THREE different stories on our front page today might cause readers to raise an eyebrow at our new government.
Let us start with a familiar face, that of Jerome Fitzgerald, who was Education Minister under the previous PLP government and who was the centre of controversy as that administration’s time wore on.
Having started out shaking hands with Peter Nygard along with other PLP ministers at a gathering at Mr Nygard’s home, Mr Fitzgerald attracted criticism for several other incidents during his time in office, including his handling of an oil spill in the Marathon area, and claiming he found emails belonging to an activist group in his political garbage can and tabling them in Parliament – which led to him being immortalised in song by musician KB.
The series of emails revealed by The Tribune in which Mr Fitzgerald lobbied Baha Mar owner Sarkis Izmirlian for brokerage, trucking and limousine contracts and asking Mr Izmirlian for his “personal intervention” also caught the headlines.
Asked yesterday about Mr Fitzgerald’s newly confirmed role as a policy advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis shrugged off any worries, saying there was “no harm, no foul” in relation to Baha Mar.
The harm, critics suggest, is that he breached the Manual of Cabinet and Ministry Procedure, which states that a minister “must not solicit or accept any benefits, advantage or promise of future advantage whether for himself, his immediate family or any business concern or trust with which he is associated from persons who are in, or seek to be in, any contractual or special relationship with the government.”
But according to Mr Davis, no harm, no foul. He might wish to address whether he thinks it is fine for his new ministers to act in the same way, or whether he would consider that a breach of procedures – but he chose not to do so on this occasion.
Next up, Mr Davis is vouching for the good character of Adrian Fox, who has agreed to plead guilty in a US court to operating a vessel in US waters “in a grossly negligent manner”. Mr Fox’s plea deal has seen the US authorities omit all mention of the human smuggling offences with which he was initially charged.
Asked about his letter of support, sent in August before the election, Mr Davis says he has “no regrets”. He calls Mr Fox “an exemplary citizen” in the letter.
And lastly there is the continuing story of the Corrections Commissioner, Charles Murphy, being put on leave, with his lawyer calling the move “foul and inappropriate” and questioning the role of National Security Minister Wayne Munroe over his role in a 2019 lawsuit that sought to quash Mr Murphy’s appointment as commissioner. Mr Munroe says he is not biased, but Mr Murphy’s lawyer says he should have recused himself from decision-making in this matter.
The PLP arrived in office after a campaign that promised “A New Day”.
Does this really seem like a new PLP or does it seem very familiar to the one voted soundly out of office under Perry Christie’s leadership?
Love The Punch or hate it, Ivan Johnson was a force in The Bahamas.
He founded the tabloid newspaper – but long before that he was a reporter at The Tribune, serving as the chief reporter up to the 1977 General Election.
The list of politicians he clashed with is long, including Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling.
Beyond that, he was also the first and only Bahamian to play professional cricket at the first-class level.
He was a notable figure in the political landscape of The Bahamas – and now he has died, having suffered a heart attack yesterday. His absence will be felt, and we hope that he rests in peace.