This Week’s Senate Calendar

Here’s what’s on tap at the V.I. Legislature this week.

Audio Galleries

Half a dozen young people, local artists and music producers have created a peace song for Carnival 2014. To read more about the song, click here.

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Source Picks

Third Annual Reef Renaissance Film Festival Seeking Entries

The Third Annual Reef Renaissance Film Festival is set for Saturday, June 6, at Coral World Ocean Park, St. Thomas. It will include screenings of works contributed by internationally acclaimed filmmakers, and it will be a juried competition. Professional, emerging and student filmmakers are encouraged to enter for a chance to win awards and acclaim.

2015-04-19 21:34:24
Dancing Classrooms Helps Antilles School Celebrate Family Friday Campaign

Antilles School celebrated the Week of the Young Child and the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s “Family Friday Campaign.” The spotlight was on the Dancing Classrooms program that teaches fifth and eighth graders the basics of everything from waltz to swing, while integrating life skills, such as lessons in teamwork and etiquette.

2015-04-18 04:29:39
Source Manager’s Journal: Searching for Excellence

If someone wants to find a model for building an excellent organization and a true team – of any kind – take a look at the 2014-15 U Conn women’s basketball team. You won’t go wrong.

2015-04-16 21:57:16
Local news — St. Thomas
Prosser Bankruptcy Resolution May be Near

Sept. 5, 2007 -- With a precedent-breaking two full days of hearings scheduled for Thursday and Friday in a federal court in Pittsburgh, the bankruptcy case of Jeffrey Prosser -- owner of Vitelco, also known as Innovative Telephone -- may be approaching a climax.
Judge Judith Fitzgerald, who has never scheduled more than a single day for the case, has accepted an agenda in which most of the major issues of the long, drawn-out proceedings will be debated.
Among the matters to be argued: Should the judge's earlier decision denying Prosser a multimillion dollar discount on the amount owed be reversed? Should the substantial amount of financial information now secret be released to the public, as the creditors want? Should the case be converted from debtor-friendly Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy law to less-friendly Chapter 7, as the creditors want? And what should be done to pay -- or not pay -- the various lawyers, accountants and court-appointed intermediaries?
It will be a full two days.
Meanwhile, Steven L. Lilly, chief financial officer of the Rural Telephone Finance Cooperative, has been on St. Thomas meeting with the RTFC's newly hired local consultant, former Sen. Roosevelt David, and others. RTFC is committed to seeing an orderly transition should the court force an ownership change in Vitelco, Lilly said in an interview this week.

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The Prosser-owned V.I. Daily News attempted to discredit RTFC's sister companies in a recent news article, claiming “the cooperative has acknowledged extensive errors in its financial statements during the past three years.” Lilly countered by telling the Source, "We have a stellar record." The non-profit organization has made loans to rural utilities for 40 years and has charged off only $160 million, or $4 million a year, which he characterized as "nothing" in the world of high finance. RTFC's parent organization, the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, has a portfolio of more than $17 billion in outstanding loans.
RTFC currently has only one borrower that is a "non-performer": Prosser's firms, which owe about half a billion dollars and which "have not paid us a dime since June 2005," Lilly said.
In the event of a court ruling, the court-appointed trustee -- West Coast businessman Stan Springel -- would be charged with managing the local phone company while he searches for a buyer for Prosser's assets, Lilly explained. If Springel does not find a buyer or buyers, RTFC could conceivably take over management of Vitelco until alternative financing is found.
The “extensive errors” cited in the recent Daily News article relate to the fact that RTFC and CFC borrow money from time to time both in the U.S. and overseas. When it borrows Euros, for instance, it engages in hedge maneuvers to control for currency fluctuations -- as do all big banks.
The complexities of the accounting of such matters are such that they would strain the brain of a Harvard economist, but Lilly said that while the wrong currency adjustment accounting system had been used in the past, it had no impact on the organization's cash situation.
As to the dimensions of the problem, Lilly pointed out that in the context of a $17 billion portfolio, the various over-statements and under-statements -- in the $13 to $15 million range -- were not significant.
Further, the difference in the transparency between RTFC and Prosser's operations is notable. If you want to know about the RTFC-CFC finances, you can read a 100-page-plus 10K report on the Internet filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. If you want to read about the secretive finances of Prosser and his firms, you either need to be Fitzgerald or a member of the V.I. Public Service Commission -- at least for the time being.
Whatever happens next, RTFC is well positioned to manage Vitelco if necessary, but contrary to what Prosser has claimed, Lilly said, "We have no interest in owning a phone company.”
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