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HomeNewsArchivesA DAY OF LEARNING: VLT VOTE ON APRIL 15, 2003

A DAY OF LEARNING: VLT VOTE ON APRIL 15, 2003

Dear Source,
The 15th of April was a day of education!
First, there was a civics lesson taught last week by the Virgin Islands Legislature: a lesson that teachers and historians should note well and record and retell as often as they think appropriate. The lesson was, in fact, a shocking revelation that many people will talk about for years and, hopefully, remember when they go to the voting places in 2004. What was this lesson in government?
We residents of the United States Virgin Islands do not have a representative government.
The will of the people is not the basis for our laws. We have an oligarchical government (government by the few) that has no interest other than the perpetuation of power and privilege for that few. We do not have the ability to self-govern, since our expressed views, opinions, wants and desires are ignored with impunity and without remorse.
Seven senators, with malice aforethought, put their personal agenda before the will of the people. Their vote to keep video lottery terminals (slot machines) in St. Thomas/St. John ignored the clearly expressed wishes of their constituents. There was no doubt, indecision, confusion, miscommunication or ambiguity regarding what the majority of the residents of St. Croix, and the territory in general, felt toward unregulated slot machines. In fact, 32 community groups and religious institutions made it plain that they did not want VLT's anywhere in the territory. There were public demonstrations, widely covered by all the media, where it was made clear that VLT's were not wanted. The St. Croix Chamber of Commerce loudly proclaimed the position of its members that VLT's were not wanted and that they would stop the development of hotels/resorts on St. Croix.
Nevertheless, what did our elected representatives do with this knowledge? They ignored it! Shamelessly, they did not "represent" their constituents. They did not follow the will of the majority. They did not do the job they swore to do. They arrogantly put their wants ahead of the wishes of the people.
If Sen. Lorraine Berry was quoted correctly, she said: "We can't just do what the people tell us to do." Yes, you can, Sen. Berry! In fact that is exactly what representative government is all about; you, as a senator, represent your constituents. What a contrast her statement makes with Sen. Ronald Russell's statement: "I have to support repeal because the people of St. Croix don't want it and the people of St. Thomas don't want it."
Furthermore, when reviewing the remarks of Sen. Berry, as quoted in the Daily News, the statement that "Don't blame this district (St. Thomas) when you don't fulfill your responsibility or you can't attract the investment." The senator conveniently forgets that St. Croix has attracted investments but the St. Thomas District has stopped them dead in their tracks {e.g., Robins Bay, et al.) or has plundered the money derived from the investments that are on St. Croix (HOVENSA, Cruzan Rum, EDA beneficiaries tax dollars, etc.). In addition, when St. Croix did attract a hotel/casino under one law, the senators from St. Thomas can, and did last week, change the law after the fact and thus thwart future investments.
We also saw last week Sen. Roosevelt David display behavior he would not accept from one of his constituents. Specifically, can you imagine Sen. David asking a testifier before his committee a "tough" question and the testifier just getting up and walking out of the room? Then the same testifier stating later: "Sometimes you just miss tough questions." I don't think so.
We also learned from Sen. David that his office dictionary is different from the other senators and from our own. Sen. David's dictionary is smaller and thinner because it doesn't contain the words: Character, Conscience, or Courage.
Sen. Emmett Hansen II also gave us an education and a lot to think about and reflect upon. He blamed the governor for the VLT's. This is noteworthy because Sen. Hansen voted for VLT's on three separate occasions and the governor vetoed VLT's on three separate occasions. If Sen. Hansen had been as strong an opponent of VLT's as the governor I wouldn't be writing this letter.
Last week we also learned that the phrase "Democratic unity," shouted so earnestly and fervently during last year's campaigning, now means absolutely nothing. As soon as the polls closed the concept of "unity" evaporated. Three "Democrats" voted against the Democratic governor (four, if you count Sen. David's disappearance as a negative vote — which we do). This speaks volumes about the fallacy of "voting the donkey" and all the good things that "unity" can bring. Some unity.
Sen. David Jones was true to form last week, too. (His support for VLT's has been unwavering and in that regard we are at least assured that his dictionary contains the words that Sen. David's dictionary is missing.) However, we should remember the other "money-making projects" that the senator has championed such as "The Beal Deal", Sun Airways, the Convention Center on private land, for example, have never put a dime into the General Fund.
In summary, perhaps the greatest lesson we all learned last week was that the "northern islands" are represented by ten senators and St. Croix is represented by five. Sens. Emmett Hansen II, David Jones and Almando "Rocky" Liburd, although elected in whole, or in part, by the people of St. Croix, voted directly against the best interests of their constituents. They ignored, willfully, the clearly stated wishes of their electors and violated the trust placed in them. It is true that the VLT's will be a tremendous cash generator for the hotels, both large and small, on St. Thomas and St. John because every one of them can have slot machines without the requirement to build more rooms, or pay out a legally required amount, or hire "residents" or submit to background investigations, etc. This in turn should garner them considerable campaign contributions in the future. However, this is terribly anti-St. Croix.
April 15th was a day of education in the territory and the residents of St. Croix learned the most. We learned who the five St. Croix Senators are. We were reminded again that our voices don't count. We now know the true meaning of Democratic "unity" and we learned that dodging tough decisions is acceptable behavior for one senator. Furthermore, we learned that in the St. Thomas/St. John district St. Croix's problems are just that: St. Croix's problems. However, St. Croix's generated revenue is "our revenue".
Most of all we learned we have a lot to do if we are to survive and prosper economically. We must cultivate the "business-friendly" attitude that we have historically only paid lip service to. We must strive to attract businesses to St. Croix and look after their wants and needs so that there will jobs for St. Croix's residents and tax income to provide for those in need. We need to focus our attention and efforts in making St. Croix "The Best" business location in the Caribbean.
Frank J. Fox
President,
St. Croix Chamber of Commerce

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.

Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas 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.

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Dear Source,
The 15th of April was a day of education!
First, there was a civics lesson taught last week by the Virgin Islands Legislature: a lesson that teachers and historians should note well and record and retell as often as they think appropriate. The lesson was, in fact, a shocking revelation that many people will talk about for years and, hopefully, remember when they go to the voting places in 2004. What was this lesson in government?
We residents of the United States Virgin Islands do not have a representative government.
The will of the people is not the basis for our laws. We have an oligarchical government (government by the few) that has no interest other than the perpetuation of power and privilege for that few. We do not have the ability to self-govern, since our expressed views, opinions, wants and desires are ignored with impunity and without remorse.
Seven senators, with malice aforethought, put their personal agenda before the will of the people. Their vote to keep video lottery terminals (slot machines) in St. Thomas/St. John ignored the clearly expressed wishes of their constituents. There was no doubt, indecision, confusion, miscommunication or ambiguity regarding what the majority of the residents of St. Croix, and the territory in general, felt toward unregulated slot machines. In fact, 32 community groups and religious institutions made it plain that they did not want VLT's anywhere in the territory. There were public demonstrations, widely covered by all the media, where it was made clear that VLT's were not wanted. The St. Croix Chamber of Commerce loudly proclaimed the position of its members that VLT's were not wanted and that they would stop the development of hotels/resorts on St. Croix.
Nevertheless, what did our elected representatives do with this knowledge? They ignored it! Shamelessly, they did not "represent" their constituents. They did not follow the will of the majority. They did not do the job they swore to do. They arrogantly put their wants ahead of the wishes of the people.
If Sen. Lorraine Berry was quoted correctly, she said: "We can't just do what the people tell us to do." Yes, you can, Sen. Berry! In fact that is exactly what representative government is all about; you, as a senator, represent your constituents. What a contrast her statement makes with Sen. Ronald Russell's statement: "I have to support repeal because the people of St. Croix don't want it and the people of St. Thomas don't want it."
Furthermore, when reviewing the remarks of Sen. Berry, as quoted in the Daily News, the statement that "Don't blame this district (St. Thomas) when you don't fulfill your responsibility or you can't attract the investment." The senator conveniently forgets that St. Croix has attracted investments but the St. Thomas District has stopped them dead in their tracks {e.g., Robins Bay, et al.) or has plundered the money derived from the investments that are on St. Croix (HOVENSA, Cruzan Rum, EDA beneficiaries tax dollars, etc.). In addition, when St. Croix did attract a hotel/casino under one law, the senators from St. Thomas can, and did last week, change the law after the fact and thus thwart future investments.
We also saw last week Sen. Roosevelt David display behavior he would not accept from one of his constituents. Specifically, can you imagine Sen. David asking a testifier before his committee a "tough" question and the testifier just getting up and walking out of the room? Then the same testifier stating later: "Sometimes you just miss tough questions." I don't think so.
We also learned from Sen. David that his office dictionary is different from the other senators and from our own. Sen. David's dictionary is smaller and thinner because it doesn't contain the words: Character, Conscience, or Courage.
Sen. Emmett Hansen II also gave us an education and a lot to think about and reflect upon. He blamed the governor for the VLT's. This is noteworthy because Sen. Hansen voted for VLT's on three separate occasions and the governor vetoed VLT's on three separate occasions. If Sen. Hansen had been as strong an opponent of VLT's as the governor I wouldn't be writing this letter.
Last week we also learned that the phrase "Democratic unity," shouted so earnestly and fervently during last year's campaigning, now means absolutely nothing. As soon as the polls closed the concept of "unity" evaporated. Three "Democrats" voted against the Democratic governor (four, if you count Sen. David's disappearance as a negative vote -- which we do). This speaks volumes about the fallacy of "voting the donkey" and all the good things that "unity" can bring. Some unity.
Sen. David Jones was true to form last week, too. (His support for VLT's has been unwavering and in that regard we are at least assured that his dictionary contains the words that Sen. David's dictionary is missing.) However, we should remember the other "money-making projects" that the senator has championed such as "The Beal Deal", Sun Airways, the Convention Center on private land, for example, have never put a dime into the General Fund.
In summary, perhaps the greatest lesson we all learned last week was that the "northern islands" are represented by ten senators and St. Croix is represented by five. Sens. Emmett Hansen II, David Jones and Almando "Rocky" Liburd, although elected in whole, or in part, by the people of St. Croix, voted directly against the best interests of their constituents. They ignored, willfully, the clearly stated wishes of their electors and violated the trust placed in them. It is true that the VLT's will be a tremendous cash generator for the hotels, both large and small, on St. Thomas and St. John because every one of them can have slot machines without the requirement to build more rooms, or pay out a legally required amount, or hire "residents" or submit to background investigations, etc. This in turn should garner them considerable campaign contributions in the future. However, this is terribly anti-St. Croix.
April 15th was a day of education in the territory and the residents of St. Croix learned the most. We learned who the five St. Croix Senators are. We were reminded again that our voices don't count. We now know the true meaning of Democratic "unity" and we learned that dodging tough decisions is acceptable behavior for one senator. Furthermore, we learned that in the St. Thomas/St. John district St. Croix's problems are just that: St. Croix's problems. However, St. Croix's generated revenue is "our revenue".
Most of all we learned we have a lot to do if we are to survive and prosper economically. We must cultivate the "business-friendly" attitude that we have historically only paid lip service to. We must strive to attract businesses to St. Croix and look after their wants and needs so that there will jobs for St. Croix's residents and tax income to provide for those in need. We need to focus our attention and efforts in making St. Croix "The Best" business location in the Caribbean.
Frank J. Fox
President,
St. Croix Chamber of Commerce

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.

Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas 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.