Season’s Greetings and Merry Christmas to the people of the United States Virgin Islands, and to the members, families and friends of the Democratic Party. I sincerely expect you to enjoy yourselves in celebrating our Annual Christmas Festival tradition with hope and good cheer.
This season affords us the opportunity to reflect with renewed optimism as the old year ends and the New Year begins. Therefore, in light of the proposed “ArcLight Operating Agreement” and in the spirit of the season, I am calling upon the members of our Democratic Caucus in the 31st Legislature to approve this agreement and give the people of St. Croix an additional and welcome reason to celebrate the season.
We must commend the current Administration, especially Gov. Mapp, for hammering out a fair and acceptable deal, and reaffirm our position to cooperate with them where and when necessary for the benefit of moving the territory economically forward and improving the living conditions of our people.
We embrace and support the proposed agreement for the following reasons:
1. The partnership venture involving 10 percent share gives some semblance of control or ownership.
2. Funding up front to gov’t that can be used to deal with debt liquidation structures and stimulation of the economy especially on St. Croix.
3. Acquiring of hundreds of housing units and properties that can yield greater economic benefits for St. Croix.
4. Elevating transshipment and port activity in a duty free zone
5. Providing possibility of lowering the price of gas by at least 25 percent.
6. Creating greater possibility of engaging further discussion on establishing a federal base.
7. Opening doors for potential economic development including the possibility of oil refinery operation that can lead to creating much jobs and providing capital projects.
8. It is revenue intensive that is surely needed by our gov’t to take care of roads, sewage problems, housing, debt services, decent salary increases for public employees, health care and GERS issues, affordable and clean energy, etc.
We must give credit where credit is due.
As democrats, we value the dignity and worth of every employee, every worker, every citizen, black and white, Asian and Hispanic, woman and man, and not just a few.
During this yuletide season of giving, sharing and good will to one another, we must remember the most unfortunate, the left-behinds and the locked outs who are struggling to make ends meet. It will be the duty of the Legislature and the Chief Executive to determine how the $235 million from the agreement will be expended. The “Stockings” of the government employees have been empty for many holiday seasons. Now is the time for our political leaders to honor their collective bargaining agreements and give them adequate financial adjustment to their wages as they did for commissioners. As in any year of jubilation and stability, the gov’t should not forget to pay its debts including the money owed to Virgin Islands tax payers who are still waiting for the return of their overpaid tax dollars. These funds when received and spent can go a long way in revitalizing our struggling economy. It will be expended right here in this Territory.
We are a people with rich culture and traditions. Therefore, let us be nice and considerate to one another while we celebrate during the annual Crucian Festival.
May the spirit of peace, love and goodwill of this Season be with you in the coming New Year; and may you and your family have good health, good fortune and contentment.
Let’s go forward together with fairness and truth while creating new and better opportunities for our children and grandchildren. We must focus on the welfare and development of our young people.
Together, in unity, we shall achieve much more!
Editor’s note: Cecil R. Benjamin is the state chair of the Democratic Party.