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Cruz Bay
Monday, October 3, 2022


Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg has urged the administration to immediately fill the lingering vacancies and term expirations that he says are crippling the operations of two important boards — the Public Services Commission and the Industrial Development Commission.
The PSC, which has seven voting members and two non-voting members from the sitting Legislature, has three expired terms and once vacancy.
Two terms have expired and one position is vacant on the seven-seat IDC.
"It should be noted that three PSC commissioners' terms have expired since you took office," Donastorg wrote Turnbull this week. "You indicated during your campaign that restoring a sense of fairness and balance to the Public Services Commission was among your goals. Unfortunately, appointing just and informed citizens to the PSC has not been a priority.
"Is the PSC issue any less crucial since your election? I think not, but rather believe that this matter becomes more pressing the longer you allow it to fester," Donastorg wrote in the letter released Wednesday.
The terms of controversial chairman Walter Challenger and member Dora Hill both expired June 2, while attorney Desmond Maynard's term has been over since July 1998. The current members are Patrick Williams, Alecia Wells and Luther Renee.
The PSC has come under fire in the last year for deciding not to proceed with a Senate-requested investigation of the V.I. Telephone Corp.'s phone rates. V.I. Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt is currently auditing that now-notorious action.
Donastorg's said his concerns for the IDC are just as grave.
"Equally calamitous," he wrote, "is your failure to appoint new members to the Industrial Development Commission. This poorly functioning commission is in desperate need of qualified members as well as a radical procedure and policy overhaul."
The terms of IDC members John Woods and Elizabeth Rios expired in November 1998. The vacant post is the one required to be filled by a St. Thomas-St. John labor representative.
The director of Internal Revenue, who is now Claudette Farrington, and the commissioner of Tourism, which is now filled in an acting capacity by Assistant Commissioner Monique Sibilly-Hodge, are members of the IDC by virtue of their positions. The other current seats belong to St. Croix members Marcia Hollins and Eling Joseph, whose terms expire in September.
Government House spokesperson James O'Bryan said Wednesday that Turnbull has been reviewing potential nominees, and he will send names to the Legislature soon.
"I know we have been working on some recommendations, but I'm not certain they were sent down to the Legislature before the governor left for Denmark," O'Bryan said. "I assume they will be sent down shortly after the governor returns this weekend."
Donastorg harshly criticized the delay.
"The people of this territory both expect and deserve fair representation on these commissions and your failure to appoint new members is a grave disappointment," he wrote. "I am sure it is also disappointing to the many federal agencies that hoped you would help to restore order to this government and its regulatory agencies."
Donastorg also voiced concern that former commission members are interfering with Turnbull's attempts to appoint new IDC and PSC members.
"I am aware of an attempt by sitting commissioners to 'hand pick' their replacements," he wrote. "Let it be noted that I find this entirely unacceptable as it is your duty to select the best individuals for the job."

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