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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, August 18, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesUNION WORKERS ON PROSSER DEAL: ‘IT'S A BIG SELLOUT'

UNION WORKERS ON PROSSER DEAL: ‘IT'S A BIG SELLOUT'

Shock, anger and fear seem to be the general response to word that the 23rd Legislature had passed the land-for-tax-breaks "Prosser bill." The bill passed at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday by an 8-to-7 vote, after 14 hours of testimony and sometimes rancorous debate.
Luis "Tito" Morales, president of the Central Labor Council, said the overwhelming response of labor is anger.
"It's a travesty for this territory," Morales told St. Thomas Source. "The Legislature clearly has no respect for the law or the people they serve."
"Under the Organic Act," said Morales, "they don't have the authority to do what they did. Only the governor can negotiate on behalf of the government."
Morales said the response had been the same on all three islands, St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John. "They say it's a big sellout. They say they (the legislators) have sold the territory to Prosser."
Sen. Lorraine Berry echoed Morales' statement, saying the governor was the only person authorized to speak on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands. (The full text of Berry's comments can be found under the Local Government section of St. Thomas Source.)
Sen. Roosevelt David commented to Radio One, "The community is in shock. This is like a millstone around the necks of the people of the Virgin Islands."
Noel Loftus, president of the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce, would not comment on the bill, which exchanges 1,000 acres of land on St. Croix, $4.5 million to develop the land and $9.95 million for several public projects, for full tax breaks for 30 years for businessman Jeffrey Prosser's Innovation Communications Corp.
Prosser also proposes to build a 300-room hotel, though there is no penalty in the bill should he fail to to build it, nor would he forfeit anything in tax breaks.
Loftus said he could not comment on behalf of the chamber until his board meets and adopts an official position.
"I will say as an individual that the people need to know what is really in the bill," he added. "After reading the actual bill I think I know what the people will say."
Several people on St. Croix who were called for comment refused to discuss the matter. One person, who also asked not to be named, commented that "they're afraid. If they say anything, they become targets of Prosser's people."
Asked what that meant, the person said, "They have work they do, some of them have contracts with Prosser's companies. They're afraid if they speak publicly they won't have work."
One Cruzan who would talk, ecologist Olasee Davis, said, "I think they didn't have enough time to study the bill. A lot of people in St. Croix seem to have a mixed reaction. They are particularly concerned about the companies he owns. But I tell them ‘you can't blame Prosser — we let him own them.'" Davis said
"They're always rushing these things through and then they're sorry. Some people are saying they (the senators) are getting their hands greased," he added.
As of publication neither Prosser nor Ed Crouch, spokesperson for Prosser, could be reached for comment.

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Shock, anger and fear seem to be the general response to word that the 23rd Legislature had passed the land-for-tax-breaks "Prosser bill." The bill passed at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday by an 8-to-7 vote, after 14 hours of testimony and sometimes rancorous debate.
Luis "Tito" Morales, president of the Central Labor Council, said the overwhelming response of labor is anger.
"It's a travesty for this territory," Morales told St. Thomas Source. "The Legislature clearly has no respect for the law or the people they serve."
"Under the Organic Act," said Morales, "they don't have the authority to do what they did. Only the governor can negotiate on behalf of the government."
Morales said the response had been the same on all three islands, St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John. "They say it's a big sellout. They say they (the legislators) have sold the territory to Prosser."
Sen. Lorraine Berry echoed Morales' statement, saying the governor was the only person authorized to speak on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands. (The full text of Berry's comments can be found under the Local Government section of St. Thomas Source.)
Sen. Roosevelt David commented to Radio One, "The community is in shock. This is like a millstone around the necks of the people of the Virgin Islands."
Noel Loftus, president of the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce, would not comment on the bill, which exchanges 1,000 acres of land on St. Croix, $4.5 million to develop the land and $9.95 million for several public projects, for full tax breaks for 30 years for businessman Jeffrey Prosser's Innovation Communications Corp.
Prosser also proposes to build a 300-room hotel, though there is no penalty in the bill should he fail to to build it, nor would he forfeit anything in tax breaks.
Loftus said he could not comment on behalf of the chamber until his board meets and adopts an official position.
"I will say as an individual that the people need to know what is really in the bill," he added. "After reading the actual bill I think I know what the people will say."
Several people on St. Croix who were called for comment refused to discuss the matter. One person, who also asked not to be named, commented that "they're afraid. If they say anything, they become targets of Prosser's people."
Asked what that meant, the person said, "They have work they do, some of them have contracts with Prosser's companies. They're afraid if they speak publicly they won't have work."
One Cruzan who would talk, ecologist Olasee Davis, said, "I think they didn't have enough time to study the bill. A lot of people in St. Croix seem to have a mixed reaction. They are particularly concerned about the companies he owns. But I tell them ‘you can't blame Prosser — we let him own them.'" Davis said
"They're always rushing these things through and then they're sorry. Some people are saying they (the senators) are getting their hands greased," he added.
As of publication neither Prosser nor Ed Crouch, spokesperson for Prosser, could be reached for comment.