||Last Updated: Oct 12, 2020 - 2:21:50 PM
Today’s date is 10/10/2020 – there must be some significance in those numbers. I had several topics already prepared to write several Letters to the Editor this weekend, but was drawn to a facebook post instead to start the ball rolling.
Yesterday I read several online posts and a newspaper article pertaining to Tin Ferl, a group of young, enthusiastic creatives who had started a legitimate entrepreneurial endeavour earlier this year in the form of a pop up food market at The Dundas Center for the Performing Arts’ open air parking area on Mackey Street. This wonderful collaboration of small businesses has been quite successful and was growing in popularity, providing honest work and income for all involved, especially during these difficult times.
On Thursday, the Tin Ferl vendors were subjected to closure by the police, apparently because they were in breach of the covid-19 emergency orders, although they had been operating for several months. This unexpected closure resulted in extensive and understandable outrage by members of the public, in the local media as well as over social media. I myself sent a note expressing my bewilderment at the news and asking for clarification.
The impetus for this letter resulted from this encouraging update from Mr Marlon Johnson, Acting Financial Secretary at the Ministry of Finance which stated:
Yesterday, the organizer and select vendors met with the Department of Inland Revenue (DIR) to discuss how to execute the event within the parameters of the laws and regulations.
Many of the vendors at the location did not have the appropriate license to sell food, other than from their homes. To sell food from a mobile location there are additional health and sanitation requirements.
Vendors will be issued with the appropriate provisional licenses this weekend to allow them to open up again on Tuesday. The provisional license will give them the time to get their full proper licenses while they remain open.
The DIR will work with the relevant public agencies and the SBDC to ensure that they get the attention necessary to get their full licenses - and to see where they may be able to qualify for grant or loan financing to enhance or expand their businesses.
My question is simply this: Why can’t the various government agencies get their act together and avoid so much unnecessary stress and confusion? Hence the title of this letter: “Begin with the end in mind” (a brilliant phrase that I was introduced to by the erudite educator, Marva Collins). If the police had asked this question of themselves, bearing in mind that these vendors had been operating for months without interruption and were certainly not criminals or repeat offenders ‘known to the police’ - what do you imagine would have been their answer?
Instead their actions unceremoniously disrupted, discouraged, and disenfranchised a group of honest, enthusiastic, licensed, hardworking Bahamians, shattered their confidence in the ‘rule of law’ as well as their rights as Bahamians in their own country! This whole incident was a travesty and could have easily been avoided.
Had the authorities taken one moment to pause, think, and exercise common sense, they would have spoken to the organizers first, given them fair warning that they were in breach of the emergency orders, explained why, and encouraged them to immediately contact the relevant authorities at the Business License office to ensure their compliance. Mr Johnson’s intervention in response to the tirade of negativity in the press and on social media would have been unnecessary, and this one simple step of exercising human decency would have left everyone with a smile, business as usual, and even greater respect for law and order. Would not this have been the better ‘end in mind’?
An apology would be in order as an example of that decency - it would certainly help to bridge that gap – but we shall see.
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