78.5 F
Charlotte Amalie
Monday, December 4, 2023


Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg has asked Senate President Vargrave A. Richards to convene a Committee of the Whole meeting to hear testimony about the Public Services Commission and telephone rates.
"This certainly isn't over," Donastorg said. "In fact, this investigation is just beginning — there is still so much we don't know." The Committee of the Whole meeting was mandated last fall by the 22nd Legislature but was postponed because of the November elections. Donastorg asked Richards to convene the meeting as soon as possible.
Donastorg said his concerns about the PSC go beyond its handling of the V.I. Telephone Corp. rate issue.
"As you know, the PSC's response to the Legislature's petition to reduce phone rates was illegal and immoral at worst and, at best, inappropriate and unorthodox," he said in his letter to Richards. "Many questions remain about Vitelco's finances and the PSC's ability to effectively regulate this, or any other, utility.
"A meeting of the Committee of the Whole will help us determine the facts and resolve many of the longstanding issues about corruption and collusion at the PSC." On June 6, 1997, the Legislature unanimously passed a resolution calling on the PSC to cut phone rates by 20 percent in light of the near-total tax breaks, worth about $35 million, that the Industrial Development Commission granted to Vitelco.
The PSC initially ignored the request but eventually hired a consultant to conduct a study. PSC members ultimately rejected the recommendations last fall of their own consultant, Jim Madan of Georgetown Consulting, and their legal counsel, Maria Tankenson Hodge, by voting to dismiss the Vitelco matter. This prompted senators to call for an in-depth examination of the PSC.
Donastorg asked Richards to request the presence of all PSC members as well as the PSC's independent consultants at the Committee of the Whole meeting. "I have also asked that the public be allowed to testify," Donastorg said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.