By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE wife of Central and South Eleuthera MP Hank Johnson is being accused of berating two student activists calling for the preservation of Lighthouse Point, Eleuthera.
According to claims by the students and their advisors, Wadainya Weinburger and Franchesca Hanna, both 16, were verbally attacked by Shelley Johnson after they inadvertently crossed paths with a pro-Disney development group she was leading on a tour of the property over the weekend.
Ms Weinburger and Ms Hanna are two-thirds of a trio of eleventh grade students from Central Eleuthera High School who have mounted a national campaign to prevent Lighthouse Point from being developed into a cruise port.
The students last week travelled to New Providence where they, in addition to sitting down with The Tribune, participated in several interviews to discuss their hopes for Lighthouse Point and why they wanted it to be more than a "playground for the wealthy".
In an email detailing the incident, advisors claim the two young girls were a part of a media tour that featured former Financial Service Minister Zhivargo Laing and social media personality and comedian Timico "Sawyer Boy" Sawyer, when they were approached by Mrs Johnson.
Mrs Johnson allegedly took the girls to task over their handling of the Lighthouse Point campaign; specifically criticising their inability to answer or address key questions on Eleuthera during their public presentations.
Another witness to the incident, who asked not to be named, claimed the girls had to be comforted by several people in attendance.
When contacted for comment on the incident, Mrs Johnson denied that any altercation took place.
She insisted that while she was at the property on the date in question, "no such thing took place".
Mrs Johnson said the claims, as presented to her by The Tribune, read like an idea being pushed by a group pandering for public validation.
Mrs Johnson, who has been long rumoured to be a backer for the Disney-led proposal for Lighthouse Point, has remained quiet on the issue since its inception.
Back in May, her husband was accused by some Eleuthera residents of using at least one party branded function to "extensively sell" residents on the pros of a potential Disney-led Lighthouse Point development.
When contacted for comment on the allegation, Mr Johnson said he could not speak directly to the claim, but did say "rumblings" were in the air.
It is in that same vein that those opposing Disney have labelled the Johnsons as "paid Disney supporters" - claims neither have addressed.
When asked of her role yesterday, however, Mrs Johnson said she serves primarily as a "representative of the people of Central and South Eleuthera".
When pressed on the scope of her representation, she insisted she serves as "one of many" community spokespersons. She added the nature of public debate surrounding Lighthouse Point to date has been steered almost exclusively by environmental groups, with very little input by "people in the community".
"The majority of residents of Eleuthera support Lighthouse Point," she claimed.
"A lot of people support plans for the property."
When asked specifically what plan she was referring to, Mrs Johnson stated: "The majority of residents of Central and South Eleuthera support the proposal of Disney."
Renowned for its beauty, Lighthouse Point is a privately owned 700-acre peninsula at the southern tip of Eleuthera.
Earlier this month, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation confirmed Disney Cruise Lines made presentation to the Chamber regarding the company's proposal to develop a destination at the site.