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WAPA Gives Update on Frenchman’s Bay Distribution System

The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority and Bryan Electrical Contracting Corp. will continue working on the Frenchman’s Bay distribution…

 
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Innovative Takes Measures Against Heartbleed Bug

Innovative Companies are taking steps to protect customers from the Heartbleed bug, which causes vulnerability for internet users. Fortunately, there have been no incidents involving Innovative customers. The Innovative Information Technology team is undergoing daily preventative measures to prevent Innovative customers from being affected.

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2014-04-17 22:43:26
High School Unity Choir Scores Gold in London

The 30 students from the choirs at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School and Charlotte Amalie High School took gold in London's WorldStrides Heritage Festival on Wednesday.

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2014-04-17 11:22:22
TV Host's Accident Took Place on Tortola, Not in USVI

Television news broadcaster Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. was injured in a traffic accident Saturday on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, not on St. Thomas as word on the street has been whispering all week.

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2014-04-16 23:44:24
Commentary — St. Thomas
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The V.I. Answer Desk

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Our reporters and editors will go after the answers on behalf of our readers by calling public officials, union officers, lawyers, business owners, agency executives and anyone else with the answers we all seek.

We expect replies! And if we don’t get answers, we'll let you know who (or what) stood in our way.

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As of August 18th I have still not heard a word from DPW. Was off island. Will start calling them again now.

Carol LeKashman
clekashman@gmail.com

I wrote to you a few weeks ago about my futile attempts to get some speed limit signs put up on my street. Lately, my neighbors have said to me, that's not enough, so I called DPW to suggest speed bumps too, and to find out what kind of response they could make to my original letter.

The office manager was very nice but could not find my letter, which was sent May 1. I faxed her a new copy. She Acknowledged receipt but I still don't have any kind of answer to my situation.

Why is this so hard to process? There should be a clearly defined way to request three things: Trimming growth on the side of the road, filling pot holes, and asking for signage/bum

The Rum Deal: Another 6 for a 9

In light of the history of the rum industry here in the territory, and who the benefactors were during and after slavery, to me this deal is equivalent to the Share Cropping System used after the abolishment of slavery in America.

The slave master (Investor) was no longer responsible for the slaves (Laborers) up- keep but takes the Lion's share of the crops (Profits) made at harvest, in addition to charging rent and other leasing fees. .

Imagine the descendants of some of the same families and investors will again profit from the sacrifices of the past on the backs of the future.

What's the Difference?

Ivan Butcher II
St. Croix
U.S. Virgin Islands

This Election Should Be About Real Change

Whether it's administration, policy, direction, transparence or truth, we as a community have to realize a Chang is needed.

The relationships I have developed over the years and the love and respect for the environment compels me to speak out.With the world economy on the verge of who knows what, I feel like Noah, the signs are there, "It is going to Rain".

Everywhere I have traveled in the Caribbean, those countries are trying to preserve and protect their forest areas for their future generations. Realizing that land on an island is a limited natural resource, we need to put restrictions on overdevelopment, especially, in ‘Eco’ sensitive areas. Even countries that could swallow up our total territory are trying to preserve their forests and to promote agriculture for self-sufficiency.

When I first saw the news report about the Annaly Development Project, it made me sick to my stomach. With the “rain forest” being subdivided, Great Pond and William and Punch sited for development, Annaly is our last undeveloped forest area...a secondary forest from after the sugar cane era that took decades to grow. The current NOAA predictions for future hurricane seasons will be more intense. If and when we have another “Hugo” or worse, Annaly will look like Point Udall.

Now there is talk of a large land owner in the Cane Bay area is lobbying for a similar bypass, that owners of Williams and Punch development are advocating a loop around the Rainbow Beach area, their's is to loop around the Cane Bay Beach area.

All can agree that there has to be some development; and if left to a vote, most would prefer to look for an alternative to selling off all the prime land. Here are some suggestions made by students and concerned alike.

St. Croix could be the educational center of the Caribbean offering instruction from Art to Zoology. This would not only bring in students and their family members, we would also be developing trade schools for our own children, so that we could be exporting skilled trades men and women across the world. With all the claims of the seven flags and the diversities of out culture and history, we should be creating an enviable marketing package selling cultural and intellectual products: art, crafts, music, literature, curriculum, fashion, etc.

There are many creative businesses and environmentally sound options to the deforesting and to massive construction, ex: agricultural venues and eco-tours featuring architecture, history, farming techniques, culture, plants and herbs, birds, etc.

There are studies that support the benefits trees have on the human psyche, especially in the area of recovery. It has been suggested that if the medical services were up graded that many people from around the world would come to our shores for both health care and recuperation.

The Annaly, great pond, punch and Williams projects and, others like it, bring up a lot of questions about the feasibility studies which have been done. For one, we have yet to solve all our solid waste management issues and, in addition, fix all the roads, traffic and non-point pollution control problems. With a land and water use policy, these issues could be answered; but, this may not happen until there is a self-governing territorial status here creating controls for how the land is sold and used.

Why would someone come here seeing the quaint beauty of the island and act so selfishly because they have the means and money to change this place into ‘everywhere else’ just because they can?

They are showing no concern nor compassion for the people here. Instead of them discovering and embracing our unique culture, they are forcing people off the land, and they are using the laws just to buy what they want. The talk is that some of our politicians are not able to think outside the box because their minds are stuck in the pockets of the investors. There is a saying in scripture which says, “What good is it that a man possess the world and lose his soul?”

The question asked me by the youth, “What kind of future are they planning for us when land will be scarce and too expensive for us to ever own any property here?

The planned developments are bad enough, but the growth would be more acceptable if the plans were to include our returning retirees, graduates, and successful local professionals who would like to have a first or seasonal home here. Instead the plan is to create exclusive gated communities.

Ivan Butcher II
St. Croix

This is in reference to eligibility for residing in Public Housing in the Virgin Islands. Are convicted felons eligible for Public Housing Assistance. In addition to this are convicted felons eligible for other public assistance programs such as food stamps? Is there any restriction for public assistance to convicted felons? Thanks, DB

Dear Source,
This Thursday February 10, 2011 is when the VI Smoke Free Act 7171 will go into effect as far as I understand it. Can business owners only use " No Smoking" signs" that have been issued by the Department of Health or can we use a similar sign? Where in the DOH can we get these signs? According to" Smoking Ban Goes Into Effect Feb. 10" Business owners who allow smoking within the 20 feet area or do not post “No Smoking” signs issued by the DOH also face penalties.

"Peace officers of any government agency may enforce the ban on individuals who smoke. Business owners who allow smoking within the 20 feet area or do not post “No Smoking” signs issued by the DOH also face penalties.

First time offenders smoking in a business with DOH signs displayed will be issued a warning or fined up to $250. A proprietor who allows smoking or doesn't have a sign posted may be issued a warning or fined $250 to $400 for the first violation. The second offense for the business owner is $500 to $1,000 and each offense after that can be from $2,500 to $5,000. Sheen said the fines collected will go into the DOH revolving fund."

I would suggest that these DOH non smoking signs could be made available on line for downloadable form or they can be made available when yearly business licences are issued.

This is an important and good VI law that will protect the health and environment of VI residents and visitors, I just wanted some clarity please.

Jason Budsan

It has been some time since I put the pen to the paper. In the five year since relocating to Connecticut, I have gained a greater appreciation for what my wife Minerva and I left behind. We recognize that their are pros and cons to living in the Islands as their are living here in the Mainland. For one the many things that we fought for on a daily basis in living in St. Thomas are things that most people here take for granted.

My life, up here, while full of purpose, is unfullfilling. There is no sense of belonging up here.

Yet I gratefull for the educational opportunities afforded to my Children here. My oldest daughter, Angeli, a All Saints Cathedral student is set to graduate this May with a degree from the University of Connecticut. Equally I am proud to say she was selected as a New England Scholar for her academic achievments and was rencentlty accepted into UNCONN's graduate progam to further her studies in Audiology.

I am gratefully for the grounding the life we had in St. Thomas provided my children.

Yet I am very much suprised to see that the vast majority of Americans are ignorant of the fact the the United States of America owns a possesion some four hours away by plane from JFK, the United Virgin Islands. I find myself often defending the contribtuions of Virgin Islander to our nation in heated debates. Up here it is truely a nation of igorant people.

My heart lights up with every ad I hear or see promoting our island's. Yet from reading the Source daily I can't help but feel that so much more can be done to improve the quality and cost of living in the Islands. We here of strife of young people dying, yet I here nothing of providing opportunities to deter our young men and women from drugs and crime. I hear little about expanding opportunities for locals, I hear little about expanding the economy.

Up here there is a movement called the "Tea Party" mostly renamed "Republicans" demanding reform and accoutnability. If living up here has taught me anything, it is a greater respect for "people power" and the independents. People have a voice and often the right to excersie it starts with a simple phone call to their elected leaders. Residents in our islands need to recoginize that if it is change they want, then it must come from the majority.

The Majority,not the minority must learn to vocalize thier concerns to whom they elect, and not be shy about it. It is their right to speak and be heard. The more that speak the same message the higher opportunity of being heard. It is a right that too many often fear excersing. People around the world are fighing for freedom we take for granted daily.

When will our people learn they , they are nolonger enslaved,but are impowered to determine their destiny. Food for thought, from a fish out of water.

Vinnie Mohanani
St. Thomas/Milford,CT

I respect your opinion with great pleasure.
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I had often wondered when we would see you put "pen to paper" again! I too, have always had respect for your opinions and reports. Thanks!
Douglas Digg STT

I would like to know if the government of the Virgin Islands is planning to downsize its non-essential staff in the coming weeks due to the financial deficits. As per the recent article entitled" Despite Current Woes, DeJongh Sees Bright Future for V.I. Paragragh 3 states:

DeJongh said the government is facing a potential $75 million deficit for the end of this fiscal year, and a $135 million deficit for the 2012 fiscal year. An austerity package approved by the Senate still leaves a $16 million deficit for this year, he said, so further hard choices will need to be made in the coming weeks.

I wish the Governor of the Virgin Islands, a gigantic balloon filled with loving prayers over the difficult decisions he faces from day-to-day. May God give you the strength and courage to endure it.

It has been more than a week since I first asked for the whereabouts of Anthony Whitehead. I have heard nothing at this point. If I may, he is referred as Tony, he should be between 60-65 years and a Vietnam veteran who at one point lived in Princess, St Croix. I have looked through your obituaries for the year and fortunately he was not among them. I live in California and I am planning to go to Puerto Rico soon. Therefore, if I knew where he was I could alter my plans and arrive in St Croix or St Thomas.

Anthony
soluna47@comcast.net

Please Explain

I am a business owner from the States who recently purchased a home on St. Croix. As I read the articles and blogs concerning the Hovensa closing, my heart goes out to those employed at the refinery, and all the small businesses and other organizations that will ultimately be affected by this tragedy.
Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to look at the economic make-up of St. Croix and could clearly see the imbalance. Any entry-level business administrator fresh out of college understands the importance of maintaining a distinct diversification of revenue. In other words “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. Yet isn’t this exactly what the government of St Croix has allowed?
With all due respect to the natives of all the Caribbean islands, most people do not come to the Caribbean because of its history, or it’s people or even the rum. They come because of the tranquility, the warm breezes, the tropical vegetation, beautiful beaches and turquoise waters.
So why has St Croix essentially gone broke by rejecting the natural “built-in” revenue resources mentioned above for oil refineries and rum distilleries. Hovensa was a magnificent employer, which helped support the government and kept fuel prices down. And the rum distilleries have their place, but should not be relied upon for long-term employment generation.
Without belaboring my point, I would like some feedback on the projects below. These are just a few – not even mentioning the Christiansted revitalization venture and other more recent proposals that have seemingly stagnated.
Why haven’t any of these come to realization? One has only to skim through these sites to see the thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue that are not being generated. Does anyone else see the elephant in the room? This is the Caribbean and St Croix offers nothing to attract tourists compared to other islands. Further, the caliber of resorts on islands like St Lucia, Barbados, and the Dominican Republic (just to name a few) is so far beyond the offering in St Croix, that we cant even come close to competing.
Being new to the island, I am not aware of all the projects and the reasons for the stalemate, but could someone explain why at least one of these has not made it through? I understand there are many other considerations than just erecting a resort or complex, but I need some clarification. (excuse the redundancy below if there is any)
Thank you and many prayers to all affected by this situation.

1) “Members of the St. Croix Coastal Zone Committee approved a major permit for Connecticut developer Curtis Robinson of Robin Bay Associates' $1.2 billion casino and resort project on St. Croix's south shore.” The project, to be done in four phases over an estimated nine years, stands to give the beleaguered St. Croix economy a major boost with about 800 construction and 800 permanent jobs, said Robinson.

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/US$1.2+billion+resort,+casino+project.-a0202127040/

2) From a May 2010 Article from Atlantic Caribbean Consulting titled “St Croix Hotel Development, An Oxymoron?” “Rum revenues are fine, but if the Government of the Virgin Islands had invested say $500M in hotel development with a real developer, St. Croix could have two new 500 room hotels. Such development would create 2,000 construction jobs, 2,000 permanent jobs, diversify the economy, create numerous new service businesses, support jobs and tax revenues. Maybe even entice a Hugh Andrews to St. Croix and make some lemonade, out of some of the islands lemons. “

http://atlanticcaribbeanconsulting.com/blog/

3) Developers plan to break ground next year for $640 million resort project on St. Croix - By ALDETH LEWIN Friday, October 2nd 2009
With a recent approval from the St. Croix Coastal Zone Management Committee to restore the beach, the $640 million marina and casino resort being developed by William and Punch is moving ahead and plans are to break ground early next year.

4) From May 2011, Article from Hotel Online titled “Bill Approved Seeking to Jump Start Three Stalled Casino Resort Projects by Giving Tax Breaks to St. Croix Hotel Developers”
http://www.hotel-online.com/News/PR2011_2nd/May11_StCroixBreaks.html

5) January 23, 2006 from Crittenden Resort Report - first line in the article states “Have cash will travel” retorted by resort developers eager to spread their assets beyond North America. Throgmartin Co. and Auberge Resorts are wiling to pick up the full tab on a $300 to $500M resort – the first on St Croix in over 20 years. (this was in 2006)
http://www.timbersresorts.com/images/Media/Crittendon_1-23-06.pdf

6) Feb 27, 2008 |Wyndham Hotels and Resorts to Enter New Caribbean Market: St. Croix
“Tremendous credit must be given to Gov. John P. deJongh, Jr. of the U.S. Virgin Islands, his administration and the Public Finance Authority for supporting this magnificent project”
Croix Golf Resort and Casino, which will become the keystone of a $250 million complex that includes a new 43,000-square foot conference center on St.Croix http://www.topix.com/forum/vg/virgin-islands/TTR5AA9OA941ERE2P

WICO which is located on ST. Thomas would never allow what you propose for that would mean the potential for reduction in their revenue stream....

St. Croix has always been red headed stepchild of the VI.

Traditionally any senator elected in the St. Croix district would capitulate to the needs of ST. Thomas.

The VI is too dysfunctional for meaningful change to occur. The corruption and ignorance run deep there...

Good luck with your endeavors...

Can you help us to learn more about the company GlobeVest LLC ( www.globevestllc.com )that is apparently the lead organization building the proposed sports complex on St Croix, as well as the proposed luxury living and resort complex on John Brewer's Bay, and the proposed luxury resort and villa complex on the south shore of St. John. Can you tell help us learn about this company that wants to develop a lot of projects in the Virgin Islands:
- what the history is of GlobeVest LLC, what projects they have completed, where and when.
- when were they incorporated, and where?
- have they submitted any applications to the USVI government for any permits, tax benefits, property acquisition, etc, and if so, what benefits, what property, etc?
- who are their local partners, and what is the relationship?
- who is their local legal representative?
- how far along are they in their process of starting the St Croix sports complex?

I am sure the are myriad questions to be asked of this organization well before the first dollar exchanges hands or the first shovel hits the earth. These are huge projects that will impact the Virgin Islands for many years, and all the people have a right to transparency and input on each of these projects.

After the Alpine deals, and the way they were pushed and promoted by the Governor (who by the way has his photo as a part of the lead banner on the GlobeVest website at www.globevestllc.com ), the Executive Directors of WAPA and WMA, and the huge outcry from concerned citizens, it is important that we learn as much as we can about this company and any related companies before any official decisions are made on behalf of the People of the US VIrgin Islands.

Many thanks

Please note my request for answers submitted 9 days ago. Can you please provide your readers with an update regarding my query above? I believe this is a very important topic that deserves to be discussed. But before we can have a good discussion, it would help everybody to know what's really going on. Your help in finding the answers regarding projects that GlobeVest is involved in, in the Virgin Islands would be helpful.

so it took all the way until the last week in June for these clowns in the Administration and thieves in the senate to finally admit the GlobeVest scam was just too obvious and dangerous. More than 4 months. Why? It only took me and others a matter of moments to discover the plot and expose its players. Who was responsible within the Administration for this failed negotiation? How could the Governor, with all his brilliant (NOT) legal minds, including the VI Attorney General fail to do due diligence on a "company" that has such a sordid and very public trail of deceipt and deception. There is only one answer. How could this bill ever be considered and how could it be voted on with only two signatures, even after the primary testifiers failed to appear. There is only one answer. And if this project was properly reviewed and vetted, why did all the various commissioners so eagerly support the project the way it was presented? There is only one answer. Could that answer be fraud and corruption, or just outright idiocy? This is why we are in the jam(s) we are in today. Virtually every single elected and appointed official in the VI seems to have their damn hand out and eagerly willing to sell their souls and their childrens future. SHAME on the entire Administration, Legislature and Judiciary (except Judge Lewis!!). May each of you get what you legally deserve, and may it happen right away.

I called the IRB to check on the status of my tax refund. The very nice lady there looked up my individual return, confirmed my identity, and said yes, I am on the list for the next release of checks.

All they are waiting for is the yearly transfer of funds to the IRB that is specifically to be used for refunds only. The transfer is over 60 days over due.

And we all know that isn't going to happen anytime soon.

And yet the legislators refuse to admit that there is an economic problem and that they bankrupted the VI.

Strange that we haven't heard one word about the fire at WAPA Audit and Budget business office. Can you please provide us an update? How did the fire start, where did it start, who or who caused the fire? Were any records destroyed? What records? As is usual with agencies dealing with the public and other organizations, there should be a full back up of all records from just prior to the fire beginning. Does WAPA have such retained records?

EPA Fines U.S. Virgin Islands Health Department for
Long Term Mismanagement of Chemicals and Pesticides
Decaying and Mislabeled Containers Found at Two Facilities

Contact: John Martin, 212 637 3662; martin.johnj@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y. – April 10, 2012) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found that the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health violated federal law governing the handling and storage of hazardous waste at two of its facilities and has fined the agency $68,000 for the violations. EPA inspections at the facilities, the Old Municipal Facility in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas and 3500 Estate Richmond, Christiansted in St. Croix, found unlabeled and decaying containers of chemicals and pesticides on the properties. Many of the containers spilled and the USVI Department of Health failed to properly identify what types of waste were being stored. In some instances, the hazardous chemicals had been kept on-site for over ten years in a state of neglect and decay. Among the hundreds of hazardous chemicals on-site were pyrethrin (a neurotoxin), chlorpyrifos (an insecticide) and calcium hypochlorite (a bleach) – all of which are toxic. Federal environmental law requires hazardous chemicals to be stored, handled and disposed of properly to safeguard public health and the environment.

Pesticides and insecticides are intended to harm or kill pests and are toxic by design. They can be very harmful to people’s health depending on the toxicity of the pesticide and the level of exposure. Pesticides have been linked to various forms of illnesses in humans, ranging from skin and eye irritation to cancer. Some pesticides may also affect the hormone or endocrine systems. All chemicals should be handled properly to protect people’s health.

“Pesticides are chemicals that must be handled and stored carefully and properly to protect the health of workers and the people who live near the facilities,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “In this case, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health repeatedly violated federal hazardous waste laws. Government, especially a health agency, should lead by example and ensure that pesticides and chemicals are properly handled.”

The Department of Health stores pesticide products to be used in the event of an outbreak of infectious disease. Among the violations, the Department of Health failed to determine which substances should be considered hazardous waste, as required by law, to ensure that they are managed properly. Correctly determining whether a waste meets the definition of hazardous waste is essential to determining how the waste must be managed. The Department of Health also failed to maintain and operate its facilities in a manner that minimized the possibility of a fire, explosion or accidental release of chemicals.

In 1998, the Department of Health asked the EPA for help in removing and properly disposing of outdated chemical products stored in one of its chemical storage buildings at the Old Municipal Facility in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. The EPA responded, removed and properly disposed of the outdated chemicals and pesticides. Over 850 gallons of liquid pesticides and over 1,700 pounds of solid pesticides were removed by the EPA. Subsequently, the EPA strongly recommended that the Department of Health develop and follow pesticide storage and handling regulations to avoid a repeat of the environmental hazard.

In 2008, the EPA conducted an inspection of the St. Thomas facility and also visited 3500 Estate Richmond in St. Croix. Once again, the EPA observed conditions of neglect and sloppy practices. Pesticide products were abandoned and had spilled throughout the facilities. The EPA reiterated the need for the development of and adherence to a pesticide storage and handling program.

On September 30, 2010, the EPA ordered the Department of Health to institute a program to properly manage and dispose of pesticide products. Since the initial order, the department has properly removed all outdated chemicals, conducted an inventory of the remaining chemicals, properly stored them and created a pesticide storage and handling program. The EPA conducted follow-up inspections in 2011 and confirmed that the remaining chemicals were properly stored. In March 2012, the EPA issued its final order in this case, requiring the Department of Health to pay a $68,000 penalty.

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So what is the latest on the Christiansted bypass? When is it scheduled to open? The latest word the V.I. Answer desk provided was 'within 12 months" and that was July of 2011. So what is the status now???

Thank you Source for caring about life on St Thomas, and providing this forum for communication. An enthusiastic curious press makes the island better for all.

I have only been on island for 5 months, and I have met beautiful, warm people, and love the beauty of the land and sea, but I do have a few observations:

The island is beautiful and should be respected, but people forget and litter too much. Waste should be better controlled and resources could be better protected with more attention to using less plastic and putting waste in its proper place. More local production of food and other staples and recycling of resources should also be a goal. It's a small island, expensive to import everything and we don't have space for limitless landfill.

Storm runoff waters could also be better controlled with structures built to slow the flow and prevent road pollution, trash, and soil from reaching the sea and spoiling our beaches and coral reefs.

People could have better access to enjoy the beauty of the island with more space on roadways for pedestrians and more off road paths and trails to explore natural areas and mountain views would benefit residents and visitors alike.

Overall, I do love it here. We should strive to keep the island beautiful for all to enjoy. We can't forget that it is a small island and we need to respect the land and try to limit our effects on everyone else.

Those are the most important things, we can get into cleaner water and power production and electric vehicles later...

Thanks again for the opportunity to express these concerns. I would be interested to hear of any developments in the areas I mention.

1,691 vehicles for government use??? 1.3 MILLION gallons of gasoline?????? And exactly how many government employees are there today? To think that a damn government shuttle on STX and STT could save the VIG MILLIONS of dollars. The Administration should be completely embarrassed by their lack of attention to such an obvious savings. Shame on all of you.

I was just looking through the long list of bills and amendments that this 30th Legislature has put forward. Some of them really do display the ineptness and ignorance and lack of serious concern for the community. How about this one by Janette Milin-Young to name the USVI as “The Bush Tea Capitol of the Caribbean”. Come on, now. Exactly how important was this piece of foolish legislation? How will it have any meaningful imact on the people or the economy of the USVI. It won’t. BUT, how much time did this loser senator spend developing the bill. How many hours did her staff and I guess other senate administrative staff have to work on it, between research, deliberation and presentation? The place is falling apart at every turn, and this worthless “senator” spends our increasingly hard-earned money on this garbage???

And what about that big winterized icebreaker ship Senator Baloney has secured for us?? Who’s going to pay for the re-engineering from cold weather to tropical weather? THis means obvious stripping of all insulations, engine overhauls and the like. This ship was built specifically for cold weather. This is just another way these senators are killing us. Wasting money to spend more money to have it end up like the old “Star of Life”or those landing craft. What happened to them? Who within the USVI government has experience even operating a vessel of this size? Few, if any. What have we done? Why do we keep doing it? And where is any of this getting us? I think I need to go throw up now.

I live on the South side in Frenchmans Bay and would like to know why there is no VI transit bus or Safari service from Haven site to Bavoni? I tried to contact VI transit , with no luck.

Gunnar Watson

Can someone, anyone, fully explain the logic of building a fence and locked gate around the beautifully restored Market Square?

Please do waste time telling me it's because of vagrants and vandals, when we have a police force that is responsible for patrolling the downtown streets.

Are the police so very busy maintaining law and order downtown, after the shops are closed, that they just don't have time? That is supremely doubtful.

Or is it that once again, the Administration has just blindly decided that's what's needed and that's that?

Who, by name, is responsible for making the decision of installing fencing and locking the place up? Who holds the keys to the place? I've heard that someday, someday the place might be reopened. What then will become of the fencing? This is just another complete waste of taxpayers money...and pride.

This is one of the MOST important landmarks in the USVI, and in particular St. Thomas. Many honest hardworking locals traditionally came to Market Square to sell their locally raised or caught products, like vegetables and fish. This was also a key meeting place for many.

You know, for years, many visitors enjoyed the other end of Main Street and the native-nes of the Market. But no more. Some super selfish person/people decided to rob us even more of our culture, our pride and certainly our roots. The historic importance of the bungalow cannot be understated, by anyone.

I'm also told that although some historic building owners, including of course, the VI Government cannot restore or repair their properties due to many ridiculous and costly requirements, that are impossible to abide by. Hence, our history has become a haven of vagrants, drug houses, and urinals.

I await someone's reply, with great and sincere sadness and anger that some can be so cruel to the People, as to restrict their access to such a historically significant part of our history.

and I failed to mention why this Square is so very important. This was used for many, many years as a slave market. Many people throughout the VI are direct descendants of those poor and wrongfully enslaved people. THIS is the most important reason to ensure full access. This SHOULD be a place of reverence and learning, a place where people of all ages and colors can come to get a bit of education. There is NO EXCUSE for this place to be locked up.

Incompetence and Corruption in the Virgin Islands Government

In January of this year (2013), I received 2 letters from the U.S. Virgin Islands Lieutenant Governor’s Office; Administration Division, under the signature of Arleen E. Chandler-Greene, Supervisor of Cashiers of STT/STJ District dated January 24, 2013. These letters demanded payment of PROPERTY TAXES on two of my properties on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands which were already paid to said office, and processed and debited to my account by my bank on January 20, 2012, an entire year prior to Ms. Chandler-Green’s letter. Further, while the letters correctly referenced my check numbers, they incorrectly stated that the checks were dated January 17, 2011; incorrectly alleged the checks were returned by my bank for insufficient funds; incorrectly cited Title 41 Section 835; incorrectly accused me of delivering worthless checks to the Government of the Virgin Islands; and consequently, incorrectly stated I had committed a criminal offense. The letters demanded immediate restitution with payment of the original face value of the checks, plus a returned check fee of $50.00 per check.

Of note, copies of the two checks Ms. Chandler-Greene claimed were returned to her office NSF were NOT attached to her correspondence. Also, the citing of Title 41, Section 835 was improper, as the VI Code, to the best of my knowledge, does not contain a Title 41. The correct title to be cited in this instant, IF it were appropriate, would have been stated as Title 14, Chapter 41, §835.

I made immediate attempts to contact Ms. Chandler-Greene to discuss her incorrect and unfounded allegations upon receipt of her letters, with full knowledge that the check numbers referenced were in fact dated January 10, 2012, made payable to the Government of U.S. Virgin Islands and were processed and paid by my bank on January 20, 2012.

Following my many, unsuccessful attempts to communicate with Ms. Chandler-Greene, I then attempted to contact the Lt. Governor, Gregory Francis to no avail. After failing numerous attempts to communicate with the Lt. Governor, I sent a certified letter along with copies of the cleared checks verifying payment to the US Virgin Islands Government, as received from my bank to the Lt. Governor on February 26, 2013. This certified letter was delivered and accepted by his office on March 5, 2013. Neither the
Lt. Governor, nor any member of his staff on his accord has had the common courtesy and decency to contact me and/or respond to my letter regarding this matter.

In processing payments for my current property taxes due for the year 2011, I noted that despite my providing the Lt. Governor with the aforementioned documentation and proof of payments, my property tax accounts were still not rightfully credited. The current statements not only reflected past due amounts, but also reflected additional fees, interest and penalties. Upon noting this, I called Ms. Chandler-Greene on May 30, 2013, (via telephone) only to be reprimanded by her in the most condescending manner that she would not communicate with me directly since I had “gone over her head” in contacting the Lt. Governor directly. In fact, Ms. Chandler-Greene, being a paid, public servant should have apologize for her and the VI Government’s poor handling of this matter in not responding to and rectifying the gross error which occurred in the processing of my payments. Instead, in unfounded arrogance Ms. Chandler-Greene admonished me for not currently residing in the Virgin Islands and suggested that I should be discussing this matter with the Department of Finance, as they are the ones who claim not to have received the payments (and said she would be terminating the “conversation”).

With due consideration of the stress under which Ms. Chandler-Green probably works, the unresponsiveness of the Lt. Governor’s Office in the above incident pales in comparison to other incidents experienced due to incompetence and corruption of some public officials and staff of the U.S. Virgin Islands Government. In particular, an incident which occurred in 2011 where the VI Fire Services allowed one of my properties in Frederiksted (located less than a stone’s throw from the Frederiksted Fire Precinct) to burn to the ground due to their claim that there was “NO WATER” with which to extinguish the fire. Through my inquiries regarding this incident, the Fire Services maintained this ridiculous position, despite the fact that a Fire Hydrant is practically located on the property and the Sea is less than 300 feet away. Witnesses state that the Fire Services simply showed up with an empty tanker and did not make any attempts to obtain water. A tanker from another Precinct arrived more than 2 hours later. Being off-island during the time of this incident, I wrote to several government agencies including the Fire Services, the Superior Court and the Governor, all with no response. Subsequently, even though, again I was off-island when the incident occurred, I was held responsible for the fire by the very same Superior Court Judge to whom I wrote.

Sadly, I must concede that I am not surprised by the level of incompetence which still exists within the local government system of the U.S. Virgin Islands. This incompetence, coupled with the well known and publicized history of corruption of elected and appointed officials of the Virgin Islands Government points to another incident which occurred approximately 2 decades ago. I recall, in the mid 1980s during my tenure as Payroll Director for the Department of Finance of the U.S. Virgin Islands Government and a member of the MEBA Union, it was found through arbitration that my salary was improperly calculated which resulted in a significant amount of my salary was being improperly withheld, with inadequate compensation for several years. The mainland American arbitrator, who was agreed upon by all parties concerned, came to St. Thomas and ultimately ruled that I should be paid all back wages, and my salary be brought in line with the appropriate and negotiated MEBA amounts for my corresponding position. The then Attorney General of the Virgin Islands, Rosalie Ballantine and a fellow by the name of Rudy Foy, who held a leadership position with MEBA refused to honor the arbitrator’s decision and did not pay the amounts so ruled. To this day, I have not been paid the amounts mandated by the arbitrator. In retrospect, this was probably most due to simple corruption of the then public officials. I am sure if this matter were to go before an impartial court today, the Government of the US Virgin Islands would owe me in excess of $100,000.00. Adding insult to injury was the recent publishing of my name in the newspapers with regards to monies owed the government for some stated loan of which I have no knowledge.

As a previous public servant of the Virgin Island Government, including my stated tenure as Director of Payroll, as a Member of the Senate and as Assistant Commissioner of Finance, I am well aware of the challenges and opportunities that exist for incompetent and at times corrupt public servants to remain in appointed positions or elected office where services to the tax paying citizens are considered a privilege to be doled out at will, rather than a duty to serve. This is particularly evident when the incompetence and corruption trickles down from the top, as I have noted above.

The Government of the Virgin Islands must strive to eliminate all existing forms of incompetence and corruption within its rank. Tax paying citizens of the Virgin Islands, either those residing in the Territory or abroad should NOT be subjected to such blatant abuses by public servants. As such, policy and procedural changes must be implemented to provide tax payers with more accountability and assurances that their tax dollars are appropriately applied and utilized. As such, there are simple checks and balances, including ones I tried to implement during my service to the people and the Government of the Virgin Islands, that if actionably applied would quell the opportunities and incentives for continuing the existing incompetence and corruption. Perhaps, this should begin with transitioning the Attorney General’s position from an appointed to an elected position.

It is my hope that with the publishing of this letter by your News Organization, fellow Virgin Islanders who share similar experiences and hope for the Islands are alerted and empowered to come forward, to call on, and to cause public officials to improve local government operations and services. To this end, the tax payers of the Virgin Islands should demand and place into office through their votes in future elections, qualified, competent and morally decent individuals whom they are assured would properly manage and develop the social fabric and economics of this American Paradise, the U.S. Virgin Islands.

By

Winfield G. James
Atlanta, Georgia

Of note, supportive documentation will be emailed to the VISOURCE.

Why is the same company, P&P Communications, hired to perform the VI Elections every two years? It is supposed to be an open bid process yet this company has been contracted to do the elections since 2004?