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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 21, 2024


It may be like shooting fish in a barrel, but a new Internet forum allows Virgin Islanders – and anyone else who is online, for that matter – to post comments on incumbent V.I. senators, pro and con.
So far, there is a lot of con.
The new venue for public debate was created by local Internet service provider VIAccess and lets online visitors speak out publicly, visibly and totally anonymously on what they think of legislators as the 2000 elections approach.
At the top of VIAccess' homepage at www.viaccess.net is the big, bold question, "How are your senators doing?" and users get the chance to "Rate your Senators."
A report card is also available for doling out grades in the Senate.
Gordon Ackley, chief executive officer of Wireless World LLC , VIAccess' parent company, called the program a "community service" and will soon expand it.
"We thought with the election coming up it was time for people to have a chance to voice their opinions," he said.
And voice they have. "A few hundred" individual comments have been collected over the last three months from the VIAccess public discussion board, Ackley said, and can now be read on the VIAccess homepage.
Users click on the name of the senator they would like to bury or praise and can offer a grade or simply read what others have said.
The comments are almost universally negative, with some exceptions. A sampling of the PG-rated comments:
"These Senators would do anything to get re-elected to the Legislature, and I hope the people see what's going on and vote them out."
"How is it that this self proclaimed fiscally responsible loser justifies making $65,000 from a bankrupt government?"
"Wasn't he one of the recent absent Senators that contributed to the lack of quorum and the cancellation of his last committee meeting? Wasting our time and money yet again."
"He was elected again by the people and has done nothing."
Ackley said no one edits the comments. However, he said, "If something is blatantly offensive or totally inappropriate, we will remove it."
So far nothing has been removed.
Ackley said he’d like to see thousands joining in, and, "If the whole Senate is getting a failing grade, it's time for a change."
Another section will soon offer new candidates a public forum on which to post their platforms, Ackley said. Online residents will be able to comment on their stands.
"Never before has there been the availability of instantaneous information like this, " he said. "People have more choices, more ways to express themselves than ever before."
And online senators may be spending a lot of time ducking in the next few months.

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