I must publicly thank President Dr. Lavern Ragster and the University of the Virgin Islands for spearheading, I believe, the most important issue of our times, the VI Constitution. The University will provide the educational material and meetings for the up coming Virgin Islands Constitutional Convention to the people of the USVI. The action towards greater self-governance by Virgin Islanders, should not have taken as long as it has from original Organic Act to the past four constitutional convention attempts. Not to take anything away from the delegates, they truly tried to pass a constitution and I must thank them for their efforts. I must also thank the members of the legislature in 2006, including Senator Malone for creating this legislation. Later for Senator Hill, for proposing the convention to next year with a $100,000 funding source for this educational program by UVI, so that we can be better prepared for the task ahead. Our last attempt at a convention was in 1980, which was over a generation ago. Mr. Tregenza Roach, USVI Constitutional 2008 coordinator, said it best at the UVI press conference Friday. " To be involved in the making of history, think of Rothschild Francis or David Hamilton Jackson- people who wanted things to be better, motivated by the interest in the whole. It is about cohesion, giving value to what you think. I believe no matter what, we have more in common than we do apart." Attorney Roach is so correct on this point; it is about making history and wanting to make a better world for all of us as a whole.
I believe this educational dialog is the single most important discussion that must take place for the people of the VI to move ahead in the world today. We must not take this issue lightly and let someone else decide our future because we are "just to busy". There is still time to educate yourself and I recommend that you go to the web site, www.itsourfuture.vi That address says it all, it is truly about our future in the VI. But it must end there, select the best delegate for your needs when you vote in June 2007. The funding source for UVI ends with this campaign, but at the press conference I asked the question to President Ragster, if further funding could be made available to the University? I felt that the discussion must not end there and if town hall type meetings could take place after the delegates were voted in. I was pleased to hear the Senator Hill was willing to continue in this manor with future funding provided by the legislature. I hope he can get the support of his colleges on this action. It is about reaching every single one of us and creating a document that reflects today and our needs.
Why a constitution now and what's the rush? Just about every aspect of your life is touched in some way by not passing our own constitution. From the way we do not have a vote in Congress to increasing our entitlements, such as free public education for the people of the VI. Do you feel like a second-class citizen when you leave the airport? I know I do. Right now Congress has the power to do what ever it wishes to the Virgin Islands. It could decide that we are too much of a burden and look to not funding us or even selling us to a foreign nation as an extreme example. Do you want election reform and truly make your vote count? Then demand that our delegates write our constitution to reflect election reform. Do you want our elected leaders to continue to ask for an amendment to our revised Organic Act of 1954(yes folks, I said 1954) by Congress and hope it is accepted? Remember when we voted to reduce the size of the legislature, but were told we did not know what we were voting on and were in essence called stupid? There are many ways to look at election reform, not only the size of the legislature. Lets not make it a " straw poll" to our senators, lets create change with our Constitution. Do you want Municipal government? Did the recent marine industry changes to the rules and regulations in our waters affect your business and employees? I was shocked to see that rules that affect the lakes and streams in the U.S. had almost destroyed our industry and we had very little input in the matter. We can change that with our constitution to some degree if this happens in the future. Did you lose your job by an EDC company and wonder why it shut down? The Treasury of the United States and the IRS though Congress, decided what is best for the Government of the Virgin Islands by the passage of " American Jobs Creation Act of 2004". We can be more effective in the future dealing taxes with the federal government with our own Constitution. Did your elected leaders say they wish they could fund your project but the unfunded mandates by the federal government are so overwhelming on the general fund? Then we must stop mirroring the federal code tax code, our constitution can address that. Do you know of someone in your family that was sent off to war and wished you could have voted for the President of your choice? It should be your choice to vote for President here in the VI. Do we want this? It is up to you to decide.
But to do all this, you must become more aware of the issues surrounding electing a fifth convention body of delegates, pressing upon them your needs and proceeding through the process with the Governor and the President of the United States towards a majority vote of VI voters in a referendum, for its passage and to become the law of the land once and for all.
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