Wednesday’s anti-Beal decision by Judge Alphonso Andrews, Jr. apparently was no surprise to many Crucians, who were aware of the Judge’s natural leanings. Throughout this court ordeal, many people remarked in the streets that the Judge was merely wasting the people’s time and that he was clearly biased against the project from the beginning. In other words, the Judge rendered the decision that virtually everyone (except this writer!) already knew he was going to make against the Beal Aerospace Project.
Personally, I do not know Judge Andrews, so I refrained all along from prejudging him and prayed for a favorable and wiser decision. As a pro-business and pro-jobs Virgin Islander — (That’s my bias!), I am shocked and deeply disappointed at the Judge’s ruling in this case.
Nonetheless, now that the historic court case is over and the Judge has predictably blocked the building of a world headquarters and rocket assembly plant, it does not take rocket science (Pardon, the expression.) to figure out the unfortunate message that this decision will spell for the Virgin Islands. Here are some likely headlines to reverberate across the national
news wires in the days and years to come:
— Financially troubled US Territory snubs nose at well-financed hi-tech aerospace company and hundreds of related business opportunities.
— Hostile anti-business sentiments prevail in the economically depressed American Virgin Islands
— Local judge oversteps role of the Legislature and issues permanent injunction despite flimsy and narrow arguments by a handful of vocal anti-business residents.
— No growth status quo prevails in the Virgin Islands.
— Virgin Islanders turn down multibillion-dollar aerospace industry and great opportunity to join the national wave of hi-tech jobs.
— Lack of sensible economic and business policy in the Virgin Islands frustrates investors seeking strategic location in the US Caribbean Island.
The fact is that by Judge Andrews making this decision, the Virgin Islands lost in a big way. We shot ourselves in the foot one more time. And, who knows when this will end.
The question, in my mind, is what did these anti-Beal people win? That the court upheld a debatable and obscure principle of law at the expense of the greater good of the people? That the plaintiffs successfully fought off a corporate investor? That they kept good jobs away from the territory? That they denied themselves opportunities in a growing hi-tech industry? In perpetuity, they can now keep the old dilapidated buildings intact and contemplate the relics of the past. Are they going to continue to use the land — that our bankrupt government cannot afford to maintain — as an unofficial garbage dump? What in the world did they win? Whose interests did they protect?
Ironically in this week’s papers, there was a curious list of handouts to various charities and groups from another successful court fleecing of a major corporation. A St. Croix business opening date was scratched indefinitely until a government employee returns from vacation to clear the business name she revoked based on her narrow opinion. And on St. Thomas, a multi-million dollar hotel expansion project comes to a halt after questions were raised about the use of government land for development.
Then, as if in a quandary, we ask—why is the Virgin Islands losing economic ground to other places?
Meantime, until we develop a sensible approach and attitude towards business and economic development, we can all volunteer to count migratory birds and learn to make music with conch shells. By
the way, for fascinating bird watching at Great Pond, bring your own beverages. Binoculars are not necessary.
Carmelo Rivera, a business consultant, lives on St. Croix.


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