We have seen this before: a smug, arrogant, foreign business owner with a God complex and an accompanying condescending and patronizing attitude toward the natives, who are considered local yokels, requiring the guidance and intervention of a savior from abroad.
Add to this a sense of privilege and entitlement and a seeming belief that certain laws and regulations are for others to follow.
There are many other foreign business people and investors who are different, exhibiting good corporate citizenship and gratitude for the privilege of working and investing in The Bahamas.
Then there is Leigh Rodney, owner of Compass Point on West Bay Street, who took out a newspaper advertisement in one of the dailies belligerently attacking the incumbent government and as reported in The Tribune, threatening to close the establishment on or before the next general election, resulting in the loss of approximately 60 jobs.
Recall prior public stories about Rodney and the Hotel Licencing Board and Department. It would be enlightening to note the board’s view of Rodney, as well as other government officials from other agencies responsible for inspections.
Rodney’s ad only tells his side of a narrative. One imagines that the storyline from others may be dramatically different.
The mentality of Mr. Rodney is such that he noted to the newspaper that his requests were reasonable, while publicly holding a metaphorical gun to the government’s head. The arrogance is breathtaking and seemingly metastasizing. In his bunker mentality he failed to see how others might view his screed.
Rodney insisted in his diatribe that he should be appointed to a committee to look into improving the ease of doing business in the hotel sector. There are public and private mechanisms to do just this.
These mechanisms have been used for decades by hotel owners and industry management, who have also had access to the officials at the Ministry of Tourism, including the minister, as well as other government officials.
Imagine a leading hotelier or hotel property, Bahamian or international, publicly lambasting the government of the day. Yet Rodney somehow conceives that such behavior is acceptable.
In his ad, Rodney states that the top leaders of the country have been made aware of his request but have failed to act. He is demanding that the government act like a toady, acquiescing to his personal wishes.
The Bahamian people are not a supplicant to a foreign master. Those days are past. We just celebrated Emancipation Day, a day before Rodney’s ad appeared.
Rodney did write to Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar. Those who saw the letter were taken aback by its tone and rudeness as well as the content.
D’Aguilar, a businessman himself, fired back, noting that the government was not going to be bullied by the likes of Rodney. The minister exclaimed: “He’s completely out of line.”
The Tribune also reported that D’Aguilar noted that Rodney ‘needed to become less confrontational’ and stop using his employees as bargaining chips and leverage in his dealings with the government.
“He added that he did not necessarily consider Mr. Rodney’s complaints over the hotel licensing process as ‘rational’, and warned the U.S. investor that as a non-Bahamian he ‘must remember he is a guest in this country’.”
“… D’Aguilar said he had ‘admonished’ Mr. Rodney to instead ‘act prudently and judiciously’.”
Rodney has often not acted like a guest or with greater consideration. The noise and traffic from Compass Point has been a public nuisance for years to the residents of the area.
The property is often a nightclub, with the police having received numerous complaints over the years.
In both the letter to the minister and the advertisement, Rodney was throwing temper tantrums like a spoiled brat unable to get his way and threatening to close his establishment.
It is a childish and peevish demonstration of what he thinks about The Bahamas, Bahamians and his employees. Perhaps he has a Donald Trump complex, belligerently threatening others to get his own way.
He went so far as to note that he met with former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham to lay out his complaint. If he had greater respect for the country and Ingraham he would have kept the fact of the meeting confidential.
Rodney’s belligerence is backfiring. The Tribune’s editorial yesterday roasted him, a reminder to non-Bahamians working in The Bahamas, wherever they work, to have greater respect.
The FNM made the ease of doing business a priority in helping to boost and expand the economy. It is one of the major components of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (PMDU).
To assist in improving the ease of doing business, the government appointed a committee to make recommendations. A good number of the recommendations have been approved, while others will take longer, requiring legislative changes and enhanced capacity in government.
Rarely are all of the recommendations by such a committee approved, but the country is moving in the right direction in the ease of doing business, though some are frustrated by the pace on some recommendations.
The committee had a number of objectives, including: improving the rating of The Bahamas on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index; identifying prime barriers and obstacles to the ease of doing business in the Bahamas, including start-up and ongoing operations; and formulating and recommending policy mechanisms and legislative amendments to reduce or eliminate a host of barriers.
Though The Bahamas has some distance to go, economic reform and liberalization are gathering pace, with tangible improvements already made and with more to come.
There is much work still to be done to improve the ease of doing business in numerous sectors. But it will not be advanced by the likes of arrogant individuals like Rodney, who believes that the government and the Bahamian people should accede and bow to his wishes as to how changes are made.
The citizens of the country elected the government, not Rodney, who should express considerably more humility and gratitude.