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Senate Overrides Veto to Allow Some Retirees to Double Dip

During a busy session Friday, the V.I. Legislature voted to override Gov. John deJongh Jr.’s veto to enact a bill to allow some V.I. government retirees to return to work for the government and receive both their government pensions and new government salaries.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Clifford Graham says the V.I. Government Employee Retirement System "may hire retirees" to help GERS convert its paper-based system to a digital format. It does not require the GERS to hire retirees, but allows it to.

V.I. law previously forbade any government employees from collecting a V.I. government pension at the same time as they collect a V.I. government paycheck. Graham’s bill carves out an exception to that rule for those whom GERS might hire for this task.

The Legislature passed the bill in April. DeJongh vetoed it in May, saying it creates an unfair exception to the law precluding retirees from returning to government service while continuing to receive their retirement annuity.

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Voting to enact the measure over deJongh’s veto were Graham, Sens. Craig Barshinger, Diane Capehart, Donald Cole, Kenneth Gittens, Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, Shawn-Michael Malone, Clarence Payne, Tregenza Roach, Sammuel Sanes and Janette Millin Young. Voting nay were Sens. Judi Buckley, Terrence "Positive" Nelson and Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O’Reilly. Sen. Myron Jackson was absent.

Senators also voted to confirm acting Police Commissioner Rodney Querrard to fill the post permanently, and confirmed the nomination of the Rev. Bentley Thomas’ nomination to the St. Thomas/St. John Parole Board.

Querrard was Thomas-St. John Police Chief from 2007 until he retired in April 2012. He left retirement at deJongh’s request to become acting police commissioner when Commissioner Henry White resigned earlier this year.

Querrard joined the VIPD in 1987. While on the force, he served nearly nine years as a member of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and held supervisory positions at the Muriel C. Newton and Leander Jurgen commands on St. Thomas and St. John. During his assignment in HIDTA, Querrard earned the rank of police lieutenant.

Thomas has been a pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church on St. Thomas for 50 years, principal of Bethel Baptist Elementary School for 42 years, and chaplain to the St. Thomas prison for 35 years, among other positions of responsibility. He received a Ph. D. in biblical leadership by correspondence from the North American School of Theology in Winter Haven, Fla., in 2003 and a master’s in public administration from the University of the Virgin Islands in 1990. Thomas holds several other ecclesiastical certificates and undergraduate degrees.

The Legislature also approved two zoning variances Friday. The first, a variance granting Blues Barbecue at Plot 32 Grande Princesse on St. Croix a use variance to allow it to keep its food trailer stationary, build restrooms and operate a restaurant, had been previously held in committee. Sen. Diane Capehart moved to have the Legislature special order the variance onto the agenda, saying the facility might go out of business without the variance.

It also approved rezoning parcel no. 41-5-2 Estate Frydenhoj, No. 3 Red Hook Quarter, St. Thomas, from R-2 residential low-density to B-4 business-residential, with a variance to allow a warehouse and storage facility.

The Legislature also acted on several other pieces of legislation, which are discussed in a separate article in the Source.

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During a busy session Friday, the V.I. Legislature voted to override Gov. John deJongh Jr.'s veto to enact a bill to allow some V.I. government retirees to return to work for the government and receive both their government pensions and new government salaries.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Clifford Graham says the V.I. Government Employee Retirement System "may hire retirees" to help GERS convert its paper-based system to a digital format. It does not require the GERS to hire retirees, but allows it to.

V.I. law previously forbade any government employees from collecting a V.I. government pension at the same time as they collect a V.I. government paycheck. Graham's bill carves out an exception to that rule for those whom GERS might hire for this task.

The Legislature passed the bill in April. DeJongh vetoed it in May, saying it creates an unfair exception to the law precluding retirees from returning to government service while continuing to receive their retirement annuity.

Voting to enact the measure over deJongh's veto were Graham, Sens. Craig Barshinger, Diane Capehart, Donald Cole, Kenneth Gittens, Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, Shawn-Michael Malone, Clarence Payne, Tregenza Roach, Sammuel Sanes and Janette Millin Young. Voting nay were Sens. Judi Buckley, Terrence "Positive" Nelson and Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O'Reilly. Sen. Myron Jackson was absent.

Senators also voted to confirm acting Police Commissioner Rodney Querrard to fill the post permanently, and confirmed the nomination of the Rev. Bentley Thomas’ nomination to the St. Thomas/St. John Parole Board.

Querrard was Thomas-St. John Police Chief from 2007 until he retired in April 2012. He left retirement at deJongh's request to become acting police commissioner when Commissioner Henry White resigned earlier this year.

Querrard joined the VIPD in 1987. While on the force, he served nearly nine years as a member of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and held supervisory positions at the Muriel C. Newton and Leander Jurgen commands on St. Thomas and St. John. During his assignment in HIDTA, Querrard earned the rank of police lieutenant.

Thomas has been a pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church on St. Thomas for 50 years, principal of Bethel Baptist Elementary School for 42 years, and chaplain to the St. Thomas prison for 35 years, among other positions of responsibility. He received a Ph. D. in biblical leadership by correspondence from the North American School of Theology in Winter Haven, Fla., in 2003 and a master's in public administration from the University of the Virgin Islands in 1990. Thomas holds several other ecclesiastical certificates and undergraduate degrees.

The Legislature also approved two zoning variances Friday. The first, a variance granting Blues Barbecue at Plot 32 Grande Princesse on St. Croix a use variance to allow it to keep its food trailer stationary, build restrooms and operate a restaurant, had been previously held in committee. Sen. Diane Capehart moved to have the Legislature special order the variance onto the agenda, saying the facility might go out of business without the variance.

It also approved rezoning parcel no. 41-5-2 Estate Frydenhoj, No. 3 Red Hook Quarter, St. Thomas, from R-2 residential low-density to B-4 business-residential, with a variance to allow a warehouse and storage facility.

The Legislature also acted on several other pieces of legislation, which are discussed in a separate article in the Source.