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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, December 7, 2023


The Senate majority has asked for an audit of the Public Service Commission's refusal to investigate telephone rates, but the territory's inspector general says he's not sure he can tackle it.
By seeking an audit, the majority bloc sidestepped the 22nd Legislature's call in October for a Committee of the Whole meeting on the PSC's actions — something Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg has been publicly and repeatedly requesting.
The majority's decision was made Friday in caucus but wasn't made public until Tuesday when Sen. Allie-Allison Petrus, the majority leader, went on WVWI radio to announce it.
Steven van Beverhoudt, head of the V.I. Bureau of Audit and Control, said late Tuesday that he "would have to meet with the Senate president to discuss the specific details of what they want reviewed."
Van Beverhoudt said he had not received a formal request from Senate President Vargrave Richards or Petrus by the end of business Tuesday but added that he may be too short-staffed to handle this kind of audit.
In announcing the majority's decision, Petrus said it had been made in caucus four days earlier, so he didn't understand why the lack of support for a Committee of the Whole meeting was still an issue.
The League of Women Voters passed a resolution Saturday at its annual meeting to ask Richards to convene a meeting on the PSC's decision last year not to investigate the V.I. Telephone Corp.'s rates. The League's action was first reported in St. Thomas Source on Monday, after a letter was delivered to Richards, and later by other media.
Sen. Lorraine L. Berry criticized Donastorg for continuing to discuss the petition that Donastorg had circulated to all senators seeking a Senate investigation of the PSC — a petition that only Donastorg signed —
when Donastorg already knew of the majority's
Berry said the majority agreed to turn the matter over to the auditors to keep the issue from becoming a political football.
In a letter to the League of Women Voters, Berry said, "Throughout my years in the Senate, when I came to realize that an investigation, scrutiny or audit was required and that — due to the political atmosphere involved, the inquiry should be as
non-political as possible — I have always enlisted the aid of the inspector general, with much success."
Berry's letter accused the media of "inflammatory rhetoric charging those of us who do not agree with them as having either been bought by Mr. (Jeffrey) Prosser or are intimidated." She said it was wrong for the media to try to "get back at him (Prosser) through the Senate." Prosser's Innovative Communications Corp. owns Vitelco, the Daily News and various other companies in the Virgin Islands.
"If we want to get facts, we can't go in with emotions," Berry explained in an interview.

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