Senators gave Gov. Albert Bryan a pat on the back in its session Thursday but also overrode his veto, which would have disallowed a cement block plant in Orange Grove across from Pueblo. The override will permit Just Right Trucking to make concrete blocks on the site.
Earlier in the session, all 15 senators voted to approve Bryan’s nomination of Lisa Alejandro as commissioner of Property and Procurement.
Sen. Donna Frett-Gregory said the nomination was one of the best decisions that Bryan has made.
Sen. Dwayne DeGraff told Alejandro, “I support you 100 percent.”
She told the senators, “I will lead with integrity.”
Sen. Marvin Blyden told her, “I look forward to seeing improvement in the department.” Delays in contracts and purchase approvals in Property and Procurement have been an ongoing concern for the territorial government.
Territorial Planner Leia LaPlace-Matthew, said in March that the Department of Planning and Natural Resources recommended the Senate deny the zoning request to allow cement block production. But senators approved it, noting that construction projects in the territory needed cement blocks. The governor subsequently vetoed the zoning change. Sens. Alma Francis Heyliger and Marise James voted to not override the veto.
Mitchell Matthew, owner of Just Right Trucking, said at the March hearing that he had already invested $2 million in the project, not realizing that he would need a zoning change.
LaPlace-Matthew said in March that making the blocks constituted an industrial enterprise and approving it would set a precedent for allowing industrial activities in areas designated for mixed business and residents.
As soon as the Senate cemented the veto Wayne Huddleston, a Christiansted resident, posted on Facebook, “We just witnessed an appalling action by Senators to override environmental protections, zoning laws, DPNR, and the Governor to allow the pollution of our community and potential poisoning of children at a nearby school so that a business owner can enrich himself.”
A press release announcing Alejandro’s nomination in February said she has more than 27 years of experience in inventory management and procurement. Seventeen of those years, according to the release, were spent in government procurement. Her titles have included contract administrator, manager of Procurement and Contracts, and chief deputy commissioner of Procurement.
All 15 senators attended the session.