Home News Local news Struggling Ferry Company Forced to Accept 'Intervention'

Struggling Ferry Company Forced to Accept 'Intervention'


After a heated back and forth between lawyers at the Public Services Commission meeting Tuesday night, commission members voted to allow former Transportation Services board member Clifton Boynes to play a limited role in matters between the ferry company and PSC.

Boynes filed a "petition to intervene" with the PSC so he could help save the struggling ferry company, according to Boynes’ lawyers. Boynes and Transportation Services are engaged in a lawsuit in V.I. Superior Court that deals with his shareholder status and other internal issues.

PSC members did not initially receive Boynes’ invitation with open arms, as one member called him a Trojan Horse, while another asked why, when Transportation Services has been struggling financially for years, Boynes would choose to step in at "so late a date."

Boynes’ lawyer Susan Quinn said Boynes is a 50-percent shareholder and was involved in the company between 1974 and 2004 but since then has had limited access to various information, including Transportation Services’ financials. She said Boynes was made aware of the company’s financial situation through articles in the newspaper that discussed them owing money to the Internal Revenue Service.

"He would like to help the PSC in finding out how the ferry service could be better run," Quinn said. Quinn said under Boynes’ tenure, Transportation Services turned a profit, while its boats were regularly maintained and in good shape.

While Boynes’ attorneys said their client’s intentions were good, Transportation Services attorney Maria Tankenson-Hodge said it was an attempt by Boynes to drag out the details of the lawsuit before the PSC.

"The suggestion that the petitioner is simply here to help, that it is not something self-serving because he doesn’t like the way the civil suit is going is not credible," she said. "If he really cared, and actually had any useful information, then he would give it to your consultant today."

Reading from the petition, Tankenson-Hodge said that Boynes claims the only "recourse in this matter for equitable relief" is to "regain control of the company and change the way things have allegedly been run."

Tankenson-Hodge also said that giving Boynes a seat at the table when the commission is dealing with Transportation Services matters is problematic because Boynes is a competitor who would be given access to certain trade secrets.

"How would you like it if Vitelco had Sprint sitting at the board table?" Tankenson-Hodge asked the PSC.

PSC attorney Tanisha Bailey-Roka said Transportation Services always has the opportunity to ask that certain information be kept confidential. And in support of the petition, Sen. Louis Hill, a nonvoting member of the board, said that the commission has the ability to separate the administrative and legal matters, and should take the opportunity to get information about the company that could help it do better.

PSC board Chairman Donald "Ducks" Cole said the commission has the responsibility to look at the issue, evaluate it and "see how it helps the community."

"This company is in dire straits," he said.

The board voted to grant the petition to intervene, but limit Boynes’ participation in proceedings solely to providing information on the operations of Transportation Services and other matters that affects the ferry’s rates.

Voting for the motion were Cole, Verne C. David and M. Thomas Jackson. Board member Elsie Thomas-Trotman abstained because she is related to the family.

During the meeting the commission also approved a motion that pushed all matters dealing with Wintdots Development to the next meeting. The commission also went over issues related to implementing wastewater and environmental user fees with the Waste Management Authority, and talked with V.I. Water and Power Authority Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. about converting its existing generation facilities to natural gas.

Hodge said natural gas might be the best way to ease the territory off of its oil dependency since it is one-fourth the price, but said that it would cost approximately $1 million to convert each unit.


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