St. John is at a crossroads. Do we admit that outside developers have taken over St. John, or do we stand together and demand that our government follow the laws and regulations that protect us?
The recent SirenUSA rezoning under the sponsorship of Senator White was slipped into the waning minutes of Legislative Session. It passed. (No St. Johnians were in the legislative chambers, the bill wasn't even on the agenda.) The bill was sent to Governor deJongh, who has ten days from last Monday to sign or veto it.
Daily I am asked why the senate took this action. I cannot tell you because I was not there when the decision was being made, but I do have a small piece of the story to share with you: That which transpired on the night of March 23, 2007. The legislative Committee of the Whole met at 6:30 pm on St. John to hear testimony on the SirenUSA rezoning request. It was a crowd of several hundred, spilling out of the Chambers into the street. The SirenUSA developers had packed the Chambers with their workers (who were being paid). Many persons outside wanted to testify, but the signup sheet was not being circulated to those outside.
I got a pad and pen from Legislative staff to allow those outside to sign up to testify. Senator White saw what I was doing and launched a tirade about my not being a senator, and he instructed the sergeant-at-arms to forbid me from approaching the steps leading to the Chambers. Nonetheless, I circulated a sign up sheet outside. Thirty additional St. Johnians signed up to testify. (The vast majority was opposed to the rezoning.) I managed to get the sheet of testifiers in to senate president Usie Richards, and he graciously and appropriately allowed ALL testifiers to testify. Senator White noted that by allowing additional testifiers it was defeating the strategy of packing the Chambers with SirenUSA employees; he tried to block my action. Fortunately someone else carried the sheet of testifiers into the Chambers for me.
I felt it was important to reveal this, because Senator White stands in opposition to St. Johnians. The St. Johnians he opposes are black and white, young and old, man and woman, native and immigrant, rich and poor. He stands with developers who have no long-term connection to St. John.
Senator White is hypocritical. He portrays himself as being for the black, native Virgin Islander. Yet time and again he votes for rezonings that erode our local culture and local way of life. Does Senator White's clowning around give him the right to destroy Virgin Islands culture from within? Remember Botany Bay.
I am taking aim at Senator White's hypocrisy because I am well aware that the Senate Fox has the ability to persuade others to do his bidding. But I will not stand by and say nothing while he is hurting us, the people of the Virgin Islands, by his style of "leadership".
I call upon the people of St. John to continue to use your political voices. There are those who would divide us. But our connections are deep, and our differences superficial. SirenUSA has displeased St. Johnians on many accounts. Let our governor and our senators hear your voice. Ask your elected leaders to represent you with integrity and respect.
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