Letters

Election 2022 is a long way away

August 21, 2017

Dear Editor,

Diehard PLPs who were riding the gravy train of the Christie administration are so incensed that their party lost the government on May 10, that they have resorted to consoling themselves by saying that the year 2022 is not a long way away. They are assuming that the PLP will automatically regain the government, without the slightest commiseration for the untold pain and hurt it caused this country. One just cannot take for granted an election victory. Besides, all the FNM has to do is to remind the Bahamian electorate about the many alleged cases of corruption and malfeasance which happened between 2012 and 2017.
What has helped the FNM is the PLP's stubborn refusal to admit to any wrongdoing. The Whistleblower believes that one of the main reasons for the alleged systemic corruption within the Christie government was the party's grave miscalculation of the political climate in the country, along with its arrogant underestimation of the FNM under Dr. Hubert Minnis. Christie and co. really thought that they were going to win.
The FNM has been in power now for a little over three months. To the diehard PLP, this means that there are only 57 months to go, as if that is a short time. However, no matter how one slices it, 57 months is a darn long time. In politics, that is a lifetime. Fifty-seven months means that the FNM has another four years and nine months, or 1,735 days, or 41,641 hours, to govern before another general election is held. Between then and now, the highly anticipated FIFA World Cup Soccer tournament will be held in Russia in 2018, and the next Summer Olympic Games will be held in Japan in 2020 - two years before the Bahamian general election. Until then, PLPs had better suck it up and accept the fact that Dr. Hubert Minnis is their PM. In 2022, PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis will be 71; Senator Fred Mitchell will be closing in on 69. With his wealth and savvy, Davis has a stranglehold on the PLP leadership. As for Mitchell, he obviously wants to continue travelling around the globe at the expense of Bahamian taxpayers. As it stands right now, it's not looking good for the PLP for the foreseeable future. The party is at rock-bottom. The PLP will be led by two old men who were senior members of the Christie Cabinet over the next 57 months, or 1,735 days, or 41,641 hours. Now that is a darn long time.

- The Whistleblower

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Nassau then and now

August 19, 2017

Dear Editor,

It is often times good to look at the past to see how far we've gone and what has happened along the way.
When I was in my mid-teens, I was photographing players like Kendal Isaacs (later to become Sir Kendal) at the Gym Tennis Club competing against a team from Jamaica. I was talking to Inspector of Police Albert Miller (later to become Sir Albert). He was telling me how Nassau was really going to the dogs. He went on to say that there was one murder in the court system for the entire year!
That was then. Now it seems we have several murders a day! Times change. But why?
We all know Gussie Roberts, one of the great photographers of the then Development Board. Well Gussie had a father who was also called Gussie, but he was a policeman, an inspector with the Royal Bahamas Police Force, who later became assistant commissioner of Police.
One afternoon Inspector Roberts was on point duty with a number of young policemen checking licenses on West Bay Street. One of the young corporals came to Inspector Roberts and said, "Sir, we have a problem in front."
Inspector Roberts said, "What's the problem young man?"
The young officer said, "Well Sir, there is a woman up front who does not have a license."
Inspector Roberts replied, "Book her."
The young officer said, "But Sir you don't understand, the young lady is your sister."
Inspector Roberts replied, "Young man you don't understand, I said book her."
That was Nassau many years ago when there was discipline, law and order.
Let's fast forward to today.
Hundreds of young men and women are investigated, charged and brought to court. Some of the crimes are petty. But the offending parties are investigated, arrested and if found guilty, go to jail.
Apparently, it is now the standard that when a politician is investigated, charged and brought to court it's a "witch hunt".
How come? As I remember, and granted I'm getting old, there's not a PLP law, or an FNM law, or a white man's law, or a black man's law, or a poor man's law or a rich man's law, it is the law of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. It applies to everybody.
I was surprised to hear both a PLP and an FNM lawyer hurling threats at each other. "If you don't watch out I'll tell on you," they shouted to each other. Two so-called lawyers! Don't they both know that it is against the law to withhold acts of criminality from the police? That, I believe, is called obstruction of justice. It is a crime. That's jail talk.
Furthermore, it is blackmail. Again against the law. Again jail talk.
And we want to know what's wrong with our society?
A friend who I have a tremendous amount of respect for has suggested to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis that when he is digging one hole, he should dig two. I don't agree. Instead he should dig three because two may not hold all the crooks that seem to be running around!
I read somewhere that a PLP has asked why Minnis does not investigate the sale of BaTelCo for just over two hundred million dollars.
If my memory serves me right it was the PLP who promised the people that if elected they would investigate the sale of BaTelCo. They won and true to their promise the PLP appointed a committee that met, investigated and came to a conclusion.
They never published their conclusion. It seems that they may have been covering it up. Now why?
The only reason for an investigation was not to determine whether or not it was a bad deal, or if it was sold for too much or too little, but rather, to determine whether or not there was some wrong doing? We were never told, or maybe I missed it.
We were, however, told what the committee got from the deal. It was quite impressive but unusual.
As I recall, they got the buyer to give back a percentage of the sale, plus extra. Was that from the goodness of the buyer's heart or had the buyer been involved in some shenanigans - like buying off a politician?
I don't know. The PLP committee knows. Why were the findings not published? Why ask Prime Minister Doctor Minnis to investigate? The PLP committee has already met, investigated and come to a conclusion.
What was the conclusion? Publish it! We're entitled to know.
It is time we take the future of our children and our country seriously.
Let's dig three holes and fill them with all crooked politicians, PLP and FNM!

- Pierre V. L. Dupuch

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The Bahamas is hard on children

August 19, 2017

Dear Editor,

The Bahamas, like many nations in the Western Hemisphere, is under the rubric of Christianity due to the ubiquitous presence of the church. Like the United States of America, most Bahamians say that they trust in the God of Judeo-Christianity. This country, like our neighbors to the north, defines itself as Judeo-Christian, despite the spectre of multiculturalism and other religious and secular world-views. Notwithstanding the sheer dominance of evangelical and mainline churches, it is deeply troubling that children are being systematically abused in this country at an alarming rate.
These are the kids God has entrusted to us in order to nurture and care for. The Tribune stated that there were a staggering 856 cases of child abuse reported to Social Services in 2016. Out of that tally, there were 478 cases of neglect, 180 incidents of child abuse, 130 cases of sexual abuse and 33 incidents of incest. Undoubtedly, there were many other incidents which had gone unreported for whatever reason. In 2014, there were 597 cases of child abuse reported, while in 2013, 487 cases were reported, according to The Tribune. A close scrutiny of these disturbing figures would reveal an upward trend in child abuse, with an acute increase in 2016 from the 2014 and 2013 figures. It is alarming that in the three years cited, 1,940 incidents of child abuse were recorded in this small country. As a purportedly Christian nation, The Bahamas is a walking contradiction, when you look at the aforementioned child abuse figures. For a country which prides itself in being Christian, The Bahamas is very hard on children. Jesus told His disciples that they must not prevent children from coming to Him, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 19:14). The church must work in tandem with the powers-that-be to curb child abuse. Pastors should use their pulpits to educate their parishioners on how to properly raise and nurture children based on a biblical world-view. Bahamians must be taught the importance of not ruthlessly taking away the innocence of their kids. When abused, these kids typically end up harboring deep psychological and emotional scars that society pays for in the long run. If a child who is abused cannot confide in a parent for whatever reason, they should be encouraged to report the matter to a pastor, teacher, guidance counselor or the police. This social monstrosity must be dealt with ASAP.

- Kevin Evans

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The health of a nation, FNM style

August 18, 2017

Dear Editor,

The now defunct PLP and its shell-shocked cadre of leaders, especially Doctor Perry Gomez, led us straight down the garden path of great expectations, with, as it turned out, absolutely no results. The whole exercise played out by Christie & Company relative to the conceptualization, roll out and implementation of a sustainable and viable national healthcare service was just that - an exercise in abject futility and wastage of the taxpayers' money.
Dr. Gomez, the then minister of health, in my view, did not know what the hell he was doing relative to National Health Insurance (NHI); and those "consultants" the Christie administration hired (we still don't know their terms of reference or just how much they were actually paid) did next to nothing in educating him and his erstwhile ministerial colleagues. An act was debated and passed in Parliament, but there were no regulations and no statutory board to oversee the same. A few months before the general election Christie and his delusional crew announced the implementation of NHI. They thought, obviously, that, that political ploy would have contributed toward their return to high office.
They were never serious. The physical plant for the delivery of healthcare in The Bahamas is in a bad state of disrepair, across the board. Millions of dollars was wasted on the partial construction of so-called clinics (with no equipment or medication). Who were the contractors, and when did the bids go out or come in? Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), our premier healthcare complex, looks good on the outside, especially from Shirley Street. But it is, by the admission of no less an authority than Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands (FNM-Elizabeth), in bad condition on the interior. Apart from the South Beach Clinic the rest of them here on New Providence are a national disgrace and disasters waiting to happen.
The FNM came to office exactly three months ago. That party said that it would be ready from day one to govern the nation. I could not take any more of the antics and theatrics of the now-defunct PLP, generally, and Arnold Forbes, the now-disappeared MP for Mount Moriah, in particular. I voted for Marvin Dames, minister of national security. I also campaigned for and publicly endorsed several FNM candidates, inclusive of Dionisio D'Aguilar (FNM-Free Town), Minister of State for Legal Affairs Ellsworth Johnson (FNM-Yamacraw) and Shanendon Cartwright (FNM-St. Barnabas).
Some say that it is too early to grade the performances of our ministers, or lack thereof. No. In politics, it is never too early and, I submit, never too early to bring about public healthcare initiatives. In this missive I will critique Sands, for whom I held out high hopes. No, I have not yet written him off, but I am somewhat disappointed that, despite my very public support from over a year ago, he has consistently failed/refused to make a guest appearance on "The Real Deal", my live, daily, televised talk show. Up to a day or so ago, he failed to acknowledge, much less reply, to my emails, as he was wont to do leading up to his elevation.
Dr. Sands is a fixture in the medical and healthcare industry in our nation. He's one of the best heart surgeons, or so they say, and has worked within the precinct of PMH for decades. He has, or should have, first-hand knowledge of the conditions therein and should, I submit, have formulated remedies and improvement ideas long ago. The Public Hospitals Authority was badly run (it still is) under the PLP regime. Managerial executives, including Mr. Herbert Brown, are still entrenched pulling down big bucks, or so they say. The paper trail is an elusive one, so I do not expect to see much difference under Dr. Sands' tenure.
What I did expect, however, was not to see the constant spectacle of the masses of unwashed black Bahamians (you don't see any white ones) scattered through corridors, adjacent to private wards and close to operating theaters and the morgue; lying on dingy-looking cots and crying out for attention. This is unacceptable, Doctor Sands. Fix it, and fix it now, please. A large portion of The Rand just burned down (shades of Bamsi 3.0) over in Freeport.
The PM and his team visited and surveyed the same recently but, knowing how all governments operate, the people of Grand Bahama will have to wait a long time for repairs and additions to that facility. To add insult to injury, the PM is a medical doctor and a practitioner who has long stated 'I know what needs to be done to correct the problems within our healthcare system'. Yes, we have monetary constraints, or so they say (contrast this with the almost $3 million handed to MPs for 'constituency programs') but the health of a nation, it has been long said, is the health of a nation.
While I wish the FNM administration all the best and will do all in my power to ensure its success, I am getting tired of the doom and gloom statements attributed to the minister of health. I am tired of loose political talk and the wringing of hands, ad nauseum. I don't want Dr. Sands telling me about the trauma section of the PMH and the fear of staffers who may have to treat gunshot victims, etc. I am tired of hearing that NHI needs to tweaked because it is not ready yet! How many more unwashed black Bahamians will have to die before Minnis & Company get it right from the national healthcare prospective?
We need a brand new hospital that could be constructed along Carmichael Road, or simply acquire that huge plot of land on Prince Charles Drive at the rear of St. Augustine College. Where will we find the money? Simple: Sell government bonds specifically for the construction of the same while seeking yet another loan from the International Development Bank or even the Chinese. The time for talk is over, and if Dr. Sands, like Dr. Gomez, does not know what the hell to do, get out of the way of progress and allow Dr. Minnis to appoint the real deal.
To God, then, in all things, be the glory.

- Ortland H. Bodie, Jr.

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Hotels and vacation rentals: leveling the playing field

August 18, 2017

Dear Editor,

Listening to the minister of tourism chirping on about parity for the hotel owner and the vacation home rental owner following the execution of an agreement with Airbnb, apart from the payment of taxes, I wonder where is the level playing field? Also what about home owners who rent without being affiliated with Airbnb?
Hotels benefit from the Hotels Encouragement Act, and as a result obtain concessions for building, etc. The Ministry of Tourism also promotes the hotels on its promotion trips abroad and with its marketing personnel.
Will the vacation home rental persons be given concessions if they rebuild or renovate? Will their properties be promoted by the ministry, or is this the province of Airbnb?
We all admit that the vacation home rentals have great potential and are extremely popular, especially with Europeans and Canadians. However, will too much regulation result in stifling this market, which is proving a boon to winter residents as well as pensioners and others who find they have space in their homes and need more income?
It is noted that legislation is being planned, and a very pertinent question is what input will vacation home rental owners have in framing this legislation. Have they been consulted?

- Jeanne I. Thompson

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Montague Beach

August 17, 2017

Dear Editor,

Montague Beach has been one of my favorite places to visit since I was a little boy growing up in the east. As a professional, I have spent, and continue to spend, many a lunch time there. In fact, over the years lunchtimes were also spent at the Western Esplanade until they decimated the green (and shady) spaces, and replaced them with food vendors.
Over the past years, when I was not having a "big time" lunch, I returned to the place of my childhood to eat, read your daily and just enjoy the environs.
This experience is not unique to me. Just drive through Montague at any lunch hour and you will note the scores of lunch time folks enjoying "the beach".
Recently, while having lunch, I noticed that although the architects had re-designed Montague Beach with ample parking, surrounding a sizable green area with playing space, which included swings, see-saws and benches for the children visiting the beach, this is not enough for the inconsiderate people who also visit the beach.
They want more! So what do they do? They must park in the green space area.
I watched while the kids were playing in their "protected area", how the cars maneuvered around them to find parking in this restricted area. When I saw this, I wondered, "when is this going to stop?" When are we going to start protecting and preserving our natural space? When are we going to start penalizing the persons who routinely violate our public places? What is the penalty for this violation?
I note that the government recently appointed Shanendon Cartwright as the head of the Parks and Recreation Board. I have no doubt they have chosen the right person. The test, of course, is his turning our parks and recreation areas into places of tranquil escape and places of order. I have no doubt he will do well, but we will see.
On a positive note, I did note that they had a very well dressed gentleman constantly cleaning the area. He must be commended. He looked and performed professionally. As the board, and specifically Cartwright, assess our parks and recreation areas, I ask that they consider moving all the food vendors into a "food court". Parking spaces were not meant to be food vendor territory. Montague has a grassy knoll. Put them there.
Incidentally, for those contracted to cut the grass, when did it become logical to cut acres of grass with a weed whacker? How ludicrous is that?

- The Accountant

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What does the PLP need to apologize for

August 16, 2017

Dear Editor,

In light of the utterly ridiculous suggestion by apologists for the Minnis-led FNM that the PLP should apologize for finding itself (and the country) the victim of a well-orchestrated and foreign-funded electoral hit job recently, I have compiled two lists of matters that either deserve or do not deserve an apology, in my humble opinion.
Things for the PLP to apologize for:
1) Doubling the conviction rate for serious offenses between 2012 and 2016, thanks to Swift Justice and the construction of 10 criminal courts.
2) Setting up Resolve Bahamas Ltd. to manage and eliminate the debt associated with Bank of The Bahamas (a development the FNM once marched against but is now fully endorsing).
3) Establishing the University of The Bahamas.
4) Establishing National Health Insurance for Bahamians (a development now supposedly endorsed by the Minnis administration - though still openly deplored by many of its erstwhile fellow travellers).
5) Renegotiating and restoring the once-derailed Baha Mar project (a development once hysterically criticized by the FNM and the media and now fully endorsed by the Minnis administration and paying off handsomely).
6) Presiding over the most precipitous decline in unemployment numbers in recent Bahamian history (from 14.7 percent to 9.9 percent in less than two years, according to figures released on Friday).
Things NOT to apologize for, since they turned out to be - how does one say this politely? -'Truthfully challenged':
1) Giving the Chinese 500 citizenships as part of the Baha Mar sweet deal. This turned out to be an untruth.
2) Giving the Chinese 10,000 acres on Andros, which (even though seemingly endorsed by that font of truth and wisdom called Fox News) also turned out to be an untruth.
3) Running up a $500 million deficit up to May 2017 (which in turn caused the FNM to borrow that amount PLUS its own $222 million, threatening the country's credit rating), yet which turned out to be inaccurate to the tune of at least $215 million, according to the Central Bank of The Bahamas.
4) Inventing the need for a National Intelligence Agency just to spy on Bahamians for fun (which the sobering realities of law enforcement have now convinced the FNM is actually quite necessary, so they are following suit).

It says a lot about the larger picture that is taking place in the country that, for the first time in memorable history, a governing party is seriously seeking to extract not only political humiliation, but a self-serving apology from its defeated opponent.
Neither the Pindling government that ended in 1992,which featured such damaging baggage as the 1984 Commission of Enquiry, nor the Ingraham government that ended in 2012, which I personally supported, yet which left huge, unanswered questions about the privatization of BTC under its watch, were seriously asked for or gave an apology for having governed as they saw fit for the betterment of their country.
Neither, I might add, did the UBP government, which featured a Cabinet composed entirely of white Bahamians (coincidentally, one supposes) ever see the need to apologize to an electorate that they insulted merely by their existence and composition.
It is frankly below the dignity of our political traditions for anyone to seriously expect anything different from Mr. Christie's, or any other democratic Bahamian government.
Yet, somehow, today there are forces at work seeking to extract an apology from the PLP, even as the FNM struggles to pick up where the PLP left off in constructively governing the country.
So, to put things in perspective, I am presently working on a list of things that the breathtakingly dishonest Minnis-led FNM should be apologizing for, which should be ready in time for me to think up a new catchy pseudonym. This is fun!

- Allen Anderson

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There is no bad time for justice

August 16, 2017

Dear Editor,

Reading the news these days I am reminded of an old saying: "If you don't laugh, you'll weep".
Interim Opposition Leader Brave Davis had the nerve to fix his mouth and say that our current pursuit of justice will bring international infamy and ridicule upon The Bahamas.
In Brave's mind, the world is looking upon us unfavorably because our justice system is compelling accused politicians to stand before the bar and defend their actions.
Accusing three politicians of offenses is somehow worse than the news that corruption was running rampant in the Bahamas under the PLP. It is presumably worse than the international headlines "Nation for Sale" that the PLP brought upon us previously.
It also brings more shame upon us than having Standard & Poor's and Moody's constantly downgrade our credit rating, leaving us one notch above junk status.
It is supposedly worse than having the U.S. Embassy and others warn that businessmen were being given the run-around and even the shake-down, and that it was difficult and presumably considerably more expensive to do business here as a result.
Brave thinks we should lose sleep over PLPs in handcuffs and empathize with these well-to-do former public servants and not remember when the world heard Transparency International beg the PLP to pass a freedom of information act to help fight corruption.
This is not the end of the road for this great country. We have seen this movie before, including when accused FNMs were in the starring roles. Justice will prevail. The accused will get a fair trial in our judicial system, which includes the Privy Council in London.
Every Bahamian parent at some time or another has issued this stern warning to their child: "If you won't listen, you will feel."
Far from being the laughing stock of the region or the world, the very transparent pursuit of justice playing out before our eyes will make us the envy of global citizens who, like us, are sick and tired of being asked to turn a blind eye to allegations of sleaze.
What Brave is really worried about is that the PLP is looking even worse in the eyes of the world, including among CARICOM leaders. Brave is obviously more concerned about the reputational damage to the PLP and to colleagues, who, like some of the pirates of ole, were seized by a plundering zeal which left the country in peril
Brave should remember that the PLP is not the country, a notion that is part and parcel of the party's entitlement and "all-for-me-baby" mentality.
We have three branches of government, which safeguard our democracy. Message to Brave Davis, a Queen's Counsel, who also holds the high constitutional office of Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition: Let our independent judiciary do its job.
Good morning, Judge!
What's next: Brave Davis saying that it is okay for a Cabinet minister and parliamentarian to deliberately mislead parliament without any sanction. Oops! We have already been down that road.
Let justice and democracy prevail.

- The Graduate

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The business of tourism

August 15, 2017

Dear Editor,

There seems to be some confusion about the way a tourist destination works. Vested interests (hospitality unions, entertainers, tourism officials) have obscured the simple, basic way tourist destinations really make money and how that money is available to the widest community. So I thought it might be worthwhile to, in layman's terms, try to lay the destination business model out so that public comments might have better context.
As I said, the model is simple. In this discussion, I will refer to the destination as a "shop". While The Bahamas as a whole is a "shop" (more correctly, a mall), I will refer to individual destinations within The Bahamas as "shops". Here we will use discuss the "shop" called Nassau.
The business model requires three steps:
1. Get lots of customers into the shop
2. Expose them to your primary products
3. Up-sell them with your secondary products
Marketing gets the customers into the shop. The Ministry of Tourism's primary mission is the marketing of The Bahamas. They are responsible for marketing shop Nassau. In their market planning they must address two target markets. Stopover visitors are the prime customers of any destination, and getting lots of them into the shop is the most important role of the marketing program. In the case of shop Nassau, they have failed to get many of those important customers into the shop, having averaged the same 1.3 to 1.6 million visitors a year from 1990 to today. On the other hand, the other target customer, the cruise visitor, has been very successfully brought into the shop. Last year alone, they brought over 5 million cruise customers into the lobby of shop Nassau, a very healthy number of customers for any shop.
So getting customers into the shop has been only partially successful, but shop Nassau should be experiencing some increase in sales as the number of cruise visitors increases. It is not, for reasons we shall see below.
Once the customers are in the shop, they must be exposed to the destination's primary product. What is its primary product? It is the story of the people of that destination. It is the many ways the destination has to share with its customers who they are and how they got to be who they are. That is done through the many expressions of their culture made available in trade, from tours (tour-ists) to theatre to arts and craft, to entertainment to religious practices to cuisine to traditional practices, and so on. This is what must be on the shelf, available for sale to customers. The fact that cruise visitors spend less than half as much in shop Nassau than they do in the rest of the region confirms that there is little or no product on the shelves to buy. There is a need to stock the shelves with our story. The packaging for the product with which to stock the shelves, by the way, is our inventory of attractions.
The up-sell is usually those things we sell that are peripheral to the destination's primary story, like popular amusement devices. Current examples are zip-lines, popular global culture and virtual reality devices.
As you can see, there are two huge holes in the business plan at shop Nassau; they desperately need to get more stopover visitors into their shop and they need primary products on the shelf to sell. Major events (IAAF track meets, the Miss Universe Contest and carnival) are designed to do that, but the paucity of these efforts negates their effectiveness. In the 1960s, for example, shop Nassau had major events and attractions organized on a regular basis, part of the work of the then Development Board, like the Miami-Nassau Powerboat Race, the Miami-Nassau Sailboat Race, Speed Week, numerous private airplane fly-outs, special races at Hobby Horse Hall, American superstars performing in Nassau almost every month (a few got their start here), and even our Junkanoo parades were news items overseas. Getting large numbers of stopover visitors requires shop Nassau to know the difference between a marketing attraction (Las Vegas uses Cirque de Soleil, a Canadian production, New York uses Les Miserable, a French show, Orlando uses Mickey Mouse, a fictional character) and primary destination products. Confusion between the two has led to the shop resisting its own marketing.
Shop Nassau generates tourism income for a country that pays its bills with tourism dollars. It is crucial that every citizen realizes that we are all in the tourism business and knows how that business works. It is also crucial that the business community learns how the creation of primary products (creating attractions) can be a lucrative form of investment.

- Pat Rahming

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Cruising in The Bahamas

August 15, 2017

Dear Editor,

Here is an open letter to the Ministry of Tourism and Transportation that they may want to consider, as all and sundry begin to look at means to improve and facilitate an economic resurgency in our country. I have always stated, when making suggestions, that one looks at the "diamond in the rough", look at the essential principle of the suggestion and then fine tune it, "spit out the bones -- swallow the meat" rather than "throwing the baby out with the bath water".
We all know that it is a popular touristic activity to cruise to The Bahamas. Now how about cruising in The Bahamas? I went on a cruise before and noted how various nations made preparations, even as we do here, to market their wares to the arriving guests, putting on cultural shows, cuisine, etc.
I wonder what it would be like for a similar experience to occur right here.
Imagine a smaller sized, appropriate vessel cruising down to Long Island, then San Salvador, Exuma, Cat Island and Eleuthera. Maybe another destination can be thrown into the mix. Imagine tourists going directly on a cruise through these islands for a three-day period or more. Imagine each island putting out its wares, its native cuisine, special island drinks, scaled down Junkanoo, mini cultural events, not your typical straw market only, but interactive touristic shows, cultural music, dances, short plays, Bahamian hit cultural songs (Dogs Don't Bark... Party in Da Backyard, The Sailorman songs, etc.), old island story telling, tours to the nearest beaches, entertainment of various sorts to welcome and invite touristic participation and spending. Imagine the renaissance, the showcasing, "hopscotch", "ring a ring a roses" and other native and almost ancient games being performed right before our eyes. Then overnighting (on the boat or in specially built and secured cabins) halfway up the island chain. Then after some native breakfast in the morning, continuing the same process.
Imagine our own inter-Family Island cruises. Now imagine it for both Bahamians and foreign tourists.
Imagine that while the first cruise is half way up the island chain, cruise number two commences, thus causing there to be two "cruise visitations" per island every week.
Imagine it being worth the cost, reasonable, without extravagant prices to encourage voluminous spending. Imagine the brochures with all the events, features of each island so that the tourist can budget according to each stop. Imagine each island competing to outdo the other island. Not necessarily for the express purpose of competition, but for the express purpose of ensuring attractive, highly appealing, entertaining events to ensure tourist participation, enjoyment and, ultimately, spending. Imagine photo taking with the MP and the local magistrates as standard features, national historical sites, etc.
Imagine the thousands of T-shirts, of various and endless sorts of advertising for each island, advertising their unique features and attractions, quotes, etc.
Imagine the myriad water sports activities, or two hour of sports fishing; imagine a one or two hour bus tour of the island. Imagine, imagine. Imagine the multiplicity of attractions that each island can come up with.
Imagine the ad on national and international TV- showcasing this adventure. Imagine less hundreds of thousands of dollars spent abroad and much of that being deposited in our family islands.... Imagine!
Imagine the government, private investors in and outside of The Bahamas getting together to make this feasible -- because it is!
I myself would love and be excited to go on a three or four-day cruise to various islands in The Bahamas. I have never been to Long Island, Acklins, San Salvador and other southern islands. Never been to Mangrove Cay, Fresh Creek Andros. What an awesome opportunity for the average Bahamian to become familiar with their own country.
Imagine the economic boom to be had. Good planning, reasonable costs for travel, products sold and activities engaged in, and there you have it -- fly or cruise to The Bahamas then cruise in The Bahamas.
Editor, I have a natural proclivity to think and write as other ideas come. So I put my pen down and invite the community to imagine and engage -- imaginatively first, then act "did-it-ly"!
John Lennon might just be proud!

Love my country,

- "Dr. B"

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A response to The Graduate

August 14, 2017

Dear Editor,

I regularly read letters to the editor written by The Graduate. Even though I sometimes disagree with The Graduate's views, I enjoy reading his letters because they are always well-written, and I almost always learn something.
Recently, The Graduate took issue with views that I espoused on civil unions and homosexual marriage in a letter to the editor. I'm surprised that The Graduate did not faithfully interact with and respond to what I actually wrote. Therefore, I would appreciate space to respond and call The Graduate to answer me in a more careful and thoughtful manner, if he so chooses.
The Graduate conveniently did not respond to my comments in which I pointed out that it is illogical and inconsistent to support the right of some adults to enter legal homosexual unions while at the same time denying the same right to other adults who wish to enter other kinds of legal unions, like polygamy. So I ask The Graduate: Since you support redefining marriage to accommodate homosexuals, how can you deny other consenting adults from entering into whatever marriage contract they wish: polygamous, incestuous, polyamorous or otherwise? By denying them, are you not infringing on the rights of another set of minorities? Please tell me.
The Graduate wrote: "The Pastor tries the cheap shot about incestuous gay marriage, but we need remind him that we already have laws about incest and exploitation of minors."
I never referred to minors. All of my comments and examples referred to consenting adults. Therefore, I now pose the same questions to The Graduate: If unrelated adult homosexuals should be allowed to marry, why shouldn't an adult father be able to marry his adult son, or an adult mother be able to marry her adult daughter, so long as they all consent? And what about all of them marrying each other in a foursome incestuous, polygamous marriage? Why would you oppose them? Please answer.
I understand The Graduate's frustration over my question about adult incestuous homosexual marriage. He calls it a cheap shot because, if he is consistent, he is forced to support adult incestuous homosexual marriage in the same manner that he supports adult non-incestuous homosexual marriage. But The Graduate is not consistent. He conveniently waives morality to support adult non-incestuous homosexual marriage, then he surprisingly invokes morality to oppose adult incestuous homosexual marriage. So I ask The Graduate: On what logical basis can one do that?
In advancing his support for homosexual marriage, The Graduate referred to what he calls "the constitutionally guaranteed right of every citizen to associate with whomever they please". Clearly, he is referencing Article 24(1) of the Constitution. But does Article 24(1) give a right to marriage? Here is what Article 24(1) says: "Except with his consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of peaceful assembly and association, that is to say, his right to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to political parties, or to form or belong to trade unions or other association for the protection of his interests."
The plain language of Article 24(1) guarantees every citizen the right to assemble freely and associate with whomever they please, but it gives no citizen a right to marry. Only activist lawyers and judges would conclude otherwise and read into Article 24(1) a right to marry, all in their quest to create a special right for homosexuals to marry.
Last year, Dame Anita Allen, president of the Court of Appeal, spoke at the eighth annual Eugene Dupuch Distinguished Lecture. She chose to speak on the topic "Law in a changing society: reconstructing marriage." I would not be surprised if The Graduate was present. To my mind, Dame Anita's judicial activism for homosexual marriage was on full display in her comments about a possible constitutional right to homosexual marriage. She stated: "While it is acknowledged that the existence of the right to marry in the Bahamian Constitution is not expressly stated, it is arguable that the right is subsumed in a few of the fundamental rights enumerated in it, consistent with the reasoning of the U.S. Supreme Court in the recent case of Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell et al v. Hodges, Director Ohio Department of Health et al."
Dame Anita acknowledged that in the Bahamian Constitution "our fundamental rights provisions do not contain a specific right to family life or to the pursuit of happiness." However, she quickly added that, "our Constitution, like the U.S. Constitution, contains other fundamental rights, such as equal protection of the law; protection of privacy; protection of freedom of religion; and protection of the freedom to associate, which the U.S. Supreme Court also considered, and determined there was a constitutional right to marry in the U.S." She then uttered this most telling statement: "It is therefore not outside the realm of possibility that some courageous and astute Bahamian advocate might succeed in convincing a court that the right to marry is located in one or more of the aforementioned fundamental rights."
Dame Anita's statement left me wondering why she felt the need to describe the kind of lawyer who could possibly be successful in convincing a Bahamian court that our Constitution does indeed contain a right to marry. I wondered: Why does that lawyer have to be courageous and astute if a constitutional right to marry does, in fact, exist in our Constitution? Why couldn't any trained lawyer do so if in fact our Constitution does contain a right to marry?
I've concluded that what Dame Anita was essentially saying is that the lawyer trying to convince a court that our Constitution contains a right to marry will have to be courageous and astute, because such a right does not exist in our Constitution. It has to be legally fabricated, courageously and astutely. Therefore, that lawyer must courageously maintain a straight face as he or she astutely uses foreign judgements from liberal judges and engages in legal gymnastics to try to convince a court to believe that a right to marry exists in our Constitution, even though no such right, in fact, exists.
I could go on responding to The Graduate's letter, but I must conclude. The Graduate concluded his letter with a question from Dr. Phil. I conclude mine with a statement from Scripture: "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." [Romans 1:24-27, NIV].

- Pastor Cedric Moss

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Former M.P. Pierre Dupuch comments on Bahamas healthcare system.

August 11, 2017

Dear Editor,

Many moons ago when I was a freshman studying economics at St. John's University, my professor, Fr. Martin, walked into the classroom and said, "Open your books and write this down. The definition of economics is the allocation of scarce resources among competing needs and wants."
Over the past sixty years I have seen successive governments run this country contrary to the basic rule of economics, the allocation of scarce resources among competing needs and wants. In 1982 Sir Kendal Isaacs appointed me the shadow minister of health in the House of Assembly. From there for ten years I watched the then government whittle away scarce money with no rhyme or reason. Since then I have seen successive governments do the same thing in the healthcare system -- waste public funds.
I suggested then that the government should buy well-equipped ambulances for each Family Island. This would make healthcare mobile, far less expensive and more efficient. So if a person in south Eleuthera had a chest pain, the ambulance would go there, hook the person up electronically and transmit the patient's vital signs to the main hospital in Nassau.
This information would be interpreted by a specialist who would instruct the operator how to treat the patient. If it showed indigestion, the patient would be told to take two Tums and go home. If, however, it indicated a pending heart attack, the specialist would instruct the operator what to do to stabilize the patient and fly him/her to Nassau for further treatment.
In those days the most difficult part of this operation would have been electronic transmission. I said then that I was sure the Americans, who had bases throughout the islands, would be glad to cooperate and lend their facilities.
With the invention of cell phones, transmission is no longer a problem. The problem is the lack of common sense.
X-ray machines are now manufactured to fold up and fit in the back of a car; medical information and scans can be recorded on machines that look like a cell phone. Why are we investing in all of these inoperative, expensive and inefficient monuments that look great and serve as photo opportunities for the politicians?
This is not rocket science. It is done every day in the United States. An ambulance is called to the scene, the patient's vital signs are immediately transmitted to the emergency room of a nearby hospital, and a specialist gives the operator instructions as to how to treat the patient.
Some time ago I visited one of these state-of-the-art hospitals, which had recently been built on a Family Island. It was beautiful. It looked like a hotel. The most expensive lights were used for its vast parking lot. The entrance would make Baha Mar look sick. The operating room was grand with state-of-the-art equipment in it. The x-ray equipment was the best money could buy. There were at least two-dozen beds. There were desks and telephones on at least twelve administrative desks. There was at least one-thousand square feet for "expansion".
Sounds great! Looks great! Great photo op! But how much did it cost and how effective is it? There was no x-ray technician to operate the state-of-the-art x-ray machine. There were no surgeons to operate. The patient beds were empty. A small room was crowded with patients getting medications.
Allocation of scarce resources or show? This cost millions of dollars of the people's money.
To operate it takes at least four persons: the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and at least two nurses. This is a minimum. Was the government planning to fly these people in from Nassau? Did the government expect these highly qualified people to stay on the small island where their skills are seldom needed? Or would it make more sense to fly the patient to Nassau where he/she would be treated by highly competent specialists?
For an operation the question is simple, fly four qualified persons to use the state-of-the-art facility on the island or fly one patient here? Which choice would be the allocation of scarce resources? It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that one out!
The choice is yours. A well-equipped ambulance, which is essentially a mobile medical facility with the back-up services of specialists in Nassau, or an expensive, beautiful, non-operative hospital?
My advice is to follow the definition of economics and you will not go wrong.
Note: Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis appears to be doing a great job. Keep it up. But some recent appointments show that the present government may inadvertently find itself in some conflict of interest situations, which they will live to regret.

- Pierre V. L. Dupuch

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Former BNFC chairman responds to Paul Thompson

August 11, 2017

Dear Editor,

Mr. Paul Thompson (a native of Trinidad), in a recent episode of Love 97's "Issues of the Day" and subsequently at his 90th birthday party, raised questions as to where The Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival money went, and why festivals in The Bahamas cost so much. He suggested that he would investigate "for free" where the money went. He further suggested that there has been no accountability and that Trinidad's carnival costs way less than ours.
The Bahamas National Festival Commission (BNFC) has always been transparent and accountable in the manner in which it has conducted its business, with all accounting records and files available for full review by anyone interested in carrying out such reviews. In fact, the accounts of the BNFC are independently audited, and those audit reports are also available for review at the discretion of the government.
On the suggestion that Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival costs more than Trinidad's carnival, a Google search reveals that the government of Trinidad and Tobago spent over $131,000,000 over the past three years, compared with the Bahamas government's carnival-related spend of approximately $25,300,000 over the same period. The Bahamas' spend, even in start-up mode, was only 19 percent of what Trinidad spent over the past three years.
In keeping with its mandate, the BNFC reduced the net cost to the government each year with a view toward a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement, where the government subsidy would be reduced to an absolute minimum.
As with any other business, the initial start-up cost was high to ensure brand recognition and product acceptance. Bahamian small and medium businesses benefitted tremendously from the carnival, as they were the major beneficiaries of the expenditure, which no doubt expanded and diversified the local cultural sector.
The investment was a good one, which established The Bahamas on the international calendar of festivals in a record three years. Bahamians and foreigners have embraced Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival beyond our initial expectations.
It should be noted also that the two cases of fraud that surfaced involving around $40,000 were immediately turned over to the police and the persons involved are still before the courts.

- Paul Major, former BNFC chairman

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Have they no shame

August 11, 2017

Dear Editor,

I have learned to expect very little from the PLP party leadership, but the ramblings of Freddy and Brave, although comical at times, have become bewildering, to say the least. One could make the argument that they are trying to appeal to their party base, but that would be an insult to a considerable cross-section of the electorate. Surely the PLP base is not as asinine as these two "leaders" would have us believe. I cannot say that I have ever respected either of these two men, but the fact that they are relevant in any way, shape or form in our country is the true tragedy in our current political arena. Free speech, often a shield for lunatics, has its place in a free society, but enough is enough. The PLP has many bridges to cross in the years to come, and hopefully one of them will be back into reality. Racism, fear mongering, subversion of the truth and blatant corruption have no place in a country seeking to move forward. It is my hope that we shake off the clammy grip of ignorance that these two men spew daily, and press on, steady sunward.

- Sheeprunner

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A response to The Graduate

August 11, 2017

Dear Editor,

The Graduate closes his or her letter to Pastor Cedric Moss, with the question, "How's that working for you?" Ironically, this is the question asked by many regarding same-sex civil unions and exactly what they produce or contribute to an ongoing society.
It can be said at the outset of this letter that those unions do not produce offspring. I have no problem with those who want to be in such unions demanding a legal framework that allows them to do as they please with their lives and possessions, but for myself and the majority of Bible-toters like me in the world, that is where their rights stop. They cannot speak for what they do not produce.
The equality argument that we continue to hear from politicians and gay rights activists is based on the assumption that there is an equality in the perception of who people think they are. The assumption is fatally flawed, because it has nothing to support it and there is no historical or scientific documentation that informs us of same-sex unions producing offspring. I acknowledge that they are able to adopt and care for people with an empathy that some Christians lack, but they can never be equal in terms of the responsibility of bringing children into the world. Perhaps it is a responsibility that can be assumed, however, it cannot lead to equality by any means, legislative or otherwise.
The preceding sentence bears the seeds of a paradigm that fuels the discussions taking place in the real world, as unions that produce offspring are formulating in their minds how to deal with persons and groups that do not have this responsibility, setting rules for those who do. This may be a sobering reality for the LGBTQIA crowd, as even the feminists are disengaging themselves from the movement. There have been a couple of local conferences sponsored by the United Nations that are making an attempt to indoctrinate teachers in the MOE that this thinking is normal. There was one in particular that had the title of "Saving our young boys", which was actually a misrepresentation. It turned out to be a seminar on protecting young women from abusive men and bashing men in the process.
If we are to survive, we must get the questions right. If the questions are not right, the intentional confusion created by writers such as The Graduate will be seen as factual by those who are seeking answers as they attempt to address the issue of tolerance. The irony continues as those who claim to be tolerant are proved (by what they write and promote) to be more intolerant than the most bigoted Christians among us.

- Edward Hutcheson

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All are not equal in Pastor Moss' eyes

August 10, 2017

Dear Editor,

I think the good Pastor Cedric Moss needs to be reminded that we are a secular state that separates the affairs of Caesar from the affairs of God. The Constitution does not, however, preclude voluntary collaboration between church and state for the common good, such as in state support for schools operated by religious groups.
The preamble to the Constitution recognizes our abiding respect for Christian values, while making it crystal clear in Article 22 that Bahamians have a right to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.
Because he is a man of God, I have no problem with Pastor Moss defending his territory and holding firm to his religion's teachings on marriage. He would know, however, that while his church gives him the right to perform marriages, if the celebrants want to have their marriage legally recognized, he must be a state-licensed marriage officer and they must first apply to the government for a marriage licence.
The Pastor conveniently forgets that marriages and civil unions are legal contracts. The state gives many people the right to enter them and like any other civil contract only a judge can dissolve them. You can go to your pastor for marriage counseling but you must ask a judge to get a divorce.
If Pastor Moss acknowledges these facts then he would quickly see that his objection to a recent newspaper editorial on civil unions was an empty sermon.
The law does not require ministers of religion to marry anyone who does not hold to the tenets of their church. But the same law seems to imply that a judge or magistrate or duly constituted marriage officer has no "moral exemption" escape and therefore must marry anyone who presents a licence.
In my humble opinion, the editorial took a very humanistic approach to the constitutionally-guaranteed right of every citizen to associate with whomever they please. The Pastor tries the cheap shot about incestuous gay marriage but we need remind him that we already have laws about incest and exploitation of minors.
What many people forget is that as with any contract there are rights and privileges, financial obligations and penalties that automatically come with civil unions and marriages.
The law even recognizes sui juris or common law marriage, something that dates back to ancient Roman and Greek civilizations. Back then marriages were private agreements between individuals and their families. Neither state nor church took part in these ceremonies and there was no civil register.
Canon law gave us what we now know as marriage, albeit the common law form is still practiced all over the world today. In fact, up until this year some jurisdictions in the United States were still practicing these so-called "marriage by habit and repute".
Marriages and civil unions continue to evolve. In England 174,600 of the 247,000 marriages performed five years ago were civil, not religious. And this is a country that has an official religion, the Church of England.
Those 349,000 people joined in civil ceremonies are as legally married as the 156,000 people who got married in churches, synagogues and mosques. The law makes no distinction and not a single pastor in England got his knickers in a twist about it.
But in the eyes of Pastor Moss and others it is anathema to even suggest civil unions. Beaming with confidence from last year's referendum implosion, Pastor Moss wants the voters to decide on civil unions; but the rights of minorities should not be infringed, even by the majority.
If we accept, like many other democratic societies do, that marriages and civil unions are legal contracts, then surely the door is open for an aggrieved party to sue the government for the right to have her or his partnership recognized by the state.
A former Chief Justice has already hinted that this matter will eventually be dragged across the court-house door and will have to be looked at through the impartial lens of the Constitution, not the stained-glass windows of a church.
As for Pastor's Moss' contention that marriage is the only legitimate context for sexual relations, allow me to quote Dr. Phil: "How's that working for you?"

- The Graduate

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Have they no shame

August 10, 2017

Dear Editor,

I have learned to expect very little from the PLP party leadership, but the ramblings of Freddy and Brave, although comical at times, have become bewildering to say the least. One could make the argument that they are trying to appeal to their party base, but that would be an insult to a considerable cross section of the electorate. Surely the PLP base is not as asinine as these two "leaders" would have us believe. I cannot say that I have ever respected either of these two men, but the fact that they are relevant in any way, shape or form in our country is the true tragedy in our current political arena. Free speech, often a shield for lunatics, has its place in a free society, but enough is enough. The PLP has many bridges to cross in the years to come, and hopefully one of them will be back into reality. It is my hope that we shake off the clammy grip of ignorance that these two men spew daily, and press on, steady sunward.

- Sheeprunner

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Carnival accountability

August 10, 2017

Dear Editor,

For serval years now, but to no avail, I have been requesting that the former government have a forensic audit done on the failed Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival (aka somebody else's culture), and now I am calling on the Minnis administration to have a forensic report done on behalf of the Bahamian people and the cultural community.
I am so ashamed and disappointed in the former Prime Minister Perry Christie, the former Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe and the former Minister Of Youth Sports and Culture Danny Johnson. Johnson who these days is trying to reinvent and distance himself from the gang of garbage men he hung out with for the past five years.
These three men are on record promising that thier 'Junkanoo Carnival' would be a Bahamian event, yet they sold us out for a foreign carnival festival, they allowed their families friends, and lovers to use this licentious festival to misappropriate over twenty million dollars of the people's money. Monies that could have been used to truly further the arts and culture industry in The Bahamas and give our visitors a further reason to come over and partake in an authentic Bahamian experience.
I am calling for accountability and retribution across the board. Those who were a part of the Bahamas National Festival Commission used our Bahamian artisans and paid them scraps. Where has the bulk of our money gone? No one knows. The Bahamian musicians and entertainers at the time should have banded together and said no to those miscreants who chose to divide and conquer all of them, the entertainers took the crumbs offered and sat small, while the foreign entertainers went back to their countries with their pockets loaded. We need to man and woman up, grow backbones and stop selling your souls for a little attention; "United We Stand, Divided We Fall".
The Bahamian people saw through the former government's ruse of a carnival and voted them into oblivion. PM Minnis, please take heed and do not make the same mistake. I call on the current government to bring those who have betrayed our trust to justice, get back the people's monies, and where needed, have the guilty culprits jailed, over twenty plus million dollars taken out of the treasury and nothing to show for it, three failed carnivals back to back to back. The Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival should not be allowed to continue and should not receive another dime from the people's coffers until we find out where our monies have gone, every cent that was invested into this foreign festival needs to be accounted for.
A team needs to be assembled to audit and investigate what happened to the funds allocated to this Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival Ponzi scheme, The Bahamian public is watching, and the government that stands up for the people, will be rewarded by the people.
Let the shoe shine man shine shoes, let the accountant count, and let those in the business of music and entertainment, produce and direct entertainment, not again should thieves be allowed to run free in the temple, shame those who do wrong and show no remorse for their wrong doings, there is no excuse for breaking the trust of those they swore to serve.

- Kirkland H. Bodie
musician/producer/activist

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