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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 7, 2023
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As the World Turns

Dear Source:
"The more things change, the more they stay the same…" An old cliché but one certainly applicable to the Virgin Islands in almost everything we do.
The Constitutional Convention has drawn its last breath. The agony is finally over. It appears that this group will end almost two years of arguing, fighting and childish behavior with nothing to show for it. Even if they did manage to get some kind of document passed, the wording would have to completely change to pass muster at the federal level or local level. The best thing the convention could do for the people of the Virgin Islands is to pass nothing so we won't have to go through the embarrassment of a federal rejection. End it now!
Power struggles. The Senate ousts a leader because of the dangers an audit may bring to long-time sitting Senators. Reform is a bitter pill to swallow; many Senators simply refuse to take the medicine. Calling for the ouster of a police department reformer is dangerous too; it just might point out glaring deficiencies in lack of appropriations to fix a failing police department. Changing the Executive Director of the Senate by hiring a known failure to run it is pure folly and smacks of political cronyism. The Senate is actually considering a bill that would allow the minimum amount of a construction contract to be $50,000 rather than $5000 without Property and Procure authorization. This, of course, will allow even more corruption, does nothing to protect taxpayers against fraud and even allows the government to effectively bond construction projects. Pure folly! There's more but I'm feeling ill. Just when we thought we may be moving forward it's back to the old way of doing things.
The first major wind generation pilot project in the Virgin Islands is met with resistance from WAPA. The PSC is now trying to decide if WAPA is to get a fair shake on the amount it will be required to "pay back". WAPA? The agency that has been so inefficient over the years needs a fair shake? This is a no-brainer. Here we have an investor and a business that want to help WAPA save oil and they argue that they have to pay for oil and the wind is free! Yes, the wind is free and WAPA effectively wants to make a profit on it. Silly!
The Virgin Islands Government allowed a private company to hold the exclusive rights to the St. Thomas to St. John ferry service even though VI law requires the government to run it. These private entities asked for, and received another law allowing for total control over the service. Now, when times are getting tough, they want the government to bail them out. You can't have it both ways. Fiscal mismanagement is the cause and the people of the Virgin Islands should not have to pay for that. The PSC is now trying to decide what to do as the ferry franchise needs more money and wants to raise ferry rates. The answer is very simple: Run the service like it was a public entity. Reduce the operational costs by cutting back salaries and ensuring that all profits only go back into the operation. Better yet, require that the service be a non-profit. The PSC is the only agency that can regulate utility rates. They must also regulate how utilities operate to keep rates down for the people.
Just a few thoughts before my morning coffee, have a nice day!

Paul Devine
St. John

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