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NEW PSC TO BEGIN WORK UNDER CLOUD OF OLD

Dec. 20, 2001 – The Public Service Commission will have a largely new look when it convenes Friday with a full slate of members for the first time in years. PSC officials anticipate a quorum, something that has not always been a given in recent times, and that the commission will begin to tackle the matters before it with renewed energy.
"This new commission is fired up to do the people's business," Keithley Joseph, PSC executive director, said.
Newly appointed and confirmed to the commission are Jerris Browne, deputy Police commmissioner; Verne David, business consultant; Valencio Jackson, assistant Finance commissioner; Desmond Maynard, attorney; and Alric Simmonds, Gov. Charles Turnbull's deputy chief of staff, who replaces Walter Challenger as PSC chair.
Browne, David, Jackson and Simmonds are new to the body; Maynard was reappointed to a second three-year term. Also continuing to sit as members, although their terms have expired, are Alecia Wells of St. John and Luther Renee of St. Croix.
PSC members whose terms have expired continue to sit until a successor is confirmed. The terms of immediate past members Challenger and Dora S. Hill, both of St. Thomas, had expired in June 1999. That of Patrick N. Williams of St. Croix expired in March 2000. Wells' term expired last April and Renee's, last July; Maynard's had expired in July 1998. In addition, there had been a St. Croix vacancy on the commission.
In addition to the seven voting members, the PSC has two non-voting members who are named by the Senate president. Sens. Donald "Ducks" Cole and Emmett Hansen currently hold the non-voting positions.
The job of the PSC is to watch over public utilities — local telephone service, water and power, cable television and inter-island ferries.
The first item on the agenda of Friday's meeting is the election of a chair and vice chair, although Simmonds' appointment designated him as chair to succeed Challenger.
Business items range across the spectrum of the commission's areas of responsibility: action on hearing examiner's reports and interconnection agreements involving Innovative Telephone and Blue Sky, Centennial, Sprint and Telecorp; an emergency application from the St. Thomas-St. John ferry operators; cable television and Water and Power Authority rate investigations; and a WAPA/Caribe Waste Technology matter.
The commission has come under fire in recent years for a lack of effective oversight and for allegations of wrongdoing. In nomination hearings earlier this year, Maynard said that the tarnished reputation is deserved and that the new commission must work to regain the public's trust.
Maynard noted at the time that the commission was taking far fewer actions as part of its oversight responsibilities than it had in the past, and he questioned the ethics of some decisions it had taken in rate investigations of Innovative Telephone. He told senators he had missed PSC meetings not for lack of interest, but because he felt he could not ethically take part in some of the proceedings.
Friday's meeting begins at 10 a.m. in the PSC offices in Barbel Plaza on St. Thomas.

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Dec. 20, 2001 - The Public Service Commission will have a largely new look when it convenes Friday with a full slate of members for the first time in years. PSC officials anticipate a quorum, something that has not always been a given in recent times, and that the commission will begin to tackle the matters before it with renewed energy.
"This new commission is fired up to do the people's business," Keithley Joseph, PSC executive director, said.
Newly appointed and confirmed to the commission are Jerris Browne, deputy Police commmissioner; Verne David, business consultant; Valencio Jackson, assistant Finance commissioner; Desmond Maynard, attorney; and Alric Simmonds, Gov. Charles Turnbull's deputy chief of staff, who replaces Walter Challenger as PSC chair.
Browne, David, Jackson and Simmonds are new to the body; Maynard was reappointed to a second three-year term. Also continuing to sit as members, although their terms have expired, are Alecia Wells of St. John and Luther Renee of St. Croix.
PSC members whose terms have expired continue to sit until a successor is confirmed. The terms of immediate past members Challenger and Dora S. Hill, both of St. Thomas, had expired in June 1999. That of Patrick N. Williams of St. Croix expired in March 2000. Wells' term expired last April and Renee's, last July; Maynard's had expired in July 1998. In addition, there had been a St. Croix vacancy on the commission.
In addition to the seven voting members, the PSC has two non-voting members who are named by the Senate president. Sens. Donald "Ducks" Cole and Emmett Hansen currently hold the non-voting positions.
The job of the PSC is to watch over public utilities -- local telephone service, water and power, cable television and inter-island ferries.
The first item on the agenda of Friday's meeting is the election of a chair and vice chair, although Simmonds' appointment designated him as chair to succeed Challenger.
Business items range across the spectrum of the commission's areas of responsibility: action on hearing examiner's reports and interconnection agreements involving Innovative Telephone and Blue Sky, Centennial, Sprint and Telecorp; an emergency application from the St. Thomas-St. John ferry operators; cable television and Water and Power Authority rate investigations; and a WAPA/Caribe Waste Technology matter.
The commission has come under fire in recent years for a lack of effective oversight and for allegations of wrongdoing. In nomination hearings earlier this year, Maynard said that the tarnished reputation is deserved and that the new commission must work to regain the public's trust.
Maynard noted at the time that the commission was taking far fewer actions as part of its oversight responsibilities than it had in the past, and he questioned the ethics of some decisions it had taken in rate investigations of Innovative Telephone. He told senators he had missed PSC meetings not for lack of interest, but because he felt he could not ethically take part in some of the proceedings.
Friday's meeting begins at 10 a.m. in the PSC offices in Barbel Plaza on St. Thomas.