Home Commentary Editorial JUST SAY 'NO' TO OBSCENE PAY RAISES



It takes a lot to stir the generally apathetic Virgin Islands public, but the obscene raises recently given to top officials of the Government Employees Retirement System seem to have done the trick.
In an apparently secret meeting late last year, the GERS board granted a raise of $54,000 -— to $125,000 from $70,980 -— to GERS administrator Laurence Bryan, hikes of about $40,000 -— to $105,000 from $66,000-$70,000 — to four assistant administrators, and an increase of $25,000 — to $90,000 from $65,000 — to legal counsel Alphonso Nibbs. The agency’s human resources director got a $22,000 raise, to $63,000 from $41,000.
Making matters worse, neither board members nor Bryan will comment on the pay increases. In fact, the only two board members who have said anything are John deJongh Jr. and George Farrelly, and they contend they only learned about them from media reports. However, union officials have been quick to talk, since their rank-and-file members got raises of only 5 percent.
With a government scraping to meet payroll and pay its long-overdue debts, and a retirement system that is in financial trouble itself, these raises are a slap in the face to every resident of these islands.
The question is, will they be reversed?
The GERS board is meeting Tuesday on St. Croix. The Virgin Islands citizenry needs to ensure that those raises are reversed then, and it will probably take citizen lobbying to accomplish that. Although Gov. Charles W. Turnbull has said he "directed" the board to reverse the raises, we wonder if the governor has the power to direct the board of this semi-autonomous board to do anything. But we do believe the Virgin Islands public can be instrumental in demanding that the GERS board reverse its action.
The members of the GERS board, in addition to deJongh and Farrelly, are: Corine D. King, Leona E. Smith, Francisco "Frank" Stapleton, Eleanor D. Josiah and Vincent G. Liger.
Call them individually if you can, or leave messages for them Monday at the GERS offices: 776-7703 on St. Thomas and 773-5480 on St. Croix. Tell them you want those raises struck down now, and ask why such a small agency as the GERS needs four highly paid assistant administrators.
People can make a difference if they care enough to translate their outrage into action.


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