We are at a political crossroads in the Virgin Islands. The people want their government back and the old-guard politicians want to keep it the way it is. I believe strongly that elected officials have, through this recall process, awoke to find that things are not as they were before and may be running scared. This is a good thing for the people and the election process as a whole. Like Watergate, it is a clear message to all elected or appointed officials that they had better be on their toes, they had better do the peoples will or suffer the political consequences.
When you go to the polls to recall Senators, you do so because you know in your heart that they did not act on your behalf and they must go. When you go to the polls to select delegates to the Constitutional Convention, you must be sure that you are not selecting a candidate who will not be progressive or do other than what you want the Constitution to say. It is incumbent upon every citizen to insist on public forums where the candidates for delegate must attend. Every community has needs and every community should get together to decide what they want the Constitution to say. The delegates must listen and promise to do as you ask. You must insist that they truly represent your ideas. If they balk, or have ideas that are contrary to yours, then you know what to do-simply do not give them a vote. There are 30 delegate seats. There is little doubt that far more candidates will be looking for a seat. Chose the one that meets your specifications because if you don't you cannot get what you need.
We have an opportunity to re-write the entire basis of the laws of the Virgin Islands. The language of the new Constitution can say literally anything you want it to say within the confines of a republican form of government and a democratic society and with the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution as a guideline. We have an opportunity to start over.
We do not have to keep the Organic Act as the basis.
We do not have to have a fifteen member legislature.
We do not have to have tax exemptions for corporations while the workers pay the most taxes.
We do not have to suffer the ill-effects of over-building or inadequate infrastructure.
We can protect our coastlines and natural resources.
We can diversify our industrial base beyond tourism and bring back our agricultural and commercial fisheries.
We can attract new, taxpaying industries and create jobs.
We have the right to completely make-over government and simplify it.
We can greatly reduce the size of central government by creating local municipal governments which will give you more control of local needs.
We can do so much that we never thought possible because we were saddled with the Organic Act and its inherent limitations.
Our status with the United States can and must be better defined and this should be accomplished during the same time the Constitutional Convention is in session. A delegation from the Virgin Islands government, appointed by the Governor should meet with a delegation from the United States government, appointed by the President to work out an agreement (a "Covenant") as to what the relationship should be now and forever. We must establish whether or not the U.S. government is interested in helping the people build infrastructure by granting revenues for particular purposes. We must establish whether or not the U.S. government will continue to fund education, human services, police, fire and other important funding and what those levels will be now and in the future. We need to create this dialog to ensure that the U.S. government wishes to continue investing in the Virgin Islands and what their economic, political and defense interests really are. This "Covenant" is a treaty between two governments and as such is a sacred document that defines our relationship.
We can and will have a Constitution but without a firm commitment and pact between the USA and the government of the Virgin Islands, we don't really have any "teeth."
We can do both, we MUST do both. By July of 2008 we can have a new political beginning which will affect every Virgin Islander.
All we need to do is .be involved!
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