The latest buzzing taking place on the radio talk shows is in response to a the letter by Senate President Hill asking for the removal of the Police Commissioner. It has definitely evoked strong sentiments concerning the commissioner's performance and how effective he has been in combating the VI crime problem.
This hot debate, however, has not distracted me from another controversy taking place in our territory. Yes, once more I would like to shift the focus to what I referred to as "Constitutional Conundrum." A stalemate still exists in this 5th Constitutional Convention. Two fractions of the convention are embattled with each other and neither side has a 2/3 majority. Ironically, though, the convention is demanding more time and money.
It is hilarious that the convention delegates are unable to reach a consensus, yet they would beg for an extension & additional funds. This must be another comedy moment. They must not be serious. Time draws near and some delegates are still searching for their identity and have forgotten the deadline to finalize the document.
Constitutional stonewalling or comical drama are not appropriate at this most critical moment. This is the 5th attempt to draft a document that is acceptable to the people of the USVI. The chief executive has made it explicit that there is a cash flow problem; the 2006 property taxes have just been issued; Hovenza has laid off many employees, cost of living is increasing, revenue collection is not increasing, etc. There is a proposal to place the inhabitants of the USVI into three classes which promotes divisiveness. So far, two plenary sessions have been conducted and the convention has failed to approve a final draft.
Although the public has been bombarded with rhetoric from convention delegates and the delegates have been given ample opportunities to dialog with the citizenry, they are now saying monies are needed for public education. In my opinion, the delegates that voted for most recent draft are the ones that need to be enlightened. They should scrutinize the mandate relating to how a VI Constitution should be written. Do they read the newspapers and pay attention to the radio talk shows? Do they understand that the document has to get congressional approval and should reflect the will of the people?
Apparently, there is a fraction that supports a document that is not consistent with the U.S. Constitution and does not take into account the diversity of the USVI. These delegates are suffering from constitutional amnesia and constitutional constipation. What were the reasons the previous four conventions failed? The answer is simple. The document produced did not comply with the will of the people.
"We the People" does not mean a selected few. The electorate of the 21st century are more informed and politically savvy than those 3 decades ago. There was a definition for a Virgin Islander in the 4th draft and the voters rejected it. In 2009, there are more naturalized citizens and they are more vocal than ever. The message has been sent that they will not agree to be classify as a third class citizen. While a minority of naturalized citizens is brainwashed and has been afflicted with an inferiority complex, most do not wish to be third-class citizens; the idea of being double taxed is nauseous to them.
So, in addition to being senile, the left fraction appears to be deaf. No amount of time will change the present dilemma. The left fraction wants an apartheid system, reparation and a special identity. It stubbornly refuses to compromise and consider the jeopardy of another failure. The convention does not deserve any more time or money. It needs a laxative and an infusion of common "cents."
Verdel L. Petersen
St. Croix, USVI
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.