EDITOR, The Tribune
In most international hostage taking situations, it is usually a local cretin who grabs hold of some unfortunate foreigner and demands a king’s ransom for their return. Exhibit A: the nefarious pirates of Somalia.
But in a “only in The Bahamas” moment, a foreign businessman demanded that the Government of the Bahamas give in to his anomalous public ultimatum or he will hold hostage the jobs of 60 local employees.
Our initial response must be delivered in the vernacular: “Dis fella done lost the lil bit a sense God gee him”.
Compass Point began life as an elite recording studio 42 years ago and attracted the global musical literati, including Bob Marley. Condos were built nearby and for a while the whole campus blended in with the natural picture post-card seaside residential neighbourhood.
This was all the brainchild of music producer, Englishman Chris Blackwell who set up a company called Island Outposts. Its 18 huts were crammed along a tiny spit of beach, leaving one to wonder just how in God’s name he was able to wrangle approvals from Town Planning and from the building inspectors at the Ministry of Works.
Some thought the lavender, teal and tangerine huts were an eclectic blend. The neighbours thought they were an eyesore.
It was tolerable when Blackwell owned it. He developed a reputation for premium boutique resorts that attracted celebrities and paparazzi, so the Ministry of Tourism went along with the programme.
The resort changed ownership and ended up in the hands of an American entrepreneur who was new to the hospitality industry and definitely lacked Blackwell’s magic touch.
Truth be told, Blackwell slipped when he transformed his recording studio platform into a resort. It would have been better placed on a Family Island. Who wants to sleep with a cacophony of sounds from passing cars, less than 10 feet from your pillow or enduring the blaring sound of competing discotheques that drone on into the early morning.
Supposedly, it became difficult to make a profit and so the American began experimenting with different business models. Apparently, his latest concoction involves the total capitulation of the Government of the Bahamas to his every whim and fancy.
That is what led him to making threats of hostage-taking. Already carrying racially tinged baggage from back home in the US state of Michigan, this massa boss thought he could try his hand at bullying an entire government.
Like a spoiled kid he attempted to embarrass the Government by taking out a full-page ad in the newspaper to issue an ultimatum: Do as I say, or 60 Bahamians get a pink slip.
It is probably patriotic to hope that those 60 workers would join the rest of their fellow Bahamians in singing to Mr. Leigh Rodney a raucous rendition of an old calypso: “Take your bundle and leave and go, don’t stay here no more”.
With today’s expanding tourism, it should not be hard for the Government to assist them in finding other, perhaps better, employment.
As a nation we must show respect to those foreign investors who put their capital to work in meaningful ways. Mr. Rodney has a reasonable expectation of an amiable environment for business.
What he has no right to do is bully us. There is a time and a place for everything. Just ask Peter Nygard. If no one in Cabinet lines up to kiss his nether region, then he might want to reconsider his investment here.
Perhaps it is time that the building inspectors do a forensic audit of his property to ensure that everything is up to code. Perhaps Town Planning could relook at their zoning provisions to ensure that his commercial establishment is not encroaching on the residential environ.
And not just his neighbours are affected. A drive past the resort on the weekend is interrupted by massive traffic flow and parking problems. Should the fire chief look again at occupancy levels in their public spaces?
The Controller of Road Traffic might not be aware that tourist and local guests take their lives in their hands when they try to negotiate a simple crossing of the road from parking lot to the concealed entrance to Compass Point. There are no sidewalks and no margin for error by vehicle nor pedestrian.
Inquiring minds should focus on how Mr. Rodney manages to evade so many statutes (noise levels, crowding, traffic) and still stay in business.
So, because of his nauseating screed we must thank him for opening our eyes to possible misdemeanors at Compass Point that should be addressed by the authorities with all deliberate speed.
When issuing licences to public houses such as hotels, restaurants and bars, the Government has an obligation to ensure that the person involved in the management of the business is sufficiently competent and is a fit and proper person.
We need to treat Mr Rodney the same way any self-respecting Bahamian parent would treat a spoiled kid who dares embarrass his parents in public.
Somebody go pick a tamarind switch please.
August 8, 2019