Gov. Charles Turnbull's refusal to nominate qualified citizens to fill board and commission vacancies continues to shortchange the interests of the residents of St. Croix. It's a known fact that the board of trustees of the University of the Virgin Islands is absent two members from the St. Croix private sector, while the V. I. Port Authority board also operates with two vacant chairs that should be filled with Crucians. This vacuum of opinion does not allow for a balanced representation of the citizens of all islands; instead, St. Croix has little or no voice in the actions of some of these government agencies.
As a case in point, just recently, the Port Authority board met to discuss a number of issues, one of which was a proposal by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines to allow fuel bunkering on St. Thomas. As I understand it, the Port Authority staff recommended that the board not accept the proposal for two main reasons. The first one was that if Royal Caribbean was allowed to bunker fuel on St. Thomas, the action diminished the chances of St. Croix attracting the cruise line back to its port in Frederiksted where fuel bunkering is available. The second reason was an environmental one; as the St. Thomas harbor is not a naturally flushing harbor, an oil spill could cause much damage.
Despite the reasons articulated by the Port Authority staff, the board members at the meeting, consisting of three from St. Thomas and only one from St. Croix, took the opposite tack and voted to approve Royal Caribbean's proposal. The only dissenting vote came from the St. Croix member. The outcome of this vote may well have been different if the Port Authority board had fair representation from St. Croix. It's interesting to note that the Port Authority staff, and in particular Executive Director Gordon Finch, were the group arguing for the interests of St. Croix.
This is but one example in a string of many, of how the people of St. Croix have not been and still are not being fairly treated by the present administration. Their interests are not being served, their voices are not being heard, and their futures are not being considered by Gov. Turnbull. St. Croix needs and deserves better, as we all do.
John de Jongh
Candidate for Governor
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ST. CROIX IS SHORTCHANGED BY BOARD VACANCIES
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