Archive | March, 2016

Data commissioner condemns tabling of STB emails

We thank the data commissioner

Dear Editor,

I would like to publicly thank the Data Protection Commissioner for condemning the reckless, vindictive and totally unwarranted reading and tabling in the House of Assembly of our personal correspondence and information by members of the government.

The public release of this information was a cowardly, cynical and sinister act calculated to silence and intimidate, while at the same time distracting from their own considerable political troubles.

They sought to attack us in the most cowardly of manners, from behind the protection of parliamentary privilege where they are immune from legal action. Clearly, they would not dare to do the same in the public street for fear of prosecution.

Using the cover of parliamentary privilege to commit acts that would be considered illegal if committed by an ordinary citizen is one of the worst, lowest forms of abuse of power and is condemned by all right-thinking Bahamians.

As the Data Commissioner stated, members of parliament must be held to the same standard as ordinary citizens and remember that no one is above the law.

It has also come to my attention that some government MPs sought to lambaste Save The Bays because we campaign for Freedom of Information yet seek to keep the personal correspondence of our members private. This just goes to show how little they know, or apparently care, about the importance of transparency and accountability in public life.

The point of Freedom of Information is that the citizens of a country have a right to know what is being done – by their government – in their name and on their behalf. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the release of citizens’ private information; it is about holding those we elect as our representatives accountable for their actions, their decisions and the way in which they spend our money.

Save The Bays has never advocated for the kind of disgraceful invasion of privacy recently committed by members of the government, we have never called for all personal information to be in the public domain and we continue to fully support the important work of the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.

In a society based on individual rights, transparency and good governance, Freedom of Information and Data Protection go hand-in-hand in the interest of defending the rights and privileges of the citizens above all else.

Sadly, as recent events have shown, we as a society currently fall woefully below this standard.

Perhaps at the next sitting of the House of Assembly, Jerome Fitzgerald can spend his time more constructively by giving the public an update on the long-awaited Freedom of Information Act – a campaign promise of his party nearly four years ago.

Kind regards,

Joseph Darville

Chairman, Save The Bays

The Fight for Our Future

sam duncombe

Politics, law and the environment.

The government of The Bahamas is increasingly dysfunctional and perverse. They continue to wilfully ignore, downplay and reframe the very serious matters and concerns that have been raised by Save The Bays (STB) and others: oil pollution at Clifton, the Rubis fuel spill, the burning dump, and unregulated and unlawful development, for starters. And even after a Supreme Court judgement, Prime Minister Perry Christie and the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Alfred Gray have failed to close the illegal facility Blackbeard’s Cay notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s order requiring them to do so.

Invasion of privacy – more illegality

Most recently, we witness the Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald reading private emails of STB directors – illegally obtained – under the protection of the House of Assembly. How does this look to the world of investors and bankers? – knowing that when the government wants to, it will spy on them?

What an obscene violation of privacy!

The complete lack of self control and common sense is staggering! In successive stunning moves, the Government ignores the rule of law, discards democratic principles and takes its depravity down to the lowest of depths to advance its agenda, obscure its wrongdoings and defend the indefensible. Its Cabinet Ministers then attack citizens in Parliament where we have no opportunity to respond.

How could the “honourable” Ministers of Education and Immigration abuse their power by using the protection of the House to lambaste, insult, cast innuendos and attempt to degrade the reputation of its own citizens?

Why would the Minister of Education and Minister of Immigration be so concerned? Shouldn’t they be at least as interested in finding out if there has been criminal misconduct that has threatened their own citizens?

We have been called the Bahamian Hustlers. That’s laughable – who are bigger hustlers than this government?

Decades of non responsive government

Why has every government for the past 25 years resisted the environmental movement? Science has repeatedly demonstrated that key protections of the environment are necessary to ensure a sustainable healthy environment as the best way forward and yet successive governments continue to ignore it at our collective peril.

Minister Fitzgerald claims that Save The Bays is trying to “overthrow the government” an outrageous assertion! – It seems to me they are doing a pretty fantastic job of overthrowing themselves.

Imagine if the Government put as much effort trying to do right by Bahamians, instead of zealously attacking its citizens – if only that energy could be put to good use running the country responsibly, effectively and efficiently.

The reality is environmental groups would not have to exist if the government did its job.

Clearly, we cannot trust the government to protect the environment for the Bahamian people, and we cannot allow it to continue to scandalize the country by dragging it through the mud of cronyism and self-dealing.

Maligning patriotic Bahamians who care about our environment and its people, is not the answer we can accept. The government needs to be responsible and respond appropriately.

Why would the Minister of Education and Minister of Immigration address the House with their spewing of hostility and spitefulness? It is sad and disheartening and honestly shameful given the desperate need for rational debate in this country. The stature afforded the Ministers by their profession and official posts as Members of Parliament and Cabinet Ministers in The government of the Bahamas should have dictated greater wisdom and discretion in their response to a lawsuit which alleges a murder plot. Moreover, their fuss and fury certainly does not set a good example of how to deal with controversy, particularly as the entire nation can watch their petty, vindictive and malicious behaviour. This is a sad performance.

Politics of Intimidation and Insults

In 25 years as an environmental activist in The Bahamas I have frequently discovered that those who unjustly attack an opponent’s character and reputation, rather than their contentions and arguments, avail themselves of this tactic of last resort due to weakness of their position. It may well also be that their point of view betrays their transparent motives that advance a very narrow agenda of tribalism and self-interest.

I am a proud Director and Campaign Manager for Oil Pollution for STB which has at its core 7 objectives to promote environmental awareness, and to protect and strengthen environmental laws. The disingenuous attacks on STB is patronizing and seeks to silence us for disagreeing with them – to intimidate, so that we either submit or disappear. We don’t want to fight: we demand a seat at the table to ensure the environment is being protected and laws are being followed. And we’re not going away.

It is the classic “control and suppression” move of those who see themselves as entrenched in “power and privilege”. Their aim is often to impose their own agendas, not only on those they want to silence now, but also those that may be “awakened” by the current protests.

Accountability?

It is indeed ironic that the government is calling for the IRS to investigate STB funds, when the government can’t seem to produce any information regarding political donations, and can’t produce public accounts satisfactory to the Auditor General. And then again, we need to consider the multi- millions of dollars that are unaccounted for and misused by this administration: Bank of the Bahamas, BAMSI, VAT, Carnival, NIB, Real Property Tax, the Post office etc… Perhaps it’s best not to throw stones when living in a glass house? The government ought to stop their smoke and mirrors tactics and focus on disclosing where OUR money is going.

 

History and Political Expediency

Some fascinating facts: In 2002 when another group of Bahamians (myself included) were fighting the Clifton Cay development and the PLP was the opposition, the PLP were quick to jump – nay trample all over the coattails of all those patriotic Bahamians who stood loud and proud to preserve our historic cultural and natural heritage at Clifton for political mileage. I gather that a ground swell of public opinion to be used in their favour was perfectly acceptable. Political expediency determines the validity of a cause as they readily and quickly ran to the front of the parade and proceeded to espouse the virtues of protecting the environment and our heritage.

During the same time the current Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe was a talk show host at More 94 FM. I was invited to appear on the show so many times I practically became his co host!

But that was ok because we used our time on air to speak out for saving Clifton. What’s that Shakespeare quote again?… “Adversity makes strange bedfellows.”

But that was ok then because it suited them, and frankly it suited the fight at the time. Shouldn’t it be the job of both the government and the opposition to stand with its citizens?

In fact Prime Minister Christie acknowledged after winning the 2002 election that supporting the Clifton fight had helped them win the election.

The then FNM government also used the protection of the House to attack those of us in the fight. We were called operatives of the PLP at the time among other things. It is really rather perverse that in 25 years the same old dirty, slimy tactics are used interchangeably from one government to another government in attempts to intimidate and silence any dissention from the public.

But what amuses as much as angers me with this fiasco is that the government now wants to unleash the IRS and FBI hounds on Louis Bacon, who is the same person that helped us in the first Clifton fight in 2000. And the PLP had no problem using Louis Bacon’s support in 2000. His Moore Charitable Foundation (MCF) assisted those of us on the ground with financial and professional resources. Does anyone care to remember EDAW – ( an international landscape architecture, urban and environmental design firm) which the last PLP administration utilized for the Down Town Redevelopment Project? EDAW was sourced through MCF to provide the Clifton Heritage Park Committee with the first conceptual plans for the Clifton Heritage National Park.

So while Minister Fitzgerald is claiming that no PLP members were involved with this group in actual fact they were involved with them long before the FNM party ever was. They supported a very vocal and visible fight in which Mr. Bacon played an important and meaningful role. We owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Bacon, the man being persecuted by the government today, for his help in saving one of the most important historical, cultural and environmental sites in The Bahamas. I for one, will forever be grateful.

 

Challenging the Status Quo

As a patriotic Bahamian, it is my duty, honour and privilege to ceaselessly challenge these antiquated ideas, outdated attitudes and spoon-fed rationales that are routinely served up primarily to support and maintain the status quo and far too frequently defending vested interests by diverting or subverting the legitimate interests and rights of the Bahamian people at large.

We should in 2016 be enjoying a government that has the capacity to implement our collective aspirations in an authentic and sustainable relationship with the natural world, meeting the challenges of today. Our government should take measures to arrest the ongoing destruction of our environment by unscrupulous developers, and educate our people to “re-member” our connections to the natural world and thereby cure the dysfunctional relationship between people and nonhuman nature.

The government’s behaviour in the House is not worthy of the very honoured position they hold. I am thoroughly disgusted that the government would use the protection of the House of Assembly to denigrate citizens who are trying to make positive and constructive contributions to the environmental well-being of our Bahamas.

The unholy alliances and relationships   between family, friends, fornicators and financiers of the political and economic “elite” are destroying our country. What is clear is that more and more, all of us on the “outside” do not belong to this club/country named the Bahamas. For far too long the politicians have treated our country as though it was their own private land where they can help themselves to everything they can extort, grab, or manipulate. And they have evidently forgotten that they were elected to serve US – NOT themselves.

Why is it that our government is not working for us? Why are they constantly rushing to defend certain foreign developers / party financiers often at the expense, literally and figuratively of the good people of the Bahamas? It seems to me that the majority of politicians are their own top priority and the rest of us are situated way down on the totem pole. It is depraved that this government has more reverence for some foreign developers than it does its own people.

If the government feels threatened that an environmental organization is trying to “over throw” them (which is laughable) perhaps they might take some time they so willingly give to some foreign developers / party financiers and pay attention to the concerns of their citizens. It is under their “governance” that concerns raised about environmental issues are continually ignored, and as patriotic Bahamians it is our duty to take a stand and make sure the Government does its job to protect the environment for future generations.

Glen Albrecht, an Australian professor of environmental studies, has observed that large numbers of people are experiencing a type of stress and negative emotions that he calls solastalgia: which he defined as “the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault.” 

Our beautiful country is not a basket of resources to be exploited and plundered by greedy politicians and their patrons. It is living system of interconnectedness and we must rediscover and reinvent our place as caretakers of the environment which sustains us.

Reject the continuous lies – repetition does not make them true. We need real answers and we need positive action.

As reEarth supporter Jeremy Peterson stated,
“It’s time to truly look ahead to our future and decide whether or not we want one.”

 

 

Sam Duncombe
President
reEarth

Director,
Campaign Manager for Oil Pollution
Save The Bays

Statement from Louis Bacon

Moore Charitable Foundation Founder Louis Bacon Official Photo

I have lived in mortal fear for several years due to Peter Nygard’s harassment, intimidation and smear campaign campaign against me.

And I am now shocked, that with the depths of Peter Nygard’s illegal derangement and disgusting disrespect of the Bahamian Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister being displayed for everyone to see, that it is I who is vilified by the PLP in Parliament along with the other Victim-Plaintiffs, castigated as insidious agents trying to topple the government after our discovering, corroborating, and revealing in a law suit the lethal depravity that Nygard has plunged to.

A Queens Counsel, a school teacher, a solid business man, a foreign philanthropic donor to environmental causes and a beloved Reverend who has a served as a PLP-appointed Vice-President of The Senate and who suffered real violence in this harassment campaign — by bringing a court case aimed at stopping this foreign pest to stop harassing and intimidating and plotting violence against them—they are a cabal seeking to overthrow a popularly elected PLP government ?

Really?….. Really ludicrous!

To the contrary, it is Nygard that has attempted to control the government of the Bahamas. There could hardly be more forceful evidence that in the twisted mind of Peter Nygard he had bought the right to a specific favour from the PLP in exchange for his self-admitted enormous campaign contributions, evidence that emanated from revelations about his harassment conspiracies. His own words prove the corruption he seeks.

There could also hardly be more forceful evidence that Prime Minister Christie had not succumbed to Nygard’s attempts to corrupt him and that Prime Minister Christie had rebuffed Nygard’s entreaties. On the contrary, the video exonerates the Prime Minister, but show the ugly and insulting truth behind Nygard and his misguided thinking that he owns the Prime Minister.

We the plaintiffs of the recently filed Supreme Court action could have left out the video evidence detailing Prime Minister Christie’s rejection of Nygard’s demands—if we had a political agenda against the Prime Minister and the PLP. But we did not, because we have no such agenda. We only seek to expose the truth revealed to us by multiple whistleblowers and corroborated by objective and verifiable evidence.

One would have expected the right-thinking PLP to rise up (and many have) against the foreigner who was massively insulting to their leader and the leader of the country and extol the fact that Mr. Christie had proven stalwart against rumours of undue influence, was vindicated morally and politically for all to see and to immediately put distance between them and the noxious Nygard now and forever, whatever past relations Nygard sought to promote.

Adding to the irony of the incendiary parliamentary debate about Save the Bays (STB) environmental charity, of which 4 of the 5 plaintiffs are directors, and for which I have been a lead contributor, is the very genesis of this advocacy organisation.

I have spent the last two decades devoted to environmental philanthropy and advocacy. Indeed it was not too long ago that Prime Minister Christie praised me as a strong contributor to Bahamian environmental causes in 2013 upon my being awarded the Audubon Award for environmental contribution.

Keod Smith, lawyer for my nemesis Peter Nygard, however, took offense with the Prime Minister’s laudatory remarks, apparently because other environmental figures in the earlier ‘Clifton fight’ in The Bahamas were not mentioned at the same time. He challenged me to show environmental leadership in The Bahamas to live up to my bona fides which he professed to doubt.

Goaded by Keod Smith and heartened by Prime Minister Christie’s laudatory remarks, I recommitted to Bahamian environmental causes, after a several year pause due to the Nygard’s harassment campaign.

With the support of various neighbours and supporters of the west end of New Providence, The Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay was formed with some of the original Clifton Coalition members. We shortly thereafter changed the public name to Save the Bays—STB—yet to my mind and others the goal was to carry out the vision of the original Clifton Coalition. That was to safeguard, primarily through advocacy, the waters and land immediately around Clifton Bay – an area from the fuel depot to Jaws Beach to Goulding Cay and Simms Point (sometimes known as Nygard Cay).

So ironically, The Bahamas can thank (or blame) the exhortation of the PLP for the very existence of STB which is now being demonised as some instrument of the Opposition.

I imagine the naming and shaming of the local STB (as well as foreign)Directors and employees during recent parliamentary debate on television delineated their political persuasion—something like my countryman Joseph McCarthy did on the floor of our Senate in the 50’s in outing supposed communist traitors to American democracy, the disgraced ‘Red Scare’ episode, a travesty of justice and political overreach.

As for STB being some kind of FNM political group, except what I have read in the paper recently, I have no idea what political party any of the Bahamian Directors belong to, nor has it been a subject of conversation with anyone I know.

STB, however, is an advocacy charity. Its mandate is to get involved in any environmental issues, including policy issues. It is non-partisan.

One would be hard pressed to think of any important American environmental advocacy groups that does not get involved in policy, lobbying or litigating—from the Sierra Club to the Natural Resource Defense Council to the League of Conservation Voters to the Environmental Defense Fund and onwards—as doe STB, the lead proponent of “Environmental Advocacy” of in The Bahamas.

What exactly is that?

“Advocacy is working to influence public policy in social, political, and cultural spheres in order to bring about justice and positive change in human rights and environmental issues. Environmental Advocacy involves both protecting the public from environmental hazards and protecting the natural world. Advocates organize a group around a cause and work to implement changes that have a lasting and positive effect.”[1]

STB is styled after Robert F Kennedy Jr’s (also an STB Director) very successful international Waterkeeper Alliance of  which I was a founding contributor. It is the fastest growing global environmental movement in environmental laws by publicizing violations and violators.”

Indeed, a subsidiary of STB is part of the Waterkeeper Alliance from which it takes its funding and its basic operating model. There are also Waterkeepers in Bimini and Grand Bahama.

Emboldened with early success in thwarting Nygard’s attempt to steal three of the most expensive acres in the Bahamas from the public—Crown Land which he still occupies– and degrading the local environment in doing so, STB directors pushed to have a more national environmental advocacy rather than limiting itself to the West End of New Providence.

Along with our community partner, Bimini Blue, STB has extended its efforts into fighting catastrophic unregulated development in Bimini’s mangroves and reef systems. We took the case all the way to the Privy Council in London. With ReEarth, we successfully defeated an unlawful development on Blackbeard Cay and STB continues to fight many other environmental causes.

Just last month, STB was granted permission to launch yet another Judicial Review about preventing and cleaning up the oil spills that continually pollute the waters off Clifton and the West End—a significant milestone in the campaign to compel The Bahamas government to decisively address this longstanding environmental problem

STB has also lobbied for a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in The Bahamas. It is the same type of legislation in America that was used so effectively by Robert Kennedy Jr, the Sea Turtle Conservancy (two foreign advocates my Moore Charitable Foundation brought into the earlier Clifton fight) and Keod Smith to help save the Clifton Heritage area from the bulldozers in 2000 along with numerous other local advocates. The FOIA in America was used to obtain a damning US firm’s archaeological report that had been earlier suppressed by the FNM government which revealed the sensitivity of the Bahamian treasure there.

Indeed, it was STB’s lawful FOIA public event in December 2015 in support of passage of a Bahamian FOIA that was violently shut down by one of Nygard’s Hate Rallies that the Plaintiffs now seek protection from re-occurring.

While initially STB was criticized in the press and Parliament as being a group narrowly focused against my neighbour Nygard, we are now being lambasted in parliament as ‘activists seeking to topple the Government’.

Environmental advocacy is often irritating and antagonistic to sitting governments. It tries to accomplish change irrespective of political affiliation. Ask FNM former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham how he felt during the earlier Clifton campaign. I repeat – STB is Non-Partisan!

It is highly disturbing that certain Bahamian politicians are vigorously urging the further persecution of the already frightened Plaintiff-Victims in the harassment suit with wildly trumped up claims and allegations of small potential infractions in the way the discovery of the harassment proceeded, a harassment suit that was filed in civil and not criminal court.

Indeed given that the government is threatening charges on the victims, me included, and in light of the police to this day not investigating the offending parties, the plaintiffs’ reluctance to involve the police in their initial discoveries appears totally vindicated, their having decided to proceed in a civil lawsuit rather than seek police intervention. This reluctance came about after police officials rebuffed several STB requests for them to investigate the Hate Rallies. Yet certain STB members would not let the injustice and the marginalisation of their human rights stand without their own investigation.

While the plaintiffs have shined a spotlight into nefarious threats and harm done by a privileged foreigner – ‘He Answers to No One’ as Forbes Magazine put it—certain Bahamian political leaders are bewilderingly doing their utmost to silence the plaintiffs and any charitable organisations they belong to instead of going after the accused malefactor

As for recent calls by a senior cabinet minister for an investigation by the FBI and the IRS, why not make it a bi-partisan initiative and have it cover all foreigners, even the one who has been unlawfully sitting on your constituents’ Crown Land illegally for 20 years while thumbing his nose at your Prime Minister after trying to buy him off?

I welcome such long overdue investigation. Perhaps it is the only way out for civil society in The Bahamas to rid itself of the corrupting influence of this pestilence.

And the senior cabinet minister who made these calls may also want to check with the Real Property Tax Department to see if Peter Nygard ever made good the $2.5 million in property taxes he had been delinquent on.

And as for banning foreign money in Bahamian electoral campaigns, I would welcome that proposal as well since Nygard’s $5mm donation seems the root of all the mess here.

As for my charitable organisation, Moore Charitable Foundation, we have prioritized environmental and educational giving. Besides my backing of STB I have also donated millions of dollars in the Bahamas including gifts to the Bahamas National Trust, Nature Conservancy Bahamas, BREEF, the Rotary Club amongst others.

These gifts dwarf the donations to political campaigns I have given– to the PLP in the 2007 electoral cycle and to the FNM in the 2012 election cycle. In fact, I have donated to both the PLP and FNM in like amount in the low six figures, both because, as a property owner and resident of The Bahamas, I supported the environmental policies espoused and upheld by the leaders of their party at the time.

I fully recognize that Parliamentary debate can lead to impolitic and overwrought statements that have a deservedly short shelf-life. Although there is a certain tolerance for hot talk however misguided, what is perhaps most disappointing for the Bahamian image abroad, if not at home, is the recent unauthorised release by a senior cabinet minister of private emails of our charitable organisation, STB, and its bank records and foreign money transfers.

Nassau has been a major offshore banking and funds management center and nothing strikes worry in financial fiduciaries more than the intrusion and publication by political powers of supposedly private banking records and private organisational correspondence, a concern I share in. This ‘own goal’ for the financial services industry of the Bahamas by the senior cabinet minister that introduced this unauthorized sensitive private information in proceedings in Parliament will not go un-noticed by senior international Banking and Fund fiduciaries.

As I noted in my previous open letter (http://www.savethebays.bs/wp-content/uploads/2013.04.19-CPCB-Gazette-2-TR.pdf) as a fiduciary I quietly pushed my funds management administrator to move any business having to do with my international investment funds away from the Bahamas (as I had previously urged for them to move to Nassau in the 90’s to be closer to my second home) after the rogue police raid on my home.

Following the raid which happened under the FNM administration, and which Nygard takes authorship for, I was concerned that his nefarious influence could gain him access to Moore Capital Management funds’ corporate records, correspondence, client rosters, bank transfers, etc.

This withdrawal commenced under the FNM administration to their great dismay—it was not based on whichever reigning party was in power, it was also not done with any thought that whichever political party would try to embarrass or destabilise my business or me–I was worried about a private attack.

Never in a thousand years would I have thought it would be a sitting member of the Government of The Bahamas who would use unauthorized access to private financial and corporate information to try to destabilize me or an affiliated organisation by putting this information in the public record, on television! For such a politician to undermine the sanctity of personal, business and banking information and to do so as a misguided act of political retaliation, threatens the very foundations of commerce and foreign investment in the Bahamas.

Instead of feeling justified in my previous precaution as a fiduciary regarding the sanctity of corporate records, I am actually stunned at the audacity of this lawlessness—a breach that threatens to cascade my fears broadly to international investors—a grave disservice to Bahamians.

If I am wrong that his acts are illegal, then I do not think international investors realize how tenuous the sanctity of their personal, business or banking information is in The Bahamas if they run afoul of certain politicians or powerful individuals.

All abuses of power — like the police raid on my home that had the officer in charge explicitly target taking digital photographs of my toddler children (since returned thanks to the intervention of the Commissioner of Police Greenslade) to intimidate my family, to this unauthorized access and use of private financial information by officials –fundamentally undermine the democracy and freedoms we had come to admire in the Bahamas.

I urge both parties to come together at a time when national unity would seem to be imperative, and focus on the national issues at hand that warrant a change of course in protecting the good name of The Bahamas–protecting individual rights domestically and that of investors in the international financial service industry– rather than focusing on internecine score-settling.

[1] Environmental.net

A statement from one of our Directors and Earthcare President:

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A statement from one of our Directors and Earthcare President:

I, Gail Woon, write today this 20th day of March 2016. Of my life’s work, the second most important thing is my environmental advocacy work. The first most important thing is my love and care for my children. I am hurt to the core of my being by the ridiculous accusations levied against me and my colleagues in the House of Assembly last week by of all people, the Minister of Education, Science & Technology. I have never done anything but support my country and the Governments of the day. The fact that I have had to use from time to time the philosophies of Mahatma Ghandi in order to effect positive environmental change is just that, a love of this country and its people. To be accused of trying to “topple the Government or destabilize the Government”, I can only reply, “Seriously?”. I can speak for myself, and tell you that the only thing that has ever motivated my environmental advocacy work over the past 36 years, has been the desire to make my beautiful country sustainable and a better place for future generations. Please, if you wish to attack me, my family or my colleagues, please do so in a Public Town Meeting so that I can be afforded the opportunity to defend myself. And if that is not possible from your perspective, Honourable Minister, I ask that you cease and desist from uttering my name in your venue. Ecologically yours, Gail Woon.

DECLARATION BY JOSEPH DARVILLE

Bahamas Press Club and Save The Bays shake on the need for Freedom of Information

I am loathed to have to defend my character or name in public; for ever since a little boy growing up on Long Island, my countenance spoke clearly for itself. At this moment however, I do find it necessary to draft this declaration. It was actually motivated by a post by one of my long time associates, Mr. Peter Carey, who wrote:

“I know Joseph Darville; met him many times especially when he served as the Principal of the Grand Bahama Catholic High School, Freeport Grand Bahama. As a fellow Catholic I say without a shadow of a doubt that Bahamian Catholics in the majority who have heard the offensive descriptions that were (announced, but not tabled) in The Honorable House of Assembly yesterday (Thursday) to our Brother Joe Darville are deeply troubled. The good work of Joe Darville will speak for him and we put our brother Joe to the Prayers, love and support of all of the faithful. I am personally confident that when the facts are known the Bahamian people would stand tall with Joe Darville.”

And then he ended it with a beautiful prayer. It was followed by a number of positive and supported messages, with one not so very much so.

Again, I am only penning this message because of my life-long and continue work with the youth of this nation, which no involves environmental education and leadership training, with the assistance of world class facilitators, who have been trained by the world renowned personnel. For the benefit, therefore, of these individuals, their parents and the community, I feel obligated to set the record straight.

My beloved sisters and brothers, may our great, gracious and crucified Jesus, the unconditional lover, my model, bless abundantly your hearts for these unsolicited comments. I completely forgive all those who have attempted to defame my name and character. My life has been totally dedicated to the good and wellbeing of my beloved country and its people I love so dearly. I will unhesitatingly lay down my life for my country. Thus, even at the blessed age of almost 75, I will do all in my power to restore and preserve the integrity of the country I so dearly cherish. Threatening my life and attempting to sully my name and character could only end in even greater disgrace on our nation. Mind you I am not afraid of dying; thus I have the freedom to live life to the fullest.

I have done absolutely nothing to cast any disgrace upon my country; I have, instead, done everything in my power to restore and maintain its good name at home and abroad. I defend the goodness in my nation on a daily basis. But I do not hesitate to expose the tremendous wrongs which cast serious aspersions up us as a nation. It is one of the most blessed spots on this majestic planet and I aim to keep it so. It is in line with the solemn stewardship to which I am sworn, by supernatural mission and commitment. I have never been or ever will be involved in any covert activity to destabilize my government or country; for anyone to think or dream up otherwise would be absolutely ludicrous. My government, whatever government it be, PLP or FNM, is my government and I will do openly everything in my power to see that it responds responsibly to the need of our people and our nation. If at times that seems anti-establishment, so be it.

My life and work have always been an open book, and across those pages are written a solid history of divinely guided work and accomplishments. Those with pure hearts, clear eyes and unplugged ears can so easily dwell upon them for edification. Early in my life, taught extensively and dramatically by my grandmother, I have followed the tenants of my Brother Jesus Christ; and once set upon that course there is and never was any turning back for me. Daily the darkness is removed and the light of the Risen Christ always illumines my path.

I welcome anyone to come forth and contradict me otherwise. I have absolutely nothing to hide. The defaming of my character by false and damning statements would profit those individuals naught. The Honorable Fitzgerald, Minister of Education, can himself attest to the work I do, as he has personally witnessed it and saluted the young environmentalists during a scientific conference at the Island School on Eleuthera. He could have easily met with me face to face, or called me to get any facts with relation to my work. I would have told him exactly what salary I make and how much is allocated for the environmental education program I operate. Both are modest amounts, nowhere near what may have been suggested by him in Parliament.

My personal remuneration is greatly appreciated for it allows me to carry on my work, even while retired on NIB pension; the amount does not even approach being commensurate with my talent, training, degrees and critical work. However, I acknowledge and bless the Moore Charitable Foundation, for providing it and the amount to run the program, where every single penny is spent in that regard and accounted for. Let me add that I am under absolutely no obligation to be directed by the funding body as to how I operate the grant. My professional assistants and myself have absolute jurisdiction over this, without any outside interference, or promises.

By the way, Mr. Fitzgerald, if I were under any legal obligation to actually declare the amount I would gladly do so, with due respect to the rule of law, unlike a large number of members of parliament who are under legal obligation to do so and do not. But you can still give me a call and I will give you the exact figures, for your personal satisfaction. However, I think it is well known by many of you, by virtue of our private calls and emails being hacked into.

I wish to end by wishing all my beloved citizens, even those detractors, a blessed Holy Week: May, in this holy week, leading to the crucifixion and resurrection of our Beloved Brothers Jesus Christ, all hearts be purified through his blood, and forgiveness bestowed on us all, for any wrong we have perpetrated upon our fellowmen/women. I especially send blessings and forgiveness to our government and all its members, beseeching them pay attention to the plight of our beloved Bahamaland.

Joseph Darville

Freeport, Grand Bahama

19 March, 2016