Feb. 13, 2004 – The Senate Rules Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of Acting Health Commissioner Darlene Carty to the permanent position of commissioner, after several hours of intense grilling by members.
Carty's nomination was one of three before the committee. The senators also approved the nominations of Cheryl Boynes-Jackson to the Water and Power Authority board and Devin Carrington to the Casino Control Commission.
The three nominations now go to the full Senate for approval.
Sen. Roosevelt David, Rules Committee chair, said he was pleased with the nominations. "I have seen a paradigm shift, where we have three nominees here today and they are all Virgin Islanders," he said.
David told Carty that one letter of opposition against her nomination had been received. The letter, written by Dr. Ann Treasure of the V.I. Medical Society, stated the society's disapproval of Carty as commissioner of Health because she is not a physician.
Senators questioned Carty on her response to some in the community who "look down" on her youth — she is 35 — and the fact that she is not a physician. Sen. Ronald Russell pointed to a statement made by Carty in her opening presentation that part of the mission of the Health Department is to "provide accessible, affordable, confidential and comprehensive quality health care to all Virgin Islands residents." He asked: "How can you do that without a medical degree?"
In response to the questions, Carty said she is a "qualified administrator" who can "lead and direct" those under her who have the qualifications to get the job done.
"My chances of succeeding will be enhanced by the fact that I will be a full-time commissioner of Health and will surround myself with competent and experienced senior staff persons that share the vision of success," she said.
Sen. Celestino White, who is not a member of the committee, said when the Senate considered the nomination of Rodney Miller to be chief executive officer of Roy L. Schneider Hospital, Miller did not receive all that grilling, and he's not a doctor. "He's the director of the hospital that provides primary health care and doesn't have a medical degree," White said, charging that because Carty is a native Virgin Islander, his colleagues want to give her a "hard time."
Sen. Louis Hill told Carty he didn't feel that her not being a physician should be the only criterion "to judge you by." He added that doctors have led the Health Department in the past, and it "remains in an unhealthy condition."
Noting that the law does not require the Health commissioner to be a physician, Sen. Lorraine Berry said she was willing to give Carty "the benefit of the doubt."
Senators also questioned Carty on her reasons for putting together an ad hoc committee to review the Certificate of Need application for the proposed St. Thomas Ambulatory Surgical Center.
"I am not relinquishing my role to approve or disapprove," Carty said in response. "I am only reverting to due process." She said the ad hoc committee is not a new idea and is similar to an advisory committee previously in place. She added that the department has not yet received a completed application from the group of doctors who hope to build and operate the surgical center.
After almost four hours of questioning and comments, the committee unanimously approved Carty's nomination.
The questioning of Boynes-Jackson and Carrington was much briefer.
Boynes-Jackson, owner of Boyson Inc., which operates a barge service between St. John and St. Thomas, was asked if she would have time to serve on the WAPA board with her business commitments. She replied: "Serving my community is something that I always make time for."
Jackson has previously served on various community, business and government boards, including those of the United Way of St. Thomas/St. John, St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce and St. John Community Foundation, and the Board of Tax Review.
Her nomination was unanimously approved.
Carrington was asked his reason for wanting to serve on the Casino Control Commission. "I've been always taught from a tender age that to whom much is given much is expected," he replied. "My decision, without equivocation, is to give back to St. Croix."
Carrington added that he is willing to give up his current job with the Health Department to work full-time for the commission.
Russell told Carrington that if he is approved for the position, he hopes Carrington will see to it that the Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino "comes into compliance with the territory's laws." The Divi's agreement with the commission calls for the hotel to have 150 guest rooms. However, it has fewer than 100, Russell said.
Berry said she was concerned about Carrington's nomination because there is no one from the private sector on the commission as is legally mandated. She added that she would abstain from voting until she got further information on the matter.
Carrington's nomination was approved 5-0 with Berry abstaining.
Committee members at the hearing were Sens. Berry, Douglas Canton Jr., David, Hill, David Jones and Russell. Sen. Carlton Dowe was absent. Also present were Sens. Shawn-Michael Malone, Luther Renee, Usie Richards and White, who are not members of the committee.
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