Do Virgin Islanders Have a Voice or Not?

Dear Governor de Jongh Jr.:

First, let me tell you how grateful and hopeful I feel that you are leading our Virgin Islands out of the
difficult times that we presently face. I am eagerly watching you steadfastly and quietly work to identify and re-organize the internal systems of government that do not work to effectively service the people in need.

My deepest appreciation of who you are and what you bring to us as a leader and to people in need.

I am a 20 plus year resident of St. John who dearly loves these Islands as well as the culture and native people. I have great respect as well as compassion for what native Virgin Islanders have endured historically; for the strength of character and deep faith that has been built in spite of such adversities!

I believe that our history has greatly impacted people's faith in government. This truly troubles me. Too many people are disillusioned by how our government works. There is a general distrust in public officials- and rightly earned!

Sirenusa project's “rezoning variance” passed by our 27th. Legislature-against the general will of St. John citizens-is a perfect example of why people believe that “politricks” rule not the people's will.

I have attended every Sirenusa open legislative meeting. I consider myself an active community member with an open mind. I believe in a “How does everybody win” approach to problem-solving.

Our Legislative body does not seem to be taking into account the impact of this development on us. Yet, again, developers come in and their interests come before those of taxpaying citizens.

What I see occurring is absolutely unacceptable.

Our 27 th. Legislature, once again, passed this rezoning variance at the last minute in a underhanded manner- siding with the Sirenusa developers who have broken laws; disrespected local native families; impacted public safety because of inadequate infrastructure; on numerous levels. Interestingly, Sirenusa's attorney is former Senator Wattlington.

I also watched Senator Celestino White attempt to control people in their testimonies. This is blatantly wrong.

It was very disappointing to see St. John Senator-at-Large Carmen Wesselhoft vote in favor of this zone variance. Many St. Johnians are outraged at this.

Understandably as a freshman Senator responsible in part for three Islands; as well as a member of the ICM Majority party led by Seanator White-she has probably been put in a very difficult position. She will ultimately be held responsible for that decision.

What amazes me is that our Senators passed this vote, again, after another “last minute underhanded” passing of Bill #6905 giving inappropriate and unwarranted pay raises, during former Governor Turnbull's last few days in power.

I have great difficulty with this raise as I do not see any basic improvements to our VI in regards to our schools; senior citizen needs; mental illness needs; youth services needs; roads or infrastructure improvements. How can they possibly reward themselves in this way? This is arrogant thinking.

I have been involved in the recall process. I have watched some of our “esteemed and honorable” Senators attempt to stop people from speaking their outrage and feelings as protected by our US Constitution.

I have seen some of them attempt to “bring down” a great citizen and talk show host Roger W. Morgan by inappropriately attempting to shut down his attempt to help people-many natives- express themselves. They have inappropriately used Legislative letterhead to do this- again inappropriate.

Two Senators have called any supporters of Roger W. Morgan's show “Free Speech”- “KKK cronies” on our Legislative assembly floor!

This is again, blatantly wrong, unprofessional and an abuse of power to the sanctity of decency.

I would go as far as to say I see “bullying” going on. What kind of role-modeling is this for our youth struggling with how to appropriately problem-solve?

What is really at stake here is moral decency and whether Virgin Islanders have a voice or not.

Will we begin to develop faith in a democratic system of government that represents the will of the people or will we let special interests and those with money and political contacts run our Islands?

Given the brutal history of slavery in these Islands-our good citizens deserve better!

If they cannot express free speech and opinions without fear, what kind of freedom do we really have?

Governor de Jongh, please be a voice for the citizens of St. John.

Please veto this bill. We are counting on your clarity and wisdom in this important matter.

Bonny Corbeil.
St. John