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Friday, August 19, 2022
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YES, DO MORE WITH LESS

Recent calls by a few of our lawmakers to reduce the number of members on the V.I. Casino Control Commission sound like something to rally around.
After all, the CCC, purely a regulatory agency, has been in business for almost four years now, and what has it accomplished for St. Croix? Just the Treasure Bay casino on the horizon, a tough call against the Black Hawk application and Mario de Chabert's newly submitted application.
Then we have Sen. Roosevelt David astutely pointing out that the territory now finds itself in a terrible financial crunch. The good senator says that by reducing the size of the CCC from seven to four members, the government will save some $250,000 a year in salaries alone. Casino commissioners earn $80,000 annually in their full-time positions.
A fat paycheck, indeed. But currently, there are only two commissioners on the CCC, Chairwoman Eileen Petersen and Imelda Dizon, collecting such a check. Gov. Charles Turnbull has yet to appoint any new members, probably because such a plum position has to go to the most connected…, oops, the most qualified person. Until then, nothing of import can happen as far as casinos go.
But back to David's proposal. He has stated publicly that CCC members have "collected substantial salaries without substantial results." He also said he's confident that the commission will be able "to do more with less" in the future.
OK, David's proposal has merit. But if were talking cuts, saving money and singing the "what have ya done for me lately?" song, let's take a look at Sen. David and his 14 esteemed colleagues in the V.I. Legislature.
Those 15, $65,000-a-year salaries alone almost hit the $1 million-a-year mark. Last time we checked, that was about the third most expensive state legislature in the entire nation. And that's for a community of about 110,00 men, women and children.
And other than the HOVIC/HOVENSA joint venture ratification, we're hard pressed to think of anything substantial that David and his colleagues have done for St. Croix in the same amount of time the CCC has been in existence.
Unless, of course, one counts the island's poor economic performance.
If senators are serious about saving money, then they should have a little talk with one of their own, Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg. More than a year ago, Donastorg introduced legislation that cuts the number of the senators from 15 to nine.
That, Donastorg maintains, would save the government $6 million a year.
Let's see, $250,000 versus $6 million. Hmmm?

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