The best efforts of Sens. Adelbert "Bert" Bryan and Alicia "Chucky" Hansen were not enough to override the governor's veto involving two key campaign issues Monday, as the full Senate met to reappoint a Territorial Court judge, confirm 14 nominees to boards and commissions, and vote on six bills.
Of those, the Senate approved one bill appropriating $2.5 miilion in federal community block grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The same bill authorizes $329,000 in reprogrammed block grant funds for another seven projects.
The nominations required little more than a formal OK, but a free-for-all on other issues and amendments delayed approval until after 4 p.m.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull in June had vetoed legislation by Hansen approving free bus transportation to territory schools, and a bill of Bryan's appropriating $1 million from the Indirect Cost Fund for Fiscal Year 2000 that enabled the Department of Public Works to hire and rehire additional bus drivers for the handicapped and for public transportation.
Bryan and Hansen managed to get 8-7 votes on each of their overrides, but fell short of the 10 an override requires.
However, that didn't stop them from bringing up the issues at every opportunity.
The actual nominations, in fact, required little discussion. But during the allotted time after each nomination, each senator seized upon his or her favorite topic.
The session started off on a sad note as Senate President Vargrave Richards announced a moment of silence for the passing of Harold Thompson Jr., Public Works commissioner, who died Sunday.
Nominations approved were:
– Public Employees Relations Board: Omar B.U. Henry, Zandra E. Messiah;
– V.I. Port Authority Board: Leslie A. Milliner, Kent Bernier;
– Industrial Development Commission Board: Randolph Allen;
– Director of Gaming Enforcement: R. Oliver David;
– Coastal Zone Management Commission: Dr. Ida M. White, J. Brion Morrisette, Anthon Winston Adams, Sarah Peggy Simmonds, Madaline H. Sewer, Julien A. Harley, Austin "Babe" Monsanto, Robert S. Mathes.
These were followed by the reappointment of Territorial Court Judge Ishmael A. Meyers for a fourth term, which passed 14-1 with Bryan casting the lone no vote. Bryan had on several earlier occasions said he would not vote for another judge until the governor reappointed St. Croix Judge Alphonso Andrews.
Turnbull did not reappoint Andrews. Hansen, who has been vociferous in her efforts to get Andrews reappointed, surprisingly voted for Meyers. She amended her decision, saying that she wouldn't vote for any other St. Croix judge.
Meyers, a fixture in the V.I. judicial system, was lauded by all senators for his integrity and presence.
Throughout the sometimes rancorous session, remarks about a "conspiracy" were thrown about by Hansen, who, at one point, included the press in her description. She referred to "an obsession" with the Southern Energy issue, which she said "will return."
A bill to rezone plots in Estate La Valle on St. Croix became the great catchall, garnering 10 amendments covering a number of subjects by the time the session was recessed. There were five separate zoning and variance amendments to the bill, but two amendments really got things rolling.
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg finally got an 8-6 approval on his amendment to require a Public Services Commission to investigate the V.I. Telephone Corp.'s rates. After that, Hansen took center stage again with Sen. Allie-Allison Petrus in the opposing corner.
Hansen offered an amendment to appropriate $27.2 million from the Public Finance Authority to the General Fund for school bus transportation, sewer system repair, a pharmaceutical assistance program for the aged, the purchase of the Christiansted Post Office and purchase of ambulances on St. Croix. The amendment was defeated, 8-7.
Petrus said he didn't disagree with Hansen's issues, but said, "From dinosaur days to the present, she simply doesn't understand cash flow—she understands how to see it go out." He chastised Hansen for her loud voice and emotional manner and said, "I'm going to offer an amendment to take you with me when I retire."
Petrus announced his retirement from the Legislature earlier this year.
Hansen, meantime, was roaming all over the well, shouting answers back at Petrus. Sen. Judy Gomez, sitting in the president's chair for Richards, exerted little control over the goings-on. The session had by this time stretched until almost 7 p.m. Richards had earlier said he would adjourn the session no later than 7:30 p.m.
Bryan abruptly interrupted the proceedings, making a motion to recess the session until Tuesday. Almost everybody seconded it. Gomez, with a bang of the gavel, said, "Since there ain't no objection, so ordered."
None of the amendments can be voted on until Tuesday, when the zoning bill they are attached to is decided. The senators also special-ordered another six bills to the agenda, including the reallocation of the tobacco settlement.


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