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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, May 21, 2024


Politics is slowing the process of filling seats on the Public Services Commission.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull sent the names of four new PSC nominees to the Legislature in February, but hearings have yet to take place, and two of the candidates have since declined the nominations so as to run for the Senate in November instead.
St. Croix accountant Valencio Jackson said he learned of his nomination after he had already decided to try for a Senate seat. "I checked with my legal counsel, and we decided it would be a conflict of interest," he said, so he decided to decline the PSC nomination.
Another St. Croix nominee, Evelyn Messer-James, withdrew her nomination this week, according to PSC executive director Keithly Joseph. She was to have appeared before the Rules Committee on Thursday.
The other two nominees are Lorna Thomas, of Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner and Smith; and Shawn Malone, a member of Delegate Donna Christian-Christensen's staff on St. Thomas.
Thomas is available and willing to serve. "Everything seems to be going very well," she said Friday. "In fact I’m being interviewed today." She said her reference was to a telephone pre-interview before the formal Senate hearing process.
Malone didn’t return calls to the delegate’s office.
Sen. Violet Anne Golden, who chairs the Rules Committee, said of Malone, "You know he works for the delegate, a federal job. So that might mean a conflict of interest. I wouldn’t be surprised if he backs out, too."
The governor also re-nominated incumbent Desmond Maynard for a second term.
"Everybody is blaming me for the nominations delay," Golden said, "but I can’t help it if they decline." She confirmed that Thomas was interviewed on Friday and said she hopes to fit that nomination onto a committee agenda soon.
The PSC has nine members, two of them non-voting legislators appointed by the Senate president. This term, they are Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole and Gregory Bennerson.
The current voting members are PSC chair Walter Challenger, Dora S. Hill and Maynard from St. Thomas; Patrick Williams and Luther Felix Renee from St. Croix; and Alecia M. Wells from St. John. There is one vacant St. Croix seat. Maynard’s term expired in 1998, those of Challenger and Hill expired in 1999, and that of Williams expired last March. By law those whose terms have expired continue to serve until successors are seated. Thus there are at present five seats to be filled and, with the withdrawal of Jackson and Messer-James, three current nominees.
Rena McBrowne, the governor’s press secretary, said Friday that Turnbull had just learned of the Jackson and Messer-James declining the nominations and that he hopes to submit the names of two more candidates "shortly."
Commission members are paid $50 per board meeting. "That's $38 after taxes," Joseph said.

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