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Nov. 22, 2005 Senator Juan Figueroa-Serville issued the following statement responding to a press conference called by TRAXCO on Tuesday, Nov. 9 where Dennis Brow, racetrack general manager, announced the cancellation of the Thanksgiving Day Races.
The Resort and Casino Control Act of 1995 was established with the sole intent to encourage its growth of investor confidence by stimulating hotel development on St. Croix as a basis for jumpstarting the St. Croix economy. Internationally, casinos are recognized as a necessary amenity for hotels as a major tourism attraction. To divert from the intent of the Resort and Casino Act of 1995 is to favor special interest legislation that will benefit a few and not the masses of the people concerning job creation.
I believe, as a lawmaker, that senators must preserve the integrity of the Resort and Casino Act, so investors on Wall Street, U.S. Capital Markets, the Bond Market and other interested investors can see that the Virgin Islands legislators are ensuring the stability of our laws within our jurisdiction. When an investor makes a $250 million dollar investment in a jurisdiction, they have a right to try and secure minimizing their losses and have a profitable return. Any variance to the established zoning requirements within the Act would destroy the intent of this law and this may kill investor confidence on St. Croix. Investment equals job creation.
Barbara Shattles, a TRAXCO, Inc. board member and Divi Casino general manager, stated at a press conference called by TRAXCO on Tuesday, Nov. 9, at the Randal Nicholas "Doc" James Racetrack, that it would be unethical for lawmakers to impose the people's will by negotiating on behalf of the horsemen and establishing criteria for the gambling and horse racing institutions we allow in our jurisdiction.
Although I do not support a variance for TRAXCO, I stand in support of my colleagues having the right to establish criteria as policy makers on industry that will affect the people. I also disagree with Ms. Shattles' statement, because I have viewed the decisions rendered by other state legislative bodies across the nation, and their actions have set precedence in determining the percentage of all revenues the proprietor would pay in taxes to the government and what would be the horse racing association's share. Some jurisdictions created special funds that address the social ills related to gambling addiction and what portion of the revenues must go into such a fund.
Ms. Shattles is out of place to tell us, the First Branch of Government, what we can and can not do to protect our people. In most jurisdictions, the minimum revenue sharing state legislative bodies have established as a benchmark is 20 percent for their horsemen's associations. In some jurisdictions the proprietor keeps a maximum of 26 percent of the profits. It is Ms. Shattles intention to allow Divi Carina Bay Hotel and Resort and/or Treasure Bay Co., to keep 87 percent of the profits. Divi and Treasure Bay have negotiated in bad faith with the people of St. Croix and the Virgin Islands.
It has come to the point where I have to put my foot down and exercise the rights and power I have as an elected leader. I do not appreciate nor will I tolerate a corporate giant like Divi Carina Resort and Hotel encouraging TRAXCO's management to use and abuse their local employees as pawns in their deceitful negotiating tactics to coerce and strong arm St. Croix Senators. It is my responsibility to protect the best interest of all people of St. Croix and that includes the fired TRAXCO employees.
Ms. Shattles stated at the press conference "Maybe they think they have nothing to do, and they need to find something do," referring to the senate body. That statement broke the camels' back with me. Who does Ms. Shattles think she is to disrespect the elected representatives of the people of the Virgin Islands and in turn disrespect the people? I am very sure that no Virgin Islander can go to Mississippi and disrespect and impugn their leaders and authority!
Ms. Shattles owes the people of the Virgin Islands a public apology. People of the Virgin Islands wake up