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Thursday, July 7, 2022
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Political Pandering on St. John

Dear Source:
I was pleased to see that the rules for the Gubernatorial "debate" on St John Sunday night precluded attacks on each other, and indeed at times it seemed more a Democratic Party love fest than a debate. But that did not stop the political pandering. I thought it particularly disingenuous of Lt Gov Vargrave Richards to claim credit for moving forward in negotiation with the US Department of Interior for land for a school complex on St John. This is a particularly hot issue on St John, and has been for years.
As a point of fact, the Turnbull-Richards administration has failed to move on this for most of their two terms. The previous Park Superintendent, John King, offered to swap the 10 acres the VI Government wanted for VI Government land appraised at the same value. The VI Government failed to get any appraisals during his tenure – and to my knowledge have not done so to date. It is my understanding that until the VI Gov't gets an independent appraisal of the land they want and the land they propose to exchange nothing happens. As for getting "free" land from the Park, that would take an act of Congress and would also likely trigger the reversion clause in the original deed of gift from Jackson Hole Preserve (Rockefeller) – thus taking back all that original land.
So it is simply up to the VI Gov't to identify the land they want and it's value, and propose a like value of their property in exchange. With everyone from the Territory's Representative to Congress, to the Park management, to the VI Gov't, to the people of St John so overwhelmingly in favor of such a swap it would happen with amazing speed. But it hasn't for the first 7 years of Turnbull-Richards and now Lt Gov Richards would have us believe that as Governor he would be in a position to acquire not just 10 acres for a school complex but ONE HUNDRED acres of parkland for the school, affordable housing and all sorts of things. Poppycock!
This "chicken in every pot" pandering is dangerous. There are too many people on St John, accustomed to federal handouts to the territory who will believe these pie-in-the-sky promises and be angry at the wrong people when it doesn't come to pass. And the school is just one of the traditional "hot buttons" for St John. It can only get worse before the general election. Is there no "watch dog" on campaign promises who can put them to the truth test and help the voters make intelligent choices?
John Fuller
St John

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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