Those of us living in the territory can be categorized into three groups: those that complain and do nothing; those that complain, do something and then give up; and those that complain and never give up and never give in.
I believe that I fall into the last category. Over the years I have put at risk my reputation and, on occasion, my livelihood by speaking out, speaking up and standing up for those things, groups, and individuals that I believe may work against and stall the progress of all of us who live in and love the territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In my efforts to move from being a part of the problem to part of the solution I choose to work with and join organizations that could have a positive impact on our territory. Thus, you may often see me vigorously chastising the Republican party leadership and, while I have not seen a chance, I will keep challenging our party to assist all the people of the Virgin Islands, and not a select few.
During the State of the Territory speech, Governor Charles W. Turnbull acknowledged Holland Redfield (National Committeeman for the Republican Party) for the great job he has done to assist the continuity of the IDC/EDC Program; I too would like to thank Mr. Redfield for providing his knowledge, as well as his relationship with the National Republican Party, to assist the V.I. government.
However, one cannot help but wonder: If Mr. Redfield was so successful in working to resolve the IDC/EDC issue, what a lasting and universal impact he may have had on the future of the territory and the children, had he used those same connections to help the territory implement something as important and far-reaching as the Leave No Child Behind Act, and assisting the governor in getting all the high schools in the territory accredited. It's understandable that money is necessary for our economy, but the future of the Virgin Islands is in the hands of the children we educate today. Therefore, one has to ask: Were his efforts truly for the territory or were they partially self-serving?
While the children of the Virgin Islands continue to be left behind those that benefit from the IDC/EDC programs move ahead. While the unaccredited schools of the territory remain in deplorable conditions, the beneficiaries of the IDC/EDC program work in the nicest of buildings. While most of us trust that the value of those that are here benefiting from the IDC/EDC bring resources to the Virgin Islands to help us economically, the roads are in serious need of repair, crime rates are soaring, unemployment continues to rise, and WAPA and gas prices are rising even faster — all of which makes one wonder where is the benefit for the average citizen? So, whose interest is really being served here?
Why hasn't the leadership of the Republican Party, all three of whom are residents of St. Croix, gone to Florida to meet with the Cruise Ship Association on the matter of bringing cruise ships to St. Croix? Why not meet with the Secretary of the Interior Department (Republican) to see what can be done for the Virgin Islands? Why not meet with the National Park Service about the land swap for relocating Julius Sprauve School? What about meeting with Secretary of the Transportation Department to secure money for the roads and buses for a more reliable transportation service territorywide?
There is much to be done in the territory, and the Republican assistance if done right will benefit the territory. Why are these issues not important? One must wonder: Do the Republican leaders have the same problems most V.I. residents have, or are they living outside the territory, more than inside? Could this be the reason they do not understand the daily problems most Virgin Islanders experience? The silence from the Republican leadership on most common issues is deafening. It is my hope that since Governor Turnbull has used Mr. Redfield to help him with the IDC/EDC program, the Republican leadership (National Committeeman, National Committeewoman, and State Chair) will finally step up to the plate and assist in improving the territory.
The federal government is run by the Republicans, both in the House and the Senate. The President is also a Republican. What an opportunity that is being missed by our local Republican leaders by not working harder to get the Virgin Islands more assistance while this window of National Republican leadership is open. It is great that communication between the governor and at least one Republican leader has begun and let us, as a community, hope that Mr. Redfield's involvement with the IDC/EDC benefits us all, and not just the business he works for. Let us all trust that this is an important step in a partnership that will bring positive change to the Virgin Islands. Only time will tell if Mr. Redfield and other Republican leadership continue to step up to the plate, or continue to be in the peanut gallery complaining and blaming others for the unresolved problems in the territory.
In closing, I ask each of you to remember this powerful quote by Jacob Riis:
"When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it but all that had gone before."
Editor's note: Lawrence Boschulte, a Republican, is the chairman of the St. Thomas-St.John Board of Elections.
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