79.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 17, 2024


Dear Source:
Reflections after Election 2000: I promised myself, win or lose, that I would resume my contributions to our Virgin Islands community after taking some time off for myself, family and friends. Days after the election, I found myself immersed in PTA work for my children's school and dealing with my business.
I do not view my loss as a personal loss; rather, as a loss for the hard-working-class people of St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island. I am disappointed at the outcome of the 2000 election. Apparently enough is not enough. A longtime resident put it to me this way: "Virgin Islanders love to endure pain."
I am not disappointed at losing; I gave it my best shot, addressed the issues and proposed solutions. To do any less would be to misrepresent my intentions. I did not take part in personal attacks. I hold in high regard several incumbents from both districts, Republicans and Democrats, who work hard to make the Virgin Islands a better place. Yet, a good majority of voters continues to believe that sweeping everything under the rug will solve the problems.
The new makeup of the 24th Legislature may put us one step forward to federal intervention. I foresee finger pointing and a lot of "I" and "me," and forget about "us." What has disturbed me the most are several telephone calls after the election from young couples with children, who said "We give up." When young Virgin Islanders give up and move off island in search of opportunity and stability, that is a sad message we send. We will continue to be a community in crisis; for anyone to think otherwise is to be blind to what is there to see.
To the members of the 24th Legislature, all I can say is, Prove me wrong! Address education, the economy and election reform! The challenges before these lawmakers are tremendous. I hope they are willing to tackle the problems and not raise smoke screens in hopes of avoiding hard decisions.
The crisis at the Joseph Gomez Elementary School polling place on election day was disheartening, to say the least. While many accepted the excuses given by the supervisor and Board of Elections, I do not accept any of them. Failure to implement changes in a timely manner before the election in the largest voting precinct shows bad judgment. A properly functioning board would ask for the resignation of the supervisor of elections but, let's face it, that will never happen. How could anyone expect to reduce the number of voting machines, staff and rooms available at the school and expect to accommodate the same or a larger voting public in a more efficient manner? The move defies logic. If I had to give the supervisor a grade, it would be an F.
So what happens next? The people must decide. Our teachers, police, firefighters and others in government service are unhappy. Do we leave dealing with all this up to the legislature, or do we the people continue to be vocal and demand that the members of the 24th Legislature address the issues? Just how we the voters in these islands choose to exercise our strength is ultimately left to no one but ourselves, and there is no easy escape route.
We as a community face many challenges. Already the administration is revising the fiscal year 2001 budget to reflect a $15 million decrease in projected revenues. I believe that actual revenues, come February 2001, will be a bigger shock. Passengers off the cruise ships are not spending. While we will receive record numbers of cruise visitors, I project government revenues will be down at least 30 percent. We are talking about a shortfall of millions of dollars that this community is not ready to face.
This government continues to lose opportunities to maximize the collection of revenues from existing sources. I don't blame the governor; he faces new challenges each day, and I believe he is trying to do his best. But the challenges before this community are daunting for any one person to deal with. He needs to surround himself with a few business people. The keys to our community's survival are the Five-Year Plan and a Tourism Department promotion policy that focuses on the overnight, "upper-income" American visitor.
Diversity of opinion should be respected and valued in our community. The "housing majority" that rules does not represent this diverse community. We are in for a roller coaster of a ride in the next few years.
Vinnie Mohanani
St. Thomas

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.