While there has been a great deal of discussion around the recent actions by Acting Attorney General Claude Walker with respect to former Governor John de Jongh and the security improvements made at his residence during his service as governor, when he decided to remain in his home rather than have the government find housing for him and his family, I find that the near total silence of our senators in the face of a current example of blatant corruption regarding our present governor to be nothing less than shameful.
And I do not believe that I am alone in waiting to see whether the newly nominated, but not yet confirmed, acting attorney general will take action against those who most recently attempted to misuse government funds without the benefit of any legal process or procedure.
To my knowledge, none of our senators has stepped forward to demand Governor Kenneth Mapp immediately repay the public monies which were used for the Villa Mapp rental on St. Thomas that was first attempted without authorization through the Department of Property and Procurement and then secretly pushed through The West Indian Company Ltd. (WICO).
These actions were attempted and then done without any legislative appropriation at all.
Indeed, and even more troubling, they were initially done in a way meant clearly to conceal the actual amounts from our community. (It should be noted that since WICO has both failed to make its payments in lieu of taxes and has not returned the profits reasonably anticipated by the GERS, whose shopping center WICO manages, it is laughable to suggest that WICO funds are not government funds, indeed they are public monies.) What was originally stated as $4,000 per month for Villa Mapp ended up in fact being a monthly price tag of $21,000 for at least five months before the scam was exposed and stopped, although the public has still yet to be told how much of our money was actually spent in total for what was clearly an improper and secret arrangement. In fact, if it had not been for our local media and coverage by our online and print newspapers, this conspiracy may well have continued to go on unchecked and unknown.
Our senators will soon be back in session and the Virgin Islands community will be waiting to see what they will do, not just what they will say, about what was clearly done in secret to circumvent the legal processes that must control government actions and the spending of the public’s money. I know that I am not alone in saying that I also look forward to how our senators are going to consider the nomination of an attorney general nominee who seems prepared to look the other way when it comes to the actions of those who selected him, but is eager to rush forward in what seems at best a disgraceful example of selective prosecution and abuse of power.
The old cliché remains a foundational truth: Ours must be a government of laws or we are doomed to chaos and corruption.
Kelvin Martin, St. Croix
Ours Must Be a Government of Laws
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