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HomeNewsArchivesNO RULES OPPOSITION TO JACKSON FOR TOURISM

NO RULES OPPOSITION TO JACKSON FOR TOURISM

Molly Morris
The territory is now just two steps short of having a permanent Tourism commissioner for the first time since the current administration took office almost 17 months ago.
The Senate Rules Committee's approval Tuesday of the nomination of Rafael "Rafie" Jackson, a St. Croix native, to the top Tourism position was unanimous. But even so, the meeting had its moments of lively comment and invective from committee chair Violet Anne Golden.
After endorsements by hospitality industry representatives and all the lawmakers present, Golden told Jackson he was being "thrown into a department riddled with politics for some years, and this year is no exception."
Stating that she knew Jackson and respected him as "a professional, and not a politician," she said she wanted him to know what he was getting into "We have political problems in this place that could deter you from doing your job," she said, adding, "I hope the governor and the lieutenant governor are listening."
Golden then asked Jackson if he was aware that members of both the governor's and the lieutenant governor's families occupy high-level positions in mainland Tourism Department offices. Jackson said he had met with the staffs of the mainland offices and that, while some employees have no tourism background, they are "trainable." He said that is why he wants one general manager based in the U.S. Northeast to supervise all of the satellite Tourism offices.
Golden said one employee in New York makes $101,412 a year, and that in Washington, D.C., the Tourism office rent is $78,000 a year for 2,000 square feet of space. "I find this unacceptable — it's outrageous!" she said.
Golden then quoted from the recently completed Five-Year Recovery Task Force report. She said that CORE International, a group that has "turned 70 countries around" economically, could find no indications that any mainland Tourism staff had established any sales targets by which to gauge their success. According to the report, CORE saw no justification for the expense of the mainland offices. Golden said the report recommended replacing the offices with Internet communications and promotion of the toll-free 800 number for tourism information.
Citing figures, Golden said that the small island of St. Vincent, with 97,000 visitors per year, spends $32 per visitor, whereas the Virgin Islands, 2.1 million visitors a year, spends $5 per visitor. She asked, "What does this say?"
Jackson, who made a long and extensive presentation of his aims at the beginning of the meeting, responded to Golden's remarks by saying that he was "well aware of political problems" when he accepted the position. He said, "I made it clear that I am a hands-on professional, and if I can't get the job done, my bag is packed." He said if the government wants someone who is "politically correct to run Tourism," that he is "not the person."
Jackson asked the committee to consider recommending an audit of the Tourism Revolving Fund.
Sen. Lorraine Berry brought up the issue of the Tourism commissioner by law serving also as chair of both the Industrial Development Commission and the Port Authority board. This places undue demands on the time of the commissioner, she said.
Jackson said it was his view that when the Economic Development and Agriculture Department was recast as the Tourism Department, "no thought was given to placing those duties on the Tourism commissioner." He said he would do his best to accommodate the other duties, but his primary focus would have to be tourism. He suggested legislation be drafted changing the law linking the three jobs.
The nomination was approved by Sens. Bennerson, Golden, Gomez and Liburd. Sens. Adelbert Bryan and Vargrave Richards, although present earlier in the day, were absent for the vote, and Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg had been excused from the meeting.
The nomination now goes to the full Senate. If approved, it will then be sent to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull for his signature.

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Molly Morris
The territory is now just two steps short of having a permanent Tourism commissioner for the first time since the current administration took office almost 17 months ago.
The Senate Rules Committee's approval Tuesday of the nomination of Rafael "Rafie" Jackson, a St. Croix native, to the top Tourism position was unanimous. But even so, the meeting had its moments of lively comment and invective from committee chair Violet Anne Golden.
After endorsements by hospitality industry representatives and all the lawmakers present, Golden told Jackson he was being "thrown into a department riddled with politics for some years, and this year is no exception."
Stating that she knew Jackson and respected him as "a professional, and not a politician," she said she wanted him to know what he was getting into "We have political problems in this place that could deter you from doing your job," she said, adding, "I hope the governor and the lieutenant governor are listening."
Golden then asked Jackson if he was aware that members of both the governor's and the lieutenant governor's families occupy high-level positions in mainland Tourism Department offices. Jackson said he had met with the staffs of the mainland offices and that, while some employees have no tourism background, they are "trainable." He said that is why he wants one general manager based in the U.S. Northeast to supervise all of the satellite Tourism offices.
Golden said one employee in New York makes $101,412 a year, and that in Washington, D.C., the Tourism office rent is $78,000 a year for 2,000 square feet of space. "I find this unacceptable -- it's outrageous!" she said.
Golden then quoted from the recently completed Five-Year Recovery Task Force report. She said that CORE International, a group that has "turned 70 countries around" economically, could find no indications that any mainland Tourism staff had established any sales targets by which to gauge their success. According to the report, CORE saw no justification for the expense of the mainland offices. Golden said the report recommended replacing the offices with Internet communications and promotion of the toll-free 800 number for tourism information.
Citing figures, Golden said that the small island of St. Vincent, with 97,000 visitors per year, spends $32 per visitor, whereas the Virgin Islands, 2.1 million visitors a year, spends $5 per visitor. She asked, "What does this say?"
Jackson, who made a long and extensive presentation of his aims at the beginning of the meeting, responded to Golden's remarks by saying that he was "well aware of political problems" when he accepted the position. He said, "I made it clear that I am a hands-on professional, and if I can't get the job done, my bag is packed." He said if the government wants someone who is "politically correct to run Tourism," that he is "not the person."
Jackson asked the committee to consider recommending an audit of the Tourism Revolving Fund.
Sen. Lorraine Berry brought up the issue of the Tourism commissioner by law serving also as chair of both the Industrial Development Commission and the Port Authority board. This places undue demands on the time of the commissioner, she said.
Jackson said it was his view that when the Economic Development and Agriculture Department was recast as the Tourism Department, "no thought was given to placing those duties on the Tourism commissioner." He said he would do his best to accommodate the other duties, but his primary focus would have to be tourism. He suggested legislation be drafted changing the law linking the three jobs.
The nomination was approved by Sens. Bennerson, Golden, Gomez and Liburd. Sens. Adelbert Bryan and Vargrave Richards, although present earlier in the day, were absent for the vote, and Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg had been excused from the meeting.
The nomination now goes to the full Senate. If approved, it will then be sent to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull for his signature.