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July 29, 2003 – Yesterday, during a Legislative Special Session Senator Shawn-Michael Malone voted in the affirmative to support the three measures proposed by the Governor.
Three measures that were requested by the by the Governor, Bill No. 25-0053, to amend Act. No. 6587, and Bill No. 25-0054, to give the Governor the power to dissolve the Housing Authority Board and appoint an interim board for 180 days. Another measure, Bill No 25-0055, also requested by the Governor, was also passed to ensure controls of the spending, specifically for the $65,000,000 for St. Croix in the bonding authorization contained in Bill No. 25-0053. "One of the most notable amendments was the increase of $20,000,000 to finance the economic development initiatives on the island of St. Croix and that any of the economic initiatives financed through these bonds will be subject to approval by the Legislature," said Senator Malone.
The most controversial measure on the agenda was Bill No. 25-0054 which authorizes the dissolution of the current Board of Commissioners of the Virgin Islands Housing Authority and to appoint an interim board. "After extensive testimony, hours of probing, and the acquisition of pertinent information, the decision became clear; that we were not in a position to further antagonize the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). If we did not vote to dissolve the board, a more rapid attempt to move the authority into involuntary receivership, or federal takeover, would be inevitable. In other words, the authorization granted by the Senate will help the governor in negotiating with HUD to avoid involuntary receivership," explained Senator Malone. "I am confident that the Administration has proposed the best avenue to tackle this unfortunate situation in a valued effort to steer this agency out of its current "troubled" status," Senator Malone said.
"It became crystal clear to me from the testimony given last night that VIHA was not given the same opportunity other housing authorities are given before they go into receivership, as established in HUD's regulations governing receivership matters. I contend that the way HUD has gone about this matter is grossly unfair to the VIHA," Senator Malone continued. "However, since the Virgin Islands is a territory of the United States and VIHA is a 100% federally funded agency, leaves very little room for us to fight HUD on this matter," Senator Malone said. "I hope that this latest episode of "federal intervention" puts all of us in government on notice that we must take our jobs much more seriously and work to minimize mismanagement, waste and abuse," Senator Malone warned.

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