Freshman Delegate Plaskett Reports on D.C. to St. John Constituency


Freshman Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett spoke with more than 20 St. John residents at the Thursday, May 14, meeting.


CRUZ BAY — Freshman Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett met with about two dozen St. John residents and officials at the V.I. Legislature in Cruz Bay on Thursday, May 14, and heard their issues and concerns while explaining her progress in representing the territory in Washington, D.C.

From doing free legal work for her committee leadership “to get some leverage as a non-voting member,” to working on implementing a special visa waiver program in USVI for Caricom residents and securing more federal highway money and rum tax rebates, to being an original co-sponsor of special tax waiver got National Guard members, Del. Plaskett described her hectic life as a freshman, non-voting member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“We’re just trying to do some creative things,” Del. Plaskett told her attentive audience, including working with federal transportation and homeland security officials
“to really understand that we are a third border.”

“Between West Indies and Puerto Rico, 40 percent of the drugs to mainland are coming through us,” Del. Plaskett said succinctly.  “That accounts for much of the violence.”

Workhorse Not Showhorse
“I’m trying to be known as not a show horse, but a work horse,” said the V.I. Delegate who has “signed onto 36 bills and 124 letters,” with other members of Congress.

“Unless I know it says the Virgin Islands on it I’m not signing it,” she explained.

St. John Issues
“I know the people of St. John have very unique issues,” Del. Plaskett told her attentive Love City audience.

Working with O’Bama

“You can’t push him to do something,” Plaskett said of her interaction with President Obama.  “He has to make it his own brilliant idea,”

Federal Bailout for USVI?
“How do we think we can go to the federal government and ask them for a billion dollars,” Del. Plaskett said of a federal bailout for the V.I.  “What we should be doing is putting the proper support mechanisms in place before

“Granted there are places where we haven’t been given our fair share,” the freshman delegate continued.  “But, the way we have been managed has been so poor.

Jobs for Native Virgin Islanders

“Since the federal government owns more than half the island, there are things the Park Service should be doing,” said retired St. John NPS veteran Paul Thomas, including “to the maximum extent feasible hire native Virgin Islanders to work”

“I was approached at University of Maryland to come back,” Thomas recalled of historical efforts to recruit native Virgin Islanders for VINP positions.  “Such issues really need to be looked at.”

Del. Plaskett agreed that the issue of color has to be addressed, relating her exchange with a man who struck up a conversation with her at a recent function.

“He wanted to know why I was the only Black person there,” Del. Plaskett related.  “He said in Washington, D.C., if he went to a function like that the majority would be Black.”
“Unfortunately, we have started walking backwards,” the rookie Delegate said.

Historic Roads Through VINP
Constituents at the Cruz Bay meeting with Del. Plaskett raised St. John issues from reopening historic island roads through federal property to protecting native fishing rights.

Infringement on Fishing Rights
One native woman related her encounter with NPS enforcement action against historic fishing practices off the East End of St. John, which recently has been enveloped in the Federal National Underwater Monument designation.

“We were told we were fishing by the monument,” said the St. Johnian community leader who objected to NPS interference with historic fishing grounds. “You guys are trying to criminalize us,” she said she told the NPS official.  “You need to mark where these monuments are.”

“You need to be a big voice,” the St. Johnian told Del. Plaskett.