Home Commentary Editorial VICTIM AID AGENCIES ARE THE HIGHEST PRIORITY

VICTIM AID AGENCIES ARE THE HIGHEST PRIORITY

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While our public servants move into re-election-at-any-cost mode, not-for-profit agencies who serve victims of very real violence face closing their doors because their public funding has been cut below the bare-bones level.
It is time for the people's money to go where it is needed and where it can do some good.
A 32-year-old man was arrested this week for murdering a 2-year-old child by repeatedly punching and kicking him in the stomach. Can we as a community really afford to let these agencies close their doors? How many more deaths and suffering would there be if the victims — and the perpetrators — had nowhere to go for help?
Sweetheart deals are being cut every day with government agencies hiring "consultants" at $150 and $200 an hour. In the meantime, Virgin Islanders suffer hideous abuse in their homes, and somehow these same politicians have trouble finding the money to help the agencies that work not only to assist these victims but to prevent the continuation of such horrifying violence.
After Michal Rhymer, executive director of the Family Resource Center, took to the news media to plead her case, the benevolent, campaigning governor had Ira Mills call a radio station to say they were going to speed up the payments due the agency, which were at the time three months late. This is not doing the agency or the community a favor; it is playing catch-up on meeting an obligation, and it should be the cause for shame, not self-congratulations.
All too often we have these spurts of social concern, but we never find out what happens later. And why were the payments late in the first place? Did anyone say?
The not-for-profit crisis intervention agencies are routinely forced to plan and produce fund-raising events to survive. The executive directors, who are trained professionals with years of education and experience in their field, sometimes sacrifice some of their own pay to keep the agencies afloat.
Why should this happen in a place where almost every mid- to high-level government official drives a high-priced, gas-guzzling SUV at public expense?
Politicians, it is time to straighten out your priorities.
We don't think the average Virgin Islander wants to see deals cut for high-paid government "consultants" while agencies that have life-and-death missions and perform what in other circumstances would be government services sink into oblivion because the government has cut back or cut off their funding.
They should not have to go begging. We should not have to put up with public officials who put them in that position.

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