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N ASSA U AND BAHAMA ISLANDS LEADING NEWSPAPER Govt interfering in homes probe Volume: 108 No.20WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2011 PRICE 75 (Abaco and Grand Bahama $1.25 WEATHER SUNNY AND WINDY HIGH 79F LOW 68F B y AVA TURNQUEST T ribune Staff Reporter a firstname.lastname@example.org POLICE recommended an independent audit of all min istry accounts, and a review of all line staff and contrac tors at the close of initial investigations into allegations of corruption at the Ministry of Housing, The Tribune has learned. Former lead investigator Keith Bell yesterday urged the government to give a full account of the police investigation, and any further findings. There is obviously political interference and political influence going on with this administration. There is no question about it, Mr Bell said. I dont know of no case in the history of The Bahamas where it took a whole team of officers five years to investigate not even Sir Harry Oakes murder. I cant tell you about no case, they need t o give an account. Mr Bell said he presented h is investigation to former Minister of Housing Kenneth Russell, and turned over the file to the commissioner of p olice in 2007. Mr Bell said: I told Minist er Russell right there and then, that if he has any tenac ity he would conduct an inde pendent audit of all of the accounts inside the Ministry of Housing and he would also review his entire line staff and all of the contractors. I told him that he would have to make a decision as to whether or not there was evidence substantively or otherwise and he would have to make a decision as to how we deal with the people within and outside of his ministry. Investigator sa ys inspector s marginalised TRY OUR DOVE RASPBERRY McFLURRY The Tribune THEPEOPLESPAPER BIGGESTANDBEST LATESTNEWSONWWW.TRIBUNE242.COM HOPEFORTHEHOMELESS S S O O L L E E S S W W I I T T H H S S O O U U L L SEEARTSSECTIONC NFLFOOTBALL M M I I A A M M I I D D O O L L P P H H I I N N S S C C O O A A C C H H F F I I R R E E D D SEESPORTSSECTIONE im lovin it By SANCHESKA BROWN Tribune Staff Reporter email@example.com A PRISON inmate was s hot yesterday morning after managing to escape custody while at the hospital. D orion Ambrister, 28, escaped by jumping through a bathroom window at the Princess Margaret Hospital at about 5.40am. Fox Hill press spokesman Sergeant D McKenzie said: Armbrister was under 24hour guard by a prison officer while at the hospital. He was allowed to use the restroom By LAMECH JOHNSON firstname.lastname@example.org A PREGNANT woman was acquitted of a serious drug possession charge yesterday when one of two codefendants pleaded guilty to the offence and admitted too wning the marijuana found in his car during a search. The prosecution withdrew the charge against 29-year-old D eandre Gilbert who, with Michael Rox, 24, pleaded not guilty to possessing marijuana w ith intent to supply. Rox was also acquitted. The two, with Jamal May c ock, 32, appeared before Deputy Chief Magistrate Carolita Bethell, at Court 8, Bank Lane. I t was alleged that on Sun day, December 11, around NASSAU BEACH HOTEL DEMOLISHED By KHRISNA VIRGIL email@example.com ROYAL Bahamas Defence Force officers believe there is a good chance a group of men who went missing at sea while on a fishing trip could still be alive. Lieutenant Commander Nedly Martinborough said the four mens vessels were sighted off the coast of Cay Lobos not far from Cuba on Monday at 8pm. The Mangrove Cay, Andros, residents were reportBy SANCHESKA BROWN Tribune Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org OFFICIALS at the Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas signed contracts worth $5 million yesterday to upgrade ZNS Television from an analog broadcasting sys tem to high definition. Kit Digital, a publicly traded digital integration company, has been awarded a $2.4 million contract to design, engineer and install ZNS new digital television facility in New Providence. An additional $2.6 million will be used to purchase a mobile TV vehicle, upgrade ZNS facilities in Grand Bahama, carry out supple mental works necessary to accommodate the upgrade, and conduct staff training. Minister Tommy Turn quest, who has oversight of public broadcasting, said ZNS will now be able to operate with digital television equipment to provide its national audience with video and audio quality in keeping with international industry stan dards. The digitalisation trans $5M DEAL SIGNED TO UPGRADE ZNS TELEVISION TO HIGH DEFINITION THE NASSAU Beach Hotel, in Cable Beach, is being demolished as part of the ongoing redevelopments in the west part of New Providence. Photo: Felip Major /Tribune Staff HOPE FOR MISSING MEN PRISONER SHOT IN ESC APE BID CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST PREGNANT WOMAN S S e e e e p p a a g g e e 7 7 S S e e e e p p a a g g e e 3 3 S S e e e e p p a a g g e e 7 7 S S e e e e p p a a g g e e 7 7 S S e e e e p p a a g g e e 7 7
B y CELESTE NIXON Tribune Staff Reporter email@example.com GOVERNMENT yesterday put forward a multi-million dollar loan resolution tof acilitate much-needed overhauls and upgrades to water and sewage infrastructure. M inister for the Environm ent Earl Deveaux opened the debate in parliament on the resolution to borrow $81 million from the Inter-American Development Bank top rovide for an enhanced w ater programme for the c ountry. He said there is an urgent need to improve the infrastructure and put in place the necessary provisions for ade-q uate levels of service. The approved $81 million l oan to the Bahamas government will permit us to measurably address these continuing challenges at WSC. The overall goals of the w ater supply and sanitation s ystems upgrade is to improve the efficiency of service and quality of potable water, address immediate sanitation problems and facilitate the design and implementation of economic and environmental regulations fort he production and delivery of potable water, Mr Deveaux said. T he majority of the loan w ill be directed at reducing t he non-revenue water ($49 million); rehabilitating sewer p lant infrastructure and designing a master plan for waste water treatment ($15.5m illion), said Mr Deveaux. A further $5.5 million will be allocated for the institutional strengthening of the Water and Sewerage Corpor ation to improve staff productivity and customer serv ice, he said. Following this, Mr Deveaux said, the government intends to relinquish its regulatory role in water and sanitation, w ith future tariff increases f alling under URCAs respons ibility. Additionally, $3 million will be allocated for the establish-m ent of a new independent e nvironment regulator. In order for the water and sanitation sector to developa nd function at the level that we all expect, an appropriate framework is required to a dminister economic and environmental regulation, said Mr Deveaux. LOCAL NEWS PAGE 2, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2011 THE TRIBUNE Water loan deal ENVIRONMENTMINISTER Earl Deveaux
B y LAMECH JOHNSON firstname.lastname@example.org T HE murder trial of an Abaco teenager came to an end yesterday afternoon when the jury declared him not guilty. R aheem McBride, 19, of M urphy Town was acquitted o f the murder of Arah Brown, who was stabbed on September 13, 2010 on Curry Lane,M urphy Town. Initial reports indicated that t he stabbing occurred after a f ight broke out between the t wo. During the trial, evidence presented to the court sugg ested that the fight had been initiated by Brown. McBride claimed selfd efence throughout the tria l. P rosecutor Linda Evans attempted to convince the j ury that McBride had used excessive force in defend-i ng himself, based on the w ide, four-inch deep wound to the abdomen of the d eceased, which caused his bowels and intestines to be v isible. S he told the jury during c losing submissions that e xcessive force was enough to warrant the charge of murd er. Defence attorney V Alfred Gray emphasised that hisc lient acted in self-defence a fter being attacked by the deceased, who was armed w ith a piece of sharpened wood. A fter Justice Vera Watkins r eviewed the evidence, the jury deliberated for nearly f our hours before delivering the 12-0 not guilty verdict. J ustice Watkins dismissed t he jury and said to McBride: The jury has returned a not g uilty verdict, that means you are free to go. M cBride thanked Mr Gray for his services before leaving the court with his stepfa-t her. LOCAL NEWS THE TRIBUNE WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2011, PAGE 3 n tb bnbrnnbr n tbnnrf B y DANA SMITH d email@example.com POLICE are searching for t he two suspected armed robb ers involved in Mondays h igh-speed car chase and gunfight on Eastern Road. Y esterday, police confirmed that two men approached a woman in the P almdale area around 11am, a rmed with handguns. They robbed her of an undisclosed amount of casha nd made off in her Nissan Sentra. The woman immediately c alled police, and officers on m obile patrol spotted a v ehicle matching the description of the stolen car i n the Montagu area, headi ng east. T he driver sped off when h e saw the police and a highspeed chase ensued. T he car eventually crashed on San Souci Road after making a sharp turn. T he men emerged from the c ar with guns drawn, according to police, and engaged the officers in a gunfight which f rightened those in nearby homes. I was in my house when I h eard probably about four shots it was like Pow pow pow pow. I didnt know what it was at first but then I recognised that it was guns hots for sure, one woman said. My dogs started barking a nd, of course, I was scared. I s tayed in my house. A nother neighbour told how he heard the loud car c rash followed by four rapid shots. Both suspects managed to e scape, but an Eastern Road r esident insists one of them was shot during the gunfight and must seek medical attent ion soon. The area was combed by police officers and canineu nits, but no sign of the men was found. Anyone who has information concerning this incident or the suspects is urged to c ontact police immediately by calling 919 or 911. B y CELESTE NIXON Tribune Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org A NUMBER of people are being questioned by police inc onnection with the most recent Family Island murder. Superintendent Noel Curry, stationed on Abaco, con f irmed yesterday evening that six men are currently in police custody and undergoing ques t ioning regarding the fatal shooting of Claude Collins of Marsh Harbour last week. A ccording to police reports, M r Collins was shot a num ber of times in the chest shortly before 8pm on Friday while s tanding in front of a home in Sweetings Village. He was taken to a local clinic where he later suc c umbed to his injuries, police said. However, residents claim M r Collins died at the scene. Suspicious men were seen scouting the area earliert hat day, one resident said, a nd had been seen in the area a week prior. (Collins a ssociation with human traf ficking, and that usually includes drug trafficking. Its ah it, said the resident. He said Mr Collins went outside to get a smoke, he sat o n the porch and someone shot him five to six times in the chest. The coroner said whoever shot him was makings ure they killed him. According to the resident, a boat was seen leaving the s hore about 1,000 feet away from the scene shortly after the shooting. W hile there are a number o f people being interviewed by police, Supt Curry said he is not sure if charges will beb rought. He said: I do not know if charges will be broughta gainst them, police are work ing feverishly to resolve this matter. MINISTER Tommy Turnquest said the digitalisation will enhance ZNS. Teenager cleared in murder trial POLICE CONFIRM TWO SOUGHT AFTER HIGH-SPEED CAR CHASE SIX MEN QUESTIONED OVER KILLING f ormation of television will enhance ZNS brand identity, provide a significant improvement in productivity, workflow and creativity, while also enhancing professionalism, he said. It is also anticipated that this digital upgrade will improve the qualityo f on-air presentations, reduce operational and maintenance costs and increase ZNS capacity to produce quality local programmes. Bahamians everywhere should benefit from thei mproved digital television quality. Mr Turnquest said particular attention will be paid to the training and development of the corporations staff to enable them to take advantage of the new digital technology. This new upgrade not only satisf ies the FNMs 2007 Manifesto commitment to transform ZNS into a 21st century multimedia corporation, but advances the governments objective of causing ZNS to become a producer of local programming, using the works of Bahamian writers,d irectors, artists, musicians, producers and technicians, he said. T he last upgrade of ZNS television equipment was in 1997. At that time, the government spent $4 million. Mr Turnquest admitted that for many years, ZNS spent twice asm uch as it earned, and was over s taffed, millions of dollars in debt and unable to raise capital on its own. Last year, in an effort to reduce costs, the Broadcasting Corporation laid off more than 80 employees. Since then, Mr Turnquest said, the board at ZNS has been given a man-d ate to make the corporation more functional, more cost-effective and more accountable than it has ever been. No longer will there be managers a t ZNS with very few or no employees to manage, the minister said. $5M DEAL SIGNED TO UPGRADE ZNS TELEVISION B y DANA SMITH email@example.com TOP officials at the Royal Bahamas Police Staff Association confirmed yesterday that government-promisedp ay increments have been r eceived by police staff. Dwight Smith, executive chairman of the Police Staff Association, said: All the increments were restored and persons have received it. Earlier this year, Prime M inister Hubert Ingraham announced civil servants at the maximum of their pay scales will receive a one-time lump-sum payment, equivalent to one increment. In addition, two more i ncrements will be added to every pay scale in the public service and every public officer will be entitled to an i ncrement in pay during the next fiscal year, and a furt her increment during the subsequent year. There are 500 persons within the police force, Mr Smith said. I can say, with-o ut a shadow of a doubt, at t he pay date of this month, those persons received the amount of monies that was allotted for them. Mr Smith thanked the government for keeping their word and ensuring that much of our officers have a good Christmas. According to Mr Smith, around 500 police officers and staff received between $400 and $700 in increments, depending the length of ser-v ice. On the table to be discussed in future are salary, a new medical plan, and a new pension plan. POLICE RECEIVE PAY INCREMENTS f f r r o o m m p p a a g g e e o o n n e e
EDITOR, The Tribune. THE Nassau Guardian reported as its headline on November 23, 2011, that NEMA cant account for 20 million relief dollars that came in during Hurricanes Jeanne and Frances. What is even more disturbing is that this inci dent took seven years to be publicized. Seven years. The Director of NEMA at the time was Carl Smith. He is now the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security. The former Prime Ministers statement on the missing $20m was puzzling at best. The Nas sau Guardian quoted the Rt Hon Perry Christie as saying that he was not briefed on the matter and expressed surprise over the amount of money involved. He said that he pre sumes that a police investigation is going on. The Tribune reported that some people have gone to court and that proceedings are continuing. In my opinion, this is unac ceptable. The National Emer gency Management Administration is a public entity and when funds are unaccounted for the public needs to be informed in detail as to what is going on and in a reasonable time period. Seven years in my view is not a reasonable time period. What is the Bahamas Information Services role in this? Arent they mandated to issue press releases on government business? $20m is a lot of money. The apparent complicity in alleged illegal and/or unauthorised activities at the highest levels in government must cease. Is it a case of I cant prosecute you because my name might be called? Our parliamentarians have yet to disclose their assets which are a requirement by law each year. Last year there was a big fuss over the constituency funding in which parliamentarians could not account for monies spent on their constituency. Good public policy mandates a paper trail. Additionally, why havent we heard from the Ministry of Education on the finalised audit report of the Loan Scholarship Programme? Back in August of this year, the dailies were reporting alleged improprieties with the accounting practices of certain employees. Millions of dollars have gone missing and/or are unaccounted for. The public should be made aware of these findings. These items should not be kept for the privileged few sitting at the round table. Let me reiterate. All public matters should be publicly disclosed. The Bahamas Mortgage Cor poration is another government entity where public funds allegedly have been mishandled. The jury is still out on this, but I must give credit to the candid updates by Dr Duane Sands and his staff on the state of affairs at the corporation. I believe that his honesty thus far can serve as a model that government officials present and future can use to ensure that public activity is made public and that all impro prieties in government entities are publicly disclosed. A trend has developed in the Bahamas. Accountability seems to be a foreign word in some of our government ministries. As a citizen of this country, I just want whats best for Bahamians. The cur rent economic climate that we are in does not allow us any room for error with the public purse. Tighter measures need to be enforced and those charged with this responsibility need to know that if they fail to carry out this mandate, they will face severe consequences. Where is the money? I think all right thinking Bahamians would like to know. DEHAVILLAND MOSS Nassau, December 7, 2011. EDITOR, The Tribune. IN THE Bahamas today, and as it has been for many decades now, to operate a small business is almost a sure death knell for an entrepreneur. Now we should understand that this is not the situation in all cases, but in far too many. When it comes to concessions, the system in The Bahamas is set up in such a way that the foreign and big business owners are given approximately 99 per cent and small Bahamian owners 1 per cent or none at all. There may be a number of individuals who may question the validity of this claim but one need only obtain a list of incentives offered to foreign and big businesses and a list (if one can be found) of those offered to small Bahamian businesses. When we consider the fact that our reliance is heavily on foreign investors, then we can understand that it may be appropriate to offer some con cessions. This is okay but what about Bahamian investors? The small struggling Bahamian business investor deserves incent ives too. Prior to 1967, we used to blame the white man for our misfortunes. We were made to believe that if the black man was in charge, opportunitiesa nd conditions for blacks in particular would improve. In some areas, this has become a reality but when it comes to owning and operat ing a business, the ground is far from being level. The picture resembles more a mountain and a valley and you my friends can guess who is on the moun tain top and who is down in the valley. The significant difference in our society today from the pre1967 era is that many of our black leaders of today are only interested in themselves and their families and friends. Many of these individuals enter the halls of Parliament with a few thousand dollars to disclose and within five short years they emerge as millionaires. The small business-man is the least of their worries. They are too busy in many instances looking out for themselves. A nother interesting fact, which is indicative of the exist ence of double standards related to the small business operations is in the energy sector. Many large Bahamians as well as foreign businesses are allowed to go for months and months owing the corporation thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars. O n the other hand, when a small business is overdue just by one month, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC shows up, turns off the electrical supply. All businesses, no matter the nature, have overheads and other related com mitments. H owever, it is all relative irrespective of the size. The big business has overhead and personnel to pay, so does the small business. For many years now, small businesses along with others have been required to pay for refuse (garbages uch compliance has been sought from the big businesses on Bay Street. The excuse is that this is a high tourist-traffic area, well on an island that is only 147 square miles we should not allow one street to go without the required service(s One other area for our consideration is the current much complained about road-works. Many small businesses are feeling the full brunt of the road improvement project. Some of the issues are as follows: 1) Vehicles cannot gain access to many small enterprises; 2) Pedestrians refuse to patronise many small businesses due to ditches, muck and water they have to cross; 3) In some instances conditions are left for extended periods of time blocking the entrance to small businesses; and 4) In spite of the disadvantaged position of slow or no business (little or no monies yet they are required to meet high utility and other bills. With regards the double standard that exists when it comes to outstanding BEC bills, in the past it was reported that a number of our leaders failed to pay their bills for many m onths and even years. Let us hope that they are all paid up, or this too can be added to the apparent double standard that hard working Bahamians have to contend with. R emember small businesses contribute significantly to the Bahamian economy and they deserve more support, and less empty promises. It is indeed a big risk to own and or operate a small business in the present environment. MICHAEL E TURNER Nassau, December 2, 2011. EDITORIAL/LETTERS TO THE EDITOR P AGE 4, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2011 THE TRIBUNE The Tribune Limited NULLIUS ADDICTUS JURARE IN VERBA MAGISTRI Being Bound to Swear to The Dogmas of No Master LEON E. H. DUPUCH, Publisher/Editor 1903-1914 SIR ETIENNE DUPUCH, Kt., O.B.E., K.M., K.C.S.G., (Hon. Publisher/Editor 1919-1972 Contributing Editor 1972-1991 EILEEN DUPUCH CARRON, C.M.G., M.S., B.A., LL.B. Publisher/Editor 1972Published Daily Monday to Saturday Shirley Street, P.O. Box N-3207, Nassau, Bahamas I nsurance Management Building., P.O. F-485, Freeport, Grand Bahama TELEPHONES S witchboard (News, Circulation and Advertising) 322-1986 A dvertising Manager (242 C irculation Department (242 N assau Fax: (242 F reeport, Grand Bahama: 1-(242 Freeport fax: (242 W EBSITE w ww.tribune242.com updated daily at 2pm CHRISTMAS is coming and the goose i s getting fat, please put a penny in the o ld mans hat; if you dont have a penny, a farthing will do, if you dont have a fart hing, God bless you! Yes, Christmas is a-coming and the fraudsters are again on the prowl, but, unlike the poor old man who was satisfied with a paltry farthing which in t hose ancient times could have proba b ly bought him a cup of hot tea todays beggars are really big time crooks on the prowl for the few generous hearts that are left amongst us to fill their greedy m aws. A few years ago, there was an outbreak o f some of our prominent citizens being stranded in various parts of the world and sending cries for financial help to their friends at home to pay their hotel bills to enable them to return home. Of course, there was promise of reimbursement on their return to Nassau. W e recall receiving three such solicitat ions ostensibly from Bahamians within a period of two weeks about four years ago. The text of the letters was almost identical as if it were a form letter, signed b y different Bahamians. We only knew the person whose name was used in the first letter. Although we recognised the names of the other two persons in the other two letters, we did not know them personally. T he first solicitation came from a young university student who we knew to be att he University of the West Indies. Accord i ng to the letter, she had gone to London for some unknown reason, had her passport and money stolen, was in dire straights and needed immediate help to pay her expenses and get home. We locat ed her at the university and confirmed that she was nowhere near London. The other two letters soon followed. Each let ter started with the sentence: Im sorry I did not inform you about my trip to Eng land We were not the only ones to receive these letters. Embarrassed Bahamians w hose names were being used sent out d isclaimers. As mysteriously as they s tarted, the letters stopped until yesterday when we received the followi ng: HELP ME Im Sorry I did not inform you about my trip to England, I'm presently in Engl and, UK, something extremely awful hap p ened to me, I was robbed at gun point on my way to the Hotel by some Hoodlums and they made away with my Bag and other valuables. Presently my things are b een held down by the hotel management due to my inability to pay the hotel bills w hich I currently owe, they even had to restrict my access to the hotel facilitates until outstanding bills are cleared and i don't have a dime on me again, i had to walk down to the city library in order to send you this email. I have spoken to the embassy here but they are not respondinge ffectively to the matter. I feel so devastated, now my passport a nd other belongings are been retained by the hotel management pending the time I pay my hotel bills. This is shameful,I need you to help me with a loan of 1,150 P ounds to pay my hotel bills and get my self home. I will reimburse you soon as I get back Home. I will appreciate whatev er you can assist me with. Let me know whatever amount you can help me with. Hopes on you. S S o as not to embarrass the Bahamian w hose name is being used, we have delet ed it. The letter with all its grammatical errors is as we received it. We have reprinted it here to warn anyone who might receive a similar letter not to fall for the bait. Obviously, crooks are out to take advantage of the spirit of giving that is the theme of the Christmas season. Whoever this thief is, he/she is certain ly not a poor old man, who needs a penny dropped into his hat, or a stranded Bahamian anxious to get home. A big risk for small businesses LETTERS l firstname.lastname@example.org Fraudsters on the prowl for your money Wher e is the mone y?
By KHRISNA VIRGIL email@example.com THE FNM administration h as done nothing but mismana ge the country and its econom y, opposition MP Ryan Pinder claimed yesterday. During the House of Assembly debate on 15 Bills aimed at reforming the finan-c ial sector, Mr Pinder said the governments actions have put the countrys financial stability at risk for decades to come. Uncontrollable borrowing, the lack of fiscal responsibility and discipline on spending hasr esulted in negative outlooks and commentary about the financial and economic state of the Bahamas, he said. Under this FNM administration, the credit rating was d owngraded more than once a nd we are at risk for another credit downgrading. Mr Pinder went on to present parliamentarians with a timeline of the countrys cred-i t rating history. The recent downward trend is proof, he said, of the FNMs inability t o manage the countrys f inances. In December 2009, he said, Standard & Poors (S&Pl eading credit rating agency, took an extraordinary position in downgrading the credit rating of the Bahamas on the grounds of increaseds pending and a narrow reve nue base that has weakened t he governments fiscal position, Mr Pinder said. According to the Elizabeth MP, the government failed to heed S&Ps warnings, caus-i ng further downgrading. He noted that in 2011, S&P made more observations concerning the Bahamas economy. In the July 25, 2011 report, Standard & Poors identified that one of the weaknesses oft he Bahamas was a rise in fiscal debt and deficits that were generated during the recession, he said. Mr Pinder said S&P asserted that the countrys credit rating c ould improve if the agency s aw reasons for optimism. He said: They do recognise that ratings could rise if the government takes a more proactive response to reducet he debt levels. I see no proactive, progressive policy from this gove rnment. In fact this governm ent is all about debt, and more debt, and more debt, and more debt, without careo r concern with how it will be paid back. Standard & Poors observed that at the time of the report the deficit as a per-c entage of GDP was more t han 65 per cent higher than t he average for BBB rated countries. Mr Pinder said this demonstrates the governments lack of a progressive policy tor educe the debt ratio. Speaking later during the debate, Marco City MP Zhivargo Laing pointed out that government debt has risen, not just in the Bahamas, but around the world as ther esult of the largest international economic crisis in almost 80 years. Producing charts that indicated upward trends in public debt in a number of countries, i ncluding the Bahamas, Mr L aing nevertheless assured parliament that the country is well placed to meet its debt servicing responsibilities, not just now, but also well intot he future. LOCAL NEWS THE TRIBUNE WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2011, PAGE 5 b n f b T HE P olice Force pilot tests out a helicopter the force is considering buying in order to help in the fight against crime. Photo: Felip Major / Tribune Staff POLICE TEST OUT NEW HELICOPTER FNMhas mismanaged countr
W ELL, this is all very confusing, isnt it? Just before an election the leader of the FNM gets into a nomination spat with a threetime successful candidate in one of the partys GrandB ahama strongholds. The 58-year-old candidate i s a Cabinet minister, who has complained publicly about changes to the boundaries of his High Rock constituency, recently redrawn as East Grand Bahama. And in quick time, he is sacked from theC abinet and starts behaving like Tennyson Wells right before the election. So what is this all about? Where does party business end and government businessb egin in this political squabb le? And exactly why was K en Russell fired? Social media websites were deluged over the weekend with questions and opinions on these unusual develop-m ents. Most of those comm ents, and much newspaper coverage as well, focused on the nomination issue, and the supposed rift between original FNMs and so-called Ingrahamites, who joined the party after 1990. F or example, Ivan Johnson i n T he Punch s aid the controv ersy revolved around Russ ells gross disrespect of Ingraham over the nominat ion issue. And tensions were so high at a meeting in Grand B ahama on Sunday, T he P unch s aid, that a special security detail had to accompany the prime minister. This was denied to me by individuals who attended the packed meeting in Freeport,a nd an online video of Ingrah ams remarks showed no evidence of dissent or hostility amongst the exuberant crowd of FNM supporters, despite Ken Russells obvious prese nce in the audience. The PM has enraged the C ecilite FNMs with his cold and harsh treatment of Ken Russell, Kendal Wright and Verna Grant, The Punch w rote on Monday. Meanwhile, Russell had earlier told the Freeport News he did not k now why he was fired. B randing Ingraham a tyrant, he said he would seek to run in the next elec-t ion anyway. However, insiders say the sacking had little to do with R ussells attempt to hold onto t he FNM nomination, or to any disagreement over the redrawing of constituencyb oundaries. He was fired because he publicly opposed a Cabinet decision. U nder our system of gove rnment, ministers must support in public the collective judgment of the government a nd their Cabinet colleagues. A minister who cannot support a major government pol i cy is expected to resign. Or f ace dismissal by the prime minister. This is clearly spelled out i n T he Manual on Cabinet Procedure : A fundamental principle of Cabinet govern-m ent is unity. It is important to present a united front to the public. If any minister feels conscientiously unable t o support a decision taken by Cabinet, he has one course o pen to him and that is to r esign his office. And in a telling comment to The Tribune by Maurice Moore one of the original so-called Cecilites and the former parliamentary repre-s entative for High Rock Russell didnt handle the matter correctly. In fact, the reason for Ken Russells firing goes back to the waning months of the C hristie administration, when t he government received a p roposal from an American company known as Beka Development. Beka reportedly wanted to acquire 64,000a cres in east Grand Bahama at a concessionary price of $2,800 per acre. A ccording to Sir Arthur F oulkes, writing in T he Tribune in March 2007, Mr Christie and his colleagues int he PLP government must have taken leave of their senses even to entertain such a proposal. But it is obvious t hat preliminary talks have taken place and that Beka has been encouraged to pro-c eed. Since then, Beka has turned its attentions to the island of E leuthera, where it is supp osedly pursuing a multi-million-dollar project on privately owned pristine coastl ine at South Point. This project is opposed by environmentalists, and last summerB eka said its failure to a dvance the Grand Bahama project was also due to environmental issues, and the f act that 80 per cent of the required land was govern ment-owned. M eanwhile, the original east Grand Bahama project seems to have morphed into something else. Last year, The T ribune r eported that a mysterious company called the C ylin Group, whose principals include the daughter of the Chinese defence minister, was looking at a major tourism development on 2,000 acres of land in the Sharp Rock area. T his project was said to include hotels, a casino, a cruiseship terminal and a marina to be built by Chinese companies. Most of the land was said to be owned by theG rand Bahama Development C orp (Devco G roup. Devco is half owned by the Port Group and half by Hutchinson Whampoa, a Chinese company. Insiders say that after the F NM took office in May 2007 t he Grand Bahama Port Authority told government it had not agreed to transfer any land to Cylin, and subsequent inquiries as to where the money for the project was coming from were not favourable. Nevertheless, the governm ent gave the project the b enefit of the doubt and a llowed it to come before Cabinet, where it was voted d own on four separate occasions. In Ingrahams own words, we would like to have any kind of project in Grand B ahama, but we also want to do things that we think make sense and not everybody who comes along and says weve g ot something is somebody w ho we could trust. He a dded that Russell promoted the project in public even t hough it had been rejected by the government four times. O n Monday, Russell admitt ed as much to T he Freeport N ews He said he was working with investors seeking to do a $1.5 billion development on Grand Bahama. He acknowledged that the investors hada pplied to the Port Authority for land but their request had been turned down. Very little i s known about this proposed project or the developers themselves. T he nomination issue is a s eparate matter, insiders say. This is apparently a case of t he FNM leadership trying to recruit fresh talent to revitalise the party ahead of an election. However, there are those who argue that the Cabinet rules issue was a pretext to get rid of Russell, an inef-f ective minister who was obstinately refusing to step down as a candidate despite an earlier undertaking to do so. In this context, there is no d oubt that the FNM leaders hip has the biggest say in d eciding the slate of election candidates. According to the partys constitution, candidates are recommended by the executive committee( chaired by the party leader), a fter consultation with constituency associations. The recommendations are then ratified by the FNM council, which is also chaired by the party leader. I met with the High Rock, n ow East Grand Bahama, C onstituency Association e arlier this afternoon, Ingrah am told the crowd in Freeport on Sunday, and i nvited them to put forward the names of at least two candidates that you could con-s ider to carry your partys flag for East Grand Bahama in t he next election, and I expect to hear from them in short order. He added that some sitting F NM members of parliament w ill resign of their own volit ion and others will be asked to make way for new candid ates. The subtext to all this is the future of the Grand BahamaP ort Authority itself a priv ate franchise with enormous v alue for the country as a whole. Insiders say that the islands economic woes combined with the Port Authoritys lack of direction creates ah uge dilemma for the gov ernment, which does not want to be seen as intervening h eavy-handedly in private enterprise, abrogating the Hawksbill Creek Agreemento r pre-empting the courts. LOCAL NEWS P AGE 6, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2011 THE TRIBUNE f n tt rrt Cabinet rules that led to firing S S E E E E p p a a g g e e 8 8
but used that opportunity to escape by jumping through a window despite being outfitted with leg restraints. He was caught a short time later around 6am by a prison officer who was forced to shoot him after the inmate confronted him with a blunt, wooden object. His injuries do not appear to be life threatening. Armbrister, who was hospitalised on Monday for unknown reasons, was serving a 27-month sentence for stealing from a shop. Despite reports from the prison that Armbrister was only free for 25 minutes before being caught, a source claims he was on the run for nearly four hours before finally being shot twice in the buttocks by prison officers on Dowdswell Street. Armbrister is now back in the hospital under police guard. Superintendent of Prison Ellison Rahming refused to comment, other than to say an investigation in the matter in underway. This incident is just one in a string of blunders by prison offi cers in recent times. In October, the key to a cell block at Her Majestys Prison went missing, raising questions about the accountability of the facility. A ccording to sources inside the prison, a daily counting system is used to keep a record of all keys. However, a key that opened a few cells went missing. This led to a partial prison lockdown while a search was conducted. The key was never found. A press statement was later r eleased that said measures are now being put in place to ensure the key would be rendered useless. LOCAL NEWS THE TRIBUNE WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2011, PAGE 7 f n tt rrt Mr Bell said he was only directed to investigate serious allegations of corruption and breaches of trust within the ministry concerning contractors and housing inspectors. During his debriefing with Mr Russell, Mr Bell said he was also questioned about a contingency fund. When I was doing the investigation and I spoke to some of the reporters at The Tribune I learnt of (contingency fund) and I subsequently came into possession of documents about it and that is why I told the minister. Mr Bell said: I put him in the position that if he would wish to have it done, as the minister he could order that an independent audit be done of the account. T hat way he could have found out exactly what was going on or whats missing. An investigation was initiated by former PLP Hous ing Minister Neville Wisdom in November 2006 as a result of claims made by contractors and inconsistencies in housing documents uncovered by The Tribune Mr Bell likened the investigation to pulling teeth due to the reluctance of claimants to provide information on record. Mr Bell said he interviewed a number of contractors and housing inspectors over the course of his investigation. In his opinion, he said, housing inspectors were found to be marginalised. While their testimony provided him with a clear understanding of the allegations, Mr Bell said there was no evidence of any wrongdoing. After they realised it was the subject of a criminal investigation, which meant that persons would have been criminally prosecuted, they didnt want to be called as no witness. They didnt want to give their names and they didnt want no statements and that kind of thing that was the issue. Mr Bell said: It appeared to me from what I saw that the inspectors were basically being marginalised that was my conclusion quite honestly, and even if there were some wrongdoing there was no evidence whatsoever which implicated the inspectors in any sort of wrongdoing. Mr Bell said he provided weekly updates on the investigation to the police commissioner, and continued to con duct interviews with potential informants after the FNM took office in 2007. Under the new government, Mr Bell was put in charge of police prosecutions. Mr Bell said he could not confirm whether or not the investigation was furthered but suspects that investigators were given other aspects to pursue. He also noted that the disconnect between the former Minister of Housing and the investigation into his own ministry begged a lot of questions concerning the FNM administration. All of this is purely political, because why is it that if they claim that they had done an investigation more than four years ago, and they had evidence to charge somebody, why didnt they charge the persons within that period of time? Why they just coming now with elections right around the corner, thats a heap of nonsense and foolishness. Mr Bell has since resigned from the Royal Bahamas Police Force, at the time of the investigation, he served as police superintendent. He is an attorney and serves as vice chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party Last night, Mr Bell confirmed that he has also offered himself up for candidacy in the next general election. However, he said the PLP party has not yet made a decision. Mr Bells comments follow yesterdays story in The Tri bune in which former Housing Minister Kenneth Russell said six more people were expected to face charges as a result of the police investigation. 8pm, the three were found by police in possession of 11lbs of Indian Hemp after their car was s earched on Boyd Road, off Nassau Street. The discovery and subsequent arrest of the three came as a result of Nassau Street police patrolling the area and pursuing a car that overtook others and ran a traffic light. The drugs were found in two plastic packages under the drivers seat occupied by Maycock. Gilbert and Rox were passengers. When Deputy Chief Magistrate Bethell asked Maycock, who pleaded guilty, if he agreed with the facts read by the police prosecutor, he said: Yes, maam. She then asked him his intentions for the dangerous drugs, which had been purchased from Exuma. To smoke it, he replied. He denied he intended to supply the drugs. The magistrate did not accept Maycocks guilty plea because of his admission that he did not intend to sell the drugs, only to smoke it. He was being charged with possession with intent to supply instead of simple possession, she reasoned. However, after speaking with his defence attorney, Tecoyo Bridgewater, the Ragged Island man told Magistrate Bethell he did not understand the questions being put to him after the facts were read. S he questioned a third time his intentions for the 11lbs of marij uana and he replied: To sell. Has anyone forced you to say this? she asked the accused. No mam, he replied. Are you doing this of your own free will? she pressed. Yes maam, he nodded. She accepted the guilty plea and motioned for Mr Bridgewater to make his submissions to the court regarding his client. The attorney asked the magistrate for leniency in giving his client the minimal sentence on the basis that he came here and did not waste the courts time. He also noted that his client, a father of three and an employee on the mailboat, had no previous convictions. Deputy Chief Magistrate Bethell acknowledged the subm issions and sentenced the accused to four years in Her M ajestys Prison, Fox Hill. Before sentencing, she expressed her disappointment that Maycock, already on trial for conspiracy and possession of cocaine with intent to supply, would commit another offence. She told him that his actions caused two persons to be hauled before the courts. The prosecution then withdrew charges against Gilbert and Rox. Mr Bridgewater informed the deputy chief magistrate his client wished to plead guilty to the similar charges for which he was currently on trial before her. She accepted and allowed the prosecution a brief moment to locate the docket concerning that trial. Maycock was charged in F ebruary last year on three charges of drug possession with c o-accused Samuel Knowles. On Friday, February 19, of that year, he was found in possession of 11lbs of marijuana, and charged with conspiring and intending to supply it. He was also charged with possessing the same drug, though on a lesser amount of 10 grams. Drug Enforcement Unit officers had arrested Maycock and Knowles, alias Snake, in connection with that bust at Potters Cay dock around 9.30pm. The DEU had observed Maycock getting off the mailboat that had just docked, making his way over to a man standing by a car. Maycock handed the co-accused a brown box, which was taken by the coaccused and put in the car. O fficers then made the search and subsequent arrest when the m arijuana was found in the box. A search in Maycocks cabin resulted in officers finding the 10g of the same drug. An interview with police revealed that the drugs came from Black P oint, Exuma, from a man nicknamed Beef who gave the box to the accused to give to a man nicknamed Snake. In court, Maycock admitted he knew the box contained drugs and admitted to purchasing the drugs. After Mr Bridgewater made submissions, informing the magistrate that new law would not affect her discretion concerning the defendant who was charged before November 3, 2011, the Magistrate made her ruling. Maycock received two years imprisonment for conspiracy and possession of the drug with intent to supply and six months for possession. She, however, said his sentences were to run concurrently with the sentence concerning the latest conviction on drug possession for which he was sentenced to four years. ed missing by relatives on Saturday at 11.20am. Defence Force crews are continuing their active search for the two skiffs. Meanwhile, Mr Martinborough said, The next step is to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make a connection with Cuba to be on the lookout for those vessels. The RBDF has also been in contact with the family, police in Kemps Bay, Andros, and are also co-ordinating search efforts with Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association (BASRA US Coast Guard. When the RBDF received word of the missing crew on Monday, Mr Martinborough said one vessel was dispatched almost immediately to begin the search for the men. We had other vessels at sea that we sent to search for the men as well, he said. According to family members, Prince Jolly, Allan Wright, Roger Miller and another man known as KK were aboard the Tropic Explorer. That vessel was left near the Fish Cays when the men boarded its two skiffs headed in a west southwest direction. Mrs Rejane Jolley, Princes mother, said she was doing all she could to remain positive as her son had never gone missing before. We hope they are together, she said. They usually stay out for two to three weeks. This is (Princes time out to sea, but (Wright and Millerare more experienced. My husband is out there on the big boat looking for them. I'm just trying to stay positive. f f r r o o m m p p a a g g e e o o n n e e f f r r o o m m p p a a g g e e o o n n e e f f r r o o m m p p a a g g e e o o n n e e f f r r o o m m p p a a g g e e o o n n e e CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST PREGNANT WOMAN HOPE FOR MISSING MEN GOVT INTERFERING IN HOMES PROBE PRISONER SHOT IN ESCAPE BID
LOCAL NEWS PAGE 8, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2011 THE TRIBUNE f n tt n rrt But at the meeting on Sunday Ingraham put the GBPA on notice. After the nexte lection we will say to the Port Authority, this or that. And so it will be very much aq uestion of Grand Bahamas future in the next generale lection, which will take place n ot long from now. It is not c lear what he meant, and Ingraham declined to elabo rate for me. M eanwhile, the opposition PLP is said to be working assiduously behind the scenes to get disgruntled FNMs to r un for the PLP or cross the floor and support a vote of no confidence in the governm ent. This would presumably force the prime minister to dissolve parliament, after which a general election must b e held within 90 days. I f this does not happen the government can constitutionally continue in office untilM ay 2 (the date of the 2007 election), when parliament must be dissolved and an elect ion held within 90 days. So t heoretically, the prime mini ster has until the end of July to hold elections, although m ost observers believe a February poll is more likely. Of course, most observers b elieved a November election was in the cards too. What do you think? Send c omments to larry@tribune media.net, or visit www.bahamapundit.com. S S E E E E p p a a g g e e 6 6 The Bahamas own street philosopher CABINET RULES THAT LED TO FIRING
PAGE 10, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2011 THE TRIBUNE INTERNATIONAL NEWS BOGOTA, Colombia A ssociated Press COLOMBIAN a uthorities say a landslide in a moun t ainous southwestern region has killed a child and left about 15 people missing. Persistent heavy rains since S eptember have wrought hav oc across the rugged South American nation. Regional civil defense d irector Mario Fernando Orozco tells The Associated Press that the latest disasterb uried three homes in the town of La Cruz in Narino state around sunset Monday. H e says the body of a child age 7 or 8 has been recovered and that another 15 bodies are believed to still be buried i n mud and debris. Colombias national disas ter office says 145 people have d ied in the current rainy season, compared to 80 in last years September-to-Decem b er rainy season. ONE DEAD, 15 MISSING IN LANDSLIDE BRADENTON, Florida. Associated Press A FLORIDA woman who v anished two decades ago w hile facing prison time walked into a county office to request a state ID in her own name. Officials say 61-year-old C hristine Dickinson was a rrested earlier this month. A Manatee County Tax Collectors clerk became suspicious when no record could bef ound that Dickinson ever p ossessed a Florida ID or drivers license. The St Petersburg Times reports Dickinson was the suspected ringleader in a $200 million drug operation. Offi-c ials say the group smuggled c ocaine and marijuana from Colombia and Jamaica. The newspaper reports Dickinsons boyfriend wasa rrested years ago in France. O thers served their time in prison and are now leading respectable lives. Dickinson appeared in federal court in Tampa last week and is being held withoutb ond on racketeering c harges. DRUG RINGLEADERS STATE ID MISTAKE LIEGE, Belgium A ssociated Press A MAN armed with hand grenades and guns opened f ire in the crowded centre of a Belgian city on Tuesday, k illing two people and wounding 64, an official said. It was not immediately c lear what motivated the attack in Liege city, but Inter ior Ministry official Peter Mertens said it did not involve terrorism. He said the assailant died, but did not say how that had happened. Thed aily La Meuse newspaper said the unidentified attack er killed himself. E arlier media reports had said as many as three men had launched the midday a ttack, which left blood splatt ered across the cobblestone s treets of a central square in Liege where people were d oing Christmas shopping. Footage from the scene s howed people, including a large group of children, fleei ng down the streets of the c ity center some still carr ying shopping bags. Ambulances and police vehicles descended on the area in east-e rn Belgium. As police helicopters and ambulances raced to thes cene, the Belgian public b roadcaster VRT reported t hat residents were ordered stay in their homes or seek s helter in shops or public buildings. Another broadcaster, Radio T elevision Belge Francophon e, said all buses had been asked to leave the city center and all shops in the area were closed, some with many customers stranded inside. A medical post was set up in the courtyard of the palace o f the Prince Bishops court h ouse at the site. Emergency m edical teams were called in from as far away as the Netherlands, Mertens said. V RT Radio spoke with Herve Taveirne from the courthouse into which he hadf led to escape the gunfire. We were in the courth ouse building and were just leaving when we saw someo ne toss a grenade, Taveirne said. I grabbed a little boy ... and took him back into thec ourthouse. Outside the b uilding I heard shooting ... Our lives were in danger. This man was shooting in any direction. We ran for our lives at that point. TWO KILLED, 64 HURT IN GRENADE ATTACK I N THIS i mage taken from video, a man lays injured in the moments immediately following a grenade attack in the city centre of Liege, Bel-g ium, yesterday.