A position of public trust requires the constant consideration not only of one's actions, but equally of the ramifications of such actions. The recently negotiated contract which will drastically change the parameters of the V.I. Lottery system reveals, the League of Women Voters of the Virgin Islands believes, a lack of forethought.
Was it, the League questions, the intent of the 24th Legislature to permit the director of the Lottery such broad power when, in December 2001, it passed Act. No. 6482, Bill No. 24-0683? Did it intend to allow him to sign a major contract to spend the government's money for alternative games without public hearings? Are not such hearings the intent of Title 32, Chapter 13, Section 346, Virgin Islands Code, "Powers and Duties of the Commission"?
This section reads in part: "The commission shall have the power, and it shall be its duty:
(g) To make a continuous study and investigation of:
(4) the reaction of the United States Virgin Islands citizens to existing and potential features of the Lottery with a view to recommending or effecting changes that will tend to serve the purposes of this chapter."
Did no senator, no legal counsel of either the legislative or the executive branches, no one give thought to the extent of the power given to a political appointee, the director of the Lottery, whoever he or she may be at any give time? It is very difficult for the League to understand, given the usual very vocal protection of the rights and duties regarding oversight.
Was the executive branch aware that by permitting the Lottery Commission to exist for an extended period of time with unfilled seats, and therefore lacking a quorum, it would be unable to carry out its responsibilities? And now, Act 6482, enacted into law as Title 3, Section 2144, Virgin Islands Code as amended, allows the director of the Lottery to "assume the powers and duties of the Commission and act on its behalf."
Was this carelessness, or was this special interest legislation? The League insists that this kind of carelessness must not happen again.
Is only the League concerned, not only about current results, but also about those implicit in the future? The League of Women Voters of the Virgin Islands — regrettably in this instance after the fact — urges those responsible to proceed in the future with greater care to close this dangerous loophole and to respect the public trust granted them by the electorate.
Editor's note: Norma S. Levin is assistant chair of the Government Structure and Operations Committee of the League of Women Voters of the Virgin Islands. Before her retirement, she served for a decade as a senior analyst in the Office of Management and Budget.
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