Home Commentary Open forum Sen. Barshinger Sees Good Things Happening on St. John

Sen. Barshinger Sees Good Things Happening on St. John


Dear Editor:
Despite all the tumult you hear about on St. John, some wonderful things are happening. And some of the good things are actually being catalyzed by the bad things.
Tuesday evening we had a Town Meeting on "Permits, Parking, & Planning". Over 75 people attended, and asked intelligent and probing questions of the DPNR staff. Commissioner Plaskett and 8 top staffers were there to answer questions, as were 3 staffers from VIPA.
It is no longer just the Continentals asking the questions in these St. John public forums. Native St. Johnians have found, and continue to find, their political voices. They are bold and forthright. Slowly we are moving from the past era of top-down, patriarchal, leadership to an era of Participative Democracy.
A big change is that most people are coming to these Town Meetings with a new intent: They are there to obtain information and share their expectations. While in the past we may have seen meetings that were mostly venting sessions, now people have the intent and expectation of gathering the facts, and expressing to their elected and appointed leaders just what they, the citizens, expect of their government.
In particular, native St. Johnians are involved in shaping the future of St. John. Some of this change was catalyzed by the Frett case, truth be told. And part of it is simply the natural maturation of the Virgin Islands' political scene — which will continue if we support and improve our education system.
The protests you hear about on St. John are the result of frustration with unresponsive government. Provided that they are legal and made with the intent of finding political voice, I support the protests. The protestors themselves acknowledge that some protests are more effective, and appropriate, than others — and that they are in the process of learning what works.
St. John is still the wonderful place it always has been. Why not visit Love City this Holiday Season and see for yourself?
Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday Season,
Craig Barshinger
Senator-at-large, 26th Legislature

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