Dec. 8, 2004 Dressed in black with red ties, and their president Lorraine L. Berry decked in a bright red suit, the consensus majority of the 26th Legislature disclosed its committee heads at a press conference Wednesday.
Their motto "Unity in diversity" could be seen in their attire; however, the men in black and the lady in red did not provide an agenda of their plans for the territory to the audience at Walkers by the Sea.
Instead the group opted to praise each other for efforts thus far, dispel "rumors" and "misinformation" about their coalition, and pledge to work together for a resolution to the problems plaguing the community.
The coalition was formed when three Democratic senators Berry, Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg and Shawn-Michael Malone left the Democratic Majority to join the then minority made up of Independents and Independent Citizen Movement members. (See "Democrats split to give Independents the Majority".
"We may have had personal differences in the past," Berry said, referring to past conflicts with Donastorg and Sen. Celestino White. "But today we have positioned ourselves for a new phase of coalition politics. We intend to unite this community and move on."
Berry said the territory's problems are "too great" for the senators to continue fighting. The veteran senator and only woman in the 26th Legislature added that, as the group faces the challenges ahead, she would bring her experience in helping to resolve issues.
"I intend to continue to improve the conditions of families in the Virgin Islands," Berry said.
Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste will serve as vice president and Senator-elect Liston Davis will serve as the secretary.
"What is happening here is a revolution," Jn Baptiste said. Baptiste said in the beginning God made woman so man would not be alone; now seven men have come under the leadership of one woman.
"There are some perceptions we have to deal with," Jn Baptiste said. One of those perceptions, according to Jn Baptiste, is the idea that St. Thomas is St. Croix's problem.
"Our problems have a lot to do with us on St. Croix," Jn Baptiste said. "And the way to solve that problem on St. Croix is to learn to love one another and speak the truth to one another."
Jn Baptiste mentioned how he could not get any of the St. Croix senators, beside himself and Sen. Usie Richards to sign a petition for a special session to address Gov. Charles Turnbull's recent vetoes, especially of an amendment that he sponsored mandating the Water and Power Authority to purchase power from a power producer that would invest in St. Croix.
Jn Baptiste said his mission, as vice president of the 26th Legislature, is TORA transparency, oversight, restraint and accountability.
Richards will serve as Secretary for Intergovernmental and Territorial Affairs.
"Today, we are here to say to you that the reason and the season of us being here is to say no to party politics," Richards said, adding that territory, and particularly St. Croix, "cannot continue to suffer" for the sake of party politics.
Richards said he would be giving an invitation to all Crucian senators to come together to speak about the people of St. Croix and to find ways to get them out of the "political doldrums."
Donastorg will serve as Liaison to the White House, Malone as Liaison to the U.S. Congress and Senator-elect Terrence "Positive" Nelson as Liaison to the U.S. Department of Interior's Office of Insular Affairs.
Below is a listing of the various committees, their heads and the other members serving in the committees:
Rules and Judiciary Committee Malone as chairman, Richards as vice chairman, Sens. Berry, White, Ronald Russell and Senators-elect Pedro "Pete Encarnacion and Nelson.
Finance Committee Jn Baptiste as chairman, Nelson as vice chairman, Sens. Roosevelt David, Donastorg, Richards, and Senators-elect Neville James and Juan Figueroa-Serville.
Health, Hospitals and Human Services Committee Richards as chairman, Davis as vice chairman, Senators-elect Craig Barshinger, Encarnacion and James, and Berry and Jn Baptiste.
Education, Culture and Youth Committee Davis as chairman, Malone as vice chairman, David, Richards, Hill, Nelson and Serville.
Labor and Agriculture Committee Nelson as chairman, White as vice chairman, Barshinger, Davis, Malone, Russell and Serville.
Housing and Veterans Affairs Committee White as chairman, Richards as vice chairman, Barshinger, Donastorg, Encarnacion, Malone and Russell.
Government Operations and Consumer Protection Committee Donastorg as chairman, Davis as vice chairman, Hill, Malone, Nelson, Russell and Serville
Public Safety, Homeland Security and Justice Committee Encarnacion as chairman, Berry as vice chairman, David, Davis, Hill, James and White.
Economic Development, Planning and Environmental Protection Committee James as chairman, Jn Baptiste as vice chairman, Barshinger, Davis, Donastorg, Richards and White.
The committee will release its agenda to the public on Jan. 10, White said.
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