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After general elections in The Bahamas there is always a back and forth over the issue of victimization. Some who were employed by the old regime accuse the new administration of firing them just because they politically supported their former bosses.
In The Bahamas there is not a clear enough distinction between the political appointees of an administration versus those who are employed by state agencies to do bureaucratic work, or to consult, on behalf of the state.
Political appointees are people hired by politicians to work for the state, but their duty is primarily to advance the interests of the politician or party who hired them while that person or group is in public office.
For political appointees, when the people who hired you lose office you should do the honorable thing and resign unprovoked by the new administration.
Last week former Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman and candidate Johnley Ferguson complained about how he was treated by the new Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration. He was a consultant in the ministry now led by Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government Alfred Gray. The ministry terminated Ferguson after the PLP won the election.
"Johnley is opposed to this government and its policies, so obviously I didn't think he should be surprised," Gray said when asked about Ferguson's complaint.
As a frontline politician, Ferguson should not think he should continue on in the post under the PLP. Similarly, if Gray was a consultant and the FNM won the general election he should know that he should resign.
It is disingenuous for political appointees to cry foul when they are removed because they will not resign. It may be useful for there to be a formal acknowledgement of these political posts so there is no dispute as to what should be done when regimes change.
For permanent and pensionable public servants, the issue is quite different. Once these individuals do their jobs politicians should not molest them. However, the issue of victimization becomes complicated regarding public servants who politicize themselves. These people openly let it be known that they support a side and advocate for this side while on the job. When a new administration comes into office it will obviously be mistrustful of these individuals - especially if they hold sensitive offices.
Some of these partisan public officials are consequently transferred or they are stripped of their portfolios and left with nothing to do, as the new administration does not trust them.
This is the consequence of self-politicization. If the government acted to strip responsibility from a public servant or to demote a public servant because of presumed political affiliation that would be victimization.
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.
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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?
In 1973, the year of Bahamian independence, the U.S.-based fast-food chain Burger King launched the "Have it your way" advertising campaign. In a famous jingle the chain promised they could: "Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce. Special orders don't upset us. All we ask is that you let us serve it your way!"
The burger house, like others, was spreading its franchise globally, and adding a critical dimension to its marketing strategy. That dimension was giving consumers a customized product with greater choice, a hamburger made to order satisfying a range of tastes.
Burger King's strategy was the opposite of what the automobile pioneer Henry Ford quipped in 1909 about the mass-produced Model T: "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black."
Fast forward many decades. With the introduction of the Sony Walkman in 1979 the audio cassette player went portable. Portability was now taken for granted. Then there was a quick skip from portable CD players to the iPod.
The revolution sparked by the iPod and intensified by smartphones and other mobile smart devices was marrying portability and ubiquity of service to a dazzling array of choices. No matter where we are we can utilize smart devices and a wireless connection to near instantaneously access all manner of content.
We no longer have to purchase an entire CD to get the song we want. Now we can mix Lady Gaga, rake and scrape, and Bach's Piano Concerto in F Minor from the musician of our choice.
With devices like the Kindle and the Nook, we can hit a hyperlink from an article online taking us respectively to our Amazon or Barnes & Noble account downloading a book through a one-step order process all done wirelessly in 30 seconds. This isn't just choice; its choice on steroids meets instant gratification for bibliophiles or those simply interested in a given subject matter.
Today, we enjoy an extraordinary variety of choice in selecting the content of our liking whether in entertainment, news, general information, pornography or whatever peaks our curiosity or suits our fancy.
The reality of this array of choices engenders what might be called the sociology of choice influencing everything from ethics to education to politics. The worlds of advertising and marketing have an in-depth understanding of this new social ecology, applying it to sell every product or service imaginable from soap to sex.
The new mega churches understand the power of choice, while many traditional churches are still scratching their heads and souls wondering what's going on. The latter are often paralyzed by a static approach to new technologies and how to reach and influence current and prospective churchgoers.
The more cutting edge educational institutions understand the importance of integrating choice and various communications technologies to enhance student learning, such as utilizing experiential education methods employed by programs like the International Baccalaureate.
Meanwhile, many schools in The Bahamas, public and private, are lagging behind in approaches to teaching and learning, failing to connect the daily experience of their students with new approaches to learning.
In the political realm, one of the more important marketing features of the Democratic National Alliance was offering voters a different choice. Whether the DNA was a good or sensible choice is another matter. Still, by offering the idea of a different choice, the party attracted a fair number of voters probably costing the FNM a number of seats.
Those who fail to understand this notion of choice, whether religious groups, political parties or businesses, will pay a price in terms of votes, clients and adherents.
For example, the government-operated postal system is a dinosaur with a near fossilized network of branches. Because it was unable to deliver mail to consumers in a timely manner, thousands of Bahamians now utilize private post boxes for international mail and packages.
The lower level of the Main Post Office downtown where parcel posts can be collected resembles a graveyard. Still painted drab green the sign over that section should read: Rest in Peace.
In promoting a new mission for post offices as government information and services centers, former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham was attempting to drag the postal system from the 19th to the 21st century.
What many older folks are still getting used to in terms of the new world of choices galore, is second nature to younger people. Shopping at the Mall at Marathon, a 19-year-old is mesmerized by a love song she is hearing in a store playing a recording through its satellite radio service, Sirius XM, which offers the store owner and clients a plethora of musical choices.
The young lady is so enchanted by the sultry voice she is hearing for the first time that she has to know who is the artist pining, "Black is the color of my true love's hair...".
Our 19-year-old holds her smartphone up to the source of the music, hits the Tag button on her Shazam mobile application to identify Nina Simone singing her 1964 recording of "Black is the Colour".
Later at home, the young lady listens to several of Simone's recordings, and then posts a note on Facebook declaring to her over 1,000 "friends" her infatuation with the artist, 10 of whose songs she's already downloaded.
Inspired by her posting, several of her friends have also downloaded some of Simone's recordings, including a friend living in Seattle, who Skypes her that evening to share that she also has a newfound love of the artist.
All of which speaks to the other critical feature of the new world of technology and choice. The world of one-way communication has passed. Choice has been married to interactivity. What both choice and interactivity appeal to is the desire for agency, the ability to express one's desires.
By tapping into choice, a marketer, salesman or public relations expert taps into something fundamental and powerful in the human psyche, namely, the desire for individuality, with a complex of messages from an individual such as: "I matter!", "I'm important!", "Don't take me for granted!", and related messages of individuation.
Today, choice is not just something we appreciate. We demand and expect to have multiple choices. Yet there are a number of ethical dimensions to so much choice, including maintaining an ethic of a common good, how to choose wisely, and how to cultivate good or ethical decision-making and critical thinking in young people.
In terms of the latter, many of our schools are oblivious to the type of experiential education, critical thinking methods, ethical instruction and media literacy absolutely necessary to prepare our young people for a world quite different from when Bahamians needed an antenna on the roof to pick up one of three stations from Florida.
o email@example.com www.bahamapundit.com.
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
By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Staff Reporter
WHILE several lawyers attached to the Attorney General's Office called in sick yesterday, it remains unclear if this was connected to the mould problem that persists in the Post Office building.
Sources close to the matter claimed that as many as 17 lawyers failed to turn up. Attorney General John Delaney could not verify that number but admitted that "several" persons had called in sick.
Mr Delaney said that he also could not confirm whether their reported illnesses were in any way related to the mould issue that persists in the 40-year-old Post Office building which also contains offices of the Ministry of Labou ...
Law-enforcement authorities announced Wednesday they had intercepted a poison-laced letter intended for President Barack Obama and locked down some Senate office buildings, amid rising concerns of a terrorism-by-mail campaign reminiscent of the anthrax attacks that followed the Sept. 11, 2001 strikes. The missive tested positive for the deadly substance ricin.
Police Staff Association (PSA) officials announced yesterday that Sergeant Dwight Smith has been re-elected as executive chairman of the association.
Smith noted yesterday that the majority of the PSA's 2,200 members participated in the election, held last week Thursday at various polling stations across New Providence and on Grand Bahama.
He further noted that there was a need to establish additional positions within the PSA, including an executive director, a chief welfare officer and an information and events officer, to increase the professional capacity of the organization.
Newly-elected executive member Corporal Kevin Farrington is now the PSA's legal aid & right officer.
"This position has been established to protect the officers' legal and constitutional rights," said Smith during a press conference at PSA headquarters on Bank Lane.
"This is the first legal position established to help police officers deal with the increase of litigation sweeping through our police force.
"It will also educate and advise officers on the art of not falling or yielding to temptation or corruption, as we have seen far too many officers before the courts or dismissed from the force for unwanted behavior or illegal acts."
The majority of last year's board was re-elected, with a few notable changes. Constable Darius Sealy is the new assistant welfare officer in the Family Islands.
The executive secretary position is now filled by Sergeant Lisa Saunders Armbrister, who replaces Corporal Prescott Pinder. Constable Kirk Bastian, who was previously assistant treasurer, is now the executive treasurer. Inspector Warren Johnson has been appointed deputy chairman in New Providence.
The positions of deputy chairman, Grand Bahama and chief welfare officer, Grand Bahama are still held by Sergeants Darrell Weir and Chris Barr respectively.
Corporal Leonard Barr has replaced Corporal Innez Miller as chairman of private engagement. Corporal Claudius Collie has replaced Corporal Theresa Stuart as deputy chairman of private engagement.
Corporal Nicola Mackey retained her position as assistant secretary, while Constable Kirk Bastian, who previously held the post of assistant treasurer, has been elected as executive treasurer, replacing Inspector Kenery Stubbs.
Constable Jacqueline Jones has been appointed as the public relations officer, replacing Lashawn Brice. Constable Latroy Bodie has been elected as the assistant treasurer. Constable Ernie Barr, who was previously the deputy chairman for Grand Bahama, is now the chairman of private engagement, replacing Corporal Lincoln Dawkins. Constable Gerard Miller now holds the position of sergeant of arms.
The polling stations on New Providence were at police headquarters on East Street, the police college on Thompson Boulevard and the PSA's offices on Bank Lane. In Grand Bahama, the lone polling station was at the PSA office on Mahogany Street in Freeport.
Smith pointed out that the association has become an international member of the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) for the first time in the history of the police force. NAPO is a coalition of police unions and associations from across the United States, that serve to advance the interests of that nation's law enforcement officers through legislative and legal advocacy, political action and education. Smith sits on NAPO's executive board, which is also a first for The Bahamas.
"This will enable us to actually look at our counterparts and see how they do policing," Smith said. "We can send officers to those various places for training that we may deem necessary, to help us police our Bahamaland," he added.