We need to seek innovative approaches to addressing problems that have been plaguing us for some time. It is very obvious that the representatives we have been depending on to assist us in moving forward, in stimulating social, economical and political progress, have failed us. It is up to us, the people of the Virgin Islands, to assume the responsibility to directly initiate the necessary reforms needed to bring about progress in our community.
It is also very obvious that the provisions in the Organic Act as amended, for initiative, referendum and recall is very cumbersome, it has been ineffective in accomplishing the purposes for which it was intended. We need to request our Delegate to Congress to initiate the necessary reform to make the provision for initiative, referendum and recall more functional. I believe the provision for referendum is the most critical, because the citizenry needs to be able to exercise their will for change without being obstructed by elected representatives. As it is now, the legislature refers to referenda as non-binding polls on any particular issue. A referendum needs to be binding on the legislature; the will of the majority in a democracy should prevail over the will of a few representatives.
Another proposal for reform that we would like to see implemented is the provisions for alternates on all elected positions. While the rationale for this should be self evident, we will point out some benefits. As we are well aware many times important meetings are not held because of a lack of quorum. Many committee meetings of the legislature are not held because of a lack of quorum. We are all aware that the Senators lack vision and creativity to make necessary reforms to improve our government, that is the reason for our political stagnation. We propose that the use of alternates be adopted to address the problem of the many failed meetings due to lack of quorum. Alternates would fill in when the principals are not present and the lack of quorum would be reduced if not eliminated. We believe the principals would be more responsible and attend meetings more diligently if they were aware that someone would be there in their stead when they are absent. The method using alternates should apply throughout the government, on boards and commissions; we will get the government moving more expeditiously.
Representatives would then be more humble as they realize there are others available to fill in their space automatically when they are absent.
We believe these simple but basic reforms would go a long way in improving our democratic form of government. Think about the merits, rather than customs and traditions. Let us be progressive if we truly want progress, reason and find the benefits of change, of innovation. The reforms suggested herein are not new. Other jurisdictions practice them in their own particular forms. We can make changes too, our way for our purposes. May the Creator, the Divine inspire us and grant us wisdom and courage to do what is right for our beloved Virgin Islands.
Citizens Coalition for Better Government
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