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Carnival Lodging, Travel Free for Senators

V.I. senators will get free travel and accommodations to come to St. Thomas for V.I. Carnival next month, according to a memorandum sent to all Legislature staff Monday.

The memo signed by Senate President Ronald Russell outlines administrative leave for central staff during Carnival. St. Thomas central staff is scheduled for a half day off April 25 for Food Fair, a full day off April 26 and 27 for J’Ouvert and Children’s Parade. St. Croix staff will have April 27 off, to fly over for the Children’s Parade.

Acknowledging the government’s fiscal crisis, the memo couches the free travel and lodgings for senators in terms of overall cost savings. "We will have our customary booth, but to cut expenses, we are trying to arrange for in-kind donations for food and drinks," Russell wrote.

"Additionally, travel and hotel accommodations will be provided to Senators only. Travel will not be provided for senatorial or central staff employees," he said.

Sources within the Legislature said it was unusual to formally announce that senators will get free travel and lodging for Carnival and the past practice had been to schedule an informational committee hearing the day before, so the government would pay for senators to travel for government business.

However a scan of V.I. Senate calendars posted at the V.I. Source show that no such hearing occurred right before 2011 V.I. Carnival. On April 26, 2010, the day before Carnival Village opened, there was an informational hearing scheduled "to discuss the status of housing in the territory," and no other hearings that week or the following week.

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