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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, May 30, 2024
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The Gang of Fifteen

Dear Source:
Today let us talk of the voting for the final passage of our new Constitution as constructed by the delegates of our Constitutional Convention. First of all let us speak to what I like to refer to as the Gang of Fifteen, certain delegates, led by Adelbert Bryan and Gerard Emanuel, who voted themselves economic benefits and special privileges. The most egregious of these special privileges was reserving the right to run for Governor or Lieutenant Governor to only certain classes of citizens. Does anyone but me think that delegates getting tax exemptions and other perqs from this constitution should have recused themselves from the vote? They seem to have been very self-serving in this regard. When a point was made about the loss of revenue caused by these tax breaks they then concocted a scheme to destroy the EDC program by mandating a closure time for beneficiaries of the program. Would the Senate like to step up and comment on that usurping of their legislation?
Next let us speak to the five delegates, led by former Governor Charles Turnbull, who opposed these and/or other provisions of the document but held their collective noses and voted yes anyway. They say that they "do not want their votes to be construed as an endorsement of the document" but that's what it is. What were you thinking? The lame excuse seems to be that they felt that the citizens deserved to vote on something. This is something alright but nothing that will meet with the approval of our territory's citizens.
Finally let us get to those, led by Senator Craig Barshinger, who did not deem it necessary on their part to show up for or even call in for the vote. Mind you, the Gang of Fifteen got this approved by getting their incarcerated member, Kendall Petersen, to vote from his jail cell, which, by the way, was the deciding vote.
Maybe some of these five people had been so worn down they decided they were through with the whole concept of a constitution. Maybe some of them ran for delegate only to have their names in the news and kissed off really working on this over a year ago. Sadly, there are those of us who feel that some were no shows because they found it expedient to cover their behinds from the political fence on which they were sitting. Our votes for you as delegates deserved more than that. The aspirations of our people deserved more than that.
At this point the Governor should give this document a nay vote, although we know he won't. It will go forward to Washington where they will look at it and say, "What were they thinking?" Our fifth try for a Constitution will be a failure. Ten years from now I would advise the Legislature of that period to write into the rules of the Sixth Constitutional Convention that no delegates from any previous convention need apply. As Albert Einstein once said "You can't fix a problem with the mind that created it."
Michael A. Monagle
Christiansted, St. Croix

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