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Collecting Ideas for Change

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Dear Source:
The Constitutional delegates are now in the process of deciding on a Constitution. During that process, they should be listening to citizens as their ideas and aspirations are important. Governor deJongh has promised to streamline government and to try to cut out waste where ever possible. While this task will be burdensome and most assuredly will take many years, it is heartening to see that the work has finally begun and that many more Virgin islanders are expressing their views on how we should run the government.
The average citizen can tell you with a great deal certainty that the government is in shambles. What the average citizen cannot do is fix it. That is what the governor is attempting to do. Things will stand in his way. The "old time" politics of the Virgin Islands will not stand idly by as the governor attempts to fix a badly broken system which the "old time politicians" broke. There will be resistance in every quarter but I believe that people want change more than ever and if they truly see that only drastic change can protect themselves and their families, they will jump on the bandwagon that the governor is driving.
Politics as usual begins with the way we elect our representatives. In our republican form of government, the people elect persons to be their voice. When those persons do not accurately reflect the wishes of the people, then the electorate has the opportunity to remove them through the election process. If you ask the average person in the Virgin Islands how well hey think their elected officials are serving them, the universal answer is generally-badly. Even though this is true, for many years the people have continuously elected representatives that turn out to be bad choices. I don't believe the problem is the persons they elect as much as it is the system they elected them to. I am sure that elected officials really are mindful of what the people want and need but far too often those lofty goals are lost in a system that does not allow them to perform as they originally intended. The answer-change the system!
The delegates to the Constitutional Convention intend to change the system by creating a document which would alter, provide and/or modify how we write our laws in the future. To do that, every aspect of the system must be examined and if flaws are evident, it is incumbent on the delegates to create language that would fix the flaws. The first place to start is with our basic rights.
Issues which are already included in the US constitution like basic freedoms are easy. Issues that affect the Virgin Islands directly are a bit harder to write but it can be done with due diligence by the delegates. The most glaring example of where change must be realized is the structure of the legislative branch-our elected officials. The most important is the make-up or composition of the legislature and the second most important is how they must function and the costs associated with running the legislature. Both must be addressed in order to bring order to our system of making laws and how we represent people.
Each delegate to the convention was elected and it can be assumed that each had specific intentions in mind when they ran for this most important office. It is hoped that those ideas and intentions will be brought before the full convention for airing and that the collective ideas can be used to create the language to change the system. If those ideas are not in keeping with the ideas of the people that elected them, then we may end up having a constitution which solves nothing. What could be worst, is a Constitution that makes no changes to the system at all. We must then, query our elected officials as to what their ideas are to see if they are the same as the majority of the people. To not do so, would be tantamount to allowing a group of elected officials to make decisions for us that we don't want. This is what we have now-do you want more of the same?

Paul Devine
St. John

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