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HomeNewsArchivesPromoters Sue to Keep Barkers in Business

Promoters Sue to Keep Barkers in Business

Aug. 27, 2008 — Two promoters who employ barkers to sell vacation packages are asking the District Court to halt the government's recent embargo on sidewalk solicitors, or barkers, from operating in Charlotte Amalie.
A motion for preliminary injunction, filed in District Court Aug. 19 on behalf of Caribbean Fun Stay and K&R Promotions, argues that the government illegally revoked or suspended solicitors' licenses applied for or in current use.
The court order charges that Lt. Gov. Gregory R. Francis and Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Kenrick Robertson, in their official capacities, illegally revoked or suspended solicitors' licenses to the plaintiffs.
K&R Promotions is the marketing agent for Caribbean Fun Stay, which sells local vacation packages and time shares, and books hotel room for several resorts.
The order banning the barkers is in violation of the law, argues attorney Carl Williams of Tom Bolt and Associates.
In July the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA) sent out letters to barkers and downtown businesses that "the activity of barking in the downtown area will be discontinued," with an effective date of July 31.
The move, endorsed by the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce and the St. Thomas-St. John Historic Preservation Commission, has generating much comment from downtown business owners, local shoppers and, of course, the barkers themselves. (See "Last Days on Main Street for Barkers.")
Two years ago, DLCA, with the backing of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce and the St. Thomas-St. John Historic Preservation Commission, put the barkers on notice that they had to have current solicitors' and sales licenses. At the time, Chamber President Joseph Aubain and then-DLCA Commissioner Andrew Rutnik proposed a plan to work with the barkers toward becoming regulated.
Since that time, Aubain and Robertson say, nothing has materialized. Most barkers did obtain licenses, Robertson said, but almost all of those licenses have expired. DLCA officers will patrol downtown enforcing the law, Robertson said.
The suit claims the government has violated Title 27 / V.I. Code 304, which states in part: "The commissioner [DLCA], after notice and hearing, may refuse to issue, or may revoke or suspend a license for any one or any combination of the following causes. The causes include fraud and claiming an exemption from taxes."
However, Williams points out, these causes have no bearing on his case. Williams' clients, John Jureidini and Artem Dolinsky of K&R Promotions, were denied a hearing, as mandated by the law.
A hearing was never held.
"They were given no hearing," Williams said this week. "The government has to identify what they have done wrong."
The motion claims that K&R Promotions was legally conducting business operations on Main Street, after obtaining a license in February 2007. It states that on Aug. 13, 2008, DLCA representatives "persistently and routinely harassed K&R and its employees while they were engaged in lawful and licensed business operations."
Last month Robertson said barkers holding current licenses would be able to ply their trade until the licenses expired.
The motion claims that K&R was issued two citations, one for $1,000 for disobeying a lawful order of the DLCA commissioner. Two employees also were fined $1,000 each for the same reason. The principal agent of K&R was unlawfully threatened with arrest if K&R failed to cease operating immediately, the motion claims.
Because both plaintiffs are taxpayers, current in their taxes, the motion claims the District Court should have jurisdiction over the case.
Williams said this week that he is "anxiously" awaiting a court date.
"The only law, a provision for a solicitor's license was duly applied for and received," he said.
Both of Williams' clients were off island this week and not available for comment. Robertson has not returned repeated calls from the Source over a number of days.
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