DONASTORG SAYS 3 OTHERS BACK PSC HEARING

Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg is still pushing for a legislative hearing on the Public Services Commission and said Wednesday that three colleagues are supporting his request.
Donastorg also criticized his majority colleagues for turning the PSC investigation over to the territory's inspector general, calling it "passing the buck."
Donastorg said Sens. Judy M. Gomez and Norman Jn. Baptiste have pledged to sign his petition calling for a Committee of the Whole meeting and that Sen. Adelbert Bryan has already signed on.
"The public feels strongly about this issue," Donastorg said. "I welcome support from any of my colleagues. We can still right this wrong."
Donastorg said that handing the matter to Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt will only prolong the PSC controversy.
"I welcome any assistance that the inspector general can offer, but his office cannot resolve this issue," Donastorg said. "To simply pass on this matter to the IG is to abdicate our duties as senators. It is our
responsibility to get to the bottom of this — the Legislature created the PSC."
Van Beverhoudt said Tuesday that he does not know if his understaffed audit can handle an audit of this type.
Donastorg's petition calls on Senate President Vargrave A. Richards to make good on the 22nd Legislature's vote in October to hold a hearing on the PSC's decision not to investigate the V.I. Telephone Corp.'s rates. Former Senate President Lorraine L. Berry said she was unable to hold the hearing during her tenure because key people couldn't attend.
Donastorg on Wednesday pointed out that an independent utility auditor, Georgetown Consulting, had already reviewed Vitelco's finances for the PSC, and Georgetown's findings, rejected by the PSC, "are at the heart of" the ongoing controversy.
"I really cannot see what some of my colleagues are afraid of," Donastorg said. "I simply want Georgetown to testify before this body regarding the Vitelco study. The public and senators will have a chance to hear first-hand what the concerns are — none of them have been to the meetings and few of them have read the studies. If they had, I can assure you that most of my
colleagues would be strongly in favor of a Senate investigation."
Georgetown reported last year that Vitelco customers may have been overcharged by as much as $50 million and questioned several of the company's financial actions.
Vitelco officials have strongly rejected Georgetown's findings, saying the figures and conclusions were wrong.
"I would like the PSC to explain to the Legislature and to the people why they chose
to drop this matter without further investigation," Donastorg said. "This can't happen in an audit conducted behind closed doors."
Donastorg said numerous businesses and individuals have significant concerns about the PSC's practices and they should be allowed to state them for the record.
"We are really not talking about one isolated incident, but rather about a systematic effort by the PSC to prevent fair competition and discriminate against consumers and small business," he said.

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