Dear Editor,

I am so pleased to see Virgin Islanders stand up with one voice on an issue that is of concern to the People. Call me an optimist, but I have faith that our elected Senate and the governor will work with Virgin Islanders on the issues that "We the People" are passionate about. The governor's veto of the controversial raises is perfect evidence of the Power of the People.
Now that we have testament to a responsive governmental body, it is important that "We the People" continue our passionate stance on the issues affecting the Virgin Islands. Here are my high-priority issues. Are "We the People" passionate enough about these issues to effect change?
— Is there one Virgin Islander that can honestly say that she or he is not impacted by a struggling / failing small business owner? If it is not you, it is a friend, relative or role model in your immediate community. The Virgin Islands is predominantly an Enterprise Development Zone. Where are the grants (not loans), tax breaks and incentives to local small businesses? And what role does the V.I. Community Bank serve again?
— With Hess located on St. Croix, is it reasonable for the price of gas on St. Thomas / St. John to average $2 per gallon? I am of the understanding that by utilizing Hess, the price of gas on St. Croix is significantly less. Wasn't this an issue on the table with the Senate in prior terms? Did this issue disappear unresolved?
— If American Airlines and other airlines can fly to Jamaica for under $400, why does a ticket on the same date to the Virgin Islands cost $800? I could again be an optimist, but I would only assume that the V.I. government has some muscle in this area. Is our government flexing that muscle or rolling over? The vitality of tourism is the vitality of all Virgin Islanders!
— The Virgin Islands lost its status as a U.S. territory on what date, again? I attempted to ship a box from New Jersey to St. Thomas last month. On average, UPS, DHL and Federal Express wanted four times the U.S. Postal Service overnight rate and these shippers did not guarantee overnight service. The rationale was that a shipment from the continental United States to the U.S. Virgin Islands is an "International Shipment."
— Recently, some young entrepreneurs tried to develop an Internet company that exported from the Virgin Islands; they had to revamp their business plan to focus on exporting from other places. Take a wild guess why? And the V.I. government has turned a blind eye to this problem because …?
— What is the one issue that is probably hurting the Virgin Islands the most and receives the least or no attention at all? Affordable health care for small business owners and their employees.
Enough said.
Virgin Islanders, let's not forget that the funding for most of the much needed programs starts with the U.S. Congress. After all, isn't our very own Donna Christensen the "health care and small business activist/guru in Congress? Her Web site states: "To my constituents, I encourage you to use this site to keep informed on what this office has been doing on your behalf." I consider myself to be Internet-savvy, but I found zero information on what key initiatives our Congresswoman has planned for the Virgin Islands. Who knows, maybe I missed the link. At least she is looking out for the rest of the world, right?
Virgin Islanders, let's stay focused and continue to communicate our concerns through mediums that will effect change. In 2003, if we stick together, we definitely can make the Virgin Islands a better place for "You" and for "Me."
Sharon Simmons
St. Thomas / New Jersey

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