Letters

Sheriff Christie's Wild, Wild West

February 23, 2017

Dear Editor,

In April of 2012, bad boy Sheriff Perry Christie of Centreville stood up at a rally at R.M. Bailey Park and waved a magic wand called a Charter of Governance that he promised would fix the economy and end crime.
Crime, he said, was the fault of the FNM because Hubert Ingraham refused to carry through on Christie's prized Urban Renewal baby. So, re-elected a month later, he dragged out Urban Renewal 2.0 and sold it as the panacea for crime. Abracadabra and wham! Crime is gone, or not.
Five years and millions of unaccounted Urban Renewal dollars later, our sheriff gazes on the carnage in our streets and what comes to his mind is the Wild, Wild West. Bad analogy sir.
The Wild West was a new frontier and they had a fair share of shootings. But they also had the long arm of the law to enforce a prairie code of justice. And a headstrong citizenry who demanded and got action from the federal marshalls, the sheriff and deputies.
We have strict gun laws in our country, but lax gun control. We rightly search for bullets in hand luggage at our airports, but can't seem to catch the guns concealed in containers entering our seaports.
We have rampageous gangs of thugs roaming the streets looking to settle petty scores by the most violent means known to them - gunfights.
Their preferred method of execution is a drive-by hail of bullets that endangers the lives of unsuspecting citizens. Seven murders in one weekend tell me that Sheriff Christie has lost control of the West.
Some young people have a disdain for authority. Their value system is alien to their grandparents who respected law and order and who never harbored criminals and wanted nothing to do with the proceeds of crime.
There is a generational clash of values, of lifestyles and of priorities. Getting tough on crime must involve more than just a surge of policemen on the streets. We need a gang unit comprised of policemen who look and act like gang members. By infiltrating the gangs they will know what they are up to, when the gun shipments are coming in and they will also know who is paying whom to look the other way.
The commissioner of police may already have this on his radar, but perhaps we need to reach out to our friends who have had success infiltrating gangs. The Toronto Police have something they called the Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force who would welcome understudies from our constabulary.
The notorious Wild West gangster Jessie James wasn't done in by a swarm of policemen. It was a trusted confidante, Robert Ford, who shot him dead in his own living room.
Sheriff Christie should set politics aside and see what others in law enforcement bring to the table. He could start by talking to a guy whose name rhymes with Garvin James.

- The Graduate

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Be safe Bahamas

February 23, 2017

Dear Editor,

It is a joy to know that we are heading towards an even more saved Bahamas; a royal people, a holy nation. Thank you, editor, for your continued support to make The Bahamas a more peaceful and caring country. We say again, thank you.
We celebrate the Lord in The Bahamas and as true Bahamians we should submit to the Constitution of The Bahamas where it clearly demands the right to Christian values.
Happy we should be this year Bahamas. Yes, of course, it is an election year, but even in this election season we shall celebrate the Lord for all the good things he has done for us in these Bahama lands.
2016 is behind us and truly the Lord Jesus, editor, He actually turns the storms away and keeps us. For this reason we must give thanks. Let the adorning of peace be upon all Bahamians as you deal with one another daily, with the expectation of peace in return.
Bahamas, you matter not only to the FNM or other political parties. You matter to God - a nation that strives on the principles of righteousness. Be strong, Bahamas, in your endeavors to see a more peaceful, loving and caring home; to make our neighborhoods a more safe community. Let safety be the motto at work, at school, on the playgrounds and wherever we are at for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
The commissioner of police along with members from his team are commended by many for such an excellent job in their efforts to eradicate crime out of The Bahamas. When there are cries among the poor and even the rich and middle class, there is still the importance of not allowing our anger to dominate our actions and thinking, but to remain in a joyful state at all times. The prison or holding cells are occupied by persons who can now confess that their anger and lust was the reason for the lock up. You are responsible to protect your border or sphere. Allow safety to motivate you.
Fathers, it is our duty to protect, guide and teach the younger ones, as keeping The Bahamas a safe place is vital to our existence and livelihood. Let the joy of teaching return in the schools and the fear of disaster be cast away from The Bahamas.
The church is doing a good work for the Lord, and Bahamians and residents alike. People are thankful to God for the soup kitchens, the feeding centers and all the other help provided. We must put aside false protection, which always leads to problems. False protection is when you know your son, brother, uncle or nephew has an illegal firearm and you as a decent citizen refuse to report it to the police, believing that the illegal gun is good for family protection. This concept is false. You may honestly purchase the illegal firearm for protection, but sometimes disputes create a dominant anger force that leads one to seek the illegal fire arm as a resolution.
Let joy be on your streets as the children play in your neighborhood. Say a good word to the young man with his face all screwed up. Tell someone about the job that is hiring. Let's be kind to our visitors, the guests who come to our shores. Let respect, honesty and appreciation be shown to our beloved investors.
Bahamas, we are a safe nation because the Lord kept us and keeps us, but let us make The Bahamas the safest vacation spot in the world.
Be blessed Bahamas.

- Rodney 'Tyga' St. Jour

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A soldier's heart

February 22, 2017

Dear Editor,

Worrisome is possibly the most newspaper appropriate adjective I can find to describe the minister of national security's knee-jerk response to the "Wild West"style violence being perpetrated on our streets.
There is apparently no one on either side of the political divide who takes with even a tinge of seriousness the fact that our sons are dying on our corners and in our neighborhoods daily. What is even more disastrous is the fact that now the answer seems to be to put soldiers in a position where many will be exploited, misused or even find themselves liable due to poorly drawn lines of jurisdiction and the absence of basic standard operational procedures.
It is shameful that we have found ourselves right back to where we were in 2013, when murderous crime raised its head in a similar fashion. It was then that this same minister of national security decided to get the RBDF involved. Absolute dysfunction and chaos are understatements for what happened then, as 150 well-trained marines sat idle in a conference room of the attorney general's office to see who could slick their boots the nicest, or eagerly awaiting the clock to strike 1700 hours so we could go home.
We have been here already. It was a scatterbrained idea in 2013 when the gynecologist turned war expert created it; and it is one now. What troubles me more as a soldier who has had an opportunity to serve 10 years, nine months and 18 days, and, also having served in the first failed dispatching of marines, is that politicians feel they can come up with poor policies, draft flimsy legislation and create no clear procedural conduct or standard operational procedures, and then sprinkle marines among this quagmire they create - all for political expedience or cheap political points.
Further, I cannot help but address Marvin Dames and his purposefully polarized statements in the newspaper just days ago, asking what the plan was and suggesting that the commissioner's plans had failed. Needless to say, Dames was the other half of that dream team in 2008. Yet in the face of the greatest scourge of crime, after having the resources of the country invested into him almost without boundary, Marvin decided that he would choose a path of lesser resistance, trade in his badge and enjoy a plush life in a pinstripe suit.
It is sickening to have read an entire article pointing at the failures of which he, in my estimation, is equally culpable while offering not one single idea during this entire spat of political rhetoric. For the record and for the benefit of those who do not know, Dames was deputy commissioner of police from 2008 to May 30, 2011 - a significant enough portion of the decade enforcing failing crime strategies and bad policy decisions.
Furthermore, who could forget how flabbergasted Hubert Ingraham was when he saw the complete 180-degree turnaround in the police leadership team's ideology regarding Urban Renewal, as well as other initiatives that were abandoned or adjusted during his tenure as prime minister. Now, Dames, the policeman turned politician, wants to hope to bear the burden of none of it, and to that I cry foul.
I will say, though, that Marvin is right about one thing. This reattempt to introduce military force to the streets leaves a lot of questions. It is sad how only three years ago we were here and now we are here again. It, in my estimation, is the most flamboyant display of gross ineptitude that we are even having this kind of discussion after already trying it as a mock idea. Regrettably, there is still no standing by standard operational procedure for how it will work. This is where I must now make a cry for soldiers. Where are the lines of jurisdiction drawn? Who has the seniority and when can it be overridden? Who has the power to override? What are the rules of engagement? How do we introduce now a uniform standard of policing? What is the safety net for instances where marines function on instinct based on inculcated knowledge, rather than on some crash course, newly acquired information? In an instance where there is a police shooting, who takes the first shot and who takes the last? Who gives that order?
More importantly, what protection is given to the marine now that he finds himself fighting criminal street elements? Is he allowed to take his weapon home? Which rank should be allowed to? Does he wear a mask since he is going into gang turf? Are masks going to be standard RBDF issued items? What happens if he is shot? How does he take vacation? Even more basic, who writes on his promotional report while he is out doing a job that technically someone else is being paid to do?
So many unanswered questions, and I for one think that ratings, the poor enlisted souls, will be left in the proverbial cold should something go awry.
It seems that Dr. Bernard Nottage is in over his head and is in desperate need of help. The real question that the minister should be answering is has he really done all of the first steps in crime fighting before we got here? These include questions like:
o Have you cancelled all study leave for officers until the crime gets under control to beef up your officers?
o Have you commanded that cars owned by the force be turned in at 5 p.m. so that they can enter a pool and we can increase patrols?
o Have you gotten the CCTV monitoring set up in the control room so that it can be manned 24 hours and manned by the actual responding agency?
o Have you tweaked your vehicle assignments in an effort to create the equivalence of a highway patrol police system? (One officer, one car, one block.)
o Have you started to GPS police vehicles so that we know where our assets are at all times?
o Have you gutted the reserve police unit, added fresh legs and younger civilians to that complement to ensure regular officers are not burnt out and get time to rejuvenate?
o Have you begun looking for a new commissioner of police?
o There are several Green Beret-trained, United Kingdom military standard skilled men just walking aimlessly around since retirement. Have we pulled them in as a special tactical advisory unit to plan strategy policy, sops, infiltration techniques, etc.?
o Have you addressed the morale issues police have had since the 12-hour system? (The payment of funds ordered by the Supreme Court.)
o What about static patrol stations?
I am sure you are aware this list can go on forever, but that would be an exercise in futility. It is my hope that the minister gets it right, as I am concerned the lives and careers of soldiers depend on it. It was already an egregious offense that this administration, and this same minister, decided for almost three years not to give that organization a commander and now you are increasing duties, increasing risk, increasing gray areas, increasing operations, and the list goes on.
It was this minister, Nottage, in 2016 on the podium of Bahamas Faith Ministries International, who said that during his tenure as minister the RBDF had always answered the call of service to country. Yet Nottage seems to have turned the RBDF into his personal whipping boy - all of which will take a toll on soldiers.
I can only begin to imagine the quagmire that will be created as it was in 2013 when police officers and marines found themselves in standoffs over jurisdiction; or where officers and marines were almost sitting in each other's laps; out stations were over-complemented; where there was insufficient working equipment to facilitate the rapid poorly planned injection of boots on the ground; or even worse, instances where as soon as cams and boots showed up, depo blues and red stripes disappeared, adding nothing to this crime fight.
The plan must have more depth to it. I don't care what the minister says. I am willing to bet that neither the minister, nor the commissioner, nor the "acting commander" of the RBDF can state that there is a plan; and I expect pandemonium. Who will sail the taxpayers' $200 million worth of ships while marines man the streets? Who will man the ports and the various satellite bases? Who will man the navigational aides, which are such a necessity in the cruise ship sector of our tourism product while our marines are out busy catching drug dealers and turf leaders?
This is a plan bathed in ineptness, and on this one I believe the minister should resign.
I am hopeful, though, that for the love of God he carries with him this failed commissioner, who has tripped over himself from day one; possibly because he was under-tested and over-glorified.
Additionally, I hope that Dames pays a great price for this bogus response he is trying to pull on a dying nation, hopeful for change. His statements last week amount to hogwash. Marvin, if you were so integral in the acquisition of "two specially designed vans", what did you do during the four of the 10 years with these "two specially designed vans" while our sons were being killed on the streets? Taking special consideration to the fact that while you were the deputy commissioner, with "two specially designed vans", the murder count in 2011 was 127; the murder count in 2012 was 111; the murder count in 2013 was 120; and just to be fair to you, since you resigned your position almost at the middle point of 2014 to assume your new plush life aboard the sinking ship known as Baha Mar, we will only credit your watch with half of the 122 murders (61) in 2014. Also, to save you from being egg-faced, we won't mention murder increased by 2.5 percent the very same year you left us as a country, failing in our fight against crime. The same country that spent tax dollars to invest in your ability to rid our streets of crime.
Make no mistake, we can no longer leave this country in the hands of a gynecologist turned war expert, a disgruntled policeman turned state minister and a computer geek turn police chief. Maybe they should all retire together and open a wonderful little Baptist church on a Family Island, as clearly there is nothing left in any of them that would address where we are in this crime fight.
In closing, while I really like Dames, I think he ought not continue to be disingenuous in his comments and let us seek to fix this crime problem without polarization.

- Leyvon Miller

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Crime gatekeepers out of touch

February 21, 2017

Dear Editor,
Finally, Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage has broken his silence on the recent crime spree in New Providence. But will his rant in the House of Assembly cause a crime solution to be effected?
Nottage suggested the police would employ the same old crime-fighting strategies. He said that the police will increase saturation patrols in crime hot spot areas and there will be more roadblocks.
Of particular note, he said that they will initiate a gang unit in the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF). Now this is astonishing. The fact that a gang unit does not exist in the RBPF in 2017 is an incredible development and I am inclined to believe that the minister misspoke. What have our gatekeepers been doing the last few years? This is truly indicative of how backward some of our crime-fighting strategies are, given that gang violence has been making major headlines at least for the last decade.
Additionally, Nottage said that members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) will be ordered to assist the police as it relates to fighting crime on the streets. This is a big mistake and will not net the results the minister is looking for. Defence force officers assisting the police will only amount to extra bodies on the streets who are not trained to act as peace officers. Furthermore, RBDF officers will be limited in what they can do because they will be in reactionary mode. They will respond to acts of violence for the most part after a crime has been committed. This is what the police are doing now.
The only way I can see the government employing RBDF officers on the streets is if criminals are outright targeting victims indiscriminately, and then you would deploy defence force officers to hunt and shoot vigilantes on the spot. We have not reached this stage as yet.
In my view, the high command of the police force and the minister of national security possess the intelligence today to effectively deal with crime. However, our crime problem will not improve because the political will does not exist to fight crime, and most of the time this leaves the police literally holding the bag.
One example of the lack of political will is seen in the 2011 Privy Council ruling, which states that only the worst of the worst murderers can face the death penalty. Six years later, our legislators have been lazy and they have not defined what the worst of the worst means. As a result, it is literally impossible for courts to effectively enforce the death penalty.
Additionally, the Attorney General's Office is issuing nolle prosequis like Great Commission Ministries is giving out hot meals. There have been several high-profile cases that the AG's office has failed to prosecute, even though the police did their due diligence and collected the proper evidence.
Our gatekeepers seemingly are using technology in the crime fight, as this is evident by the number of drug arrests made on a continual basis. But they should also maximize the use of technology when it comes to gathering evidence on other criminal activities, specifically murder and other serious crimes.
The days when we believed we could just swarm an area with police officers to fight crime are over, and this just shows how out of touch our gatekeepers really are.

- Dehavilland Moss

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Long Island does not belong to Loretta

February 21, 2017

Dear Editor,
Loretta Butler-Turner, the outgoing MP for Long Island, claims that she still subscribes to the policy/tenets of the FNM. But I am confounded by the actions and utterances of Butler-Turner and her surrogates of late, chief amongst them The Long Island Runner News; that entity masquerading as a newspaper. They have used every opportunity at their disposal to attack the ratified FNM candidate Adrian Gibson, and by extension party Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis.
I would have thought as an opposition candidate Butler-Turner and her minions (I won't name you, we know who you are) would have used their resources to attack the PLP. Are Adrian Gibson and Dr. Hubert Minnis the enemy now? I thought the PLP was the enemy.
So, I can only conclude that Butler-Turner and her fellow travelers have decided that if she can't have the Long Island seat then neither can the FNM. Well, Loretta, in the words of Minnis, Long Island does not belong to you. And Adrian, when they go low, you go high; eagles don't fly with chickens.
- Vaughn NP Scriven

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The election to come

February 21, 2017

Dear Editor,
The Bahamian people this year will have the opportunity to select which political party will solve the crisis on crime, education, unemployment, the $7 billion debt problem and Standard and Poor's downgrade to junk status of the Bahamian economy.
It is my sincere hope that the political parties are able to share a vision on how to diversify The Bahamas' economy; to reduce the dependence on providing food from the United States; to improve local Bahamian farming to supply hotels and food stores. It would also be important for the political parties to stop corruption by having an anti-corruption bill added to their party platforms to be introduced and passed to stop corruption in government.
I wish the Bahamian people God's blessing. The voice of the people will speak loud and clear in the general election this year. My thoughts, heart and prayers are with the Bahamian people and their children's future.

- Pedro Smith

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The spy bill will cost the PLP the election

February 20, 2017

Dear Editor,
The Progressive Liberal Party is about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with this crazy and dangerous spy bill that will allow them to eavesdrop on every single Bahamian, read our emails and listen to our phone calls.
First of all, it is unconstitutional, and they have no right to invade people's lives in this way. Every citizen of this country has the right to privacy, and any government that would seek to violate that right does not deserve to be in power.
And as the PLP should know better than anybody, The Bahamas is a place that thrives on secrecy, and everybody has at least one skeleton in the closet.
The idea that the authorities would have access to everybody's intimate discussions and have proof of who is whose sweetheart, 'outside' child, etc., is terrifying to most citizens of this country, and they simply will not stand for it.
The public will be up in arms when they realize what this bill really means.
Soon enough, corrupt police officers will be blackmailing us to keep our private business under wraps. Politicians will be using embarrassing personal information to destroy their opponents, and the citizenry will be afraid to express themselves honestly to their friends and family for fear that their words will be used against them in the public square.
Could it be that anyone who doesn't vote for the PLP will be victimized after the election, if they happen to send an email or WhatsApp indicating who they voted for?
And then there is the financial services industry, which exists to provide privacy to clients. It is the second pillar of our economy and it is already suffering, with banks preferring to set up shop in Switzerland, Cayman or any other offshore banking haven. How many jobs will this spy bill cost that vital industry?
Why is the PLP poking this wasp nest at all? They are in a good position to contest the next election, despite their abysmal performance in office because, for now at least, the opposition remains divided and a house divided against itself cannot stand.
Why did they try and sneak it into Parliament on the quiet and rush it through without public consultation?
How are members of the public not supposed to come to the conclusion that the whole point of this exercise is to give them a powerful tool for spying on political opponents in the run-up to election?
Well, they don't have to spy on me because I will tell the whole country: Thanks to this spy bill, I'm voting FNM.

- Molly King

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BPL, BEC, depression and fear

February 17, 2017

Dear Editor,
Please allow me a small space in your paper for a short rant.
As I watch what is going on in my country I have grown more and more depressed, and now, even worse, I have grown very afraid. What finally tore it for me and the reason for this letter was reading Perry Christie's words: "It is insane. It is reminiscent of the Wild West..."
Oh really, Perry Christie? Didn't you promise us five years ago that you had the solution and we would experience significant improvement in your first 100 days at the helm of government? Why does it seem that you are trying to distance yourself from any responsibility now?
I have just made myself a cup of coffee, and as I sit here dragging on my courage to face another day, I can hear sirens in the distance. I cannot help but think they are an omen of even worse to come.
I am not your typical Bahamian. I try to live a careful and frugal life. I feel no need to drive a flashy car, or wear expensive jewellery, or wear fancy clothing, or take lavish vacations. I work very hard at living a life within my means. I don't eat tenderloin when my budget can only afford pork chop ends. I don't throw large expensive parties, or decorate my house with expensive furniture. I prefer to be in a position to pay my bills, purchase the necessities and deal with various other financial obligations.
A now crippled (once bed-ridden) mother and a wife waging a battle with cancer have made me terribly aware that unfortunate things happen and we should always make an effort to be ready for them.
So forgive me if I believe that the government of my country should be even more frugal than I am.
I have some earnest questions for the current government administration. When our country is in a financially precarious position and deeply in debt, why are you planning and throwing "lavish parties" such as Junkanoo Carnival? Why did you spend more than $300,000 decorating the streets when people's homes needed to be repaired following the hurricane? Why are you collecting 15 percent for VAT (yes, folks in some instances we are paying 15 percent and not 7.5 percent as end consumers)? Why are you not giving us an honest accounting of what you have been doing with our money? Why are you allowing BPL to continue reaming the pockets of suffering Bahamians, when we ourselves are still trying to recover from Hurricane Matthew?
When PowerSecure was brought in to deal with the electricity services, we were promised that the situation would improve, the power cuts would decrease, and our bills would decrease. So what happened?
Since Hurricane Matthew, as a part of BPL's "estimated bill scheme", I have been paying almost $350 on an electrical bill that was once under $10 monthly. I'm talking about a tiny unoccupied cottage with no internal electricity use and only a couple of LED outdoor lights that come on at night only. I have communicated with BPL multiple times regarding this issue and have yet to receive a response from it.
When compact florescent (CF) bulbs came out on the market, I changed all the bulbs in my home to CF and then when they came out with LED bulbs I changed all the bulbs in our house to those, all in an effort to reduce my electrical consumption and I succeeded. We have twice had letters from BEC acknowledging our conservation efforts with the offer of free CFLs. But, quite frankly, why did I even bother if BPL can, at will, charge and do what it wants and be sanctioned by the government? Is a decent company/government supposed to be able to do this with impunity?
Perry Christie, I am truly afraid of you and your government and what new financial burden you will force upon me. I am afraid of the government's current effort to spy on us, though I suspect it already is doing so. I am afraid that, to keep us distracted, you will continue to throw "lavish parties" like Junkanoo Carnival just like the Roman Empire of old did with its bread and circuses. I am afraid that you will continue to treat yourselves to tenderloin when our country's financial situation means we all should be eating boiled eggs.
Perry Christie, you are my "Wild West" and in all honesty I am afraid of you.

- Feeling Hopeless

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FNM: 'More fire!'

February 17, 2017

Dear Editor,
I'm going to make this letter short and sweet.
During election time in The Bahamas at rallies and conventions and some other places, and sometimes even before or after election time, what is the response line from the crowds when a speaker yells out "PLP"? The crowds shout back in unison, "All the way!" Very effective.
However, what is the response line to a speaker who yells out "FNM"? The crowds don't really know what to say. FNMs have no response line to shout back at the speaker, except to say the innocuous "yeah". Not so effective.
In my humble opinion the FNM needs a more flamboyant and impressive response line to any speaker yelling "FNM".
When a speaker yells "FNM", all attendees to a rally, or a convention, or wherever, should shout back with "More Fire!" To me this response line is succinct and appropriate and, more importantly, potent and powerful given the fact that the official symbol of the party is a burning torch.
Do you think they would do it? Do you think that FNMs everywhere would use this poignant response line?
I truly believe that it would take some influential FNM members to begin to encourage use of this response line so that FNMs everywhere would use it and it becomes an integral part of the FNM vernacular.
I personally can't wait to see what happens.
Let's try it out now. Marvin: "FNM!" You and your readers: "More fire!"
That works for me.

- Marvin G. Lightbourn

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Boundary changes: Do they matter

February 16, 2017

Dear Editor,
Members and supporters of the assorted so-called opposition forces are up in arms and are suffering convulsions over the boundary cuts which were just revealed in Parliament. Why they are doing so is beyond my pay grade, because no matter how the boundaries would have been realigned, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and our leadership will prevail at the general election. Boundaries do not vote, but rather, actual constituents.
Bahamians are a rare breed of human beings. We may complain daily as is our collective nature, but we who comprise the silent majority do not vote for individuals or doll house styled opposition forces. It is my submission that those who insist on playing the game of juvenile politics and shooting marbles in the dark are in for a rude awakening following the polls.
The mainstream media is bitterly against the gold rush administration and cannot stand the best bone in our beloved Prime Minister Perry Christie (PLP-Centreville). They, of course, march to the beat of a different drummer than the unwashed black and conchy joe masses. You don't really believe that they care about you or your well-being, do you?
Montagu was the only constituency which would have been radically altered to reflect the data on the ground. It has been opined by some that the PM cut that constituency into pieces so as to deny the FNM a safe seat. What utter nonsense. There are no safe seats anywhere in the nation. It is trite knowledge that all constituencies will be up for grabs this time around. Individuals who are offering themselves must now hit the ground running, if they have not already done so.
Bahamians like the idea of a stable and focused political party. While the person who is leader is important, Bahamians also like to see and feel team efforts. There is no one-man band in the PLP. Take a look, however, at the other political groupings.
The FNM, according to MPs for the same, have publicly accused their leader Dr. Hubert Minnis (FNM-Killarney) of being duplicitous, a fake and worse. A senior member of Parliament, Edison Key (FNM-Central and South Abaco), has labeled "Dr. No" a natural disaster and not to be trusted. Richard Lightbourn (FNM-Montagu) says he is done with "Dr. No", at least in this lifetime. The dimpled one, allegedly, wants or is demanding (no one is sure what the hell it is) 10 guaranteed constituencies. They must think that Bahamians are to be divided up and served on fine china.
Assorted candidates and supporters of all political factions must take a good look around and determine where their best chances lie. The FNM, alas, is a shadow boxer of the highest order. It is boxing at its own shadow. The doll house styled caucus led by the dimpled one is so full of it that it is no longer funny. He too is simply in pursuit of political power and seeks the trappings that come with the same. It is my submission that the FNM and this doll house entity will never be able to come together because of selfish egos and conflicting agendas.
I see the real possibility of three members of the DNA making it into Parliament via elections and not fake appointments. Michael Halkitis will be heavily challenged to regain his credibility in Golden Isles against Stephen Greenslade, who has mounted an aggressive, focused and energetic campaign.
In Garden Hills, where the speaker by his own admission is a part of a damaged brand, he will go down in flames of his own making. He is simply too laid back and cannot be believed.
The Boundaries Commission did a wonderful job even if it took too long to wrap up its work. A general election must be held within the next few short weeks. I would encourage all Bahamians to please go out and register to vote. Do not, under any circumstances, listen to stupid and foolish people (some of whom are actually educating our children) who are advocating the spoiling of ballots as a cock-eyed means of protest.
In some parts of the world, people have actually gone to war and lost their lives to secure the right to vote. Now, some silly people here in our wonderful nation have the coconuts to suggest spoiling your ballot. Dionisio, despite the boundary changes up in Montagu, has an excellent opportunity to win the renamed Free Town. I concede that the term Free Town, while legitimate, could incite racial connotations. It must also be kept in mind, however, that in politics it is all about winning.
The PLP will lose at least six constituencies that our incumbents currently hold. If the MPs therein had actually served their constituents the way Leslie Miller (PLP-Tall Pines) does, they would enjoy smooth sailing getting back into the House. We will sweep the inner city areas of New Providence and we will carry all of the constituencies in the south, in the west, three up in the east and 10 in the Family Islands. That will translate into 26 solid constituencies for the PLP.
In our next term, however, the party and the leadership must clearly understand that this is the last chance for us to get it right. The noise in the market is deafening about crime and unemployment. The delusional FNM candidate for Mount Moriah, a former long-term serving officer of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, has proposed several new initiatives to combat crime. Mind you, he was creased right up there on East Street when the crime trends became visible to the naked eye.
Unemployment is too high due to two simple reasons. One, many of our graduates are functionally illiterate. If a student does not wish to learn whose fault is that? The government of the day? The other reason is that too many of you are not trained or are not seeking training for specialized jobs. There are thousands of available jobs right here and now, but if one is not qualified due to his/her own choices, who do you blame? The government, again?
Boundary changes and the creation of St. Barnabas really offer the opposition groupings excellent chances of picking up one or two extra seats. If Loretta wants to come home, we might nominate her for Free Town. St. Barnabas, despite my misgivings, will go to Attorney Wayne Munroe. The PLP is ready now to be re-elected and in the next few weeks the nation will come to see, feel and realize that we are still the best choice.
To God then, in all things, be the glory.

- Ortland H. Bodie Jr.

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We do not have a crime problem

February 15, 2017

Dear Editor,

I would like to go on record and disagree with all of the talk show hosts and media personalities who think that we have a crime problem. To listen to them pontificate you get the impression that this situation is something new. It is not new, and we have brought it upon ourselves. What we are seeing is the manifestation of a deeper social problem linked to a particular demographic - the Bahamian male. His true ethnicity may be in question, but he is Bahamian.
He is a member of the majority, but he is treated as an ethnic minority; almost like the men of African descent living in America. Ours is a "social problem" punctuated by the fact that those who should be speaking for the communities where most of our prolific offenders come out of are silent on the matter. Their only concern is the gerrymandering of constituency boundaries and the decimation of the "historical districts" in this nation. It is heartless that they dig deeper into the areas most affected by crime to secure their political futures. It is safe for them, but not safe for the persons who have to live in these areas.
The data before us reveals that murder in this country is a localized event, in the sense that 90 percent of the perpetrators and the victims are known to each other. Therefore, what we call a crime problem is just a social problem in its manifestation stage. The police can often predict with accuracy where the trouble will be with every person released from prison. The commissioner could have chosen a more tactful way of telling us what we already know, but the fact that we as a society are disregarding what is in our faces may have led him to adopt a different strategy.
Murder in this nation is adversely affecting a particular demographic, and perhaps our history of slavery has supplied us with the tools we need to keep each other down. There is a penchant or norm for us in that we can only be up when another person is down, and the three cardinal traits of our culture lend to that dynamic: this culture is personality driven, event focused and crisis orientated.
It is evident that these three aspects can be found in everything that happens, especially in politics and religion. Do you not think it strange that you only hear from some politicians or pastors when there is a crisis? That is the only way that they know how to operate. But you, like me, are surprised that they are not out in front on this issue.
We will attempt to get our problem fixed when what is happening in a particular demographic spills over into the lives of those who think that what is going on really does not affect them. Until that time, the commissioner of police and his staff have their hands full.

- Edward Hutcheson

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Michael Halkitis, magician and practical joker

February 15, 2017

Dear Editor,

Perry Christie's alter ego in the Ministry of Finance stepped completely out of character the other day and allowed himself to get caught up in the hype of the PLP convention.
Michael Halkitis is a naturally low-key man who doesn't care much for hyperbole. But mesmerized by the pom-poms, the music and the sea of yellow-shirted adoring fans, he went off the deep end in an attempt to explain the whereabouts of the elusive VAT money.
He gleefully let rip a laundry list of infrastructure and public goods that were facilitated by the $1 billion that was siphoned out our pockets as a "luxury" tax for the mere privilege of living here.
To quote the Joker in the popular Batman series, I would ask Halkitis to "riddle me this?"
When VAT was introduced, it was on the promise of the reduction or elimination of certain types of customs duties. If that did happen and we caught a break on duties, then what was the net income to the government from this new value-added tax?
Supposedly we will have to subtract from this grand $1 billion total, those taxes that would have come to the government by other means, such as customs duties. One billion dollars might have been the gross take but it could not be the net to the treasury.
I found it most puzzling that the minister erroneously regaled his fellow delegates with tales about paying for new boats, new planes and even helping with hurricane repairs with money from VAT takings.
He had to walk that back when it was pointed out that Parliament had approved loans to pay for many of these new items. Halkitis then embarrassed himself with the lame excuse that all government money goes into (and therefore comes out of) the Consolidated Fund. Well duh!
Then we got the doozy that VAT money somehow helped him to "facilitate" a loan to Bahamasair to buy new airplanes. As if a sovereign guarantee wasn't enough for the bankers. They needed a VAT comfort letter.
But leaving that out, VAT was introduced to help us reduce the fiscal deficit and to start paying down the national debt.
We are still running deficits and the debt has ballooned every year. Worse, we now have the indignity of a downgrade of our credit rating. Just now the clouds are building for an increase in the rate of VAT from 7.5 percent on everything except sunshine and rain, to a rate of 10 percent next year. And if Christie is re-elected, he will be emboldened to take it all the way up to his original planned rate of 15 percent.
Assuming the economy doesn't contract under this weight, that will double the amount of money that Halkitis can use to "facilitate" other loans. And don't believe the smoke and mirrors that will come about lowering customs duties further. Customs duty is a one-time pain, but paying VAT every time you withdraw your own money from an ATM is a perpetual annoyance.
If you think we will get better fiscal prudence from Kool PC and the Gang when we give them $2 billion in VAT receipts to play with, then I have some BAMSI insurance to sell you.

- The Graduate

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Concerns with ministerial performance

February 14, 2017

Dear Editor,
I read with interest the recent downgrading of the Bahamas credit rating by Standard & Poor's. I am disappointed but not surprised.
Disappointed because all Bahamians are now saddled with this enormous financial burden placed on us by a reckless spending government that has no sense of responsibility when it comes to the management of our fiscal affairs.
I am not surprised because this is the hallmark of the PLP. They have a propensity of being big spenders regardless of the long-term consequences.
The prime minister blamed the resent downgrade on Hurricane Matthew as an act of God, which Matthew was, however what act other than his government's reckless spending and bad decisions caused the previous three? I am hoping the prime minister will tell us.
Having experienced four downgrades during this term, the prime minister needs to make some serious decisions and a few much-needed adjustments, chief amongst them is the reduction in the size of his Cabinet.
The Bahamian public cannot afford and we should not be forced to afford the price tag attached to funding the lifestyle of a group of men and women, many of whom are under-performing or not at all.
A closer look at the performance of a few will give us an insightful perspective of exactly what we are getting based on the price tag we are forced to pay.

National security
This minister has failed the Bahamian people by not being able to keep us safe. After the record shattering and record setting number of murders on his watch he ought to have resigned two years into his term.
It is amazing how some of us pretend as if we are the arbiters of all knowledge and that we have the answers to all questions. Based on his record, he has failed us miserably.
I now see why he sleeps so much in Parliament. My guess is he is so embarrassed of his record in office that he sleeps hoping that when he awakes he will forget what has happened. I am pleased to tell you minister that the Bahamian people are wide awake, and we are here to remind you whenever you are awake from your deep sleep and wildest dreams that you have failed to protect us from crime and the fear of crime and we will not forget.

Minister of labor
The minister needs to stop issuing labor certificates to employers to employ foreigners when thousands of Bahamians are out of work. Without the issuing of this certificate, no work permit can be approved.
Additionally, the minister needs to investigate why some Bahamian workers are still being paid less than the minimum wage. This is unacceptable in the 21st century. And why are so many Bahamians being employed as part-time and temporary workers? The last time I checked the Employment Act there was no such creature as a part-time or temporary worker in it.
Can you imagine, a mother of two being paid the minimum wage of $210 per week. After NIB deductions she is left with about $200? If she has to take the jitney to work, depending on where she has to go, it costs her about $5 per day, which adds up to $25 per week and $100 per month.
The average rent is about $600 per month, and when she goes to the food store she has to pay VAT on everything. Taking all of this into consideration, it is impossible for a single mother to have a reasonable life on $210 per week. Therefore, I am urging the minister to raise the minimum wage to a livable wage not less than $300 per week.
To add to the frustrations Bahamians are facing every day in the workplace, they are being dismissed by their employers and have received no compensation after dismissal.
When they file disputes against their employers, many of them refuse to attend the conciliation hearing because they have no respect for our laws and the Department of Labour refuses to fine them the $5,000 mandated by law. Maybe if the laws are enforced regarding fines, the employers will take the proceedings more seriously and attend the hearings.
Finally on this point, the minister needs to amend the Industrial Relations Act to give the tribunal the power to enforce its awards. For far too long Bahamians have been subjected to unfair treatment by the employer, and when they appear before the tribunal they are being frustrated by unscrupulous employers who make their lives a living hell.
Can you imagine a woman of 50-plus years old, who worked for a company for 30-plus years, sustained injuries on her job, is no longer able to work and after being sick due to the negligence of her employer, she is dismissed under the doctrine of frustration of contract? She has no money, no income, no job, poor health and an advanced age where no-one is willing to employ her.
The irony of it all is she now has to fight her case in court to be properly compensated for her years of service because her employer refused to pay her anything. These are the conditions Bahamians are being subjected to.

Minister of education
I find myself unable to understand how this education minister can accept year after year a D average in the public school system. He ought to be ashamed of himself for this to continue during his tenure as minister.
What the minister needs to consider doing is creating another school like the former Government High where the elite students are placed in an environment where there are minimum distractions for learning, and the teachers can devote more time to those students who are challenged academically.
Furthermore, for those students who are slow learners and who are skilled in other disciplines, they should be placed in a well-equipped, properly funded vocational school where they are taught skills and crafts, and they too can become productive citizens and make a meaningful contribution to society.
Until we get away from the notion that all children must be academically smart, we will never develop The Bahamas we so often talk about; and if this is done foreign employers will have no excuse or complaint that there is not enough skilled labor in the country, and Bahamians will be doing the work foreigners are being employed to do.

Immigration
I am led to understand that foreign employers are colluding with each other to keep Bahamians from holding top positions in their businesses.
It is also my understanding that many foreign workers are using their work permits for work other than what the permit requires. A prime example is there are foreign workers who are front desk managers, reservation managers, maintenance managers, food and beverage managers, housekeeping managers, to name a few.
I have a difficulty accepting that the minister with responsibility for immigration will approve a work permit to a foreigner to be a front desk manager when there are hundreds of Bahamian workers who are skilled and qualified in this particular discipline who are unemployed and cannot find a job. This needs to be investigated forthwith and the culprits deported immediately from this country.
I choose not to mention the names of the institutions who are complicit in this regard, but if this practice continues I will certainly be willing to publish the names of the institutions who are abusing the terms of their work permits.

Minister of transport
There seems to be a systemic problem with the public transportation on this Island, and it seems to me that this minister does not have a clue on what to do notwithstanding the fact that this is her second time around at it.
There are inadequate bus stops, the bus drivers stop anywhere anytime regardless if on a hill or on the corner. They block the streets from vehicular traffic just to keep the competition away. Something needs to be done soon. Also, there ought to be a ban on certain motorbikes. They are a public nuisance with the noise they make and the riders have no regard for other road users. I suggest to the minister not to license certain motorbikes.
In part two of my article I will examine the record of other ministers and their ministries.

- Hilbert. L. Collie

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VAT unfairness

February 13, 2017

Dear Editor,
Hello from South Carolina, U.S.A. Having come to this wonderful country for one or two weeks for the past 50 years, I would hope you believe that my wife and I love The Bahamas.
My problem right now is I feel it is unconscionable to exact VAT on the staples that families need just to live. Milk, eggs, butter and other food staples should be exempt from VAT, and l would be happy to stay, come back or just keep writing until fairness returns to this wonderful nation.

- John W. Matthews, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

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Dictatorship or democracy

February 13, 2017

Dear Editor,
I found it disturbing that while Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss was sharing with Bahamians her memories of the horrors inflicted on humanity by the Nazi regime, our government was busy tabling the Interception of Communications Bill 2017, which would allow them to intercept and examine a person's communications via telecommunications, Internet and postal services.
Also I have not forgotten the gifts to the government of anti-riot gear, tear gas launchers, gas grenades and armored vehicles from our Chinese "benefactors", all of which paints a picture of totalitarian tendencies.
I cannot help but remember the poem written by Pastor Martin Niemoller, who lived through the same perilous times as Eva Schloss.
"First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist.
"Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist.
"Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.
"Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me."

- Ian Mabon

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Tough choices but one conclusion

February 13, 2017

Dear Editor,
The Gold Rush administration, led by our energetic, focused and nimble leader and prime minister of our wonderful nation, Perry Gladstone Christie (PLP-Centreville), will be returned to office by a reduced majority. We, as a party, will suffer defeat in six constituencies. I have been called and proven to be many things to many people but I publicly profess to be a political prophet. It has been long said, however, that a prophet has no honor in his own country.
In a few short months, if not weeks, you all will be called upon to make some tough political choices, which have the potential to impact you, your family and associates for years to come. On the one hand, we have the iconic Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), which appears, sometimes, to be out of touch with its core and base supporters.
Many of our Cabinet ministers and some of the backbenchers have self-elevated themselves to such high levels of inaccessibility that it is a phenomenon of gigantic proportions.
It is my sincere opinion that many who are in office today will not be there tomorrow. It is as simple as that. The same old, same old will not work or even be contemplated this time around.
What about the so-called opposition forces and the others of the delusional rump opposition and the grouping led by boys in short pants and girls in fluffy skirts? The choices, while apparently tough, are clear. The Bahamas can either chose to continue the progressive movement and public policy initiatives which PGC and the Gold Rush are noted for or she, God forbid, may seek to rekindle a "romance" that has never lasted beyond the first night of the political honeymoon.
The FNM has issued what it calls its manifesto, and I congratulated them on that. It is well known that pen can put anything on paper with immunity and impunity. The people of this wonderful nation called the Commonwealth of The Bahamas are now beyond semantics, platitudes and more fake calls by Siren and her seven sisters and three hobbled brothers. Ten, of course, has always been the number of perfection.
The others, of whom my second favorite female in frontline politics, Loretta Butler-Turner, putative leader of the rump and seventh dimensional Official Opposition, is to be counted, are doomed to a political death by a thousand cuts. LBT's best logical and pragmatic posture should be to eat humble coconut tart or benny cake, shut up and sit small and come back home to the PLP.
Hope Strachan (PLP-Sea Breeze) is my favorite female Cabinet minister and MP. She has a fantastic future ahead of her and will, at the appropriate juncture, emerge as deputy prime minister of our blessed and highly favored nation.
This, dearly beloved, was not revealed to me by flesh and blood but by the spirit of the most high God. The PLP is a progressive and nation building organization and, more importantly, a solid team.
Under our assorted administrations we have advanced the social and economic issues of all of our people of goodwill and right-thinking minds, but especially those of the so-called females of the species. Look around, my brothers and sisters. The sky is the limit this time around for all Bahamians.
I am not, directly, an advisor to the prime minister, but in recent times, he has allowed me several unscripted meetings to talk and exchange views on any number of issues. He and I are on the same page, along with my personal political overlord, Philip Brave Davis (PLP-Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador), DPM and minister of works and urban development, that despite the tough choices we will prevail.
It is important, however, that you and all of those under your ambit of influence register to vote. It is incumbent that no ballot/vote be spoiled, despite the call by a handful of obviously misguided #fake@ intellectuals to suggest otherwise.
The choices will be tough, but ask yourself: Will I entrust my future and that of my family to power-hungry individuals, or move forward with a team led by a man of destiny?
To God then, in all things, be the glory.

- Ortland H. Bodie Jr.

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The fate of the opposition

February 10, 2017

Dear Editor,
The call is being made for the opposition forces in the nation to unite, but that call is coming too late.
We heard no such talk when the opposition and its leader kept their shoulder to the wheel in the role of opposing, even when those who were elected to those positions refused to be led. We now know that they could never be led or would not allow themselves to be led anywhere by anyone. There are a couple of potential candidates who now find themselves at political crossroads that will not take them anywhere but away from that which they most desire, and they are running out of time.
The chief player, though not an elected member of the opposition, is Branville McCartney, who in the words of the song by Adele, could have had it all, but he chose to listen to some familiar voices and cast the voters of The Bahamas into five years of pain. His prayer is that his political misstep is forgotten at the polls this year. If he is not the "chosen one" in 2017 his political future over the next two political cycles is uncertain.
Coming up close behind him is Loretta Butler-Turner who, though being constantly warned, refused to listen to reason or even be reasonable. It is ironic that she and McCartney could have been in very different places if they had exercised patience. We must step back at this point and recognize that both of these personalities represent a very peculiar political demographic of disgruntled 45 to 55 year-olds who have spent most of the last two decades switching political gravy trains. I think that 2017 caught them unawares and they sort of reacted to the fact that we could be getting a leader that they were not ready for, hence the trial by political fire for Dr. Hubert Minnis over the past 18 months. Now that the smoke has cleared, we see them scrambling around looking for a socially relevant political flashpoint to get the attention they so desperately need.
And then, there are the true spoilers who are capable of really crashing the party if they can get organized and keep the ball rolling - the UDP, We March and Gatekeepers along with John Bostwick.
My guess is that the prime minister has two options: He can stall as long as he can and hope that the different movements lose steam and fizzle, but this allows the FNM to get back to what it has been doing all along - hitting up the constituencies, or, he can call a snap election, bite the bullet and let the chips fall where they may. Either way, the FNM has a credible chance as long as it does what the PLP did and reminds them of the same things they did to win in 2012.
However, it is unlikely that the opposition forces will ever unite. The Bahamian people have no interest in being led by anything that has more than one head and they may have learned their lesson in 2012, and they will be voting PLP or FNM. If they do anything else there will not be enough "contracts to go around".

- Edward Hutcheson

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A well-deserved extension

February 10, 2017

Dear Editor
I am pleased to see that the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Sir Hartman Longley, has been granted an extension of his stellar career in this invaluable judicial office. This man is a man of the law, so to speak, but, as an Androsian, he has long displayed a degree of legal acumen that would appear to have been lacking for eons, with all due respect.
Sir Hartman, God bless his soul, attended the old Government High School (GHS) on Poinciana Boulevard. Individuals like he, Algernon Allen, Dr. Timothy Barrett, Maurice Glinton, QC and I, along with many others, were privileged to be members of the student body.
Congratulations, Sir Hartman, you have done our wonderful nation and its people well. You will long be remembered as a legal scholar, an outstanding family man and, more importantly, as one who loves the Lord.
To God then, in all things, be the glory.

- Ortland H. Bodie Jr.

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Turnquest represented the new generation

February 10, 2017

Dear Editor,

Would you allow me to brand as irrelevant whether I am of the opinion that OAT "Tommy" Turnquest, former leader of The Free National Movement, was capable of leading this country or not? What is relevant, however, is that Tommy represented a new generation of political leaders in The Bahamas.
I happen to believe that that was one of the prevalent reasons why the FNM was rejected by the electorate in our 2002 general election. Tommy was viewed as still a child by a certain constituency of people scattered all over this country. And I am not sure if there is anything that he would be able to do about such a perception, except wait on the passage of time.
But what the populace would be able to do now is to engage themselves in an introspective analysis of their own lives. For example, are you an adult, perhaps with your own children, your own home, living your own independent life and your parents and others of their generation still perceive you to be a child? If this is true, then I contend that it would have been highly unlikely that your parent's generation would have sanctioned promoting Tommy Turnquest to leader of the country. What might exacerbate the problem would be if those of Tommy's generation perceived themselves as their parents perceived them.
To me, Tommy was the new generation's pioneer in The Bahamas. And I admire the fact that in the face of incessant criticism of his leadership capabilities, he was moving forward without looking back. Even though he did not reach the ultimate goal of becoming prime minister of The Bahamas, at least he paved the way for others to follow in his footsteps. The new generation will have its representative in the top position in this country within the years to come.

- Marvin G. Lightbourn

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Ian, Nicolette and Alicia need a civics lesson

February 10, 2017

Dear Editor,
Two academics and an activist want to use disaffected Bahamian voters as guinea pigs. In what can only be described as some kind of weird social experiment, these highly educated people want to run a ridiculous test that has as its goal the achievement of absolutely, positively nothing.
Dr. Ian Strachan and Dr. Nicolette Bethel, of the now University of The Bahamas, have joined with women's rights activist Alicia Wallace to see just how many Bahamians will drink their Kool-Aid and purposely spoil their ballots in the upcoming general election.
Remember now, the professors are responsible for shaping the minds and honing the citizenship of the next generation of Bahamians. The activist wants to be taken seriously as a voice for women.
But how can we take them seriously when what they propose is a slap in the face of all those who fought in the trenches to give women and all adult males the very right to vote.
We can look straight past Minister Hope Strachan and see her grandmother, Mary Ingraham, a champion of the suffragette movement. Or gaze through Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson to see her grandmother, rights hero Georgiana Symonette. We need to remind Wallace of this when she starts talking fool.
The preamble to the constitution speaks of the Bahamian people as a collective "we" - the inheritors and successors of this family of islands who commit ourselves to a free and democratic sovereign nation.
Whether we like it or not, this social contract makes us all responsible for the good governance of this country. The most forceful act we all have in determining what happens here is to vote for the leaders who will make the best decisions in our name.
I know that there are some among us who, for religious reasons, do not participate in the electoral process. They abstain from voting on grounds that I do not agree with, but which I have to accept.
I also appreciate that some people do unwittingly spoil their ballot papers and in so doing self-neuter, silencing their own voices at a time when all voices need to be heard loud and clear.
But now, we have these obstinate professors giving intellectual cover to the false narrative that intentionally spoiling the ballot is an acceptable form of participation in our electoral process.
If the constitution mandated election officials to award spoiled ballots in any of their tallying, then these conscientious objectors might have a point. But it doesn't; so they don't.
They promote the debunked theory that, if spoiled ballots were counted and if tabulated in high enough numbers, that would send a message to politicians that people are fed up. But isn't that precisely the reason we are supposed to vote in the first place?
Voting brings about change, or it approves the status quo. Spoiling the ballot brings about not only a waste of paper, but of the time of poll workers doing a civic duty.
Do you really think a new Prime Minister Hubert Minnis or emboldened Prime Minister Perry Christie would lose sleep over the fact that thousands of apathetic voters voted for "none of the above"?
What the professors and the activist are promoting is very dangerous and they need to put this half-baked idea back in the oven. They posit, without evidence, that slow voter registration will equal low voter turnout. Where were they when Sherlyn Hall subverted the registration process with his morality fashion litmus test?
People do care about who governs them. We do believe that our vote counts. We stand just a little bit taller, brandishing our ink-stained fingers as evidence of the fact that we landed our blow for democracy.
The legacy political parties have formidable "get-out-the-vote" machinery, and this has led to exceptionally high voter turnout. This tells me that bellyaching about a candidate or party is just old talk.
We may not like Perry Christie because he talks too much or Hubert Minnis because he talks too little, and although we don't live in Centreville or Killarney, we carry that animus with us into our voting booth, even if in so doing we act against our own self-interest.
We should give thanks to those PLPs whose struggle over 50 years ago helped to give everyone the vote. And in the same breath we should applaud the FNM for deepening our democracy by helping to make us more informed and freer to express our opinions and to vote.
Voting is a civic duty. The professors know this. The activist knows this too. They ought to know that being socially irresponsible is not the same as social disobedience.
The descendants of slaves must not tarnish that legacy by being frivolous with their franchise. The grandchildren of Europeans and others must affirm their equal rights by voting.
Vote for a candidate because you like her and her party's position on an issue, or because you can't stomach what the other party stands for. If you have problems with both, then vote for the least objectionable. But vote.

- The Graduate

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