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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, December 3, 2022
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What Happens Afterwards?

Dear Source:
The University of the Virgin Islands has taken the leadership role on keeping the public informed about the Constitutional Convention by receiving a substantial grant from the legislature to provide information and education to the populace and has already started the process at the beginning of 2007. A website has been established (http://www.itsourfuture.vi ) that provides some information, history and an opinion forum but we need even more information and education as the hour nears. It is incumbent upon UVI to provide and the people to attend these scheduled seminars. We call on UVI to be as complete as possible during these presentations so that there is little doubt as to what is to occur or what the peoples' roles are in the process.
The recall of Senators is unprecedented in Virgin Islands history. It is a statement by the people that elected officials shall not do other than the peoples will as they had in the waning hours of the 26th Legislature. There have been past attempts at recall at the Governor and Lieutenant Governor level but failed. This time, however, it looks as though the number of recall petitions will be more than sufficient to meet the approximately 8700 signatures required for the St Croix Senators named in the recall and that there is little hope that when the territory-wide vote occurs, they will not be recalled by the voters.
The recall of Senators proves that the people of the Virgin Islands have had enough of politics as usual and will not stand idly by as their beloved islands are governed by greed and corruption. This is a clear message to all future candidates for elected office.
The recall of Senators also shows that no elected person can make any major decision that the people clearly do not want, especially when it is self-serving. The trail of corruption left by the Turnbull administration and the hideous pay raises and debt he proposed and signed into law in the waning hours of his term of office, prove to the people that we are indeed on a downward political spiral and we will not allow that spiral to suck us in anymore. The recall actions by the people of the Virgin Islands are a positive step in much-needed revolutionary change as is the creation of a Constitution, which can, if worded properly, end this ugly political mess.
When the Senators are recalled, (and there is little doubt that they will be unless the process is subverted or perverted by political, self-serving maneuverings) we still have to fill the seats left behind! After all, the Organic Act still requires fifteen Senators. Who will we chose to fill those seats? Do we have the right to choose? Can we leave the seats vacant or are we forced into a special election? Is it possible that the Senate can fill the seats through their own initiative? The Organic Act is somewhat unclear so we have to be careful that we don't get another group of cronies who may just be worst that the officials we just threw out. The law states:
Virgin Islands Code : REVISED ORGANIC ACT OF 1954 (ACT OF CONGRESS, JULY 22, 1954, CH. 558, 68 STAT. 497) : § 6. [Legislature; terms of office, qualifications, appointment of electoral officers, immunity, compensation, limitations, general powers, vacancies].
"(h) The Legislature of the Virgin Islands shall by law provide the procedure for filling any (underline added) vacancy in the office of member of the legislature."
That's all the law provides. So, what is the law? Can the Senate, by law, simply appoint? Provide for a special election? What are the options for the voters? I think it's important for the electorate to know because when the recall happens will the Legislature already have their own plan in place? Will we have to be careful about a fast one being pulled on us?
Will the Senators who fill the seats (however selected) promise to repeal the 26th Legislature's Bill # 6905 or will we have yet another political fiasco? And why isn't the new 27th Legislature acting now to repeal? They know it's unpopular and they will face two years of constant scrutiny if left unresolved regardless of the good work they do.
Let's not watch and see, let's act now and know!

Paul Devine
St. John

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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