Saturday, May 25, 2019
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Rather than soar with the eagles, Fred Mitchell continues to hang with the chickens

Dear Editor,

The opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is struggling mightily to remain relevant to the masses. The party’s current boycott of the House of Assembly has piqued the interest of very few Bahamians. It is a boycott that now appears to have no meaningful goal, other than garner whatever coverage the press gives to Philip Brave Davis and hierarchy of the PLP. Nearly four months after his untimely death, the PLP continues to sorely miss the larger-than-life presence of former PLP Chair Bradley Roberts, who died in October 2018. Roberts’ departure has left a massive void within the PLP. I just finished reading two press releases by current PLP Chair Fred Mitchell, and it is beginning to dawn on me the gaping disparity in talent between Mitchell and his deceased predecessor. Whereas Roberts soared with the eagles with his uncanny political acumen, Mitchell hangs out with the chickens, as he sees the apparent need to respond to everyone and everything that are seemingly critical of his party. My point is that his daily press releases are very amateurish and rudimentary. It comes off as if the chairman is squabbling with teenagers who are Facebook junkies, rather than constructively engaging the governing Free National Movement (FNM) government. You get the impression that Mitchell is hell-bent on demonstrating to someone within the PLP that he’s a hardworking chairman.

In one of his written statements, Mitchell, the chairman of a political organization that has governed The Bahamas 35 of the last 52 years, saw fit to issue a press release that warned PLPs of political memes posted on Facebook by some unknown individuals who are allegedly FNM supporters. Clearly those responsible for the Facebook images are busybodies with an inordinate amount of time on their hands. However, I don’t think that the irresponsible pranks of these young people warrants a press release from the chairman of a major political party. It comes off as condescending and nitpicking.

The young pranksters must get a kick out of seeing Mitchell respond to them. It probably strokes their egos, as it gives them a sense of prominence on the national stage.

In the second release, Mitchell took aim at Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis for holding a mini rally in Freeport, while claiming that the Fishing Hole Road, Smith’s Point seawall and carnival projects were all started by the PLP. This tactic has been utilized ad nauseam by other PLPs. I’m surprised that a man of Mitchell’s intellectual level would stoop to such levels. Whether or not the foregoing projects were started by the PLP, the fact remains that the economy in Grand Bahama was in complete shambles when the PLP was in office. I am not blaming the PLP for Freeport’s dismal economy, mind you. It was bad during the final Ingraham government as well. All I’m saying is that it was a living hell financially for thousands on that island between 2012 and 2017, just like it was a living hell under the Ingraham government between 2007 and 2012, although I might add that the FNM also cannot be faulted for Freeport’s moribund economy. Furthermore, as Mitchell himself knows, there’s continuity with governments. An incoming government simply carries on the projects that its predecessor left in place. There’s nothing wrong with that.

One can successfully argue that the first Christie government simply built on the foundation that was laid by the two FNM administrations of former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham between 1992 and 2002. When Ingraham and the FNM came into office in 1992, the treasury was near broke; the infrastructure throughout the Family Islands was in shambles; and few foreign investors were interested in investing their money in a country that was nicknamed a “nation for sale” by American journalist Brian Ross. It was only after the coming of Atlantis on Paradise Island in the 1990s that other foreign investors started to bang on the doors of The Bahamas. Does Mitchell really think that the investors of Atlantis, Albany, Baker’s Bay, Baha Mar and Hurricane Hole Marina would have given this country the time of day prior to August 1992? Hopefully, he is objective enough to give a straightforward answer. In the meantime, I implore the former Fox Hill MP to up his game and start soaring with the eagles, and to stop hanging out with the chickens. I expect far more from the chairman of the oldest political party in the country.

You would have never seen Roberts giving young Facebook pranksters such an influential platform.

— Kevin Evans

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