The V.I. Legislature rejected a motion Wednesday to special order and immediately consider a bill from Sen. Terrence "Positive" Nelson to initiate a recall election of Gov. John deJongh Jr. and Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis by a 10 to five vote. Nelson’s recall bill will now go through the regular committee process.
Section 12 of the Revised Organic Act of 1954 allows the V.I. Legislature to initiate recall elections with a two-thirds majority vote. If the Legislature approves such a measure, a recall election would be held "not earlier than 30 days after a vote" on the bill, and "not later than 60 days" from the vote. The hurdle for the recall is very high, requiring at least two thirds of all voters who voted for that office in the previous election to vote for recall.
After the vote, Senate President Ronald Russell said he would bring the measure up for consideration in a committee of the whole, "so every senator can weigh in."
Nelson’s bill makes a series of political attacks on the governor that respond to deJongh’s public criticism of the Legislature for failing to approve a series of cost cutting and revenue generating measures the administration has repeatedly urged over the course of the past year. For example, the bill says, deJongh has "consistently misled the Legislature and the public regarding the financial affairs of the territory," and "used his pulpit in a vindictive manner to lambast his political opponents."
Nelson also cites the controversial use of public funds to build a guard house at deJongh’s personal residence, reviving the complaint that formed the core of his opponent Kenneth Mapp’s failed 2010 campaign against deJongh.
Voting to special order Nelson’s recall bill and have the Legislature immediately address it were: Nelson, Sens. Craig Barshinger, Neville James, Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O’Reilly and Janette Millin-Young. Voting nay were: Russell, Sens. Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, Patrick Hill, Shawn-Michael Malone, Usie Richards, Sammuel Sanes, Patrick Sprauve, Celestino White and Alvin Williams.