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Rules Hearing on Carnival Canceled

Dec. 6, 2004 — The sole meeting scheduled by the 25th Legislature since the Nov. 2 election was canceled Monday.
Sen. Roosevelt David, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, said the committee hearing to take testimony on the Carnival Accountability Act, which was scheduled for Wednesday, will no longer take place.
"The meeting was canceled because of a lack of a quorum," David told the Source, adding it seems that he would be the only committee member available that day.
The act, sponsored by Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, seeks to create an Office of Carnival Promotions within the Tourism Department. The Promotions Office director would be responsible for controlling all carnival and festival related activities on the three islands, effectively disbanding the V.I. Carnival Committee and the other festival committees on St. Croix and St. John.
The committee had decided in September to hold the bill in committee for further review.
David said he does not believe that the committee will consider the bill before the new Legislature is sworn in.
"I just don't see that happening," David said.
Donastorg, who had been pushing for greater accountability on the part of the Carnival Committee, said he was not surprised to learn that the hearing had been canceled.
"It's games as usual," Donastorg said. "When really all the Carnival people want is to get the appropriation to pay their back taxes."
Donastorg referred to the fact that the Carnival Committee had failed to pay its income taxes for the last five years. Thought the committee has non-profit status, it is not tax exempt.
Donastorg added that he didn't know why David would schedule a meeting the same day as the 26th Legislature Majority's press conference.
Pamela Richards, Tourism Commissioner; Caswil Callendar, executive director of the V.I. Carnival Committee; Kenneth Blake, chairman of the V.I. Carnival Committee; and Louis Willis, director of the V.I. Internal Revenue Bureau had all been invited to testify at the hearing.

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