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TOURISM AUTHORITY BILL TABLED FOR PUBLIC DEBATE

April 15, 2003 – Bowing to pressure from members of the Democratic Party but not wavering in their determination, sponsors of the bill creating a V.I. Tourism Authority decided at the Senate full session Tuesday to hold off voting on the measure until it gets a public hearing.
At the outset of Tuesday's deliberations, Sen. Lorraine Berry, the bill's sponsor, called for it to be withdrawn from the agenda, saying that Committee of the Whole hearings on the proposal are scheduled for May 13 on St. Croix and May 14 on St. Thomas.
"The bill will be passed, and it will become law," she said, "but we need input from the public."
Her confidence in its becoming law comes at least in part from the measure having a total of 10 sponsors, enough to make it veto-proof in the face of strong opposition voiced by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull at a press conference on Monday.
Sen. Louis Hill, one of the co-sponsors, said on Tuesday that it was decided to hold a public hearing on the measure to clear the air. He, too, expressed confidence about the bill's prospects. "It will pass," he said, speaking outside of the session, "but this way the public can voice their concern."
Turnbull said in his 2003 State of the Union address that he favors the idea of a tourism authority, after having vetoed a bill creating one two years earlier. But he made it clear at his hastily called press conference on Monday that he doesn't like the proposed composition of the authority's board — in which the business community would hold a majority of the seats — in the current bill and that he flat-out opposes the authority replacing the Tourism Department.
He said he envisions that the authority would perhaps make suggestions to Tourism, or handle marketing. "Tourism authorities of the Caribbean model exist as marketing arms, not as replacements for a ministry or department of tourism, " he said, citing three examples — Barbados, the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands.
In the meantime, members of the V.I. Democratic Party have been putting out press releases saying the senators who support the proposed tourism authority are not aligned with the wishes of the people.
However, Berry charged in her weekly Monday morning radio broadcast that the party members taking exception to the bill all work for the administration.
That would include Elmo A. Adams Jr., Democratic Party chair, who wrote to Sen. Douglas Canton, Senate majority leader, challenging the Democratic majority's decision to define the makeup of the authority's nine-member board as six private-sector members and three public officials. Adams, who accused Canton of "capitulating to the pressure exhorted by the private sector" and "ramming it down the throats of the people of the Virgin Islands," is a legal counsel to the governor.
Sen. Carlton Dowe, another co-sponsor of the bill, was displeased with Tuesday's decision to postpone a vote on the measure. "It's clear to see where this is going," he said, referring to Adams' remarks.

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April 15, 2003 - Bowing to pressure from members of the Democratic Party but not wavering in their determination, sponsors of the bill creating a V.I. Tourism Authority decided at the Senate full session Tuesday to hold off voting on the measure until it gets a public hearing.
At the outset of Tuesday's deliberations, Sen. Lorraine Berry, the bill's sponsor, called for it to be withdrawn from the agenda, saying that Committee of the Whole hearings on the proposal are scheduled for May 13 on St. Croix and May 14 on St. Thomas.
"The bill will be passed, and it will become law," she said, "but we need input from the public."
Her confidence in its becoming law comes at least in part from the measure having a total of 10 sponsors, enough to make it veto-proof in the face of strong opposition voiced by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull at a press conference on Monday.
Sen. Louis Hill, one of the co-sponsors, said on Tuesday that it was decided to hold a public hearing on the measure to clear the air. He, too, expressed confidence about the bill's prospects. "It will pass," he said, speaking outside of the session, "but this way the public can voice their concern."
Turnbull said in his 2003 State of the Union address that he favors the idea of a tourism authority, after having vetoed a bill creating one two years earlier. But he made it clear at his hastily called press conference on Monday that he doesn't like the proposed composition of the authority's board -- in which the business community would hold a majority of the seats -- in the current bill and that he flat-out opposes the authority replacing the Tourism Department.
He said he envisions that the authority would perhaps make suggestions to Tourism, or handle marketing. "Tourism authorities of the Caribbean model exist as marketing arms, not as replacements for a ministry or department of tourism, " he said, citing three examples -- Barbados, the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands.
In the meantime, members of the V.I. Democratic Party have been putting out press releases saying the senators who support the proposed tourism authority are not aligned with the wishes of the people.
However, Berry charged in her weekly Monday morning radio broadcast that the party members taking exception to the bill all work for the administration.
That would include Elmo A. Adams Jr., Democratic Party chair, who wrote to Sen. Douglas Canton, Senate majority leader, challenging the Democratic majority's decision to define the makeup of the authority's nine-member board as six private-sector members and three public officials. Adams, who accused Canton of "capitulating to the pressure exhorted by the private sector" and "ramming it down the throats of the people of the Virgin Islands," is a legal counsel to the governor.
Sen. Carlton Dowe, another co-sponsor of the bill, was displeased with Tuesday's decision to postpone a vote on the measure. "It's clear to see where this is going," he said, referring to Adams' remarks.

Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much -- and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice... click here.