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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, November 30, 2021


In a morning filled with oratory and dispute, the Senate Wednesday approved the nominations of Judge Maria Cabret, Judge Ive A. Swan and attorney Rhys S. Hodge to the Territorial Court.
Cabret's nomination received warm and enthusiastic approval from all the senators. Cabret is the first woman to be the presiding judge of the Territorial Court.
The dispute came over the nomination of Hodge on the issue of appointing to the bench a person who is not a native Virgin Islander. Hodge was born in Anguilla, and Sen. Adelbert "Bert" Bryan declined to vote for him for that reason.
When he voted for Swan, Bryan said that he would vote for him even though he allowed cameras in the courtroom, but that "this is the last time I will vote for a territorial judge until Gov. Turnbull sends down the nomination of Andrews." (The reference was to Judge Alphonso Andrews of St. Croix, who will be up for renomination this year along with Judge Soraya Diase.)
Of his subsequent refusal to vote for Hodge, Bryan said: "I have a conviction; this is my home. I believe in entitlement (of native Virgin Islanders), . . . and I know there are better qualified native Virgin Islanders for the job."
Bryan's remarks were preceded by lengthy speeches by several senators who are not native Virgin Islanders, and a couple who are. The consensus was that Hodge was the right man to fill the judicial seat. He was approved by a vote of 14 to 1.
Approved for the Historic Preservation Commission, St. Thomas-St. John, were Chaneel Callwood-Daniels, Mabel J. Maduro and Karen Samuels. All the commission members were approved en bloc.
For the St. Croix commission, Carmen Gonzalez and Norma D. Glenn were approved.
After much discussion, Carver Farrow was approved for the board of the Government Employees' Retirement System. Again, the remarks by the senators were addressed to perceived problems in GERS, and not on the qualifications of Farrow.
Fitzgerald H. Rowe was appointed to the V.I. Housing Authority Board, and Clemmie C. Moses was approved for the Health Insurance Board.
Special interests of the senators took up much of their allotted time. In some cases, the nominations received merely nodding approval before those interests were addressed. Among these, Sen. Adlah "Fonsie" Donastorg mentioned more than once that he and Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen have a proposal on tap to make the attorney general an elected position.
Donastorg also addressed several times the issue of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel's development, and accused The Daily News of writing an uninformed editorial on the matter. A Public Service Commission investigation into the V.I. Telephone Corp.'s rates, a long-standing battle of Donastorg's, was also brought up, to no avail.
Bryan addressed the Lagoon Project in Fredericksted, bemoaning the odor and the deteriorating condition of the school there. He asked Senate President Vargrave Richards to intercede with the administration for him in this matter, saying he was thought of as "just another troublemaker." Richards replied that he had already looked into the matter.
Shortly after 6 p.m., Richards adjourned the long session, which was attended by all senators, until 9:30 a.m. Thursday, when a number of bills still on the agenda will be addressed.

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