By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
COMPASS Point proprietor Leigh Rodney yesterday doubled down on his threat to make the historic resort disappear if the government does not take credible steps to improve the ease of doing business.
Mr Rodney told The Tribune he felt his demands were reasonable given the Free National Movement’s reform promises on the campaign trail.
He suggested the government has not acted in good faith on those promises, and further threatened the dismissal of the property’s 60 employees on or before the next general election. “If we do not have legitimate discussion,” Mr Rodney said, “at very least to make some changes, legitimate changes, then Compass Point will start the process of disappearing on or before election day.
“Quite simply,” he continued, “I’m serious, if there is not at least legitimate consideration to making changes the business will be gone. Not sold to another sucker, but gone.”
Mr Rodney took out a full page advertisement in The Tribune on Tuesday detailing his anger over the perceived inaction by the FNM administration.
Mr Rodney purchased Compass Point as part of a four-member consortium after it was shuttered from severe hurricane damage in 2004.
The ad details an appeal for the establishment of a small group to compile recommendations for amendments to existing laws and regulations, with the inclusion of Mr Rodney as a participant alongside a government representative as its chair.
“The FNM administration promised voters that it would be the leaders that made all changes possible to make it easier to run a business in the Bahamas. The Compass Point owner believed that promise,” the advertisement said.
“For the two years the FNM has been in power, the Compass Point owner has made what he thinks is a simple request.”
It continued: “If the leadership of this country resorts to publicly distorting this request into derogatory statements, the owner of CP will not respond. The CP owner is not interested in making this a public spectacle, he is not running for office.
“He simply wants to make some positive changes that will benefit everyone in the Bahamas.”
Yesterday, Mr Rodney told The Tribune he explained his motivation for the potential shuttering with staff three weeks ago.
“There’s a lot of improvement that can be done,” Mr Rodney continued, “with how regulations can be done.”
The resort and its restaurant gained notoriety through the Compass Point Recording Studios, which has hosted such talents as Lenny Kravitz, Celene Dion, Bob Marley, the Rolling Stones and Jimmy Buffet.
Mr Rodney is the president of Detroit Forming Inc, a family owned business that designs and manufactures rigid plastic packaging. He told Tribune Business, shortly after acquiring the Compass Point property in 2006, that he had been visiting the Bahamas for 20-30 years, visiting once a year since the 1970s.
Mr Rodney was accused of racial discrimination nearly two decades ago by a black warehouse worker at the Detroit-based factory.
Former employee Darryl Hall testified that Mr Rodney told workers at a shift meeting they could “go back and pick cotton” if they didn’t like the way he ran the company.
The Michigan Court of Appeals felt the evidence was compelling enough to send the case to trial; however, Mr Rodney said the claims levelled by a former friend were ultimately dropped.
Mr Hall also claimed Mr Rodney said his dog had been trained to bite black men.
Yesterday, Mr Rodney explained to The Tribune that he was being sarcastic at the time, and making a joke that referred to the racist generalisation that black people were more afraid of dogs than white people. He noted it was a phenomenon commonly discussed in the Bahamas, and widely held to be true. However, it was poorly received and used as evidence to bolster Mr Hall’s claim he was denied a promotion due to his skin colour.
“I thought he was my friend,” Mr Rodney said. “I had worked with him for some 15 years, we loaded trucks together. He was being recommended to me for termination for doing a poor job. I was trying to meet with him to discuss how severe the claims against him were.”
• This story has been edited to remove a reference to Paul King as being one of the owners. Mr King's law firm states he was only the attorney on record for the purchase.