Feb. 17, 2005 V.I. Water and Power Authority board member Roy Anduze announced his resignation from the board at an unofficial meeting Thursday on St. John.
"I'm going to think about it," he said after the meeting at the WAPA office conference room concluded.
He said he would not step down until the Senate confirmed a replacement.
The meeting was unofficial because the board failed to muster a quorum. After waiting an hour for members from St. Croix to arrive, chairman Daryl Lynch's head count showed only four members present.
After Lynch announced that the meeting wouldn't take place, Anduze said he had something to say. He then announced he was quitting.
"There's a pissing contest between the PSC and WAPA, and the entire Virgin Islands community is getting wet," he said, referring to the Public Services Commission.
He said the WAPA board has lost the confidence of the community. Additionally, he said a Monday meeting of the Senate's Government Operations and Consumer Protection Committee further pointed up how political the situation has become.
He said a suggestion was made at the Senate meeting to turn WAPA board operations over to the PSC and disband the WAPA board. He later ticked off a list of Senate suggestions that included repealing the streetlight surcharge, giving senior citizens a discount, issuing rebates for power outages, and forcing WAPA to pay for appliance damages. He said these suggestions, if implemented, will further increase WAPA's financial problems.
Anduze said the public and the senators don't get the fact that electrical rates continue to rise because the cost of oil keeps going up. He took issue with the perception that increasing the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause, called the LEAC, is a rate increase. Instead, it pays for fluctuations in the price of oil.
"The only person increasing rates is OPEC," Anduze said, referring to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
And he said that the current WAPA board and management are suffering from "egregious errors of judgment in the past."
He said that while the attorneys and consultants who attend WAPA-related meetings are well paid and WAPA staff gets their salary, the $50 a day stipend paid to WAPA board members doesn't cover his expenses. "And I'm sick of taking the heat," he said.
Lynch made a plea to Anduze to reconsider.
"You're not a quitter," Lynch said to Anduze.
Lynch said he sees a light at the end of the tunnel, but Anduze said he doesn't have any confidence that anyone who needs to listen is listening. He said the situation was too political.
After Anduze and Lynch finished their discussion on Anduze's resignation, Lynch said he had some matters to discuss with WAPA Director Alberto Bruno-Vega and the staff. He asked the media and others to leave. After a bit of back and forth between the media, staff members and the board, Lynch said the meeting was over. He said the discussion could just as well move to a bar since the meeting wasn't official. However, the board and the management staff stayed on to discuss whatever was on Lynch's mind.
The lack of a quorum cost WAPA some money. Five board and staff members from St. Croix flew to St. Thomas on Seaborne Airlines, took a taxi to Red Hook and the ferry to St. John. No one could put a total on the cost.
In recent months, the board has rotated meetings among St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John. It meets on St. John because one board member, Cheryl Boynes Jackson, lives on St. John. She was absent.
Lynch said she had a business problem that needed attention. Board member Claude Molloy was also absent.
He said board member Ira Hobson, who is the Housing Parks and Recreation commissioner, had to attend a Senate meeting. Also absent was Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner, Andrew Rutnik. Both serve because they are members of Gov. Charles Turnbull's cabinet. The board has one vacancy caused when the governor fired former Attorney General Iver Stridiron.
In addition to Lynch and Anduze, board members Yolander Samuel-Deterville and Alphonso Franklin attended.
Lynch said the meeting would be rescheduled for next week.
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