Archive | August, 2013

Bimini Barge Mystery: Save The Bays Renews Urgent Call for Freedom of Information Act

Mystery barge -- Barge with hundreds of pipes arrives at Bimini Harbour August 19, but members of Bimini Blue Coalition say they cannot find out what the plans are in their own back yard. Dock? Dredging? Terminal? Hotel? Their frustration leads environmental movement Save The Bays to renew its urgent call for a Freedom of Information Act.  (Bottom photo courtesy of Bimini Bay Coalition)

Mystery barge — Barge with hundreds of pipes arrives at Bimini Harbour August 19, but members of Bimini Blue Coalition say they cannot find out what the plans are in their own back yard. Dock? Dredging? Terminal? Hotel? Their frustration leads environmental movement Save The Bays to renew its urgent call for a Freedom of Information Act. (Bottom photo courtesy of Bimini Bay Coalition)

Two environmental groups representing hundreds of members today renewed what they have called “an urgent cry” for a Freedom of Information Act, declaring that a barge laden pipes and construction materials entered the harbor and no one has been able to find out why it is there and what it is doing.

“This is no longer a call for a Freedom of Information Act, this is an urgent cry,” said environmental consultant and attorney Romauld ‘Romi’ Ferreira, a director of the fast-growing environmental movement, Save The Bays. “We have had frantic communications from people in Bimini both directly to us and to our partner, Bimini Bay Coalition, pleading with us to get the information they cannot get. This barge pulled into the harbor entrance at South Bimini August 19 carrying more than 400 large tubular pipes stacked four storeys high.”

According to Bimini Blue Coalition and Save The Bays, calls went out to various officials, including the Island Administrator, without success.

“The closest thing we got to answer is the ‘better plan’ seemed like a pretty good idea,’” said the Coalition.

“Are they going to dredge the harbor? Build a cruise ship dock? Expand a marina? Build a hotel? The people of Bimini, residents and businesses, have a right to know,” said Ferreira. “Freedom of Information is a basic right of a democratic society. That’s why nearly every country in the world, even the most war-torn, have Freedom of Information legislation in place – the people have a right to know what is happening in their own back yard and yet once again people in Bimini cannot find out what is going on right in their own harbor. And this is in a place where the majesty of the waters is what has been their rightful currency – the allure that draws tourists to visit and citizens to remain glued to this little island in the sun with some of the most breathtaking waters in the world.”

Bimini Beach Google Shot

The controversy in Bimini arose weeks ago with news that Malaysian-based Genting intended to bring up to 3,000 passengers a day in by sea to its new casino at Bimini Bay Resort, a plan the government has repeatedly said would provide jobs and boost the economy while many Biminites have said would destroy their way of life and potentially harm 11 of the 12 coral reefs that are considered among the natural treasures of the undersea world.

All of this – the casino, the ferry carrying thousands of people to a tiny island already stressed for resources — was being arranged without consulting the people of Bimmi to see what they wanted,” said Ferreira. “It’s issues like this that are driving more support for Save The Bays and our ability to bring together the often smaller voices on various islands who are just as committed to doing the right thing for their island but do not have the strength that a united, large non-profit organization can bring with the resources to be heard and to offer solutions.”

Formed earlier this year, Save The Bays has garnered nearly 5,000 signatures on a petition to the government requesting passage of a Freedom of Information Act, an Environmental Protection Act and an end to unregulated development.

“The time for deal behind closed doors is over,” said Ferreira. “We live in a land of sunshine. Let’s conduct our business the same way.”

New York Mayor Thanks Louis Bacon, Moore Charitable Foundation

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Declaring it a model that will serve to help cities around the world survive catastrophic weather events that threaten human lives, wildlife and habitats, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced a unique, all-star team of research institutions and non-profits, thanking those who made its creation possible, including the National Park Service, Rockefeller Foundation, Secunda Family Foundation, National Grid and noted conservationist Louis Bacon.

Dozens of high-ranking officials and leaders gathered to hear Bloomberg’s words of appreciation to public and private sector partners during the August 13th ceremony at Jamaica Bay to launch the new Science and Resilience Institute. Against the balmy backdrop, complete with kayakers on the bay, members of the media and the National Park Service, scientists and academicians were reminded of the stark contrast to this area almost year ago when Hurricane Sandy, the second costliest hurricane in history, devastated Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways and so much of the east coast.  It was here at Jamaica Bay that non-urbanized nature showed the power of resilience, said experts, with the untouched wetlands and natural woodlands protecting the vast bay, now serving as an example of strength against even the worst conditions, making a fitting site for the institute. The City University of New York will head up the institute with Columbia, Cornell and Rutgers all participating.

            “I wanted to thank some of the people who have been crucial to the success of this partnership,” said Bloomberg, noting the National Park Service, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell who was present, and others. He also said the Jamaica Bay Science and Resilience Institute could not have become a reality without the help of the private sector.

“We also thank the private sector and philanthropic partners whose generosity is helping make those efforts possible and that includes Louis Bacon and Ann Colley of Moore Charitable.” said Bloomberg.

Bloomberg’s appreciation came days after Mr. Bacon was honoured for his contributions to preservation by another New York entity, the Peconic Land Trust, which celebrated its 30th anniversary by recognizing two families it said had made a difference to the achievement of its goals of conserving Long Island’s working farms, natural lands and heritage.

In January, Mr. Bacon received the prestigious Audubon Medal in recognition of his lifelong commitment to conservation. In April, Forbes magazine named Mr. Bacon one of the world’s greenest billionaires.

In June, Mr. Bacon announced an agreement he reached in 2012 with Colorado Open Lands to place 21,000 acres of Tercio Ranch and Red River Ranch into perpetual conservation easements. This conservation easement knits together a landscape-scale conservation effort which creates nearly 800,000 acres of publicly and privately connected and protected lands stretching from Great Sand Dunes National Park to northern New Mexico.  This effort follows Mr. Bacon’s 2012 agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to place approximately 167,000 acres of the Trinchera Blanca Ranch in Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains into perpetual conservation easements. These mark the largest conservation easement donations received by FWS, as well as the largest in Colorado.

Thanks to a Safe Harbor Agreement between N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and Orton Plantation Holdings, LLC, which is owned by Mr. Bacon, more than 8,400 acres of open pine forest in Brunswick County will be managed in order to benefit many native wildlife species, with an emphasis on the red-cockaded woodpecker.

In The Bahamas, the Moore Bahamas Foundation is working with local organizations to help protect and restore both the Nassau grouper and the conch population and to preserve fragile coral reefs and the crystal clear waters of various bays that add to the beauty and allure of the 100,000 square mile open ocean archipelagic nation.

Sustainable Tourism Cacique Winner Presses for Protection of Bimini’s ‘Majestic’ Waters, Supports Government’s Decision on North Bimini Marine Preserve

BBFS Cacique winner

Calling it “an area of unequaled ecological importance,” the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation (BBFSF Sharklab) is applauding government’s support of the proposed North Bimini Marine Reserve, but beseeching decision-makers and developers to pull out all the stops to protect Bimini’s “majestic, pristine waters” that serve as the centrepiece of local appreciation and tourism appeal.

“In January of this year, the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation (Sharklab) was honoured to receive the prestigious Cacique Award in the Sustainable Tourism category…In winning the Cacique Award, we feel compelled to reiterate what is unanimously understood as the principle centrepiece of Bimini’s tourism product, and that is the majestic, pristine waters surrounding these islands,” wrote Dr. Samuel Gruber, Sharklab founder, president and one of the world’s leading authorities on marine life. Gruber’s letter was sent to three Cabinet ministers — Obie Wilchcombe, Tourism, Alfred Gray, Agriculture & Fisheries and Kenred Dorsett, Environment and Housing. The letter is co-signed by Dr. Tristan L. Guttridge, a BBFSF director and marine biologist who has conducted shark research in the Atlantic and in Australia’s waters.

“Whether it is fishing, diving, boating or any number of wildlife encounters, there is no question that Bimini’s amazing marine ecology is what sustains the local tourism industry. While improvements should always be sought for these and any other islands, protecting what has been proven is key to true sustainability for Bimini.”

According to the scientists, the organisation is not opposed to development. It is not, they say, an either-or situation, either the economy or the environment, but forging a way forward that allows both to thrive.

“As the 2013 Cacique Award winner for Sustainable Tourism, the BBFSF would like to strongly support the Government’s decision to declare full protection for the North Bimini Marine Reserve.  The (Reserve) encompasses an area of unequaled ecological importance, and also provides the foundation for the tourism industry that sustains Bimini’s local economy.  It is truly in the best interest of every business, individual and guest on this island that this Marine Reserve be treated with the prestige it deserves.”

Local Attorney says Prime Minister is ‘Out of Touch’ on Environment

Romi Ferreira on Ortland Bodie's Show

In an appearance on local radio show, Real Talk LIVE with Ortland Bodie, local attorney and a director of the fast-growing environmental coalition Save The Bays, Romauld Ferreira, responded to Prime Minister Christie’s recent dismissal of environmental concerns at Clifton Bay as ‘foolishness,’ labeling those remarks as ‘out of touch’ and reflective of an outdated mode of thinking in The Bahamas.

“It is very regrettable when the Prime Minister of a country can utter a statement like ‘environmental concerns are foolishness’,” says Mr. Ferreira. “This is why this is the fight of our generation. We can’t expect the politicians of yesteryear who regard environmental issues as foolishness to fully appreciate and be cognizant of the issues. We thank Mr. Christie for all of his contributions – he is the longest serving Member of Parliament and he has done wonders, but clearly he is out of his depth when it comes to the environment.”

“Apparently, we’re talking foolishness when we say they (developers) are building in the Marine Protected Area that was proposed (in Bimini), we’re talking foolishness when we say that they’re building the dock on top of the coral reef and we’re talking foolishness when we say the law requires an Environmental Impact Assessment.”

Ferreira, one of several guests on the popular morning talk show, is a leading environmental attorney and consultant who was selected earlier this year by CARICOM to create model legislation for the energy sector for the Caribbean.

“This is all the more reason why it takes persons and organizations to show him and elucidate to him that what he may consider foolishness, there are tens of thousands of people in The Bahamas and around the world that don’t think that it is foolishness,” he noted. “We’re not talking foolishness, they’re doing foolishness. I call on every right thinking Bahamian to open their eyes and see what’s happening.”

Joe Darville on Ortland Bodie's Show

Also appearing on the show was fellow director of Save The Bays, Joseph Darville, who echoed the sentiment that the environment must be protected and unregulated development checked.

“These developers are flocking to us like bees to honey because of what we have to offer as a nation,” said Darville, a retired high school principal and human rights and environmental activist. “What they are foisting on the Bahamian people is totally reprehensible. We are being enslaved by our own people.”

Mr. Darville pointed out that organizations like Save The Bays are concerned primarily about the sustainable development of the Bahamas and the preservation of natural resources for generations to come – issues that are relevant to all Bahamians. He encouraged concerned members of the public to go online to www.savethebays.org to sign the organization’s petition to Prime Minister Christie, which has garnered nearly 5,000 signatures to address vital issues such as the lack of an Environmental Protection Act and the implementation of a Freedom of Information Act.

Louis Bacon Responds to Peter Nygard’s Smear Campaign

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Why Respond Now?

For several years Peter Nygard and his minions have been running a smear-campaign against me.  You may have seen some of the preposterous slurs which have been published via anonymous websites, vicious and disgusting videos on YouTube, flyers inserted into newspapers and so on.

For the most part, Nygard’s attacks are laundered through others. Now Nygard himself has gone on the offensive, most recently at a press conference held at Nygard Cay on Monday 15 July.  Commentators have noticed that whenever he is asked a probing question about his conduct, his response, akin to that of a small child caught telling a lie, is always “It’s Louis Bacon’s fault”.  He is deploying increasingly desperate measures to divert attention away from the intense media scrutiny he is under for his illegal activities with Crown Land, his non-payment of ten years of property taxes adding up to $3 Million, his conflicting accounts of bankrolling the last election and his current promotion of himself as the Bahamas’ Overlord.

So as not to divert the glare on Nygard’s transgressions, which he properly deserves, I wish to address the allegations he is propagating about me so they can be relegated to the large trash piles of lies that he continues pile up around himself.  I have already publically done so in an open letter widely published in April which can be found at:  http://www.savethebays.bs/index.php/pdf-links/save-the-bays-gazette-2/

But the truth bears repeating with such a demagogue.  Incidentally I made clear in that open letter that Nygard is running a smear-campaign against me. Although he is accustomed to suing for defamation, he has not challenged any claim I made against him. Nor has he challenged the claims he has stolen Crown Land and so reveals himself as the scofflaw that he is.

Some of the absurd allegations against me that have emanated from Nygard’s minions –drug smuggling, arson and murder — are farcical and have not made it past the gutter journalists he has employed. But the constant refrain from Nygard himself is that I am a liar every time he is caught in another dishonesty—it is an interesting peculiarity that psychologists call projection, one of the traits of a person diagnosed with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder—accusing another of what one is directly and publicly guilty of.  But the direct allegations from Nygard himself are ugly, corrosive projections that have had the purpose of deflecting blame from him, with the story becoming that of his wild accusations instead of that of his transgressions against the Bahamian people-this the technique of a demagogue.

I would like to examine his fallacious allegations for what they are:

Nygard’s lies about me

That I paid off the previous government to do my bidding, whatever he thinks that might be.

Peter proffers this at a point when there is a firestorm of controversy surrounding his self-proclaimed funding of the winning party.  Besides offering no shred of evidence, this has elicited a public complaint and threat of legal action from FNM leader Dr. Hubert Minnis.  Numerous Bahamians are questioning whether he provided such funding in return for a grant of Crown seabed surrounding his Nygard Cay or some other favour

That I am a racist.

Nygard and his sidekicks have alleged on a number of occasions that ancestors of mine living in the 19th and 18th centuries, whom I of course never knew, were associated with racist groups or slaveholding.  It is absurd to say I am a racist based on this. A large part of American history of those centuries is about the racial injustice, whether racism in the North, slavery and Jim Crow laws in the South, or forced removal and extermination of ethnic Indian tribes in the West.  From the 21st century vantage this long history of my country’s early days is shameful, but it is just that—history that has no bearing on me or my morals except as a reminder of the inhumanness of mankind and that racial intolerance is itself intolerable.

What has been documented this century were the shameful and coercive labor practices of Nygard’s clothing manufacturers.  Not to mention countless law suits brought by employees highlighting abusive labor practices at his corporate headquarters and residences: staff fined for events entirely beyond their control like guests being bitten by mosquitos, employees prevented from leaving his compound, being subjected to two hour screaming tirades from the man himself and so on.

Of course, Nygard denies all such claims.  It’s interesting though that following CBC’s 45 minute exposé of his coercive and demeaning labour practices, he has only brought defamation proceedings in relation to 83 seconds of the footage and not disputed the rest of the contents.

That I find it “problematic” that black Bahamians have been visiting Nygard Cay for decades.

I don’t know where this assertion has come from, aside from Nygard’s warped mind. It has no basis in fact.  He makes the same assertion of the Lyford Cay community, many of whom themselves are black, whose school and Church are fully integrated or mostly black.

4. That I claim to have saved Clifton Beach for Bahamians when actually I want to exclude them.

Again, this is absurd. The whole focus of the Save Clifton campaign was to ensure that the site was not lost to an enormous gated development which would exclude Bahamians from the area. I pushed for a National Park, offered a previous administration to fund the purchase for a Park. I engaged EDAW   (an internationally recognised public land planning firm specialising in the responsible and sustainable development of sensitive lands, national parks and open spaces) to draw up detailed plans for a National Park. Once the Clifton Heritage Authority Act came into force, creating the Clifton Heritage Authority to protect the site, I donated EDAW’s work product to the Christie government to help the National Park dream become a reality.  Such acts are demonstrably inconsistent with my wanting to “exclude” Bahamians from Clifton.

That I lied about leading the original Save Clifton campaign.

I have never claimed sole responsibility for the campaign to Save Clifton from development – far from it. What I actually said on accepting the Audubon Medal for Conservation when sharing a number of lessons I’ve learnt about leadership was: “Lead, but from behind.  It may sound counterintuitive, but sometimes we are most effective when we quietly provide support and direction to those that have the most to lose, those who have been in the local community the longest, who count on the land for their livelihood, their health, their sanity.” This has been twisted beyond recognition by Nygard and Keod Smith to imply that I am taking credit for all the hard work and dedication of those who were the faces and voices of the campaign. Again, this is simply not true. I was involved in marshaling and supporting the international forces that helped take the fight directly to the developer and their financiers who folded. To this day, I continue to praise the hard work of those at the front line during the original campaign, whose hard work saw the creation of the Clifton Heritage Park, including today’s Prime Minister Perry Christie.

Prime Minister Christie praised my efforts this Spring in regards to my role in the outcome of the battle at Clifton—who are the Bahamians to believe, their own Prime Minister who was so instrumental in the outcome of the Park, or Peter Nygard, newly self-appointed as the Bahamas’ Regent, who admits he did nothing to help save Clifton for the Bahamian people during that fight?  Indeed, Save the Bays photographic study revealed how Nygard’s trapment of drifting sands had denuded Jaws Beach of sand.  Nygard grandstands about his very recent help to the Clifton dock while he robs it of its historical sandy beaches.

Some of Nygard’s other lies

Peter Pinocchio, as he should be known, has offered up the above incendiary accusations when caught playing footsie with the truth, especially these cases below:

Land Accretion

Peter has lied in claiming that the accretion of land to his property at Nygard Cay is due to natural causes.

For years Nygard has carried out vast unauthorised construction, dredging and land reclamation on his property, Nygard Cay, in blatant disregard for the Bahamian environment, its laws and its people.   As long ago as 2000 he boasted to the New York Times that “I have my own set of values” that set him apart from society.  The article goes on to note that Nygard was “pumping sand daily to expand his stretch of beach on his five acres.”

As a result, the land mass at Nygard Cay has grown from 3.25 acres in 1984 to more than 6 acres in 2010 in perhaps the most valuable real estate in all of the Bahamas, the only private peninsula in the upscale Lyford Cay’s gated community. In other words, it has almost doubled in size.   Ludicrously, Peter claims this is due to ‘natural accretion’ which the government has repudiated forcefully in court documents filed in response to his action against the office of the Attorney General.

He has even requested a lease of the crown land that he has built upon.  One does not need a lease for land that has naturally accreted.  So which is it Peter Pinocchio, natural accretion that you have stated has caused the increase; or public Crown Land that requires the lease that you have applied for—you have advanced both contradictory positions?

Contradictions about his PLP donations

Peter has made extremely contradictory public statements regarding his financial donations to the PLP.

Speaking to the press on 15 July 2013, Nygard claimed he is not certain what donations he has made to the PLP, even implying he may not have made any. Yet in an affidavit filed by Nygard on 2 April 2012 in support of his (latter withdrawn) criminal conspiracy claim against me he boasted about his support for the PLP Government:

“In addition, I am one of the major backers of opposition leader Perry Christie and his PLP Party…. I am a major PLP financial contributor…”

And lately, Peter has intimated that the $5mm donation was in reality to facilitate stem cell research.

Which is it Peter Pinocchio, $5mm donation, no donations, a donation for a stem cell center, and if the latter where has the $5mm been spent?

A dirty tricks campaign against me

Nygard has orchestrated a smear campaign against me which entailed his lawyer, Keod Smith, acting as a conduit to pay off Sherman Brown and Earlin Williams to write ludicrous articles claiming that I conduct an international drug smuggling operation, have been involved with a number of mysterious deaths, payoffs, etc.

Many of the outrageous articles have been authored by his PR officer Earlin Williams – who is currently attempting to defend himself in court on the bizarre basis that someone else with his name wrote them. The slurs have then appeared on Sherman Brown’s Bahamas National and a number of anonymous attack websites. The fact that websites were created purely to harm my reputation has been confirmed as a result of court proceedings. Court documents also show Nygard orchestrated the smear campaign published in the Bahama Journal.  The recent Tribune article, published July 23, exposes how deep Nygard’s duplicity actually went; he paid for his lawyer to entertain journalists and MPs in order to discredit me.

Peter recently proclaimed he spends 5% of his entire time on matters to do with me. Given there is only one very small piece of litigation over a roadway between us, clearly a huge amount of energy is going into his nefarious smear-campaign.

Deflection

All this goes to the heart of the reason for Peter’s recent personal and increasingly hysterical attacks on me – deflection. In my view, it is all a smokescreen to mask his unlawful theft of Crown Land. And to bury reports that he has not been paying his taxes.  And to deflect the natural public perception that his $5mm donation (if that is what it is, a donation) will grant this foreigner — presently in contempt of Bahamian Court — favour in his application for Crown Land when hundreds of native Bahamian’s requests are not addressed.  It is also an attempt to divert attention away from his proposed plans for a stem cell research center at Nygard Cay, which itself would seem to be a device he hoped to deploy to have his other building requests approved on appropriated Crown Land.  Here he has dissembled again, first saying the center was to be in Nygard Cay and then later saying it would be absurd to think he would house it there.  Whichever tale Peter Pinocchio is spinning again there is currently intense media speculation that Peter is expecting certain approvals for the center in return for donations to the governing party’s election campaign.

It should therefore come as no surprise that Nygard’s immediate response to this unwanted media attention on his recent prevarications over donations and stem cell funding was to call a press conference and call me a racist and a liar—certainly diverts focus from the real issue.   In my answering to his bullying, his incitements and race baiting, I hope the spotlight can refocus on the real issue at hand—Pinocchio Nygard the Narcissist.

This Nygard is dishonest and disreputable and an embarrassment to most Bahamians as well as in the eyes of the rest of the world. He is presently in contempt of Bahamian Court, entertains like an conquering emperor on $25mm of prime Crown Land he has stolen from the Bahamian people while having stiffed  the same Bahamian people $3mm in many years of unpaid property taxes; ill-gotten savings that, he plowed back into supporting one political party’s re-elections from whom he seems to expect favors.  His response to being exposed is to give $10 thousand to a couple of sports charities to make amends.

That the Bahamian people have to put up with this guest who is fouling civil society is a travesty.  It is not lost on the world press that as the financial Forbes Magazine puts it “He Answers to No-One”.  Based on the evidence, I think that’s a fair depiction, and Peter Pinocchio certainly is not answering the Bahamian peoples’ probing questions of his character and veracity by fabricating lies about me.

Yours faithfully,

Louis Bacon

Pastors Sue to Block Oil Exploration

The Nassau Guardian

By: Travis Cartwright-Carroll

 

The Bahamas National Citizens Coalition (BNCC) has filed an action in the Supreme Court seeking to block the minister of the environment and housing from issuing or renewing any oil exploration licenses.

The coalition also wants the court to restrain Bahamas Offshore Petroleum Limited and Island Petroleum Limited, both subsidiaries of Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC), “from operating or using such licenses” until the proper regulatory framework is put in place to govern the sector.

Last month, the government renewed BPC’s five exploration licenses for another three years.

BPC wants government approval to drill an oil well in Bahamian waters.

The BNCC claims that the minister of the environment and housing acted ultra vires of the Petroleum Act 14(2) by “granting and renewing oil exploration licenses” to BPC and its subsidiaries.

In a copy of the coalition’s originating summons, it states that it is seeking, “A declaration that the minister of the environment and housing has acted prematurely and with procedural impropriety in granting licenses to the aforesaid companies, so as to allow them to commence oil drilling without a modern and proper oil exploration and environmental regulatory framework in place for the ultimate protection of the applicants and the wider Bahamian public in the case of oil spills, etc.”

The coalition also wants, “A declaration that the minister of the environment and housing has failed to provide the applicants and the Bahamian public with copies of the license agreements of associated agreements with respect to the exploratory oil drilling to be conducted by Bahamas Petroleum Company Plc and/or its subsidiaries.”

According to the Petroleum Act 14(2), “A company may be granted a license or lease severally or jointly with another company: Provided that a license or lease shall not be granted to a company which is a member of, or is directly or indirectly owned or controlled by, another company to which a license or lease has already been granted under this Act or which is itself applying for such a licence or lease.”

The coalition states that it represents the views of more than 30,000 members and only wishes to secure the best possible benefits for the Bahamian people through meaningful and positive discussions with the government and the companies it has to negotiate with concerning oil exploration in The Bahamas.

The minister of the environment and housing, Bahamas Offshore Petroleum Limited, BPC and Island Offshore Company Limited are listed as the respondents in the action.

 

Concerned

 

The coalition filed the summons and an affidavit on July 29.

“The coalition is deeply concerned that the government is making critical decisions regarding oil exploration and harvesting without seeking the views of the Bahamian people,” the affidavit stated.

“It is clear from the actions of the government that it has set a precedent with the Constitutional Commission whereby it held numerous public forums and gathered the views of Bahamians.

“The commission’s chairman then used such information to prepare a public report for consideration by the government in its preparations for a national referendum on constitutional reform.

“Why is it that the government is not taking the same approach in advance of the draft legislation and referendum on oil exploration and harvesting?”

The BCC, Police Staff Association, the Bahamas Public Service Union, the Prison Officers Association, the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union, the National Workers Health Plan Trust, the Moore’s Island Fisherman Association and the Exuma Citizens and Fisherman Association are listed as members of the coalition.

Minister of the Environment and Housing Kenred Dorsett previously said he expects the government to have completed oil drilling legislation and regulations by the end of the year.

He said the legal framework for oil drilling was still being worked on by his ministry’s external consultants along with officials from the Office of the Attorney General.

Dorsett recently indicated that BPC will not be permitted to drill any exploratory wells in Bahamian waters until the regulations that will oversee the industry are completed.

BPC has invested $50 million in the country, with most of that spent on 3D seismic testing, and has completed its environmental impact assessment (EIA). Now, the company is working on its environmental management plan (EMP) to meet its 2015 obligation to the government.

In its interim results for the first six months of 2013, BPC said it has a “clear mandate from the Government of The Bahamas to proceed with exploration drilling with an obligation to commence an exploration well by April 2015”.

 

Read Original Article Here

Fred Smith QC’s response to the Attorney General’s statement about the criminal charges against him

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I have read the Attorney-General’s press release about the criminal charges brought against me. She makes clear the charges, which I believe are entirely, obviously and transparently manufactured and bogus, were brought by the Police without reference to her and without legal advice from her office.

 

The Attorney General has  stated

“As a lawyer, especially as a Queen’s Counsel, Mr. Frederick Smith QC is aware, or ought to be aware, that on a daily basis the Police bring prosecutions in the Magistrates’ Courts, without reference to the Attorney General and without seeking the advice of the Attorney General. This authority is derived from the laws of The Bahamas, namely the Police Act.

The recent charge in the Magistrates’ Court against Mr. Smith was laid by the Police without reference to me. By law, it was not necessary for the Police to seek my advice, the Police did not seek my advice and I did not advise the Police.  I can categorically say that I did not consult the Prime Minister in relation to this charge about which I was not consulted nor did the Prime Minister ever communicate with me about this charge.   There was no “political decision at the very highest level” nor at any level.  I deny this totally unfounded and untruthful allegation made by Mr. Smith.

I also deny the outrageous allegations by Mr. Smith against me and my Office including that I have “chosen to victimize” him, that I am “persecuting” him and all other such allegations against me. “

The statements made by Mr. Smith appear to be defamatory. I hope that Mr. Smith will reflect on what he said, accept that the said statements are false and publicly acknowledge this with a full and unqualified apology. If Mr. Smith fails to take advantage of this opportunity, the egregious wrong that he has committed will thereby be aggravated. In that circumstance, in consultation with my Counsel, I reserve my right to take further action. “

Let the Record  be clear; my assertions  of victimization were made against her Office, not her personally.

The Attorney General says  that she was not consulted. This is an astounding fact!

With respect however, this does not excuse her failure to have ensured she was consulted by her agents  before the charges were laid  against me.

In addition,  her statement of being ignorant of the charges and of lack of involvement in the matter raise even more fundamental and   troubling questions. It only makes matters worse!

For the reasons I set out in this statement it is an unacceptable abdication of Constitutional Responsibility for the Attorney General to seek to excuse my arrest, charge and prosecution by her stated ignorance.

Given my high public profile, the huge media attention to the attack on me by Keod Smith at Jaws Beach, the work of Save The Bays and the Nygard/Christie and PLP Saga unfolding, it is unacceptable that the Attorney General did not ensure she was  consulted and part of the decision making process about charging me.

As I have stated in my claims of victimization, under Article78 of the Constitution,  Sections 54 to 56 of the Criminal Procedure Code, and Section 39 the Police Act, the Attorney General is ultimately responsible for all criminal prosecutions.

 

In addition by Constitutional Convention and Custom she has Ministerial Responsibility for the acts and omissions of her agents, such as the Commissioner of Police when laying criminal charges.

She, as Attorney General, remains Constitutionally responsible for the embarrassing public pillory of me being paraded before the courts as a common criminal and bringing my reputation and good name into public odium, ridicule and contempt.

Beyond that, this debacle brings the legal profession and the office of Queen’s Counsel  into disrepute.

Just as the Attorney General’s office brings with it huge responsibility, so does the position of Queen’s Counsel within the judicial system.  All lawyers are officers of the court but as one of only 13 Queen’s Counsel of the Inner Bar,  I am, like the Attorney General, an adviser to her Majesty the Queen.  An attorney can only become a QC if they pass tests of probity and high ethical standards.

It is highly  disturbing that in a British Commonwealth country, a QC has been arrested (which so far as I am aware is unprecedented in The Bahamas), following a complaint made by someone acting for a group I am investigating as part of a suit against the Government.

As has been widely publicised, Save The Bays has recently brought Judicial Review proceedings against the Government over its role in Keod Smith’s and Peter Nygard’s unregulated development.  The Government has been ordered to disclose its correspondence with both men, which could prove profoundly embarrassing for them, especially given the recent political storm about Nygard boasting to have “won The Bahamas back” and bankrolled the PLP.

They have yet to make any disclosure despite  a court order to that effect.

During my 35 years as an Attorney at The Bahamas Bar, I have never been arrested or charged . It was entirely foreseeable that people would question whether the high-profile litigation and the arrest were  connected.

The issues at stake are about far more than me and Keod Smith and me and the Attorney General. At the heart of this matter lies the Rule of Law and respect for our democracy. What kind of nation are we if citizens cannot question political activities without fearing the repercussions, if political principles are sacrificed for political expediency? If the Environment continues to be sacrificed at the Alter of  The Almighty Dollar?

The fact that I mistakenly assumed  the Attorney General must have been consulted before the charges were allowed to proceed against me is a reflection of just how unbelievable and iniquitous the proceedings are.

To recap the situation, I was the victim of a terrifying assault. The ordeal took place when I went to Jaws Beach, in my capacity as attorney for and member of for Save The Bays, to inspect the unregulated development Keod Smith and his workers were carrying out.

Keod Smith incited the men to surround and terrify me whilst he shouted threats like “This is my beach. I say when you can leave.”  During the ordeal, my back window was smashed in – video footage of Keod retrieving the weapon so as to conceal the evidence with incriminating finger prints was widely viewed after being published on The Tribune’s website.

Astoundingly, an evidentially unsustainable  complaint against me for allegedly intentionally causing harm to  one of his workers as I tried to escape the scene, fearing for my life, has been allowed to proceed.

In addition, the serious and legitimate criminal complaint made by me  against Keod Smith has  been mishandled.

Astoundingly there has been no communication by the Police with me as to what he has been charged with, if I am to be a witness, and when is the trial date.

I call on the Attorney General to pay attention to my serious complaint to ensure that it is handled properly and responsibly.

This would go a long way in demonstrating that she is fulfilling her Constitutional functions.

Beyond that, I call on the Attorney General to take her duties seriously and pay attention to the following additional  matters.

Pay attention to the illegal activities that Save The Bays has complained about at Nygard Cay.

Defend the action brought by Nygard against her claiming he is the owner, by accretion of 3.5 acres of Crown land worth $20 Million dollars.

If there is nothing to hide, disclose of all the communications between Nygard and the Government.

What deal has been struck between the Government and Nygard?

What is there to hide?

Come clean with the Bahamian People!!

What is the relationship between the Government and Nygard?

Why has Mr. Nygard, a billionaire, not paid his $3million dollar tax bill at Lyford Cay?

Why has the Government not sued him to collect these much needed taxes to be used to fund educating our school children?

Why has the Attorney General not applied to set aside the default judgment Mr. Nygard and Keod Smith improperly obtained against the Government in Nygard’s Crown Land Claim?

Why is the government doing nothing to get back Crown land worth $20 Million dollars.

Why not pass a Freedom of Information Act?

Why did the PLP withdraw such Bill from Parliament?

How much money did Nygard give the PLP? When and for what?

This can be easily disclosed by the Prime Minister; he does not have to wait for Election Campaign Financing Reform laws to initiate democratic conventions of transparency and accountability to tell the Bahamian public exactly how much Nygard has donated  to the PLP or individual candidates.

Those are the matters that a dispassionate and independent Attorney General should be dealing with.

I invite her to focus on the important issues that the public want answers to.

In conclusion, I accept that the Attorney General is telling the truth when she says she was not personally consulted, and in the circumstances  I  proffer my full apologies to her if my public utterances conveyed the impression that she was personally victimising me.

Of course I did not mean that!

The fact remains however that the Office of the Attorney General remains  constitutionally responsible for this malicious  criminal prosecution of me.

I   was merely investigating evidence of wrong doing in a high profile case mounted against the Government which she has the Constitutional Responsibility  to advise, as she likewise has for all criminal prosecutions including the one mounted against me!

Fred Smith QC’s response to the Attorney General’s statement about the criminal charges against him

Coalition for Clifton Bay-040

I have read the Attorney-General’s press release about the criminal charges brought against me. She makes clear the charges, which I believe are entirely, obviously and transparently manufactured and bogus, were brought by the Police without reference to her and without legal advice from her office.

 

The Attorney General has  stated

“As a lawyer, especially as a Queen’s Counsel, Mr. Frederick Smith QC is aware, or ought to be aware, that on a daily basis the Police bring prosecutions in the Magistrates’ Courts, without reference to the Attorney General and without seeking the advice of the Attorney General. This authority is derived from the laws of The Bahamas, namely the Police Act.

The recent charge in the Magistrates’ Court against Mr. Smith was laid by the Police without reference to me. By law, it was not necessary for the Police to seek my advice, the Police did not seek my advice and I did not advise the Police.  I can categorically say that I did not consult the Prime Minister in relation to this charge about which I was not consulted nor did the Prime Minister ever communicate with me about this charge.   There was no “political decision at the very highest level” nor at any level.  I deny this totally unfounded and untruthful allegation made by Mr. Smith.

I also deny the outrageous allegations by Mr. Smith against me and my Office including that I have “chosen to victimize” him, that I am “persecuting” him and all other such allegations against me. “

The statements made by Mr. Smith appear to be defamatory. I hope that Mr. Smith will reflect on what he said, accept that the said statements are false and publicly acknowledge this with a full and unqualified apology. If Mr. Smith fails to take advantage of this opportunity, the egregious wrong that he has committed will thereby be aggravated. In that circumstance, in consultation with my Counsel, I reserve my right to take further action. “

Let the Record  be clear; my assertions  of victimization were made against her Office, not her personally.

The Attorney General says  that she was not consulted. This is an astounding fact!

With respect however, this does not excuse her failure to have ensured she was consulted by her agents  before the charges were laid  against me.

In addition,  her statement of being ignorant of the charges and of lack of involvement in the matter raise even more fundamental and   troubling questions. It only makes matters worse!

For the reasons I set out in this statement it is an unacceptable abdication of Constitutional Responsibility for the Attorney General to seek to excuse my arrest, charge and prosecution by her stated ignorance.

Given my high public profile, the huge media attention to the attack on me by Keod Smith at Jaws Beach, the work of Save The Bays and the Nygard/Christie and PLP Saga unfolding, it is unacceptable that the Attorney General did not ensure she was  consulted and part of the decision making process about charging me.

As I have stated in my claims of victimization, under Article78 of the Constitution,  Sections 54 to 56 of the Criminal Procedure Code, and Section 39 the Police Act, the Attorney General is ultimately responsible for all criminal prosecutions.

 

In addition by Constitutional Convention and Custom she has Ministerial Responsibility for the acts and omissions of her agents, such as the Commissioner of Police when laying criminal charges.

She, as Attorney General, remains Constitutionally responsible for the embarrassing public pillory of me being paraded before the courts as a common criminal and bringing my reputation and good name into public odium, ridicule and contempt.

Beyond that, this debacle brings the legal profession and the office of Queen’s Counsel  into disrepute.

Just as the Attorney General’s office brings with it huge responsibility, so does the position of Queen’s Counsel within the judicial system.  All lawyers are officers of the court but as one of only 13 Queen’s Counsel of the Inner Bar,  I am, like the Attorney General, an adviser to her Majesty the Queen.  An attorney can only become a QC if they pass tests of probity and high ethical standards.

It is highly  disturbing that in a British Commonwealth country, a QC has been arrested (which so far as I am aware is unprecedented in The Bahamas), following a complaint made by someone acting for a group I am investigating as part of a suit against the Government.

As has been widely publicised, Save The Bays has recently brought Judicial Review proceedings against the Government over its role in Keod Smith’s and Peter Nygard’s unregulated development.  The Government has been ordered to disclose its correspondence with both men, which could prove profoundly embarrassing for them, especially given the recent political storm about Nygard boasting to have “won The Bahamas back” and bankrolled the PLP.

They have yet to make any disclosure despite  a court order to that effect.

During my 35 years as an Attorney at The Bahamas Bar, I have never been arrested or charged . It was entirely foreseeable that people would question whether the high-profile litigation and the arrest were  connected.

The issues at stake are about far more than me and Keod Smith and me and the Attorney General. At the heart of this matter lies the Rule of Law and respect for our democracy. What kind of nation are we if citizens cannot question political activities without fearing the repercussions, if political principles are sacrificed for political expediency? If the Environment continues to be sacrificed at the Alter of  The Almighty Dollar?

The fact that I mistakenly assumed  the Attorney General must have been consulted before the charges were allowed to proceed against me is a reflection of just how unbelievable and iniquitous the proceedings are.

To recap the situation, I was the victim of a terrifying assault. The ordeal took place when I went to Jaws Beach, in my capacity as attorney for and member of for Save The Bays, to inspect the unregulated development Keod Smith and his workers were carrying out.

Keod Smith incited the men to surround and terrify me whilst he shouted threats like “This is my beach. I say when you can leave.”  During the ordeal, my back window was smashed in – video footage of Keod retrieving the weapon so as to conceal the evidence with incriminating finger prints was widely viewed after being published on The Tribune’s website.

Astoundingly, an evidentially unsustainable  complaint against me for allegedly intentionally causing harm to  one of his workers as I tried to escape the scene, fearing for my life, has been allowed to proceed.

In addition, the serious and legitimate criminal complaint made by me  against Keod Smith has  been mishandled.

Astoundingly there has been no communication by the Police with me as to what he has been charged with, if I am to be a witness, and when is the trial date.

I call on the Attorney General to pay attention to my serious complaint to ensure that it is handled properly and responsibly.

This would go a long way in demonstrating that she is fulfilling her Constitutional functions.

Beyond that, I call on the Attorney General to take her duties seriously and pay attention to the following additional  matters.

Pay attention to the illegal activities that Save The Bays has complained about at Nygard Cay.

Defend the action brought by Nygard against her claiming he is the owner, by accretion of 3.5 acres of Crown land worth $20 Million dollars.

If there is nothing to hide, disclose of all the communications between Nygard and the Government.

What deal has been struck between the Government and Nygard?

What is there to hide?

Come clean with the Bahamian People!!

What is the relationship between the Government and Nygard?

Why has Mr. Nygard, a billionaire, not paid his $3million dollar tax bill at Lyford Cay?

Why has the Government not sued him to collect these much needed taxes to be used to fund educating our school children?

Why has the Attorney General not applied to set aside the default judgment Mr. Nygard and Keod Smith improperly obtained against the Government in Nygard’s Crown Land Claim?

Why is the government doing nothing to get back Crown land worth $20 Million dollars.

Why not pass a Freedom of Information Act?

Why did the PLP withdraw such Bill from Parliament?

How much money did Nygard give the PLP? When and for what?

This can be easily disclosed by the Prime Minister; he does not have to wait for Election Campaign Financing Reform laws to initiate democratic conventions of transparency and accountability to tell the Bahamian public exactly how much Nygard has donated  to the PLP or individual candidates.

Those are the matters that a dispassionate and independent Attorney General should be dealing with.

I invite her to focus on the important issues that the public want answers to.

In conclusion, I accept that the Attorney General is telling the truth when she says she was not personally consulted, and in the circumstances  I  proffer my full apologies to her if my public utterances conveyed the impression that she was personally victimising me.

Of course I did not mean that!

The fact remains however that the Office of the Attorney General remains  constitutionally responsible for this malicious  criminal prosecution of me.

I   was merely investigating evidence of wrong doing in a high profile case mounted against the Government which she has the Constitutional Responsibility  to advise, as she likewise has for all criminal prosecutions including the one mounted against me!