Archive | October, 2016

Nygard defies Supreme Court once again

In the face of two applications to commit him to prison for contempt, the controversial fashion designer continues to insult the judiciary and act as if he is  above the law

New evidence has emerged showing that Peter Nygard has once again defied the Supreme Court of The Bahamas, aggressively dredging the seabed off his property despite having already been accused of contempt for similar actions on two previous occasions.

dredge-1-1The controversial designer has been under an injunction ordering him not to dredge since 2013, when leading Bahamian environmental group Save The Bays (STB) launched judicial review proceedings citing years of unauthorized construction and serious damage to the surrounding environment.

“Three strikes, and Peter Nygard is out,” said STB legal director Fred Smith. “We can only conclude that this man believes he is a law unto himself and can spit in the face of the Supreme Court of The Bahamas whenever he chooses.

 “Just days after the judge visited his property in an effort to see for herself the site of the last alleged infraction, he is at it again, aggressively dredging the seabed and Crown Land— which belongs not to him- but to every citizen of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

“He is acting in blatant defiance of our laws, making a mockery of our sovereignty and spitting in the face of our judicial process. He simply must be stopped.”

Photos taken on Monday, October 16 and show a dredger being operated by an individual in Clifton Bay just off the coast of Nygard Cay. It is also clear from the images that the sand being removed from the seabed, which is Crown Land, is being transported and stockpiled on Nygard’s private beach.dredge-2

STB has argued in several court cases that the same tactic has been used by Nygard repeatedly over the years to double the size of his beach, from around three acres to six, at the expense of the Bahamian public.

“He is simply abusing our laws and taking our land for himself,” Smith said. “He is laughing at us, taunting us and sending a message that he is untouchable.

“Almost half a century after gaining independence we continue to be treated like serfs on a colonial plantation by this man. We must stand up and assert our rights in the face of this insulting and degrading behaviour by a foreign individual who seems to believe he is the King of The Bahamas and owns our government because he donated $5 Million! Well, our message to him, is that he does not own our prime minister or our country!”

KB Brings Back Hit Tune Calling for ‘True Freedom of Information Act’

KB Brings Back Hit Tune to Join Growing Chorus Calling for ‘True Freedom of Information Act‘

Kirkland ‘KB’ BodieThe Bahamas number one rake ‘n scrape artist Kirkland ‘KB’ Bodie is lending his voice to the growing chorus of organizations calling for a ‘true’ freedom of information act, declaring the united effort to push for transparency and accountability from government is unlike any movement he has ever witnessed.

“This is unprecedented – to have 17 groups coming together from environmental organizations like Save The Bays to business organizations like the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and the Retailers Federation to The Bahamas Press Club and civic voices like Organization for Responsible Governance and Citizens for a Better Bahamas – all united for a single cause, freedom of information. That’s thousands and thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people represented, demanding that government finally pass legislation that establishes the people’s right to know the people’s business,” said Bodie, who for the past three years has written, performed and produced powerful and popular music with a message. Much of his music has been in conjunction with efforts by Save The Bays, which hosted the first rally for Freedom of Information in 2014. “When I saw the list of who’s supporting a true freedom of information act, not a political tool, but an act with real teeth, I resurrected the first freedom of information song that I recorded for that first rally in Rawson Square and re-released it last week.”

The chorus, said the star, says in plain language what community and civic leaders have put in “far more elaborate and eloquent terms” in communications to government. “A freedom of information act will get the country back on track, show us every contract sign, where every nickel, every dime, make sure our business straight, money going in da right place, country running way too slack, freedom of information act.”

Spokespersons for various civic organizations say despite the music, full page ads showing the united effort among normally disparate groups and appearances on various radio talk shows, they have had no response from the Cabinet minister responsible for carriage of the legislation, Minister Jerome Fitzgerald. The way the Act is drafted calls for an information commissioner appointed by the Governor General based on a recommendation by the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. The groups are unanimously opposed to a political appointee to head the office and they want to ensure an independent budget as well as whistleblower protection.

“We are appreciative of the fact that government did engage us in circulating a draft copy of the Freedom of Information Bill, 2015,” said Lemarque Campbell, attorney and Chairman of Citizens for a Better Bahamas (the national contact for Transparency International). “We, along with Save The Bays and other groups, reviewed the Bill very carefully and submitted our consolidated recommendations to the Minister responsible, the Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald. That was in June which was the deadline requested for submissions. The Bill is supposed to be tabled in October and we have not heard back from Minister Jerome Fitzgerald.”

Save The Bays Chairman Joseph Darville echoed Campbell’s sentiment.

“We retained an independent law firm – not our regular litigators but totally independent — to review the proposed Act as well as review freedom of information legislation in numerous other countries as The Bahamas is one of the last remaining nations in the world whose citizens and whose media do not have the guaranteed right to be able to see the government’s business,” said Darville. “We got back 31 pages of details and sent a letter with four basic recommendations related to the appointment of an independent commissioner, a separate budget, whistleblower protection and reasonable timelines for response as well as suggesting international exposure and training for those who will be employed in that office. Our submission was hand-delivered on June 21. It is now October 2 and we have yet to have even the courtesy of an acknowledgement. This is supposed to be a participatory democracy. And our letter was very positive. It said, ‘It is our firm belief that with these adjustments to the Freedom of Information Bill, our country will join the ranks of the world’s great democratic societies.’”

Both groups have also requested meetings to discuss the legislation that has been promised as part of the platform of every political party and was first introduced by the former administration but never enacted into law. This current administration withdrew the original act saying it would re-write and strengthen it.