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V.I.'s SHORTCOMINGS 'IN YOUR FACE'

Dear Source:
I felt compelled to add my two cents to the thought-provoking op-ed submitted by Ms. Catherine Lockhart Mills entitled "IS GRAFT A WAY OF LIFE IN THE V.I.? As one of those former residents of St. Thomas, now residing in Atlanta, Georgia, I must share some information in defense of where I called my home for the past 25 years. My extensive travel and research reveal that the Virgin Islands, like Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Miami, New York, and many other popular locales suffer from similar forms of public corruption brought about by gross mismanagement of financial and human resources.
I have traveled to, and become familiar with conditions on one other U.S. possession, notably Guam. Perhaps the reason why Guam is not as prominently featured with political and socioeconomic chaos is because its development and existence is still primarily focused around their strategically located U.S. naval base, and is not touted as the American Paradise. When you are six thousand miles from the U.S. mainland and on the other side of the international dateline, negatives are not "in your face."
I too, have heard "rumors" of graft and corruption as depicted in the infamous Wall Street Journal article. Yes, people are leaving the V.I. but they don't necessarily escape ineffective government. What they might achieve is indeed a higher quality of life as Mills made reference to. That quality of life to me, does not always have to equate with one's ethnicity, nor their economic or social status. It is merely a closer correlation between the taxes one pays and the services he or she receives in the form of infrastructure maintenance, health care, quality of education, housing, and reasonable protection from criminal acts.
When that changes for the better, as has been done elsewhere, the V.I. will once again live up to its nickname–America's Paradise.
So to my former colleague and friend, I say: Some conditions are universal, it's just that in a smaller arena, there is nowhere to retreat.
John C. Schleifer
Atlanta, Ga.

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