THANKS FOR BRINGING DENYCE GRAVES HERE

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The Ivanna Eudora Kean High School Music Department would like to formally thank David Edgecombe of the Reichhold Center for the Arts and the Birch Forum for bringing Ms. Denyce Graves to the Reichhold Center for the Arts. We are grateful to them for the opportunity to witness such a magnificent performance.
We also appreciate the contribution of the complimentary tickets. Thanks to them, Banco Popular, Chase Manhattan Bank and Diamonds International, 26 of my piano and voice students had the opportunity to witness Ms. Graves in concert. It was truly a superb performance.
Initially several of my students were reluctant to attend when they heard that the artist was an opera singer. However, after attending the concert and experiencing Ms. Graves' performance, they admitted that they were pleasantly surprised that they really enjoyed it. They were so impressed and inspired that now they want to witness a real live opera production.
Their appreciation of Ms. Graves'performance is an excellent example of how students' exposure to the fine and performing arts can cultivate a strong appreciation of the arts.
We do hope that these groups will continue to enrich the cultural life of the Virgin Islands by presenting many more outstanding performances. Thanks again for the support and contribution.
JoSandra Jones James
Chairperson, Music Department
Ivanna Eudora Kean High School
St. Thomas

GOVERNOR GETS FIRST 'REPORT CARD'

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Gov. Charles W. Turnbull has a lot of work to do to improve his grades, according to Glen J. Smith, president of the American Federation of Teachers. His average grade this "marking period" is a D but Smith said "we have every reason to believe his grades will improve in the next marking period."
The marking period is the first 100 days of Turnbull's administration and the AFT union prepared a report card to measure Turnbull's effectiveness in seven areas.
"This interim report card was prepared by 20 members of AFT Local 1825 Building Representative Council," Smith said.
1. Rebuilding Economy — D-
Comments: We are still awaiting completion of the assignment, "How to Improve the VI economy."
2. Fiscal Responsibility — D
Comments: The incident of delayed paychecks could have been avoided with proper planning.

3. Government Efficiency — D
Comments: Too many retirees are on the payroll. Too many exempt employees are still bloating the government.
4. Education — D
Comments: The appointment of Dr. Simmonds was well received. Many goals are still undefined.
5. Labor Relations — C-
Comments: The Governor has kept his campaign promise by meeting several times with Labor leaders. His choice of Labor Commissioner is not acceptable to Organized Labor.
6. Youth Affairs — D
Comments: Youth crime is still on the upswing. A youth commission is needed.
7. State of Territory Message — D
Comments: Shortest message in recent history. The message was short on proposed solutions to problems facing our island-nation.

WHAT'S NEW IN THE SOURCE: THE INSIDE STORY

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Here is a short update of what's new inside St. Thomas Source.
Op-Ed: Prepare now for disability or lack of agility, says Catherine Mills.
Op-Ed: Kirk Grybowski asks, "Why not autonomy for hospitals?"
Editorial: Make Schools After-Hours Havens.
Schools: Scholarships are available to high school seniors and college students.
Movies: What's playing beginning Thursday, April 22.
Home/Garden: Pam Jackson offers uses for local oregano, known as 'wild thyme.'
Those are just a few of the offerings inside today's St. Thomas Source. Don't forget to check the 26 local sections available every day. If you want to know when ferries leave for other islands, check Community/Services. Looking for a new recipe or a place to eat? Check Lifestyles/Food. Looking for something to do? Check out Things to Do and Calendar.

MAKE SCHOOLS AFTER HOURS HAVENS

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The recent rash of rapes of children in St. Thomas has frightened people badly, but out of that fear and outrage has come a healthy dialogue about ways to protect our children. It is just a shame that it took repeated and well-publicized rapes to make us realize how vulnerable so many of our children are to evil predators.
We have a suggestion to offer too to protect and help our children grow into healthy, happy, productive adults. It's costly, and it will take time, energy, creativity and commitment but we believe it could solve many of the problems facing our young people today.
It is to create after-school programs, similar to the Beacons, at all of our public schools.
Ideally, of course, we'd like to see the academic school day extended through the late afternoon and early evening hours, as Hawaii has done in its public schools. In fact, we should research what Hawaii has done and how it did it — and the results of its bold experiment on students' academic performance and social and emotional development.
But realistically, we can't afford to pay teachers for an extended academic day. Realistically, we can't afford to open Beacons in all our schools either, since the Beacon program is struggling just to maintain programs at its three existing schools — and it has to shut down in the summer, when it would be most needed, because it lacks funds for a year-round program.
But where there's a will, there should be a way.
If we have the will to make our school buildings into after-school havens for children where they could get tutoring, take part in extra-curricular activities or even just hang out in a safe, supervised place, we can make it happen.
We challenge the people who have the wherewithal to make it happen — our top educators, the leading nonprofit organizations, our service clubs and business organizations — to come together and figure out how.
Many schools have adopters. They could help. Federal and foundation grants are available for after-school programs. We need to go after them. We have a small army of young retirees out there. They could be recruited to assist.
It could be done. The question is, do we care enough to try?

LAW MAKES CRIMINALS OF BUSINESS PEOPLE

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The acting commissioner of the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs has said that between 25 percent and 40 percent of business owners are operating their businesses without current business licenses due to the legal requirement to obtain and present tax-clearance letters before either
original or renewal business licenses are granted.
It seems to me that as a result of this unfortunate linkage, the law has transformed up to 40 percent of our business owners who are otherwise law-abiding Virgin Islanders into criminal violators of the law.
Is this fact as communicated by the acting commissioner not an unintended consequence of the hastily enacted linkage between these two distinctly separate issues? When this provision was passed into law, was it intended that business owners who, due to their personal circumstances, are unable to
obtain tax clearance letters, should shut down their businesses and send home their employees?
These are the actions that the logical extension of the application of this provision of law suggest.
Through this legislation, we have dumped into the same pot of governmental laws, rules and regulations, two issues that should be delinked and dealt with separately to promote both the government’s interests and those of businesses and their employees.
Even though the amnesty program is now in effect, the same requirement to obtain and present tax-clearance letters continues as a prerequisite for obtaining a business license. This provision of local law is bad law and its anti-business provisions should be repealed altogether.
Obtaining original or renewal business licenses and maintaining the employment of
employees should be separated from any unresolved tax problems that business owners might be experiencing.
As a community, we should be engaged in promoting a kinder and gentler, mutually supportive relationship between government law and policy and the business community in general and the small business community specifically, rather than frustrating those efforts as is apparently the case where, as a
result of this legislation, up to 40 percent of businesses are now deemed to be operating illegally.
Obviously the law is not fulfilling its intended purpose. Aggressive enforcement of the law bodes ill for both employers and employees.
Repeal this offending provision of local law!
Editor's note: Gaylord A. Sprauve of St. Thomas is a former V.I. government official and a businessman.

INTERIOR'S $400,000 WON'T COVER AUDIT COST

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The $400,000 committed by the U.S. Interior Department in last week's joint federal-local task force meeting to audit the V.I. government's books won't begin to cover the cost of the project, a Government House official said Monday.
Rudolph Krigger Sr., special assistant to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull on financial affairs, said that to run an audit and close the books on 1998 alone would cost about $1.2 million.
David North, spokesperson for Interior's Office of Insular Affairs, said Interior was "not sure how far the funding will go, but the movement will be backwards, with 1998 being done next, then as much of '97 and '96 as possible."
Krigger said because the government has not audited its books since 1995, a lot of work would have to be done on 1996 and 1997 before an audit could be completed for 1998.
North said it will be up to the governor's office to choose a firm to complete the audit that Interior is partially funding. Krigger wasn't sure what the process of choosing a firm would be, but said it ordinarily would focus on one of the "big five" auditing firms. The recently completed 1995 audit was done by Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co., he said.
"We need a firm with experience, not one that's at the bottom of the learning curve," Krigger said. He also indicated that when one of the large international firms is contracted, its people usually work in conjunction with a local firm.
Krigger said that due to the urgency of starting the audit, the usual practice of issuing Requests for Proposals might be bypassed.

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS HOLDS ELECTIONS

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New officers were elected to League of Women Voter's board of directors on Saturday, April 18. Erva A. Denham was elected to serve as the board president, with Rhea Dowling serving as first vice-president, Corine Kropp as secretary and Debra Brown-Roumo, the outgoing league president, standing in for a one-year term as second vice-president.
The election took place at the league's annual meeting, held at the Emerald Beach Hotel.
V.I. Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt was the keynote speaker for the luncheon meeting.
Along with officers, the membership also elected seven new directors to the board and five members to the nominating committee.
The league recently celebrated its thirty-year anniversary.
In the organization's 30 years in the territory the league has had a significant impact on the lives of the people of the Virgin Islands. The LWV has, among many other things, actively encouraged participation in the voting process, analyzed the territory's budget, cosponsored the "Meet the Candidates" television forum every election year, filed the "Save the Long Bay" lawsuit and lobbied nationally for the right to vote, in committee, for the Delegate to Congress.
The league encourages membership and active participation by the community. Men are welcome to join.
The league holds monthly luncheon meetings — the second Monday of the month — presenting speakers of interest and importance to the community. The public is encouraged to come out and support the monthly meetings.
For more information about the League of Women Voters call Ruth Thomas at 776-2882 or Erva Denham at 775-5147.

TWO MEETINGS ON PROSSER DEAL CANCELED

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Government House has canceled a meeting planned for Tuesday to brief senators on the Prosser land-for-taxes deal and has not said when or whether it will be rescheduled. A Cabinet meeting Monday, reportedly also to go over the deal, was canceled too.
Several legislative sources said they received calls Monday from Government House saying the meeting had been put off.
Government House set up the meeting last week, and while senators knew it was about the pending deal with St. Croix businessman Jeffrey Prosser, they had no details or documents. They were told that information would be provided Tuesday.
One legislative employee said "we got a call from Government House today canceling the meeting until further notice. They said 'until further notice' so it's not like they're scheduling another meeting or anything."
Cabinet officials reportedly were not told the subject of Monday's meeting when it was set up last week but were told to clear their decks. Acting Tourism Commissioner Clement "Cain" Magras confirmed that the meeting was canceled at the last minute.
Meanwhile, Rudolph Krigger, the governor's top financial aide, said Monday he didn't know anything "about any Prosser deal," despite a statement last week from another top gubernatorial aide that the governor was expected to make a statement about the proposal by Wednesday of this week.
Krigger, assistant to the governor for financial affairs, said the only thing he knew about any proposal between the V.I. government and Prosser was "what I read in the newspapers."
However, sources with knowledge of the inner workings of government say Krigger has been one of the architects of the plan. In fact, these sources say Krigger has been the administration's chief proponent of the deal, with many other people in Turnbull's inner circle opposing it.
James O'Bryan, spokesperson for Government House, had said Thursday that the Prosser-V.I. deal "is still being discussed and analyzed. The numbers are still being crunched."
O'Bryan said then that the administration should make a statement by Wednesday, April 21. When asked for a document or a copy of the Prosser proposal, O'Bryan said it was still in the works. (See story below, "Prosser-V.I. deal details due within days.")
O'Bryan did not return a call Monday afternoon for an update on the proposal.
The proposed deal, which was laid out April 1 in a four-page spread in the Daily News, a newspaper Prosser owns, said Prosser was "bailing out" the V.I. by giving the government 1,000 acres at Carambola, which he is in the process of buying, and building several projects in exchange for 30 years of tax breaks for his Innovative Communications Corp. Prosser is the sole owner of ICC, which owns multiple companies, including the V.I. Telephone Corp., both cable television companies, the V.I. Community Bank and the Daily News.
The newspaper estimated the tax breaks would be worth $6 million a year, or $180 million. It said the land was to go to unionized government employees to help satisfy the government's $200 million debt to them for retroactive pay.
Though the Office of the Governor has acknowledged the existence of the proposal, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull has remained mum on the story since it broke.

'JUST SAY NO TO PROSSER'

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The true test of the Turnbull/James team is here. Whether they will be like most other politicians and sell the people of the Virgin Islands down the river to curry favor with Jeffrey Prosser or whether they will stand firm for the people and the generations to come and say no to Prosser.
My bet is on Turnbull/James. I hope I am right.
The headline of the "Prosser Paper" that read "Prosser bails out the Virgin Islands" was anything but true. The deal that is being offered by Prosser is, in a word, "BAD."
First of all, let's look at what the proposed bill says we will get.
(1) 1,000 acres of land at the reasonable price of $8,000 an acre; that is $8 million.
(2) $4.5 million for infrastructure on the land.
(3) a baseball complex, library, drag racing strip and community center on St. Croix, a community center and baseball field on St. John, a community center, library, swimming pool and police/fire station on St. Thomas. In the bill the amount to be spent on these projects is a total of $9.95 million. So all totaled, the value of the "deal" is $22.45 million.
First of all, during these bad economic times we cannot afford to build all these projects and we would be better off to pay our debts than to spend more money on projects that we will not have the money to maintain and which will only deteriorate due to disrepair.
Second of all, the land that is being given has not yet been purchased by Prosser. It is further subject to restrictive covenants that in some areas make the minimum size of the lots 4 acres. If the government was to violate those covenants, under the law they would have to pay the surrounding landowners millions of dollars for the taking of the covenants. There is no provision as to where that money would come from.
Now let's look at what Prosser will get. It is a whopper! All of his companies, to include Innovative Communciations Corp., Innovative Communication subsidiary company LLC, ICREAL Inc., ICUSC Inc., ICOM Holdings Inc., Virgin Islands Telephone Corp., Vitelcom, Vitel Cellular Inc., Caribbean Communication Corp, St. Croix Cable TV Inc., and Virgin Islands Community Bank Corp., will get the following tax breaks for the next 30 YEARS:
(1) NO PROPERTY TAXES: This includes not only the land that they now own but any land that they purchase in the next 30 years and the Carambola land that Prosser is also buying, including the golf course. If the taxes due were only $200,000 a year, that is a $6 million tax benefit.
(2) NO FRANCHISE TAXES: Franchise taxes for all the companies, which at a conservative $150 a year times 30 years equals $4,500.
(3) NO BUSINESS LICENSE FEES for 30 years. At a conservative 20 business licenses at $1,000 a license is $60,000. And that is if in the 30 years, none of the businesses grow and get any additional licenses.
(4) NO EXCISE TAXES for 30 years. We know that the companies Mr. Prosser owns are building office buildings; he has plans for a luxury hotel on the Carambola property and perhaps a casino and who knows how many other building projects in the next 30 years may occur. For a business the excise tax on materials and equipment brought in the Virgin Islands is 6 percent.
If you conservatively figure $1 million a year for the 10 companies, including the phone company, which regularly brings in expensive equipment, that amounts to $30 million.
(5) NO GROSS RECEIPT TAXES for all of the companies for 30 years. At this point in time that amounts to about 4 percent of $27 million a year or $1.08 million. If none of the companies grow for 30 years, that is a forgiveness of $32.4 million in and of itself. If the companies only grow a conservative 10 percent a year, that adds on an additional $96 million for a total of $128.4 MILLION.
(6) NO INCOME TAXES for each of the 10 companies for 30 years. There is no prohibition for any of the companies to expand into other areas like casinos, hardware stores, internet companies, sex phone lines or the like.
If you just considered the existing taxes at $9 million a year and you take into consideration that with the IDC benefits he already has for the next five years, he already only has to pay $10 million instead of $45 million; that is a saving of $10 million. Thereafter he loses his Vitelco IDC benefits but retains the remainder which would have resulted in a tax due of $7 million a year for three years or an additional savings of $21 million; thereafter it is a saving of $9 million a year for 22 years or $198 million, OR A TOTAL BENEFIT OF $229 MILLION!
Again this assumes that none of the companies would grow over the 30 years. If they only grow a conservative 10 percent, then the savings to Mr. Prosser is in the range of $687 MILLION!
(7) NO INCOME TAXES for any of the shareholders or LLC of any of the companies on any dividends or income they earn from the companies for 30 years. A number of the companies are like subchapter S companies where the income is taxed directly to the shareholders. At a concervative income from the 10 companies of $9 million a year that equals $27 MILLION.
Again that does not assume any growth. If we assume a 10 percent growth over 30 years, then the number is a conservative $82 MILLION.
So what is the benefit to Mr. Prosser and his companies and their shareholders? Somewhere between $318 MILLION AND $933 MILLION!!
This is clearly not a fair deal so we can get $22.45 million. It is like paying 140 percent interest on a loan.
Now let's look at what the workers are actually getting. The land specified in the legislation is the worst land of the package that Mr. Prosser is buying (what a surprise).
Of the 2,800 acres he is buying only 1,000 acres will go into the deal. If you figure that 20 percent of the land would go to roads and the like, that leaves 800 acres to divide into the promised 2,800 lots that is 1/4 acre per lot. That would be possible if the land was flat. Unfortunately the land that has been allotted is not and it is extremely unlikely that that number of lots can actually be made from that land.
The legislation conveniently does not mandate any number of lots but only states "projected." The land is sloped and rocky and any building on most of the parcels will be extremely difficult and expensive. In addition it is not convenient to transportation, schools or shopping.
Mr. Prosser has never been known to give something for nothing and he certainly is not here.
We can no longer give up our tax base to get short-term gain. That is why we are bankrupt now. Under this deal we would not be able to tax in any manner the phone company, cable companies, newspaper, cellular phone companies or any companies that they may purchase for the next 30 years.
The greatest irony is that the very people that this deal is supposed to help are the ones who will be faced with repeated payless paydays and inability to gain fair wages because of the fact that we have no tax base.
At the minimum there needs to be an independent consultant hired to make an economic assessment of what damage this will due to our economy in the future (and unlike the Vitelco deal, this time we need to listen to the expert).
What is most disturbing is that Mr. Prosser has done his dirty work quite well. He has senators who will support it. Sadly it appears he also has some union leaders who will support it as well, unless we stop him.
Please call your senators and tell them, TELL PROSSER NO! Call them repeatedly. Call the governor, call the lieutenant governor and tell them TELL PROSSER NO! IF WE DO NOT STOP PROSSER NOW, HE WILL OWN US ALL IN 30 YEARS.
Editor's note: Lee J. Rohn is an attorney in private practice on St. Croix.

SURPRISE JAZZ JAM

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Patrons who arrived at the Grateful Deli in the Red Hook shopping plaza Sunday were met with more than the usual bill of faire. Keith Johnstone, Jazz choir director and piano lab instructor at Eudora Kean High School brought a Jazz septet to the restaurant that served up some spicy dishes.
The group played from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to the delight of those who happened to stop by. Johnstone led the ensemble through the standards "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and "What A Wonderful World" from his seat at the electric keyboards. John Coltrane's Blue Train" preceded the closer, a funky version of "Air Mail Special".
The youthful musicians enjoyed a carte blanche lunch presented by the house and most patrons that lingered to the end seemed grateful to the deli for gastronomic and musical delights.