A letter to BP…'Coleby Sounds Off'…Ingraham is at it …AGAIN!!!

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colebyelcott.jpg<<< Elcott Coleby

During the closing hours of the budget debate in Parliament last week, the Prime Minister opted to excoriate the PLP rather than point the way to the future for the Bahamas. Some call him a master politician, but I believe generally that the FNM prefers raw politics over governance. The PLP, on the other hand, prefers governance over raw politics, but to get to govern, a party must sometimes endure the discomfort, the mental drain, and the apparent redundancies of raw politicking. In this edition of “Coleby Sounds Off,” I will address some of the issues raised by the PM and the political spin put on them.

The PM attempted to brand the PLP as the party of STOP, CANCEL, and REVIEW. The problem with this statement is that the PM never acknowledged that the firm his government hired to improve the old Harold Road corridor went into bankruptcy sometime in 2002. Further, the projects canceled by the PLP never resulted in seventy percent of contractors being either unemployed or under-employed and an increase in the unemployment rate from 7 percent to as high as 14.6 percent. Further, the FNM holds the distinction of turning a $25 million budgetary surplus into a $260 million budgetary deficit. They did so in record time and this is due partly to their infamous STOP, CANCEL, and REVIEW policy. The government was also heavily criticized by Standard and Poor’s for this policy decision that the international credit rating agency claims partly caused the Bahamian economy to stall back in 2007.

As the PM defended charges against his government, he pointed out that not one development project signed by his government had stalled. In my view, the PM raised a moot point. The facts regarding Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Bahamian economy between 1992 and 2007 are as follow: During the governance of the FNM between 1992 and 2002, they attracted $1.604 bil in FDI to the Bahamas. During the governance of the PLP between 2002 and 2007, they attracted $2.541 bil to the Bahamas. Let’s forget the $23 bil of projects that were in the pipeline and focus on what was actually spent in the Bahamian economy, or “put in the ground” so to speak. The record clearly shows that the PLP outperformed the FNM by a factor of 3-to-1. These figures can be verified by the budget communication of 2007. The most effective defense against propaganda and political spin is the truth and the unadulterated and unvarnished facts because they are both very stubborn and cannot change. The facts must be “hammered” home relentlessly and constantly.ingraham4a

It was reported in Bahamas Press that the Prime Minister “reminded the parliament how Christie, with the whole Cabinet present, preempted the newscast of ZNS to announce that Bah Mar project as a done deal. Yet he asked, why did the deal not go through?” This is another moot point because the Bah Mar deal stalled after the FNM government withdrew their support for the project when the PM indicated in Parliament that he had reservations that the principals of Bah Mar had the money to complete the project. Shortly thereafter the strategic partner, Harrah’s Entertainment, pulled out of the deal. The sequence of events suggests that the PM killed the project and sought to point the finger at the former PLP government for purely political reasons. I point out that the principals of Cable Bahamas had no money, but raised it locally to finance that project. Further, the developers of Our Lucaya were allowed to borrow more than US$100 million locally to finance that project. This current Prime Minister was prepared to use the power, resources, and instruments of the state to ensure the success of these projects. The record again clearly shows that the state has the power to cause a project to “live” or “die.”

Bahamas Press further reported that “he (the PM) questioned why was not a single school built in the country in 5 years by the Christie administration? And highlighted the poor condition scores of dilapidated government buildings (were) left in by (the) PLP in 2007. Ingraham asked, what did the PLP do with all the government money they borrowed to fix and do these things during their term in office?” This statement by the PM is my favourite FNM talking point. Grant it, the FNM constructed 12 public schools years between 1992 and 2002, but those 12 schools provided only 332 classrooms. This meant that the FNM government expended huge amounts of public funds, but failed to address the problem of overcrowding in the public school system in ten years of governance. If the public school population was growing at a rate of 2% annually, then constructing 33 classrooms per year could not have possibly expand the physical plant of the public school system to address this vexing problem.

Realizing this problem, the PLP government constructed some 513 classrooms in 5 years, or just over 100 classrooms per year. Further, the old PLP (under Sir Lynden), and the FNM governments together constructed about 12 pre-school units over a period of twelve years. The new PLP government constructed more than 24 pre-school units in 5 short years. It is important to note that the PLP performed this feat with a part-time Education Minister who also filled the role of Attorney General. The FNM, on the other hand, assigned two full time ministers to the Ministry of Education; Dame Ivy Dumont was the substantive minister and the Honorable Zhivargo Laing was the Minister of State. So if the public debate is to be framed on the effective and efficient management of the physical plant within the public education system, then a part time PLP minister was able to out-perform two full time FNM ministers by a factor of 3-to-1.

school3-bI turn my attention to the dilapidated government buildings and the stewardship of monies borrowed on behalf of the Bahamian people. In May 2002, there were many dilapidated public buildings after ten years of FNM governance. There were also new buildings that were not functional; the Ministry of Health headquarters come to mind. After spending $23 million in 2007 and $26 million in 2008 to repair public schools, many schools where still in a state of dilapidation. The Eight Mile Rock, Walter Parker, and the Government High Schools come to mind. As a matter of fact, a building in the Science Department at the S.C McPherson School caught on fire because of a faulty propane gas line. This was after the Education Minister was seen on television congratulating the contractor and patting himself on the back for a job well done in expediting the repairs at that school in a timely manner. Many stairwells at the Government High School remained structurally deficient long after school was reopened in September 2008. This placed the personal safety of students, faculty, and staff at risk and that school never should have been allowed to open. It created the impression that an orchestrated public relations exercise was more important to the FNM government than actually protecting the public interest.

I could go on about how the FNM expanded the national debt by more than $1 bil during their first tenure as the government, but has the nerve and the gumption to point the finger at the PLP about fiscal stewardship and mismanagement. I could run on about how they have borrowed more than one half billion dollars in the first two years of their current tenure as the government with little to show for it, but in the interest of space and time, I will stop here, but the readers get the message.

In my view, the FNM lacks the moral authority to point the finger at anybody as they were the drivers of public policy and controlled the public purse for twelve of the last seventeen years. This means that by the end of this term in office, they would have governed for seventy-five percent of the last generation (from 1992 to 2012). It is incredible and unconscionable that the man who was the captain of the Ship of State for that much time finds it necessary and convenient to blame so many of the national problems on somebody else. But then again, in the world of high stakes politics, if he is allowed to get away with this and frame the public debate in favor of his party, then why shouldn’t he opt for politicking over governance?

19 COMMENTS

  1. A very comprehensive breakdown of the budget by Coleby whi is proving that he has the feelings of the country in his being.Hopefully some opposition Senator will make the couintry proud by further dissecting this shallow budget.Unfortunately for we here in the Bahamas everything is politicised and the true picture is always muddied by those having rabid party loyalties.From time to time discussions on who will succeed the two major political party leaders come up and am apalled that some of the candidates are picked solely on who they know or like them.Coleby is passing the test and should get a nomination next general elections.His analysis is simple and can easily be understood.

  2. Do you promise that’s the last time professor?
    I wouldn’t want to take away from the time you spend writing those fascinating essays you post on here everyday.
    We all wait with baited breath to read them.

    BTW – the past tense of ‘juxtapose’ is ‘juxtaposed’.
    (just trying to help)

  3. truthhurts :
    @altec
    Listen Professor,
    I wouldn’t be calling people ignorant when you say things like
    – Putting Mr. Coleby’s political leanings aside –
    You must be joking. How could you possibly put the political leanings of a political speech aside?
    Sharpen up the old pointer there professor.
    And don’t kid yourself. Coleby is no better than Ingraham.
    And you are no help to anyone when you buy into any of their political rhetoric professor.
    [Reply]

    This is the last time i am going to respond to you because you obviously lack reading skills.

    My original post wasnt a reply to the content of Mr Colby email, it was referring to the fact that Mr Colby, rightly or wrongly, has juxtapose his claims to Mr Ingraham and the media couldnt do the same.

    Go and read the responses from the other posters to my post. How is it that they understood my post as such and you obviously couldnt? You talking about people not knowing what they are talking about when it seems like you lack basic reading comprehension.

    In the future, make sure you UNDERSTAND what your reading before you post.

  4. Again Professor, you don’t know what you’re talking about (and please stop borrowing my phrase)

    Investigative Journalism: The Tribune (as bad as it is) did a series of articles on alleged corruption at Lands and Surveys that led to the Director Tex Turnquest resigning

    You lose.

    And…

    …I am definitely not your ‘boy’

    Take care now, bye bye

  5. @truthhurts
    You need to go and read your post. Wait i will quote it for you

    The Bahamian media is for the most part, sorely lacking, but I fail to understand why you are so impressed with the American media? The American people certainly aren’t.

    Now go and read my post. Where did i say i was impressed with the American media. You are reading something that wasnt said.

    I [thruthhurts] ridicule you because you do not seem to know what you are talking about.

    hmmmmm…I think you dont know what you are talking about. When was the last time you saw any investigative piece in Bahamian journalism? As for the Americans and their investigative journalism have you ever heard of such programs as 60 Minutes, Dateline, 20/20, CNN Reports? and thats just TV, i wont even talk about the quality of newspapers in the US that is known for their investigative journalism. You seem to have no clue as to what you are talking about.

    I guess like Bahamians, you believe that everything the white man has and does is better than the negro version.
    The BBC however is pretty decent.

    Ma boy you went way of the reservation with this. Where did this accusation come from? How did you get to this conclusion? LOL! Boss you so jokey i dont even know why i am wasting time responding to your foolish post. You seem to be the one who cant read properly.

  6. @altec

    Listen Professor,
    I wouldn’t be calling people ignorant when you say things like
    – Putting Mr. Coleby’s political leanings aside –
    You must be joking. How could you possibly put the political leanings of a political speech aside?
    Sharpen up the old pointer there professor.
    And don’t kid yourself. Coleby is no better than Ingraham.
    And you are no help to anyone when you buy into any of their political rhetoric professor.

  7. @altec
    thanks for that lengthy and rather preachy post.
    i don’t ridicule you for expressing approval of one aspect of the american media (which you did not actually specify).
    i ridicule you because you do not seem to know what you are talking about.
    but since you are clearly not one to take constructive criticism, carry on smartly professor.

  8. truthhurts :
    @altec
    The Bahamian media is for the most part, sorely lacking, but I fail to understand why you are so impressed with the American media?

    [Reply]

    Truthhurts, in your attempt to sound logical, you reveal your ignorance and lack of understanding.

    The point that i was trying to make about the American media is that at least there is a place for investigative and analytical journalism, things are questioned. The US media isnt perfect, but when they smell inconsistency they pounce.
    I dont see how you could have read my post and came to the conclusion that i am impressed by the US media rather than me expressing my desire to see the Bahamian media copy that aspect of the US media! DUHHH!

    truthhurts :
    @altec
    I guess like Bahamians, you believe that everything the white man has and does is better than the negro version.
    The BBC however is pretty decent.
    [Reply]

    Let me get this straight. You ridicule me for expressing approval of one aspect of the American media, then agree with my overall point that the Bahamian media stinks, then at the end accuse me of having an inferiority complex because i like some aspects of the US media?

    Truthhurts, you all over the place with this post. And for the record just because i criticize aspects of Bahamian media and aspire for them to raise the bar comparable to some US media outlets, does not mean that i am anti bahamian or anti black as you seem to be stating. Sound like you the one with some deep seated issues. You need to go see Dr Allen!

    Your post way off the mark ma brotha.

  9. Our reporters, it;s only a job to them. The only up and coming journalists i see of note today, even though, they are stuanch fnm supporters are, Juan Mccartney, and Quincy Parker.

    The rest of them are simply taking a ride.One them the other night could not pronounce the word diaspora. Journalists are a microcosym of our society, a society, of non-readers!

    As for the above article, like i always say, “facts are stubborn things”
    The fnm, and their supporters, cannot handle facts!

  10. @altec

    The Bahamian media is for the most part, sorely lacking, but I fail to understand why you are so impressed with the American media?
    The American people certainly aren’t.
    I guess like Bahamians, you believe that everything the white man has and does is better than the negro version.
    The BBC however is pretty decent.

  11. Reading Elcott Coleby’s note, I find it to be mired in the same political posturing that he as a prominent member of the PLP has been engaged in for years. And what planet is he living on where the Christie adminstration was more concerned with governance than anybody else. It’s as if he thinks he is speaking to children.
    Ask yourself this question: Did Coleby put forward any real alternatives?
    Did he speak to how he would plan to reduce the national debt, or increase revenue collection?
    Did he speak to the $200 million bailout the government is giving BEC or did he neglect to listen to that in the house on Friday?
    I honestly don’t think so.
    This budget by Ingraham is a terrible one. But do you honestly think Christie or the PLP would have done any better?
    LISTEN to what Bahamas Press keeps saying. We need CHANGE not more of the same.
    Coleby and his buddies in the PLP and FNM are establishmentarians man, all them need to go away.

  12. We are just elated to see how so many of you are now seeing the WUTLESS MEDIA. We are never taught history of media in the Bahamas, and if we did, we would see how newspapers like the ‘TOILET PAPER’ reported in 1942 what was happening on the shores of Normandy, but could not report what happened on Bay Street.

    When you understand how manipulative they were then you, would come to accept that they are a perfecter of the SPIN craft NOW! Ain’t nutting change with them. They said not a word about the 1942 Burma Road Riot, and today they speak no evil of Ingraham and his RIOT on the Bahamian people today!

    WE NEED CHANGE IN THIS COUNTRY WE SAY! WE NEED CHANGE!

    Bahamas Press/Editor

  13. @kevin mckenzie, @Trinity

    When i watch the American and British media i wonder why we dont have top notch journalist and analyst like they do. It has nothing to do with finances or education but it has all to do with FEAR and lack of persistence! To many people in the know are afraid to speak out or dont know how too.

    We all see whats happening in Iran. The Iranian government has kicked out the international media and only state runned media is allowed. So you see what the Iranian people are doing? They have become journalist themselves and are telling the world the naked truth of whats going on. WHy? because they are tired of the way things are.

    BP true, honest, analytic reporting can shake the very foundations of power in this country. HI and PC are only there becuse the truth about their activities havent been revealed. We as a country would be shocked to know of the amount of back room dealings that takes place by the political, media and financial elite in this country.

    BP, you will be surprised how many of your readers have access to information that can shed light on so many things in this country. and if they see you stepping out and calling a spade a spade with info to back it up, it will give them courage to step up too!

    BP, God raised you and your writers up for a times such as this. DO WHAT YOU MUST, EXPOSE WHOM YOU MUST AND LET THE CHIPS FALL WHERE THEY. MAY.

  14. @Altec

    This is something I have often wondered about. I don’t know if the journalists in the country are just lazy and complacent or a bunch of cowards who are afraid to question anything our government says, because these people who call themselves journalists in this country do not concern themselves with nothing. Just how the budget was delivered in the HOA that’s exactly how they reported it and there is nothing wrong with that except they could have digged a little deeper to see if this budget is good for the country or how it would affect us. They sat there and just swallowing everything that was being said, not having the spine to question anything. You are absolutely right, had this been in the US all the major news station would have bought all kind of analysis on giving their opinions on it. By the time they got through picking that budget to pieces the American people would have had the full understanding of it before it was passed. Our journalist need to stop looking forward to attending functions and beauty pageants and get serious about doing their jobs, because right now they are looking very wutless in our eyes.

  15. @Altec
    I think you’re absolutely right. Our journalists are simply parrots. There are no invstigative journalists out there actually writing stories that aren’t regurgitations. I do believe that it’s a big reason for the popularity of this site. People want the real scoop. Our media outlets are either biased or controlled by the government. Let’s not forget the big scandal of 2007 when two well known media persons lost their jobs because of their political affiliation. I guess this also presents itself as a means to not dig deeper. Nevertheless, the Bahamian public deserve to hear the story from all angles.

  16. Excellent,JUST EXCELLENT ALTEC!!!I hope Bahamas Press take your suggestion to heart.The contributions from ALL THE BLOGGERS ON THIS SITE ARE SUPER.BAHAMAS PRESS YOU ARE NUMBER UNO!!!

  17. BP, i need to borrow your media soap box for a second.

    After reading Mr Colby’s email to you i couldnt shake the feeling of disgust at the media in this country. Putting Mr Colby’s political leanings aside, if he can put his facts together and present it, why cant journalist in the country do the same?

    FOr instance the budget passed in the HOA and there was no analysis on the budget itself or its affects on the national debt by any of the local media outlets. They all simply repeated what was said to them by various members of parliament.

    Where was the analysis? Thats why the politicians say what they want without fear because no one in the media calls them out on their inconsistencies. Why couldnt the Guardian, Bahama Journal, Cable 12 News, ZNS or Tribune ask several accountants to analyze the budget as compared to the last 3-4 budgets and present it to the public in print?

    Why couldnt they solicit analysis from independent financial experts about the affect the debt will have on GDP, the Bahamian dollar and the response from the IMF?

    The media in the US, for all their faults, gives great analysis on issues from people in the related field, but in the bahamas, it seems as if the media here dosent want to offend the political elite until its to their benefit. If Elcott Colby could do research and present his findings why cant the supposedly “JOURNALIST” in this country do the same? (Rhetorical question).

    BP i dont have the pulpit you do, but you can take up the slack left by the media in the Bahamas and form your own analysis groups. you probably have friends in every industry in the Bahamas. You need to gather them and get them to give their independent analysis on issues as they arise and post their findings. This is the only way the truth will come out.

    Can imagine how different things would be in this country if the journalists dug for facts and sought to clarify inconsistencies in the political and economic arena?

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