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A Response to a Letter of Misinformation

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Dear Source:
I think it takes a complete lack values and compassion for other humans to think up, write and publish a letter completely misinforming unknowing readers. Like our president who has no shame about the lies and misinformation regarding the Iraqi war, the letter "The legacy of Act No. 6905" demonstrates the same shameless rhetoric with no value for truth, honesty or integrity. The last shall be first and you are simply wrong about the amount of $25,000. We raised the minimum pay for government workers to $20,000. There is a method for payment and there is legislation that addressed needed adjustments in Government. You don't know what was done, but you erroneously write with authority.
Next up, you mention illegal contracts. The previous administration made several mistakes in getting companies and/or individuals to complete needed work or services for the government. The work was completed, and payment was blocked because of contractual discrepancies or legal disputes. While I agree that the legal doctrine of "quantum meruit" with a signed stipulation submitted to a court for approval and judgment may have been a better approach to paying these well deserving companies/individuals, the administration decided differently. Instead, the administration provided the legislature with all the information regarding the work and/or services completed and why payments through legislation were needed to pay for these legitimate government debts.
Next, you are simply wrong about the legislature passing a $15 million loan guarantee. Act 6905 simply provided our newly elected governor with an option, through the Public Finance Authority [PFA], to assist a possible investor in the territory regarding securing financing for constructing a hotel and conference center on St. Croix. The authority to negotiate, grant or refuse any financing scheme remained solely in the governor's hands and discretion. Moreover, you should know that the governor never acted on that authority, nor was a loan guarantee activated, used or given to anyone. You should have read the Act.
Next, again the legislature simply gave the newly elected governor the option to float bonds not to exceed $600,000,000 to provide relief to the GERS, thereby putting the GERS on the road toward full recovery from the government created $1 billion unfunded liability. The authority to go to the bond market, negotiate with the GERS and secure a loan for any amount was placed solely in the governor's hands and discretion.
Have you ever attended the open, publicly broadcasted, senate committee meetings, hearings or sessions which are also available on the Internet? There were several hearings and meetings regarding the GERS proposals. There were several public hearings, for all to participate, to testify, to listen and to get all the supporting documents for the then proposed GERS modifications, proposed Pension Obligation Bond and all matters concerning the GERS. The last hearing about the GERS was December 1, 2006, well before the December 28, 2006 special session called by Governor Turnbull. By the way, since you missed the hearing, copies are available on DVD or VHS for you to view, listen and learn.
Next, what changes were really made to the pension law regarding senators and their salary? By now you know that your elected officials ( i.e. Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Senators) and Local Judges, as well as appointed commissioners and directors, have all received salary increases. The change in Act 6905 linked the Senators' salaries to the lowest paid Commissioner in the executive branch. This simply means that the governor decides the senator's salaries by how much he pays his lowest paid Commissioner. In addition, the change increased the Governor's salary by $70, 000.00. The Governor is now paid $150,000.00 and all elected officials affected agreed to the changes before they were made. Some cabinet members are now paid over $100, 000.00 and could even be paid up to $115,000.00. Judges are paid over $150,000.00. The changes were designed to provide parity for the three equal branches of Government.
Next, Senators do not have a retirement plan that provides full benefits after 3 terms. Instead, the change provided a tiered system for retirement, which allows for a full pension after 20 years of service. To fund the change, senators are required to increase their retirement payment from 8% to 11% of their salary. Act 6905 clearly spells out the percentages and the pension benefit associated with the years of service. There is no additional burden on the GERS based on the amendments made on December 28, 2006. Senators pay more for a fairer and more just pension plan when compared to the leaders of the other branches of government.
Last, why continue to fight your leaders. We still make laws that all must follow. Act 6905 has sailed off into the sunset for most of the residents who now need solutions to our energy, crime and education crisis. Why not use your pen to offer proposals, solutions or constructive criticism. In all of the emails you have sent, I have never been privileged to hear your solutions to some of our problems. Let me conclude by saying, your November predictions could be wrong, then what?
Sen. Ronald E. Russell
27th V.I. Legislature

Editor's 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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