I applaud Paul Devine's efforts for a call to reform government in the islands. I'm not sure that more local control and adding layers of government and layers of taxation with the division of the islands into municipalities is the cure, but then, I don't know what is the cure. I do know that the disease is difficult to cure. The disease is corruption, which too often afflicts those with power. Where else but in the VI would these things happen – perhaps in the states too, where corruption in government may be better hidden, but here we see it and should do something to stop it:
1. A well-respected West Indian friend was recently voir-dired for jury duty – under oath, he was identified as being known by one of the parties and under oath, when asked whether he thought the VI is corrupt, he answered, "I most certainly do." No objection to his serving was voiced.
2. A few weeks ago 14 trucks poured concrete for a wall on one of the buildings at the government subsidized housing under construction near the Udder Delite. When the forms were removed, all the material in the pour fell to the ground. No one had put any Portland cement in any of the 14 trucks.
3. The government owes WAPA millions but it's power is not cut off – if any of us is late, we have no power.
Are these examples of corruption? Perhaps. They certainly are examples of the malaise and total disregard for the responsibility that should accompany the spending of our money. Government money is our money. It comes right out of our pockets.
In order to improve the governing of the islands, the underlying disease needs to be rooted out and destroyed. Otherwise, the disease will metastasize into every office, whether municipal or not. I issue a call for responsibility, accountability in the spending of our money, foresight in budgeting and spending to ensure that money goes where it is needed, pride in doing all work honestly and correctly from beginning to end, hiring and retaining only persons who are demonstrably qualified to fulfill the responsibilities of their jobs. If these principles were followed by all our elected officials and all persons employed, whether public or private, on government projects, we may find it matters not whether we continue with the present form of government. We would have better government.
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