Pitchfork to Governor Bryan and his financial team for cooking up an unconvincing debt relief plan that looks like Three-Card Monte. Their scheme is to create a new entity (just what we need, right?) that will be independent and thus untarnished by the government’s very, very, very bad reputation for mishandling money. In a variation of the street-corner game in which suckers try to correctly pick which of three walnuts is hiding a pea, the pea is the millions of dollars in rum cover-over money that the territory collects from the U.S. Treasury. The pea will end up under a newly created walnut called the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), but first it will be swiftly moved under another newly-created walnut, called a V. I. government “Restricted Account.” The fast action involves making administrative changes to agreements with the territory’s two rum companies, Diageo and Cruzan Rum V.I., who, oddly enough, were not invited to the game table.

Halos to senators Kurt Vialet, Kenneth Gittens, Javan James, Oakland Benta, Dwayne DeGraff, and Janelle Sarauw, who saw through the scheme.

Pitchforks to senators Alicia Barnes, Marvin Blyden, Allison DeGazon, Stedmann Hodge Jr., Myron Jackson, Steven Payne Sr., Athneil Thomas and Donna Frett-Gregory, who fell for it.

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Halo to the V.I. Health Department for putting public health above political patronage. Health has hired an experienced, well-regarded company to do the crucially important work of contact tracing, which can help stem the spread of the coronavirus. Health will pay the tech company $220,040 for one year. This is in sharp contrast to the $998,000 three-year contract almost handed out to a newly-formed company with no experience and that didn’t even have its required paperwork ready. The only persuasive “qualification” that company had was its personnel: The owners were the governor’s daughter, fresh out of college, and a young man who was a campaign intern and assisted the governor during his political campaign.

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Halos to Kristene Kelly and to Vanderbilt University, one of the founding members of the SEC. Vandy gets a halo for being smart enough to recognize Kelly’s expertise, hire her away from Dartmouth College and appoint her to the roles of Deputy Athletics Director and senior women’s administrator. Kelly, who is from Frederiksted, has a doctorate degree in sports management and has worked her way up the ladder in a highly-competitive field, gets a halo for being a smart, powerful woman that girls (especially Virgin Islands girls) can look up to. As she told Daily News sports editor Bill Kiser after she accepted her new job, “If I can be candid, women — in particularly Black women — we don’t get opportunities to screw up; if you don’t do well, you’re not going to get another opportunity.” Prediction: The Vanderbilt Commodores will soon discover they have new fans cheering from far away in the USVI.

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Halo to former President Barack Obama for giving us something positive to expect in 2020. He is publishing the first volume of his memoir, “A Promised Land” on Nov. 17. It’s the most anticipated presidential memoir of all time, not simply because it may contain political revelations but because of the exceptional grace and style of his writing, as already seen in his two previous books, “Dreams from My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.” Critics have praised President Obama as “the most literary president since Abraham Lincoln,” so in a nation torn by conflict, pandemic, disasters, wildfires and profound uncertainty about almost everything, his book may be a balm in Gilead. Get your bookmark ready, set, go.

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Pitchfork to the V.I. Legislature for its inability to say “No” to itself and to its love of comfort, pomp and excess. At a time when great need is crying out from all corners of the territory, the senators have spent millions buying and refurbishing a building as their St. Croix offices. Their old building in Frederiksted was indisputably a wreck that had been undermined by hurricanes and long-term neglect. However, did the senators really have to replace it with a big, splendid mansion? And at a time when romantic “plantation” images are finally being dispelled far and wide, did the senators absolutely have to make their new home look like Tara? And once again, taxpayers’ money is gone with the wind.

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Pitchfork to the V.I. Department of Education administrators for not getting around to ordering computers in time for the students to get them before school opened. This has put children without the devices at a huge disadvantage because computers are essential for remote instruction during the COVID-19 shutdown of schools. So the kids without computers are already falling behind classmates who already had a personal computer to use at home.

Halos to St. Croix AFT President Rosa Soto-Thomas and St. Thomas-St. John AFT President Carol Callwood for spotlighting the Education Department administrators’ abject failure to do effective planning. After all, they’ve had months to prepare but they didn’t even put in the computer order until shortly before school was supposed to start. Worse yet, the administrators expect the teachers to call all the students who don’t have computers and “keep them engaged” every day. (Apparently the top administrators think teachers have nothing else to do.) Please, can’t somebody hang up calendars in the administrators’ offices? Maybe then important dates — like the schools’ opening day — won’t sneak up on them.

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Halo to the Paradise Jam basketball tournament, a welcome visitor to the territory for more than 20 years, for making the unwelcome but wise decision to play elsewhere this year to prevent further spread of COVID-19. Always played in the late November run-up to the NCAA Division I conference season, the men’s and women’s games brought top teams, and their fans, to the Virgin Islands for two weeks. But as tournament organizer Nels Hawkinson said, “There are way too many issues that we can’t control — obviously, COVID being one. We don’t want to bring COVID to the island, we don’t want to get COVID while we’re there.” Thanks, Nels, for doing the smart, and right, thing for all concerned. We’ll cheer extra loud when you come back next year.

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Dumb Desperados Award this week goes to the greedy bunch accused of a horrific crime — kidnapping and beating a man on St. Thomas for hours to make him tell where he hid money, which he says he knew nothing about. They made so many mistakes, they are an embarrassment to thugs everywhere. High, so to speak, on the list was the leader’s decision to take a break and smoke some weed after his cohorts left the scene. He became so relaxed, the victim was able to free himself. Several days after arrests had been made, a member of the crew still at large tried to catch a flight but — lo and behold! — he went into the same airport waiting area where the victim also was waiting for a flight. When the cops nabbed the guy, he was carrying an expensive Gucci bag. The moral of the story: High crimes and high fashion don’t mix.