Jazz In The Gardens Is Back!

Jazz In The Gardens (JITG) is known for its surprises. You go into the event knowing who you are looking forward to hearing and seeing, but you never know which artist will make you a new fan of theirs, simply because of their performance at JITG.

Back, for its 12th installment, Jazz in the Gardens is coming again to fill our ears and move our souls.

This years’ concert is spread out over two days:

Day One: Trombone Shorty, Chaka Khan, Smokey Robinson, Fantasia.

Day Two: Anita Baker, Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Joe.

Also performing are JITG all-stars like Pieces Of a Dream,  Walter Beasley, and Avery*Sunshine.

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Detained Jean-Charles back in custody upon landing

Jean Rony Jean-Charles, the man at the center of a controversial immigration ruling that has attracted widespread national attention, landed back in The Bahamas from Haiti on Saturday afternoon, but was quickly taken into custody by immigration authorities after the judge in the matter agreed to an emergency stay of his judgment handed down nearly a week ago.

Jean-Charles is now back at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, and his fate remains uncertain.

The emergency stay was granted until the judge hears an application today from the Office of the Attorney General seeking an extended stay of execution of the ruling until the appeal of the judgment is heard by the Court of Appeal.

Jean-Charles, who was first picked up by immigration authorities on Fire Trail Road last September, is a Haitian national, according to the Department of Immigration.

After he was picked up that first time, he was asked to produce documents and had no documents in his possession, according to the ruling.

Immigration officers took Jean-Charles to the detention center for further processing.

A month later, without ever seeing a day in court, Jean-Charles was “put on a plane and involuntarily taken to Haiti”.

It was reportedly his first time leaving The Bahamas.

Fred Smith, QC, filed an action in the court on his behalf and won the case.

Last Tuesday, Justice Gregory Hilton ordered the government to immediately issue a travel document to Jean-Charles to allow him to travel back to The Bahamas.

Hilton also ruled that Jean-Charles be paid the cost of the travel forthwith upon his return.

Additionally, the judge ordered that Jean-Charles be issued status to permit him to remain in The Bahamas within 60 days of him applying. He further ordered that the applicant be paid costs and compensation for breaches to his fundamental rights and liberties.

On Friday, the Office of the Attorney General appealed the matter, noting in court documents that the appeal has far-reaching implications and is a matter of national importance to the government and to the country as a whole, and a speedy resolution of the matter will provide clarity in the area of immigration law.

On Saturday evening, Attorney General Carl Bethel explained why he sought the emergency stay.

“On Friday, I reached out to Fred Smith, the attorney for Jean Rony, or the person who says he is Jean Rony, and indicated that we wanted to go to court that day in order to argue for a stay of execution of the judge’s order,” Bethel said.

He told The Nassau Guardian that Smith advised that he was in Freeport and would not be present in court on Friday.

The court then agreed that the application for a stay would be heard this afternoon (Monday).

“In the course of our discussion, Mr. Smith had indicated that Mr. [Jean-Charles] was in a very remote location and it would take a day and a half to get to Port-au-Prince; that the earliest flight that he could find from Port-au-Prince was the 13th of February, and that he would not be sending his own private plane to pick up Mr. [Jean-Charles] — all of which would create a certain impression in the mind of a reasonable person,” Bethel said.

“Then, to my shock, today (Saturday) I received an email about roughly 1:45 [p.m.] to myself and the minister of immigration indicating that they expect for Mr. [Jean-Charles] to be landing in The Bahamas at 2:30 [p.m.]. I think the actual time may have been 3 p.m. when he got in.

“I immediately contacted the judge, indicated the situation and requested an emergency stay of execution of his order pending the full hearing of the matter at the scheduled time and date.

“The judge readily complied. Mr. Smith, when I told him, asked for the judge’s number, which I had only just gotten. I had managed to find the judge’s number by asking around. I gave the number to Mr. Smith.

“I think Mr. Smith reported that he had spoken to the judge and the judge remained firm in the ruling which he gave on the matter that his [ruling] be stayed, which meant that any landing in The Bahamas by Mr. [Jean-Charles] would have been contrary to the stay of execution, which meant that the order that the judge had made that he be allowed to land was delayed as of this afternoon until not earlier than the end of the hearing on Monday afternoon at which time he would make the determination whether the person would be allowed to land.”



Smith said on Saturday he was shocked that the emergency stay was issued.

“I don’t know what games [Immigration] Minister Brent Symonette and Attorney General Carl Bethel are playing in the Jean Rony case,” he said, adding that Jean-Charles arrived from Haiti on Flamingo Air.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in conjunction with Mr. Symonette, had a travel document issued, an emergency travel document, and Mr. Symonette asked me to confirm when [Mr. Jean-Charles] would be arriving, and I did so today once Jean Rony was on a flight, and the next thing I knew was that Mr. Bethel had obtained an emergency stay of the judgment from the Supreme Court.

“I take the position that there is nothing to stay in respect of the travel document because the government already complied with that part of the judge’s ruling.

“It seems a bit perverse that they would issue a travel document, my client would then travel on it, and then they would apply for a stay.”

Asked why he would seek a stay of the ruling after the government granted Jean-Charles a travel document, the attorney general explained: “The minister of foreign affairs is simply seeking on his part to carry out a court order. And a court order has validity until it is countermanded by the court or by a higher court.

“So it would only have been upon the court granting a stay that the minister would have been able not to comply with the order. Every order takes effect from the moment it is pronounced.”

Smith said his side wishes to have damages assessed.

He told The Nassau Guardian last week that he intends to seek substantial damages.

In the meantime, he will argue against the stay being kept in place.

“I don’t understand why they (the government) are making such a big fuss about this poor, young man who was born in The Bahamas 35 years ago and [had] never been out of the country. What’s the big deal with Jean Rony?” Smith asked.

“A person belongs where they were born, and he knows no other home. Why not do the honorable thing and simply give him citizenship when he returns? What’s the big deal?”

Smith said he spoke to Jean-Charles while he was still in Haiti on Saturday morning and he was “happy and excited to be returning home”.

He said he had not spoken to him since he was detained once again but imagined Jean-Charles is “terrified” over the latest development in the matter.

Asked why Jean-Charles did not apply for citizenship after he turned 18 (as permitted by the Bahamas constitution), Smith said that was something he could not speak to.

Smith added that this matter has tremendous implications for all of those who were “unlawfully expelled from The Bahamas who were also born here”.

Even without the Jean-Charles ruling, people who fall in that category should take legal action “for their unconstitutional expulsion”, he added.

The application for a stay is scheduled to be heard before Hilton at 3 p.m. today.

For more articles like this one, pick up a copy of The Nassau Guardian.

Headlines: Bed crisis at PMH

To tackle what is being described as a crisis of bed shortages at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday that elective surgery will be discontinued indefinitely as of today until the shortage eases.

Seventeen patients were admitted to hospital on Wednesday, but there were no beds “anywhere in the hospital” to accommodate them, a consequence of an increased number of boarders taking up beds and the 67 beds that remain out of commission, Sands said.

Ambulances were also lined up outside and could not offload patients because, in addition to the shortage of beds, there were no trolleys to transfer patients to and from the operating rooms.

“There is no simple fix to this,” said Sands, when contacted for comment.

“We’ve incorporated space that had been decommissioned.

“We have people in the old operating theater.

“We have people in the old intensive care unit.

“We have people in the old recovery room.

“We’ve created multiple virtual wards in the hospital.”

He added, “God forbid we have a mass casualty event.”

Sands said renovations on the out-of-commission wards began more than a year ago, but construction came to a halt due to a lack of funding.

“We have been challenged to identify the funding because, again, all of this funding shortfall would have been accumulative,” the minister said.

“In my budget presentation I would have spoken about budgetary charges from the last fiscal year of roughly $20 million, plus commitments for this year of almost $80 million.

“And identifying all of those funds, relevant to the total indebtedness of the government has been challenging, so as we were able to deal with certain items outstanding in terms of payables, we would have dealt with it.”

The hospital has discharged more than 30 of its boarders, but their families have either refused to collect them or claimed they simply cannot care for them, according to the minister.

To resolve the long-standing problem, renovations are underway on one of the wards, which is expected to bring 24 beds back in service by April.

“I would have toured that ward today and they are putting in flooring.

“It is virtually completed, once the flooring is completed.

“The light fixtures are in.

“There is some wood work to be done, and then beds, and so on and so forth.”

Sands said the boarders need to be moved out of the hospital, as they pose a “serious challenge” to new patients, but this is also not an easy fix.

Some of them can be moved to specialized nursing homes if there were subsidies, he said.

But Sands said again, the problem is finding funds that have not been budgeted.

Asked whether PMH may have to consider putting those who have been discharged out of the hospital, the minister said, “Notwithstanding the horrendous implications for healthcare that the hospital and the people of The Bahamas are being held hostage by some social realities, usually during the holiday season this type of thing spikes.

“Some people find it convenient to leave their elderly or infirmed loved ones in hospital.

“We might not want to accept that is life in The Bahamas, but it is.”

Sands said, as minister, he is committed to resolving the problem, but it will require some unpopular decisions and outcomes.

“Notwithstanding the fact that there will be cries [of] ‘You’re the minister, fix it’, some of the fixes require some unpopular medium and long-term decision making.

“One of the most important things is we need to have additional revenue in order to do what needs to be done, and that revenue ultimately has to come from the public.”

He added, “Yes, we have a plan. Yes, we are implementing the plan.

“But it is not going to be a comfortable ride because, having made the decision to cancel elective surgery, there are some people who have been waiting months for that surgery.”

Four of the 20 ICU beds have also been shut down because there are only enough nurses to care for 16 patients, according to Sands, who said he planned to meet with the entire body of the nurses union yesterday evening to see how best to address these long-standing challenges.

“As we utilize nursing staff for more and more overtime and as you lose more and more nurses, the problem becomes self-perpetuating,” he said.

According to Sands, inadequate revenue performance has also compounded the problem.

He said on average the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) collects less than $5 per patient per annum.

The vast majority of the 60,000 patients who receive emergency care per year do not pay.

In the meantime, patients who visit the hospital with non-life threatening matters will be deferred until the bed shortage improves.

Sands said this is the reason the PHA has advised the public to use the outlying clinics preferentially, as the wait times at PMH are up to 12 hours.

For more articles pick up a copy of The Nassau Guardian

Long Islanders ‘very disappointed’ about RBC pullout

The local community in Long Island is “very disappointed” by the recent announcement that services offered by Royal Bank of Canada’s (RBC) Gray’s location on the island will no longer be available effective April 13, according to a Long Island Chamber of Commerce director Mario Cartwright.

Speaking with Guardian Business yesterday, Cartwright said businesses will “suffer” from RBC’s pullout from the island, since the only banking services now available would be Scotiabank’s satellite branch that is open two days out of the week.

“They (RBC) have made many millions of dollars, so the local community feels that they are being treated very shabbily by Royal Bank,” said Cartwright.

“We are in a predicament now where we have commercial businesses that will have cash deposits to make and at this early stage, we don’t know how we will continue doing that, because the initial report is that the bank is pulling out all together.

“So, where do we deposit our money? That’s a major concern to us. It is going to be quite a dilemma.”

Cartwright added that the pullout of a major bank from an island could send a “negative message” to second homeowners and investors.

“I regret to say it but it seems like the island is dying. I received many calls. The majority of businesses are baffled by all of this. They want to know how this will affect their business and how it is going to affect the future of Long Island.

“There is much unrest up in Long Island with this issue.”

Long Island MP Adrian Gibson told Guardian Business the total withdrawal of RBC from the island is “quite troubling” to the business community and the island in general.

Gibson claimed that web shops are “likely” contributing to the withdrawal of banks on the island.

“Banks make fees via transactions and loans. But the numbers houses are allowed to carry out free transfers and banks are somewhat eliminated out of the picture,” said Gibson.

“We have to properly regulate the proliferation of these numbers houses.”

Island Luck announced last year in November that it had “implemented systems and procedural changes” to stem the practice of customers using its system as a money transfer mechanism for inter-island remittances within The Bahamas.

For More Articles Pick Up A Copy Of The Nassau Guardian