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Breaking Down the Race


In the surreal world of V.I. politics, one seeks truth in the unlikeliest of places — and from the most unlikely of sources (pun intended). Who, except for the intrepid Source, would think to approach a former senator and journalist to write a political analysis and commentary column? While I'm no longer young enough to know everything, something tells me I just might pull this off.
My goal in writing this column is a simple one: to educate the public about the operation of their government and to keep an eye on the efficiency and effectiveness of both our elected and appointed officials.
It's a pretty boring proposition except for just one thing: If you've lived in this territory longer than a waterfront traffic jam, then you've undoubtedly realized that watching the V.I. government "operate" can be more fun than herding cats.
The dusk of the Turnbull administration II is close and so we turn our eyes to the political brass ring — Government House 2007. At this point the only thing we're certain of is that no one is certain about who's really running, who's running with who or who's just running for cover.
To some, the gubernatorial election isn't a big deal. But here's the rub, faithful reader. Just as a fish rots from the head down, so does any organization, or government for that matter. If you don't believe me, I just have two words for you: Enron Corporation.
I think that it would be interesting if we tried something new this election. What if we look first at what a governor is supposed to do, rather than who's our most popular candidate to pull out as the prize of the election crackerjack box? Wouldn't it be nice to actually know what the governor is supposed to do, before we run out to cast our ballot? After we've sorted out that bit of confusion, we can then decide who would be the right choice.
The duties of the Governor come down to pretty much two sentences. The Revised Organic Act of 1954 states that the "Governor shall have general supervision and control of all the departments, bureaus, agencies and other instrumentalities of the executive branch of the government of the Virgin Islands."
The CliffsNotes version simply means that the person holding the highest seat in the land should be capable of managing the government. Period.
If the people of the Virgin Islands elect a person who has no management skills, then the government will run amok. Management skills don't include feeling the need to micromanage each department. Nor does it imply that the chief executive must take credit for everything that occurs, or that an excuse must be created for every failing. Also, it further implies that the person holding the position will be able to manage people and resources effectively and efficiently.
The second sentence, which encapsulates the duties of the Office of Governor reads: "He shall be responsible for the faithful execution of the laws of the Virgin Islands and the laws of the United States applicable in the Virgin Islands."
Simply put, it means that under the one-man-one-vote system of government, all laws will be applied to all people regardless as to their political affiliation, familial ties, socks color or whether or not they eat fungi or rice and beans.
It means that the governor, through his "general supervision and control" of the government, will give everyone a
fair shot. It also means that the governor is ultimately charged with ensuring that all — not some, not most, not several — the laws of the land are followed. It doesn't matter whether the law applies to mortar or murder. The governor of the land is charged with ensuring that everyone is protected and taken care of under the law of the land.
It will be your responsibility, faithful reader, to keep what we've discussed here in the forefront of your mind while you're evaluating the candidates.
We'll soon be presenting our interviews with all of the gubernatorial candidates in alphabetical order and will publish the dates so that everyone knows when the interviews will be published. While we will take great pains to meet with the candidates, we are equally certain that they will take great pains to be interviewed.
After all, as Oscar Wilde said, "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."
Editors note: Emmett Hansen II was a member of the 24th and 25th V.I. Legislatures and holds degrees from Dillard University and the Defense Information School. He has also taken graduate courses in public administration at the University of the Virgin Islands. He is presently at work on a book about his experiences while in the Legislature.
Editors note:We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to [email protected].


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