I was sitting down watching the News report on television a few nights ago and I saw the Hepburn man was charged for causing damage to the Development of Fortune Cay almost two months ago and it made me laugh to myself. The reason I laughed is for none other than the fact that the persons who pressed charges against him should probably have taken an alternative route. It is important for people to know their history and all the events that probably took him to the boiling point.
First off when Wallace Groves came to Grand Bahama in the late 1950’s and our government agreed to lease them over 50,000 acres of land on our island a lot of the beach front properties were not included. Why you ask, because they were owned by different families. From McCleans Town to West End and everywhere in between you found many of the residents who provided for their families from the oceanfront where they lived. In the Present day, how many settlements or Government areas can you count that are actually still in existence now? Of those that are left you would find many families saying that the Port Authority stole their property and some have them in court or many of them just choose to say it aloud but do nothing about it. Many Grand Bahamians are afraid to go up against a big wig like the Grand Bahama Port Authority and justly so because they have unlimited resources and many families do not have the money to put into a hefty legal battle.
The Grand Bahama Port Authority was built upon a corrupt foundation starting with Mr. Groves who was convicted in the United States of America and served prison time for fraud, but yet he was served Grand Bahama on a silver platter. This is not to say that he did not help this pine barren but rather if you were given so much why did they feel the need to rob, cheat and outright steal from our natives. The fundamentals of the GBPA are based on one concept- GREED. For a man who was worth many millions back in the 1950’s and 60’s when the majority of fraudulent transactions occurred why did they just not pay the people fair value for their property instead of robbing them?
A book was written called “Angel Stand by Me” by Owanta Gottlieb whose husband was brought in by Mr. Groves to be the doctor for the island of Grand Bahama. She talks of their experien
ces with Mr. Groves and his need for all the beautiful beachfront land on the southern shore of Grand Bahama. Mrs. Gottlieb says how they purchased a piece of land in the settlement of Smith’s Point and Mr. Groves was infuriated when they refused to sell it to him at the same price they had initially bought the land for. He was so mad that he tried to have the path to their property blocked off but the residents of Smith’s Point would not allow it. Smith’s Point is one of the few settlements still existing by the way. Mrs. Gottlieb also speaks of how Mr. Groves robbed many of the families by making promises to them of land further inland, jobs in the pine yards and many other things in exchange for their properties. Mr. Groves was by no means concerned about our natives but rather his vision for Grand Bahama which was that they (the rich and elite) should own the best of everything and only the Bahamians were nothing but hired help.
Wallace Groves brought in many of his friends to assist him in what could be called the biggest robbery committed in the Bahamas. These friends included: Kenneth Yhap, Leo Savola, Grey Russell and a surveyor who is still here on the island named Stanley Low. If you look at the majority of plat maps for Grand Bahama Island you will generally see a Low’s Surveying stamp in the corner. These men were all a part of the conspiracy to steal Grand Bahama away from its rightful owners. These men all conspired and committed various frauds and forgeries and played many families for the fools they believed they were. Many of the older generations were illiterate and they took adv
antage of them, so while they believed they may have been signing for the turkey, or chickens, or many gifts they would bring to sweet them up, they were signing away all the rights to their land! The older generations were laid back and many of them accepted the lost and moved on but there are still families out there who have a solid case and need to follow the lead Hepburn took and get back what is rightfully theirs!
The day Hepburn knocked down the gates of Fortune Cay was an eye opener for me as
a young black man decided to take a stand against the gangsters called the Port Authority. One would have thought that had this man not have a valid case, he would have been buried so far underneath the jail that he would not have seen the light of day for many days to come. I have yet to see a valid response from the Gangster’s Authority but they only gave their generic response of waiting on the judicial system to take its course. Fast forward almost two months later and he is getting charged by the Home Owners Association of Fortune Cay. Personally I would have felt that they would have taken their fight to the Port Authority who sold them the property that didn’t belong to them but I guess people are more inclined to believe a corrupt conglomerate as opposed to a man on a tractor staking claim.
Hepburn I think is in for a serious fight but it seems as though he is not letting up and I applaud his effort of trying to bring justice to his family. Secretly I wished he ran the tractor through the Port Authority’s building totally demolishing it because they seem to be the downfall of our island but it is what it is and that is not his property. The Grand Bahama Port Authority and their lack luster legal team should guard themselves as I hope many other families try to get back what is theirs. Their lead counsel Tyrone Fitzgerald was forced to step down….I mean resign as he could not keep up their charade as to how they acquired all of their properties. As a lawyer how could one defend an entity if they know they have no way of defending them with anything but fraudulent documents? The Grand Bahama Port Authority took advantage of the Quieting Act that was established in 1959 and has used it to “legally” steal properties in some cases. The part that bothers me greatly is that NO ONE would take action against them except this one young man fighting for his father’s rights.
Hepburn claims that the Port Authority forged all the documents for his father’s property and I pray this case here will be the first step in the crumbling of the Port Authority and their crooked ways! People should keep in mind that this is not the only case where the Port Authority has been accused of fraud. There are tracts of land in East End, Williams Town, Laing’s Town and land that the upscale communities of Fortune Cay and Shoreline sit upon that all have questionable title.
The Taino Beach area also has a very shady past. That tract of land belongs to many different families. If one was to ride through you can still see the old rock wall or the tamarind and dilly trees and also through the bushes there are houses that have been over grown. The Port Authority stole their property on a pristine beach and relocated the families to Eight Mile Rock near Sea Grape. They literally lifted their houses on trailers and relocated them so that they could have the beachfront property. The skeletons of the Port Authority need to be exposed and these are just a few. So while they built a monument and allegedly buried Edward St. George out there, he is nothing
but one of these thieves of the Port Authority continuing to stake claim on other people’s property. On this Taino Beach tract of land there is also an area that was not sold….families do your research and fight to get back what is yours!
Grand Bahamians are too complacent and The Grand Bahama Port Authority I think has ruled over this island for far too long and it angers me that so many of OUR people know what is going on and refuse to stand up for their rights and rights of others in fear of losing their jobs. I know it is tough out there but maybe if there was no Port Authority Grand Bahama would actually be flourishing. Think of it we are double taxed by both Government and The GBPA. The Port is supposed to be an organization that should guard Grand Bahama’s wellbeing but the only thing they are worried about is who owns what and their dividends which they take out of the country any way. The whole St. George and Hayward battle played before our own eyes and brought Grand Bahama to a halt. I doubt Sir Jack will even return to Grand Bahama considering how old and sick he is so where again does that leave us again? At their mercy of who gets his shares? That is a man who publically ostracized his own children, what are we to him? Well maybe the potcakes at the Humane Society will be taken care of but we humans will be up the creek without a paddle considering we have never been a priority from the inception of the Grand Bahama Port Authority.
We need to stand up like Hepburn and fight the good fight for what is ours. I do hope his situation is sorted out because this yet another cloud over the Grand Bahama Port Authority. What if Hepburn is right that his family’s property was stolen, how will the Grand Bahama Port Authority be able to explain that in order to get ahead they cheated Bahamians out of their rights and property? How would that look to investors and then it makes me wonder how many other families did they do this to?
In closing I would like to leave Grand Bahamians with a quote, “stand for something or you will fall for anything”…..think about it nothing happens unless you take a stand and fight for what is right. It is obvious the Government can’t help Grand Bahama and the quasi-government the Grand Bahama Port Authority has no concern for us. Hepburn became my modern day hero when he took on the Port giants, knocked down those gates and stood for his family and their rights….can you say that you ever made a stand like that or are you just like me just talking about the stand he made?