Jan. 15, 2004 – The Senate Rules Committee approved three nominations on Thursday — of Audrey Thomas to the University of the Virgin Islands board of trustees, Jose A. Penn to the Economic Development Authority governing board and Leslie Milliner to the Port Authority governing board.
All require full Senate confirmation.
Thomas, a Territorial Court judge, was asked by Sen. Roosevelt David, the committee chair, about possible conflict of interest for judges to serve on boards. Thomas said she had given it thought and had sought the advice of Territorial Court Presiding Judge Maria Cabret and Cabret's predecessor, Verne Hodge.
Her conclusion: Because of the territory's small population, conflicts of interest can arise easily, but the V.I. Code allows judges to recuse themselves from decisions in matters involving possible conflicts.
According to a legislative release, Sen. Ronald Russell said his research regarding judges sitting on college boards found "mixed reviews." Canon 5C of the Code of Judicial Conduct permits judges to be trustees of public law schools and related educational institutions but prohibits their being trustees of other types of public educational institutions, he said.
Thomas said she "respectfully disagreed" that the canon prohibited her from sitting on the UVI board.
Penn, asked by Sen. Louis Hill how the EDA can help the territory remain economically viable, said its board must help local people realize the need to be involved in all aspects of the economy, not just as employees in the public and private sectors, but as owners and employers, the release stated.
Penn also said the government's ill treatment of existing local businesses discourages the development of new ones.
David said $1 million appropriated by the Legislature to the Government Development Bank for the establishment of small local business has not been received by the entity, and he urged Penn to push for the EDA board to find out why not.
Milliner, whose nomination is to continue as a member of the VIPA board, was asked by David about the board having increased airport landing fees last Feb. 1, only to lower them again last Oct. 1. The release cited Milliner as saying that the fees had to be raised so VIPA could pay off outstanding bonds, or the airlines would have had to pay the difference; he said the fees were rescinded eight months later because the bonds had been paid off.
Sen. Carlton Dowe commended the VIPA board for acting to keep the Port Authority solvent and for moving ahead on its own to expand the Crown Bay dock.
Thomas's nomination was approved 4-1 with Sens. Lorraine Berry, David, Dowe and Hill voting in favor and Russell voting against. The nominations of Penn and Milliner were approved 4-0, with David, Dowe, Hill and Russell voting.
Committee members present were Sens. Berry, David, Dowe, Hill and Russell. Committee members not present were Sens. Douglas Canton Jr. and David Jones. Also present was Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone, who is not a member of the committee.
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