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Who Shall Be Accountable?

Dear Source:
A few weeks ago, one of your readers asked "Who Shall Be Accountable?" Your message was important and thoughtful. She address "responsibility", "waste", "(loss of) millions in federal grants for our children's education, our barefacedly defiance of federal environmental orders and a financial management system still out of compliance with a memorandum of understanding with the Interior Department that was signed nearly eight years ago', "embarrassment", "pomp and circumstance", " systemic incompetence", "federal monitors", "federal takeovers", "fraud", "corruption", "homelessness", misuse or no use of "money", etc., etc., etc. However, you infer that these are their problems…elected officials, appointees and government workers!
Some of what went un-addressed, including arrogance expressed as non-responsiveness to Federal mandates and requirements; election, appointment and hiring of persons with "connections" rather than competence, individuals who have previous involvement in questionable behavior; child and adult abuse/rape; lack of proper employment training and supervision; absence of appropriate recreational activities and facilities for youth; convoluted and multi-located systems and services for securing required documents, licenses, permits etc.; unacceptable police behaviors including cover-ups, criminal acts and unresponsiveness; and finally, judicial actions that appear to be arbitrary, capricious and inconsistent…are all critical issues that bear mentioning, consideration, and Action, as well.
You ask the trillion dollar question,"Who will be accountable?" Where is the answer, with a newly elected governor and senators… and appointees? I don't think so. They are the functionaries, the individuals legally responsible for doing our governments business.
As I see it, we, are both the problem(s) and the answer. We have created them by our apathy, greed, disinterest, self interest, lack of concern and caring for Community…we are soooo busy, too busy to devote ourselves to making sure "it" is done right and in a just way!! We don't even involve ourselves in the education of our children…PTA/PTO meetings with 3 to 12 parents in attendance, legislative hearings on critical issues with 8 to 10 citizens in attendance. Where are we?
Executive or Legislative…we have allowed them to "run us"…We have the responsibility of communicating what we want and need, then monitoring Them, as they carry out our wishes and perform related tasks, according to the laws that bind and in the spirit we intend.
As I re-read the editorial I realize that we, the voting public/the masters of our fate/the employers of all elected, appointed and retained officials in the Territory are suffering from a terminal illness…collective insanity, defined as continuing to do the same things and expecting different outcomes.
We are at a critical point in our history. We have a wonderful opportunity to consider and create change, not for change sake, but for the salvation of future generations and the sustainability of our history, rich culture, and extraordinary and beautiful natural resources. We must wake up and become involved. Why do we relinquish that which is ours to do, to those we elect/employ? We should not!
We should provide those who wish to govern, with our priorities and expected outcomes. They should provide, in a timely manner, Pledge Papers, describing their platform/programs, for public consumption. If it is change we want, why not have pledge documents created by those who want our vote, documents we can hold them to. Those who are elected or appointed should be held to standards of performance that we, the electorate deem appropriate. That will mean that each of us must get involved!
To eliminate competition for Legislative seats, we should create a system of numbered seats. We may even get Senate candidates to collaborate and run on a party platform. Picture that!! We need to know who we are electing, What they stand for and what they will do! And remember, our elected officials, for the most part have seen too many years of service, we do not need to reward them by continuing to elect them.
There are new, vital, energetic, creative and bright young prospects out there. Let's give them the courtesy of listening and hearing what they have to say. They have a tremendous stake in who governs and leads…for they will inherit what we leave, as will generations to come.
We need to ensure that the gubernatorial candidates and their running mates (?) are queried about our priorities and programs before nomination. They must understand that competence and experience are important in the selection of individuals to lead Cabinet level departments and that they, in turn, select their leadership and check credibility, carefully. We need to have Town Hall Meetings where the public can query the candidates. An in-depth look at the individual campaign teams will provide some insight into a candidates "head".
Yes, We've gotten what we deserve. If we want better, we have to do better, we have to do the changing…the way we think, participate, behave and yes, live. All of us are responsible. It is time to become pro-active, rather than re-active. After the fact calls to talk shows, rehashing with friends, family and co-workers, merely useless chatter.
Let's act, demanding responsiveness from our leadership…elected and appointed and, holding them responsible for staff performance, invoking appropriate consequences when they have violated rules, regulations and /or law. Let's put a stop to "management by lore, just".
The Virgin Islands is blessed with physical magnificence. We, all of us, have the responsibility of maintaining and preserving it. This is essential not only for environmental issues, but for quality of life issues for future generations and for the growth and sustainability of our economic viability.
If you value life and all of the options that life offers…love, children, happiness, friends, good health, success, opportunity, choices, challenges, prosperity, take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask "what kind of person am I"? Am I an observer, watching what happens; am I just curious, asking what happened; or, am I a "doer", making "it" happen!
Options…choices and challenges, changes, not for change sake but for a better you, a better chance for yours, a better life for all! Please become a part of making "it" happen!
Sue Herzog
St. Thomas

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 source@viaccess.net.

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