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The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) announced its deputy leader on Wednesday night at the Wyndham Nassau Resort ballroom. Chris Mortimer won the post of deputy leader for the DNA, but in my view the real winner is the Bahamian people.
I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Mortimer on at least three occasions, and on each occasion, I became more and more impressed with his leadership style and his business acumen. He has no qualms about speaking on any issue and he has an 'arsenal' of plans to try to improve the Bahamian economy.
He is a man of purpose and this is evident by the way in which he runs Galleria Cinemas and his DNA campaign office, also known as The C.A. Mortimer Sr. Resource Center. Just before the boundaries commission, he was the candidate for the Sea Breeze constituency. He is now the DNA's candidate for Nassau Village.
When I visited his campaign headquarters, I was taken aback by the level of professionalism and organization being exuded by his staff members. They addressed everyone with respect and even though they were hosting a domino tournament, staff members maintained their professional poise. In my view, this was no accident.
His campaign headquarters has a modern kitchen, a waiting area, a full-size back yard, an entertainment room for children, offices and even a computer room where access is granted only to authorized persons. Persons who look for detail in business operations would be very impressed if they visited his campaign headquarters.
Mortimer and his team also use cutting edge technology in their campaign. I was very impressed with the Android devices that are used to track voters and keep a database record of their addresses, names and phone contacts. They can locate voter details at the touch of a button when campaigning on the road.
I asked him point blank several months ago about what type of contribution he plans to make to The Bahamas. He said that he is all about empowering Bahamians and that he will make no compromises with regards to the same.
I don't find Mortimer to be the most passionate public speaker, but my honest opinion of him is that he has the itch to serve. This is lacking in many of our candidates who just have the itch to get rich and talk foolishness.
If Mortimer's running of his campaign is any indication of what he intends to do if elected, then this can only serve as a blessing for The Bahamas. We need more men like him who will stay above the fray and bring focus and order to the many policies affecting our governance. Even if Mortimer is not elected, I think he has already built a model from which all other candidates can learn. I truly hope that he continues what he has started.
- Dehavilland Moss
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
Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe said yesterday he has intervened in a labor dispute at the Gaming Board and believes he has diffused the tension between Gaming Board Chairman Dr. Andre Rollins and Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) President John Pinder.
Wilchcombe said he met with Pinder on Friday, a day after the union leader demanded that Prime Minister Perry Christie remove Rollins from his post.
Pinder claimed Rollins was micromanaging the board and wrongfully terminating staff.
"I think we're under control," said Wilchcombe, the minister responsible for gaming.
"I think we have a very sound relationship with the president of the union.
"And we have had opportunities to sit and talk about the situation that arose and I think that we have found an amicable way to deal with it and we will put it all to bed and move on."
When asked about the mounting tension between Pinder and Rollins, Wilchcombe said despite an apparent rift both men "are on the same page".
"We all want the best for our country," he said.
"We want Bahamians working. We want to have an advancing Gaming Board. I think we are all after the same things."
Last Thursday, Pinder threatened to campaign against the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) if the government does not remove Rollins, and other heads of government agencies who "are not labor friendly".
He said the union would do whatever it can to change the management style of the Gaming Board.
"If we have to disrupt the casinos so that the government can understand we are not playing with them...then so be it," said Pinder outside the Gaming Board's offices on Collins Avenue.
"We can't wait for election to get rid of him [Rollins]. We need him to be moved forthwith, now. If the government doesn't follow suit they will feel the pinch come next election."
Pinder was outraged because three Gaming Board employees were recently fired and another was suspended for 10 days without pay.
He claimed one of the employees, the Gaming Board's deputy secretary, was fired because she and another employee switched shifts.
The deputy secretary took court action on April 1 and was granted an order by Supreme Court Justice Ian Winder to return to work.
Gaming Board officials did not allow her to remain on the premises. Rollins said the board was not trying to disobey a court order but had to verify the document first.
The employee in question was allowed to return to work on Friday, Wilchcombe said.
Last week, Rollins said he is working in the best interests of the Gaming Board.
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.
Callenders & Co. has announced the appointment of its newest partner, civil litigator Jacqueline Banona.
"We are pleased to announce the appointment of Jackie Banona who becomes the third partner in our Freeport office," said Fred Smith, Queen's Counsel (QC) and managing partner, Grand Bahama.
"From the moment she joined Callenders, Jackie was an instant fit and as we got to know her better, her dedication, the depth of her intellect, her thoroughness and her ability to grasp the details of the most complex case impressed everyone. As a litigator, she is a tiger, a very tough opponent and in this profession, that's the highest compliment you can bestow on someone."
Banona was born in Uganda, East Africa. She obtained her Bachelor of Laws degree at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, where she completed her postgraduate bar course at the Law Development Centre.
Banona was admitted to practice in the High Court of Uganda in 2005 and is certified by the Supreme Court of The Bahamas to practice in The Bahamas.
This was the second time in as many years Callenders bolstered its roster of partners. In January, 2013, Callenders announced the appointments of Llewellyn Boyer-Cartwright, Courtney Pearce and Simone Morgan-Gomez to its Nassau office.
Founded more than 110 years ago, Callenders has twice been recognized as the country's best corporate law firm by Corporate INTL.
In 2011, Nassau managing partner, Colin Callender, QC, a descendant of the firm's founding attorney, became the first and only attorney in The Bahamas and one of only five worldwide outside the United States to be elected a director of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.
Callenders maintains offices in downtown Nassau, at Lyford Cay and in Grand Bahama.
2014 began with crime rates soaring ridiculously high in the Caribbean. Reports have indicated that in the first seven days of this year, the southern twin republic of Trinidad and Tobago reported 19 homicides and counting.
A recent article from Caribbean Journal asked the question, "Can Jamaica control its crime problem?" while the January 8 issue of Caribbean News Now reports that based on a Florida maritime lawyer's opinion the "Bahamas is one gunshot away from cruise lines exit".
In this very issue, fellow Caribbean News Now commentary writer Phillip Edward Alexander, in his article captioned "My plan for fixing crime in Trinidad and Tobago", outlined very practical enforcement steps to curbing, containing and dealing with criminals on a per demographic basis. This reactive template I agree is necessary and must be rolled out if any meaningful results can be realized, starting as he suggests, with the purging of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service of its "rogue" officers.
Even if I do applaud Alexander for his plan and his determination to have it submitted to the minister of national security of T&T, I again want to give the clarion call for a deeper and more serious proactive psychosocial approach to crime reduction and prevention in the Caribbean, an approach that looks at and treats the root causes.
And so on the enforcement front, I could not agree more with Alexander. However, after we may have flushed out the police service and in turn flushed out the criminal elements in their respective communities, if we do not put real social concepts and strategies in place to deal with the personal, family and community dysfunctions at the root, it's only a matter of time before crime and criminals are full grown again and like a volcano begin to spew its deadly lava down on the same communities.
Let me confidently step out and say to the governments of the Caribbean that unless you get out of your comfort zone and professional day-to-day routines and invest in the social empowerment of your people, especially your youth, you are fighting a losing and recurring battle with crime.
As a crime reduction specialist who has worked in Canada, England, Africa, the U.S.A. and the Caribbean, I can honestly say that not too many administrators that I have met are willing to forge an unprecedented path to change. Traditional outdated methods and theories that are not even relevant to this post-modern millennial generation are conveniently and effortlessly engaged and re-engaged, yet with miraculous change expected.
Nobody wants to "rock the boat". No one will challenge the status quo. It's a "just business as usual" attitude in the offices and departments of people who were hired to make a difference on their nation and help to preserve the future, the youth.
You see, my friends, in an "enforcement approach" to crime the status quo demands that criminals are processed through the judicial system and made to stand the consequences of their offense.
Although this approach exemplifies justice at its core and can sometimes cause individuals to think about changing their behavior, the motivation for that change may only be the severity or dislike of the punishment. It does not ensure that the offender has learned any new skill which will help him/her to deal with the circumstances that led to the offense. In this model, recidivism is very likely as soon as the fear or memory of the punishment has faded and the circumstances that motivated the offense in the first place reoccur.
On the contrary, to make serious impact on crime in the Caribbean, or anywhere else for that matter, does not call for an all therapeutic approach either. It would take a good balance between enforcement which is reactive and social rehabilitation which is proactive to engage sustainable crime reduction and prevention.
So Alexander's plan to use enforcement to uproot the criminal elements at a community level is well warranted. However, if during enforcement and institutionalizing, social rehabilitative strategies aimed at addressing the root causes of their social dysfunctions can be engaged, the outcome can be nothing but favorable.
With the criminal elements now contained and treated, the proactive prevention work can begin in these communities engaging children, youth and adults in strategies that will help them deal with issues like disrespectful confrontations, domestic violence, abuse, revenge, impulse control, unemployment and all the factors feeding criminal behavior.
But to successfully accomplish this will take administrators and decision makers who are willing to challenge the status quo while getting out of the comfort zone of traditions, regular routines and eight-to-four operations.
That is when we will realize a sustainable drop in the crime rates on the beautiful island gems of the Caribbean thus reclaiming the names of the once coveted peaceful islands of the Caribbean we were all known to be.
If you are really serious about crime-reduction strategies and programs for your homeland, visit us at www.motiv-8.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You won't regret it!
o Neals J. Chitan is the Grenadian-born president of Motiv-8 For Change International - a Toronto-based High Impact Social Skill Agency that is specially dedicated to the social empowerment of individuals, families and communities. Published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.
Hurricane Irene laid bare homes, businesses, churches, public buildings, farms and vegetation across the archipelago. It also laid bare certain mindsets. Among them, rank political opportunism by the leader of the opposition and the knee jerk complaints of some whose stock-in-trade is the intellectually disingenuous.
One can almost give the former prime minister a pass as he grasps at just about any opportunistic straw to criticize the current prime minister, even when such criticism is transparently silly or even blatantly hypocritical. In the aftermath of Irene, both were on display. The knee jerk complainers are in a class of their own.
Most Bahamians see through Christie's laughably insincere two-step charade of criticizing others for what he typically failed to do or accomplish when in office. These failures range from issues on crime and education, to disaster preparedness and response. His administration's failures following Hurricanes Jeanne, Frances and Wilma encapsulated its lethargic response to an array of policy matters.
As Christie took potshots at the Ingraham administration while simultaneously calling for national unity, and the complainers engaged in their anti-Ingraham tirade, more neutral observers rendered their independent observation of the country's response to Irene. In an editorial titled, "Taming one of nature's most furious beasts", The Jamaica Observer editorialized: "If Mr. Ronald Jackson, the director of Jamaica's Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), wanted a dramatic demonstration of the benefits of being prepared for a hurricane, he can safely choose the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) or The Bahamas for that matter.
"Pounded by 27 hours of flood rains and gusting 100 miles-per-hour winds from Hurricane Irene last week Tuesday and Wednesday, the multiple island nations - in particular, TCI which was the worst hit - were a textbook example of staving off the horrors of one of nature's worst beasts.
"Instead, having to confront a trail of disaster, the [Turks and Caicos] islands can take much satisfaction from the fruits of preparedness and effective teamwork which helped to mitigate the effects of the hurricane, proving that any disaster can be made into a triumph when a nation works together in that indomitable spirit of the Caribbean.
"The same could be said of another archipelago, The Bahamas, which also took a severe battering from the category three hurricane."
The editorial continued: "Disaster preparedness personnel and businessmen who have heavy investments in the two countries said they reaped the benefits of designing buildings to code specification and to minimize the effects of flooding, while suffering minimal structural damage.
"In some cases, anything that could be moved was tied down or taken indoors. Equipment that would be necessary for the recovery process after the storm, [was] readied and protected. As a result, the clean-up exercise began the minute the storm allowed.
"A day after the winds and rains abated it was difficult, but for photographic evidence, to tell that a major hurricane had struck the islands. It was testimony to the resolve of the government and people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and The Bahamas, and a model for our disaster-prone Caribbean region."
The editorial further noted: "Both countries depend heavily on tourism and it was commendable to see staff from the hotels volunteering to ride out the storm with guests who could not or did not want to leave, knowing that their own homes could be flooded out or suffer structural damage.
"That is the spirit that should permeate the entire Caribbean, not only during the hurricane season which runs officially from June to November, but even when there is no disaster threatening."
One of the editorial's conclusions: "Had the TCI and The Bahamas not heeded their disaster preparedness offices, they might now be on hands and knees begging for assistance. Instead, they have set an example of how to tame one of nature's most furious beasts.
"Still, we are aware that many lives have been disrupted even if none was lost. We are therefore pleased to hear that the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance is working with Jamaica's ODPEM and other Caribbean disaster-response agencies to conduct aerial reconnaissance of damage to The Bahama islands.
"The mission will focus on the worst-hit islands, enabling participating agencies to assess damage and plan relief operations."
The preparedness and response of which the editorial spoke were not perfect. By example, the Bahamas Information Services could have performed better in supplying a more consistent and comprehensive flow of information to the public and the media during and after Irene.
But in the main, officials met the challenge of responding to significant and diverse emergency needs and services across our far-flung archipelago as quickly as possible. Understandably, some were frustrated by a lack of electricity and water, especially in various Family Island communities.
Likewise, officials in a number of states in the United States have been similarly challenged by a massive hurricane that affected millions from the Caribbean to New England.
These states had at their disposal the massive resources of the U.S. federal government; assistance from other states which could be transported by road; and help from as close as Quebec and as far away as British Columbia in Canada. Yet many residents in these states are still without electricity and water.
Hurricane preparedness revolves around a complex set of issues and readiness mechanisms many of which Hubert Ingraham has addressed, though few of which his dogged detractors will admit. He continues to advance environmental initiatives from wetland protection to land and town-planning that will mitigate the impact of hurricanes.
It was the Ingraham administration that created the National Emergency Management Agency in the first place. And, it is building a permanent state-of-the-art facility for NEMA while continuing to improve the country's capacity for national emergencies. Christie would be thought less comical and more credible had he done as much for emergency management as has Ingraham.
The Ingraham administration's hurricane preparedness efforts include another component of which the opposition and the inveterate complainers have criticized for diverse reasons. That component is the ambitious and comprehensive New Providence roadwork -- much of which is nearing completion.
Perry Christie doesn't hate Hubert Ingraham; he simply wants his job. But the Ingraham-haters do dislike the man. Yet, both connive, often unwittingly, to deny the prime minister of achievements plain for all to see. Christie can't give Ingraham credit because it doesn't suit his political interests. The Ingraham haters can't because hate renders one blind and incapable of reasonableness.
The massive New Providence road corridor project that is helping to transform and modernize New Providence will place more utilities underground, better securing them from future hurricanes. The project will also help significantly to mitigate flooding because of an extensive new drainage system. The complainers are incapable of admitting as much.
Before Irene, Prime Minister Ingraham took to the airwaves warning of the potential impact of the hurricane. Fortuitously, there was no loss of life due to the actions of citizens as well as public officials including the prime minister whose quick action may have helped to save lives and avoid injury.
Ingraham also quickly reported to the nation in the aftermath of Irene after initial assessments and his immediate visits to affected Family Island communities. In his long-term efforts in disaster preparedness and the rapid response to Irene, the prime minister has demonstrated a comprehensive approach to disaster management.
In a twist on a well-known parable, had Ingraham walked on water to deliver emergency supplies in the wake of Irene, his critics, for political or other reasons, would have lambasted him for not coming by boat or helicopter; except, of course, the MP for MICAL, who would have insisted on an airplane even to communities with no airstrip.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham lashed out at Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader Philip Brave Davis on Saturday night for representing some of the people alleged to have registered illegally in North Andros.
Ingraham was speaking to a crowd of hundreds of supporters in Grand Bahama at the official opening of the Free National Movement's (FNM) West Grand Bahama constituency office.
"If I have any FNM voter anywhere who is registered in the wrong constituency... I would ask them publicly to go and correct it," Ingraham said.
"I wouldn't have my deputy leader getting up and announcing that because I own a house in Abaco, I pay light and water bills in Abaco, [and] I go to Abaco, but I live in Nassau (I can vote in Abaco).
"How the hell could [I] vote in Abaco?
"I have got to vote where I live. I live in town, so I vote in town. And that is what we want everybody to do - vote where you live, not where you don't live."
Ingraham was referring to Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader Philip 'Brave' Davis, an attorney who represents several people who are registered to vote in North Andros, but whose names are being challenged.
At a hearing in North Andros on Friday, Davis said the law provides for people with two residences to choose where they wish to be registered.
The court heard evidence in respect of one of the voters being challenged.
The man - whose name cannot be published - testified that he lives on East Street with his wife, but goes to North Andros most weekends, has a house there and pays bills there.
He said he was born there and will soon retire there. The man also said he has voted in North Andros previously.
Ingraham also knocked at a promise PLP Leader Perry Christie and Davis made to build schools on San Salvador.
"After neglecting the good people of San Salvador, they went up there and they promised, saying 'now listen, we're going to build you two new schools'," said Ingraham.
"'We (the PLP) haven't built [any] in The Bahamas in five years, but in San Salvador we're going to build you two new schools.'
"The last time they were down here (in Grand Bahama) they were promising to build two new schools here too.
"Remember how just recently they were scoffing at our list of accomplishments - building roads, and clinics and airports and straw markets and schools.
"They said they were things. In their world of confusion and delusion, a school was only a thing.
"Now suddenly, they realize that schools are built for students and teachers and that they are used as community centers for the people. Now they're saying - next time they will build schools."
Ingraham told supporters the FNM administration would build a town center, a library, post office and a place to access central government services, all in West Grand Bahama.
Ingraham officially opened the remaining four constituency offices on Grand Bahama on Saturday.
The party previously opened its Marco City office. Its candidate in that constituency is Norris Bain.
On Saturday, the party officially opened the offices of Peter Turnquest who is running in East Grand Bahama; Neko Grant in Central Grand Bahama; Kwasi Thompson in Pineridge and concluded with Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe in West Grand Bahama.