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HUD Apologizes for Locking Door on Virgin Islanders

March 4, 2005 – On Thursday, Sen. Celestino White received a long-awaited apology from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for locking out his Chief of Staff Franke Hoheb from a press conference in January.
Hoheb and another aide of White's found themselves locked out of the conference room when they arrived at the V.I. Housing Authority headquarters in Tutu. Two members of the media were also locked out from the press conference where HUD announced they were replacing former V.I. Receiver Donna Ayala with Jose Bosque.
White had made a public fuss of the situation and sent a letter to HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson requesting an apology. (See "Senator Says Feds Disrespectful to Virgin Islanders").
In her apology, Donna White, HUD public relations officer, told the senator it was not the intent of the department to deliberately lock out his staff members and the two reporters.
"In short, I mistakenly did not ensure the outside door to the conference room was accessible," Donna White wrote. "There was no excuse, and frankly, you and your staff's disappointment and frustration was warranted."
She added, "I ask that you accept this apology and hope that you know we appreciate your respect and concerns for the citizens of VIHA's public housing community. HUD shares your concern and is committed to improving conditions for the residents."
Sen. Celestino White serves as the chairman of the Senate Housing, Sports and Veterans Affairs Committee.
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