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DONE DEALS CAN BE UNDONE WITH VOTER POWER

Dear Source,
Recent rezonings of the Harthman and Botany Bay properties have added to the injustices that have been and continue to be heaped upon the people by those to whom we have entrusted our fate and life through our votes.
Let's look at the sequence of events. The first attempt to rezone the Harthman property took place when the Legislature snuck it in as an amendment without conducting a public hearing. The bill passed and was forwarded to the governor. A call to the governor not to sign the rezoning was made and heard; the governor responded by not signing that rezoning — although after, I guess, appropriate public input, he did sign it into law.
[Editor's note: On Nov. 26, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull approved a petition from the Harthman family approved earlier last month by the Senate. The measure rezones some 27 acres of property the family owns in Estate Charlotte Amalie behind Tutu Park Mall, from agricultural to commercial. The family also owns the land where the mall itself stands, property which they have leased to the developers.]
Now, here comes Botany Bay! The Nov. 23 public hearing, apparently intentionally scheduled the day after Thanksgiving in hopes that we would be too stuffed to participate, was well attended. The apparent concerns for preservation, accessibility, ecology, environment, etc. were raised by those not in favor of disturbing the pristine beauty that presently exists.
Here's how "they say" it happens. Developers/owners want a specific piece of property; if they have difficulty getting their foot in the door, "they" hire or make stockholders of persons influential with the governor and the Legislature. In this case, "they say," "they" just happen to be two of the governor's advisers. Once "they" have established their financial relationships, the governor's advisers then recruit enough senators until they have enough votes.
Then the governor is approached with the "deal" — or it could be in the reverse: "Governor, we've got some guys interested in Botany Bay; they need carte blanche and Economic Development Commission benefits to develop the area into an exclusive resort that will bring hundreds of jobs to St. Thomas and will boost the overall economy. In return they will call their friends in D.C. and have them forgive the Virgin Islands FEMA loan." "They say" one of the owners was/is influential in getting the Federal Emergency Management Agency loan forgiven.
Now, how can the governor turn that down? How do you think the governor can give out raises, step increases, etc.? Has he been off paid in advance? The governor does have the upper hand when he says, "If you guys want these benefits, you got to get me re-elected." So the developers/owners financially secure the re-election not only of the governor but hopefully of the senators who voted for the rezoning. Look at how much money will be spent on the campaigns of the "Famous 8."
The Botany Bay rezoning application followed the process: Two public hearings were held, one by the Planning and Natural Resources Department, the other by the Legislature. The rezoning application can legally be special ordered to the floor and passed, as was done in the last session.
This rezoning was well staged: First "they" — the developers/owners, the governor, the "Famous 8" and the governor's advisers — did not want Botany Bay to get the kind of attention that the Harthman rezoning got. "They" influenced DPNR to hold the first public hearing at a time people would be away for the holidays or too stuffed to participate, and that, with the percent who are too apathetic, would ensure a low turnout.
Attendance was excellent, considering "we rarely come out." Then "they" snuck in the second hearing, conducted by the Legislature, and again the people raised their concerns after DPNR staff presented their recommendations for a zoning variance.
Apparently, the developers/owners were pre-guaranteed the passage of the rezoning, regardless of DPNR's recommendations. Even though "they" sat up there and said "they" would work with the recommendations of DPNR for a zoning variance, "they," the developers/owners, knew this was all staged. Senators must have been paid off, the governor must have gotten the FEMA loan forgiven, and now the campaign contributions must be in the bag.
Most will say that it doesn't make a difference any more whether we speak up or not; "they" are going to do what "they" want, anyway. And that is exactly what "they" are counting on us to do — nothing!
Comment when Botany Bay is being discussed: When was the last time you were down there? If you've never been there, how do you know what you're missing? Remember Tutu Park Mall — the artifacts that were unearthed, to be placed in a museum in the mall? And the library that was to be a part of the reason Tutu Park Mall received Industrial Development Commission benefits?
The developers/owners also know that as long as the present governor and the "Famous 8" are in power, "they" are basically guaranteed all that "they" have asked for, and more!
You see, the developers/owners already know that even if "they" had to accept the recommended conditions of DPNR, who would enforce them? DPNR will suddenly become even more understaffed, with not enough resources, and "they" will say, "We felt it would be better to have them pay a fine than to delay the economic growth of the territory."
To go on record as having raised your voices of concern, call Gov. Charles W. Turnbull at 774-0001 and leave this message: Veto Botany Bay rezoning. Send it back to the Legislature for the senators to include the recommendations of DPNR.
Remember the rezoning of Zufriedenheit, a.k.a. Magens Bay ? "They say" all the senators who voted for that rezoning were not re-elected.
The calls and concerns raised by the people over the Harthman rezoning got the governor's attention not to sign the rezoning. Let us use that power once again with Botany Bay! Call the governor; call all the radio call-in programs encouraging people of the community to call the governor to veto Botany Bay rezoning. Do not be silent!
Stephanie Scott-Williams
Founder, Women For Positive Change
St. Thomas

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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Dear Source,
Recent rezonings of the Harthman and Botany Bay properties have added to the injustices that have been and continue to be heaped upon the people by those to whom we have entrusted our fate and life through our votes.
Let's look at the sequence of events. The first attempt to rezone the Harthman property took place when the Legislature snuck it in as an amendment without conducting a public hearing. The bill passed and was forwarded to the governor. A call to the governor not to sign the rezoning was made and heard; the governor responded by not signing that rezoning -- although after, I guess, appropriate public input, he did sign it into law.
[Editor's note: On Nov. 26, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull approved a petition from the Harthman family approved earlier last month by the Senate. The measure rezones some 27 acres of property the family owns in Estate Charlotte Amalie behind Tutu Park Mall, from agricultural to commercial. The family also owns the land where the mall itself stands, property which they have leased to the developers.]
Now, here comes Botany Bay! The Nov. 23 public hearing, apparently intentionally scheduled the day after Thanksgiving in hopes that we would be too stuffed to participate, was well attended. The apparent concerns for preservation, accessibility, ecology, environment, etc. were raised by those not in favor of disturbing the pristine beauty that presently exists.
Here's how "they say" it happens. Developers/owners want a specific piece of property; if they have difficulty getting their foot in the door, "they" hire or make stockholders of persons influential with the governor and the Legislature. In this case, "they say," "they" just happen to be two of the governor's advisers. Once "they" have established their financial relationships, the governor's advisers then recruit enough senators until they have enough votes.
Then the governor is approached with the "deal" -- or it could be in the reverse: "Governor, we've got some guys interested in Botany Bay; they need carte blanche and Economic Development Commission benefits to develop the area into an exclusive resort that will bring hundreds of jobs to St. Thomas and will boost the overall economy. In return they will call their friends in D.C. and have them forgive the Virgin Islands FEMA loan." "They say" one of the owners was/is influential in getting the Federal Emergency Management Agency loan forgiven.
Now, how can the governor turn that down? How do you think the governor can give out raises, step increases, etc.? Has he been off paid in advance? The governor does have the upper hand when he says, "If you guys want these benefits, you got to get me re-elected." So the developers/owners financially secure the re-election not only of the governor but hopefully of the senators who voted for the rezoning. Look at how much money will be spent on the campaigns of the "Famous 8."
The Botany Bay rezoning application followed the process: Two public hearings were held, one by the Planning and Natural Resources Department, the other by the Legislature. The rezoning application can legally be special ordered to the floor and passed, as was done in the last session.
This rezoning was well staged: First "they" -- the developers/owners, the governor, the "Famous 8" and the governor's advisers -- did not want Botany Bay to get the kind of attention that the Harthman rezoning got. "They" influenced DPNR to hold the first public hearing at a time people would be away for the holidays or too stuffed to participate, and that, with the percent who are too apathetic, would ensure a low turnout.
Attendance was excellent, considering "we rarely come out." Then "they" snuck in the second hearing, conducted by the Legislature, and again the people raised their concerns after DPNR staff presented their recommendations for a zoning variance.
Apparently, the developers/owners were pre-guaranteed the passage of the rezoning, regardless of DPNR's recommendations. Even though "they" sat up there and said "they" would work with the recommendations of DPNR for a zoning variance, "they," the developers/owners, knew this was all staged. Senators must have been paid off, the governor must have gotten the FEMA loan forgiven, and now the campaign contributions must be in the bag.
Most will say that it doesn't make a difference any more whether we speak up or not; "they" are going to do what "they" want, anyway. And that is exactly what "they" are counting on us to do -- nothing!
Comment when Botany Bay is being discussed: When was the last time you were down there? If you've never been there, how do you know what you're missing? Remember Tutu Park Mall -- the artifacts that were unearthed, to be placed in a museum in the mall? And the library that was to be a part of the reason Tutu Park Mall received Industrial Development Commission benefits?
The developers/owners also know that as long as the present governor and the "Famous 8" are in power, "they" are basically guaranteed all that "they" have asked for, and more!
You see, the developers/owners already know that even if "they" had to accept the recommended conditions of DPNR, who would enforce them? DPNR will suddenly become even more understaffed, with not enough resources, and "they" will say, "We felt it would be better to have them pay a fine than to delay the economic growth of the territory."
To go on record as having raised your voices of concern, call Gov. Charles W. Turnbull at 774-0001 and leave this message: Veto Botany Bay rezoning. Send it back to the Legislature for the senators to include the recommendations of DPNR.
Remember the rezoning of Zufriedenheit, a.k.a. Magens Bay ? "They say" all the senators who voted for that rezoning were not re-elected.
The calls and concerns raised by the people over the Harthman rezoning got the governor's attention not to sign the rezoning. Let us use that power once again with Botany Bay! Call the governor; call all the radio call-in programs encouraging people of the community to call the governor to veto Botany Bay rezoning. Do not be silent!
Stephanie Scott-Williams
Founder, Women For Positive Change
St. Thomas

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.