In my brief tenure as acting commissioner of Tourism, I was told at different times by labor leader Luis "Tito" Morales, chief financial advisor Rudy Krigger and Gov. Charles W. Turnbull himself that, regarding the proposed $300 million bond deal, I did not "get it."
According to them, the bond offering was a bridge. Morales and Krigger said it was a bridge until the federal government came up with a $1 billion grant to the Virgin Islands. Turnbull did not tell me what the bridge was for.
I tried to explain that borrowing was part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Now that the bond proceeds have been spent or allocated and no structural changes to the V.I. government have been implemented, the question remains: Where is the bridge going?
I still have not been able to evaluate which is worse: having the nerve to beg for a $1 billion grant from the same entity the same people accuse of being colonialist, or the prospect of the federal government actually giving us more money to perpetuate the absurdity.
Nor have I gotten over the fact that the governors chief financial advisor would lend credence to such a strategy to bail us out.
Time continues to fly, the Virgin Islands' financial crisis gets worse daily, the debt grows higher and the answers are sitting right on top of the table. Yet, no one in the executive or legislative branch champions real solutions.
But the off-island financial consultants, bankers, brokers and lawyers are smiling all the way to the bank, as more studies are done and more fees are paid to dig the hole deeper – to say nothing of the fees that will be required to fill in the grave.
Given the V.I. governments ability to cook the books, it would not surprise me if indeed Morales convinced a lame-duck President Clinton to provide the Virgin Islands with such a grant. What is absurd is the contention that the grant would be part of the solution and not part of the problem – just like the $300 million bond issue, a bridge to nowhere.
Editor's note: Michael Bornn, an investment counselor, served for several months as acting tourism commissioner.]