Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. abruptly removed David Silverman as a member of the Coastal Zone Management Commission’s St. John Committee on Tuesday, three weeks before his two-year term would expire, saying his involvement in the group Save Coral Bay is a conflict of interest.
“While at times the goals and decisions of the CZM Committee and the philosophy of the Coral Bay Group harmonize to the benefit of the people of the Virgin Islands, there are times when these decisions and the Coral Bay Group’s philosophy are at odds,” Bryan wrote. “Under these occasions, you have demonstrated that the objectives and views of the Coral Bay Group, in your view, have precedence over that of the CZM Committee.”
Silverman has spoken out publicly many times over the years in opposition to a proposal by the Summer’s End Group, which is seeking permission to construct a marina in Coral Bay, and wrote in a May 2018 op-ed that it is a “battle to save Coral Bay from the hands of those who only see the undeveloped waters as an opportunity for a mega marina development.” Government House Communications Director Richard Motta Jr. did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily News sent Wednesday.
Silverman declined to comment Thursday, but he has written several recent online posts about the situation.
“My removal was prompted by a letter from another CZM Committee member, Brion Morrisette, to the Governor requesting that the Governor remove me from the Committee. This request was apparently retaliation for the fact that Save Coral Bay Inc. had filed a lawsuit against the Office of the Governor and Summers End Group LLC seeking the authority of the Court to enforce the Virgin Islands Coastal Zone Management Act against unlawful CZM permit modifications made by the Governor. As I am the President of Save Coral Bay Inc. it was asserted by Attorney Morrisette that my actions constituted a conflict of interest under Virgin Islands Code. I respectfully disagree and believe it was not only my right, but my sworn duty as a Coastal Commission member to seek enforcement of the Virgin Islands Coastal Zone Management Act whenever I am aware of a violation,” Silverman wrote.
Silverman also said that Morrisette has previously worked for the Summer’s End Group.
“It would be pointless for me to appeal this since my appointment by Governor Mapp to a 2-year term would have expired on October 12, 2020, at which point I could have been removed without any need for explanation,” Silverman wrote. “I intend to remain fully engaged in all CZM matters impacting St. John and the USVI, and my removal from the Commission, if anything, gives me greater freedom to speak my opinions on issues coming before the St John CZM Committee.”