, and he appeared weak to voters.
Overcoming the heckling and jeering of the side opposite is a part of the parliamentary game. When, in frustration, Minnis hurled a homophobic attack on another member, he made the mistake of overly personalizing a debate and appearing intolerant. Going forward, he will have to restrain such rhetoric.
The broader communications challenge, especially in the contemporary media culture, is to articulate cogently and fluently the party's vision, philosophy and policy to multiple audiences.
Minnis has been known for his record as an MP for the FNM stronghold of Killarney. What he has learned in that capacity is useful. But translating that experience to the national level is akin to the vast difference between running a retail store and heading a global chain like Wal-Mart.
Questions remain about Minnis' leadership style, organizational capacity, party management and public relations skills. Political parties tend to be fissiparous affairs. Successful leaders are able to unify the party around their leadership and a vision. Thus far, Minnis appears to have failed at both, even seemingly alienating various groups in the party.
Having won office under Ingraham, FNMs now have a greater "instinct for power", and are hungry for a leader who will return the party to government. This may be Minnis' greatest hurdle. In the country and in the party, the perception is cementing that he does not have what it takes to be prime minister.
And, increasingly more and more FNMs are of the view that the party will lose the next election with him at the helm.
By MEGAN REYNOLDS
Tribune Staff Reporter
MOULD continues to permeate government offices in the Post Office building, causing illnesses among staff just months after more than $40,000 was spent on fixing the problem.
Several of the 150 staff members at the Attorney General's office have complained of skin irritations, respiratory problems and infections of the eyes, nose, and throat exacerbated by the mould, confirmed Permanent Secretary Archie Nairn.
Although the problem was attacked with costly remedial measures during the summer, the fungus continues to spread throughout the six-storey building courtesy of a malfunctioning air-conditioning system.