78.5 F
Charlotte Amalie
Monday, February 26, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesA Constitution, a Covenant, a Commonwealth

A Constitution, a Covenant, a Commonwealth

Dear Source:
There will be thirty delegate seats up for grabs for the upcoming Constitutional Convention. Thirteen will come from St Croix, Thirteen from St Thomas/St John and four will be at-large, with two at-large seats coming from St John. It is for sure that politics will play a huge role in who gets elected. Most likely, you will see signs and advertisements where delegates will be asking for your vote. Political associations (Democrats, Independents, etc) will be backing their candidates. There will be a certain amount of money spent in an effort to ensure that political representation is assured. If you vote along party lines, then you can opt for the choice of your party. However, if you feel, as most Crucians and many other progressive Virgin Islanders do, that politics as usual have let them down, then you will have to consider the candidate and what that person represents regardless of political affiliation. It is my opinion that in certain areas of the Virgin Islands, people will seek new representation but that is always a personal choice. Each island has its own special needs, but there can be only one Constitution that governs us all.
In 2004, the senate passed a law that allowed a Constitutional Convention to occur. Since that time, most people have either ignored the reality or simply were not informed. The senate passed that law and gave UVI $500,000 to inform the public about the Convention. It was only in January 2007 that any hearings were held on the subject. Some of the money was spent funding a web site. In both cases we have very little activity in terms of people seeking information or being actively involved. I would hope that, if anymore public hearings are to be held by the UVI staff from now until June that more people attend or at least visit the website where the history and procedures are shown. The $500,000 that the senate provided should be more than sufficient for the task but it will be wasted money if few people get the message. I am sure that UVI has some great informational hearings coming up throughout the Virgin Islands, given the huge sum provided.
As a prospective candidate, and over the past two years since the senate passage of the law that allows a fifth attempt at making a Constitution, I have started the process of creating one. During that time, much research into the constitutional process has been done and I have found that the process of creating a Constitution can be cumbersome and lengthy yet satisfying. Many other territories have successfully created Constitutions that have been accepted by the United States Government. I have draw upon at least some of the content of those Constitutions as a starting point. Next, the process studied Constitutions of other states to see if any language was suitable in the Virgin Islands. The Organic Act was studied to ascertain if any part of it could still have relevance today. And lastly, the events of the past several years, especially the obvious flaws in the present system, were looked at. What resulted is a document that modifies the inconsistencies of present government and looks to the future in terms of how our government may be run and how our future laws may be written. Of course, no Constitution can foresee or look for every possible contingency, especially where humans will be using it. There will always be, unfortunately, a level of corrupt thinking that can make even the most perfect document seem useless unless we have people who are responsible for its application to work. In other words, we can make attempts at writing a terrific, catchall Constitution but it still takes lawful officials to carry out its mandates.
In addition to the Constitution, I have attempted to consider the issue of status. The Virgin Islands now is a possession of the United States and that status should remain. Whether or not the Virgin Islands should remain unincorporated (un-chartered) is another issue. I firmly believe that the Virgin Islands government should become an incorporated possession and that status would make the Virgin Islands truly independent. Like Puerto Rico and other possessions did many years ago, the Virgin Islands could create a commonwealth status, which would be recognized worldwide. There is no attempt here to gain independence from the United States but rather to truly define the relationship we will have with the USA in terms of financial support, defense status, settlement of lands and other issues affecting a permanent and lasting mutually beneficial covenant for now and into the future. Without such a treaty, we will not truly gain independent, incorporated status.
Throughout the process of creating a Constitution and establishing a lasting covenant with our parent, we must be mindful of the culture that makes us all Virgin Islanders: Diversity, respect, mutual admiration and fairness to all. Without those things in mind, the creation of any governmental document would be in vain. We must keep a perspective on why we are even attempting to affect change and that is to make life better for us all.

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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.