Dec. 21, 2004 – Sen. Ronald Russell sent a letter to V.I. media Monday calling remarks by Sen. Usie Richards concerning the formation of a majority in the Senate half truths.
Russell wrote, "The good senator is again misinforming the public to justify the abandonment of a St. Croix agenda with St. Croix senators."
Russell's letter was in response to a letter that appeared in the Sunday-Monday St. Croix Avis by Richards. Richard's letter was, in turn, a response to a letter to the editor Saturday by Steffen Larsen. That letter was headlined "St. Croix Left in the Dust Again."
Larsen wrote, "We on St. Croix finally had a chance to be heard. No more would we be the ugly cousin where most of the revenue was made, but very little spent….For a whole week it was all smiles and optimism, and then bang! slam! Next thing we heard, Norman Baptiste, Usie Richards and Terrence Nelson had split from the rest of the Crucian majority hopefuls and joined a St. Thomas-based majority."
Richards wrote, "Mr. Larsen's letter is absent of almost every fact surrounding attempts to establish a 26th Legislature majority caucus."
Richards then outlined a series of meetings Cormorant Club, Nov. 10, when a majority caucus was proposed with the seven St. Croix senators plus Senator-at-large Craig Barshinger, but Barshinger did not attend; Carambola Resort, Nov. 12, where a proposal for a 10-member majority was proposed; Gertrude's Restaurant, Nov. 16, again Barshinger did not attend and formation of a majority was postponed; Cormorant Club, Nov. 17, a Team St. Croix-sponsored discussion, Barshinger did not attend, again formation was postponed; and a meeting of all senators in the Democrat party, Nov. 18, where a Democrat majority was proposed.
Richards wrote these meetings demonstrated that the "four St. Croix Democrats had taken the other St. Croix district senators for a ride or for fools. It is my opinion that the four St. Croix Democrats were pressured….to abandon the agreement with the three non-Democrat senators."
Richard's letter was headlined, "The Truth About STX Senators." Russell's response was titled, Half Truths Mislead and Misinform."
He wrote, "Actions speak louder than words. Regardless of what any St. Croix senator states or writes, the proposed majority has five senators from St. Thomas and three from St. Croix, and the leadership of that group is the St. Thomas senators."
With the new coalition, the president, the majority leader, the rules chair, the secretary, the education chair and vice chair are all St. Thomas senators, he noted.
According to his letter, Russell's opinion was that if the St. Croix majority failed, the best option was to form a Democrat majority "on condition that the remaining St. Croix senators get committee chairs and that the resources are distributed equitably and fairly to all senators."
He concluded, "We must stop abdicating our leadership role in this government to St. Thomas senators. We have leaders from St. Croix who are capable."
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