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Sunday, February 25, 2024


June 15, 2001 — Despite calls for it to drop its lawsuit against the Legislature, the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce board of directors voted Thursday to press on with its effort to see the number of senators reduced.
"The board is stronger and even more vigorously behind the lawsuit," Carmelo Rivera, chamber president, said. "We will stand behind it."
The chamber board met Thursday to reconsider its June 1 decision to sue in an effort to force the Legislature to act in accordance with a referendum last November on reducing the number of senators from 15 to either 11 or nine. Out of more than 33,000 voters, some 15,000 expressed the desire for a nine-member Senate.
Legislators, except for Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, have been reluctant to acknowledge the mandate, pointing to opinions by the V.I. attorney general and supervisor of elections that a referendum is not binding.
Nonetheless, Rivera said, the sheer number of votes made it "very clear that they wanted some reform here."
Rivera said the chamber board voted to form a committee to look at election reform options, including districting and numbered seats. He said committee members will consider the viability of beginning the ballot initiative process aimed at reducing the number of senators.
"We will certainly be considering that," Rivera said. "It’s very simple: Government accountability is crucial to economic development. This is not self-serving. Good government is good for everyone."
The chamber decision to move ahead with its lawsuit came after the presidents of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, and St. Croix Hotel and Tourism Association wrote to Rivera last week saying the lawsuit would make it difficult for the groups to accomplish future goals that involve working with the Senate. Those goals include establishment of a private-public partnership tourism authority, tax reform and implementation of portions of the administration’s five-year economic plan.

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