March 2, 2007 - The Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously confirmed Gov. John deJongh Jr.'s four cabinet nominees in a 12-hour meeting stretching over the day and into the evening.
Though the committee directed most of its time and questioning to attorney general nominee Vincent Frazer, it also approved Beverly Nicholson Doty as Tourism commissioner, Lynn Millin as Property and Procurement commissioner, and Louis Petersen as Agriculture commissioner (See "Nominees for Attorney General and Tourism Sail Through Committee").
Millin has been working with Property and Procurement for four years as general counsel and has been acting commissioner since Jan. 1. She addressed some of the department's chronic problems in contract issuance and said she wants to transform the procurement process with the government's new Enterprise Resource Planning System, which has had problems of its own. Anticipated to be in operation in October 2006, the system has been blamed for several glitches in government payments (See "Questions Remain About When Government Will Be Able to Pay Vendors").
Millin presented another plan that has been mentioned over the years but never implemented: consolidation of the government's vehicle fleet into one motor pool for each island and eliminating personal use of government vehicles. From time to time, in the Turnbull administration, this last issue was broached with penalties stated for such use; however, it was never made public that any of those measures were enforced.
After waiting for more than 10 hours, well-known agriculture advocate Louis Petersen received a warm response from the senators, almost all of whom were familiar with Petersen's work over the years. Petersen, a former district supervisor for UVI's Cooperative Extension Service, holds several degrees, including a doctorate in of horticulture and landscape architecture from the University of Minnesota and a master's in horticulture from Oklahoma State University.
A familiar figure at the Agriculture Fairs on St. Thomas and St. Croix and the Bordeaux
Farmers Fairs, Petersen recently took a group of scientists from a Coral Reef Task Force meeting for a tour of water-retention ponds in the Bordeaux area of St. Thomas.
Sharing his vision for the department, Petersen stressed that reviving the territory's agriculture industry will take "all of us: farmers, consumers, teachers, and agriculture professionals." Adding that cooperation from many government agencies will be required to acquire farm equipment and land holdings, Petersen noted that grant writing will be the major tool in getting there.
The entire committee — Sen. Carlton Dowe, chair, and Sens. Shawn-Michael Malone, Usie Richards, James Webber III, Carmen Wesselhoft, Celestino White Sr. and Alvin Williams — was present for the unanimous vote.
The nominations will be forwarded to the full Senate with favorable recommendations.
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