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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, June 27, 2022


Lack of a quorum Monday forced Government Operations Chairman Gregory Bennerson to adjourn the scheduled committee meeting.
The committee is composed of Sens. Bennerson, Roosevelt David, Lorraine Berry, David Jones, Adelbert "Bert" Bryan, Allie-Allison Petrus and Donald "Ducks" Cole. Four senators are needed for a quorum.
According to Bennerson's office, Jones and David were excused. Bennerson announced at the meeting that Bryan was "off-island." Petrus is appearing in District Court in the bribery trial of former Sen. John Tutein.
Several items were on the meeting agenda, including a bill to appropriate $200,000 to create a 55-member Constitutional Convention, the fifth such attempt, that will draft a Virgin Islands "organic act." It is sponsored by Jones, who was absent.
Present to testify at the meeting, among others, were Erva Denham, president of the League of Women Voters, and Raymond "Ussie" Richards, chairman of the Independent Citizens Movement.
Richards said he had been notified because of his ICM affiliation, but not in his capacity as chairman of the joint Boards of Elections. "I had to call Bennerson's office Thursday to get a copy of the bill," Richards said.
Denham said, "I called the Boards of Elections in St. Thomas and St. Croix Friday and both offices appeared surprised; they had no knowledge of the meeting."
Neither was half as surprised as John Abramson, supervisor of the Board of Elections. "I read of the meeting in the media, and had to call Senate President Vargrave Richards' office to fax me a copy of the bill," Richards said.
Abramson also said he had not received a letter from Bennerson about the meeting supposedly sent to his St. Croix office Feb. 8, a copy of which was included in the meeting agenda.
He first saw the letter Monday after he asked St. Thomas Source to fax him a copy. Attempts to reach Bennerson's office were unsuccessful as of publication time.
Richards was not only upset about learning of the meeting in the media but also about coming from St. Croix for a meeting that never took place. "It's wasted my day, and wasted money," he said.
As to the bill itself, Richards said, "It appears to have been done in a vacuum." While the intent is good, he said, the bill as now written has many flaws that need to be corrected.
"I have always been in favor of it (the Constitutional Convention)," he said, "but I came here specifically today to address the flaws."
The bill provides for convention delegates to be chosen in the November 2000 election. The delegates would be composed of the 15 senators elected, plus 14 members from each voting district and 12 delegates at large.
Richards cited sections in the bill that contain contradictory time elements for filing dates.
A meeting of the Government Operations committee is scheduled for Wednesday on St. Croix, but the convention bill is not on the agenda. "I have questions on when they will forum," Richards said.
Other items on Monday's agenda were bills to regulate human-propelled devices such as skateboards, an amendment to limit Magens Bay Authority liability, amendments for property tax and automobile insurance laws and a bill to petition the U.S. Interior Department to convey a parcel of Wintberg land to the Virgin islands.
Bennerson's office said a resumption of Monday's meeting was hoped for on March 15.
Along with Jones, the constitutional convention bill was co-sponsored by Sens. Bennerson, Berry, Cole, Violet Anne Golden, Norman Jn Baptiste and Almando "Rocky" Liburd. Sens. Golden and Liburd were at the session.

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