A Plastic Halo to Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. for lifting his ban on silverware and china dishware at restaurants. This halo is flimsy and generally undesirable — just like the knives and forks that Bryan forced diners to use as part of his misguided and ill-informed plan to limit the spread of COVID-19. Governor Bryan seems to have only just now recognized that most V.I. restaurants have high-powered dishwashing equipment to keep dishes and silverware clean and sanitized.
There’s no way of knowing whether using a plastic knife to cut a steak has kept anyone safe from the virus, but restaurants in the territory do know for sure that the added expense of acquiring all-plastic utensils and disposable cups and plates has been an added blow as they’ve struggled to survive in the pandemic.
Pitchfork to Waste Management Authority board and executives for not only ignoring the huge pile of unpaid bills from waste haulers, but also for not even knowing how much money is actually owed. The incompetence and indifference at WMA has long been evident in the way dumpsters are left overflowing and in the way our dumps have been allowed to become mountains of eco-shame. The board and executives’ clueless hand-wringing stinks worse than rotten eggs — an aroma Virgin Islanders are familiar with, thanks to WMA.
Halo to U.S. District Judge Robert Molloy for sentencing a law enforcement officer to three years and five months in prison for threatening to report a woman to immigration authorities if she didn’t give him sexual favors. Judge Molloy has sent a strong message to all people who hold positions of power and authority: You cannot use your position to take advantage of others, especially not someone who is vulnerable. Although many police officers in the Virgin Islands are genuine assets to the community, when one does something despicable, the public loses respect for all. Therefore, Molloy’s sentencing of V.I. Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs former law officer Robert Defreitas should be a morale boost for all good officers.
Pitchfork to the V.I. Labor Department for bouncing unemployment checks. The problem was a “timing issue,” according to the department spokeswoman. Considering the trouble this caused many people who needed their checks right away, can we hope the V.I. government will be more forgiving the next time a citizen has a “timing issue”? Looking at you WAPA and BIR.
Halo to Legal Services of the Virgin Islands Inc. for launching two vans to serve people who need help with legal matters but lack transportation to get to the Legal Services offices. “Justice for All” is a key principle of American democracy, but this van initiative adds to it: “Justice TO All.”
Pitchfork to V.I. Tourism Commissioner Joe Boschulte for doing nothing to develop new tourist markets or attract previous visitors to return. If Boschulte and his department actually have created new initiatives, why are they keeping it a secret? Why run a stealth campaign? The whole point of marketing is to publicize what you’re selling. If buyers don’t know about our product, they won’t buy. Meanwhile, our competitors across the Caribbean are coming up with new ideas and irresistible enticements and marketing them every way possible.
While Joe snoozes, the V.I. loses.
A hundred Halos to the 100 volunteers who have helped keep the BVI clean and green. Groups recently helped H. Lavity Stoutt Community College plant mangroves to restore groves destroyed by hurricanes and other groups have cleared vast amounts of trash and debris out of existing sites.
Half of a Halo to the V.I. senators. The first half is for taking the bold step to change the way their salaries are set. The public has been demanding this for 14 years, ever since Act 6905 stipulated the senators’ salaries would be the same as the lowest-paid commissioner. Not only was that illogical, it was a bad policy because it guaranteed high pay regardless of job requirements. Now the senators have voted to give a new entity, the V.I. Public Officials Compensation Commission, the authority to set salaries for the senators and for the government’s top leadership. Bill 33-0423, passed unanimously, creates a nine-member panel that will recommend the salaries of legislators, commissioners and assistant commissioners, and even the governor and lieutenant governor. The commission is to be appointed by the governor, the Senate president and the chief justice of the Supreme Court — each will get to appoint three members. When all are appointed, the commission is supposed to convene on Jan. 21 and submit their recommendations to the Legislature by May 30, 2022.
It remains to be seen whether:
1. The commission actually will get appointed and seated. Remember then-Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone’s 2014 effort to create an Ethics Commission? It died with barely a squeak.
2. The commission members will be independent thinkers, not just a bunch of flunkies who’ll do the bidding of whoever appointed them.
The other half of the halo will go to the senators if they accept whatever amount an unbiased Compensation Commission thinks they should get, even if it’s a pay cut.
Dumb Desperado Award of the Week goes to the dim bulb who went to a McDonald’s in Florida and instead of getting a Happy Meal, got an Unhappy Ending to a drug deal. What happened, he says, is that an unknown man approached him and offered to pay him $1,500 to put 18 pounds of marijuana in his luggage on a flight to St. Thomas. Setting aside the obvious stupidity of concocting a drug crime with a stranger you just met in a fast food line, there are the facts that:
1. King Airport is not a backwater, bush-league landing strip where anything goes; on the contrary, nothing much gets past federal law enforcement there.
2. What is the point of bringing marijuana here? Does anyone need to have that explained? If so, raise your hand and the DEA will be with you shortly.