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Wednesday, July 6, 2022


Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole, who voted early Saturday morning to pass the "Prosser bill," said a proposal put forward two days later by a Prosser competitor, Gordon Ackley, should "be written in a concrete contract" before it is considered.
"What the Prosser bill has done is to induce other businesses to come forward and offer things in exchange for this kind of quid pro quo deal," Cole said.
"This is exactly what we're talking about," said St. Croix businessman Sam Raphael, who testified against the Prosser bill at the Committee of the Whole meeting that convened Friday morning and didn't break up until early Saturday morning. "The way the Telecommunications Act is written, other companies should get a level playing field. We're going to deplete the tax base."
Sen. Gregory Bennerson, who also voted in favor of the Prosser bill, said he would support consideration of any similar ills placed before the Legislature.
On Monday, Ackley, a businessman and telecommunications veteran, delivered a proposal to all 15 senators as well as Gov. Charles W. Turnbull and Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II, calling for full tax breaks for his company for 30 years, just as senators gave businessman Jeffrey Prosser.
In exchange, Ackley said he would give the government $10 million for public projects, a telecommunications training center on St. Croix, free Internet connections to all public schools, space around his towers for public parks and green areas and free use of tower sites for government emergency communications equipment.
Ackley owns VIAccess, an Internet service provider, and Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR), which provides two-way radio and mobile communications. He has begun developing wireless digital subscriber lines for the territory as well, and says that by September he will be able to provide both local and long-distance voice service to local subscribers.
Currently he is providing direct wireless Internet service to 50 business customers.
No one was available at Government House as of publication to discuss the Ackley Companies' proposal.

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