At its March 29 meeting, the second open meeting since Gov. Albert Bryan directed the government-owned West Indian Company to follow territorial open meeting and open records laws, the WICO Board discussed contract negotiations with the law firm Kellerhals Ferguson Kroblin. WICO has hired the firm to represent it in all legal matters.
Dudley Rich Davis represented the entity previously. The contract discussions were held in executive session. Personnel matters and matters that may affect contract negotiations are exemptions to the territory’s open records laws.
According to a statement from WICO, WICO President Clifford Graham provided an overview of the agenda items and meetings scheduled for the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association’s Annual Seatrade Cruise Global Conference in Miami from April 8 to 11. The U.S. Virgin Islands will host an opening reception the evening of April 7.
The board also got an update on preliminary calls and the passenger count projected for the 2019/2020 cruise season, but the final numbers were not complete. According to WICO, the schedule will be finalized by early summer after all deadlines for cruise ship schedule submittal by the various cruise lines have expired.
Staff also updated the board on the hurricane repair work on the historic Estate Catherineberg property; a former Danish diplomatic home that has occasionally been used as a home for the V.I. governor. WICO will reportedly use insurance funding along with FEMA dollars to bring the historic property to the pre-hurricane condition.
WICO has for many years claimed it did not have to hold public meetings or open its record despite being owned by the government. Two court cases found otherwise. After taking office, Bryan directed WICO to adhere to public meeting and public records laws.
WICO is wholly owned by the Public Finance Authority, an entity within the executive branch of the V.I. government. It operates the busiest cruise pier on St. Thomas. The V.I. Port Authority also operates cruise ship piers as well as other sea ports and both the territory’s public airports.