Aug. 24, 2008 — The issue of fellow delegates to the Fifth Constitutional Convention pulling their respective weight bubbled to the surface Friday during an all-day session held at the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Center.
The delegates have spent two days in day-long meetings trying to carve out language for inclusion in a final document that they hope will win approval from federal officials in Washington, D.C., and the local electorate.
Delegate Kendall Petersen said he felt some committee leaders were not paying adequate attention to drafting the language each committee is responsible for proposing to complete the final document.
"People are sitting down and doing it when they want and that ain't fair," Petersen protested. "Some committees are looking to finish."
Arnold Golden, who has been ill, was regarded as exempt from the complaint, but Delegate Adelbert Bryan wondered, "So what happened to the vice chair of these committees? So they can't hold meetings?"
Delegate Mary Moorhead, pointing to an October deadline to complete the document, complained that some St. Thomas delegates don't attend the full meetings when they're held on St. Croix.
"When we meet in St. Croix, we always have a heavy number of St. Thomians leaving at a certain time," Moorhead said. "When (St. Croix delegates) come over here, we are most times not out of this place before five, even past five. All of us need to give a little sacrifice. With October looking us dead in the face, we need to sacrifice even greater, so I'm just asking as a courtesy, if they could make the adjustment necessary from now and continuing, if we could give the time we need to do this work."
Delegate Lisa Williams defended her St. Thomas colleagues. "Everyone here is committed to this document," Williams said. "We have been to St. Croix and I don't think that was fair to the St. Thomas delegation. We have been participating in meetings plenary sessions, and we are as committed as you to this document."
When many delegates failed to return on time following a lunch break, an exasperated Convention Secretary Gerard Emanuel, said he'd wait a little while longer then decide whether to continue the meeting, which he ultimately did.
"We're being held hostage by people who are late," Emanuel groaned.
The Friday session ended with Delegate Claire Roker accusing some colleagues of being irresponsible about the convention's money when it comes to travel between St. Thomas and St. Croix.
"People are causing this convention to waste money," Roker said. "If you do not cancel your reservation, your sea plane, in time you're being charged and right now tonight we are paying for rooms people are not occupying."
Convention President Gerard Luz James II said he will provide a report at the next session on each committee's meeting frequency and attendance, in addition to a financial report. "It's a dilemma…but we'll work that out," said James.
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