Letters

The gay agenda

January 18, 2017

Dear Editor,

Quite interesting how the Christian community is so concerned that the government of the day, and the United Nations, might have a gay agenda. It's time for Christians to face the truth. Christianity is the gay agenda.
The gay race has controlled the church since King James commissioned the King James version of the Bible to be written in 1611 and gave copies to his many male lovers. The straight race hasn't controlled the church since the Inquisition and the tragic voyage of discovery in 1492 - twin disasters from which we are still recovering. The closest thing to true Christianity right now is the Westboro Baptist Church, and its days are numbered.
You see, Christianity died in The Bahamas in 1979 when Bob Marley came to town. That's when Bahamians realized we don't have to believe in a Euro-Christian god. We don't have to believe in Euro-Jesus. We don't have to believe in anything at all.
But not to worry. Christianity will always be with us. As long as there is ignorance, poverty and disenfranchised youth in crisis mode, people will always need an invisible something or other in which to believe. True Christianity is ready for a big return. One group of Christian leaders is condemning gay people to hell while an Anglican priest is implying that all black Bahamians are breeders. (It's the 21st century but we're still a plantation nation.) In the mean time, a Christian cult has taken over the civil service and is refusing to allow women with breasts to register to vote. I guess the old saying is true: The poor go for God.

- Kirk Catalano

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A case of racial hypocrisy

January 18, 2017

Dear Editor,

I'm writing this letter on January 15, 2017, a day that has been set aside around the world as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.
As I thought about the sanctity of all human life, regardless of the circumstances of their conception or the extent of their illness, I could not help but think about and reflect on Archdeacon James Palacious' "black people breed too much" comment. I'm quite surprised that all the loud voices that lambasted Richard Lightbourn for his far milder and civil comments were curiously silent about Palacious' blatantly racial and misconceived comment about black people. In my view, their silence is a case of racial hypocrisy.
For those who have short memories (or no memory) of what Lightbourn said, I will remind them. After pointing out that "many young women have five and six children, many of whom are born out of wedlock" and "many of the fathers of those children have little involvement in the child's upbringing either emotional or financial", and the fact that "the laws of our country and the legal system is such that the father is not likely to be compelled to assist financially in the upbringing of the child", Lightbourn went on to say that "an FNM government would introduce legislation which would enable a court to deduct from a father's paycheck an amount to be paid directly to the mother of the child, and in this way the father would consider carefully the consequences of having an unprotected relationship and in all likelihood reduce the number of children born in The Bahamas". Lightbourn then said: "It is also necessary for us as a nation to consider adopting the lead of several countries in the world which result in an unwed mother having her tubes tied after having more than two children, which would, in the end, result in fewer children being born."
Lightbourn is a lawyer, so fair-minded people knew that he was not proposing any program for Bahamian women to have their tubes tied involuntarily (because the constitution protects against women being forced to do so). But many people publicly pounced on Lightbourn and his comments. Therefore, in view of their silence about Palacious' "black people breed too much" comment, I'm left to conclude that Lightbourn was attacked primarily because he is white and the women within the scope of his comments are predominantly, if not exclusively, black. It is a case of racial hypocrisy.
How can those who objected to Lightbourn's comments say nothing about Palacious wrongly broad-brushing the reproductive habits of black people, likening us to animals, by saying "black people breed too much"? I was forced to look up the meaning of "breed", and none of the dictionaries I consulted connected the verb to humans. They connected it to animals. I imagine that a dictionary from the era of the transatlantic slave trade might describe "breed" as forced sexual intercourse between slaves to produce slaves.
Palacious was wrong to broad-brush sexual reproduction among blacks, and he was wrong to use the word "breed" to describe it. But he is also wrong in his understanding of the problem that he addressed. The problem in our country of people having more children than they can afford has more to do with socio-economics than race. So it is a simplistic approach to the problem to say "black people breed too much" and verbally demean and try to shame them into having less children.
I find it ironic that Palacious made his infamous comment at the PLP's majority rule rally. I believe he would have done better to decry the sad fact that after 50 years of so-called majority rule we still have communities that are steeped in a vicious cycle of poverty that produces generations of women who have too many children for too many men outside of wedlock. And he should have decried the fact that they are, to some extent, victims of governmental neglect through poor education, governmental waste through unaccountable social welfare, and governmental abuse through laws that hurt the poor, like the legalization of webshop gambling and consumption-based taxation, like VAT and customs duty.
As I wrote previously concerning Richard Lightbourn's comment, Palacious' comment provides us with yet another great opportunity to have a national conversation about sexual conduct, the responsibility of fathers and traditional marriage. The truth is that we as a society need to affirm in word and deed that marriage is the only legitimate context for sexual relations and the birth of children. If such an affirmation is broadly embraced in our country, it will make for a better and stronger Bahamas, morally and socio-economically.

- Pastor Cedric Moss

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It's time for a change

January 18, 2017

Dear Editor,

Proverbs 14:34, "Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people."
How long will it take our beloved prime minister to realize that it's time for a change? How long will it take the Progressive Liberal Party to realize that it's time for a change in its leadership?
I can say with certainty the country has realized that it's time for a change of political leadership in The Bahamas. If Perry Christie and the PLP need to be convinced of the need for an urgent change in political leadership at this time, here are a few reasons:
1. It is the best kept secret in The Bahamas that the prime minister is always late. But of late, things have come to an unbelievably, unbearably, embarrassingly chronic level; so much so that we have ceased to expect that Parliament will begin on time, for at least once, during this current administration.
2. It took almost 15 years to table the National Health Insurance Bill in Parliament, and under this administration it will take forever to implement a workable National Health Insurance scheme.
3. It took eight years for the PLP, under the leadership of Christie, to hold the party's constitutional annual convention. (I was once a member for 60 years). The fact that Christie is getting older, and a little slower, under his leadership it will take at least another 16 years, if at all, to host another convention.
4. After 50 years of majority rule it took this administration, under the present leadership, literally days before the golden anniversary of majority rule to discover its incredible importance to the Bahamian people, and that it was important to march on that day. Two thousand and seventeen was the fourth anniversary of majority rule as a national holiday. There was never a national march. Thank God for We March Bahamas for awakening this government out of its Rip Van Winkle-like sleep.
5. We are literally only weeks before the next constitutionally mandated general election must be called, and yet the constituency boundaries commission is unable to report to Parliament. Let us pray there is not another hurricane before May, because the election would definitely be postponed, indefinitely.
I could go on, and on, and on, but suffice it to say, the Bahamian people are tired of the blatant abuse of power by our prime minister and can't wait for "the bell" to ring so that we could "get it on". The longer he waits, the more desperate and indignant the people will become. I have not yet participated in any of the We March events, but given the present circumstances I can't wait for the next march. By God's grace I plan to march and I encourage all Gatekeepers to do the same.

- Pastor Jeremiah Duncombe

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Milo Butler Backs Bahamas Red Cross and HeadKnowles Hurricane Matthew Relief Efforts

January 18, 2017

Bahamians still impacted by the effects of Hurricane Matthew will benefit from a recent donation by Milo Butler Distributors. The wholesale grocer partnered with the Bahamas Red Cross and the HeadKnowles Hurricane Relief Group giving food supplies valued at $10,000 to assist with continued relief efforts...

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I did not try to return

January 17, 2017

Dear Editor,
To avoid giving credence to the babble that sometimes masquerades as truth, I generally ignore misstatements and inaccurate statements in the media that deal with me.
But an assertion made by your editorial writer in this morning's paper (Monday, January 16, 2017) went beyond the pale. The editorial says: "Ingraham [and his supporters] gave serious consideration to a leadership bid at the FNM convention last year."
I cannot speak for what "supporters" may have done, but I never considered such a proposal.
On a weekly, if not daily, basis someone calls me by telephone or drops by to see me in my office to lament either the state of our country or the state of my party. Invariably they exhort me to reconsider my retirement from frontline politics.
I listen patiently and then repeat that my decision to retire from frontline politics following the defeat of my party at the 2012 general election is final.
I have never revisited the decision nor contemplated revisiting it. That is the truth, plain and simple.
I repeat for the benefit of your editorial writer, in the simplest language possible: I have retired from frontline politics. I have not sought nor considered returning to frontline politics since May 2012, and will not give the matter any further consideration.
I recall on more than one occasion reflecting publicly on the shelf life of politicians. My position is recorded in an interview I gave to the Bahamas Handbook in 2010. In that interview Tosheena Robinson-Blair recorded my words: "I only want to serve as long as the people of Abaco or the people of The Bahamas think I should serve.
"My departure now is, quite frankly, in the hands of the people. Whenever that time comes I would embrace it, accept it and express my gratitude. I won't be like other people, angry and vex. The public was very good to me. If they decide, 'Well Hubert, we had enough of you, time for you to go,' I'll say thank you very much."
I was privileged and honored to be chosen by the good people of North Abaco to represent them in the House of Assembly for 35 years. I was humbled and honored to be chosen by the Free National Movement to hold the position of leader for a total of 19 years.
I am grateful to the Bahamian people who made me prime minister of The Bahamas for 15 years in three non-consecutive terms in office. I accepted the verdict of the Bahamian electorate in May 2012. I am and will remain retired.

- Hubert A. Ingraham

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Unrighteous talk from the Venerable James Palacious

January 17, 2017

Dear Editor,
In the interest of fair play, the Venerable Archdeacon James Palacious needs to join Richard Lightbourn in the penalty box for his recent insensitive public outburst.
The archdeacon is familiar with the need for nuance and diplomatic language to sell complex or sensitive issues to a wide audience. He ascends the pulpit weekly to sell the miracle of a virgin birth, resurrection, transubstantiation and other such knotty articles of faith.
It was ironic then that he used the occasion of Majority Rule Day to lecture the 91 percent of the population, who are black, that their fertility rate is too high. Not content when this first land mine exploded around him, the reverend gentleman went further, linking the high birth rate of blacks with irresponsible social behavior, opening up a chicken-and-egg moral hazard.
His intentions may have been honorable, of course, but are hardly defensible. He came across as shaming one group of people and creating the impression that only blacks have too many babies they cannot afford. We are left to assume that he got this from a higher authority. Or that he is arrogant and judgmental.
If you whistle, I'll point to many white Bahamian women who have large families they cannot support and yet who continue their baby-making ways, in tandem with their black cousins (and sometimes even for their black paramours).
Of course, in raw numbers blacks outnumber whites, so it stands as fact that there are more black kids running around than white ones. And the poverty numbers are greater with blacks, but are no less severe or burdensome for whites.
As the old folks reminded us, catching hell ain't reserved for one color, only they substituted "hell" for a word better depicting the posterior of one's anatomy.
Teenage pregnancy is nothing new, neither are large families forged without the financial security of a two-parent household. In fact the church pews have for a long time been filled with large families. Back in the day, large families translated into many hands to work the farm or the family business and then to provide security in your golden years.
What the archdeacon did speak to was the gaming of the social safety net system by too many of our black and white neighbors. What was meant to be a last resort, courtesy of the taxpayer, has become for some an entitlement with children used as pawns to increase their haul in the Treasury rip-off game.
In the past it was the wider family, neighbors and, yes, the church who carried this burden for those with too many children that they couldn't feed, clothe, house, educate or otherwise support. Young girls who found themselves in a family way were sent to live with 'Mama dem' on the island.
No child must ever go to bed hungry in this country, of course. But we must ensure that our limited social service budget is not being exploited by the cold-hearted and, dare I say it, fraudsters, thugs, users and vagabonds disguised as parents.
The archdeacon, glaringly, didn't drop licks on the men who share parental responsibility for these babies. The establishment of paternity must be a pre-requisite for accessing non-life-threatening or life-sustaining social services.
Here's a novel idea that will cause great consternation among some church folk: Let's teach real sex education in public and religious schools - R.M. Bailey and C.R. Walker, as well as St. John's College and St. Andrew's. Let's give out birth control pills and condoms, along with prom gowns and tuxedos, if the parents agree.
Let's get parents and grandparents, teachers and preachers to take their collective heads out of the sand and stop the backward thinking that only black, or poor, or fast, or hardheaded and disobedient girls have babies they cannot afford or even want.
Let's have a healthy talk about sex. But let's add in poverty and class and privilege, and all skin colors, and opportunity and education and health and welfare.
We need Richard Lightbourn to rejoin the discussion, provided he leaves his tube-tying sutures at home. The archdeacon should come too, if he can control his solecism and, like Richard, atone for his indecorous language.

- The Graduate

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Sour grapes

January 17, 2017

Dear Editor,
Sour grapes?
Three months after Category 4 Hurricane Matthew passed through The Bahamas, Flamingo Gardens Park still has not been fully restored.
The fence by the softball field remains on the ground and both dugouts need to be rebuilt.
Contracts are being given out left, right and center by the Ministry of Works. Can't Dr. Daniel Johnson, who is the minister of youth, sports and culture intervene?
And by the way, Sir, even though your party did not see fit to offer you as a candidate in the upcoming 2017 general election, you are still the member of Parliament for the area. I hope this is not a case of sour grapes.

- Dehavilland Moss

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Concern for The Bahamas

January 16, 2017

Dear Editor,
Am I the only person who is deathly afraid?
I am concerned about the direction in which this country seems almost irreversibly to be headed. The latest Standard and Poor's report and consequent downgrade, the fourth downgrade in four years, despite all of the flowery language of the government in its own defense, simply means that we have been making too little and spending too much for too many years and it is all catching up with us.
Our problems are fundamental and point to our own inherent weaknesses as a people. We don't work hard enough; we don't create wealth; we don't save, and we spend too much.
We have little to no discipline or accountability in all our institutions - be they government, social, economic or religious. If we were children, the assessment would be that we need discipline, parents who don't let us have our way but who lead by example and tough love.
Our governments, unfortunately, have been a reflection of ourselves, lacking any real vision or courage and looking only to their survival and the next election. Therefore, they pander to our irrational and excessive desires in their quest to secure our approval of them for the next election. We have shown that we are not difficult to please, requiring only that they provide us hams and turkeys, give us government jobs and party celebrations when things really get tough. After all, is there anything a little food and rum, or a government contract, can't fix?
There seems to be a lack of courage, conviction or perhaps even desire on the part of our leaders to do what is right if there is any risk of it being unpopular. This is evident from the referenda which were brought to the people. In each case, there was no need to seek a referendum on any of the issues. The government and its leaders knew what should be done and sought to pass responsibility onto the people. Although our parliamentary system is modeled after the Westminster system in the United Kingdom, our prime minister, unlike David Cameron (who resigned after Brexit, a failed referendum/opinion poll similar to our gaming referendum), lacked the courage, conviction or perhaps the ability to do what was right and resign after two "failed" referenda.
This tendency to pass the buck and failure to lead is evident in the recent efforts for a National Development Plan. While the idea is laudable and it is good that it is being pursued, I believe that it is being used by the government to mask and excuse inaction. All of our leaders are aware of many of the things that need to be done and that discipline must be enforced, but are afraid to do the necessary for fear of losing popularity.
What is wrong?

Education
Our educational system is failing. Somehow we have come to accept grades of D or less as the norm. D is now a passing grade! Every year the educational systems churns out a new batch of functionally illiterate children who have only unrealistic hopes to hold on to. We claim that the answer to this is to move The College of The Bahamas to university status. Whilst this is admirable, our children in public primary and high schools do not have books, sufficiently compensated and motivated qualified teachers, a safe environment for learning and oftentimes lack electricity or water. When they go to their homes, the situation does not get any better. The policy of social promotion ensures that they will pass through the system whether they learn anything or not. What good is The University of The Bahamas to them?

Crime
Without a doubt, many of our young people are growing without a moral compass, an appreciation of right and wrong or a respect for human life. There is also a sense of hopelessness. For the first time in our history many children do not believe that their lives will be as prosperous as that of their parents'. The reality is that they will make less and own less. For some, the idea of owning their own homes is an implausible dream. We are now fearful of being on the streets at night and often alone in our own homes. The people committing these crimes are our own. They are us. How have we lost them?

Economy
Our almost complete reliance on banking and tourism has become a noose around our neck. Over the years we have taken too much for granted. Given the head start and advantages we have had in both areas, it pains me to see that we have fallen in comparison to many of our counterparts.
We have been unable to adapt to the times and to remold ourselves to meet the demands of an ever-changing market. When I completed university in the 70s, it was rare to find that students studying abroad did not want to come home. Often the only reasons they failed to return was because of marriage to a foreigner or pursuing a career for which there was little or no opportunity in The Bahamas. Now our young ones have no desire to return home if they can find any employment at all abroad. We often lament what we believe is a loss of nationalism. However, I believe it is more concrete than that. The truth was that back then we believed that the economic opportunities for us in The Bahamas were as good as they were anywhere else. That belief has been shattered.
We still import more than 90 percent of what we consume.
Where we are now is not the singular fault of the PLP or the FNM. They both bear responsibility. This country has been gradually deteriorating for years. Successive governments have sought to shift responsibility for the steady degeneration by blaming the other party or masking it by absorbing the loss, increasing expenditure, becoming employer of last resort and borrowing heavily to staunch the hemorrhaging. The problem is that we now have to pay the piper.
The present government, when in opposition, blamed the increase in crime on the then FNM government and even placed billboards prior to the election prominently in high-traffic areas where the same were viewed by tourists. Now that they are in power, they say that the issue is too big to blame on any one party or government.
We say that we abide by the Westminster system but, in truth, we honor it in the breach. By convention, when things go wrong, or a situation is not corrected, someone has to take responsibility. Taking responsibility does not mean that I am a bad person or a failure; in fact it is the sign of a honorable man. At one time, it went without saying. Remember the PVC pipes fiasco? How can those who minister over education, crime or the economy hold themselves out as successes? Now we believe that everything is a matter of message, how you spin it. I note that the present government says that the problem is only in getting their message out. That the people do not understand what good they do.
We now have politicians who have learned to manipulate a gullible and trusting public. We believe that someone is a good MP, minister, party leader or prime minister simply because the party machinery has said so. Recent events within both the PLP and the FNM illustrate that the party machinery is often more influenced by personal agendas rather than the common good. The belief is that there is no absolute right or wrong, but, because of the electoral system, right is determined by what numbers you can convince. I disagree. Right and wrong are not a matter only of perception or a numbers game. As Henry David Thoreau said: "One man right is a majority of one."
One opposition politician some months ago made the comment that we are worse off now than we were in 1967. I waited with bated breath to see the reaction. Surprisingly, notwithstanding his repeating this on at least two other occasions, no one bothered either to refute this or to comment on the effect of this if it is true. I often wonder if he himself understood the full implications of this statement, bearing in mind that his party shares responsibility. It is just an example of how numb we have become. Whether his observation is strictly correct or not will be the subject of healthy debate. However, the point that he was making - i.e., that we are in a sad situation - is not for dispute.
An election approaches shortly and supposedly we have a choice between PLP and FNM each with their leader. For some time I have held the belief that it is a false choice. Neither party shows any real vision or the moral fortitude to do what needs to be done. Neither party's leadership shows the strength or will to take the necessary measures without fear of losing the next election. Neither party's leadership has shown any real interest in getting us out of this morass.
I understand the frustration that drove Branville McCartney to start the DNA (which was the only successful effort to challenge the monopoly of the PLP and FNM by contesting every seat); Gregory Moss to create the UPM; that created The Gatekeepers; that spearheaded Alfred Sears' bold campaign to take over the PLP; that gave way to the We March organization and events; that caused the newly minted Dissident 7 from the FNM; and which caused voter registration to be lower than it has been since the country got the majority vote. It is a recognition that we cannot survive doing business as usual.
We all know that something is drastically wrong. We also know that the present system of successive PLP and FNM administrations is doing precious little to solve our problems. Unfortunately, because of our deterioration and the persons we presently have as our "servants", our standards have sunk so low that we believe that anybody can do it. That anyone can be prime minister, minister, MP or senator, and now "anyone" wants to be.
We ourselves have become unthinking. We let others do our thinking for us and grab on only to headlines without concern for the details or any analysis beneath the surface. One reason for this may be our fear and a feeling of hopelessness; or quite simply, the pervasive laziness that has afflicted us as a people.
This is no time for petty divisions. Quite frankly, political identification means nothing to me. It really is all meaningless when you look at the obstacles and risks we now face. The truth is that there is little difference between the FNM and the PLP, philosophically or in practice, and we are forced to decide on the lesser of two evils. In the result, we move between the two each time hoping that one will miraculously change and bring us something they never did before. We need to find a way to put our differences and egos behind us, address what really ails us and do what is necessary to extract ourselves from the mire in which we are sinking.
We need a government which will attract our best and our brightest. A government not afraid of intelligence and competence, but who will instead encourage these qualities; a government with sufficient courage and conviction that is prepared to do what is right, even if "right" is not popular; one without ego and prepared to admit when it is wrong and to accept responsibility. We need a government which can encourage and inspire our most capable leaders both in the public and the private sectors and who will in turn not cater to petty jealousies and allow our greatest minds to express themselves and serve.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. We need a "unity" government in which all sectors of the population can be represented. We need persons to serve not because of some claim to entitlement, but because they have something to offer us, who are not afraid to admit when they cannot do the job and are willing and able to surrender their positions, should this be the case. We have too many people now in government who feel forced to compromise on principle because they cannot afford to lose their positions. I am not saying only rich people should serve, but I do believe that no one should run who cannot afford to walk away on principle. Our earlier history abounds with people who, though not rich, took a principled stand even to their financial detriment. Carlton Francis is perhaps the foremost example of this.
We do have people in this country who are capable of this. This is where I challenge us to see beyond our limitations. For years, we have heralded majority rule, which really we interpreted as black government. In previous years, although black people were the majority, a minority white population through various devices controlled the vote in The Bahamas. The crucial feature of majority rule is one man one vote, and the determination of the government and institutions of the country by a majority of the citizens (comprised of white and black people). Contrary to what many of our present leaders would assert, it does not necessarily mean an all-black government, nor even does it mean a majority black government. The emphasis is that it is a government freely chosen by we, the people. We have this "bogeyman" our leaders have maintained through the years called "White Bay Street" meant to symbolize our oppressors. This was necessary in 1967. Is this still necessary, or can we now see ourselves as Bahamians who are black, white and in between? Can we see that the problems we encounter today are of our own making? That our "oppressors" today look just like us? Or perhaps the dire straits in which we find ourselves necessitate that we stop catering to petty jealousies?
If you were to ask most of the intelligent and educated people in this country whether the best person to lead such a government was Brent Symonette the response would be fairly consistent. They would acknowledge that yes, he, a former deputy prime minister, is probably one of the savviest persons we have with the requisite experience in politics, government, business and law. He is intelligent and possesses keen judgment and intellect and a sense of compassion. He is financially independent and therefore less likely to be tempted by opportunities for personal gain in a leadership capacity. He has shown that he can and will walk away where principle and convention so dictate. He is probably best able to command the respect of the diverse talents (both black and white) this country has and desperately needs to come to the fore.
Yet, these same educated and intelligent people will tell you, despite our supposed enlightenment and equality, he is white and the Bahamian people will never accept a white man especially one whose father led the old UBP regime. How horribly ironic that we eschew a competent, and arguably the best, candidate this country has to lead it because of his color. Is it 2017 or 1967? Was the Quiet Revolution for naught? Can we finally be true to our motto "Forward, Upward, Onward Together"?

- Luther H. McDonald

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A golden opportunity squandered

January 13, 2017

Dear Editor,
January 10, 2017 marked the golden anniversary of Majority Rule in The Bahamas. Today my heart is terribly pained. It is aching to the point of virtually breaking - the reason being we have carelessly, recklessly and sacrilegiously squandered a golden opportunity.
For some mysterious reason known only to God, we have effectively dismantled one of the greatest national opportunities available to us in 50 years. We all accept the truths that "in unity there is strength" and "a house divided against itself cannot stand", but somehow because of a perceived need to gain some political advantage we have squandered a golden opportunity.
God must be shaking his head in disbelief. But yes, it has happened. On Tuesday, January 10, 2017, Bahamians squandered a golden opportunity to unite at a time when unity might have been the catalyst to prevent The Bahamas from plunging over the national precipice to an inevitable destruction. I have prayerfully spent considerable time contemplating whether I could have done more to prevent this national catastrophic tragedy of disunity experienced on Tuesday, January 10, 2017.
The call to unity was outrightly rejected. The call to come together in prayer and thanksgiving was ignominiously ignored by our leaders. The Bible says "fear not", but my heart is fearful for my country's future and the future of my children and grandchildren. So please forgive me if in the future I do some things that appear to be out of character; it would be because I am afraid for the future of my country and my descendants.
Thus, like Martin Luther of the Protestant reformation, I declare, "Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me."
- Pastor Jeremiah Duncombe, leader, The Gatekeepers

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Churches and national development

January 13, 2017

Dear Editor,
Over the past decade I have been watching the steady proliferation of churches throughout The Bahamas. This is particularly evident in the capital of Nassau, the island suffering most from social unrest, violence, poverty and poor educational development.
While I find no issues with the increases made within the religious community, I must, however, admonish them to do more within their immediate communities. After all, The Bahamas was founded on Christian principles.
Based on my current observation, churches nowadays seem to be larger-than-life edifices used solely for Sunday worship and closed throughout the week, as if the Sabbath was the only day for worship.
These days, you can't seem to travel two blocks within an inner city and not observe a massive church or the groundbreaking of one in the making. Think about this for a second: All churches contain a cross section of the community with a plethora of qualifications and skillsets inter alia (teachers, nurses, doctors, tradesman, business owners and accountants). Why not use this massive resource pool to assist in providing a much-needed assistance throughout the immediate communities, a few days of the week?
Consider this: An afterschool program for three hours a day (one member per hour) could provide an invaluable resource to help already struggling communities battling the grips of crime, poverty and poor education levels. Churches can, need and must do more to assist. After all, was it not Jesus who entered the temple of sinners to teach the gospel? Why not the church? A perfect example of how a church could assist a community would be the Great Commission Ministries lead by Bishop Walter Hanchell. This church, in my view, epitomizes community assistance, based on its ongoing commitment and service to helping those in need. Every opportunity I get, I do my best to assist this organization, because they truly make a difference not only in Christian ministry, but in the development of the community as well.
Imagine if 50 percent of the churches within The Bahamas dedicated their time, efforts and bountiful resources (i.e., the congregations) to mirror the efforts of Great Commission Ministries, the country would see immediate changes overnight. Regardless of affiliation, both political and religious, we all can agree that the country must take immediate steps to deviate from its current trajectory, and who better to lead the charge than the church?
With this, I send a clarion call to all churches and their many members to initiate much-needed afterschool and adult development seminars using their knowledgeable and skilled congregants to aid in the development of our struggling but resilient Bahamaland.
This, I believe, would create a dual benefit by allowing churches the opportunity to assist more in nation building while helping fulfill their primary goal of advancing the word of God to all they encounter.

- Clifford Williams

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We do not feel safe

January 13, 2017

Dear Editor,
I don't know about the rest of the population but I take cold comfort in the figures from the police commissioner and the attorney general, which are apparently given to make us feel safer. Unfortunately as I and some of my friends have been robbed in public parking lots in broad daylight, and some of my acquaintances have been terrified and injured in home invasions, we need to hear more than statistics.
We need to hear that the parties in power and the parties seeking power have a feasible plan to fight the scourge of crime gripping The Bahamas. Only then would we be able to feel safe leaving or remaining in our homes which are now better barricaded than the Bastille.
- Jeanne Thompson

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Things that really matter

January 13, 2017

Dear Editor,
There has been much speculation and some bogus analysis of the size of the two marches conducted on Majority Rule Day. I marched with the group that left Windsor Park and congregated at Southern Recreation Grounds. The other group marched from Arawak Cay and was led by persons who are known to be inimical to the cause of the PLP and right-thinking Bahamians. The other grouping was all about celebrating majority rule and connecting to our traditional roots.
Both marches attracted thousands of adherents and supporters of assorted causes. Majority Rule Day is supposed to be recognized as a national celebration, but it is unfortunate that it has been hijacked, big time, as a political football by those who are delusional about the significance and import of the same. Some of them will never be able to wrap their heads around the fact that the majority of people in our wonderful nation are negroid. It is what it is.
Pundits, including those who telephoned into Real Talk Live Prime Time, the radio talk show I am privileged to host on More 94.9FM, have contrasted the size of the marches. Some say that the other grouping was larger. Others say that the Majority Rule Day march and rally, headlined by all Bahamians, inclusive of the PM, Cabinet and parliamentarians was larger. Size, I am sure, is important but the message that is being delivered is more important, in my submission.
The salient questions are: What are the objectives of the other grouping? Is it that they wish to destabilize the current administration for purely political reasons? And, of course, who are funding them? Is it possible that residents and foreigners from western- and eastern-based enclaves are propping the group up?
This so-called grouping, I am convinced, is the alter ego of the FNM. It is a known fact that one of the organizers, a noted lawyer currently under an appeal issue, and the other one, an alleged surrogate of the doll house party, are hell-bent on getting elected to Parliament, which is fine with me. I say fine with me, if you are man or woman enough to reveal and declare your political agenda.
The FNM and Minnis are impotent and have absolutely no clue as to what they are all about, if anything, and have yet to flesh out a vision plan for the nation. The doll house cabal is a mixed bag of political rejects, hacks and wannabe politicians. LBT and her six midgets, inclusive of those who are on the way out, will be culled, politically, and are now seen as damaged goods.
The PLP, which I totally support, is the best choice for our wonderful nation at this juncture. Yes, the administration has made a tremendous number of missteps, but they were either benign or without malice. There are many things that I do not like at this juncture but we must ask ourselves: What are the alternatives?
Hydra, a fabled Greek monster, is alive and well in the form of the disjointed and leaderless opposition forces. The hidden hands and puppet masters are also in play. I submit that there are some foreigners in our midst aided by home-grown politicians, well known to us from way back then when the U.S. State Department had them on financial sinecures.
There are others, with deep pockets, who realize that Minnis is not the right man for the job so they are propping up legal eagles and others to "rent", allegedly, people who might have nothing else better to do. This is so transparent that even a visually impaired person, with all due respect, is able to see the other marchers for what they are.
I am happy that time is winding down for the general election. The Bahamas needs to get on with its business and that business is that of the people. The PM, as usual, gave a great and motivating speech at Southern Recreation Grounds. I told him, however, that a simple speech, no matter how flowery, would not cut it this time around unless the PLP administration ramps up its marketing and propaganda apparatus.
Yes, size, I am sure matters. But, it is what is placed in the collective pot that is of more importance. The PLP is on a mission and it must do what is right for all Bahamians. There is no more time for apparent arrogance and bull skating by too many members of Cabinet and Parliament. The general election is ours to lose.
To God then, in all things, the Majority Ruler, be the glory.

- Ortland H. Bodie Jr.

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Majority Rule Day march ill-conceived

January 12, 2017

Dear Editor,
David Copperfield is one of the greatest illusionists to ever live. He, in my view, has been equaled by Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts and the PLP. I will explain.
The Majority Rule Day march, the one organized by Roberts and the PLP, will go down in history, once it is told correctly, as one of the most shameful political tactics ever devised by any government of The Bahamas. Its divisive intent has cut at the heart and soul of many "normal thinking" Bahamians.
This march was never intended to happen. In fact, the plan for the march was only conceived as a counter measure to the organizers of We March Bahamas, who had planned a protest march for the Majority Rule Day holiday.
We March Bahamas organized a march called the Black Friday March last year to bring light to all the evil and corrupt practices of successive governments. It was a resounding success as Bahamians attended in impressive numbers. Their plan for a second march on Majority Rule Day did not sit well with the governing PLP.
The government went as far as to change the majority rule public holiday date, which in my view was a bold and outlandish attempt to diminish the support for the We March Bahamas organizers. They even denied them a permit to assemble in Rawson Square, which in my view is a national atrocity. But the governing party's tactics failed miserably.
Bahamians by nature are very good at accepting corporate malfeasance and political corruption. We are very passive. I believe this is changing. On Tuesday, January 10, 2017, thousands of Bahamians voiced their frustration and marched against a plethora of issues that successive governments seem to have no concern in fixing. Community activist Sparky said the We March Bahamas crowd looked like termites eating up the road.
Roberts and the PLPs mode of operandi to continually deceive Bahamians has been mastered and perfected, especially during this term in office. Roberts, is by far the most tactful politician in recent memory. He has written the book on public relations and I am sure he must have several degrees in spin doctoring.
He continues to confuse the minds of those who cannot see through the fog for themselves, albeit there are some who just don't want to see.
He is an illusionist, much like David Copperfield.
Despite his best efforts, he didn't fool the thousands of Bahamians who marched with We March Bahamas, whose march in my view was conceived from an honest and pure nationalistic point of view to bring more light to our ineffective ways of governance. Roberts and the PLPs Majority Rule Day march was only born after they realized that Bahamians would protest against them on a much larger stage during the Majority Rule holiday. If the PLP had plans to march for the 50th anniversary Majority Rule Day, they would have advertised this long before We March Bahamas planned their event. They continue their policy of showmanship, creating illusions and this has sadly left many Bahamians unable to decipher what is real from unreal; what is good from evil. Their decision to organize their march was divisive in nature, by all accounts ill conceived and a most shameful act.

- Dehavilland Moss

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Filthy in Nassau

January 12, 2017

Dear Editor,

It is appalling to drive the streets of Nassau each day and see the vast amount of litter all over our main thoroughfares. This includes East West Highway, Tonique Williams-Darling Highway, Sir Milo Butler Highway, John F. Kennedy Drive, Baillou Hill Road, East Street, Kemp Road and Nassau Street. It was bad before Hurricane Matthew but now almost two months later it is worse than ever before.
I wonder whether our prime minister, the minister of environmental health and other members of the Cabinet drive our streets and see what our citizens see. Do they see the litter and how unkempt the roads are? Do they see the tires, bottles, food containers, thrash, dead animals, plastic containers, boxes, trees, abandoned vehicles and other miscellaneous items on our roads, or are they immune to the filth? In fact, on a daily basis you can see trash bags left along our streets for pick up that have been left there for weeks. Do our government officials have the slightest hint of what is happening or do they just not care?
As a tourist destination we pride ourselves in welcoming visitors to our shores. But tell me, have you ever been invited to someone's house and when you arrive it is filthy? Even if the residents of the home are friendly and inviting you wonder whether they can see what you see. Well imagine people are traveling from all over the globe to visit our country and one of the first scenes they see is trash-laden roads. No matter what else transpires that picture is etched in their memory.
Have we been in this state so long that we do not see how dirty our country has become? Is litter, litter and more litter the new normal? What are we as a nation teaching our children? Just watch our school students when they leave the school premises. They nonchalantly drop litter without even the hint of regret. What a legacy of filth, dirt and litter.
Do we take the exit surveys of our tourists seriously? The surveys are supposed to be used to improve our tourist product. Well, almost every survey comments on the need to improve our cleanliness. What better way for our clients to communicate our deficiencies. They are speaking to us but is anyone listening? Minister of tourism, minister of the environment health services, do you hear what our clients are saying? If you are, what are you doing about it?
There is a need to have someone clean our roads daily. To see the same litter day after day says that we are not serious about the cleanliness of our city. To have garbage bags on the streets for weeks is intolerable. The other destinations we compete against (e.g. Disneyworld) are immaculate on any day at any time of the day. As a country we are so willing to host international competitions, seminars, gatherings, delegations, but what do you think our international guests see when they come here? Worst, what do you think their thoughts are? I've heard it said that The Bahamas is a dirty version of Hawaii with no volcanoes, subpar service and overpriced goods.
Why hasn't the government addressed indiscriminate dumping which has skyrocketed? It seems that the same places are being dumped repeatedly and all we do is allow neglect for numerous months before finally cleaning it up at the urge of countless calls, letters and complaints. But what plan do we have to discourage this abusive behavior. This invites contractors and the like to do it all over again. What about the huge number of derelict vehicles all over the island? Why isn't the Department of Environmental Health Services doing its job to remove these vehicles?
Dirty beaches! What a scene. Locals populate the beaches and leave food, articles of clothing, dog dung, water containers, etc., all over our beautiful beaches. Rodents have populated unchecked. How long Mr. Minister of Environmental Health do we have to wait for your action? Stop talking and get to work.
What about our tourist attractions? The Queen's Staircase is in dire need of renovations. The "66 steps", as it is commonly referred to, is visited by many tourists and it does not leave a positive impression. When you visit, the rank scent will be the first thing to hit you in the face and then the untidiness adds insult to injury. What is the plan?
We must find a way to teach our children not to litter and punish our adults who engage in this behavior. This is the only way the "litter gene" will be extinguished. Being clean should give a sense of pride and the opposite should be scorned, reprimanded and ostracized.
Would somebody consider the idea of commissioning environmental police officers and a court dedicated to environmental issues? These are police officers whose primary responsibility is the environment. They would deal with dumping, litter, protected areas, lakes, beaches, etc. One may say that it may be too many resources placed in this area. But, it is an area that can yield returns right away with the satisfaction of our visitors, the pride of our inner city communities and re-instilling in our youngsters the adage "Cleanliness is next to Godliness". This will hopefully change the mindset of a generation.
Let's get creative. For example, place a camera at popular dumping sites and catch the dumpers red-handed since we know the sites. We also know that most dumping takes place under the cover of darkness. All it takes is patience, diligence, prosecution and time to eradicate this behavior.

- A concerned citizen of our beloved country

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We March misguided in some ways

January 11, 2017

Dear Editor,
I agree that there should be marches. And because we are an extremely obese nation desperately needing exercise, there should be one every fortnight. Seriously, though, except for the Burma Road March, marches in recent times have not served any effective purpose or results; and correcting or complaining of government missteps and or societal ills is beyond marches and marching.
With Election Day approaching, it seems that the We March march is anti-climatic, as the electorate will march in full force to unseat the ruling government or to return the Free National Movement party to power. Perhaps, the We March march would have been more effective and meaningful if it was carried out in the first or second year of rule of the Progressive Liberal Party, forcefully letting that ruling government know that the people would not tolerate what they did not vote for.
To plan the march on an exceptionally important historical day for Bahamians and The Bahamas, in its global history, is mere lunacy and does not augur well for the bright minds who have planned such march on that day, which could one day very well taint their image as eventually being leaders in the political arena. Planning a march on such a significant day which accomplished so much, including bringing black and white Bahamians together, ought to be respected/revered and not dissed by having a march on that day which might deem counterproductive. Another day for the march could have easily been planned.

- E.V. Albury

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Homophobic pastors and politicians flame out

January 11, 2017

Dear Editor,
In a desperate search for political traction for his vanity party, the newly amalgamated United People's Movement (UPM), Gregory Moss has decided to dispense with common decency and to pander to the homophobic fears of some Bahamians.
Moss erroneously claimed that The Bahamas voted yes in support of the appointment by the United Nations of an independent expert charged with investigating infringements on the rights of minorities, including gays.
What The Bahamas did last month, and what we should be proud of as a nation, is we voted against a draft amendment tabled by a group of African nations that would have fired a distinguished professor of international and human rights law who the UN had just hired last September.
He was given a three-year mandate to investigate abuse against members of the gay community around the world. This distinguished ambassador has no particular flame for the so-called "gay agenda".
Previously he served on the UN's Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria; the Commission on Human Rights on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and the International Commission of Inquiry on the Ivory Coast.
His passion, it seems, is in line with that of the UN, namely, the fierce protection of human rights, especially for minorities. I ask Moss, what could be wrong with that?
The despot Robert Mugabe, who has laid waste to Zimbabwe, likes to gin up support for his anti-gay stance by saying it was an agenda promoted by rich white developed countries. It was interesting to see him proved wrong last month.
The Africans came as a contingent adamantly demanding that sexual orientation and gender identity have no place under the umbrella of international human rights. The 54-member Africa group shouted their hypocrisy and their bigotry.
While the so-called rich white developed states sat back and watched the proceedings, it was the Latin American countries that led the counter-charge. These very Christian, mostly Catholic countries were the voices of reason and compassion on the issue, and their side persuaded a slim majority to continue this very valuable work.
I have no doubt this work will probably save the life of a young person somewhere in the world who is today staring down the ravages of hatred and intolerance.
What should be noted was that CARICOM could not, or would not, find common ground on this issue. While we were joined by Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis in voting against the African resolution, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago sat on the fence and abstained from voting.
Voting to stop the work of the independent expert were Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. But I support Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell for his principled stand at the UN and in CARICOM.
The UPM sees the vote as a part of a grand conspiracy by Perry Christie's government to push an agenda that presumably is at odds with what Bahamians stand for. They see this UN vote somehow as payback by the government for the loss suffered in the constitutional referendum last summer.
Some politicians and some pastors skillfully packaged and sold that referendum as a Trojan horse planted by nefarious gay plotters who want to take over first The Bahamas and then the world.
A lot of malarkey flew back and forth about the protection of our Christian values. What could be more Christian than to investigate violence against a person or to afford them the same rights, privileges and opportunities as everyone else in society or in the world?
Think back not so long ago when it was considered by some very Christian to support slavery. Think on the many Bible passages that were used to justify racism and, sadly, are still used to excuse misogyny.
It should surprise absolutely no one that the UPM's drumbeat was picked up by the pouting pastors, Cedric Moss, Alfred Stewart and ole fire and brimstone himself, Lyall Bethel, who use every occasion to spit and spin gay conspiracy theories. Presumably the fourth member of the Chicken Little quartet, Pastor Mario Moxey, didn't hear the drums.
Moss is going to keep pushing on this subject that stokes the homophobic fire that sadly still burns in too many self-professed Christian people. Bigotry must not be allowed to become a part of this upcoming election campaign, and it must be denounced by all political leaders.
And if our politicians need cover to do the right thing, I propose they hide behind the Pope. As an authority on all things Christian he famously said: "Who am I to judge them (gays) if they're seeking the Lord in good faith."
Can I get an Amen from any of the pastors on that?

- The Graduate

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The SP downgrade

January 09, 2017

Dear Editor,
In relation to the downgrade, it is unfortunate and should serve as wake-up call for us as a nation. We cannot afford to bury our heads in the proverbial sand wishing that our economic challenges would disappear without deliberate and concerted efforts to address structural issues within our economy.
While it can be argued that S&P's actions were not justified, as we have never defaulted on our debt, and we have been able to finance our debt so far, the reality is that the international credit ratings agencies have highlighted concerns that we must address as a matter of urgency. Government spending has to be curtailed, and we have to realize that we cannot tax ourselves out of this economic slump. Of course, we must strike the right balance based on the current composition of government expenditure to ensure that we do not worsen the current economic situation. At the same time, it is difficult to justify the continuous rise in government spending when the economy has not experienced notable improvements from this increase in public spending but has rather shrunk as seen in 2014 (-0.5 percent) and 2015 (-1.7 percent). There is no substitute for economic growth spearheaded by an incentivized private sector.
On the face of it, it may seem that the only impact that the downgrade will have will be on the cost of borrowing. However, there are other implications of this negative rating action, as it has the potential to impact foreign and local investor confidence. It also puts investment firms, pension plans, corporate entities and multinational companies and particularly NIB in a quandary insofar as their investment guidelines require them to invest in securities and sovereigns with investment grade ratings. Deviation from those guidelines (if permissible) would normally require them to demand higher returns to compensate for the risks associated with such an investment.
We will also need to monitor and be conscious of the potential snowballing effect this downgrade could trigger. In the absence of any positives to this rating action, the fact that Moody's has not followed suit provides a glimmer of hope that we have a short window to put our fiscal house in order by taking decisive prudent steps.
While Hurricane Matthew (and perhaps Joaquin) was cited in the narrative by S&P, which outlined the rationale for the downgrade, I believe we can all agree that the hurricanes were not solely responsible for the downgrade to junk bond status, although they may have played a part. As a matter of fact, Hurricane Matthew in a way stimulated the economy due to the foreign currency inflows specifically from reinsurance recoveries that spurred activity in the construction and retail sectors; this was reflected in the recent unemployment statistics. This rating action is a culmination of years of fiscal imbalance and deferment of crucial decisions necessary to address our structural financial issues.
The reality is that if one major hurricane could have the effect of causing our sovereign credit rating to be downgraded, then we have a major problem because we are in the hurricane belt and are susceptible to multiple hurricanes for six months every year. In the midst of our fiscal challenges and in the absence of a robust national disaster risk management plan, we are left exposed and vulnerable from an economic perspective if (God forbid) we have multiple hurricanes within a year or consecutive years.

- Government in Denial

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This is not your lane

January 09, 2017

Dear Editor,
The fact that I no longer am shocked by treatment of women in the country is a tragedy in and of itself. Many things that I have to put up with, by virtue of my membership in the XX chromosome club, are enraging.
For instance, I - and most women - am not flattered by objectification. I know what I look like. I don't need a stranger's comments on my body, ever.
When I was told by the photographer at the Parliamentary Registration Department, as I attempted to register for the embarrassingly failed gender equality referendum, that my shoulders had to be covered for the photo, several facts occurred to me.
The first was this: In all my years going about my business in public, enduring the despicable and humiliating cat calls from strange men, never has anyone said anything about how sexy my shoulders are. How strange, then, that I should have to cover this part of my body in order to be seen as decent, when it draws no special attention from anyone in public.
Another thought was this: Your job is to take a photograph. I have not solicited your advice on my clothing choices. As far as I am aware, you provide me with no shopping stipend. What say have you in how I dress?
Following the referendum, when all and sundry literally waited all night for the results, this also occurred: Sherlyn Hall needs a come-to-Jesus. He has much more serious problems to concern himself with than determining the virtuousness of his countrywomen.
Recently, as I sat watching CNN, Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, took center stage again on the news. This woman has posed naked and is going to be the first lady of the U.S. By contrast, if I have my shoulders out, I'm told that I can't register to vote in my own country.
I am a grown woman. I make my own money. I guide my own morality. I make my own choices, and I vote for whomever I want. I do not need anyone telling me I cannot access my constitutional rights because I don't look decent to them. The Parliamentary Registration Department has its own lane, and it needs to stay in it.

- Corinne Lampkin

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Taking care of the Family Islands

January 09, 2017

Dear Editor,
When we see the devastation caused by the fire in The Current, Eleuthera, which took the life of one person, and then revisit the festive girding of the seagrape trees on West Bay Street, we can only scream at the wastage of public funds by the government.
This is especially the case when we are told that there was no fire engine in Current, and the authorities did not release the one at North Eleuthera Airport because there may have been an emergency at 3 o'clock in the morning. Both the fire engines at Gregory Town and Governor's Harbour were not working, and a fire engine had to come from Palmetto Point.
Anyone familiar with the geography of Eleuthera would recognize the distance this fire engine had to travel to get to the fire, so it is not surprising that a house which caught fire was burned to the ground two and one half hours after the fire started.
It is possible that similar situations exist on other islands. So we ask the question: Would the $300,000-plus spent on decorating trees, which were made beautiful by God, not have been better spent on obtaining and maintaining fire engines on our Family Islands?
On another note, can the persons impacted by the fire obtain an answer regarding their request for tax exemptions on materials being imported to restore their homes and vehicles?

- Jeanne I. Thompson

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FNM should go with Pakesia in Marco City

January 06, 2017

Dear Editor,

While the FNM seems to be putting together a fairly good group of candidates, one of the clear weaknesses is that there are only two women ratified by the party, and that is of some concern to many people.
There is some talk on the street that another woman might be ratified next week, and should that happen, it would be a wonderful thing, as we need more women to be represented amongst the group of people who are being put forth by the FNM, given that the party is likely to win and become the government in a matter of months.
There are also rumors that Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe will run again in West End. While it is good that she seems to be receiving serious consideration by the party for a nomination, the party should give her a real opportunity to win. That is not in West End. She paid her dues and made the sacrifice for the party already when she ran there in 2012.
And, she should not be given the West End nomination "just to increase" the number of women on the party's slate. She should be given a real opportunity to win. By all accounts, she is a very good prospective candidate and she was equally a very good candidate in 2012.
With so few women being ratified, some would say, perhaps in the more difficult seats, it is conceivable that an FNM government might not include any women and that would be a disastrous outcome for the party and the nation. An elected government (FNM, to boot) with absolutely no representation of women or, put another way, women not represented, that is beyond imagination.
Moreover, of concern, at a minimum, is that Grand Bahama might very likely have absolutely no women in the House of Assembly, and that would not speak well of us either, not at anytime but especially not in 2017.
It is noteworthy also that there are precious few nominations remaining in the FNM now, hence fewer opportunities for additional women candidates, and in "winnable seats".
It is time for the party to seriously consider Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe for Marco City.

- "All" Together

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