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VOLUME:115 No.53, FEBRUARY 7TH, 2018

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CULTURE CLASH: THE SAME RIGHTS - CHRISTIAN OR NOT

Minnis sets date on VAT promise

By RASHAD ROLLE Tribune Staff Reporter rrolle@tribunemedia.net

PLEDGING to fulfil at least one part of a key campaign promise, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has said value added tax (VAT) will be removed from bread-basket items in the next budget cycle. The policy shift was anticipated last year but its realisation was postponed because of the financial state of the country. Dr Minnis announced the date for the policy’s implementation during a meeting of the Free National Movement’s (FNM) Englerston Constituency Association at the EP Roberts Primary School Monday night where he sought to sell his

policies for Over-the-Hill communities. “During our campaign we had said we will remove VAT off breadbasket items and that we will do, that will happen within the new budget,” Dr Minnis said. The FNM also pledged before the May 2017 election to remove VAT from education fees, water and light bills, medicine, healthcare and insurance. It’s not clear if the government intends to live up to this part of its commitment in the next budget as well. Asked yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said: “We will announce our budget initiatives when we present the new budget in May.” SEE PAGE TWO

WHO YA GONNA CALL? POT PATCHERS

TOURISM and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar has suggested the political leanings of two Progressive Liberal Party supporters may have played some part in their firing from airports in Eleuthera. He told The Tribune the two women did not have excellent job performance and unwisely and overtly showed they were supporters of the opposition party while working for the government. However, he rebuffed assertions they were being victimised.

Mr D’Aguilar, when contacted Monday, insisted the women were not fired at his direction but instead said the board of the Airport Authority determined they were not suited for their roles. Emphasising he does not get involved in the minutia of personnel decisions, he referred The Tribune to James Pinder, the chairman of the Airport Authority, for answers. But Mr Pinder expressed “surprise” yesterday that he did this, saying: “I have absolutely nothing to say about that issue. I have no idea.” SEE PAGE THREE

INSURERS yesterday warned that The Bahamas’ 40 per cent “uninsured driver ratio” is a significant obstacle to the creation of a “rogue motorist” protection fund. While agreeing that the havoc caused by uninsured and “unauthorised” motorists is “unacceptable”, local property and casualty underwriters said the Court of Appeal president’s renewed call could effectively result in responsible drivers paying for the sins of their irresponsible counterparts. FULL STORY - SEE BUSINESS

By NEIL HARTNELL Tribune Business Editor nhartnell@tribunemedia.net THE Paradise Island Bridge Authority requires $3.5m in “emergency” annual funding over a five-year period to cover a $9.4m “deficiency” in its bond repayment fund. The authority’s 2016 financial statements, tabled in the House of Assembly, reveal the “sinking fund” created to finance repayment of its $29m bond debt contained just 45 per cent of what management felt it should have accumulated. “The sinking fund was established voluntarily by the authority to reserve funds periodically to assist in retiring the bonds as they mature,” the financial statements said. FULL STORY - SEE BUSINESS

A YOUNGSTER standing inside a pothole in Nassau - but repair crews may be on the way. The Ministry of Works has approved contracts for nine additional road patching crews to help tackle potholes in New Providence. See page three for the full story.

AG - JEAN RONY CASE EXPOSES ID LOOPHOLE By AVA TURNQUEST Tribune Chief Reporter aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

THE case of Bahamas-born Jean Rony Jean-Charles has unearthed a significant and far-reaching legal challenge over the verification of birth certificates, Attorney General

By NEIL HARTNELL Tribune Business Editor nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

BRIDGE $9M SHORTFALL TO REPAY LOAN

‘NOT WISE’ TO PLAY POLITICS IN GOVT JOB By RASHAD ROLLE Tribune Staff Reporter rrolle@tribunemedia.net

UP TO 40 PERCENT MOTORISTS UNINSURED

JEAN RONY JEAN-CHARLES Carl Bethel confirmed yesterday.

Mr Bethel said the government will not seek to amend existing immigration laws before a determination is made on its appeal of Mr Jean-Charles’s case, as has been suggested by former immigration minister and Progressive Liberal Party Senator Fred Mitchell. SEE PAGE SIX

Nassau & Bahama Islands’ Leading Newspaper

$500K COLLEGE THEFT TRIAL: DEFENDANT STAYS SILENT By NICO SCAVELLA Tribune Staff Reporter nscavella @tribunemedia.net FORMER College of the Bahamas employee Chimeka Gibbs yesterday opted to remain silent over allegations she stole over $500,000 from the college over a seven year period. Gibbs was given the option to remain silent subsequent to the Crown’s closure of its case against her, or take the witness stand and give evidence and summon witnesses to testify on her behalf if need be.  SEE PAGE FIVE


PAGE 2, Wednesday, February 7, 2018

THE TRIBUNE

Just dropping in to visit Grand Bahama

SKYDIVERS over Grand Bahama as part of a series of jumps taking place until February 12.

By DENISE MAYCOCK Tribune Freeport Reporter dmaycock@tribunemedia.net 

SOME 60 licenced skydivers are in Grand Bahama for the first Bahama Beach skydiving event at West End, performing daily parachute jumps until February 12. The group makes jumps from 14,000ft above the clear waters between 10am and 5pm, landing at the beach at the Old Bahama Bay Resort. The event is organised by Sky’s The Limit, a skydiving company based in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation. Bleachers have been erected at the resort so that local residents and aviation enthusiasts can watch the jumps. Jeff Root, CEO and owner of Sky’s The Limit, said Old Bahama Bay is a wonderful location. He said the jumpers are excited to be on the island and to participate in the sport they love. “It is our hope that we can make this event in Grand Bahama an annual one for aviation members,” he said. The Ministry of Tourism assisted the group in obtaining necessary permits and approvals from the Departments of Civil Aviation, Customs and Immigration. Pilot Greg Rolle, senior director of sports and vertical markets at the ministry, said: “This is prime example of private enterprise working cohesively with the public sector and we couldn’t have been more excited to work alongside such a reputable and influential body. “The economic injection, particularly into the West End community and the added interest generated from its marketing are beneficial to the destination especially at this crucial period,” he said.

Minnis sets date on VAT promise from page one

The administration’s promise to remove VAT from some items drew

criticism from experts in financial sectors when Dr Minnis initially revealed the

plan several years ago. Gowon Bowe, president of the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA), said last year such a policy would “not achieve its end goal” and he expressed hope the government would reconsider the pledge and listen to the advice of professionals instead. “Taking VAT off those items doesn’t achieve the end goal because if you reduce the base you charge VAT on, it increases the cost of all other items on which you charge VAT,” Mr Bowe said. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also criticised the exemptions plan. Following a visit to this country two years ago, the IMF said in a paper: “The authorities should resist pressures to weaken the VAT regime’s efficiency through the introduction of exemptions.”

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Nonetheless, some Bahamians have been anxious for relief from VAT and often lament the administration’s failure to make good on its tax promises. The government is already expected to declare some inner-city communities tax-free zones in the next budget, a move expected to have some impact on the revenue the country generates. A white paper on the plan is expected to be released in a few months. “We in the FNM will attack poverty aggressively and the underprivileged aggressively to ensure we uplift as many as possible,” Dr Minnis said Monday night. He explained the tax-free zone policy will be rolled out in phases, affecting some inner-city constituencies later than others. He suggested Fox Hill and other constituencies with depressed areas could be impacted by the policy, not just Bain Town, Centreville, St Barnabas and Englerston.  “We have phase one which would include Bain Town and Centreville; the western boundary would

be Nassau Street, northern boundary would be Delancy Street, and southern boundary would be Wulff Road,” he said. “Then we would move to phase two which would be St Barnabas and Englerston; so I don’t know how they could say I discriminating. St Barnabas is FNM and Englerston is PLP so they will both come in. Then we will look at other, what we call depressed areas, to extend (the taxzone policy) in phase three, four, etc, so we’ll look at segments of Fox Hill that need assistance…” As part of the tax-free zone, the FNM promised to free Over-the-Hill communities from business licence fees, real property tax, furniture tax, capital goods and taxes on business equipment while also giving them lower import duties for business vehicles. On Monday night, Dr Minnis also urged residents of Englerston to support the FNM in the next general election. The constituency is the only one in New Providence which has a Progressive Liberal Party MP, Glenys Hanna Martin.


THE TRIBUNE

Wednesday, February 7, 2018, PAGE 3

‘Not wise’ to play politics in govt job from page one The firings of Danielle Gibson and Holly Barrett sparked a showdown between House Speaker Halson Moultrie and Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin, former minister of transport and aviation, which led to her suspension from the House of Assembly last week. Mrs Hanna Martin’s efforts to advocate on the women’s behalf in the House of Assembly have been rebuffed, however, culminating in last

week’s ruling that she be suspended for disrespecting Speaker Moultrie by leaving the lower chamber while he addressed her. He previously said she lacked evidence supporting her claim the women were victimised and he struck her commentary about the episode from the record. PLP Leader Philip “Brave” Davis has said he warned Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis months ago the women’s jobs as assistant managers of the North Eleuthera and Governor’s Harbour airports were in jeopardy

because of their political leanings. “Their performance was evaluated,” Mr D’Aguilar said about the terminated women. “The board came to the conclusion they were not suited for that position at this time and decided to terminate them. Within aviation, you got 28 Family Island airports. From time to time you will have turnover and changes in management.” He added: “When they were fired, they didn’t call D’Aguilar. They called Glenys. They obviously thought she was the person

who put them there so she would keep them there. They are screaming political victimisation but it’s very important to note that when a management team changes, generally after an election is held, you as an employee are subject to the management style of the new boss. You can’t continue operating the way you did before.” Ms Gibson and Ms Barrett have told The Tribune they were never reprimanded or disciplined, adding their performance was exemplary. “Clearly management of the Airport Authority

disagreed,” Mr D’Aguilar said in response. When the women were fired, officials gave them no reason or explanation for the termination, they said. While Mr D’Aguilar insisted the women weren’t fired simply because of their politics, he said it was “no secret they were affiliated with the PLP” and he suggested they made an overt demonstration of this. “Many persons in government,” he said, “are affiliated with the opposition but figure out a way to coexist with the new government and survive. Many people I inherited were

appointed by the PLP who are excellent civil servants. They are in tourism, aviation where Mrs Martin had appointed many people. A lot of them are excellent and loyal to the government. These two were not excellent and it’s not wise to openly be a supporter of a political party while working for a government.” Mr D’Aguilar said he will let Airport Authority officials determine suitable replacements for the women, adding he won’t interfere in that process to ensure Free National Movement (FNM) supporters get the jobs.

PROBE AFTER VIRAL FIREARM POST By RICARDO WELLS Tribune Staff Reporter rwells@tribunemedia.net

AUTHORITIES are investigating the circumstances surrounding a condescending and controversial social media post made by an international boater, where he scoffs at the ease in which he was able to transport firearms into The Bahamas. Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest and National Security Minister Marvin Dames yesterday confirmed the Customs Department was aware of the post and looking into its circumstances. In the Facebook post, a user by the name of ‘Jay Like’ posted photos of his declaration process, where he presents what appears to be high-powered rifle and pistol to a Bahamian customs officer. ‘Jay Like’ wrote: “Clearing Bahamian customs, Friday, got to love third world countries!” He went on to detail a brief exchange he has with the officer, writing: “Q: Do you have any weapons? A: Yes,

AN IMAGE circulating on social media reportedly showing a youngster with an M4 automatic weapon as a tourist’s boat is being inspected by a customs officer. fully automatic machine guns. Q: Can you get them? A: Hey buddy, go grab the M4 for the nice officer, ok dad.” The latter part refers to the poster’s son who was pictured brandishing the assault rifle with a smile. Mr Turnquest, when contacted by The Tribune

and presented with photos of the post, said he was working to learn the details, primarily the processes that permitted the declaration. Mr Turnquest added: “I am led to understand that the foreign vessels can enter into our waters with up to three firearms which must be declared at

the first port of entry and officially declared exported on leaving the Bahamas.” The East Grand MP said clarification on the policy would have to come directly from the Bahamas Department of Customs. However, officials at the Department of Customs could not be reached for further comment.

POT PATCHERS TO THE RESCUE AS NINE MORE CREWS HIRED By RASHAD ROLLE Tribune Staff Reporter rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE Ministry of Works has approved contracts for nine additional road patching crews to help address the vexing problem of potholes in New Providence, Press Secretary Anthony Newbold said yesterday. Mr Newbold said the pothole situation has “been driving motorists crazy in New Providence”. “There are three Ministry of Works pothole patching crews that go out on a daily basis,” he said. “Minister Bannister has approved contracts for an additional nine pothole patching crews, which are presently being processed to be issued. There is an immediate plan to pave Willow Tree Avenue in Pinewood;

Farrington Road from the six-leg roundabout to Boyd Road and Culbert’s Hill in Winton once the utility companies have completed all their repair works.” During the wide-ranging press conference, he also said a report on the travels of Cabinet ministers is currently being prepared, as well as the long-promised report into the travels of members of the former Christie administration. Last week, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis released a report on his travel to Texas last month. The report revealed the trip cost the government around $37,000. Mr Newbold also said the Ministry of Environment will “solarise the environs” of the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium by installing 9,000 kilowatts of solar panels in conjunction

with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. “The panels will cover the parking area and are designed to withstand 200mph hurricane force winds,” he said. “The contractor and design engineers are on site. This will be done with a grant from the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and the International Renewable Energy headquartered there.” Mr Newbold also revealed the Ministry of Education is preparing to sign an agreement with BTC for Wi-Fi in the country’s 65 pre-schools. “The Wi-Fi readiness should immediately capacitate/activate the 340 iPads that are being given to preschoolers,” he said. “Several hundred more will be given to students in September.”

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THE TRIBUNE

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Donald Trump’s constant state of confusion OBSERVING the behaviour of the current US President can evoke a wide range of emotions. Donald Trump can inspire disdain, disbelief, mockery, infuriation and even weariness. To be fair, he can also inspire intense positive passion and genuine admiration. It depends on who is listening and watching. But Trump can also inspire fully justifiable fear, and he did so again last week. Last Tuesday, during his first State of the Union speech, Trump preached bipartisanship while often facing only in the direction of Republican senators and congressmen who obediently and cravenly applauded his remarks. Those Democrats in attendance were much more reserved, even morose, in their reaction.   State of the Union addresses are rarely significant either as oratory or as blueprints for future policy. But one snippet from Trump’s 80 minutes before the microphones and TV cameras had an ominous, almost haunting quality. If it turns out to have more than passing significance, it could presage developments that should cause fear in everyone who retains faith in America. As he carried on with his prepared remarks, Trump returned to a theme he has occasionally praised in the past. “Americans love their country, and they deserve a government that shows them the same love and loyalty in return,” he said. “We have sought to restore the bonds of trust between our citizens and their government.”  But then Trump slipped from his high podium. He dredged up a proposal to grant to cabinet secretaries the authority to remove from office any government employees who “fail the American people”.  Implicit in this reference is that cabinet secretaries, appointed by the president and beholden to him for their positions once confirmed by the Senate, would be authorised to determine which employees “failed the American people”, perhaps by disagreeing with or failing to demonstrate sufficient fealty to the wishes of the incumbent president.  It does not take great imagination to see in which immediate direction such remarks and ideas are focused. Trump is talking about the Department of Justice, an influential and generally wellrespected federal department whose area of responsibility includes the FBI, America’s national police force.

For nearly his entire term of office, Trump has been suspicious of, feared, criticised and tried to manipulate the main Justice Department in Washington, DC. He has been publicly annoyed at otherwise servile Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the ongoing examination of Russian influence in the 2016 US presidential election. He has also directed fire at the FBI, particularly for its investigative role in that same congressionally mandated inquiry.  If, as Trump claims, the Russians had no influence in that election, why should he be so vexed? He did win, after all! The reason is clear from his public posture. Any proven Russian influence would diminish, and perhaps delegitimise, his election.  He is clearly sensitive on this subject. Consider his effort to explain away the popular vote totals as the result of voter fraud. (Trump received several million fewer overall votes than did Hillary Clinton.) He even set up a commission to look into the matter. The commission was just disbanded this month, with little fanfare. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is apparently edging ever closer to the president himself in his investigation. Even if it is never proven that Trump was involved in the machinations between his campaign and the Russians, the president’s related, incautious public utterances may constitute a clear prima facie case of obstruction of justice, according to some scholars. That could be grounds for impeachment if Democrats regain control of Congress in November.  So now the Republican counterattack intensifies. Enter Congressman Devin Nunes, a California Republican labeled “Trump’s Stooge” by his hometown newspaper. As chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes is supposed to be leading its inquiry into Russian election influence. Instead, he has commissioned a report clearly designed to impugn Mueller and the Justice Department. The report will likely soon be made public.  For some, this is eerily reminiscent of President Nixon and his own Justice Department 45 years ago. Nixon ultimately fell because of incriminating tapes he had insisted upon to be part of his historical record. Will Trump also leave in disgrace largely due to his own actions?

Immigration law must be changed EDITOR, The Tribune. I JUST finished reading a letter to the Editor dated January 31st by JC attorney. I am in total agreement with all that he said. Why on earth do we allow those immigrants born here to have an automatic right to apply for citizenship? There should be guidelines and rules in order for one to apply. All of the criteria he highlighted in his article are excellent! As a Bahamian, I am so tired of foreigners acting like they are entitled to this country. They are not! There should be rules and a process. Nothing should be automatic. This is The Bahamas yet some people of foreign background in high positions try to do things to cater to foreign persons. Why does BTC have creole and English on its menu? This is an English speaking country. Why do foreign activists

and lawyers who support Haitians try to make The Bahamas another Haiti? Why don’t the Haitian activists like the one who used to have a talk show, work on getting Haitians like himself who have means to go to Haiti and form a committee that is geared toward rebuilding and restoring Haiti? Why don’t all persons who sympathise with the plight of Haitians get donations and pledges of support from around the world to help them rebuild Haiti? Why come to our country and try to own it and then get angry when you have to go home because you are illegal? If I go to America illegally, I will be deported. We live in a world now where people call wrong right and right wrong. I voted FNM. I am watching closely to see if they will have the guts to amend the law like JC attorney said because quite frankly, like

so many other Bahamians I am tired! The time for change in this immigration situation is now! I do not hate foreigners but I do not want any here who do not belong here and who have come to do any kind of harm to my beloved Bahamas. So many foreigners be they Jamaican, Haitian or Guyanese do not appreciate and respect our land and what they have been blessed with by being here. There are some that do but many are here and talk badly about The Bahamas and its people. If you are here legally and sincerely want to build our country and respect our way of life then you are welcomed. If not, please move on. This is not the place for you. CONCERNED BAHAMIAN Nassau,  February 5, 2018.

Big bang policing EDITOR, The Tribune. THE newly appointed Commissioner of Police, Mr Anthony Ferguson, has started off his 2018 Crime Suppression/Fighting Initiative with a refreshing twist. Technology, never before used, is being deployed viz-a-vie drones and helicopters with a heavy saturation of armed officers from the Royal Bahamas Police and Royal Bahamas Defence Forces. Recent exercises have resulted in scores of suspected and known criminals and their allies being taken off our streets. Multiple high powered weapons and ammunition have been seized and confiscated. One or two individuals who were foolish enough to confront armed officers have gone on to their eternal rewards. Our sympathies are extended to the deceased families but, by now, we all should realise that crime does not pay and the consequences are often fatal. It is my contention that we, as a people, should have launched a counter assault against the criminal elements within our midst.

LETTERS letters@tribunemedia.net If they wish to take out themselves while leaving ordinary and law-abiding citizens alone, should so it be. I do believe in due process under the law and that suspected extra judicial executions are not to be validated in any way, shape or form. Having postulated the above, however, a clear and strong message must be hand delivered to criminals and their allies that the shaving cream has hit the proverbial fan and we are not going to take or allow any more of it. I had reason to speak with Assistant Commissioner of Police, Clayton Fernander, yesterday (Sunday, 4th instant) while we enjoyed some stewed turkey about the new initiatives launched by Commissioner Ferguson and the high command. We also spoke about the necessity of known gang leaders reforming their lives and coming in from the cold. The law enforcement agencies are to be commended for recent actions

to rid our communities of criminally-minded people. The powers that be should now put in place a gun buy back programme to be partially funded by the central government and the private sector. The “snitch” system must also be upgraded and better funded. On the ground intelligence is crucial to an effective crime suppression programme. Yes, we Bahamians do not like to talk on others but today, the information you gave to the police could be the same information that saves your own life. In addition to the above, regular walkabouts by heavily armed officers and the high command in the inner city areas of New Providence and Grand Bahama would go a long way in rebuilding the trust of residents and strike fear into the diabolical hearts of the criminals. I urge the Commissioner and his team to go forward with this new crime suppression initiative and let the chips fall where they may. To God then, in all things, be the glory.   ORTLAND H BODIE Jr Nassau, February 5, 2018.

Traffic problems on East Bay St EDITOR, The Tribune. UNDER a previous FNM administration, Brent Symonette was able to remedy traffic congestion on East Bay Street that existed for over 40 years.  Finally the Fish & Conch market and Boat launch was contained, making traffic flow more efficient. Also the entrance/exit into Blair Estates was fixed by installing road markings. Again the entrance/Exit into Johnson Road was remedied through road widening and road markings. So where

there is the will there is a way. However, there is still a traffic situation that can cause accidents, death or injury at the junction of Village Road and Shirley Street. Traffic travelling north along Village Road can turn west into Shirley Street or continue north across Shirley Street and most motorists do not indicate their intention by using their indicator signal light.  This presents traffic problems for motorists travelling south along Village Road north from East Bay Street either turning west into

Shirley Street or crossing Shirley Street. My 5 cents recommendation would be to create a third road reservation from East Bay Street into Shirley Street. The traffic on this reservation would bypass the traffic light at Shirley St and Village Rd and merge into traffic going west along Shirley Street. Vacant land is available to make this reservation possible and make the driving experience less stressful.  MICHAEL DUGGAN Nassau,     January 22, 2018.


$640k $500K COLLEGE THEFT TRIAL: herself DEFENDANTextra STAYS SILENT

THE TRIBUNE

Wednesday, February 7, 2018, PAGE 5

from page one

from page one

She chose the former however, after which her attorney indicated that he would only be making a closing address to the nine member jury. The matter was subsequently adjourned to next week Monday by Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson, due to a member of the jury informing the Court of their need to travel. Justice Grant-Thompson said that particular juror informed the bailiff

of their plans to travel on Thursday, and that she was minded to oblige that juror as she nor the jury anticipated the trial lasting this long. Justice Grant-Thompson also said as the transcripts for the trial are “voluminous”, she and counsel from both sides will use the adjournment to peruse them so as to ready themselves to conclude the trial. She thus said counsel for both sides will deliver their closing addresses on Monday, followed by her

summing up the evidence to the nine member jury on Tuesday. Gibbs is charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from between March 2008 and October 2015 while employed at COB. She is facing eight counts of stealing by reason of employment and 16 counts of falsification of accounts. It is alleged Gibbs stole over $500,000 from COB by reason of her employment at the institution. It is also alleged she falsified numerous COB direct deposit

files, the result of which purported to show she was entitled to over $200,000 in salary payments. According to court documents, Gibbs served as both a senior clerk and a human resources assistant at the college. She was arraigned in June 2016. COB transitioned into a university later that year. Roger Gomez Jr represents Gibbs, while Al-Leecia Delancey and Antania Rolle-Taylor are the other attorneys on record, representing the Crown.

Mr Thompson noted that upon his arrival at COB in late 2013, there was no internal audit department, leaving him to perform the duties associated with auditing. As a result of this and him spending “a lot of time” creating an internal audit department, Mr Thompson said he didn’t get to audit that area until much later. However, defence attorney Roger Gomez challenged the veracity of Mr Thompson’s claims, particularly how no one at the tertiary institution, himself included, detected Gibbs’ alleged actions during those seven years the alleged theft occurred. Additionally, Mr Gomez charged that as every document Gibbs would have submitted to the bank had to have been accompanied by a letter signed by both the school’s vice president of finance and the institution’s president, someone would have had to been aware of any alleged theft. Gibbs is on trial over allegations she stole and subsequently laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars between March 2008 and October 2015 while serving as an employee at COB. She is facing 20 counts of falsification of accounts, 16 counts of stealing by reason of employment, and four counts of laundering the proceeds of criminal conduct for her alleged actions. It is alleged that Gibbs stole over $500,000 from COB by reason of her employment at the institution. It is also alleged that she falsified numerous COB direct deposit files, the result of which purported to show she was entitled to over $200,000 in salary payments. It is also alleged that she laundered over $800,000 worth of funds to various bank accounts, FirstCaribbean, Commonwealth Bank, RBC Finco and Scotiabank--between 2008 and 2015. According to court documents, Gibbs served as both a senior clerk and a human resources assistant at the college. She was arraigned in June 2016. COB transitioned into a university in late 2016 and is now called the University of the Bahamas. Aside from Mr Gomez, Al-Leecia Delancey and Antania Rolle-Taylor are the two other attorneys on record in the matter, representing the Crown. The trial continues.

CHIMEKA GIBBS

Campbell: Unfair to speak ill of taxi drivers OFFICIALS ‘HID FROM TRUTH ON FISH FRY’

By MORGAN ADDERLEY Tribune Staff Reporter madderley@tribunemedia.net  TRANSPORT and Local Government Minister Frankie Campbell has defended taxicab drivers in the wake of reports they were defecating and urinating in their vehicles while parked overnight at Prince George Wharf. Both Bahamas Union President Philip Watkins and Road Traffic Controller Ross Smith dismissed these allegations on Monday. Mr Watkins described the tabloid report as “old news” and “isolated incidents” that were previously addressed. Mr Smith told The Tribune he only heard of such a matter once before, in 2016. Mr Campbell addressed the matter outside Cabinet yesterday, saying he finds the negative generalisations of public service drivers to be unfair.  He told reporters: “I want to respond to comments that would have appeared in one of the dailies (on Monday) pertaining to cab drivers and their modus operandi here at the wharf. “Let me say that in my interaction with public service drivers, taxi drivers, jitney drivers, I have found that the broad brush with which they are all painted is not necessarily fair. “I must admit that there are those, and they are in the minority, that have gone afoul, that go contrary. And we are addressing that. We are strengthening our enforcement arm.” Mr Campbell continued: “I myself, while en route to work, have had to ask a driver to stop, and had one

By RICARDO WELLS Tribune Staff Reporter rwells@tribunemedia.net

THE president of the Arawak Cay Conch, Fish, Vegetable & Food Vendors Association Rodney Russell yesterday doubled down on his assertion that the group warned the government about crime threats at the Fish Fry, telling The Tribune officials “hid from the truth.” Mr Russell said he is disheartened by the way the government has handled that recent US State Department advisory which warned tourists to avoid visiting the Fish Fry at night, insisting he personally “sat in every office and made every call” hoping to warn both the government and police things were worsening at the site. Refusing to accept recent comments by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and various members of his Cabinet, Mr Russell said the government was intentionally pushing the narrative of “things were good and worsened slowly,” all while “they were told and refused to listen”. Raising fault with the silence of Agriculture Minister Renward Wells, Mr Russell said he and members of his association met with the minister and representatives from his office and presented detailed reports on matters that needed to be addressed immediately. However, he claimed, the Ministry of Agriculture did nothing. “We were talking for a while,” Mr Russell stated. “We met with him and he would give us his word that he would do something. He would say he was taking our concerns to (National Security Minister Marvin) Dames and to other people in the government. But

THE COURT of Appeal has quashed the sentences of two Nassau Flight Services employees previously convicted for possession of dangerous drugs with intent to supply and conspiracy to commit that offence concerning a 2016 incident at the Lynden Pindling International Airport. Appellate judges Jon Isaacs, Stella Crane-Scott, and Milton Evans quashed the three year sentences of Kevin Sweeting and Alex Turnquest on Monday concerning the discovery of some two kilos of cocaine in the glove compartment of a water truck at the airport in January 2016.  Mr Sweeting and Mr Turnquest were previously arraigned before then Magistrate Andrew Forbes alleging that they each conspired with others to possess two packages of cocaine with intent to supply the same to another at LPIA on January 22, 2016. According to the prosecution, security

nothing ever happened.” Mr Russell continued: “When we couldn’t get anything from him, we went to the police. We met with (Chief Superintendent Patrick) Johnson and was told yet again things would improve. This is why it is so hurtful. These men, these people with the power to make things right did nothing. We spoke to them and they did nothing to fix the problems. “Like seriously, we did what we could to stop this early in the process. The US report came out and instead of them saying, ‘we now have to take this serious,’ they’re all walking around selling the idea that this isn’t really happening, and who isn’t doing that, they’re saying they didn’t know. “We deserve better. They know they’ve failed us. They know and they’re now trying to run from the fact. “When it comes to (Mr) Dames, yes, maybe he was being kept in the dark. Maybe that is also the case with the prime minister, that could very well be, but the point remains, they’re the policy makers and didn’t step up,” Mr Russell said. “We told them about the harassment. We told them of all the robberies. We told them about the environmental issues. We told them everything. Only office that responded was the Department Environmental Health Services. So don’t accept that this just popped up last week. Those that know, know that this was coming for some time now.” When contacted Monday, Mr Wells refused to comment, insisting National Security Minister Marvin Dames had already addressed the ordeal in full. Asked to clarify issues discussed with the

TRANSPORT and Local Government Minister Frankie Campbell.  or two conversations with public service drivers who have gone contrary. “However, I am satisfied that the majority of them – particularly those who are a part of the organised union per se – are prepared to work with us to bring the radical change that the Bahamian people are looking forward to, especially us here in New Providence, that would bring some sense of order to the chaos that we have been

experiencing,” he said. “Let me state that from the time I became minister, I’ve engaged in dialogue with all the stakeholders, and we have come to a number of agreements. Many of them call for some legislative amendments or for some changes in the regulations. “And so those matters are in fact being addressed. And I can assure you, that in short order, you will see the manifestation of some

SENTENCES QUASHED OF AIRPORT WORKERS By NICO SCAVELLA Tribune Staff Reporter nscavella@tribunemedia.net

CHIMEKA Gibbs at a previous court appearance.

personnel stopped a water truck driven by Nassau Flight Services employee Cordero White as it was about to enter the area termed “Gulf 3”. That vehicle was searched and two packages of cocaine were discovered in the glove compartment. Both Mr Sweeting and Mr Turnquest were ultimately sentenced to three years for conspiracy to possess dangerous drugs with intent to supply. White was sentenced to three years after being convicted on both possession of dangerous drugs with intent to supply and conspiracy to possess dangerous drugs with intent to supply. The Tribune understands that both Mr Sweeting, represented by Ryszard Humes, and Mr Turnquest, represented by Bandele LaFleur, relied on similar submissions concerning their convictions. Regarding Mr Sweeting, Mr Humes contended that his client’s appeal ought to be allowed on several grounds, namely that Magistrate Forbes wrongly rejected evidence during

the trial; that he took extraneous matters into consideration; his decision was erroneous in point of law regarding the issue of lies; and that his decision could not be supported by the evidence. Regarding the latter, Mr Humes submitted there was no evidence Magistrate Forbes could have relied upon to convict Mr Sweeting for conspiracy to possess dangerous drugs. Mr Humes further submitted that there was no evidence of a common purpose to commit the offence in question, and that “sole reliance” was placed by the Crown on the records of interview of the three men, which he submitted was “exculpatory”, or vindicatory in any event. Mr Humes also charged that as Crown witness Henry Adderley, the shift supervisor, stated during trial that he left the work vehicle unlocked with the windows down for three hours prior to it being used by White, that allowed other personnel “total access” to “secrete” the drugs into the truck’s glove compartment.

association, Mr Wells again refused to comment. Chief Superintendent Patrick Johnson is presently out of office and could not offer comment. Superintendent Edward Demerit, in his place, confirmed that several meetings did take place with members of the Arawak Cay Conch, Fish, Vegetable & Food Vendors Association last year. However, he could not give any details on what transpired in those meetings and if any changes were made at the site. On Sunday, the prime minister told the Nassau Guardian security would be improved at the cultural site. “I heard the vendors,” Dr Minnis told the newspaper. “I’ve listened to what they said, and the mere fact that, that is one of our tourist destinations and attractions, and the mere fact that, that had been listed in isolation, we will ensure the improved safety and security at the Fish Fry and other touristic destinations. “And not only touristic destinations, but the entire Bahamas. The entire citizenry must be safe and must feel safe. That is our responsibility.” The US Embassy in Nassau issued a warning about Arawak Cay in late 2016, when the Christie administration was in office. “Think prudently about after dark travel. Inform someone of your travel plans and when to expect you. At night, park in lit areas when possible. Avoid unlit areas where persons could hide and ambush. For example, Nassau’s Arawak Cay area on Sunday evenings is a popular hangout and the scene of recent crimes of opportunity such as muggings and assaults, resulting in an increased police presence,” that warning noted.

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES

Sterling Global Development Limited seeks to hire experienced professionals for the following positions:

Development Manager

The successful candidate will: • Be responsible for one or several vertical and horizonta estate development projects. • Manage all consultants from concept plan through constr drawings and work with the Construction Manager throu completion of each project. • Coordinate closely with the Sales & Marketing team throu all phases of the project to ensure sales success. • Coordinate closely with the Accounting team and w responsible for the bottom-line performance of his/her p overall. • Report directly to the President of Sterling Global Develo Limited.

Qualifications should include: • Undergraduate and/or graduate degree(s) in engine architecture or business • Significant experience in running all aspects of a real project • A strong understanding of design, construction and pro form • An instinct for marketing and sales • Proven management ability to lead a team of consultant work within a development team The successful candidate must be based in Nassau, Bahamas. Occasional travel will be required.

Development Analyst

The successful candidate will: • Be responsible for preparing, monitoring and updating fin models for projects under development and for prosp acquisitions. As the Analyst increases in skill level, he/she w involved in strategic reviews of potential acquisitions and capital structure. • Have two two/three years’ experience related to financial an and will already have a high skill level related to spread preparation and analysis. • Have significant growth potential. The Analyst position can to a career path for more senior roles in general real development and operations, or in finance and M&A. • Report directly to the President of Sterling Global Develo Limited. Salary and incentive compensation will be commensurate with exper and a proven record of performance.

Qualified individuals should submit complete applications to: bahamascareers@gmail.com. Only those shortlisted will be contacted. Please no phone calls.

Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff of those agreements.” Mr Campbell also provided updates on the unified bus system pilot programme, adding that work is projected to begin in March. He said the programme’s success would also necessitate additional roadwork improvements. Mr Campbell said: “(There is a) pilot project that seeks to determine the feasibility of unifying the bus system. All (has)

been done to ensure that we facilitate their work and that committee continues to move forward. “My information is that hopefully as early as March, they will start in earnest to collect the data necessary to determine the feasibility of a unified bus system in New Providence. “That aside, there are other works going on behind the scenes to ensure that areas where there is no service, service will come

available. “Where there needs to be adjustment in bus stops, where bus stops need to be built, where roadsides need to be paved to allow for buses to pull over – all of those things are being addressed.” “Where we need to review changes in directions of the streets, etc, to reduce clogging of the traffic, we (are) addressing all those things simultaneously,” Mr Campbell said.


PAGE 6, Wednesday, February 7, 2018

THE TRIBUNE

Committee to present plan on dealing with shanty towns By RICARDO WELLS Tribune Staff Reporter rwells@tribunemedia.net THE government’s shanty town committee will soon present an action plan to deal with the longstanding problem, according to Labour Minister Dion Foulkes, who said the issue will be handled humanely. Mr Foulkes is a part of the 30-member committee, comprised of representatives from various government departments, ministries and law enforcement agencies. The group is expected to tour each shanty town identified and consult interested parties before taking action. Once done, Mr Foulkes said he will make an official communication to the Senate, followed by a press conference, where the committee will unveil

its timeline and plan of action. According to preliminary reports by the new committee, there are a total of 11 shanty towns in New Providence: eight in the southwest of the island and the remaining three in the eastern district. Additionally, the government is aware of four shanty town communities in Grand Bahama and several in North Eleuthera, North Andros and Abaco. Following last month’s devastating fire at The Mud in Abaco, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and a delegation of government officials travelled to the island to review the situation, subsequently announcing their intention to increase penalties for landlords who rent property to illegal immigrants. To that end, Mr Foulkes yesterday disclosed that

preliminary findings show all shanty towns in The Bahamas are either owned by Bahamians or exist in circumstances where Bahamians have the lease approval to oversee those properties. “Rents are collected in all the shanty towns, mainly by Bahamians,” Mr Foulkes said. He also said the committee has received a three-page action plan which features a clear timeline and specific goals. However, he said that plan will not be rushed by public demands or criticisms, adding that the government will continue to be guided by law and the various international conventions The Bahamas have signed. Mr Foulkes said: “We hope that we will be able to do this in a humane fashion and a sensitive fashion. There are a lot

of children who live in these shanty towns and we have to be very sensitive to that. Most of them are in schools. “Most of the residents there are working; a large section of them are actually Bahamian citizens, either have been naturalised Bahamians or who married Bahamians and have rights to be here. “A lot of the residents have work permits. There is a section of the residents in the shanty towns who are illegal and we intend to let them go through the process and have them deported. “There is also a small criminal element in some of the bigger shanty towns, and we are doing our due diligence to ensure that that is dealt with. “You would have seen a lot of things on social media and I know that the public is very concerned about the

conditions of these shanty towns,” he added. Mr Foulkes confirmed his committee has already visited the eight communities identified in southwestern New Providence and made plans to visit the three communities in eastern New Providence. He also said the committee is making preparations to tour all the others identified. While at The Mud following a fire there last month, Dr Minnis emphasised that shanty towns “break every regulation and law and safety standard in the country,” adding that his administration will finally be the one to address the problem. Dr Minnis questioned why legal residents on the island would live in the area as opposed to a proper subdivision. “This cannot continue,” he told some residents.

“You’re breaking every safety regulation. You don’t have the infrastructure in place. You have ignored it and allowed it to fester… Let them know we’re not going to tolerate this. This is a thing of the past.” In the days after the statements, some residents of shanty towns took to social media sites to vent frustration over their circumstances and offer some level of insight on what contributed to their decisions to take up residence in such communities. In the process, some laid blame at the feet of successive governments who they claimed turned a blind eye to the landowners that operated the communities. Others admitted the substandard conditions was all they could afford while working to obtain the necessary documents to reside in The Bahamas. 

BID TO JAIL SENIOR MEMBERS OF GOVT By AVA TURNQUEST Tribune Chief Reporter aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

LAWYERS for Jean Rony Jean-Charles are seeking constitutional relief over his re-arrest and detention over the weekend, and have asked the court to commit executive members of government to prison for contempt. The notice of motion argues the re-arrest was unlawful and a violation of Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hilton’s ruling ordering the government to facilitate Mr Jean-Charles’ return, despite the emergency stay granted while he was already en route to the country. It further claims that respondents – the attorney general, minister of immigration, director of immigration, superintendent of the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, and commodore of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force – failed to make a full and frank disclosure to the court or provide Mr JeanCharles with any evidence or submissions made to the

court to support the stay order. In response, Attorney General Carl Bethel told the media yesterday the government would not be “rolled over by a hastily filed and served action,” noting this motion will be heard separately from the stay application hearing set for tomorrow. Mr Bethel said: “Let me say that in the initial (Mr Jean-Charles) matter, the court allowed a last-minute constitutional motion to be tacked on to an application that was existing, that was bound to fail. We are not allowing that to happen this time, we made it clear to his lordship, his lordship has agreed, he is dealing with what is before him now and any constitutional issue that Mr Smith may happen to want to raise, which is his habitual method of operating, will have to stand or fall on its own merits in a separate hearing and a separate application. “In that matter we will fully defend the position and actions of the government and we will not be rolled over with some hastily filed

and served action on the day. We objected to it, it’s not before the court, Mr Smith can file whatever he wants to and we will see how that stands up when the substantial hearing on that application is made.” The government has appealed the Supreme Court ruling, and was granted a temporary emergency stay that led to Mr Jean-Charles’ arrest and detention over the weekend when he returned to the country after being deported to Haiti last year. His lawyers have objected to his arrest as a breach of the initial ruling that could not be halted by the stay, as it had already been effected. The stay application hearing began on Monday, but was adjourned until tomorrow at 10am. The notice of motion seeks an order that the government pay Mr Jean-Charles aggravated, exemplary and punitive damages, declaring that the respondents’ actions were “unlawful and egregious abuses of Executive power and contempt”.

BEREAN BAPTIST CHURCH

CELEBRATES 20th ANNIVERSARY

PASTOR GARY WATKINS Berean Baptist Church located on Carmichael Road, 1st corner East after Popeyes, celebrates its 20th Anniversary from February 7th to February 11th, 2018, under the theme "Celebrating God's Faithfulness". Services on Wednesday 7th through Friday 9th will be held at 7pm nightly. The service on Sunday, February 11th will begin at 11:00am. se

JEAN Rony after his court victory with Fred Smith QC. 

Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

AG - JEAN RONY CASE EXPOSES ID LOOPHOLE from page one Notwithstanding potential gaps in the law, Mr Bethel said the law provides certain rights, given an individual can prove they are the person named on a birth certificate - a feat he maintains Mr Jean-Charles has not been able to do. Mr Bethel spoke to media outside Cabinet yesterday morning. Later in the day, Mr Jean-Charles was not initially able to collect his belongings from the Carmichael Road Detention Centre (CRDC) because he could not produce any documentation to confirm his identity. The Tribune was told it took three separate attempts before Mr Jean-Charles was allowed to recover his items, which included a cellphone, a small bag of clothes and a printed copy of the courtordered emergency travel document issued by the government last week to facilitate his return from Haiti. The document contains an old photo of Mr Jean-Charles, which he previously confirmed was used on a certificate of identity that he held when he was 16 or 17. His personal copy of the document was destroyed by fire in 2016, he said, and had been his only photo ID. Attorney Fred Smith yesterday characterised the issue as a continued victimisation of his client by the Immigration Department, and a further aggravation of damages.  “In this particular matter,” Mr Bethel said outside Cabinet, “we feel that the case is very clear but there are several issues that the Court of Appeal opinion when given will be very helpful as we look towards the drafting of laws to cover what is an obvious lacuna (legal term for gap) in the law. “The law provides certain rights for persons born in the Bahamas provided they can show that they are the person named in the birth certificate,” he continued, “which is a situation that (Mr Jean-Charles) has not quite been able to do. But in

any case, where someone is able to show that they have a birth certificate, and to prove by corroborative evidence that they are in fact the person named in that birth certificate, then there is a gap in the law if they have not applied pursuant to the provisions of article 7 of the Constitution.” Mr Bethel said: “If they have not done so, the law is silent on what their status is, if any, and what right, or entitlement, or legal status, they may either possess at the time, or they may apply for. Certainly once the Court of Appeal has dealt with this particular matter we will factor in the court’s view of how things should occur under the existing law and we will follow that, but we will reserve the right as a sovereign government and a sovereign legislature.” On Monday, Mr Bethel explained Mr Jean-Charles’ case has placed the government in a position not covered by law or the Constitution, and urged the country to exercise restraint and let the law take its course following his release from custody. Mr Jean-Charles did not apply for citizenship when he was between the age of 18 and 19, and was deported at age 34 after being held at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre for some three months. His attorney filed a habeas corpus application questioning the lawfulness of his detention, but it was later revealed that he had been deported. In response to a subsequent constitutional motion, Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hilton ordered the government to “immediately” issue a travel document for Mr Jean-Charles to allow him to return from Haiti to the Bahamas at the government’s expense and to grant him legal status no later than 60 days after his return, and upon him making an application. The government has appealed the Supreme Court ruling, and was granted a temporary emergency stay that led to Mr Jean-Charles’ arrest and detention over the weekend

when he returned to the country. His lawyers have objected to his arrest as a breach of the initial ruling that could not be halted by the stay, as it had already been effected. The stay application hearing began on Monday, but was adjourned until tomorrow at 10am. Yesterday, Mr Bethel told reporters: “If we are not satisfied that the present legal situation adequately protects the Bahamian people or adequately addresses in an appropriate manner how persons in that situation ought to be treated and what rights they have, we reserve the right to go back to the legislature and have the legislature affirmatively clarify the position that is what will happen. “But we will not at this stage,” he added, “seek in any way to affect the matter presently before the Court of Appeal by some retroactive activity. We will see what the court says and we will then respond legislatively if necessary to that determination of the court.” It is unclear whether the Supreme Court’s ruling has had an impact on the government’s increased enforcement measures. Based on section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Justice Hilton stated if an individual is apprehended by immigration officers for allegedly committing an offence, that individual cannot be detained for more than 48 hours before being charged and taken before a magistrate. Yesterday, immigration officers reportedly apprehended Fanel Gassant, who had been recently released with reporting requirements from the CRDC pending the hearing of his habeas corpus application. Mr Gassant had been in detention at the CRDC since November 29; however, supporting affidavits say he is married to a Bahamian woman and has an outstanding application for a spousal permit. His lawyer, Crispin Hall, yesterday told The Tribune that he has filed a constitutional action over his apprehension.


PAGE 8, Wednesday, February 7, 2018

THE TRIBUNE

Christian or not, we are all entitled to the same protections, rights and freedoms

T

HE Bahamas is a Christian nation. That’s what we like to say. It is the proclamation that sets us apart from other countries. It is the reason for every good thing that has ever happened to us. Being a Christian nation protects us from natural disasters. It wins elections. It pro- manipulated and redevides the perfect excuse and fined according to specific opportunity for marginalis- circumstances. A supposed commitment ing vulnerable people, and with the backing of scrip- to Christianity is the answer ture, largely misquoted and to almost any question misinterpreted, to which we we don’t want to answer. “Christian nation” as a do not all ascribe. response seems to result Where did we get this idea? in an automatic bye, and Aside from declarations it is not being used to our by leaders of the Christian advantage as a country, but church and the rhetoric of to deny, deter and delay. It laypeople, the preamble of automatically brings prothe constitution is the main cesses and conversations to source of the belief that a halt, because we can’t risk The Bahamas is a Chris- angering a vengeful god, or defying the tian nation. words of the The consti- ‘In the name preamble to tution does of Christianity, a bible-like not explictext that must itly state The many have argued always, by Bahamas is that rape cannot nature of its a Christian exist within a existence, be nation and right. it does not marriage because, We are commit the according to The more tied to country to Bible, the two the preamChristianity. ble of the It says the become one and people rec- certain agreements constitution than most of ognise “the its articles. preservation are implied and The referenof their free- perpetual. Even if dum exercise dom will be this was anywhere of 2016 eviguaranteed denced the by”, among near acceptable lack of other things, as an argument — knowledge “an abid- and it absolutely is about, not ing respect only what is for Christian not — what of the in the constivalues”. It people who are tution, but its establishes not Christians?’ purpose and The Bahaimportance as mas as a “free and democratic sovereign supreme law. That is clearly nation founded on spiritual stated in Article 1. If people haven’t made it past Article values”. No one ever seems to 1, how much weight can we mention the other elements put on their understanding — self-discipline, unity of the constitution and the or respect for rule of law purpose of the preamble?   — required for the presStifling democracy ervation of freedom. They The “Christian nation” aren’t nearly as convenient for exclusion and aliena- cry is a well-practiced, dantion of others, or easily gerous, self-centered move

to divide and defeat. Citizens, presenting themselves as practicing Christians, find Bible verses to justify their points of view and argue against any law, policy, or person they deem to be unchristian. This type of argument is seen as king. It is holy and untouchable because its words came straight directly from The Bible. While Christianity — one of many religions — is relatable and sets the bar for a subset of Bahamian society, democracy is for everyone. The democratic system has to work for everyone, and to the same extent. There is not supposed to be special treatment, allowances, or power granted to any subset, religious or otherwise. The constitution of a democratic country, then, cannot limit the rights of some subsets. The same constitution that makes reference to “Christian values” includes in its chapter on the fundamental rights and freedom of the individual the right to “freedom of thought and of religion”, to opt out of religious instruction and ceremonies in places of education and to practice their religion. How, then, can The Bahamas specifically be a Christian nation? One of the core functions of democracy is rule of law. This is referenced in the preamble, immediately after “Christian values.” Rule of law says all citizens are equal under the law, regardless of demographics including religion, gender and race. The law is to be fair and impartial. Another core function of

BAHAMAS Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander pictured during his sermon at last year’s independence celebrations. Christianity is at the heart of many public events in The Bahamas - with prayers a regular feature of speeches - but in celebrating faith, are vulnerable people being marginalised?  Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff democracy is the protection of the human rights of all citizens. For this to be true, there cannot be laws that serve on group of people to the detriment of others. The Sexual Offences Act is a timely and relevant

example. In its definition of rape, it excludes perpetrators when they are married to the victims. This is clearly a violation of fundamental human rights, and the issue has finally been raised again. In the name of Christianity, many have argued that rape cannot exist within a marriage because, according to The Bible, the two become one and certain agreements are implied and perpetual. Even if this was anywhere near acceptable as an argument — and it absolutely is not — what of the people who are not Christians? What about married people of other faiths and those of no religious affiliation at all? Should the law of this country not grant them recourse? A Sexual Offences Act that does not limit the definition of rape to occurring outside of the context of marriage would not force Christians to bring rape charges against their spouses, but would protect those who want to use it. While the preamble to the constitution — not the constitution itself — suggests respect for both Christian values and the rule of law will aid in the preservation of our freedom, it is incumbent upon us to respect one

another. We need to put as much emphasis on and effort into self-discipline, industry, loyalty and unity as recommended by the same preamble. Christian or not, we live in a democratic country with people of different beliefs and practices and the constitutional right to them. Christian or not, we are all entitled to the same protections, rights and freedoms. Whether or not we are a truly Christian nation, the state has an obligation to its citizens. If we take the preamble as gospel, we must also believe we have an obligation to each other. It tells us what we ought to know and choose to ignore: our freedom is bound up in one another’s. As long as we choose to hold others down, or separate and apart, regardless of the reason or the way we use texts we believe are irrefutable — like The Bible and the constitution — to validate them, the fight to preserve our freedom will continue without positive result. This nation is more than the preamble to its constitution, and if we, today, are truly a Christian nation, we should be aiming higher.

To advertise in The Tribune, contact 502-2394


PAGE 10, Wednesday, February 7, 2018

THE TRIBUNE

Davis blames FNM after latest fires at dump site By KHRISNA RUSSELL Deputy Chief Reporter krussell@tribunemedia.net PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party Leader Philip “Brave” Davis was adamant yesterday that the former administration left preventative measures in place to avoid recurring fires at the New Providence Landfill as residents continue to struggle with the toxic smoke currently emanating from the dumpsite. Claiming these mechanisms were “dismantled” by the Minnis administration, Mr Davis pointed the finger at a previous Free National Movement regime suggesting it did not utilise $25m from the Inter-American Development Bank for the purpose of properly constructing the landfill. The day after residents who live in communities near the dumpsite said they have found themselves again going through routine recovery because of the noxious smoke from the site, Mr Davis sought to shift blame from the previous Christie administration under which he served as deputy prime minister and minister of works. However, recurring fires at the dump were a vexing

THE AFTERMATH of the most recent fire at the dump site.  Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff issue for the Christie necessary machinery and the former government’s administration as well, the equipment to be available proactive measures, Mr last one burning for nearly at a moment’s notice. Davis said the landfill is not “They were asked to a properly designed or conthree weeks in March leave and now they are structed site. 2017. “We know that when being asked to come back. “That goes back to a prewe left office we had left If they were there I am vious administration of the preventative measures in advised that the fire and the FNM when the IDB bank place to avoid the fires and smoke and the stench of the provided funding for a to be able to react expedi- smoke would not be as it is properly constructed landtiously to any signs of fires,” today. fill and provided I think “I am reminded that about $25m for the conthe PLP leader said yesterday during his monthly schools were closed yes- struction of the Harrold press conference at the terday and, of course, this Road landfill, putting in party’s Farrington Road is not supposed to happen the proper cells, the proper under the FNM. The lining and for the proper headquarters. “I am advised that hotels are affected in Cable disposal of garbage. plan has been disman- Beach. Again this is not “Now the IDB bank has tled and a number of supposed to happen under indicated it was not done. persons were asked to the FNM.” The funds have gone. No Asked to explain further one knows what happened leave the dumpsite with the

to those funds and why the landfill was never designed as was originally contemplated.” “In fact I heard the (Environment) Minister Romauld Ferreira speaking about the landfill and talking about the state of the landfill and he was decrying and talking about the fact that it was not properly constructed. Well he just needs to go back and ask (Finance) Minister (Peter) Turnquest to go and check to see what happened.” He continued: “The plans of the (former) government was to first of all start a recycling of the product and the garbage that was being brought and to remediate the whole site. There were a number of issues relating to getting that done so the minister of the environment then, Ken Dorsett, went out to bid for an entity to come and remediate the whole landscape. “That was well in train and before we were able to identify that person elections came and we were without and we are now hearing they have rolled back those plans. “I don’t know where it is other than the platitudes and generalisations or broadsides about what we didn’t do and what should have been done the

question is what you gonna do now?” While the Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador MP claims not to know the progress of land remediation at the landfill, Mr Ferreira said last month 18 expressions of interest were received. This is a stark increase when compared to the meagre two EOI received under the former Christie administration. Renew Bahamas was also contracted under the former government to remediate the landfill. In October 2016 the company discontinued its work. On Saturday, January 27, a fire erupted at the dump, sending plumes of black smoke in the air. More than a week later, locals said Monday they were still grappling with the effects of noxious smoke. It is an issue that residents have placed at the feet of previous administrations. Given the frustration of this issue, 111 residents have retained the services of attorney Fred Smith, QC, to represent them in a class action lawsuit. All classes at St John’s College were cancelled Monday due to excessive smoke on the school’s campus and immediate vicinity.

SPEAKER: I DON’T EXPECT TO SEE HANNA MARTIN By KHRISNA RUSSELL Deputy Chief Reporter krussell@tribunemedia.net

Funeral Service For SEAN SIMMONS, 52 of Valencia Drive, South Beach, will be held on Friday, February 9th, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Boyd Road. Officiating will be Monsignor Alfred Culmer, assisted by Deacon Peter Jones. Interment will follow in Lakeview Memorial Gardens, John F. Kennedy Drive and Gladstone Road. Cherished memories will forever linger in the hearts of Mother: Dorothy Bowe, Father: Wesley Simmons, Sisters: Pauline Edwards, Yvette Simmons-Goodman, Cherise Archer, Janiece Henfield (Judson), Kim Smith (Ian) and Judy Simmons (Anthony), Brothers: Cecil Craig Bowe (Esther), Dirk Simmons (Arlene), Kevin, Todd and Corey Simmons, Aunts: Edna Mae Newton, Willadale Campbell, Bessie Bowe, Sheila Albury and Corolla Johnson, Uncles: Philip, Paul and Glen White, Nieces: Monet Lockhart-Simmons, Dr. Anaja Edwards, Gabrielle Dorsett (Michael) Greer and Garae Goodman, Cheria, Charae and Cherelle Archer, Janae Poitier (Kenneth), Cecily Bowe, Madison, Courtney, Danielle and Diandra Simmons, Ijari Smith, Kevanya Simmons, Chrissy Palmer, Ianthia Smith and Ivanna Moncur (Wayne), Nephews: Stephano Greene (Tamika), Cecil Alvaron Bowe (Jennifer), E. Andrew Edwards Jr. (Denae), Jason Edwards, Kareem Gilharry, Craig, Cedric and Clement Bowe, Dirk Simmons Jr. and Ian Smith Jr.; Grand Nieces and Grand Nephews: Fantaisha, Famaisha, Fylesia Greene, Kareem (KJ), Aleanah, Alyssa and Ayden Longley, Jaeya Grace and Aubree Edwards, Kamya and Kai Armbrister, Kenneth Poitier Jr., Cecil, Caleb, Chase, Corner and Cooper Bowe, Coryn Greene, Kaitlyn Meadows, Alexis Godet, Michai and Michaella Dorsett; Numerous Cousins including: Jennifer Newton, Claire Sulmers, Andre Sulmers, Carman Mack, Troy Parham, Erica Saunders, Samuel Newton, Helena, Nita and Sandra Price, Nina Gray all of our New York Family, Carlton Smith and The Late Thelma Smith and Family, Blythe Bailey, Kevin Ferguson, Julie Anne Mortimer, Arnette Davis, Carlton Ferguson, Selven Basden and family, Michael Basden and family, , Christopher Rigby and family, Wade and Morris Jr. Simmons, Alicia Simmons, Alice Simmons-Davis, Janice Simmons, Elva Simmons-Davis, Sue Simmons, Carla Bartlette, Constance Simmons, Colea Simmons, Wade Simmons, Wesley, Craig, Kenneth, Ian and Winston Jr. Albury, and Roy Adams; Special Family and Friends including: Marcia Fraser, Sandy Bastian, Anthony Pinder and Family, Neko Barr and Family, Vasco Bastian, Andrew Edwards Sr., Mark Bethel, Elmore Archer, Miriam Lockhart and family, Elaine Bowe, Vernita Gardiner, Zerlene, Brad and Camille Fraser, Brenda Lewis and family, Shavonne and Sherry Albury and Family, Karen Farrington and family, Shirley Dowden and family, Shirley Jones and family, Jacqueline and Adrianne Wells and family, Melvern (Pam) Poitier and family, Sheila Tracey and Rev. Dr. Joanne Butler and family, Phedra Rahming and family, Michelle Barry and family, Bernadette Gardiner, Cherise Knowles, Willamae Dean, Katherine Fraser and family, Judy Curry and family, Greg Williams, Patrick Rutherford and family, Ruth Bowe-Darville and family, Princess Greene and family, Esther Turnquest and family, Densil Major and family, Dorothy Collie and family, Joyce Major family, Sonny Stubbs and family, The Higgs family, Douglass and Johnson family, Jeffrey and Faith Swaby and family, Anna Rahming and family, Kenya Dorsett, Kim Bodie, Coral Young and family, Felicity Ferguson and family, El Greco Hotel Family especially Diane Thompson, Doreen Mckenzie, Joann Sears and Hubert Knowles, The Catholic Church of the Resurrection Family, The Island Luck and Ultra Games Family, FNM South Beach Branch Family, FNM Elizabeth Branch Family, Sweetings Auto Family, 112 Restaurant Family. Viewing will be held in the Celestial Suite at Restview Memorial Mortuary and Crematorium Ltd., Robinson and Soldier Roads on Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and at the church on Friday from 9:30 a.m. until service time.

HOUSE Speaker Halson Moultrie does not expect to see Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin in Parliament when it convenes today after he named and suspended her last week. If Mrs Hanna Martin does show up for the session she could be sensationally escorted off the premises because after he ordered disciplinary measures on the MP during the last sitting, Speaker Moultrie notified the sergeant-atarms that she is not to enter the precincts until he has said otherwise. “The Speaker will convene Parliament as usual and we will go through the order of business as presented by the government,” Speaker Moultrie said yesterday when he was contacted by The Tribune. “As Speaker, I don’t expect to see Glenys Hanna Martin in the precincts of Parliament. But I understand the Official Opposition is attending and they intend to bring the member for Englerston along with them. “They have determined my ruling was wrong and null and void. But there is a process and that is a substantive motion should be made if you believe the Speaker was wrong and that has not been done.” Yesterday during a press conference at the Progressive Liberal Party’s headquarters, PLP Leader

Philip “Brave” Davis was resolute in his position that the Official Opposition regarded Speaker Moultrie’s actions as wrong, adding that they all intended to attend proceedings today. He told reporters he met with both Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and the Leader of Government Business in the House of Assembly Renward Wells, but walked away dissatisfied as there “appeared to be no middle ground” in this matter. However, Speaker Moultrie said yesterday he did not meet with Mr Davis. He said there was an attempt by the opposition through Mr Wells to meet, but there was a clash in schedules. “I hope that it will be corrected (by the end of the day),” Mr Davis said. “I spoke with the leader of government business yesterday, we had a two or three hour meeting discussing the issue and I gave him my point of view as to why I thought the whole matter was wrong and gave him my solution to correcting that which was wrong, which will permit decorum (and) will permit the member for Englerston to attend the House of Assembly to which she has been elected by the fine people of Englerston so that she can exercise her right of representation of those people, particularly more generally the 39 per cent

of PLPs that voted for us in the last election.” He continued: “I will expect her to be showing up. We will be showing up to the House because the decision is wrong. We hope they will understand that it’s wrong and we will turn up, but if we are not permitted we will take another course.” He said this issue emanating from Mrs Hanna Martin’s decision to defend the rights of two single mothers who were “unceremoniously” thrown under the bus by the government, adding the party knew their firings were political. He was referring to Danielle Gibson and Holly Barrett who insist they were fired as assistant managers of the North Eleuthera and Governor’s Harbour airports months after they say they warned Mr Davis their jobs were in jeopardy. Mrs Hanna Martin initially raised the issue in the House two weeks ago, but her comments were stricken from the record. Her naming and suspension last week stemmed from this situation. As the Speaker was reprimanding her for her behaviour during the session last Wednesday, she left the lower chamber. She was backed by Mr Davis and Exuma and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper who followed her departure as a sign of solidarity. She was later named and suspended.


THE TRIBUNE

Wednesday, February 7, 2018, PAGE 11

Minnis predicts great year as GB unemployment dips By DENISE MAYCOCK Tribune Freeport Reporter dmaycock@tribunemedia.net  PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said Grand Bahama’s unemployment rate is trending in the right direction, noting a slight decrease from 12.4 percent to 12.1 percent in 2017. He believes 2018 will be a “great year” for Grand Bahama and forecasted the island should soon see a significant increase in employment when hotels reopen on the Lucaya Strip. “The results of the recent labour force survey of the Department of Statistics for Grand Bahama for May 2017 to November 2017 does indicate some progress. We saw in Grand Bahama a slight decrease in unemployment from 12.4 to 12.1 percent,” he said in Grand Bahama last weekend. “There are still too many unemployed, but the rate is tending in the right direction. It should be noted that was an increase in employed person in Grand Bahama.” According to the prime minister, when compared with the previous employment figure of 26,160, the recent statistics report indicated the numbers increased to 27,240 employed persons on Grand Bahama. “We still need more job growth, but it still suggests that 1,080 more persons are working which means the numbers are definitely moving in the right direction.” Dr Minnis indicated Grand Bahama continues to be a major focus of his government and said his administration will

PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis during a visit to the Straw Market in Port Lucaya Marketplace last year. continue to work towards the complete restoration of the island. He believes Grand Bahama is key to the country’s success. “I recognise Grand Bahama as the headwind blocking The Bahamas from taking off, and it is essential that we concentrate on removing the headwind for The Bahamas to lift. And therefore, I have a personal interest in Grand Bahama, the Family Islands, the inner city, the poor, land, and, of course, just recently I

announced that all firsttime businesses will be exempted from business licence fees (for 2018).” Dr Minnis asked the Grand Bahama Port Authority to follow the government’s suit in granting exemption of business licence fees. “I also announced that all business with a gross of less than $100,000 be exempted from business licence fees. And I have been traveling to Grand Bahama for a very long time. And I know that the port loves Bahamians just as much as the

government, and therefore I am certain the port will match the government,” he said. He said that opening of the Bahama Zip Line at Pirate’s Cove Water Park strongly suggests investor confidence is improving. He commended the all-Bahamian investors. Dr Minnis stated that his government is working diligently to complete the sale of the Grand Lucayan property. Late last year, the Minnis administration had negotiated the completion of a

letter of intent for the sale of hotel property, which had employed about 1,000 Bahamians before closing in October 2016 after it sustained damage during Hurricane Matthew. He believes that after the property is reopened the economy of Grand Bahama will improve significantly, and bring increased employment and related businesses. Dr Minnis also noted that negotiations with Bahamas Paradise have resulted in the return of the Grand Celebration cruise ship and

the introduction of a second vessel, Grand Classica, that will bring additional stopover visitors in April. Additionally, he stated that negotiations with Sunwing have also resulted in the return of Vacation Express, which will introduce eight nonstop flights to Grand Bahama from US cities, starting in May. This service, he said, is expected to bring 16,800 visitors by air to the island. “I believe this year will be a good and excellent year for Grand Bahama,” Dr Minnis said.


PAGE 12, Wednesday, February 7, 2018

THE TRIBUNE

THIS image from video provided by SpaceX shows the company’s spacesuit in Elon Musk’s red Tesla sports car which was launched into space yesterday.

Space X rocket puts a sports car in space CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA Associated Press

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SPACEX’S big new rocket blasted off Tuesday on its first test flight, carrying a red electric sports car aiming for an endless road trip past Mars. The Falcon Heavy rose from the same launch pad used by NASA nearly 50 years ago to send men to the moon. With liftoff, the Heavy became the most powerful rocket in use today, doubling the liftoff punch of its closest competitor. The three boosters and 27 engines roared to life at Kennedy Space Center, as thousands watched from surrounding beaches, bridges and roads, jamming the highways in scenes unmatched since NASA’s last space shuttle flight. At SpaceX Mission Control in Southern California, employees screamed, whistled and raised pumped fists into the air as the launch commentators called off each milestone. Millions more watched online, making it the second

THE LAUNCH of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, top, and the booster rockets returning for a landing at the Kennedy Space Centre. biggest livestream in You- looking something like a Tube history. NASCAR racer out for a Perhaps even more riv- Sunday drive, with its right eting than watching the hand on the wheel and the launch — and simultane- left arm resting on the car’s ous, side-by-side booster door. landings — were the video A sign on the dashboard images beamed down of read: “Don’t panic!” BowElon Musk’s Tesla Road- ie’s “Life on Mars?” played ster circling the blue planet. in the background at one A space-suited mannequin point. A Hot Wheels roadwas at the wheel, named ster was also on the dash “Starman” after the David with a tiny spaceman on Bowie song. board. “It’s kind of silly and fun, The Falcon Heavy is but I think that silly and a combination of three fun things are important,” Falcon 9s, the rocket that said the SpaceX chief who the company uses to ship also runs Tesla and is keen supplies to the Internato colonize Mars. “The tional Space Station and lift imagery of it is something satellites. SpaceX is reusing that’s going to get people first-stage boosters to save excited around the world.” on launch costs. Most other Two of the boosters— rocket makers discard their both recycled from previous spent boosters in the ocean. launches — returned Unlike most rockets out minutes after liftoff for there, the Falcon Heavy on-the-mark touchdowns receives no government at Cape Canaveral. Sonic funding. The hulking rocket booms rumbled across the is intended for massive satregion with the vertical ellites, like those used by landings. the US military and majorMusk later revealed the league communication third booster, brand new, companies. Even before the slammed into the Atlantic successful test flight, cusat 300 mph and missed the tomers were signed up. floating landing platform, “It was awesome like scattering shrapnel all over a science fiction movie the deck and knocking out coming to reality,” said two engines. former NASA deputy He was unfazed by the administrator Dava lost booster and said watch- Newman, Massachusetts ing the other two land Institute of Technology’s upright probably was the Apollo professor of astromost exciting thing he’s nautics. “They nailed it. ever seen. Good for them.” Before liftoff, “I had this Given the high stakes image of just a giant explo- and high drama, Tuession on the pad, a wheel day’s launch attracted bouncing down the road, huge crowds not seen since the Tesla logo landing NASA’s final space shutsomewhere,” he said. “But tle flight seven years ago. fortunately, that’s not what While the shuttles had happened.” more liftoff muscle than the Musk’s rocketing Road- Heavy, the all-time leaders ster is shooting for a solar in both size and might were orbit that will reach all the NASA’s Saturn V rockets, way to Mars. which first flew astronauts Ballast for a rocket to the moon in 1968. debut is usually concrete Not counting Apollo — “so boring”, Musk said moon buggies, the Roadster in a post-launch news is the first automobile to conference. speed right off the planet. The Roadster was If it weathers all the conanything but. Cameras ditions ahead, the Roadster mounted on the car fed will reach the vicinity of stunning video of “Star- Mars in six months, Musk man” tooling around Earth, said.

02072018 news  
02072018 news  
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