Do it my way or I’ll close my resort.
That was the uncompromising threat from Compass Point owner Leigh Rodney in an advertisement in Tuesday’s Tribune – and he’s not backing down.
In today’s Tribune, he says that the FNM promised to make it easier to run a business in The Bahamas – and he says if they don’t live up to that promise, then he’s off.
He says he’ll close down Compass Point, never mind the 60 Bahamians working there.
It’s fair to say he hasn’t received a lot of sympathy since his demand. Some Bahamians have said if he doesn’t want to support Bahamians, well they don’t want to support his business – a pledge that won’t do anything to help the workers whose jobs are threatened either. Others have wanted to know why a guest to these shores feels he can push the government around. Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar is in no mood for Mr Rodney’s demands either, saying the government will “not be bullied”.
Mr Rodney seems an uncompromising type. Nearly two decades ago, he was accused of racial discrimination by a worker at his Detroit factory, who testified that he told workers that if they didn’t like how he ran the company, they could “go back and pick cotton”. The same worker also said Mr Rodney said his dog had been trained to bite black men. Mr Rodney tried to brush that off as a joke yesterday – we doubt many readers will find it funny.
One of Mr Rodney’s demands is for a group to be set up to recommend changes to laws and regulations – with Mr Rodney a member of the group. We presume he shows as much respect for the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce – established for more than 80 years and offering advice on a regular basis to government - as he does for the rest of The Bahamas.
There are absolutely ways in which The Bahamas can better serve business – but the way to achieve that is dialogue, not threats. Another of his demands is for the hotel licencing process to be scrapped – he thinks it is unnecessary, despite Mr D’Aguilar saying his is a lone voice of protest.
Of course, in the end, it is his business and he’s entitled to close it if he wants. We feel desperately sorry for the workers caught in the crossfire – they certainly deserve better than to be in the middle of this.
But if the government rolls over for every business owner who threatens to shut down if they don’t get what they want, then we might as well not have laws at all.
Perhaps Mr Rodney can find a better way to address his concerns – and if not, well, as Mr D’Aguilar says, “let the chips fall where they fall”.
Praise for Marvin Dames
We have criticised Minister of National Security Marvin Dames in the past for perhaps not approaching allegations of police brutality as seriously as they deserve. We would like then to applaud him today for saying the right things in regard to the latest allegations.
Two women in Exuma claimed they were subjected to beatings at the hands of one of the most senior officers on the island on Sunday. Pictures of Dejah Laing, 19, showing blood streaming from her gashed eyelid, were shared on social media by people shocked by the images. Ms Laing and her cousin Aaliyah Bain were both punched repeatedly in the face by the officer, they claim.
Mr Dames, in response, has said there will be no cover-up and that the incident is “very concerning”.
“No one is above the law”, he insisted yesterday, while saying investigators had been sent to Exuma to probe the incident.
We hope that no one is indeed above the law – and that this will be the tone for all such incidents. Too many times we have had to write in this column about allegations of police brutality. Too many times we have seen feet being dragged in the investigation – such as the three people in Eleuthera who claimed they were tortured by police last year, only to be told by police that the time had expired for their matter to be addressed by the force, even though they complained promptly.
We applaud Mr Dames for saying the right things in this case. We sincerely hope the action will live up to the words.
We will be watching.