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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 24, 2024
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Senators Trade Barbs Over Nature of Meetings

Sept. 3, 2004 — Senate President David Jones acknowledged Monday he has met with members of the Governor's Financial Team and invited a few senators to attend, but denied Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg's claims that these were "secret" meetings in violation of the territory's Sunshine Act and the Freedom of Information Act, which calls for governmental meetings to be open to the public.
"I could meet with anybody I want to meet with," Jones said. He said he has been meeting with the Financial Team to discuss ways to fund the $9 million in raises due to unionized government workers. He said the meetings were purely informational.
"I'm trying to find a way to pay these workers," Jones said.
On July 13, the Senate overrode the governor's veto of a bill that called for the government to provide the negotiated contract wages for unionized employees. See Senate Says Workers Will Get Raises.
Donastorg, in a letter sent to Jones last Thursday, alleged that Jones was conducting secret meetings with members of the Governor's Financial Team to make "private deals" concerning the fiscal year 2005 budget and other matters of public policy.
According to Donastorg, Jones held a meeting with the Governor's Financial Team on Thursday at the Government Development Bank to which several members of the majority were invited.
Donastorg said it was obvious he had not been asked to attend the meeting because his feelings "about efforts to circumvent public participation" are well known.
Donastorg also complained that Jones has not attended a single budget hearing, where he could have heard the concerns of each department.
The Senate Finance Committee held 18 meetings, covering 64 governmental agencies, during the month of July.
Jones said Monday that he did not have to attend the budget hearings because he is not a member of the Finance Committee.
Jones said Donastorg was one of the senators who refused to vote for the Senate override.
"Donastorg continues to attack me because he wants to make me an issue. When he makes these kinds of statements he is shifting the focus," Jones said.
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