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Cruz Bay
Tuesday, July 5, 2022


In a bid to convince Senate President Vargrave Richards to have the Committee of the Whole review controversial practices of the Public Services Commission, Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg is circulating a petition to his 14 colleagues seeking support for a hearing.
Donastorg said he was responding to what he claims Richards said to the media – that Richards would convene a meeting if a majority of senators supported it.
Donastorg's request goes back to a vote by the 22nd Legislature to schedule a hearing to review the PSC. The meeting never happened because the vote came so close to November's election.
The review that Donastorg has requested is, in part, to look into the PSC's dismissal of a resolution passed unanimously by the Legislature calling for a 20 percent rate reduction by the V.I. Telephone Corp. in light of almost total tax breaks that the Industrial Development Commission gave Vitelco in 1997.
After ignoring the resolution for a time, the PSC eventually hired an independent consultant to review the matter, but then ignored the consultant's advice as well as the advice of its own legal counsel, Maria Tankenson-Hodge, who resigned in protest. The consultant said there was strong evidence to support a rate-reduction investigation.
Richards has said the 23rd Legislature is not bound by the mandates of the 22nd. Donastorg, who has made three separate requests for the hearings, doesn't think it matters whether the mandate holds, according to a spokesperson in his office. Donastorg said the issue is not going to go away.
In a release Monday, Donastorg questioned how the Legislature would look if it continues to ignore the PSC issue, which he claimed may draw a federal investigation.
"Although allegations of collusion and corruption within the PSC are of great concern to the public, many government officials seem almost afraid to touch this issue," he said. "Either they are intimidated or they themselves are a part of the corruption."
The petition includes the request that all PSC members, staff and consultants appear before the Legislature to discuss the PSC's actions. He has also asked that residents and business people be allowed to testify.
Richards and other senators could not be reached for comment.

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