June 17, 2004 – The Senate Government Operations Committee voted on Wednesday to approve a bill that would restrict the boards that the attorney general may serve on.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Louis Hill, prohibits the attorney general from serving on any board of an autonomous or semi-autonomous governmental instrumentality or a public corporation — except for that of the Port Authority.
Attorney General Iver Stridiron currently serves on seven boards — those of the Port Authority, Water and Power Authority, Law Enforcement Planning Commission, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, the governor's financial team, the Education Task Force and a Medical School Task Force.
"It is my hope that this bill will help alleviate some of the time constraints of the attorney general because of the other boards that he is on," Hill said. "I felt that if the attorney general wasn't serving on those boards, he would be more effective, because these boards are taking up his time."
Hill said there might also be an issue of conflict of interest, although that was not the main reason for his sponsoring the measure.
Approval of the bill, however, would not seem to accomplish much. Stridiron still would be able to keep all of his board seats except for that of WAPA, a board he himself has been trying to step down from.
By statute, the attorney general sits on the WAPA board as one of three government officials who serve at the pleasure of the governor and on the VIPA board by virtue of his office.
The bill as introduced also would have made the VIPA board off limits. But after Stridiron pleaded with the committee not to remove him from that one, the members compromised and passed an amendment saying "except the Virgin Islands Port Authority board."
"I enjoy serving on the Port Authority and believe that my work with that board has been valuable to this community," Stridiron said. "I would hate to be removed from that board."
Stridiron also said that managing his time is not a problem. "I do appreciate Sen. Hill's concern," he said, "but I must tell you that I am able to compartmentalize my time." He said the various boards meet once a month, except for the governor's financial team, which meets weekly.
Claude Molloy, vice chair of the WAPA board, testified that Stridiron should be removed from the WAPA board because of his lack of attendance at board meetings. Stridiron said he agreed with Molloy in this regard and that he does not want to be a part of the WAPA board because it is in "disarray."
Committee members voted 4-0 to approve the measure as amended. Sens. Emmett Hansen II, Douglas Canton Jr. and Celestino A. White Sr. were absent at the time of the vote.
The committee also approved a bill that would provide a $75 per meeting stipend for the members of the Magens Bay Authority Board.
"The track record of the authority is clear," Sen. Carlton Dowe, the bill's sponsor, said. "They are doing a wonderful job."
All committee members were in attendance at the meeting: Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone, the chair; and Sens. Lorraine Berry, Canton, Dowe, Hansen, Hill and White. Donastorg, who is not a member of the committee, was also in attendance.
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