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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 12, 2024


Gov. Charles W. Turnbull and Senate President Vargrave A. Richards can influence the direction of two often-criticized boards — the Public Services Commission and the Industrial Development Commission — if and when they appoint new members to fill vacancies and expired terms.
The IDC could be changed almost overnight.
The IDC's seven-member board, which determines tax breaks for qualifying companies, has one vacancy, and two members' terms — those of Elizabeth Rios of St. Croix and John P. Woods of St. Thomas — have expired.
Additionally, two government members who serve by virtue of their offices — the Tourism commissioner and Internal Revenue Bureau director — have changed already because of Turnbull's acting appointments to those posts. That leaves only two of the seven IDC members — Marcia Hollins and Eling S. Joseph, both of St. Croix — whose terms haven't expired.
The IDC has been the target of sharp criticism in recent years for giving tax breaks to such companies as the V.I. Telephone Corp. and Frenchman's Reef Hotel.
Unlike the IDC, the PSC will continue to be dominated by Gov. Roy L. Schneider's appointees.
The PSC consists of seven voting members plus two senators who serve ex-officio, without votes. The PSC regulates public utilities, including the V.I. Telephone Corp., the Water and Power Authority and ferry rates.
The two senators who served on the PSC in the 22nd Legislature — Holland Redfield II of St. Croix and Stephen "Smokey" Frett of St. Thomas-St. John — are not in the 23rd Legislature and thus must be replaced.
Additionally, attorney Desmond Maynard's term expired in July and one seat remains vacant. Turnbull has the power to make appointments for those two seats.
Thus, four new members could be named almost immediately to the PSC board. While that would not constitute a majority, one of the remaining five — educator Luther Felix Renee of St. Croix — voted last year for the rejected investigation into telephone rates and might do so again if that controversial matter comes up, as it may.
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, the most vocal and persistent critic of the PSC, called this week for the Senate to hold a Committee of the Whole meeting on the PSC and its rejection in October of the telephone-rate investigation. That meeting was supposed to have been held in the fall but was postponed because of the election.
Neither Turnbull nor Richards has given any indication when they will make appointments to the PSC or, in Turnbull's case, to any boards or commissions.
Editor's note: For a complete list of the PSC and IDC board members, see "Boards and Commissions" on the Data page in the Community section.

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