Dec. 5, 2002 – Innovative Communications Corp.'s vice president for corporate affairs, Holland Redfield, fired back a response on Wednesday to Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg's public request to the governor for an investigation into Innovative Telephone's tax-breaks compliance record and various allegations of wrongdoing.
"The political barrage on the part of Sen. Donastorg once again is full of baseless accusations, half-truths and outright misrepresentations," Redfield said.
Donastorg wrote Gov. Charles W. Turnbull on Tuesday urging an investigation into Innovative Telephone's compliance with various Economic Development Commission requirements that allow the company near 100-percent tax benefits. (See "Donastorg: Mass phone company firings won't do".)
A reported request from the phone company last month to meet with the EDC to discuss the possibility of ending the tax breaks –and the conditions attached thereto — has prompted public outcry from Sen. Adelbert Bryan as well as Donastorg.
Redfield said on Wednesday that Innovative is only in the "exploratory stages" of discussing its EDC benefits.
The move comes on the heels of an eight-week strike by more than 300 members of the United Steelworkers Union of America employed by Innovative Telephone and Innovative Cable TV. During that time, about one-quarter of the striking workers were replaced by the company and will likely lose their jobs as a result.
It is the Legislature's continued interference with the phone company's operations that instigated talk of terminating the tax breaks, according to Redfield, who served eight terms as a V.I. senator. "The recent legislative involvement has been counterproductive, which has led the company to investigate whether the continuation of these benefits is a burden rather than a benefit on its day-to-day operations," he said.
Redfield added that "in no way will any decisions it makes be linked to the labor unrest the company has been experiencing."
Noting that Donastorg has lawsuits pending against ICC several companies, Redfield added, "Anything negative he says about the company will certainly help his case."
Redfield's release also said that Donastorg's letter to Turnbull and the press release issued with it to the news media "almost exactly track" legal action that has been filed by the union. He pointed out that legal action also is pending to stop the Legislature from attempting to invade both executive branch functions and the labor-management process.
Contrary to Donastorg's claims that Innovative Telephone has failed to comply with the commission's requirements, Redfield said, the company has fully complied — and in some cases gone beyond its obligations. "Innovative has invested in excess of $138 million, way above and over the $100 million requirement that the benefits were based on in the EDC program," the ICC executive said.
Redfield said the public views the EDC program benefits as a gift, rather than a partnership to benefit both the community and the recipient. "Clearly the government should re-evaluate the program with an emphasis on developing a positive understanding as to why EDC companies and the community equally benefit from such tax incentive and employment programs," he said.
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