Although it's Carnival, the question on most Virgin Islands minds isn't who'll win the Road March, what costumes Elskoe and Associates will wear, or even what Start Over will do since Roosy and de Madam gi' he a "hard card."
The public's waiting to see who'll form the gubernatorial teams that will vie for Government House 2007. But that's not the query floating through my gray matter. The question that I have is, "Which gubernatorial team will be able to last the four-year distance and leave a legacy of productivity and accomplishment?"
The Golden Rule for relationships was always "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Politically, it hasn't worked that way with our governors and their lieutenant governors of late. One assumes since the purpose of the initial pairing was to be elected to serve the people of the Virgin Islands, then the duration of term would see both parties doing the eternally revered "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."
In the last dozen years, we haven't had much luck with teamwork between our two top elected officials, and the infighting has cost the Virgin Islands dearly. In fact, since former Lt. Gov. Derek Hodge served so admirably with former Gov. Alexander A. Farrelly, it seems to be more akin to the golden rule of cats that governs all their relationships with people: You scratch my back; you scratch my back.
The lieutenant governor's role of Man Friday to a governor's Robinson Crusoe is rooted in the duties of the office as outlined in the Organic Act of 1954. It outlines the duties of lieutenant governor as having "such executive powers and perform such duties as may be assigned to him by the governor or prescribed by this act or under the laws of the Virgin Islands." Pretty sparse, huh?
Most assume that the lieutenant governor's position of commissioner of Banking and Insurance is mandated by the Organic Act. It is not. Every governor is empowered under Sec. 16 to reorganize the government as he sees fit and as approved by the legislature. That means, that the lieutenant governor has any jobs that the chief executive deems necessary.
Getting back to choosing one to serve in the second slot, what personal qualities should we look for since the V.I. Code is bereft of duties?
Whoever is chosen should have exhibited both personal and professional leadership. One cannot support leadership if one is incapable of recognizing it. Contrary to popular current belief, true leadership takes a tremendous amount of personal sacrifice. Like a father stuffing newspaper in his shoes so that the children can have Christmas presents, true leaders recognize that the sacrifice isn't about them; it's about what the sacrifice accomplishes for those for whom they are responsible.
The only training for leadership is leadership, and as such, my ideal second in command would have had management experience in order to assist in the supervision of the executive branch. The lieutenant governor must be able to act as the lightening rod as well as the whip for the administration, but he must also be able to bring projects of his own to fruition without being at odds with the overall plan of the administration.
But above all, we do not need an opportunist who assumes the position only for a shot at the top seat four years hence, rather than to contribute to our society now. If there is no demonstrated commitment to true public service, then we are doing ourselves a disservice by looking at a second in command simply because they bring numbers to the table. At the end of the day – or of a term – the Virgin Islands public must see more than slick pronouncements of imagined success and excuses for failures from the next administration.
The political back scratching that is inherent in pairing of any gubernatorial team will undoubtedly take place, but it must serve to the benefit of the masses. And to ensure that it does benefit all, it is the responsibility of the voting public to choose our next leaders with Aristotle's admonition in mind that "Political society exists for the sake of noble actions and not of mere companionship."
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