June 28, 2005 – Senate President Lorraine Berry is requesting an investigation into the government's deal with American Eagle/Executive Airlines.
She made her request Tuesday to Steven Van Beverhoudt, the V.I. inspector general. It was the second request she made to Beverhoudt this week. On Monday, she asked that he investigate the deal between the government and Veolia Water North America Operating Service to build a wastewater treatment plant on St. Croix.
Van Beverhoudt is off island this week. Delia Thompson, deputy inspector general, said requests from senators for investigations are quite common.
Berry stated that in January and in May she wrote to Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards requesting copies of the agreement between the government and American Airlines. She said the only response she had received from Richards was in February, when he wrote her that the contract contained a confidentiality clause to protect trade secrets and therefore prohibited disclosing the terms and conditions of the agreement.
On May l, American ceased its flights between the two islands. (See " Inter Island American Eagle Flights Ended").
Berry said the amount the government spent fulfilling its side of the contract could have been "hefty."
She said the V.I. Daily News got a copy of the contract and, according to its calculations, the government was guaranteeing American Airlines $1 million over the four-month period of the contract.
Richards had scheduled a press conference to release details about the contract, but then cancelled it (See "Press Conference on Airline Contract Postponed").
In a press release announcing the request for an investigation, Berry said, "It is in the public interest to have a full disclosure of the 'Seasonal Service Agreement' to restore public trust in government. To serve this end, I find it necessary that a full audit be conducted into the legality of this contract agreement."
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