Oct. 10, 2006 – An Innovative Communications Corp. executive said Monday that stories published in the Source about the Public Service Commission's support of ICC's attempt to use Vitelco to fund a bankruptcy settlement were "totally incorrect and erroneous." However, one area lawyer, citing court documents, refuses to back down from the claim.
Holland Redfield, ICC vice president of corporate affairs, went on to attack Maria Tankenson Hodge — the attorney who filed a motion to stop the PSC's approval without public hearing — suggesting that Hodge's interest in the matter stemmed from her representation of an ICC competitor. (See "Prosser Seeking to Involve Vitelco in Bankruptcy Settlement").
However, in a written response Tuesday to Redfield's claims, Hodge confirms that the court documents in question clearly state, "The Public Utilities Commission of the U.S. Virgin Islands has confirmed in writing its non-objection to and support of the financing and the Debtors assumption of the settlement agreement." (To see the document click here and go to page 22, paragraph one).
Redfield also stated in the ICC release that "the company has still not completed its plans for such refinancings as part of its global settlement with RTFC [Rural Telephone Finance Cooperative] and Greenlight," two of the three creditors named in the Motion to Assume filed in District Court.
Surprised by Redfield's statement, Hodge responded again by pointed to the court papers, which state the company [ICC] has "obtained firm financing commitments from the Bank in an amount more than sufficient to satisfy the Payment under the Settlement Agreement."
Hodge continues: "That doesnt sound like they are still trying to decide what kind of financing to do."
Redfield also took exception to "the suggestion that there is some secret agreement" relative to the bankruptcy settlement, calling the suggestion "patently untrue."
However, the court documents clearly request that the settlement be filed "under seal," which, Hodge said, "means, in lay terms, secret and not available to public review."
Calling the story a "smear campaign," Redfield said Hodge has always been an adversary of ICC and dismissed her interest as that of the attorney for Choice Communications, which has petitioned the PSC to allow Choice to enter the V.I. phone market.
Hodge replied to what she called the "personal attack," saying, "I represent Choice in one PSC matter that I accepted because it seeks to introduce competition into telecommunications in the Virgin Islands, something that I believe is beneficial to the public. "
Regarding the motion made by Hodge to stop the PSC from supporting use of Vitelco assets in the bankruptcy settlement of three companies that are upstream from the local phone company, Hodge said, "I do not represent Choice but a single senior citizen, living on a fixed income, who is a Vitelco subscriber."
She said, "I am doing this without payment of any fee (pro bono as lawyers call it) because I consider it my responsibility to try to help protect the public from unfair proceedings involving our public utilities, in view of my background in the field."
For 22 years, Hodge served as PSC legal counsel. She resigned in 1998.
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