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By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A LEADING businessman yesterday said there was "no Christ way on God's green earth" that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) would be able to fully compensate every business affected by the New Providence Road Improvement Project (NPRIP) if they won the Government, arguing that all political parties were "selling a dream".
Dionisio D'Aguilar, president of the Superwash laundromat chain, which has seen sales at its five locations affected by the roadworks plummet by up to 40 per cent, also described the FNM government's compensation proposals as "smoke and mirrors", saying they needed to be "more concrete and mea ...
I write you in response to a letter to the editor that appeared in your daily on Monday, March 5, 2012. I consider myself to be an independent thinker, and when it comes to my vote I take due care as to who gets my vote.
I am not certain as to how many persons have had the opportunity to speak with all the candidates running in their constituencies, but I am fortunate to have done so already. From the first time I met Neko Grant I was impressed with his list of accomplishments for the people he represented.
After my discussions with Grant I discovered that while working with the constituents of Lucaya, and the wider Grand Bahama community, he has helped Grand Bahamians to realize street lights and parks in many neighborhoods.
Grant has assisted with the implementation of processes that now enable Grand Bahamians to renew car and driver's licenses, restaurant and bar licenses, and also to obtain passports with greater ease. Voters should remember that there was a time when we had to fly to Nassau to collect our passports. He has also provided many schools and churches with instruments to start marching bands in an effort to positively engage young people.
It was also evident that via Grant's leadership, the residence of Royal Bahamian Estates realized city water, and the further development of the Williams Town/Russell Town foreshore. Grant's contributions has also been very vital in the construction of public restrooms throughout the island, including the 40-year-old post office building, the construction of five new schools, a justice center, a government administration complex and a public ramp, just to name a few.
I am sure Grant could name many more projects and programs of which he was instrumental in securing for his constituents. In a stark contrast, when I spoke to the candidates of the other parties not only were they dumbfounded as to what they had done for their communities over the years, but they found it difficult to articulate how they would effect change or growth in my community.
I'm staying with Neko in Central Grand Bahama because he showed me what he has done with his time. In my opinion, the other guys simply do not have a clue.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said last night the recent visit members of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) made to the new downtown straw market was shameful.
"You see [Wednesday] they went to the new straw market in Nassau as a publicity stunt," said Ingraham.
He continued, "Well the visit, it backfired on them. First, they caused a major disruption in the market.
"Then they [got embarrassed] because plenty of the vendors, including some PLP vendors, were singing the praises of your FNM government and Papa.
"They even [got cursed] out by PLPs for abandoning their own people."
Ingraham was speaking at the official opening of the Free National Movement's (FNM) constituency office in Central and South Abaco.
Edison Cay is the party's candidate for the constituency and he will face the PLP's Gary Sawyer and the Democratic National Alliance's (DNA) Roscoe Thompson III.
The event in the new downtown straw market started out as a press conference by vendors to point out flaws in the new market on Wednesday.
Members of the PLP were invited to speak, however, the event almost erupted into a fistfight among vendors who support the country's two major political parties.
"The same PLP who didn't and couldn't build a straw market in five years and left a hole in the ground at the market site -- went there to take advantage of the vendors and stir up problems," Ingraham said.
"Some of the vendors patch hell on them, including 'lil' Brave Davis (PLP deputy leader) and Fred Mitchell (Fox Hill MP). Rather than trying to stir up problems they better run back to their constituencies, which are fast turning color red.
"Anyway, they who have no shame, get shame at the straw market."
Ingraham promised that if re-elected, the FNM would build a new craft market in downtown Nassau for Bahamian-made goods such as shell craft and other souvenirs being made throughout the Family Islands.
Ingraham also told supporters that the government is preparing to open a new administrative building in Central Abaco.
"Finally, Abaco will be able to access all government services at one centralized location," he said.
"This new administrative building will become the heart of the new Central Abaco township which includes the Central Pines housing subdivision, a new library and of course the new community hospital and health center."
Ingraham said the government expects to sign the contract for a new hospital for Central Abaco by the end of the month.
"We will sign the contract for a similar hospital for Exuma at the same time," he said.
Ingraham told supporters that if they want Abaco to keep moving forward, vote FNM.
"I keep telling people, if you put them in charge of the chicken coop, you [don't have to] worry about whether the chicken or the egg comes first, because with them the chicken, the eggs, the wire around the coop and the coop itself [is going to] all be gone.," the prime minister said.
"And some of them waiting and longing to get back in to take what belong to you."
For most people St. Patrick's Day is a day of parades, parties, leprechauns and green beer. But just as Christmas is about more than commercialized fun, so too does St. Patrick's Day have a deeper meaning.
St. Patrick's Day began as a religious holiday honoring St. Patrick - a holy bishop sent to Ireland in 433 A.D. by Pope Celestine I to draw its people into the fold of Christ's universal church. Upon his arrival at Ireland's shores St. Patrick encountered many setbacks and persecutions by the superstitious Druids who had employed magicians to maintain their sway over the Irish race. Despite severe trials, St. Patrick was able to convert all of Ireland and conquer paganism. He is thus credited with driving the Celtic 'snakes' out of Ireland.
St. Patrick is credited with many miracles and is responsible for the building of several Catholic schools, monasteries and churches throughout Ireland. He is known for his powerful expositions of the principles of the Catholic faith. He even employed the ordinary, little, three-leaved shamrock plant to teach people about the Blessed Trinity. He was called to his heavenly reward on March 17, 461.
St. Patrick was a humble, pious, gentle man, whose total love, devotion and trust in God should be a shining example to each of us.
- Paul Kokoski
Retired Archbishop Drexel Gomez's appearance at a Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) rally on Friday in North Andros has caused some controversy. He is the former head of the Anglican Church in the West Indies.
Bishop Gomez appeared at the rally and spoke in support of his brother Dr. Perry Gomez, the PLP's candidate for North Andros and the Berry Islands. Dr. Gomez has led the fight in The Bahamas against HIV/AIDS as long-time director of the National AIDS Programme.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham raised the question about the appropriateness of Bishop Gomez addressing the political event while he addressed Free National Movement (FNM) supporters in Long Island on Monday night.
"And I saw the former archbishop of The Bahamas, Bishop Gomez, who was down there in his bishop's collar. I do call upon Perry Christie to apologize for that. He knows better," said Ingraham.
"Many of you Anglicans who celebrate Lent time do not do such things. In fact, I saw Father Sebastian Campbell in the newspaper complaining about us holding meetings during Lent. Well what [do] you think about a bishop on the political podium during Lent?"
Bishop Gomez on Tuesday dismissed Ingraham's call for Christie to apologize for allowing him to address the rally.
"I was there simply because I was invited by my brother, who was having the formal opening of his headquarters in Nicholl's Town," Bishop Gomez told The Nassau Guardian after being contacted for a comment.
He pointed out that he stayed clear of political statements when he addressed PLP supporters.
"I felt I was the most appropriate person to make the presentation, as the older member of the family and the person who has been in the public domain," Bishop Gomez said.
"I chose my comments very carefully. I only spoke about my brother and our family. I made no reference whatsoever to political issues or to political parties. My intention was simply to introduce him to the people at the formal opening of his headquarters."
Bishop Gomez said he exercised two rights when he spoke at the political event. The first being his constitutional right to speak in the public domain on public issues and the second being his religious right to comment on matters of justice and truth.
Now as we proceed through the election cycle, there will be many questions raised about many things in the effort to advance political causes. While it is good for us to have robust debates, we must be reasonable.
There is nothing wrong with religious figures speaking at political events. They are citizens too and have the right to voice their concerns about the direction of the country. We think, however, that it would be irresponsible for religious figures to go as far as 'anointing' a political party or candidate as 'God's choice', consequently suggesting that opponents stand against divine will.
Reverend Frederick McAlpine is a FNM senator and in the past he regularly spoke at FNM rallies. He is a charismatic speaker and is good at firing up the crowd. There is nothing wrong with him doing this, just as there is nothing wrong with Bishop Gomez speaking in support of his younger brother.
Similarly, there is nothing wrong with Delores Ingraham, wife of the prime minister, attending political events and standing on stage with her husband. She is a public servant and is principal of C.C. Sweeting High School. There is a prohibition against public servants being involved in frontline politics, but commonsense must be used in evaluating that standard.
We hope that as the political crossfire continues the combatants don't reach for any old thing to bludgeon their opponents with. Reasonableness should guide the process.
By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
BAHAMIAN artists secured top spots amongst the leading international acts performing this week at the biggest spring break music festival to ever hit the Bahamian shores, according to organisers.
The fiery Bahamian musician Funky D is set to take the stage today, and add his creative flavour to the festival venue on Colonial Beach, Paradise Island. The five day festival started on March 5.
"When it comes to Bahamian music, I am a fan of Funky D. He is a very good artist and he very well deserves this chance to show his talent to another type of audience like this one. He has this opportunity to expose our music and hopefully they love his perf ...
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham claims a vote for the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is "like a vote for the PLP" and suggested that the new party has no chance of winning the next general election.
Ingraham also called on the DNA's candidate for Central and South Abaco, Roscoe Thompson III, to return to the Free National Movement.
Thompson, a former area council member, left the FNM to become an independent and later joined the DNA.
"Roscoe Thompson, come back home where your heart is. Stop fooling yourself. You are FNM," Ingraham told a crowd of hundreds of supporters gathered for a constituency office opening in Marsh Harbour on Thursday night.
"I want FNMs in Central and South Abaco to understand that a vote for Roscoe Thompson is a vote for the PLP because they cannot win," he said, eliciting a loud cheer from the crowd. "If you are FNM you vote for Edison Key, that's my man. Dear Abaco, the bell will soon ring."
Thompson yesterday said he is not abandoning his new political alliance to rejoin the governing party.
He said the government needs to focus on solving the decades long issues that have been plaguing residents of Abaco and the whole country - such as illegal immigration - instead of being concerned about party politics.
"Why bring my name up? If I'm not a threat, if I'm not a worry, why address me? I am where I am and this is where I'm going to stay. I can't tell you what will happen 10 years in the future, but I'm running for the DNA for Central and South Abaco in this election," Thompson said.
"A vote for Roscoe Thompson is a vote for the DNA and a vote for change, that's the bottom line. Let's deal with the issues. Let's deal with immigration. Let's deal with crime. Let's deal with unemployment. Let's stop the spending that we're doing here."
Thompson charged that both major political parties have done little to address the problem of illegal immigrants in the squatter settlements of The Mud and Pigeon Pea in Marsh Harbour.
"The Mud, (Pigeon) Pea, how come they aren't addressing those issues? How come we're dealing with a plant for BEC, three years ago built, and to this day we still cannot get proper power? Something's wrong there," Thompson said.
The businessman said in order to clean up the squatter settlements and allow the residents there to feel as if they are a part of society, government should grant work permits to those who are eligible and loans to purchase land on the island.
Thompson added that residents of Abaco are still grappling with frequent power cuts, in spite of the new power plant the government built.
The political parties are in full campaign mode as we near the general election. The television channels are filled with ads, there are multiple constituency office openings per week and people across the country are talking about politics.
The messages of the Free National Movement (FNM), the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) are quite distinct at this stage of the campaign.
The FNM says it is the party that delivers. The PLP is pushing the message that it believes in Bahamians and the DNA says it is change.
Each message is profound. We want leaders who deliver; we want leaders who believe in Bahamians; and we want change away from some of the dysfunction of the modern Bahamas.
The tests for the parties will be how the voters match up their records with the messages they (the parties) are pushing.
The key for the FNM - and it has been doing this - is to prove that it has delivered good things for The Bahamas over the past five years. It will also need to convince the electorate that what it has delivered was needed, that it will improve the lives of Bahamians and that it is worth the cost.
For the PLP, it will need to further explain what it means by believing in Bahamians. The statement truly is comparative. What the party is attempting to do is to argue that it believes in Bahamians more than its primary rival the FNM. However, the PLP and FNM have similar policies when it comes to foreign direct investment and budgetary allocations to invest in The Bahamas.
The PLP was the 'independence party' of the country and many of our institutions of state were created under its 25 years in power from majority rule. Some older Bahamians still focus on those days and achievements, but many younger voters do not. They know Perry Christie's PLP, which in its five-year term from 2002 to 2007 was more defined by its enemies through its gaffes and scandals than through nation building. Hence, the nationalist theme of believing in Bahamians being advanced by the official opposition may not evoke the reaction the party thinks it will.
The DNA has to convince people that it can deliver on the change it promises. More specifically, it needs to convince enough people that it has a real chance of having an impact on the election. Bahamians do not like to think that they are throwing away their votes. The party has done a good job using broadcast advertising to evoke emotion, but the question in the minds of many is still, "Are they for real?"
For each of the parties, as they continue to refine their messages it is critical that they ensure that what they say is true. Voters are not stupid, and a party cannot force its impression of its record on people who know this impression to be untrue.
The party that conveys a message most accurate to its record and capacity will have an advantage. And every advantage is crucial in what will likely be a close election.
Putting an end to the speculation that the general election may take place late in the summer, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham announced yesterday he will cause Parliament to be dissolved before May 23.
Ingraham pointed out that he has until May 22 to cause that to happen.
"If I don't, on the 23rd of May the House will be automatically dissolved by itself by operation of the constitution," he noted. "Thereafter, the election must be called within 90 days, three months after the 22nd of May. I don't propose to take advantage of that period -- the 90 days. So sometime between now and the 23rd of May the House will be dissolved."
The prime minister was speaking to reporters yesterday during a luncheon at Atlantis Resort that was hosted for the C. C. Sweeting senior boys basketball team which won the Hugh Campbell Basketball Invitational last month.
Under the constitution, there must be a dissolution of Parliament five years after the first sitting of the House after an election.
The first meeting of Parliament after the May 2, 2007 election was on May 23.
Over the past few weeks political campaigns have heated up with the Free National Movement (FNM), the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) holding several mini rallies across the country.
The leaders of those parties have all predicted that their party will win the general election.
The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is focused on running a clean campaign this election season and will not engage in the "mudslinging" candidates from the two major political parties have been guilty of, said DNA Chairman Mark Humes.
Humes, a lecturer at The College of The Bahamas (COB) and the DNA's candidate for Fort Charlotte, said his party wants to stay above the fray by focusing on issues affecting the country. He said his party hopes this strategy will resonate with voters when they head to the polls.
"Our goal is to speak about the message, we don't want to get into this row between friends," Humes said yesterday, referencing the ongoing verbal sparring between certain candidates in the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and Free National Movement (FNM).
"That's why you haven't heard us getting involved with all these rows. We want the people to be able to see how different we are. They don't have to be concerned about how quiet we are lately. We are on the ground talking to people on the issues. When they ring the bell we will talk more about issues, but all this mudslinging is not about us, it's about the bad deeds of the PLP and FNM and the people who have profited.
"Too many of them are caught up in each other's mess. They know each other's dirt, that's why they throw the mud, but if there is something wrong, prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law," Humes continued.
The recent war of words has given rise to allegations of corruption, violence, and even taunts about one candidate's appearance.
Last week Leslie Miller, former Cabinet minister and PLP candidate for Tall Pines, called for a truce on both sides.
He raised the proverbial white flag after he unleashed a series of taunts at Minister of State for Social Development Loretta Butler-Turner about her weight, and hit out at National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest on personal issues.
Miller said his gibes came in self-defense after he was referred to at an FNM rally as a 'potcake' who "steals toilets".
He added that he singled out Turnquest after he made what he felt were disparaging remarks about former superintendent Keith Bell.
Bell, who has retired from the force, is a member of the PLP.