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Charlotte Amalie
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HomeNewsArchivesBERRY CALLS FOR SOLIDARITY IN FACE OF CRISIS

BERRY CALLS FOR SOLIDARITY IN FACE OF CRISIS

Oct. 10, 2001 – All elected officials must "bury their hatchets" and work together to help the territory weather its current economic crisis, Sen. Lorraine Berry said Wednesday. She said the mainland United States is in a recession and the Virgin Islands economy is contracting.
"There is window of opportunity for all elected officials to create a territorial moratorium of our traditional politics," she wrote to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, copying her letter to her 14 Senate colleagues as well as other elected officials and heads of public agencies and business associations.
Berry said that leaders in the Virgin Islands should follow the example set by Congress, where Democrats and Republicans are now working together closely with President George W. Bush. She called for suspension of the majority-minority division in the 24th Legislature and the creation in its stead of "a consensus legislative body that works in concert with the executive branch."
The Legislature as she envisions it "will disregard the partisan differences that presently exist between Republicans, Democrats, ICMers, and Independents."
Berry called for weekly joint meetings of the legislative and executive branches in which the territory's elected leaders would exercise leadership by consensus.
Currently, the Senate and the executive branch often are at odds, and the nine-member majority bloc has repeatedly ridden roughshod over the six minority and unaligned Senators. Berry pledged to "walk the extra mile" with any elected official who has the best interests of the Virgin Islands at heart.
"If in the past this proposal seemed to be wishful thinking, today it is mandatory in order for our political system to avoid a complete collapse," she wrote.
Sen. Carlton Dowe, a majority member and chair of the Rules Committee, agreed with Berry's proposal but was skeptical that it would happen.
"There's old wars that exist between some of those people," the first-term senator said, adding that when discussing new issues, the long-time senators often bring up conflicts that began years ago.
Dowe also said that capital projects worth $200 million are waiting to start, but the government has failed to get them going. They would help fuel the territory's economy, he said.
Last week, Sen. Vargrave Richards, a minority member, wrote to Turnbull asking for greater "cooperation between the public and private sectors" and calling on him to "step forward and put an end to the bickering and finger pointing." Richards, too, pointed out that in Congress, Democrats and Republicans have come together in a spirit of common cause.

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