The Rules and Judiciary Committee approved three St. Croix residents’ nominations to government boards Monday: John Clendinen to the Public Services Commission; Roberto Cintron to the V.I. Port Authority Board of Governors; and Keith O’Neale Jr. for a second five-year term on the Public Finance Authority Board.
All three of Gov. John deJongh Jr.’s nominees will now receive up or down votes before the full Senate at its next session.
O’Neale said he supported using PFA funds to prop up the government budget in recent years, even though he might not support a private company taking on the debt.
"Even though borrowing to cover day-to day-expenses goes against my every instinct as a businessman, I looked at the big picture and beyond what the numbers or common business practices would dictate," O’Neale testified. "In the private sector, if you cannot cover your expenses you cut labor first, but in such a small community where so many people work for and depend upon the government to sustain themselves, the ramifications of so many people being out of work would have been untenable. I voted for what I thought was in the best interest of the Virgin Islands people," he said.
He also said he supported unpopular PFA projects in the past, when he believed it will help the territory, and promised to continue to support capital spending that he believes will help the people of the territory.
"I have also voted on bond issuances for the construction of the Diageo plant on my home of St. Croix, the expansion of the Cruzan Rum plant, the refurbishment and repair of the Christiansted boardwalk, the construction of the Christiansted bypass and the construction of the Charles Wesley Turnbull Library, just to name a few. These are all projects that will have long-term positive impacts," he said.
"We are competing against other jurisdictions that are willing to give more than we have given to our partners and ask for far less in return,” he said. “We cannot give away our resources for a pittance but we must be cognizant that we are a small competitor on a huge global scale and must be prepared to act bigger if we want better. We must be aggressive and we must learn to be comfortable with some risk."
Raised on St. Croix, O’Neale received a bachelors of business administration from Howard University in Washington, D.C. He owns O’Neale’s Transport Inc. on St. Croix.
Cintron was born and raised on St. Croix and graduated the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2000.
He worked in Orlando for five years as an engineering consultant, and then upon receiving his engineering license in 2005 he returned to St. Croix and started with Public Works, becoming assistant commissioner in 2006. He resigned five years later, in January 2011, after his father’s passing, to run the family’s land development business. He is president of Jay-Ro-Mar Inc. and a co-owner of New Wave Development.
Cintron has performed private engineering consulting, land development and surveying while also serving on the Board of Land Use Appeals.
A sixth-generation Cruzan, Clendinen is president and chief executive officer of Inner Circle Logistics, an Economic Development Commission tax benefit recipient in Frederiksted. "Our company’s tools, products and services leverage technology to provide internet infrastructure, database services and web services tools in an inexpensive and easy to use format," he said.
Clendinen started the company while on leave from teaching at Harvard Business School. He was in the U.S. Marine Corps for 38 years and retired in 2009 as a lieutenant colonel.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in education, a master’s degree in psychology, a military equivalent to a master’s degree in communications engineering, and then received an MBA in international finance from Harvard Graduate School of Business. Clendinen was a senior member of the faculty at Harvard Business School from 1998 to 2002.
There was no opposition to any of the candidates. All three have delinquent tax obligations, which senators asked about. All three said they are working with the V.I. government to pay them off.
Several senators, including Sens. Diane Capehart and Janette Millin Young, said it was important to look into potential financial issues with candidates, but that tax issues would not be a barrier so long as they were being addressed with Internal Revenue Bureau.
Voting in favor of each nominee were Capehart, Young, Sens. Kenneth Gittens, Donald Cole and Sammuel Sanes. Sens. Shawn-Michael Malone and Myron Jackson were absent.