Jan. 29, 2006 — Gov. Charles W. Turnbull has been a busy man as he proceeds toward his eighth and final State of the Territory address. He's given new pay raises, unveiled a Web site in his name, and asked several commissioners to tout their accomplishments to the media – something that has never happened before.
Mystery still shrouds the activities, however, because calls to question Turnbull or his spokespeople about the pay raises and Web site have been unanswered.
According to a press release sent late last week from Turnbull's office, the Web site, www.governorturnbull.net, is designed to "serve the people of the Virgin Islands by informing the investment community, the federal government and visitors to the territory about the benefits of working, living, and investing in the Virgin Islands."
The site features sections on various economic development projects, including updates on the Yacht Haven Grande Hotel and waterfront revitalization efforts in Frederiksted, St. Croix. A section entitled "The Governor's Voice" also features a personal statement from Turnbull about "topics that interest the community," the release said.
According to a V.I. Daily News article, the site is a product of Soury Communications, a New-York based firm hired by the Public Finance Authority last September to help promote economic development in the territory.
The Daily News article also quoted Soury Communications President Lonnie Soury who said that the Web site was set up "quickly" at the end of last week so that it would be running when Turnbull gives the State of the Territory address Monday evening. The text of the speech will also be a feature on the site.
Another more confusing press release sent from Turnbull's office said that Turnbull issued an "Executive Order calling for all non-union classified employees to be paid under the General Schedule (GS) pay plan of the government beginning with Fiscal Year 2002 for eligible employees."
The language of the press release was unclear, and calls made to James O'Bryan, St. Thomas administrator, to discuss the matter were not returned.
When contacted Sunday evening, Sen. Lorraine L. Berry said she had not yet seen the release and was unsure of where the money was coming from to fund the raises. However, she did say a provision included in the Omnibus Authorization Act stipulates that any excess government money not used for budgetary reasons, as well as any excess revenues generated by Hovensa, would go toward retroactive pay for employees, salary raises, and to help the Government Employees Retirement System with the unfunded liability.
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