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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, August 11, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesSen. Nelson Censured by Senate for Not-So-Positive Comments

Sen. Nelson Censured by Senate for Not-So-Positive Comments

Taking a stand against what they described as "unfortunate" and "disruptive" behavior, majority senators approved a resolution censuring Sen. Terrence "Positive" Nelson for comments he made about Sen. Wayne James during Tuesday’s full session.
According to a few legislative experts, this is the first time a senator has been censured since former Sen. Adelbert Bryan in the 21st Legislature.
The resolution was added as one of the last items on the agenda when the session picked up Wednesday. About a half an hour was allotted for senators to comment on the resolution, which will now be posted in a "prominent place" in both Senate buildings for the next month. Nelson’s commentary, taken word for word from the Senate transcripts, centered on a recent encounter with a St. Croix resident who he said intimated that James had not paid her rent in four years.
Many senators said Wednesday that Nelson’s comments were out of place and shouldn’t have been injected in the day’s discussion. The official stance, according to the bill’s language, is that he violated legislative rule 812, which prohibits the senators from attacking one another.
"None of us in here is without fault, because we all are human beings," said Sen. Louis P. Hill. "And I have sat and chaired many meetings in here where senators have not complied with the rules. But there are certain things that the institution should not tolerate, and this is one of those things … it boils down to very simple respect. At the core of it, it’s just about courtesy really."
Hill said Nelson has exhibited a pattern of disruptive behavior, starting with an attack against former Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull in the 26th Legislature.
James kept his remarks brief Wednesday but had spoken Tuesday about his rent being paid from an escrow account.
In response to the comments, Nelson said Wednesday that he has seen a lot worse behavior exhibited by senators on the floor, which made the resolution, for the most part, hypocritical. Along with examples of racial or ethnic slurs, Nelson cited instances where senators have cursed at one another, been disorderly on the floor and violated a "whole host" of other rules he said they’ve never been called on.
He said the resolution was essentially a campaign to "discredit my reputation."
And as for the comments about James, Nelson said they’re "no secret," since the resident has tried to solicit help from other senators on the same matter. He said he tries not to go off topic while on the floor, but that senators have gotten into the habit of doing so because no one — including committee chairmen — ever really says or does anything about it.
Nelson said he was "utterly surprised" by the vote, and thought that after hearing some of the senators’ comments Wednesday, that he would have more support. But at the end of the day, the majority rules, he said.
While offering some comments on the situation, Sens. Usie R. Richards and Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly also made recommendations on how to improve the process, including giving accused senators the ability to defend themselves when facing censure and convening an ethics committee within the Legislature tasked with looking into specific complaints.

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Taking a stand against what they described as "unfortunate" and "disruptive" behavior, majority senators approved a resolution censuring Sen. Terrence "Positive" Nelson for comments he made about Sen. Wayne James during Tuesday's full session.
According to a few legislative experts, this is the first time a senator has been censured since former Sen. Adelbert Bryan in the 21st Legislature.
The resolution was added as one of the last items on the agenda when the session picked up Wednesday. About a half an hour was allotted for senators to comment on the resolution, which will now be posted in a "prominent place" in both Senate buildings for the next month. Nelson's commentary, taken word for word from the Senate transcripts, centered on a recent encounter with a St. Croix resident who he said intimated that James had not paid her rent in four years.
Many senators said Wednesday that Nelson's comments were out of place and shouldn't have been injected in the day's discussion. The official stance, according to the bill's language, is that he violated legislative rule 812, which prohibits the senators from attacking one another.
"None of us in here is without fault, because we all are human beings," said Sen. Louis P. Hill. "And I have sat and chaired many meetings in here where senators have not complied with the rules. But there are certain things that the institution should not tolerate, and this is one of those things … it boils down to very simple respect. At the core of it, it's just about courtesy really."
Hill said Nelson has exhibited a pattern of disruptive behavior, starting with an attack against former Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull in the 26th Legislature.
James kept his remarks brief Wednesday but had spoken Tuesday about his rent being paid from an escrow account.
In response to the comments, Nelson said Wednesday that he has seen a lot worse behavior exhibited by senators on the floor, which made the resolution, for the most part, hypocritical. Along with examples of racial or ethnic slurs, Nelson cited instances where senators have cursed at one another, been disorderly on the floor and violated a "whole host" of other rules he said they've never been called on.
He said the resolution was essentially a campaign to "discredit my reputation."
And as for the comments about James, Nelson said they're "no secret," since the resident has tried to solicit help from other senators on the same matter. He said he tries not to go off topic while on the floor, but that senators have gotten into the habit of doing so because no one -- including committee chairmen -- ever really says or does anything about it.
Nelson said he was "utterly surprised" by the vote, and thought that after hearing some of the senators' comments Wednesday, that he would have more support. But at the end of the day, the majority rules, he said.
While offering some comments on the situation, Sens. Usie R. Richards and Nereida Rivera-O'Reilly also made recommendations on how to improve the process, including giving accused senators the ability to defend themselves when facing censure and convening an ethics committee within the Legislature tasked with looking into specific complaints.