Senate passes vote of no confidence in Gov. deJongh
Published: September 28, 2013
Font size: [A] [A] [A]
ST. THOMAS - The 30th Legislature on Friday took a vote of no confidence in Gov. John deJongh Jr.
Sen. Terrence Nelson made the motion.
"We know that this administration is going to go down as the worst," he said.
The "no confidence" vote passed, but with only half of the senators present voting. Seven senators who were at the session chose not to vote at all on the measure.
Government House had no comment Friday on the vote of no confidence, according to spokesman Jean Greaux Jr.
The only direct effect of the no-confidence vote is that the Senate has put on the record that it has no confidence in the governor, according to Legislative legal counsel Lisa Moorhead.
"I've never known of it to happen," she said.
The measure passed with six senators voting yes, one voting no, one absent, and seven not voting.
Those voting "no confidence" in the governor were Senators Craig Barshinger, Diane Capehart, Kenneth Gittens, Nelson, Nereida Rivera-O'Reilly and Janette Millin Young. Sen. Tregenza Roach is the only senator who voted against the action.
Senators Judi Buckley, Clifford Graham, Alicia Hansen, Myron Jackson, Shawn-Michael Malone, Clarence Payne III, and Sammuel Sanes were present and on the floor but opted not to vote on the measure. Sen. Donald Cole was absent.
Because only seven senators voted, six yes votes meant the motion carried.
The no-confidence vote punctuates a week in which the governor and senators battled it out over the territory's airwaves, in press releases and in public statements - all while the territory's financial crisis seemed to deepen, with the Fiscal Year 2014 budget hanging in the balance.
On Wednesday morning, deJongh gave a radio address, lambasting senators again about their Aug. 7 rejection of a proposed agreement his administration negotiated with HOVENSA, urging them again to ratify it and blaming them for the territory's fiscal woes.
"This budget hole was partly dug by their past inactions, their past votes and their unwillingness to deal with the reality that for too long has been right in front of us all. They have long known of the financial situation and this body has not passed one single revenue-raising measure," the governor said. "They have, however, found the energy to criticize me and my financial team but yet not offered any alternatives."
By Wednesday afternoon, senators had volleyed back, with Malone releasing a statement saying that in his opinion, ratifying "such a flawed agreement" would have been a violation of the public trust. He said the governor should stop pointing fingers and get to work renegotiating an improved agreement with HOVENSA.
Sen. Clifford Graham, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, made reference to deJongh's "contemptuous radio address" in a statement he released the same day. He said that the finger-pointing needed to stop so that everyone could work together to deal with the territory's "dire" financial situation.
On Friday, Nelson said the no-confidence vote is a way of saying "we are in disagreement with the direction this administration has gone."
Nelson also released a letter dated Sept. 7 from deJongh to Malone, in which deJongh writes about a meeting he had with senators Sept. 4 and the concerns senators raised about the HOVENSA agreement.
The governor writes that he is willing to try to get "clarifications and confirmations" from HOVENSA on those issues, but only if Malone provides him with "written assurance" that he has commitments from a majority of senators that they will approve and ratify the agreement after they receive the clarifications.
- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email email@example.com.