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Two Delegates Accuse Governor of Disrespecting Constitutional Convention

Aug. 22, 2008 — Concern over what a couple of delegates claimed was Gov. John deJongh Jr.'s lack of respect for the Fifth Constitutional Convention briefly occupied opening remarks of a day-long convention session Friday.
Delegates were holed up in the auditorium of the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Center Thursday for a similar session, while the governor and some aides were touring the building with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, who was on his first official visit to the territory.
"I find it abominable," Delegate Adelbert Bryan said Friday. "… he walk through this building here, and the most important document being discussed … and deJongh, who is supposed to be a black governor in a predominant black population … and he doesn't even come in here. You got a bunch of cowards running the government."
Convention President Gerard Luz James II said "common courtesy in terms of protocol" dictated that the governor should have greeted the convention.
"But that's the respect we're getting," he lamented.
Contacted for comment, Government House Communications Director Jean P. Greaux Jr., who was on tour with deJongh Thursday, said the group was not aware of the meeting. An aide cracked the door to see if the auditorium was empty in hopes of showing it to the secretary, and when he saw it was occupied, Greaux said, he closed the door.
"The governor did not know that the Constitutional Convention was meeting in the auditorium of the CKCI yesterday," Greaux said. "Had he known, there was no reason for him not to have stopped there and acknowledge the Constitutional Convention meeting. No one, even after we cracked the door, and the door was closed back, did anyone say it was a Constitutional Convention meeting."
As for James' concern that the convention does not command the governor's respect, Greaux said, "There is no need for him to micromanage and be hands on." He continued, "(The delegates) were elected by the people and he knows that there is a lot of work involved in getting to a draft constitution, and he encourages them to continue the work they have to do."
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