McAlpine, Chipman, Miller and Robinson: rebels without a cause
It seems that in every parliamentary term at least one MP goes rogue and rejects the metaphorical paramour who invited him to the legislative dance.
Perry Christie took Andre Rollins to his bosom in the last parliament, only to have the good doctor rain all over his parade.
Hubert Ingraham could not get rid of the pebble in his shoe named Branville McCartney, who eventually peeled off to form his own vanity party that had something to do with costing Ingraham the 2012 election.
Sir Lynden Pindling had to contend with an avalanche of principled rebels who marched out of the PLP into the wilderness before eventually finding their way into government two decades later.
But now Hubert Minnis has to contend with not one but a gang of four rowdy rebels who seem hell-bent, not on stopping any ideological juggernaut that the FNM is on, but rather they appear motivated solely by a desire to drop licks on the man who either fired them from high office or passed them over for promotion.
Frederick McAlpine (the rejected), Reece Chipman (the ejected), Vaughn Miller (the dejected) and Travis Robinson (the unprotected) have decided to patch hell on Minnis at every chance they get in the House of Assembly.
After cutting off their noses to spite their faces during the VAT debate, they came back to kick dust in the prime minister’s face over the temporary relocation of the post office to a deserted mall owned in part by a Cabinet Minister who declared his interest in the mall and who recused himself from debate on the proposal.
While the optics of engaging an entity in which a Cabinet minister has a financial interest does not look good for any government, a transparent compliance review will quickly reveal that there is nothing sinister or untoward in this particular proposal. It was done in full public view and in line with the relevant rules.
What does leave a bad taste in the mouth is the fact that, by his own admission, Financial Services Minister Brent Symonette (he who would have voted for Donald Trump if he could) is still actively involved in running his family’s vast business affairs. How does he have the time?
But Symonette and his poor fiduciary judgment is not the issue.
The fact is the main post office building downtown has been in such a poor state of disrepair for so long that it is a wonder the Ministry of Works never pulled its certificate of occupancy. That is the egregious omission for which both political parties should be criticized.
The move from that decrepit building is justified on health and safety grounds alone. Nobody can quarrel with that. First the post office was decamping to a vacant warehouse on Gladstone Road. When that failed to pass a cost-benefit analysis the next best alternative seemed to be the Town Centre Mall.
PLP Leader Brave Davis criticized the renting of the mall space but had to admit that even the PLP had the space on their short list when they were in government. The mall location makes sense, because it gets traffic out of downtown, relieving congestion there.
It makes sense because the mall is centrally located, to enable the easy flow of surface transport from the airport to the central sorting and distribution facility for both international and domestic ‘air’ mail.
The mall is easier to get to for most postal customers. Parking is ample, and the whole interface experience with the post office should be more efficient.
By putting the staff in better quarters (the owners will invest millions in leasehold improvements before the tenant moves in), hopefully they will be better motivated to deliver the mail accurately and quickly, instead of the snail’s pace they are forced to work at now.
Nobody bothered to ask the owners of the gas stations in the immediate area, the small business and food merchants already on Baillou Hill Road, Robinson Road and the East-West Highway corridors what they think of the idea of bringing a nest of economic activity to their neighborhood. It should be a boon for their businesses.
The PM says he wants to take government services directly to the people. What could be better than putting the post office in the beating heart of the community, where it can more readily feed the smaller regional post offices around the island?
McAlpine, Chipman, Robinson and Miller need to find another hill on which to fight their battle with Minnis.
And they need to learn that even though it is entertaining to see trash-talking rebel MPs try to prove their independence by bashing the very government they belong to, voters rarely reward them with an independent ticket back to Parliament at the next general election.
McAlpine has been around politics for quite a while. Chipman and Miller have private sector careers and will be just fine. The young Robinson is another story altogether.
He couldn’t even muster up the votes from his University of the Bahamas cohorts to be made a trustee. If nothing else, Robinson has become walking testimony to the fact that when the cut-and-thrust of politics demand strategic thinking and an ideological position, youth and inexperience can be more of a liability than an asset.
— The Graduate