I wish to extend an open-arm welcome to Donna Ayala and the members of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) team to the Virgin Islands. I also wish to thank Michael Liu of HUD for his commitment and perseverance. I've waited a long time for the federal government to say: "enough is enough." I have no doubt that, with the commitment of the employees at the V.I. Housing Authority, the tenants of VIHA and taxpayers will be better served.
I can only hope the message sent in HUD's takeover of the VIHA is heard by other government agencies and, more importantly, the appointed board members. Board members and commissioners have a fiduciary responsibility in accepting the position to which they are appointed and ultimately confirmed by the Legislature. VIHA has on the payroll individual(s) who are charged to do reconciliation and bookkeeping; yet someone — or maybe several people — did not do their job. Those who were charged with the recording, keeping, accounting, and booking functions of the Housing Authority should be held responsible.
Ditto goes for the members of the Housing Authority board who failed in fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility. Unfortunately Ray Fonseca was made the scapegoat, and shame on the governor for allowing it to happen. I only hope that HUD will recruit Mr. Fonseca and benefit from the inside knowledge he possesses and brings to the table.
I cannot stress enough the importance of identifying individuals from the private sectors who have experience to serve on government boards and commissions. There is a wealth of knowledge and a work ethic that is not being tapped into. Knowledge and work ethic, if properly applied, can only lead to improvement in servicing the needs of the public.
To think after all these years this government still cannot account for what it takes in! If it is safe to assume that government cannot account for what it takes in, is it not safe to say this government cannot account for what it spends? The recent accounting problem at the Housing Authority is a classic example of just one of the problems this government faces. What is next to be exposed? Government Employees' Retirement System, Public Works, Property & Procurement, or the Department of Finance? You guess.
Already far too much of what this government takes in is committed to payroll and to meet debt obligations. Not much is left to invest in upgrading equipment, purchasing materials, or for training.
We are at a point where for every $1 we borrow we need to cut $2, and this alone will not solve the problem. It must be done in conjunction with a real effort to collect delinquent taxes, fees, and loans combined with some tax increases; like it or not, we must look at privatization of some government functions. If the lack of movement on Ramada Yacht Haven Hotel and Marina Project is any indication of how committed this administration is to getting online new revenues streams and employment, we are in trouble. We can do better! What is needed is a new attitude and new approach to dealing with old problems.
Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to email@example.com.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.