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Berry Throws in Towel on Lame-Duck Session

Dec. 3, 2004 — Sen. Lorraine L. Berry said Friday she is no longer driving her petition for the special session, which she had initiated to consider several recent vetoes of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, among other things.
Berry had been successful in obtaining the eight signatures necessary for the session; however, Sen. Luther Renee chose to withdraw his signature Wednesday. (See "Renee Opts Out, Jones Won't Call Session").
"As far as I know, no one else has signed on," Berry said. "I am not actively seeking anyone to sign on the petition at this point."
Berry said if any senators are still interested in signing on the petition, they could because they have until Monday to turn the petition in to Senate President David Jones. The petition must be given to Jones a week before the requested date of the session, in this case Dec. 15.
Jones said previously he is not in favor of a lame-duck session and would not call one unless the majority of senators wanted the session.
Renee had said publicly he decided to withdraw his name because he had not had a chance to review Turnbull's veto message and because a lease agreement for TRAXCO Inc., a subsidiary of Treasure Bay V.I. Corp., had not been placed on the session's agenda, Berry said.
"I was disappointed with the removal of Sen. Luther Renee's name from the petition," Berry said. "The Senate president was successful in influencing him."
Berry said she was told that Jones had approached Sen. Carlton Dowe asking him to withdraw from the petition as well.
The petition now bears the names of Sens. Berry, Dowe, Norman Jn Baptiste, Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, Shawn-Michael Malone, Usie Richards and Celestino White.
The Dec. 15 meeting would have considered four of the five bills vetoed by Turnbull: the Omnibus Justice Act and the Financial Services Act, belonging to Berry; the Animal Cruelty Bill, belonging to Donastorg; and the School Vandalism Bill, belonging to Malone. The Determination of Death Bill, the fifth bill vetoed by Turnbull and sponsored by Sen. Douglas Canton, was not on the agenda. The TRAXCO lease and an amendment to the V.I. Supreme Court Bill had also been placed on the session's agenda, Berry said, so she did not know the basis of Renee's claims. TRAXCO had been granted a lease agreement with the V.I Horse Racing Commission to rent the Randall Nicholas "Doc" James Racetrack. Turnbull had approved the lease but it was awaiting the Legislature's approval. (See the St. Croix Source article "Randall Racetrack Operators Get Governor's OK").
"That's unfortunate," Berry said of not being able to consider the lease and the other bills, which have "great significance to the people of the Virgin Islands." Renee did not return calls by press time.

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