Sept. 23, 2005 – A move to re-nominate Alric Simmonds to the Public Services Commission was killed at the Legislature's full session Friday — the only candidate out of eight others not approved.
"I have great concerns about this nomination because Mr. Simmonds is the governor's deputy chief of staff," Sen. Usie R. Richards said. "I've felt this way ever since he first appeared before us about a month ago for consideration."
Richards' feeling was echoed by many other senators. "This could translate into a great conflict of interest," Sen. Terrence "Positive" Nelson said. "The governor could ask him to vote any way he wants at any time, and Mr. Simmonds would have to do it."
While Simmonds has denied serving on the PSC would constitute a conflict of any kind, senators were adamant about sticking to their positions. "The PSC needs a level of transparency," Sen. Luis P. Hill said. "We'll never be able to achieve that if we promote these kinds of situations."
Hill took the opportunity to also talk about the PSC's involvement with Innovative Communications Corp., and the fact that current PSC Chair Valencio Jackson has not been re-nominated to the Commission by the governor. Hill said Innovative had come under scrutiny when they re-applied for Economic Development Commission benefits, after promising they wouldn't.
"I know Valencio Jackson took a stand against that," Hill said. "And I know that's why he isn't up for re-nomination today." Hill added he was working on a bill which prohibits any public utility from applying for EDC benefits.
A vote taken on Simmonds' nomination was split, with Sens. Craig W. Barshinger, Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, Pedro Encarnacion, Norman Jn Baptiste, Terrence "Positive" Nelson, Richards and Ronald E. Russell voting against the nomination. Sens. Lorraine L. Berry, Roosevelt C. David, Liston Davis, Hill, Neville James, Shawn-Michael Malone, and Celestino A. White Sr. voting in favor of the nomination. Sen. Juan Figueroa-Serville did not vote.
While on the topic of Innovative, senators also took the opportunity to scrutinize the re-nomination of Alecia M. Wells to the PSC. While many discussed Wells' connection to the utility, one senator also mentioned she has been seen flying on Innovative's private jet to and from St. Croix.
"I've also heard Wells drinks the champagne they serve on the jet," Donastorg added. "And I find it disturbing that she has no problem with that."
Despite these concerns, however, Wells' nomination was approved in a seven-to-six vote, with Barshinger, Berry, Davis, Encarnacion, Hill, Malone, and White. Donastorg, James, Jn Baptiste, Malone, Richards, and Russell voting against the nominations.
Nominations also approved Friday were: Kerry E. Drue as V.I. attorney general; Louise O. Petersen to the V.I. Historic Preservation Commission; Maladine H. Sewer, Julien A. Harley, and Andrew D. Penn Sr. for the Coastal Zone Management Commission; and Joseph Boschulte and Raymond J. Williams for the PSC. Williams is the son of former PSC commissioner Patrick Williams.
All nominations will go to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull for further consideration.
All senators were present at Friday's meeting.
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