V.I. senators find new ways to appall us
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I am a little surprised not only to read about the blame game that is going on, but also on the senators' creative response to fixing the budget problems:
"On Wednesday, Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone told The Daily News that the plan at that point was to offer budget bills at the Senate session without considering the estimated $35 million shortfall to the General Fund from the reduced cover-over advance, because the money might be forthcoming at any point during the fiscal year." (The Daily News, Sept. 26, 2013)
I have been critical of the governor in a lot of areas, but he has changed the direction that was set by the last two governors. They had set us on a path to destruction. Now the Police Department is doing better, the schools are doing better, Public Works has begun to build new roads. Many of the government departments are getting better.
It appears, however, that the V.I. Senate is still doing some very questionable activities. A year ago, we found out that they had stolen almost as much as we paid them and no one was held accountable. Some leaders of the community borrowed money from the taxpayers and have not paid it back and they will not tell us who it was. A couple of years ago, the senators gave the finger to DPNR and made everyone who had more than the legal number of apartments in their buildings legal. No need for building permits or inspections, no need to make sure they comply with life safety codes or zoning codes. Does that make us liable if a building catches on fire due to faulty wiring and the bedrooms not having windows so people can escape?
Now the senators want to change their term from two years to four years so they can eliminate all that wasted time campaigning and really get some work done.
A couple of years ago the governor wanted to reduce the budget by allowing department commissioners to eliminate jobs that were not needed or workers not doing their jobs. The senators decided it would be better to keep the deadwood and lower everyone's pay. I know, I keep saying this but I cannot imagine that this encouraged the employees that were doing their jobs to work a harder.
A few months ago, the senators killed the agreement with HOVENSA. It was by no means perfect but it would get that problem behind us and we could start working on the future. Now we are facing millions of dollars of legal fees. Yes, a response by the Senate was made but it appeared to be just a different solution not a better solution. HOVENSA is a dead cow. Venezuela and Hess can fight this out until the Virgin Islands is bankrupt and we still will be stuck with a rusted out monument to the good old days.
Yes, we can continue to have fish fries to elect senators and have them bless our illegal apartments and not worry about the fact that our future and our kids future is being negativity impacted by the way our leaders operate - or we can hold them accountable to working for the community; in the end it is up to us.
Maybe we should consider one year terms until we get the problems fixed.
- Greg Miller, St. Thomas