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August 29, 2007

Comments

Leandra Esfakis

Larry, thanks for the cheery article this morning. It brightened my day that you confirmed we will be victims of our own inertia, lack of foresight, lack of planning and lack of courage to make the right moves, in good time.


Bob Knaus

Fred Smith's suit asking the GBPA to hire a town manager and town planners is creative, but misses the larger point - where would they find a competent town manager willing to work in company town, not a real town?

Why a modern corporation would want to own and operate a company town is beyond my comprehension. Governing a town is a thankless task, and can never turn a profit. That's why (in the US) it's almost always done by an elected local government.

The notion that the Bahamas is not ready for elected local governments with their own tax and budget authority is also beyond my comprehension. I've worked with plenty of local governments in the US as a consultant. I think their elected officials and staff are, on average, no better and no worse that what you'd get from Bahamian local government.

Seems to me the new FNM government and the GBPA would both have a strong incentive to make Freeport a showcase for an independent, locally elected and financed municipal government.

larry smith

Apparently, running a company town is not entirely thankless in Freeport, or there wouldn't be all this fussing and fighting among the principals.

There's clearly a lot of greed involved.

But I agree with you that there needs to be transparency and some devolution of power to the licensees and citizens.

C.Lowe

A simple synopsis Larry, if somewhat sanitized.
The devil is in the details however, details that, in their personal squabble over the one time assets of the Port Authority have been unwittingly revealed by the feuding shareholders to largely apathetic Government and Licensees.
What if one were to ask, how did the assets of the Port Authority come to be in private hands in other non Bahamian holding companies, to be considered for personal profits?
We have asked and recieved no satisfactory answer as to the status of the seven and a half percent share purchased with public funds, or the revenue derived from the beneficial ownership thereof, or the proceeds from the sale thereof.
What of the Annual audits that were a requirement of public treasury purchase of shares?
Consider that when the government bought those shares, the Port had assets. It certainly no longer owns many of those assets.
Did the public treasury recieve its share of the special dividends?
Most notable however is our successive governments silence in this mockery.
Could there be some collusion involved?
These things should be discovered, and there is a licensee effort to do so, even if only for the sake of posterity.
Let the record show however, that these questions were asked.
Until the public shareholder squabble, and attendant feeding frenzy of the oportunistic wannabees, none had even heard of IDC Panama, IDC Cayman, Feduciary Management, Seashell etc etc.
" O what tangled web we weave,
when we practice to deceive"
may be most apropriate.
Perhaps now that we know the ownership is 50 / 50 % we know they are equally responsible or negligent.
Until then, the people of Freeport suffer, which is the greatest travesty.

larry smith

Yes, it was a simple synopsis. A backgrounder on the main dispute, which was still sub judice at the time.

However, as you point out, Justice Anita Allen ruled on August 30 that St George and Hayward were 50-50 owners of the Port's holding company.

On August 31 attorney Fred Smith filed for an injunction to restrain Hayward from selling his shares.

The questions you raise deserve an airing.

Dan O'Connor

Great article Larry. I am going to keep it on hand for a quick intro to the issue for my contacts in DC.

John Hinchliffe

Larry,
The late John Lambert of Freeport maintained to me that EPSt.G returned 'on spec' and that Lambert gave him his first 9 companies with St.G. as an Attorney-at-Law in the Kipling Building.Lambert was clear on this point...St.G. had no contact with Sir Charles Hayward at that time.[Nor is this point dealt clearly enough in the Obituary written by the daughter,Sarah St.G.of her father.In fact the 'many other lives of St.George' are glossed over.]
I believe I'm correct in thinking that the take-over of the GBPA from Groves was the subject of a Washington based enquiry...I wish I'd taken a copy now!
I recall St.G telling me with some forcefulnes,in 1987 I think, that "Jack and I are 50:50"...and this was a jolt to me as I'd been led to believe that they were roughly 85:15.After this St.George became generally, more assertive and one reason I left the Bahamas in 1988.
One little note...when I arrived at Freeport Harbour as the new Port Director in Nov.1980,the whole facility was run down unbelievably and I really wondered what I'd let myself in for...so from 144,000 pax pa. in 1980 to 750,000 in 1988.
Berthed in the corner of No.1 Basin though,was Vesco's yacht,spirited out of the Miami River....?
I'm sure this topic will expand....back in touch later then!

P Barratt

Why a modern corporation would want to own and operate a company town is beyond my comprehension. Governing a town is a thankless task, and can never turn a profit. That's why (in the US) it's almost always done by an elected local government.
Quite simply because this is a PRIVATE company with a stake in lots of things that make real money...and, most imortant, you are answerable to no-one!

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