Feb. 4, 2003 – Delegate Donna M. Christensen is taking to the television airwaves again next week in a half-hour program to push her bill now before Congress to establish a chief financial officer for the territory for five years and to set up an integrated financial management system for the government.
The program will air on WSVI/Channel 8 at 9 p.m. on Feb. 11 and will be repeated at 7 p.m. on Feb. 15.
As she did in a similar presentation last summer on WTJX/Channel 12, Christensen will serve as interviewer for the program. Her guests will be Natwar Gandhi, chief financial officer for the municipal government of Washington, D.C., and Kathleen Turco, chief financial officer for the federal government's General Services Administration.
The program is aimed as "exploring possible solutions to fiscal crisis in the U.S. Virgin Islands," according to a release issued from Christensen's office on Wednesday, and will focus on explaining "how chief financial officers function in various jurisdictions and agencies."
Christensen has been the target of vituperative attacks by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull — most recently in his State of the Territory Address — for introducing the bill. And in December, at its final session of 2003, the Legislature adopted a resolution condemning her actions.
But also in December, Christensen held town meetings on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John to discuss her proposal and get community feedback. For the most part, those who turned out and spoke up were supportive of her efforts — and some said they didn't go far enough.
Last August, when the territory's fiscal year 2003 crisis was making headlines, Christensen hosted a half-hour program on WTJX on options for the territory in addressing the matter and examples of how the District of Columbia dealt with its similar situation several years ago. Her guests were the D.C. congressional representative, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Larry Wilson, principal in a Washington accounting firm.
Their consensus was that a strong chief financial officer, an integrated financial management system, true competitive bidding, the cooperation of unions, and swift action could save the Virgin Islands from a federally imposed financial control board. (See "CFO, management system seen as key to recovery".)
"As we have received feedback" from the introduction of the bill, Christensen said in Wednesday's release, "we have noted that the community wants more clarification as to exactly how a CFO would function in our government, and how having such an office could help us resolve our current situation and assist us in avoiding financial crisis in the future."
She said that Gandhi and Turco "are clear in their explanations of how CFOs interact with government and the type of assistance they provide to government and ultimately to the entire community." She added: "As we continue the conversation as to how to best address the financial issues that are constantly before us, I urge everyone to tune in."
To track the legislation through Congress at any time, go to the federal Thomas Web site and enter HR 3589 as the bill number.
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