So now, at last, we’ve slammed and locked the door on 2020 and vowed to never speak of it again. Except, of course, the good parts. For example:
• Murder hornets did not come to the Virgin Islands aboard cruise ships. (Sadly, the ships also did not come, but the murder hornets were not to blame for that.)
• Our islands did not burst into flames, like California did (although WAPA equipment sometimes did, adding to the 3,749 excuses the utility made for the many, many, many outages).
• Virgin Islanders who went into banks wearing masks and asking for money were not viewed as robbers; they were correctly welcomed as good citizens protecting public health.
• The V.I. government showed extraordinary alacrity in using federal anti-COVID-19 funds — sometimes in creative ways only marginally related to fighting COVID-19. But at least they demonstrated they had not lost their fast-and-furious skills at spending other people’s money.
• Public schoolchildren finally got their hands on computers — even though the Education Department bungled the orders and never put a consistent, effective remote-classroom strategy in place for using the computers.
• WICO’s board members suspended their outrageously high stipends for attending meetings ($1,500 per meeting for members and $2,000 per meeting for Chairman Joe Boschulte). But they can’t seem to remember when they made that decision. They think maybe it was June. Or maybe earlier. Or later.
• The Port Authority did not let the pandemic slow its progress in wasting funds on unnecessary projects, which gave Virgin Islanders something to be angry about besides the governor’s beach ban.
• Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. got busy quickly to find ways to protect Virgin Islanders from COVID-19. But the erratic nature of the governor’s various announcements did not inspire confidence. Restaurants had to scramble to acquire plastic tableware, even if they had perfectly operating high-temp dishwashers. Beachgoers had to stay on their toes because bans shifted without notice. Especially surprising was a beach ban that went into effect at 4 p.m. on weekends and holidays. (Some wondered whether Government House had secret intel that the coronavirus snoozed during the daytime and only came out at night.)
• The Paul E. Joseph Stadium project, which has drained away millions of dollars (but has not drained off a drop of the water from the site where the government plans to build the stadium) finally received a jolt of reality from FEMA, which has flood maps showing that DPNR, past and present governors and many senators all were promising St. Croix a fantasy.
• The 2020 Senate election was so low-key it was almost unnoticeable, a far cry from previous high drama, high tension highjinks created by the Elections Board.
• The governor got serious about fixing GERS — by announcing he would appoint a blue ribbon task force of experts. However, those experts never got a chance to tell him anything because he never appointed anybody. (He apparently got distracted by crafting unworkable, unsuccessful debt restructuring schemes.)
• Virgin Islands Police did not shoot anybody to death. (But sadly, dozens of civilians did, tallying a near-record number of homicides — at 49 — in a single year).
• Hurricanes lost interest in the territory, and we survived the worst storm season in known history with just a few days of heavy rain.
• The V.I. attorney general kept her aim on Jeffrey Epstein’s estate straight and steady, despite new revelations of how often previous and present V.I. officials kissed that billionaire sex offender’s feet.
• • •
The Daily News suggests New Year’s Resolutions each year for various V.I. government officials, and these should be achievable in 2021 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which was the excuse for a lot of laxity and mistakes last year:
Governor Bryan: I will find feasible ways to keep GERS retirees’ pensions intact. And I will stop finding ways for the public to enrich my family and friends.
Governor’s Financial Advisers: We will quit and go give bad advice to someone else.
Ex-Gov. John de Jongh Jr.: I won’t forget to write a “Thank You” note to Governor Bryan for moving government offices to my shopping center.
Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett: I will show some gumption and invite myself to meetings that directly affect the Virgin Islands, for example that stealth huddle that possibly sealed Caneel Bay’s future.
V.I. Senators: We will play fair and stop the competition between St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John for King of the Hill. We also will stop disrespecting freshmen senators and their efforts to introduce bills.
Tourism Commissioner Joe Boschulte: I will come back from Florida and do something (anything!) that shows I know that being commissioner is a job, not just a title and a paycheck.
WAPA board and executives: We will stop being defensive and opposing positive ideas to reform and improve services, and we will start accepting the truth: Virgin Islanders can’t pay their bills and WAPA can’t deliver consistent electricity.
Education Department top officials: We will stop preening and start performing to improve the quality of education all V.I. children deserve.
Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach: I will keep clinging to my integrity, especially when asked to OK meritless patronage contracts.
Economic Development Authority: We will remember that every tax dollar we let our favored companies dodge is a tax dollar added to the burden the people of the Virgin Islands have to pay.
The Virgin Islands Daily News: We will continue doing what we have been committed to doing since 1930: Report the news accurately and fairly; hold government officials accountable; dig, demand and battle for the public’s right to know; and celebrate the people, places, events and joys of the United States Virgin Islands.