PC Call For Commission of Inquiry Into Property

July 14, 2014

The People’s Campaign has called for the “immediate establishment of a People’s Review Commission of Inquiry into the historic losses of citizen property,” saying the House of Assembly operates with a mandate from the people of Bermuda and they “neither need nor should they seek consent from a non-elected servant of the interests of the Crown.”

Background

On July 4th the House of Assembly passed a Motion which proposed the Governor appoint a Commission of Inquiry into certain historic land transactions

Opposition MP Walton Brown brought the Motion which read, “That this Honourable House take note of the historic losses in Bermuda of citizens’ property through theft of property, dis-possession of property and adverse possession claims; and be it resolved that this Honourable House calls on His Excellency the Governor to establish a Commission of Inquiry into all such known claims and to determine, where possible, the viability of any such claims and make recommendations for any victims of wrongful action to receive compensation and justice.”

However, Governor George Fergusson issued a statement saying the debate “raised serious concerns” but “they are not clear enough or urgent enough to justify a Commission of the type proposed.”

Following that, the PLP said the Governor “made a mockery of Parliament and disrespected the Bermudian people” and said they will march on Government House this Tuesday and call for the “immediate recall of the Governor.”

People’s Campaign Statement

A spokesperson said, “Upon review of Governor George Fergusson’s rejection of the request from the House of Assembly to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to investigate historic losses in Bermuda of citizen property, The People’s Campaign makes the following statement.

“We acknowledge that the Governor is not bound to consent or otherwise acquiesce to requests from the House. Within the purview of the Governor’s authority, he has the right to exercise his duty as he sees fit in terms of his representation of the interests of the Crown and what he considers to be the welfare of Bermudians.

“However, when the elected representatives of the people convey a request through the constitutionally established process, it is reasonable to expect that Her Majesty’s servant in Bermuda would respond in a way that gives greater consideration to the need to correct the well-established historic wrongdoings.

“Therefore, in light of the aforementioned statement, The People’s Campaign takes the position that the governing One Bermuda Alliance Party and the Progressive Labor Party, having been elected and entrusted by the people of Bermuda, do not need the mandate and/or permission of Her Majesty’s Servant, the Governor, to form a Commission to review this matter.

“The House of Assembly operates with a much greater mandate, the mandate from the people of Bermuda. As bearers of the people’s mandate they neither need nor should they seek consent from a non-elected servant of the interests of the Crown.

“We therefore, support or call for the immediate establishment of a People’s Review Commission of Inquiry into the historic losses of citizen property in Bermuda.”

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  1. Skeptic says:

    This group needs to read the Governor’s letter. The request was not rejected, the request was not properly prepared and the Governor left the door open for more information to be provided. Reviewing the circumstances of various land appropriations may well be a good idea to help people sort the facts from the fiction, but approach the process intelligently and try to avoid playing politics with the issue.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      Precisely ! Don’t you just hate an echo. Especially when it seems to be an illiterate or poorly read one ?

      • HERE IT IS AGAIN says:

        “The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.”

        -Martin Luther King, Jr.

        There is a great deal of historical data on Tucker’s Town and other places in Bermuda were folks were displaced and their land Stolen from them. This information can be obtained in Bermuda’s National Library, recordings of narratives from families, copies of land deeds, as well as Tucker’s Town Society.

        The findings validate that Land was stolen from folks. Many were also forced to give up their land for a small price. The Forceful taking of land, is not compensation by any measure. Folks were treated unfairly and it is not Right.

        This issue is important. I hope that everyone comes out in support of the injustice that took place years ago. Come out and March and do not allow certain folks to scare you, or frighten you for taking action.

        • ann says:

          So Who gets the pay out, the majority are dead, and who takes the financial burden to find their relatives and prove they really are related. If you really think about this, it sounds like a project that children invented, but have no clue what to do next. How can you expect the Governor to say anything more than what he said!!!!

          • hmmm says:

            From what I’ve read, people were paid a fair price for the property. Show me where I should think otherwise.

            • Onion says:

              While the vast majority agreed to the price offered some considered no price high enough to justify moving off their land, citing emotional attachments (~25 landowners I believe). Of these, only a few were subject to compulsory purchases.

              The Summer 1996 Bermuda magazine has a good article on the history.

            • frank says:

              you know dam well they were not paid a fare price

              • well.. says:

                I agree Frank. The were not paid a fare price.

                They were, however, paid a fair price.

              • Sandgrownan says:

                Do we know that? Serious question. For sure or just is that what you believe to be true?

              • Toodle-oo says:

                I know someone who in the 80′s (remember who was the government then ?) had a CPO on a tiny sliver of his property for the purpose of road widening.
                In the end , despite getting high 5 figures for it and it making little difference on his overall property use or appearance he still thinks he was ripped off .
                Doesn’t everyone who’s subject to a CPO think they’re not getting ‘fair’ (not ‘fare’) value ?

              • Ride says:

                @frank

                How is this known?

                I believe this could be known if the average (and median) price of similar parcels of land over the preceding year of the sale (and forced sale) were compared to the price that was paid for them. If this analysis has been done and I missed it then may someone point me in the right direction.

                If not, then simply declaring something as so without any evidence does not make it so. Please provide the evidence for this claim. As I said, if I missed it I’d greatly appreciate being pointed to it.

                Thanks,

                Ride

              • Build a Better Bermuda says:

                Yet some managed to take what was given and prosper under the circumstances of the times, while others squandered and lost. Some think they should have gotten the equivalent to the properties current values.

                Let’s look at this in just a small measure more depth then want the PLP wants to explore. They want a commission to look at 3 historic incidents.

                1st – Tucker’s Town
                The residence were displaced to make way for what was to be a tourist development, and eventually became the ultra high end real estate area. The residences there were given compensation in the form of monies, land and even houses in other areas, some took the compensation willingly, others had to be evicted, but were still compensated.
                Should a commission undertake the efforts to determine whether compensation was at fair market values, they would need to research through deed and tax records, the compensation transactions of over hundred years old, to confirm the names of those property holders. As I am quite certain that there is not a single one of those tittle holders are still alive, the commission would then need to find, hear and review the last will and testaments of those holders to determine how any compensation payout would be handled. If any of those inheritors not be alive, then again a search and review of their last will and testaments would need to be reviewed. Just the exercise of this one chapter alone would cost taxpayers (and thus the recipients) more monies than I am sure they would find that would be required to be paid out, if any at all is found to be required.
                The next question not answered by the motion is then who would bear the responsibility for paying out any compensations. The company that was seeking to develop (should they still exist, and if they don’t then who) or the legislation (that being the Bermuda government via taxpayer dollars, thus by extension the recipients of any compensation) that enacted the bill to take the land.
                Ultimately, who pays for this, all our children

                2nd – The land taken for the US base lands
                Again, as with the Tucker’s Town, lands were taken, compensation was given, but let’s add a little more historical context to this. This land grab was done as a war effort, during a conflict unlike any before or since. Globally, measures were being taken by many nations across the world. In Britain, children were being sent away from their parents in the cities, some of whom they would never see again. France, ordinary citizens put there lives and the lives of loved ones at risk to maintain a resistance against an occupying force, in the hopes that they could hold long enough to harass the enemy when a help, to which there was no guarantee of, would arrive. The US, citizens were donating and buying bonds, living off rations and working long hours to build a war effort in a remarkably short time. And from many nations and of many colours, men and women were putting themselves in harms way to fight for the chance of a free future. And of just these few efforts mentioned, what compensation did they get. The Bermuda legislation decided to risk the safety of our country and offered the US an invaluable outpost . The US requested certain lands, the legislature reviewed and countered with an option that met the US’s needs and meant surrendering less land and relocating less people. Those relocated were compensated.
                So again the commission would have to again find and review documentations 60+ years old! and again determine who and how much if any would be paid.
                And again, who would pay the compensation, the legislature (same statement as 1st), the US who received the lands (well then now we would have to take them through their courts in a costly legal battle with little hope for success)
                Ultimately, who would pay, all our children

                3rd – the questionable real estate activities in the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s
                This one is probably the one for which carries the greatest merit, as it would involve specific individual or entities to which compensations could be sought from. Problem is the PLP did not provide cases to which the inquiry would need to look into, does the PLP expect the inquiry to review 3 decades worth of real estate deals to find the bad ones? What legal powers will the commission receive to acquire the documentation required?

                This is just another example of a bad PLP motion/legislation that leaves me to question whether it’s purpose was to fail, so they could stir the pot, distract the government from being able to effectively clean up the mess they left from being in power and further the image they like to portray themselves as folk heroes… Even though in their 14 years at the helm they not only didn’t bring this issue up, but steered the country away from it on multiple occasions. It is disturbing how often the PLP try to bury their hypocrisy in rhetoric of self righteousness and victims of injustice.

              • WillSee says:

                yes they were, three times the original valuation

            • REAL deal says:

              many folks claims are that lawyer politicians swindled land from st.george to somerset…that’s why they don’t want all this to come out. we may very well see that their homestead was begotten illegally.

        • Sandgrownan says:

          I don’t think anyone is disputing the issue is important. Even the Governor accepted that, but the motion didn’t meet the high standards required to establish a commission. The Governor stated that and left the door open.

          What happened next was faux outrage, rightful indignation, accusations of an assault on democracy and much gnashing of teeth All totally unecessary and much of it untruthful. All in the name of scoringolicital points. And what sympathy your view might have had is quickly eroded.

          • Onion says:

            Well said.

            • SMH says:

              If it was so important to the people thattheir boycotting parliament, why did the PLP not do this while they were in office? Why did the agree to the Tuckers Pint SDO as well?

        • Edmund Wells says:

          “… their land Stolen from them. …

          The findings validate that Land was stolen from folks. Many were also forced to give up their land for a small price.

          … Folks were treated unfairly and it is not Right.”

          HIIA-

          Can you document these assertions? Because the Auditor General, in her comments about the Marsden Cemetery matter did not make similar assertions.

          In fact, she quotes D. McDowell, writing in the Bermuda magazine, as saying that after arbitration, “about three-quarters of the residents agreed to sell” and that for remaining landowners, “The Bermuda Development Company Act (No. 2) … set out three procedures by which hold-out landowners could have their claims arbitrated. The act exuded a sense of British fair play steeped in common law precedent.”

          The Auditor General goes on to say that some “saw an opportunity to liquidate” and “agreed to the first offers made,” while others wanted to sell, “but not at the prices first offered” and went through an arbitration process.

          She describes the holders of the last 100 acres as receiving, “the least fair financial compensation”. Note that she does not say the compensation was unfair, but that it was the least fair.

          I don’t understand why, if there was such broad, well-documented stealing and unfair treatment, the Auditor General ignored it in her report.

          EW

          • Toodle-oo says:

            Because utilizing inflammatory language while trying to re-write history to get a ‘certain’ end result always trumps the truth and facts out on La La Island .

        • Huh says:

          Why didn’t PLP bring this to the table during their 14 year Govt. – because they simply don’t care about Bermudians. They only care about themselves. This was proven when PLP gave Tuckers Point developers a blank cheque SDO, against the protests of many Bermudians & environmentalists. Why are PLP bringing it up now – because the word is out that the Governor, DPP & Auditor General are getting close to the core of the PLP 14 years so PLP need massive emotional distraction on how “the old oligarchy” took our peoples property to “justify 14 years of PLP. People don’t be fooled again. They just want to get back into power and get back into bed with Tuckers Point just like before

        • 32n64w says:

          Interesting remarks from the same PLP stalwarts in place today when the senate debated the Tucker’s Point SDO.

          - David Burt – “hears and understands the cries” of those campaigners. But he added: “We are unable to undo the past but we can certainly take steps to ensure the future wellbeing of our people.” Sen Burch praised the PLP’s democracy in bringing the debate and said the SDO should be supported if only because tourism “must be in the national interest”.

          - LaVerne Furbert – “I find that very strange because in my research I found that many that lived in Tucker’s Town didn’t live in Tucker’s Point property they lived in Mid Ocean Club property.”
          She said it was important for people to understand that Tucker’s Point consists of different areas. She said the people that were moved out of Tucker’s Town were slapped in the face a long time ago and many had since passed away. “In fact they do not even have he a face any more. They have souls, but do not have a face.”
          Sen Furbert also hit back at claims by the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce that Tucker’s Point has foreign investment. She said most of the Island’s hotels had some kind of foreign investment agreement, including Elbow Beach and 9 Beaches.

          Amazing (but not surprising) how hypocritical the PLP can be when they don’t have access to the public purse and are relying on a wedge issue to whip up emotional support. Hopefully they can repeat these same words tomorrow afternoon to ensure the concerned citizens who show up realize the PLP have no interest in the issues and are more concerned with political advancement.

          PLP – party before country since 1998.

          • Rockfish#2 says:

            @32n64w.
            True,some people have very selective memories.

        • WillSee says:

          You are incorrect on tuckers town.

    • Kunta says:

      If Black people would’ve stole land from White people de Blind Gov. would’ve had de inquiry !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Remember it was British Elite that were the thieves !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • hmmm says:

        I’ve read that white families were affected too.

        Isn’t Jim Butterfield white? where is that commission ?

        So you are talking nonsense.

        • LOL (Original TM*) says:

          correction he is talking racist tea party non sense.

          LOL but those who support or marginally support the PLP call OBAers racists for their comments. I’m just pointing out the fact that they do not condem those that do this and then state that some how the OBA will lose support due to these comments. If the logic is correct then they too must be losing support correct? Or its just nonsense.

        • SMH says:

          Where is the commission for the compensation to white and black people to recover the alllthe money stolen and misappropriated by the PLP during their time in Gov? We want compensation now!

          • Build a Better Bermuda says:

            Don’t forget, it wasn’t the British Elite either, in first case is was a development company seeking to build a high end tourist destination and golf course, and in the second case, it was the US seeking a base help the besieged and alone British Isles and eventually liberate Europe.

        • Coffee says:

          Nobody stole anything from Jim Butterfield . Jim Butterfield didn’t own that land , it was leased to him . Further more he was asked to upgrade the facility built on government land in the 1960′s .. He refused , therefore when his lease ended so did his right to operate a business on that piece of government property , that land belongs to the people of Bermuda not the Jim Butterfield trust .

          • Build a Better Bermuda says:

            You missed the fact that in order to keep his lease, he would have been required to move the silos to another WEDCO property and sell more shares of his business. When he didn’t, he lost his lease and it was then given to a a PLP friend who was given the old lease conditions with an overseas partner. To date the silos are still where they were, with no design to move anytime soon, and Bermudians own less shares of the company. So yeah, the PLP government deliberately set out to put a legitimate business owner out of business so that they could give it to one of their own. The hypocrisy of this is that if this had been done to a PLP business owner, they would have ground the country to a halt and would have called it major injustice.

      • Soooo says:

        1st of all the land WAS NOT STOLEN…
        2nd it was NOT just black families that were subject to compulsory purchase.

        get a life!!!

      • You Wouod Think So says:

        @Kunta..drop the a

    • You Wouod Think So says:

      WTF?????? I never saw this coming? The PC actually support the PLP? No way!

  2. Tolerate says:

    Thank-you PC; does this mean you do NOT support the PLP’s call for a march on Government House tomorrow?

    • HERE IT IS AGAIN says:

      Thanks PC that you support the March on Government house. Thanks for asking the Government to re-look at this matter.

      “The People’s Campaign takes the position that the governing One Bermuda Alliance Party and the Progressive Labor Party, having been elected and entrusted by the people of Bermuda, do not need the mandate and/or permission of Her Majesty’s Servant, the Governor, to form a Commission to review this matter.”

      I look forward to all to come out and support the fight for Justice.

      • hmmm says:

        Why are you using Betty Trumps computer, but using a different name ?

        Sneaky , distrustful you are Betty.

        • HERE IT iS AGAIN ! says:

          Yes, I am why is that so important. Betty has gone to get ready for the March tomorrow. You coming out as well?

      • Put pupils first says:

        Hi Betty!

        • Sandgrownan says:

          Chuckle

          • Rockfish#2 says:

            Most of the time BT provides us with hilarious repetitive entertainment. But resorting to this type of subterfuge is simply nauseating.

            The tactician needs to revise the strategy!

      • Tolerate says:

        hahaha… @HERE IT IS AGAIN; which founding member/spokesman are you again?
        The PC simply stated that the motion that carried does not require the Governments approval. If the PLP was not acting like such cry babies, they would have considered this and we won’t have to hear about this insane march.

  3. Navin Johnson says:

    Should change the name from the Peoples Campaign to the Peoples Progressive Labor Party Campaign as their credibility is waning as well

  4. What da….Get real u’lot! All you are is an extension of the Progressive Labour Party attempting to disrupt the Island and of cause the new Govt. (O.B.A.) from progressing. Why hadn’t the Govt. Progressive Labour Party entertain their gripes when in power e.g. the ruling Party for more than a decade? The P.L.P. were so concerned about what they claim to be an issue today that the Progressive Labour Party were giving a S.D.O. to Tuckers Point Development (yes, graveyard included) but the majority objected and Min. at the time,(I believe Roban) cut a trail…He was also giving his “ace boy” Zane, permission to fill in Devonshire Marsh so he can park his trucks and build a warehouse. So please, all of you, stop the B.S.!

  5. hmmm says:

    PLP SHOULD Finance the commission. they spent the money that could have been used to finance it when they were in power. So they should pick up the tab now.

    PLP now want someone else to pay it for them.

  6. Soooo says:

    It would be interesting to see documentation on the % of members of the “The People’s Campaign” are registered members of political parties. For that matter how many members they actually have. This is purely because their “views” seem to follow hand in hand with that of the PLP. If they have an affiliation with a political party then they should publicly announce such.

    That said… As the said Governor said a commission needs specifics and terms of reference not just a broad “all historical”. It’s like asking for a Commission of Enquiry to look into spending of public funds by the PLP Government. It just wont happen…

    But ..asking for a Commission of Enquiry to look into spending of public funds used for the construction of the Dame Louis building would be a different story..

  7. ann says:

    Where is the money coming from to do all this investigating from 100 years ago? Why is it so important now? The PLP had 14 years to look into this. Could it be that the OBA is doing well ( Americas Cup, New Hotels. More Foreign Business ) Could the PLP just be acting childish because things are not going their way! Do any of the PLP have real jobs, or do we just pay them to cause problems?

  8. Terry says:

    More backdoor tactics by the right wing of the PLP and Union.

    Phantom of the Opera comes to mind.

    Operation Pressure Cooker:- Phase 4.

  9. Edmund Wells says:

    “…that gives greater consideration to the need to correct the well-established historic wrongdoings.”

    Where is the evidence of historic wrongdoings? If they are well-established, why wasn’t this proof submitted to the Governor?

    EW

    • Kunta says:

      Where are the RECORDS of names of the Great Grand-Parents of African Bermudians, or Great-Great Grand Parents, ask White Bermudians and I bet they can trace theirs all the way back to where they originated.
      Where is the EVIDENCE of wrongdoings? Ya all full off S@#%# !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Edmund Wells says:

        Kunta-

        The People’s Campaign said the wrong-doing was well established, not me. Please pick your fight with them.

        Of course, if your point is that there isn’t any evidence, then what exactly is this newly-formed Commission supposed to review?

        EW

      • WillSee says:

        The world has no time for cry babies!

  10. Truth is killin' me... says:

    Disguises, disguises, disguises!

  11. DeliverUs says:

    If i thought someone or some group of people stole property I’d be right down to Hamilton Police Station with all my evidence. These people want someone else (the Bermuda tax payers) to do the work for them? Unbelievable. Get your facts and documents and got to court! Simple.

  12. REALLY?! says:

    If you really cared about Bermuda, you would stop dragging her down. All of these strikes and marches and indignant speeches are so blatantly being set up by the Opposition and their supporters to try to undermine the current government and make them look weak, all in a blind effort to regain power. Do you not understand that you are hurting this little island and that your efforts to cripple the government mean disaster for ALL of us if you succeed?!?! Let them get on with fixing the mess you got us in and stop trying to destroy our island. Your hyper-focus on vengeance is petty and hurts all Bermudians in the end; have you thought about what happens when the exempt companies and PRC holders and tourists have had enough of this crap and go elsewhere? THINK ABOUT IT

  13. Steve Davis says:

    Tuckers Point SDO

  14. Jim Bean says:

    I am curious. PLP was in power for 14 and could have set up the Commission themselves. They did not. Pure politics.
    The People’s Campaign – led by a work permit holder. They say they are non-political – but ask the BPSU membership if they ever voted to allow their President to represent their views in this group? non-political yet at the protest at the House of Assembley they chanted PLP PLP. COME ON!!!! THIS IS A FRAUD!!

  15. Alvin Williams says:

    ‘We will not agree with those who seek to create a Bermuda without the Bermudian’. If the Bermudian has now decided to adopted the Sampson option;Than we need to examine of roots of this growing conflict. One way or the other Bermuda will be force to convene a board of enquiry as it has been force to do so in Bermuda’s past history of social conflicts.

    • jt says:

      Why didn’t the PLP deal with this when they were in charge and were you critical of their failure to act on it?
      Back to you Alvin. Are you willing to reply? I doubt it.

  16. are u serz says:

    The PLP granted two SDO’s to Tuckers Point. It was under their watch that the graves were razed. But now after 14 years of your govt out ubp’ing the ubp according to the late Julian Hall you want us to believe that you really care about it? The Gov suggested that he needs more info and a clearer reference and rather than provide it you decide to march??? Further, in case you were not aware the commission would need to be financed with the public purse!!! We know from your record that the purse was not important during your watch. The only thing that is important according to Mark Bean is ‘contracts’. You are either losing the plot or you will do anything including sink bda just to get your hands on the public purse again and quite frankly, that’s frightening.

    Provide the Govenor with a clearer reference and it may move forward…your actions are beyond ridiculous. By you politicking this, you are reminding everyone just how hypocritical you all are.

  17. truth be told says:

    here’s another group of people,just like the plp and biu that need to learn how to listen to what people say and how to read before they run their mouths off!

  18. Herbalist says:

    The PLP took the cement company from Mr.Butterfield and he got peanuts.One of the PLP cronies and some others got it.
    Please Governor Fergusson,can we have an inquiry into how that happened?

  19. REAL deal says:

    Amazing you “Herbalist” want an inquiry for Jim Butterfield but not for the others?

    • jt says:

      You’ve missed the point…but I agree that we should add an inquiry….the unaccounted $800 million for example.