Archive | July, 2013

Call to Approve Freedom of Information

The Tribune

By: Denise Maycock

Published: July 30th, 2013

FREEPORT – Lawyer Fred Smith has challenged the PLP government to pass a Freedom of Information Act if it has nothing to hide regarding its dealings with billionaire Lyford Cay resident Peter Nygard.

“The FNM brought the Freedom of Information Act. Why in the face of what Nygard is doing has the PLP withdrawn it from the House? I ask you Perry Christie, what do you have to hide from the Bahamian people?”

Mr Smith said that the FNM did one solid thing for democracy by opening up the airwaves. He claims that there is no democracy in the Bahamas under the PLP.

“If the PLP wants to be known as a party that contributed to democracy in the Bahamas, let them pass a FIA – a real one, not a toned down one,” he said.

Mr Smith stressed that Bahamians are entitled to know what is going on in their country.

He said the PLP is afraid to pass the FIA that was proposed by the FNM because, it is his opinion, that it is a party that is “steeped in secrecy.”

“I have stepped out of politics, but as a Human Rights activist I will speak my mind when I am in an environment that does not have one iota of democracy left.

“Every democratic country and even the non-democratic countries have a Freedom of Information Act. What does the PLP have to hide? Why did they take the Freedom of Information Bill from the House recently right when they were about to deal with stem cell legislation?

“Just before that, the Attorney General withdrew the FIA. Is it because they are afraid of the strength of the FIA the FNM had proposed? Or is it because they want to rewrite it so that even if they passed it, they can say they passed it, but you can’t get any information?”

Mr Smith said where there is secrecy there is opportunity for corruption.

“If there is no corruption going with Peter Nygard, then I ask government to disclose all the paperwork between Peter Nygard and the government. What does the PLP government have to hide in their dealings with Peter Nygard at Nygard Cay, hence the need for a FIA,” he said.

Mr Smith, who is also an environmental activist, said the government also needs to pass an Environmental Protection Act, and laws against oil pollution.

He claims that the PLP is responsible for “the devastating anchor projects” which are destroying the environment in the Family Islands.

Mr Smith is appealing to persons to visit the Save the Bays website and sign an online petition asking Prime Minister Perry Christie to pass laws that will protect the environment, to protect Crown Land and sea beds at Nygard Cay, and to stop unregulated developments in the Bahamas.

“I have been asking Perry Christie to leave an environmental legacy and pass an EPA, pass laws to protect against oil pollution, but they are doing everything opposite,” he said.

Mr Smith said Save the Bays is concerned about what is going on at Nygard Cay, in Bimini, at Lighthouse Point in Eleuthera, in San Salvador, Inagua, and Guana Cay.

“The rape of the Bahamian environment must stop,” Mr Smith demanded.

The lawyer is also opposed to government giving away Crown land to foreign developers who promise to deliver grand developments, but who instead leave devastation.

“How many Bahamians have been asking for Crown land for decades, and still do not have any Crown land.

“The government has a moratorium on giving Crown land to people, but Nygard is going to get three acres of Crown land worth over $20 million. It is the most beautiful piece of prime location at Lyford Cay.”

He questioned whether Nygard’s pre-election donation of $5 million is the political favour in exchange for the give-away of $20 million of prime land.

“You will not do that. Save the Bays will not let you give $20 million worth of Crown Land to Peter Nygard,” said Mr Smith.

Mr Smith believes that criminal charges were brought against him because of his work to protect the environment and his association with Save the Bays.

He is accusing the PLP of victimization.

“This is not just a little criminal prosecution; this is victimization of an environment defender and human rights advocate.

“I call on all who defend human rights, and who defend and protect the environment to express their outrage to the police and to government for this treatment of me.

“I do not deserve to be treated this way when I was the person who was nearly killed at Jaws Beach,” he said.

Click here for original article

Call to Approve Freedom of Information

The Tribune

By: Denise Maycock

Published: July 30th, 2013

FREEPORT – Lawyer Fred Smith has challenged the PLP government to pass a Freedom of Information Act if it has nothing to hide regarding its dealings with billionaire Lyford Cay resident Peter Nygard.

“The FNM brought the Freedom of Information Act. Why in the face of what Nygard is doing has the PLP withdrawn it from the House? I ask you Perry Christie, what do you have to hide from the Bahamian people?”

Mr Smith said that the FNM did one solid thing for democracy by opening up the airwaves. He claims that there is no democracy in the Bahamas under the PLP.

“If the PLP wants to be known as a party that contributed to democracy in the Bahamas, let them pass a FIA – a real one, not a toned down one,” he said.

Mr Smith stressed that Bahamians are entitled to know what is going on in their country.

He said the PLP is afraid to pass the FIA that was proposed by the FNM because, it is his opinion, that it is a party that is “steeped in secrecy.”

“I have stepped out of politics, but as a Human Rights activist I will speak my mind when I am in an environment that does not have one iota of democracy left.

“Every democratic country and even the non-democratic countries have a Freedom of Information Act. What does the PLP have to hide? Why did they take the Freedom of Information Bill from the House recently right when they were about to deal with stem cell legislation?

“Just before that, the Attorney General withdrew the FIA. Is it because they are afraid of the strength of the FIA the FNM had proposed? Or is it because they want to rewrite it so that even if they passed it, they can say they passed it, but you can’t get any information?”

Mr Smith said where there is secrecy there is opportunity for corruption.

“If there is no corruption going with Peter Nygard, then I ask government to disclose all the paperwork between Peter Nygard and the government. What does the PLP government have to hide in their dealings with Peter Nygard at Nygard Cay, hence the need for a FIA,” he said.

Mr Smith, who is also an environmental activist, said the government also needs to pass an Environmental Protection Act, and laws against oil pollution.

He claims that the PLP is responsible for “the devastating anchor projects” which are destroying the environment in the Family Islands.

Mr Smith is appealing to persons to visit the Save the Bays website and sign an online petition asking Prime Minister Perry Christie to pass laws that will protect the environment, to protect Crown Land and sea beds at Nygard Cay, and to stop unregulated developments in the Bahamas.

“I have been asking Perry Christie to leave an environmental legacy and pass an EPA, pass laws to protect against oil pollution, but they are doing everything opposite,” he said.

Mr Smith said Save the Bays is concerned about what is going on at Nygard Cay, in Bimini, at Lighthouse Point in Eleuthera, in San Salvador, Inagua, and Guana Cay.

“The rape of the Bahamian environment must stop,” Mr Smith demanded.

The lawyer is also opposed to government giving away Crown land to foreign developers who promise to deliver grand developments, but who instead leave devastation.

“How many Bahamians have been asking for Crown land for decades, and still do not have any Crown land.

“The government has a moratorium on giving Crown land to people, but Nygard is going to get three acres of Crown land worth over $20 million. It is the most beautiful piece of prime location at Lyford Cay.”

He questioned whether Nygard’s pre-election donation of $5 million is the political favour in exchange for the give-away of $20 million of prime land.

“You will not do that. Save the Bays will not let you give $20 million worth of Crown Land to Peter Nygard,” said Mr Smith.

Mr Smith believes that criminal charges were brought against him because of his work to protect the environment and his association with Save the Bays.

He is accusing the PLP of victimization.

“This is not just a little criminal prosecution; this is victimization of an environment defender and human rights advocate.

“I call on all who defend human rights, and who defend and protect the environment to express their outrage to the police and to government for this treatment of me.

“I do not deserve to be treated this way when I was the person who was nearly killed at Jaws Beach,” he said.

Click here for original article

Clifton Bay…Giveaway? Save The Bays Newspaper Supplement

Clifton Bay…Giveaway?  Tomorrow in The Tribune, and Thursday in The Punch, will be a Save The Bays insert chronicling the unregulated development occurring on Clifton Bay with photographic proof.  See it for yourself here first!  To date, Save The Bays hasn’t received any answers from the government regarding this, will that change once this supplement is published?  See the full supplement here and sign the petition to stop unregulated development here: http://www.chn.ge/15O68LY

Click the following link for the supplement:

cpcb supplement- july 26

A Worrying Affair

IMG_5508

The Nassau Guardian

By: Candia Dames

In the world of politics, the power of perceptions can never be overstated or overestimated.

The government went into overdrive in Parliament last week, defending its dealings with the controversial Finnish-born, billionaire fashion designer Peter Nygard, who is a permanent resident of The Bahamas residing at Lyford Cay.

But it was trailing behind the bad public relations it had already received on the matter.

The perceptions created by Nygard’s “Take back The Bahamas” video, his flamboyant frolicking with government ministers and his hero’s welcome in Grand Bahama on Thursday renewed debate on money in politics.

The controversial video was one of several that made the rounds in social media last week.

That video showed Nygard celebrating the Progressive Liberal Party’s 2012 general election win while watching Prime Minister Perry Christie’s victory rally address.

Nygard proclaimed as he watched, “Yes. We got our country back.”

Later in the eight-minute video, a group of new Cabinet ministers is shown at Nygard Cay for a meeting with Nygard.

Some of the ministers involved have branded the visit as casual and blasted the Free National Movement’s claim that it proved that the government is too compromised to govern.

Although at the time the spark failed to erupt into anything significant, the firestorm over Nygard has its genesis in a claim made by Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis more than two weeks ago, that the government was bringing a stem cell bill merely to appease Nygard.

Strangely enough, Prime Minister Perry Christie responded to that accusation when he raised the issue at Jones Communications Network’s “40 under 40” awards luncheon on July 12.

Nygard was present as he received an award for his contribution to youth development in The Bahamas and later told the crowd that Christie was a great prime minister who deserved full support for his programs.

In comments that seemed misplaced for the event, Christie explained that Nygard had approached him while he was leader of the opposition and explained that he would attract experts in stem cell therapy and research to The Bahamas if legislation is passed.

A newspaper supplement from the Junkanoo Corporation of New Providence last week that featured Nygard, said he gets anti-aging stem cell therapy four times a year.

The video that made the rounds last week shows him injecting himself with something, but it was unclear what it was.

Another video that went viral shows Nygard walking the streets of Bain Town a few weeks ago. He was accompanied by prominent pastors Bishop Simeon Hall and Rev. Dr. Philip McPhee and others.

The group stopped outside the church of Rev. C. B. Moss, who has been promoting his Save Clifton message for well over a decade. Clifton is a stone’s throw away from Nygard’s compound, Nygard Cay.

Moss is urging the government to reject what he said is an application from Nygard to lease newly created land in the area.

In that video, Nygard bizarrely proclaims: “I have been dedicated to this country more than any single person in this whole country. There’s testimonial after testimonial.”

With the controversy over Nygard raging, Minister V. Alfred Gray, one of the ministers in the “Nygard

Takes Back The Bahamas” video, declared to reporters last Tuesday, “Mr. Nygard is a Bahamian.

“He is a philanthropist, and I think he has given more to this country than many other Bahamians, including those who criticize him.”

In the House of Assembly the following day, government officials corrected that statement, saying Nygard is a permanent resident.

This came amid debate on the stem cell bill. For hours on Wednesday, the Nygard matter distracted from the substance of the debate as minister after minister flew on the defensive.

There is no doubting that Peter Nygard has made substantial contributions over the years to sports and youth development.

He has also acknowledged he financially helped both the Progressive Liberal Party and the Free National Movement.

In an affidavit last year, he said he was a “major backer” of Perry Christie and the PLP.

Christie has said that because donors expect anonymity, it is not for him to say who donated to his campaign and how much.

Legally, he has no obligation to make such disclosures.

Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn’s “word on the street” claim that Nygard pumped $5 million into the PLP’s campaign was just that — hearsay.

But there is a certain uneasiness, an unsettling element to Nygard’s cozy relationship with the Christie administration.

The government it seems will not take the approach and move the Nygard matter under the radar.

On Thursday, Nygard landed in Grand Bahama to great fanfare. He was greeted at the airport by Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville and other officials.

Miss Grand Bahama was also on hand, and there was a Junkanoo rush-out with a banner proclaiming,

“Grand Bahama welcomes Peter Nygard”.

Darville said Nygard was there to attend a youth conference he sponsored and was also a guest of the Grand Bahama Port Authority. He said Nygard was in town to discuss business opportunities.

The laying out of the red carpet and Junkanoo greeting received by Nygard appeared excessive and unnecessary and fanned the flames of a still brewing controversy.

When was the last time the prime minister received such a grand welcome to Grand Bahama, or has he ever?

Christie and his ministers broke no law in their dealings with Peter Nygard, but the prime minister ought to be worried about the kinds of perceptions the whole affair is creating.

Pointing to Ingraham administration dealings with investors and raising criticisms in this regard is not enough.

No, it is not enough to point out what the government said is a double standard in how it is treated compared to the treatment received by the former administration on these matters.

Ingraham and the FNM were sent packing last year.

The Nygard issue is yet another distraction for Christie, and it hints at the nasty Mohammed Harajchi scandal, which erupted under his first term in government.

In diplomatic cables reported on by The Nassau Guardian two years ago, the Americans either had a fascination with The Bahamas’ lack of campaign finance laws, or deep concerns about this, because they widely discussed the issue of money in politics in their cables to Washington, DC.

They noted in a 2004 cable: “Both of The Bahamas’ two major political parties live in glass houses when it comes to campaign contributions.”

The cable traced the Mohammed Harajchi controversy — a situation in which political contributions backfired in a very nasty and public way.

The Iranian businessman claimed that he had been approached, either directly or via intermediaries, by “90 percent of the (Christie) Cabinet” for campaign contributions, had helped to refurbish PLP headquarters, and had underwritten several PLP political rallies, among other things.

Harajchi denied that his contributions (allegedly $10 million) were designed to gain reinstatement of his bank’s operating license, which had been revoked in 2001.

At a press conference, the PLP emphasized that it is neither illegal nor improper for political parties in The Bahamas to accept donations from individuals, and highlighted attention on Harajchi’s confirmation that he had received no favor or promise in exchange for his financial donation.

Christie promised a full accounting of Harajchi’s contributions to the PLP, but never provided any information in this regard.

In a 2006 cable, still on the subject of money in politics, an American diplomat wrote that it is “widely accepted” that the government’s extradition of convicted drug dealer Samuel ‘Ninety’ Knowles would lead to “withdrawal of an important source of election funding”.

“As one Cabinet minister observed, there are no controls or limits other than the conscience of the politician,” the diplomat wrote. “In addition, money can come from any source, including international donors.”

The cable said millions of dollars were allegedly obtained from “questionable sources” in the 2002 campaign.

Financing

The need for a law to govern campaign financing is something many politicians have discussed over the years.

In 1980, a comprehensive proposed act “to make provision for the registration of political parties; for the regulation and control of political contributions; for the public funding of elections and for other purposes incidental thereto and connected therewith” never made it to the halls of Parliament.

Perhaps it’s because there was no political will to do so.

More than 30 years after the campaign finance bill was drafted, there are still calls from some politicians — and from other Bahamians — for a law to govern money in politics.

Last week, Christie said it is something he is willing to address, but he has said that in the past many times.

While he was prime minister, Hubert Ingraham said he did not believe that campaign financing laws are necessary, adding that the government cannot “legislate honesty”.

However, Ingraham said he would have no difficulty whatsoever disclosing the sources of his political financing.

Ingraham invited a team of officials from the Organization of American States to observe last year’s general election.

That team has recommended “the adoption of a legal framework on the financing of political parties and campaigns in order to enhance the accountability, transparency and equity of the democratic process”.

Whether the current administration will adopt this recommendation, remains to be seen.

No matter how hard the current government pushes back on the Nygard affair, it is leaving a bitter taste in many mouths

Nygard it appears has been given the keys to the country, but the government has stressed repeatedly that it is not for sale.

It is now for the prime minister to strike the right balance between welcoming him as a prospective investor while fighting against any perception that he is wielding undue influence because of his contributions to the PLP and various national causes.

Even if it is only a perception that he is wielding influence, that perception could be damaging for Christie and his government.

Christie ought not let arrogance on the part of his ministers cause this controversy to get any more out of hand.

Click here to read original article

Local Attorney Expresses Outrage at Charges Filed Against Him

 

Attorney and Save The Bays director Fred Smith expresses disbelief at the charges brought against him at a press conference in Grand Bahama.

Attorney and Save The Bays director Fred Smith expresses disbelief at the charges brought against him at a press conference in Grand Bahama.

 

“I was the victim,” says Grand Bahama attorney and Save The Bays director, Fred Smith, QC, expressing disbelief at the charges of ‘causing harm’ to another man filed against him this week in relation to a now infamous Jaws beach altercation that occurred in April of this year.

“I am innocent of the charges brought against me,” says Mr. Smith. “It sets a horrible precedent within the Bahamian justice system when the victim is charged with a crime due to their attempt to escape a potentially life-threatening attack upon them.”

Smith addressed media who questioned him during a press conference on human rights in Grand Bahama today.

“I was peacefully investigating the building of a dock that was being built without a permit on Jaws beach in my capacity as a director of the Save The Bays organization when Mr. Keod Smith incited the group of young men in the vicinity to attack me.”

Fred Smith claims that the group, including former M.P. and attorney for Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard, Keod Smith, assaulted him before causing over $1,000 worth of damage to his vehicle when he sought refuge within it. Video footage of the attack shows Keod Smith removing what appears to be a piece of metal pipe from the shattered rear windshield of the vehicle while warning the Save The Bays director not to return to the area as he drove away.

“Keod Smith encouraged the young men to corner me. He encouraged them to beat on my car. These young men possessed sticks, hammers and other potentially deadly weapons. I am being accused of injuring one of the young men with my vehicle but I do not recall striking or running over anyone during my escape. I simply wanted to get away from that violent mob. Apparently, in The Bahamas it is a criminal offence to escape death when some one’s trying to kill you.”

Mr. Smith went on to question the events that led to his arrest. “The Save The Bays organization has written numerous letters to Transport Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin, Prime Minister Christie, Deputy Prime Minister Davis, and many other government officials asking them about the dredging and building without a permit going on at Nygard Cay and have not received a single answer. Instead, the government is spending precious tax payer’s dollars to investigate a clearly innocent man.”

Since its formation in May of this year, Save The Bays’ stated mission has been to preserve and protect the environmental and ecological balance of The Bahamas’ marine environment. In past months, its activities have targeted the dredging and construction activities occurring in and near New Providence’s Clifton Bay, which has included the granting of a judicial review of the dredging at Simm’s Point where Nygard Cay is located. The organization is currently leading a petition drive asking Prime Minister Christie to take on a variety of issues affecting the environment, including the passing of an Environmental Protection Act and a Freedom of Information Act. So far the petition, which is hosted at Change.org, has collected over 4,000 signatures.

Local Attorney Expresses Outrage at Charges Filed Against Him

 

QC Fred Smith

Attorney and Save The Bays director Fred Smith expresses disbelief at the charges brought against him at a press conference in Grand Bahama.

“I was the victim,” says Grand Bahama attorney and Save The Bays director, Fred Smith, QC, expressing disbelief at the charges of ‘causing harm’ to another man filed against him this week in relation to a now infamous Jaws beach altercation that occurred in April of this year.

“I am innocent of the charges brought against me,” says Mr. Smith. “It sets a horrible precedent within the Bahamian justice system when the victim is charged with a crime due to their attempt to escape a potentially life-threatening attack upon them.”

Smith addressed media who questioned him during a press conference on human rights in Grand Bahama today.

“I was peacefully investigating the building of a dock that was being built without a permit on Jaws beach in my capacity as a director of the Save The Bays organization when Mr. Keod Smith incited the group of young men in the vicinity to attack me.”

Fred Smith claims that the group, including former M.P. and attorney for Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard, Keod Smith, assaulted him before causing over $1,000 worth of damage to his vehicle when he sought refuge within it. Video footage of the attack shows Keod Smith removing what appears to be a piece of metal pipe from the shattered rear windshield of the vehicle while warning the Save The Bays director not to return to the area as he drove away.

“Keod Smith encouraged the young men to corner me. He encouraged them to beat on my car. These young men possessed sticks, hammers and other potentially deadly weapons. I am being accused of injuring one of the young men with my vehicle but I do not recall striking or running over anyone during my escape. I simply wanted to get away from that violent mob. Apparently, in The Bahamas it is a criminal offence to escape death when some one’s trying to kill you.”

Mr. Smith went on to question the events that led to his arrest. “The Save The Bays organization has written numerous letters to Transport Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin, Prime Minister Christie, Deputy Prime Minister Davis, and many other government officials asking them about the dredging and building without a permit going on at Nygard Cay and have not received a single answer. Instead, the government is spending precious tax payer’s dollars to investigate a clearly innocent man.”

Since its formation in May of this year, Save The Bays’ stated mission has been to preserve and protect the environmental and ecological balance of The Bahamas’ marine environment. In past months, its activities have targeted the dredging and construction activities occurring in and near New Providence’s Clifton Bay, which has included the granting of a judicial review of the dredging at Simm’s Point where Nygard Cay is located. The organization is currently leading a petition drive asking Prime Minister Christie to take on a variety of issues affecting the environment, including the passing of an Environmental Protection Act and a Freedom of Information Act. So far the petition, which is hosted at Change.org, has collected over 4,000 signatures.

 

 

 

 

 

Original Tribune Article on Fred Smith Attack in April 2013

The Tribune

By: Sancheska Brown

Published: April 26th, 2013

PROMINENT human rights and environmental attorney Fred Smith, QC, claimed he was assaulted and his car was damaged during a visit to Jaws Beach yesterday.

Fred Smith

Fred Smith

KEOD SMITH

Keod Smith

Mr Smith, who was still visibly shaken when he visited The Tribune, said he went on the beach to take photos of ongoing construction when he was assaulted by a small group of the workers.

“Everything was fine when I first got there. I was talking with some of the workers and even gave them some money for drinks. I was explaining to them about the group I was associated with and they were open to it. When they broke for lunch some more people came and one of them was Koed Smith,” he said.

“The next thing I know, I was being pushed and shoved and cursed out and I was in fear for my life. I got into my car and tried to get away but a few of the guys got into the back and the front and I was boxed in. They surrounded the car with crowbars and hammers and steel.

“There was a heated exchange and when I realised nothing was being resolved I tried to escape by driving on the beach. At one point I got stuck in the sand and then I heard a loud crash and realised my rear windshield was broken. Someone threw a piece of steel and completely shattered my glass.”

Mr Smith said he took some video as he was leaving and is pressing charges. In fact, he says he is looking into filing a civil suit.

He said he was afraid for his life and will do whatever it takes to ensure the person or persons who assaulted him are held responsible.

Mr Smith is a member of The Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay – a group of concerned individuals and organizations that are committed to preserving and protecting Clifton Bay and other common marine environments surrounding New Providence.

To Watch the Tribune’s Video Click Here

Click Here for Original Article by The Tribune

Leading Attorneys Join Save The Bays Urging Passage of a Freedom of Information Act

Romi Ferreira

 

Two leading attorneys and a fast-growing environmental movement today raised their cry and strengthened their call for legislation that would effectively end closed door deal-making between governments and private developers.

“For far too long, we have been the unwitting and uninformed victims of decisions made by various governments who have locked the public out of the decision-making process,” said Fred Smith, QC, managing partner at Callenders law firm, Grand Bahama, and outspoken environmentalist.

“The public’s right to know is one of the most basic tenets of a democracy, yet in The Bahamas, the people who live in a community are often not advised of a project, resort or other development in their own back yard. They may hear rumours but they don’t have an opportunity to comment or express how they feel about a proposed project, even if it is one that could change their entire way of life. They are simply left out of the process and then they wake up one day and there’s a picture in the paper of a contract signing or a grinning prime minister or cabinet member, a developer and an announcement.”

Only one thing, said Smith, will make the public a part of the decision-making process and that is a Freedom of Information Act. It would also give the public the right to access information about political campaign donations from non-Bahamians, he said.

“The time for The Bahamas to meet the standards of transparency that exists in almost every other country in the world is now. We have talked about this long enough, debated it hotly enough. There is no need to talk any longer. It is time to act. The Bahamas must pass a Freedom of Information Act without further delay. The public has a right to know – to know what is being planned that could affect them, what is being approved that could impact the environment, what is being donated to political campaigns by people who do not have the right to vote but may at some later time need a favour. We are not saying that every campaign donation is suspicious. What we are saying is that the public has a right to know.”

Smith’s impassioned plea was inspired in part by recent events in Bimini where a transportation support system could deliver up to 3,000 passengers a day to a new casino, an opportunity some residents viewed as a potential economic boost to the island in the northern Bahamas and others felt would change the quality of life forever, stress resources and overload the small isle with a population of 1500. He was also responding to news of the possibility of a stem cell research (treatment?) facility being considered for the exclusive residential community of Lyford Cay. That facility — and the re-zoning it would require or the exemption from current zoning — is being requested by fashion mogul and Lyford Cay resident Peter Nygard who has donated funds to the current government, though the extent of donations is not clear. Nygard has advertised $250,0000; other headlines have indicated 20 times that amount.

Fred Smith

 

The well-known attorney’s comments were echoed by another leading lawyer, environmental attorney and consultant Romauld Ferreira.

“A Freedom of Information Act will finally put the Bahamian on equal footing with your government,” said Ferreira. “It is the public’s right to access documents, the public’s right to know what decisions are being made or considered, decisions that affect them. A Freedom of Information Act is the ensures transparency, openness and participation and it is participation in the decision-making process that is the bedrock of democracy.”

A Freedom of Information Act is one of the basic tenets of Save The Bays, the quickly-growing environmental movement that is calling for passage of the long-proposed legislation along with passage of an environmental protection act. The organisation is nearing 5,000 signatures on a petition calling for both pieces of legislation and an end to unregulated development.

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