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IDC, PSC VACANCIES LINGER

Seven vacant positions on the Public Services Commission and the Industrial Development Commission await appointments by Gov. Charles Turnbull as members whose terms have expired continue to serve and make decisions.
The PSC, which has seven voting members and two non-voting members from the sitting Legislature, has three expired terms and one vacancy, its Executive Director Kiethly Joseph said Tuesday.
The terms of controversial Chairman Walter Challenger and Dora Hill, both from St. Thomas, expired June 2, while attorney Desmond Maynard's term has been over since July 1998.
Under V.I. law, members serve three-year terms and may serve until a successor is sworn in. According to Joseph, new appointees are not immediately sworn in so they can attend meetings and gain some experience of the commission's operations.
Of the current members, Patrick Williams' term expires in March 2000, Alecia Wells' expires in April 2001 and Luther Renee's expires in July 2000.
Despite the lingering appointments and vacancies, the PSC is continuing to meet and is functioning normally, Joseph said.
On the IDC, which has seven members, two members' terms have expired and one position is vacant, acting IDC Executive Director Frandelle Gerard said Tuesday.
The terms of both St. Thomas member John Woods and St. Croix member 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 by virtue of their positions.
The other current seats belong to St. Croix members Marcia Hollins and Eling Joseph, whose terms expire in September. Joseph is an assistant to Jeffrey Prosser, two of whose companies — the V.I. Telephone Corp. and the V.I. Community Bank — have IDC benefits.
Government House spokesman James O'Bryan did not respond to a phone message Tuesday asking about the status of nominations to the two regulatory commissions.
It is the appointment of Frandelle Gerard to head the IDC, however — or rather the Senate's handling of it — that has come under the most scrutiny so far. In published reports over the weekend, it was reported that the Senate Rules Committee, chaired by Sen. Anne Golden, had missed a deadline for considering Gerard's nomination.
The deadline was previously thought to be July 4, but according to Golden's office, a ruling from the Senate legal counsel, and Gerard herself, the actual deadline is 180 days from Gerard's April 14 appointment, putting the date somewhere in mid-October.
At a Rules Committee meeting late last month, Golden said Gerard had not submitted the questionnaire all appointees are required to fill out before their confirmation hearings.
"The nominee has been contacted by my staff on more than one occasion and has not returned the call," Golden said.
Gerard said the reason she has not submitted her questionnaire yet is that she wants time to adequately assess the IDC's operations. Her questionnaire should be submitted to the Rules Committee soon, she said
"It's difficult to know right away what's going on with the IDC," Gerard said. "It's going to take a few months, so it's not filled out in a theoretical vacuum, or based on public opinion. It's much better to get your feet wet first."
The IDC has not had a permanent director since 1993. Former Gov. Roy L. Schneider's two proposed executive directors – Louis Paiewonsky III and Dwain Ford – were both given unfavorable recommendations by the Legislature and withdrew their nominations.

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