Jan 6, 2003 – Under a brilliant blue sky, a colorfully dressed and expectant crowd of several hundred flocked to Emancipation Garden on Monday for the swearing in of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull to his second term in office and of Vargrave Richards to his first as lieutenant governor.
The inauguration was preceded by an 8 a.m. ecumenical service at Christ Church Methodist and a sparsely attended military parade whose participants stepped off from Addelita Cancryn Junior High School on time at 10 a.m. and marched smartly down Veterans Drive.
Vendors Plaza was transformed into a brightly tented mini-auditorium for the day, with a reviewing stand for dignitaries constructed on the north side, facing Emancipation Garden.
The yellow- and white-striped tent theme was carried out over the garden gazebo, which was fronted with a bandstand to accommodate the overflowing crowd of the governor's cabinet, senior staff, Territorial Court judges, a sprinkling of senators, visiting heads of government, U.S. Department of the Interior officials, and many members of the Turnbull and Richards families.
In front of the bandstand, a combined choir of Charlotte Amalie and Ivanna Eudora Kean High School students, dressed in immaculate black and white outfits, sat solemnly, heads straight ahead, after singing a rousing rendition of the national anthem.
Hope had been expressed that the governor would shed some light on the territory's current fiscal status, especially given the sizable raises the Senate recently granted to him, the lieutenant governor and themselves. However, Turnbull remained mum on those subjects.
"My administration has led Virgin Islanders through the sunset of a century and a millennium and through the sunrise of the next," Turnbull said. "We have avoided a federal takeover. We initiated an Economic Development Authority which has attracted an ever-increasing number of investors, especially on the island of St. Croix."
He continued to refer to fiscal responsibility, good government and a balanced budget.
The governor's Finance commissioner of four years, Bernice Turnbull, announced in December that the territory was experiencing a "fiscal crisis." Since then, she and the rest of the administration have not uttered an official word, although at the time a spokesperson for the governor's office said they would have a statement in a "few days."
Members of the 25th Legislature were called to a meeting with Turnbull over the weekend where he told them to stand firm on the pay raises, according to an informed source. A focus of the meeting was on getting freshman senator Shawn-Michael Malone to back down on his announced plans to introduce legislation to roll back the pay increases.
According to the source, Malone, who has been named chair of the Government Operations Committee, was threatened with having his budget cut if he went ahead with his plan.
Turnbull advocated "greater self-determination," calling for a future municipal government structure and the convening of a fifth Constitutional Convention to draft a constitution that "addresses the future political, social and economic development of the territory."
To the loudest applause he had so far received, Turnbull said the constitution should allow for "more effective government and a structure that is responsive to the needs of all residents and enhances and empowers local autonomy for the islands of St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas."
The governor also addressed the territory's most pressing and chronic areas of concern — education, crime and the economy, stressing education. As teachers marched outside the garden demonstrating their displeasure with the recent raises and the sorry condition of the territory's public schools, he said: "We will continue to focus on the education of our youth as our top priority … rigorous assessment and evaluation at every grade level will be implemented to push performance levels and to create the environment in which learning and teaching become the driving force for positive change."
In a turn to the lyrical, Turnbull, whose middle name is Wesley, concluded, "I close this address by reminding myself and you that despite all the changing scene of life, in sunshine and in shadows, in high point and in low point, of the dying words fo a great man of faith, John Wesley, 'The best thing of all is that God is with us.' Working together in unity and respect, with the help of almighty God, we can and must make the desert bloom."
The full text of the governor's speech is posted in the Source Community/Data section.
Inaugural events continued on St. Thomas Monday with a luncheon for dignitaries followed by a public reception at Government House and two balls, at Marriott Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort and Wyndham Sugar Bay Beach Club and Resort.
Tuesday, the focus shifts to St. John, with a 10:30 a.m. service at St. Ursula's Episcopal Church, a 12:30 p.m. public reception at The Battery and a ball at the Westin Resort.
Wednesday, it's St. Croix's turn, with an 8 a.m. service at Lord God of Sabaoth Lutheran Church, a 10:30 a.m. military parade in Frederiksted, a noon "post-inaugural ceremony" in Buddhoe Park, a luncheon for dignitaries at the Carambola Resort, a 4:30 p.m. public reception at Government House and three balls — at Gertrude's Restaurant, St. George Village Botanical Garden and The Cormorant Beach Club and Hotel.
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