Former BLDC deputy to stand for PLP
Premier Paula Cox questioned yesterday whether concerns raised about the misuse of public funds were connected to Bermuda having a black government.
The Finance Minister was speaking at a press conference where she announced former Bermuda Land Development Company (BLDC) deputy chairman Pastor Leroy Bean as the Progressive Labour Partys election candidate for constituency four.
Ms Cox, who called for Mr Bean to resign from BLDC in early 2011 after concerns were raised about consultancy fees paid to him and the quangos chairman, yesterday commended the founder of the anti-gang organisation CARTEL as a man of commitment and said he had the full support of the PLP branch in St Georges South.
She told the press conference at Baileys Bay Cricket Club: Pastor Bean has been steadfast in working in this community and hes deeply rooted in the community.
He certainly welcomes and relishes the opportunity to serve and to continue to work for the people of Bermuda.
He believes very much in service and he is committed to our vision to build a fair Bermuda so that all Bermudians have the opportunities to succeed. He also appreciates that public officers are servants of the people.
Ms Cox said Mr Bean was especially passionate about working with young people and had always stressed the importance of taking extraordinary measures to reach out to those who have been sidelined in society.
His organisation CARTEL has been doing a yeoman service in that regard, she added.
A report released by Auditor General Heather Jacobs Matthews in January revealed that government-owned BLDC paid $160,000 in consultancy fees to Mr Bean and former chairman Edward Saunders, despite being warned more than once of a potential conflict of interest.
The independent Auditor alerted Ms Cox to the payments, prompting the Premier to recommend that the pair resign and pay back the money. That didnt happen and Ms Cox dissolved the board in May 2011.
Yesterday, asked if she had a problem endorsing Mr Bean as a party candidate, Ms Cox said she did not and would not be doing so if there was an issue.
I think whats important to note in terms of the Government and even with the Auditor General [is] that time and time what comes out are these innuendos and hints of corruption. That seems to be always the subtext.
She said she was reminded of 1998 when there was a view that if the PLP came to power it would drive away international business.
Ms Cox also referred to the police investigation regarding the Bermuda Housing Corporation scandal, which did not lead to any politicians being charged with a criminal offence.
The Premier questioned why people made allegations of corruption and dishonesty, adding: Is it because they have a black government? I think the issues with the Auditor General are clear. Theyve been documented, theyve been set out. My views are also clear.
She said there was nothing to indicate anybody was corrupt.
The candidates have to have the confidence of the constituency executive and they also have to have the confidence of the central committee, said Ms Cox, adding no-one would be announced as a candidate if she, as party leader, didnt support them.
The very fact that Im here when I dont have to be should be an indication of the fact that Pastor Bean is part of the PLP team, she said.
Ms Cox would not answer further questions on the topic, commenting: That is the extent of the response. There is a candidate who is running in constituency four. You may have some interest in him.
Mr Bean, asked if he was worried that the Auditors report could deter voters from backing him, said: I support what the Premier said and stand by the work that we done at BLDC.
He has previously said he does not intend to pay the consultancy fees back to Government but wouldnt comment on that at the press conference.
He told constituency four voters: Im not going to make a whole lot of promises that I cannot keep.
He promised to continue the work of the PLP in society and continue to build the infrastructure in St Georges South.
Mr Bean said Bermudians needed to work together as a society to see the Island fulfill the dream that its setting out to fulfill.
The dream I envision for Bermuda under a PLP government is more cohesion and peace between black and white, rich and poor, while at the same token, encouraging each of us to respect those that might have differences of opinion.
Mr Bean will run against the One Bermuda Alliances Suzann Roberts-Holshouser, a former senator, in constituency four.
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