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RULES APPROVES 4 FOR ANTI-LITTER COMMISSION

July 5, 2001 – The Senate Rules Committee approved four nominees to the St. Thomas-St. John Anti-Litter and Beautification Commission Thursday, bringing the board to full acting capacity for the first time in eight years, according to Eastlyn Igwemadu, an eight-year member whose reappointment was approved.
Igwemadu said the board has been meeting with only three members, making it impossible to have a quorum. She said there is one member who has never attended a meeting since being appointed in 1994.
The unanimous favorable votes came after the four nominees told the committee they were not "intimidated" by the committee, and after Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen threatened to withhold her vote from any nominee not agreeing with her view that the commission's youth summer cleanup program should be eliminated.
Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole began his remarks by asking the nominees if any of them were intimidated by the hearing. "None of us here have four heads, you know," Cole said, "but the media castigates the Rules Committee. This is a perception that needs to be stopped." He added, "We're not marching to their tune."
The nominees responded favorably to the committee, all agreeing that the hearing was much more civil than they had been led to expect. Colette Monroe, League of Women Voters board member, said, "I have great respect for anyone in your seat. Nobody is born being a legislator."
The other nominees, Edwin Davis, a former postmaster, and Faye A. James, a V.I. Agriculture Department employee, were sympathetic to the senators. James said, "I've had so much people tell me so many things, but this is nice." Davis agreed the committee was reasonable. Cole concluded that he wanted to go on record because, he said, the media have "demonized this institution."
Hansen said she considers the commission's "Clean and Preen" summer program, which won a national Environmental Protection Award this year, "demeaning to the children." Youngsters, she said, "shouldn't be clearing bush. They should be working in offices, learning something."
Hansen quizzed each nominee on the summer program, and only Monroe came to its defense. "I think it's a good program," she said, "It helps children understand their environment, understand pollution."
Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd countered that "There's nothing wrong with the job; it's how you do it. If you sweep the street, make it the cleanest street you can."
In fact, he said he would "like to see it as a year-round program, creating a greater awareness of our environment for the kids." Liburd has long been active in supporting the program on St. John.
Geraldine Smith, commission administrator, said later in a telephone interview that the program does much more than remove bush. "We've been having the program for 10 years, and it improves each year," she said.
"The children learn about their environment. They do plantings, for instance in front of the Motor Vehicles Bureau and the Chase Bank, and they care for the plants, do the maintenance. They take trips to Maho Bay on St. John and learn about recycling. They become a part of the community in a different way. They care."
Smith said some of the students, inspired by the program, have gone on to environmental careers. "We have one student who now has his own landscaping service," she said.
All parties present agreed that the commission's main problem lies with enforcing litter laws. Davis suggested implementing a hotline for the public to report litterers.
Sen. Norma Pickard-Samuel said the $1,000 fine for illegally parking in a disabled spot has proven to be effective. Fines for littering range from $100 to $1,000, according to Smith.
Committee chair Carlton Dowe said police officers should carry litter-ticket books. He had wanted to propose legislation mandating the police to issue litter tickets, but Yvonne Tharpes, legislative legal counsel, said there already is a law on the books that police can issue tickets, but it isn't enforced.
Committee members present in addition to Cole, Dowe, Hansen, Liburd and Pickard-Samuel were Celestino A. White Sr. and Adelbert M. Bryan. The nominations will now go the full Senate for a final confirmation vote.

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