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Big Kahuna

A Vote That Counts

Meet Alan Friedman, he’s my friend and he’s running for senate. He’s #17 on the ballot. Alan is one of the most trustworthy people I’ve ever met in my life. He genuinely cares about the people, especially those that can’t help themselves.

Alan and I have many opposing political views. I’m a Republican, he’s running for the Green Party. But we also agree on some very important issues.

Check out his platform and comment in.

ALAN FRIEDMAN #17 — PLATFORM:

1) Reduce senate size from 15 seats down to seven. This can be done gradually over several elections. For instance in 2014 our populace votes for 13 seats, in 2016 for 11 seats, in 2018 for 9 seats and by 2020 the VI votes on only 7 seats (3 STX, 3 STT and 1 Senator at Large) to write laws for the territory. Reason: Our current elected official payroll is unsustainable for such a small population.

My comments: I agree, the waste here in the USVI is inexcusable,  why do we need that many senators, driving around in free cars, raiding their expense accounts for only 100,000 people? Makes sense to me!

2) Reduce power bills. This can be done by introducing more dual use generators, aid our territory’s ability to import liquid natural gas while prioritizing its storage facilities and not take any option of the table when it comes to our islands’ power generation. Reason: Each administration has passed this problem onto the next. It’s time to legitimately invest in our relief.

My comments: Kicking the can down the road is par for the course here in the USVI. And the average USVI citizen just can’t afford alternative energy, read my article here on the real costs of solar: http://www.stthomasblog.com/2012/01/26/for-all-people-saying-just-go-solar/

3) I will not rely on legislation to make a difference in our community. I’ve pledged to donate 20% of my senate salary to The Family Resource Center, a non-profit organization committed to helping victims of domestic violence & sexual assault. I also promise to turn down government vehicles, gas allowances and the countless other perks enjoyed by those we’ve elected to serve the public. Reason: Why wait for a law to obligate our senators to reduce what we all agree is too high a salary? Our leaders should be expected to lead by example.

My comments: How many other greedy senators would pledge this? They expect us all to sacrifice yet they are the second highest paid senators in the US, only behind California. True greed is what is killing the USVI. 

4) Introduce a local version of Megan’s Law which requires any person convicted of a sex crime against children to notify local law enforcement upon arrival to The U.S. Virgin Islands. This legislature will also require our authorities to inform victims of the release of their attacker from prison. Reason: Sex crimes in The USVI need to be addressed and dealt with head on. There is no excuse for turning a blind eye to this horrible issue in our community.

My comments: Although not at the top of my personal agenda this is a great idea.

5) Focus on assisting local businesses to thrive through even-handed tax enforcement instead of increasing collections on honest tax payers. Taxes should be a shared burden. Assist in a mandatory revamp of our licensing process to make it easier and cheaper to establish and maintain businesses of all sizes. Reason: Too many business owners are doubly burdened by WAPA and Gross Tax Receipts while government bureaucracy places obstacles instead of helpful measures in their path. I WILL NOT RAISE TAXES. Instead, I will ensure everyone pays their fair share so the weight is more evenly distributed.

My comments: Ironically I wrote an article on this subject back in 2011 entitled The Comical Adventures Of Obtaining A New Business License In St. Thomas US Virgin Islands. You can read it here: http://www.stthomasblog.com/2011/03/28/the-comical-adventure-of-obtaining-a-new-business-license-in-st-thomas-us-virgin-islands/. It’s a joke. And of course how many Safari drivers actually pay taxes on ALL their wages? We all know many cheat the system whilst other honest businesses pay their fair share. 

How does that platform sound to you? Clear, concise and he’s not trying to solve every issue all at once.

Check him out in his debate with Senator Malone and Carol Berry:

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Here are some questions from the St. Thomas Source to candidate Alan Friedman #17 on the ballot:

Senatorial Election Questions:
1. If you knew a colleague was taking or soliciting a bribe or bribes or otherwise acting outside of the law, would you reporter him or her to the proper authorities?
Yes. I have done it before and would do it again.
2. Should your public life be a reflection of your private life?
I’m sure there are many who would answer “yes” to this question. I’m not one of them. Bluntly stated, my public life is public and my private life is none of anyone’s business.


3. What is your record of volunteer service to the community? Name four organizations or efforts you have served without being paid or otherwise compensated.
Most of us could do more to contribute to our community. I feel like I’m one of those people. However, as a radio station manager I’ve had multiple opportunities to donate my time, my energy and my expertise to many organizations over the past decade. These include:
- Donating radio time for The Boys & Girls’ Club (on STX & STT) and The Family Resource Center of STT.
- Distributing toys to the Nana Baby Home, Kidscope and our hospital during the holiday season along with the “Toys for Tots” campaign (spearheaded by The US Marines)
- My wife & I foster dogs on behalf of the Humane Society and feature them on our station until we find them a good home.
- We’re heavily involved in Rotary East’s fund raising “Cinco de Mayo” Chihuahua races and multiple Breast Cancer fund-raisers.
4. Should government officials travel on public money? If yes, should the miles acquired belong to the public to be used for the public good; i.e. students’ travel?
Government officials sometimes need to use public money on business-related travel. It stands to reason that the miles earned should be donated back to the public. I think students or our representing athletes would benefit greatly from being recipients of these miles.


5. Do you feel it is your responsibility as an elected official to show up for scheduled meetings on time and stay at the meetings for the duration? Will you pledge to do that without fail?
Sadly, some elected officials enjoy “full-time” salaries but have a “part-time” work ethic. It is important that this changes. If I were to conduct myself this way in the private sector, I would’ve gone out of business years ago. I gladly pledge to show up for scheduled meetings on time and stay for the duration.


6. Would you support an anti-vendor statute that would prohibit churches and other nonprofit organizations from soliciting dollars from elected officials for the nonprofit organizations’ events?
The separation of church and state is important to me. However, I think it’s a mistake to group non-profit organizations or any effort that assists with local causes, in this statute. There must be a balance. I wouldn’t want a government agency tasked with the delicate matter of sheltering abused children, much like I wouldn’t want our laws to be written by a priest. Government grants are often required for non-profit organizations to remain active. I would need to read the “anti-vendor statute” proposed in order to properly answer your question.


7. Yes or no – are you in favor of a Chief Financial Officer as proposed by Delegate Donna Christensen?
Yes. I’m in favor of obtaining an independent third party to determine the budget available for our government’s annual expenditures. This level of organization & accountability would be a step in the right direction for the territory. However, as Mrs. Christensen pointed out, a CFO bill would not “be a cure all for what ails the Virgin Islands” and it must be implemented with checks & balances (no pun intended) and administered watchfully. If it’s not, it wouldn’t be the first time The Virgin Islands fall victim to well intentioned legislation.


8. Have you ever been arrested? If yes, please explain.
Yes. As a college student I was wrongfully arrested for trespassing onto my own property (much like Henry Louis Gates but without the “Beer Summit”), all charges were dropped.


9. The electorate already voted in a non-binding referendum in favor of a smaller Legislature. Would you vote to reduce the size of the Legislature to no more than nine senators? Would you sponsor or co-sponsor such a bill?
No. I’m strongly in favor of reducing the size of the senate down to seven, not nine. Not only would I sponsor or co-sponsor the bill to reduce senate size, I would happily relinquish my seat to facilitate its dissolution.

If you like what Alan Firedman stands for please share this article, copy the URL link at the top and post to your Facebook pages. Alan Friedman won’t be winning votes by having the best “Fish Fry”, he’ll do it with hard work, a grassroots effort and your word of mouth.

Vote for Alan Friedman if you want honest change, #17 on the ballot.

You can view his Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/AlanFriedmanSTTSenate.

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Big Kahuna

Accused of Racism – V.I. Delegate to Congress, Donna Christensen, Removes Offensive Tweet

As a white person living in the US Virgin Islands I’ve seen my share of racism…against whites. Racism can be from anyone, I think we are all aware of that.

Meet Donna Christensen, she represents the VI in Congress:

Here’s what she had to say on twitter during Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s press conference announcing his running mate, Paul Ryan:

“Wait a minute! Are there black people in Va? Guess just not w Romney Ryan! At least not seeing us. We know who’s got our back & we have his,” the delegate tweeted.”

Yes Donna, we know who’s back you have. However, when VP Biden went to VA (and called it North Carolina) and told a predominately African American audience that they’re gonna ”put y’all back in chains,” where was V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen then? Somehow Biden got the pass…..

Here’s what liberal analyst Santita Jackson (daughter of Jesse Jackson) had to say about that:

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Either way it’s my opinion that these comments made by V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen are indeed made to be racial. Which is probably why she took them down. And now we know her true colors!

This isn’t a political Presidential debate people and honestly it doesn’t matter what side you’re on. Racism is racism no matter who it came from. And this post WILL NOT BE OPEN TO COMMENTS to a political debate.

You can read the full story here: http://virginislandsdailynews.com/news/christensen-removes-tweet-after-accusations-of-racism-1.1360018.

Do you think that V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen’s comments were racist? Tell us what you believe.

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Big Kahuna

If You Find Yourself Smashed And Unable To Drive…

Don’t bother wasting money on a taxi, here’s what Meridith Nielsen, director of the Office of Highway Safety said: The campaign requires a lot of manpower, possibly costing as much as $30,000 in overtime. Nielsen also said that during the campaign, people who have been drinking can call 911, and an available patrol unit will take them home, no questions asked.

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over  Or call us for a ride!

Police Sgt. Joseph Platt, traffic commander for the St. Croix district ”Urged people who go out for a night of revelry to get a designated driver or to give their keys to someone before they get drunk. He also urged bartenders to keep an eye on their customers and try to keep them from having that “one more” drink.” But er, we got WAPA to pay for mon.

Why thank you Meridith Nielsen, director of the Office of Highway Safety, I’ve been looking for that kind of service for a long time. And I AGREE, 911 shouldn’t be used for those rare occasions when people actually need the police ;) Anyways you guys will be way too busy pickin’ us up at the bars. I always wanted a ride in the back of a cruiser for shits and giggles ;)

For the entire story go here: http://stthomassource.com/content/news/local-news/2012/08/15/police-launch-annual-crackdown-impaired-driving.

Remember folks, just call 911 for a ride home.

 

 

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Big Kahuna

The Choke Hold On St. Thomas

Fuel.

Have you been listening to the news lately regarding gas prices? They’re going up and fast, we’ve had a .56 cent increase on the price of regular since January 1st. We typically average $1/gallon more than the stateside average. And they’re talking about seeing  $5/ gallon in the states. Can you imagine paying $6/gallon here?

What’s that mean for St. Thomas?

Everything and I mean everything goes up in price. It will cost more to ship stuff in which means a rise in food costs, products and the nail in the coffin….The LEAC. Add that to the fact that our only fuel supplier Hovensa will be done with us in June and to date a new supplier has not even been mentioned.

We pretty much live and die with fuel costs. Can you imagine the LEAC skyrocketing to over .50/kWh? Right now we’re paying .44/kWh, imagine paying say .54/kWh? What would a .10 rise mean to you? People can’t even pay the ridiculous .44 we’re paying now. If the average household uses 1000/kWh a month that would mean the average electricity bill at .54/kWh would be $540/month. Ouch.

My gas tank holds 18 gallons and I fill it once a week, sometimes twice. A dollar/gallon alone would add $72/month to my gas bill, double that as we have 2 cars so roughly $150/month just in gas increases. Then you’ll see a rise at all the grocery stores for the fuel increase and then again if the LEAC goes up.

Maybe none of this will happen, we can only hope. But if it does are you prepared?  What are your thoughts?

 

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Big Kahuna

Relocating The Projects…

We all know there is crime in ANY project no matter what the color of your skin. The latest shootings at Pearson Gardens are just a number in a long line of trouble (http://stthomassource.com/content/news/local-news/2012/02/25/one-dead-two-injured-pearson-gardens-shooting). We can all agree that low income affordable housing is necessary. That said why do we have projects on the main route of our most important asset…

Cruise Ship passengers. Tourism IS still our #1 industry.

To get to and from Havensight from almost everywhere safari taxis need go by Pearson Gardens. A lot of tourists make the walk from Havensight to downtown, nothing beats a welcome to our island like a stroll past the projects.

Here’s what I suggest. Build new projects somewhere else that isn’t on a major tourist line. That will give people work in construction, electric, plumbing etc. The homes could even be upgraded to 2012 which I’m sure the renters would like. Will they be inconvenienced? Yes. But if you make the move a positive upgrade it might help with the sting of the move itself.

After the projects are relocated that road could be lined with restaurants, retail stores and office buildings bringing in potentially millions of dollars in 5% gross receipts taxes and rents. So instead of a financial burden that area could be positive cash flow. And it could compliment Yacht Haven Grande. Now if only we could relocate the Bridge To Nowwhere so pedestrians could walk across the road ;)

So what are your arguments for keeping Pearson Gardens where it is or do you think this is a good idea?

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Big Kahuna

Governor John P. deJongh, Jr. Has The Answers To Our Economic Woes

Is it replacing old equipment at WAPA to reduce our LEAC charges?

Is it finding a replacement for our only fuel supplier Hovensa?

Is it getting rid of senators that are stealing from us?

Is it St. Croix’s future 20% unemployment rate?

Is it a reduction of the 1% Gross Receipts Tax he just hammered onto business?

BUZZZZZZZ

Here’s the solution:

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So what do you think?

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Big Kahuna

In An Effort To Keep The US Virgin Islands Government As Bloated As Possible…

They raised Gross Receipts taxes, again on all the businesses (goes into effect in March). So that’s a full 1% GROSS tax hike on all business within the last 18 months.

What’s that mean to a business? It means less revenue while costs for products like clothing, food, transportation etc. have all gone way up. Lest we forget that fuel, electricity and propane have all gone up as well.

Soon we’ll be paying $35 for a hamburger but we won’t be on St. Barts! And trust me, I’ve been to St. Barts and we’ll never be so nice.

Here’s what I propose to all business owners effectively immediately. Raise all your costs by 5% to cover all the other increases you’ve had to incur. Problem solved. Then leave it to the people to decide to keep purchasing. And make a note on your front door that reads: Because of the recent tax and product hikes we’ve had to raise all our prices, thank your government for that.

Here’s what I know doesn’t work in a major recession….tax hikes. It’s a business killer. And what the nincompoops in our government don’t understand is that if we keep losing businesses we lose taxes collected. Get it?

Instead of eliminating all the wasteful government jobs we all know exist they once again hold small business hostage. Folks, it’s really not worth it to come here and start a business…between your WAPA costs and taxes you’re out of the game almost immediately. And people wonder why we pay $7.50 for a gallon of milk?

For the entire story and gory details go here: http://stthomassource.com/content/news/local-news/2012/02/10/senate-passes-gross-receipts-tax-increase

What’s your opinion? Keep the government jobs or keep taxing the local businesses?

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Big Kahuna

Will Casinos Rescue The US Virgin Islands?

We all know the shit has hit the fan. Everyone’s asking, what will we do?

Casinos.

The St. Thomas/St. John casino bill as it was originally written called for a casino at Yacht Haven, but an amendment is anticipated that will allow seven casinos on St. Thomas and two on St. John.

Read the full story here

Okay, so we already have Video Lottery Terminals here in abundance. And some of those you can actually play blackjack and roulette on. So, what’s your take on an actual real life casino?

Nicci and I travel to St. Maarten every year and they have tons of casinos. Usually with great nightclubs and restaurants. So they become a job producing, money making machine. Tourists love them, see Las Vegas for proof of that.

Then you have the other side of the debate. Those that are against gambling. Those that feel it promotes locals losing their hard earned money.

We’ve asked the Senators to do something to get us out of this mess. This is one idea. Personally I love casinos and have no problem with gambling.

From the St. Thomas Source:

The pending amendment on the St. Thomas/St. John casino bill would give 40 percent of the revenues to the V.I. Water and Power Authority to help it float bonds so it can buy new equipment and 40 percent to the Government Employees Retirement System to assist with its unfunded liability. Nine percent of the revenues would go to the general fund, 5 percent to the Education Initiative Fund, 5 percent to the Casino Control Commission for operating expenses, and 1 percent to gambling addiction and education programs.

What do you think St. Thomas? Casinos….thumbs up or thumbs down? And for those that say thumbs down comment in on how you think we can get out of this mess.

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Big Kahuna

Yahoo News Reports Alleged 20 Million Dollar Bribes To Governor John P. deJongh, Jr. and Attorney General Vincent Frazer

From Yahoo News:

The sitting governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, his attorney general and an unspecified number of Virgin Islands legislators also accepted bribes, the source said, adding that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is aware prosecutors and elected officials were bribed and otherwise compromised, but has not held anyone accountable.

     

The alleged corruption ultimately reached the rarefied air of the Virgin Islands’ current governor, Democrat John de Jongh. TheDC’s source alleges that collectively, de Jongh, attorney general Vincent Frazer, and assorted Virgin Islands legislators accepted at least $20 million in cash bribes to quash local concerns about CFC’s financial irregularities.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE: http://news.yahoo.com/bribery-compromised-officials-leave-indicted-financial-crime-suspects-031612503.html

You should really read that article, crazy allegations.

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Big Kahuna

If Forest Gump Were Running Our Government….

We’d be great! Instead we have the most uneducated, moronic thinkers all combined to form a 90 IQ. Seriously, you wonder why we’re so screwed?

Last night during the State of the Territory Gov. John deJongh Jr said and I quote: “That bringing in solar and wind could backfire, raising the costs of the Water and Power Authority generated electricity as its high fixed costs had to be covered by a diminishing base of rate payers.”

In other words the more we go solar and wind the less customers or income WAPA has therefore requiring WAPA to raise it rates to those not on solar/wind. God are we screwed or what? As one of my blog follower wrote “ That’s like saying we need to pollute the air and water so the EPA will have something to do…..”

Never mind the fact that the average homeowner pays almost .45 kWh (4-5 times that of an average state). But now he’s basically saying if you try to better yourself and the ENVIRONMENT you’ll be making those that don’t suffer because the power costs will go up.

Then he went on to blame the Senate, Unions, and anyone else that he knew.

Now, the Senate is equally to blame and we all know they’re thieves. Unions, well they screw everyone all the time so they’re an easy target.

But the dagger was this nugget when he called out small business owners:

He said businesses favor laying off “inefficient” government workers but rail against increasing the gross receipts tax by a half a percent. “The General Fund employees of this government are your patrons, they are your customers, they buy in your stores, they pay rent to you as landlords, they eat in your restaurants,” he said, pointing out that hundreds of public employees had already been laid off and more would follow.

My God, these small businesses are already paying 4.5% of the GROSS. All you state-siders can get up off the floor now, cause I said GROSS, not net. Business here basically supports the government otherwise we’d have a state personal income tax here (above and beyond the IRB). Raising gross receipts taxes anymore will mean more businesses going out of business. And guess what you moronic piece of shit Governor you know what that means? Less taxes for your government to steal!

Did anyone see the enormous amount of security for the event? They had a small army out there. Social unrest is just around the corner. Crime, more poverty….

But what ever you do don’t go solar and wind, that’s bad for the government.

 

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