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HomeNewsArchivesGOVERNOR VOWS 'FULL PUBLIC AIRING' OF WAPA DEAL

GOVERNOR VOWS 'FULL PUBLIC AIRING' OF WAPA DEAL

Gov. Charles W. Turnbull said Tuesday he is committed to "a full public airing" of all details of the proposed Southern Energy-Water and Power Authority partnership before he sends his proposal to the Legislature for approval.
Speaking at his morning press conference in Government House on St. Thomas, the governor said he was reviewing the proposal submitted by his negotiating team.
The administration has come under strong criticism from some quarters for negotiating with Southern Energy behind closed doors.
Turnbull also left no question as to his opinion on the Ritz-Carlton's proposed expansion. "We cannot continue to chase away investors," he said. "There are some in the Legislature and elsewhere who oppose this development. It boggles the mind."
Saying the hotel is rated No. 1 in the Americas, he said opposition to the expansion "has to stop -– we are killing the goose that lays the golden egg."
Among other topics the governor touched on:
– The territory's request for forgiveness of the Hurricane Hugo loan from the Federal Emergency Management Agency loan. Turnbull said he met with FEMA director James Lee Witt in Washington recently and requested cancellation of the loan.
He said the proposed White House budget for Fiscal Year 2001 would suspend payments on the FEMA loan through Sept. 30, 2001. The governor said he asked that the Federal Credit Reform Act be used as a basis for canceling the remainder of the loan.
– The confiscation of cigarettes marked "for export only" from U.S. tourists leaving the Virgin Islands. Halting cigarette sales represents a loss of millions of dollars to the territory. Turnbull said he had written to the heads of U.S. Customs and the U.S. Treasury asking that Customs agents halt the confiscations, and that he is awaiting a response.
Meantime, he said, Delegate Donna Christian-Christensen and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) will introduce a technical amendment to exempt the sale of duty-free cigarettes for personal use.
– Criticism of Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull in the Senate on Monday, when she stated that she had tapped into other funds to get money to pay $400,000 in workers' compensation claims. The governor said the money transfers were "humanitarian" and not illegal. He said he would discuss the matter in his meeting with the Senate on Thursday.
– Education as a top priority. At the National Governors Conference he recently attended, Turnbull said, it was agreed that in every state and territory education of children is the top priority, and that federal funding is needed.
"Although the territory's fiscal crisis is very severe, special attention must be given to education," he said. He said he will announce "special initiatives geared to improving our educational system in the weeks ahead."
In other matters, the governor said he had:
– met with Interior Department officials to include in the president's budget a $9.2 million grant for the Environmental Protection Agency to address the critical needs of the territory's sewage system.
– directed under the state of emergency he declared for the Public Works Department that any department whose participation is required in the procurement process give Public Works what it needs to repair the territory's sewage system.
– requested $2.7 million in federal grants for technological programs for the Police Department, and a $700,000 grant from Housing and Urban Development for economic development initiatives.
– sent proposals for construction of the Mangrove Lagoon sewage treatment plant, estimated to cost $26 million and 25 years in the planning.
– sent proposals for facilities at the Bovoni and Anguilla Landfills, estimated to cost $70 million each.
The governor said he met with President Clinton in Washington and that the president is "very much interested in helping the V.I. during his last days in office" in keeping with his desire to leave a legacy of support for minorities. He announced that a congressional delegation will visit the territory on Friday to meet with legislators and business leaders on status and consitutional issues.

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Gov. Charles W. Turnbull said Tuesday he is committed to "a full public airing" of all details of the proposed Southern Energy-Water and Power Authority partnership before he sends his proposal to the Legislature for approval.
Speaking at his morning press conference in Government House on St. Thomas, the governor said he was reviewing the proposal submitted by his negotiating team.
The administration has come under strong criticism from some quarters for negotiating with Southern Energy behind closed doors.
Turnbull also left no question as to his opinion on the Ritz-Carlton's proposed expansion. "We cannot continue to chase away investors," he said. "There are some in the Legislature and elsewhere who oppose this development. It boggles the mind."
Saying the hotel is rated No. 1 in the Americas, he said opposition to the expansion "has to stop -– we are killing the goose that lays the golden egg."
Among other topics the governor touched on:
- The territory's request for forgiveness of the Hurricane Hugo loan from the Federal Emergency Management Agency loan. Turnbull said he met with FEMA director James Lee Witt in Washington recently and requested cancellation of the loan.
He said the proposed White House budget for Fiscal Year 2001 would suspend payments on the FEMA loan through Sept. 30, 2001. The governor said he asked that the Federal Credit Reform Act be used as a basis for canceling the remainder of the loan.
- The confiscation of cigarettes marked "for export only" from U.S. tourists leaving the Virgin Islands. Halting cigarette sales represents a loss of millions of dollars to the territory. Turnbull said he had written to the heads of U.S. Customs and the U.S. Treasury asking that Customs agents halt the confiscations, and that he is awaiting a response.
Meantime, he said, Delegate Donna Christian-Christensen and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) will introduce a technical amendment to exempt the sale of duty-free cigarettes for personal use.
- Criticism of Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull in the Senate on Monday, when she stated that she had tapped into other funds to get money to pay $400,000 in workers' compensation claims. The governor said the money transfers were "humanitarian" and not illegal. He said he would discuss the matter in his meeting with the Senate on Thursday.
- Education as a top priority. At the National Governors Conference he recently attended, Turnbull said, it was agreed that in every state and territory education of children is the top priority, and that federal funding is needed.
"Although the territory's fiscal crisis is very severe, special attention must be given to education," he said. He said he will announce "special initiatives geared to improving our educational system in the weeks ahead."
In other matters, the governor said he had:
- met with Interior Department officials to include in the president's budget a $9.2 million grant for the Environmental Protection Agency to address the critical needs of the territory's sewage system.
- directed under the state of emergency he declared for the Public Works Department that any department whose participation is required in the procurement process give Public Works what it needs to repair the territory's sewage system.
- requested $2.7 million in federal grants for technological programs for the Police Department, and a $700,000 grant from Housing and Urban Development for economic development initiatives.
- sent proposals for construction of the Mangrove Lagoon sewage treatment plant, estimated to cost $26 million and 25 years in the planning.
- sent proposals for facilities at the Bovoni and Anguilla Landfills, estimated to cost $70 million each.
The governor said he met with President Clinton in Washington and that the president is "very much interested in helping the V.I. during his last days in office" in keeping with his desire to leave a legacy of support for minorities. He announced that a congressional delegation will visit the territory on Friday to meet with legislators and business leaders on status and consitutional issues.