Sept. 27, 2005 – Education Commissioner Noreen Michael is the acting governor of the Virgin Islands. And today there is no acting lieutenant governor. A well-placed source at Government House confirmed that Gov. Charles Turnbull is on St. Kitts at a tourism conference while Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards departed Monday afternoon for an EDC conference in Washington. Richards is joined in the nation's capital by two other cabinet members Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull and Budget Director Ira Mills. Actually, Attorney General-designate Kerry Drue fits in the order between Bernice Turnbull and Mills but, she too is also off-island, at the tourism conference on St. Kitts as a member of the Port Authority's governing board.
"This scenario makes the Education commissioner next in line as acting governor," the source said adding that the absence of the Senate President Lorraine Berry, also at the St. Kitts tourism conference, makes for no acting lieutenant governor in the territory. The Senate president becomes the acting lieutenant governor when the elected lieutenant governor is either off-island or is serving as the acting governor. The Revised Organic of 1954, Section 14 C does not provide for the power of acting lieutenant governor to be transferred to anyone other than the Senate President.
The governor's cabinet in order of succession, according to Title 3 Section 29 of the V.I. Code, "The Executive Succession Act" provides that after the governor and lieutenant governor, the acting governor goes in order to the Finance commissioner, attorney general, budget director followed by commissioners of Education, Public Works, Housing, Parks and Recreation and finally Police.
On another note, if it got down to the level of the Public Works commissioner to assume the position of acting governor, the acting Public Works Commissioner George Phillips could not serve as the acting chief executive because he has not been formally nominated to the post and therefore has not been confirmed by the Senate.
One more element in the mix is that in the absence of Richards and Berry, there is no acting lieutenant governor. Therefore, Senate Vice President Norman Jn Baptiste is today only serving as acting Senate President.
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