THE FACTS ABOUT CARAMBOLA

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For the past few months, the issue of the Carambola property has been in the news. Many people approached me to find out my opinion about Mr. Jeffrey Prosser purchasing of the Carambola property. First of all, the name Carambola is misleading to the Virgin Islands public. Carambola is just the name given to the golf course area in the early 1980's by the developers who purchased a little over 4000 acres of St. Croix northwest land sometime in 1983 from the Rockefeller family.
In 1990, I stated in the Virgin Islands Daily News, "an outside developer tried to purchase Fountain Valley on St. Croix, which was really 17 estates including such estates as Sweet Bottom, Annaly, Mount Stewart, Ross Hill and so on. It was some four thousand acres of primarily agricultural land including forest lands, steep slopes, mountains, rich fertile soils, flood plains and beach fronts. This area was also known for slave revolts, which made the area sentimental to Virgin Islanders beside the natural beauty of the land."
I further stated, "Today, this area is owned by Carambola Beach Resort Real Estate Sales. Some people then and now believe that the Virgin Islands government and some of our senators sold their birthrights when Fountain Valley was purchased by an outside developer." For those who wanted to know why I did not uttered a word about the so- called Carambola property from the beginning when Mr. Jeffrey Prosser made his interest publicly known about purchasing the property, was because of time. I was personally involved from 1983 to educate the public that the northwest should be owned by the people of the Virgin Islands.
My protest and others in the early 1980's fell on deaf ears. In fact, the Rockefeller family, as I was told, offered the property to the Virgin Islands government before it was advertised on the market for sale. I love my government, but somehow this government has poor eyesight for the future of the people of these islands. Today, here we are talking about the same property that was offered to the government many years ago. Nonetheless, let us get back to the name Carambola. If you ask an old Cruzan where is Fountain Valley Estate located, he/she can tell you.
On the same note, if you ask an old Cruzan where is Carambola located, he/she has no idea what you are talking about. Too often we are easily being mislead when we do not know our history. You see if we know our history collectively, we would not have been mislead, when somebody wants to sell us a six for a nine. History is always the key I believe for opening up the doors of the future. As a people, we will continue to be misled as long as we don't question things, and as long as we take things sitting down.
The 2,800 acres is not Carambola. The Carambola property falls within the Fountain Valley Estate. Carambola is a small section of the 2,800 acres which included other northwest side estates, the remaining of the 4000 acres Jake Jacobus purchased in 1983. That is why I mentioned earlier if we know our history, then you would understand why the northwest of St. Croix should mean a lot to the people of these islands, particular Cruzans. This 2,800 acres is extremely historical, cultural, and environmentally sensitive.

To me, it is interesting that the Rockefeller sold the 4,000 acres to Jake Jacobus for 10 million dollars. Whereas, they donated land in St. John to the people of the Virgin Islands, thus creating the Virgin Islands National Park System. Laurance S. Rockefeller, for the 40thanniversary of the Virgin Islands National Park stated: "The Park is one of the crown jewels of the National Park System, and for four decades it has provided millions of visitors an extraordinary environmental and recreational experience under the American flag in the Caribbean setting. Jackson Hole Preserve, Inc. and I have been proud to have a part in the creation of this great resource."
In 1955, Laurance S. Rockefeller mentioned in a letter to John Schofield, "I grew up with a family tradition of conservation . . . the possibility of setting a part of St. John aside for future generations first came up in 1939. With World War II the plan was shelved. Then a couple of years ago one of my islands neighbors, Frank Stick, sent me a copy of the original proposal and suggested that the idea be revived. We had never met, but I agreed that we should get together and discuss the possibility. To my complete surprise, Stick rounded up signed options on about half the land we needed. We've spent about one million on the land and expect to spend as much more to complete the Job."
This tradition of conservation with the Rockefeller family began in 1886 with John D Rockefeller Jr. who visited Yellowstone National Park as a little boy. To make a long story short, the Rockefeller family gave millions of dollars over the years to parks in our nation as well as the Virgin Islands National Park. We cannot thank the Rockefeller family enough for their foresight and wisdom for establishing the park on St. John. I always wonder in the back of my mind, "why the Rockefeller family didn't donated the 4000 acres or some of the lands to become a park as it was done on St. John in 1956 for the people of the Virgin Islands."
I don't have the answer. Anyway, Mr. Jacobus was discouraged in the early 1980's about purchasing the 4000 acres of northwest property on St. Croix. This due to few people who opposed the ideal of an outside developer owned all that primary agricultural land on the north side of the island. Well, the former Gov. Juan F. Luis called a special session and Mr. Jacobus got the 4000 acres rezoned from agriculture to other uses.
Mr. Jake Jacobus or the company he represented made an agreement to preserve land on the north side when they went in front of the zoning board. "The approval conferred by section 2 of this act is expressly subject to the condition that Delray Land Inc., its successors and assigns, shall establish "open space" in an amount not less than 50% of the total acres consisting of 4140 acres, more or less more particularly described in Table 7 of the "Zoning Amendment Application" filed by Delray Land Inc. and approved by the Virgin Island Planning Office on October 27, 1983, in the "Report on Proposed Amendment to Official Zoning Map no. SCZ 4 &5 of which not less than 1,000 acres shall be dedicated to a perpetual scenic and preservation easement."
Keep in mind, this is some of the land Mr. Prosser is talking about purchasing. We will talk next week on the issue of the so-called Carambola property.

V.I. OFFICIALS RESPOND TO GOVERNOR'S VETO

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Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's veto Friday of the controversial land-for-tax-breaks bill, known familiarly as the Prosser bill, seemed to be expected in some quarters and welcomed.
Glen Smith, president of the St. Thomas-St. John American Federation of Teachers, said, "We are extremely pleased that the governor made the right decision on behalf of all of the people of the Virgin Islands."
On the day the Senate sent the bill to the governor, the teachers staged a protest at Government House, demanding that the bill be vetoed. The keystone of the bill was that the government would use 1,000 acres of land on St. Croix that businessman Jeffrey Prosser would donate to pay off the approximate $200 million owed to government workers in retroactive wages. From the start, labor leaders said the workers didn't want land, they wanted money.
Smith said he didn't want people to get the impression that "we're against investment," but said if the deal did come back to the table, it would be Prosser's chance to prove his sincere interest in the Virgin Islands, adding, "It should be on a much smaller scale." He also said they should "hammer out a deal that was in the best interest of the Virgin Islands."
One source close to Government House who asked not to be named said, "I knew he would veto the bill. This is a different man. He is not in anyone's pocket."
Another government administrator who also didn't want to be named said, "If he hadn't done that, he would have had to cut drastically to make up for the huge revenue losses."
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, the first senator to come forward publicly in opposition to the Prosser deal, said, "What took him so long? It was clear to even the man on the street that this was a calculated attempt to manipulate and exploit the government and the people of this territory."
Donastorg said the proponents of the bill were trying to divide and conquer by using the bill to drive a wedge between St. Thomas and St. Croix.
Six St. Croix senators brought the controversial bill to the Senate floor and forced it through that same day, after 14 hours of testimony and debate, in an 8-7 vote. The only St. Croix senator who didn't vote for the bill was Senate President Vargrave Richards. Joining the St. Croix senators were Sens. Donald "Ducks" Cole of St. Thomas and Almando "Rocky" Liburd, the at-large senator.
In his public statement about the veto, the governor said he found the bill to be full of ambiguities. He also said it was unconstitutional and violated the Organic Act because the Legislature does not have the right to negotiate on behalf of the territory. That is the exclusive right of the executive branch.
However Delegate Donna Christian-Christiansen said the governor's decision should not preclude further negotiations between Prosser's Innovative Communications Corp. and the V.I. government, adding they might find a compromise more "advantageous" to both Prosser and the territory.
In a prepared statement, Christiansen said that Prosser shouldn't "be maligned for his efforts to offer immediate relief to our economic strain."
The bill would have given Prosser full tax breaks for 10 of his companies for 30 years in exchange for the 1,000 acres at Carambola, which he would have subdivided, and about $10 million to build some public projects on unidentified government land on all three islands.

ENTREPRENEURIAL DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE

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The 1999 Annual Entrepreneurial and Economic Development Conference will be held at the Carambola Hotel on St. Croix on Saturday June 19, 1999. Virgin Islands Capital Resources Inc., a Community Development Venture Capital Fund that operates exclusively in the US Virgin Islands, and the University of the Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center are the conference sponsors.
The conference is one element of a more extensive program designed to promote entrepreneurial orientation and provide entrepreneurial training and venture financing for start-up and expanding businesses.
Michael Fields, chairman and chief executive officer of The Fields Group, a management consulting firm that focuses on emerging companies in the information technology industry, will keynote the conference. Fields was the founder of OpenVision, a leading supplier of systems applications for open client/ server computing environments and raised $70 million in venture and private placement funds to build OpenVision. In 1996, OpenVision successfully completed an Initial Public Offering that raised $44 million. In 1997, OpenVision merged with Veritas Software, a company that designs, develops and markets storage management and high availability software systems. The combined company is now the world's largest open system storage management software company with a market capitalization exceeding $3.0 billion. Fields is a former president of Oracle USA. He serves as a board director for seven privately held technology companies and is the chairman of three. He also serves on the advisory board of the Ford Motor Company, Customer Service Division; Beacon IT, the largest Japanese enterprise software company; and New Vista Capital, a venture capital firm. Fields' wife Sandra Brodhurst Fields is a native of St. Croix. The Fields maintain homes both on St. Croix and in Blackhawk, California.
This year's conference will also feature an opening address by Donna Christensen, V. I. delegate to Congress and member of the House of Representatives Small Business Committee.
Industry practitioners, off-island lenders and venture capitalists will address the role of entrepreneurial activity on economic growth in the Virgin Islands; opportunities for action, event, heritage and ecological tourism; opportunities for software, information system and computer based businesses; and business opportunities linked to existing local industries.
Conference registration is possible by calling the office of the University of the Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center on St. Croix a 692-5270. The pre-registration fee is $35.00 for the day-long event.

ALASKA READER SAYS DON'T GO

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I recently read with amusement and encouragement the comments by the couple from Michigan and also the comments from the Hawaii couple. They both spoke in relation to corruption and racism on the islands. The Michigan couple found no problems and are planning to move there after having made new friends and having a wonderful time. The Hawaii couple found themselves immersed in a pool of corrupt racism and stupidity. I would dare wager that it does not take too much thinking to know who was looking for that.
If you go somewhere, expecting the worst, then you will only see the negatives. If you are going to go somewhere, expecting only bad things, then do yourself and everyone else a favor – DON'T GO. I applaud the Michigan's couple courage in deciding to move to St Thomas. I happen to currently reside in Anchorage, Alaska and am planning on moving to St Thomas myself to attend college. I have heard plenty of the Prosser deal and don't like it. I never dealt with hurricanes before and am nervous of the upcoming season. I have read a sampling of the other problems at the islands. But I have also met a few people on the net who are very wonderful and kind and fun to write to. I have kept myself up to date on all the good things the islands have to offer – including a chance to start over. So despite any negatives, which can be found anywhere in the world, I am happily and excitedly moving to the islands.
In closing, perhaps the Hawaii couple know only fear and doubt. Maybe they should try to learn to uncover their eyes and not be so ignorant. Perhaps they will see that the islands are not nearly as bad as anywhere else. Heck I will even venture to say that Hawaii is much much worse!! One other thing, perhaps they should review how they were treating others? Maybe they were being rude and obnoxious like most ignorant people are? Just a thought.
Arthur Tony DeVangelis, Alaska

RANDOLPH WHEATLEY FAMILY VISITING

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Randolph Wheatley, son of Leona B. Wheatley and the late Raphael O. Wheatley, is visiting St. Thomas with his wife Vida and their three sons, en route to a Caribbean cruise.
Wheatley was recently promoted to general manager of the Signaling Solutions Group of Nortel Networks Corporation, the telecommunications equipment giant. The promotion moves the family to SSG Headquarters in Raleigh, N.C. from a three-year Nortel assignment in Texas.

GOVERNOR VETOES ‘PROSSER BILL'

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Calling it unconstitutional, in violation of the Organic Act and detrimental to the territory, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull announced in a Friday afternoon press conference that he had no choice but to veto the so-called "Prosser bill."
Turnbull said the Legislature had handed him a bill that was pre negotiated and full of ambiguities. He pointed out that the Legislature had no right to negotiate anything.
"There are several areas (in the bill) where the Legislature attempts to inject itself. These are clear violations of the separation-of-powers doctrine of the United States Constitution and the Revised Organic Act of 1954," he said.
Under the terms of the Organic Act the only person who can negotiate on behalf of the Virgin Islands is the governor.
When Turnbull was given the bill on May 31 that the Legislature passed in the early morning hours of May 29, he said he would have a financial analysis done.
He said Friday the analysis revealed that because the benefits to St. Croix businessman Jeffrey Prosser were "above and beyond what is available through the existing Industrial Development Program to so many entities, the overall long-term benefit and value to this community must be weighed against the potential loss of revenue and the negative impact resulting from the anti-competitive impact on other enterprises."
Under the bill, 10 of Prosser's companies would have gotten a full tax ride for 30 years in exchange for land and money to build several public projects.
The maximum benefit period available under the Industrial Development Commission is 10 years initially with five-year extensions available.
Turnbull also said the bill would negatively affect competition and have an "adverse impact on the current HOVENSA contract."
"While the intent of the Legislature is notable, I cannot condone an unconstitutional act or approve a proposed agreement that is not in the best interest of the territory," Turnbull said.
Turnbull concluded by saying that Prosser's contributions are well-documented and appreciated, adding, "I remain committed to seeing some or all of these projects to fruition and will pursue all available options."
(For full text of the governor's statement go to Local government.)

TURNBULL'S STATEMENT ON PROSSER BILL VETO

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A short while ago by letter, I advised Senate President Vargrave A. Richards that I have vetoed Bill No: 23-0060, in spite of the many laudable goals and objectives, because the proposed Agreement does not provide a viable plan which would provide substantial benefits to the people of the Virgin Islands.
As you are aware, on May 25, 1999, I received Bill No: 23-0060, more popularly known as the Prosser Proposal, passed by the 23rd Legislature on Saturday morning May 22, 1999 for my consideration. The bill is intended to authorize the Governor to execute a proposal between the Government of the Virgin Islands and Innovative Communication Corporation relating to the conveyance and improvement of certain lands to the Government; and to construct and maintain certain public projects in the Virgin Islands. In return, the agreement would provide tax benefits to ICC and affiliated entities.
At the time I received the bill, I made it clear that my actions would be guided by the constitutionality of the actions taken by the 23rd Legislature in considering and passing this Bill and if it were in the best interest of the people of the Virgin Islands.
The bill authorizes and empowers me to execute an attached Appendix I, which is a document negotiated by certain members of the Legislature as opposed to the Executive Branch. Additionally, contained in the same (Appendix I) are several instances where the Legislature attempts to inject itself into Executive decision-making and administrative functions associated with the proposed Agreement. These are clear violations of the separation of Powers Doctrine of the United States Constitution and the Revised Organic Act of 1954, as amended.
Under the revised Organic Act, the executive powers are vested in the Governor of the Virgin Islands. As such, it is inherent that the only person who can negotiate on behalf of, bind the Government to any contract or agreement, and then execute the agreement is the Governor or his duly authorized designees. Bill No: 23-0060 is not an authorization to negotiate, rather it is a pre-negotiated agreement with many ambiguities and areas of concern. Hence, while the intent of the Legislature is notable, I cannot condone an unconstitutional act or approve a proposed agreement that is not in the best interest of the Territory.
I also said that I intended to conduct a comprehensive financial analysis of the Bill to insure that the Bill as passed is in the best long- term interest of the people and government of the Virgin Islands.
In considering the granting of benefits above and beyond what is available through the existing Industrial Development Program to so many entities, the overall-long term benefit and value to this community must be weighed against the potential loss of revenue and the negative impact resulting from the anti-competitive impact on other enterprises. The financial analysis of Bill No 23-0060 and the appended proposed Agreement, for varying reasons have concluded that in their present form are detrimental to the Territory. Additionally, it has been indicated that the bill and its Appendix could also adversely impact the current HOVENSA Agreement.
In sum, Bill NO 23-0060 and the appended proposed Agreement as passed by the Legislature are clearly not in the best interest of the people and the Territory, nor are they constitutionally sound. I had no choice but to veto Bill No 23-0060.
Finally, My fellow Virgin Islanders, the contributions of Mr. Jeffery Prosser and his companies, including Innovative Communication Corporation and the affiliated entities, to the Virgin Islands are well documented and are greatly appreciated. In vetoing this bill, I do not reject the Legislature's endorsement of the concept of joint public private partnerships or projects contained in the proposed agreement, nor is my recognition of the generosity of Mr. Prosser diminished. I remain committed to seeing some or all of these projects to fruition and will pursue all available options. Thank you.

ALEXANDRA LLEWELLYN WEDS TOM CLANCY

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Alexandra Llewellyn, an award-winning freelance TV reporter, married best-selling author Tom Clancy in New York on June 26.
Alexandra's father J. Bruce Llewellyn is CEO of Coca Cola Bottling Co. of Philadelphia. He is a frequent visitor to St. Thomas, where he owns a Pineapple Village Condominium.
Llewellyn's company was No. 1 on this year's Black Enterprise Magazine list of the top 100 African American-owned companies, with sales last year of $354 million.
Two years ago, under the auspices of the Everett B. Birch Forum, Llewellyn led an informal workshop on St. Thomas with aspiring young Virgin Islands entrepreneurs.

MICHIGAN RESIDENT STILL HOPES TO MOVE TO ST. CROIX

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I realize this is a St.Thomas newspaper and I read with concern the piece
turned in from the couple from Hawaii.
We are Michigan residents who have just returned from a two week stay on STX. We had the most wonderful experience ever. We found everyone to be open and friendly and extremely polite.
It was easy to make friends and find that we miss them very much. As we are looking at a retirement home we had lots of questions and everyone was very helpful and more than willing to take time with us. We weren't Pollyannas as we read the papers and know the challenges facing the VI government. But I can say that our experience on St. Croix was great and I look forward to coming back next year and hopefully to stay.

JUDGE HALTS WRONGFUL DISCHARGE HEARINGS

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District Court Judge Thomas K. Moore issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday prohibiting the Department of Labor from conducting hearings under the Wrongful Discharge Act.
The injunction is a result of an action brought in April by the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association and the St. Croix Hotel Association, which sought to stop the Department of Labor from resuming wrongful discharge hearings, saying that the federal rights of the members of the organizations were being violated.
The basis for the action was an opinion handed down by Moore in February that said the Wrongful Discharge Act violated national labor policy because it interferes with the freedom of private employers and employees to enter into work relationships without engaging in the collective bargaining process.
In a second and separate analysis Moore said the Wrongful Discharge Act "violates national labor policy by interfering with the free play of economic forces in the private labor market which Congress has intentionally left unregulated."
Despite Moore's opinion the Labor Department announced in March it was going to begin holding hearings again. That's when the three civic organizations filed the motion to stop them.
Moore said his decision to ban hearings will stand until the case is tried. In the meantime Moore said the Labor Department can continue to accept complaints and conduct voluntary mediation.