A ‘bailout of non-Bermudians’
The vast majority of shares in the company owning the Rosewood Tucker's Point development belong to non-Bermudians, according to a register obtained by
The Royal Gazette.
Environment group BEST (Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce) yesterday claimed foreigners will be bailed out of their financial mess by the Bermuda public if the Special Development Order is approved in the Senate today.
Campaigners are preparing to spend the day outside Cabinet hoping they convince at least one Independent Senator to vote against the SDO allowing a Tucker's Point expansion of 78 homes and 70 hotel rooms.
The Progressive Labour Party says the move is vital for Bermuda's tourism product, and would help ensure the success of one of the Island's most lucrative resorts.
However critics, including some PLP members privately, have argued it amounts to a bailout of a company which has fallen on difficult financial times.
A letter to shareholders from president Ed Trippe has already revealed Tucker's Point was losing more than $1 million a month from the start of 2009 to the end of last August.
Now a list of shareholders of Bermuda Properties Ltd (BPL) and its subsidiary Castle Harbour Limited shows most of both companies' shareholders are non-Bermudian.
Major shareholders of BPL include Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, of Ohio; Charles Trippe of Massachusetts; Edward Trippe of Connecticut; and Basic, Inc of Virginia.
BEST calculated about 90 percent of BPL's shares are owned by non-Bermudians; as are most of CHL's shares. The environment group said in a statement: “This new information is disconcerting because, contrary to suggestions made by Government and Ed Trippe, it strongly suggests that the SDO is a bailout of non-Bermudians at the expense of the Bermuda public.
“BEST respectfully repeats its demand that the Minister of the Environment cease withholding relevant information from the public and instead allow the people of Bermuda to see for themselves whether the granting of the SDO is in their best interest.”
BPL responded yesterday in a statement: “Those shareholders who invested in 1958 have had no return of capital, and in the financial reorganisation and the conversion of subordinated debt to equity, they have lost the full value of their investment made in 1958.
“Not a particularly good story for Bermuda and its tourism industry.”
Former United Bermuda Party Premier Sir John Swan is among those who support development, saying it could provide a lifeline for tourism in Bermuda.
However, BEST opposes because of the impact on local wildlife, while Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda opposes the move on behalf of descendants of families forcibly removed from Tucker's Town in the 1920s.
CURB will be at the Cabinet Building throughout today before the debate begins at its estimated time of 5pm.
In a press release yesterday, CURB called for protesters to show up at key times: 9am to 10am as Senators arrive; 12pm to 2.15pm while speakers discuss their concerns; 5pm when the Senate debate will be broadcast. People are advised to bring blankets but not chairs.
The group said in a statement: “This debate is crucial to you, your children and future generations.
“We must save this pristine landscape, once a vibrant community and home to black Bermudian ancestors, as a tribute and memorial to their loss, their sacrifice and their memory.
“We need you to express your concerns, worries and hopes by turning up in the grounds of the Cabinet building.”
BEST stressed the importance of the protest being peaceful, amid suggestions Tucker's Point employees could also be in attendance.
“We are reminding our supporters that we have invited them to join in a peaceful demonstration and that they should not initiate nor be drawn in to any volatile situations,” said BEST in a statement.
Useful websites: www.best.org.bm; www.tuckerspoint.com.
Tucker's Point has released letters from two of its employees imploring senators to vote for the Special Development Order (SDO) today.
Sherry Alvarado, who works in the spa, wrote: “I'm a mother-of-three and an employee of Tucker's Point for six years.
“I'm urging you the Senators to say YES for the Tucker's Point project.
“It will not only enhance the beauty here but also I will be able to keep my job. Tucker's Point Hotel & Spa has hired 90 percent Bermudians and, with the new construction, that will only create jobs for those who are out of work and very much need work.
“I would have never met so many of my friends who are members at TPC (Tucker's Point Club) that are living here or who are owners of our fractional units.
“ Also, when you are first hired here, [president] Mr Edward Trippe informs new employees of the history of the property during our orientation.
“Senators, this is a wonderful place to work. I get to meet new people every day. I beg you, once again, please don't take my job away.
“I have a family to feed and in these difficult times we're living in now it would only get worse, I wouldn't know what I would do.
“It's hard now finding work just knowing you'll be up against all those thousands of people out of work. This only means if this SDO doesn't go through there will be more people not working.
“Honestly, that is very scary. I believe in work and I have my strength. I do not wish to live off of our system. I have kids that need to go to college and, at this present time, I need to keep a roof over their heads, so I need my job, Senators.
“I prayed and asked God to humble me and open your hearts in hoping you will make the right decision and say YES in support of our SDO.”
Security worker George Mobray wrote: “Please pass SDO. It is critical that the Senators of this beautiful island vote yes to Tucker's Point SDO. If you ask me why, my answer would be that the project would enhance the tourist industry and the beautiful facilities that already exist at Tucker's Point.
“The SDO will create jobs, particularly for the working class people of Bermuda, some of which are hardest hit by this recession.
“While I can understand the concerns of the environmentalists, the working class people are more concerned about how to feed their families and send their kids off to college.
“People are in desperate need of jobs. As an employee of Tucker's Point Hotel and Spa, I am proud to say that I work here; the benefits to my family have been enormous.
“To oppose the SDO is to deprive many young Bermudians of a future opportunity in what may eventually become a driving force in the tourism industry.”