Mark your diaries for early August 2027. Yes, talk show host and government consultant Claude Skelton-Cline has decreed that is the date when the British flag will be lowered and the Virgin Islands standard raised in celebration of our independence from the United Kingdom.

Of course, there is a lot to be done before that, and a member of the royal family usually attends such ceremonies. No doubt one or two of them are clearing their diaries in readiness.

 

Wharf dedication

They say you should not speak ill of the dead, but watching the dedication of the Baughers Bay fishing wharf last week, I couldn’t help thinking that the late legislator Omar Hodge (rest in peace) may have achieved some good things in his 32 years in office. But I am afraid he will only be remembered in his later years for three or four things, including his famous “cookie jar” comment, the disastrous greenhouse project, and his scathing remarks about the “little lady with the handbag” who eventually ousted him from his seat in the district, among other questionable initiatives.

No mention of the cookie jar or the handbag was made at last week’s ceremony, and there seemed to be an abrupt change of subject as the greenhouses started to be mentioned.

A few days before the opening, a member in the House of Assembly complained that we are not a third world country, and so there should not be vehicles, boats and other equipment and junk parked along the road and sidewalk by the newly renamed park. I don’t know if they were removed beforehand, but we were told that the park was not yet finished: It still needed a toilet block and barbecue pit, but the opening could not wait any longer.

Then came a very strange plea from the premier and the district representative. Obviously anticipating something, they pleaded with the populace not to make a mess of the park and not to use it for illegal or other bad purposes! They threatened to shut it down if such behaviour carried on. This just shows what certain sections of our community think of such projects.

Of course, if they want the public to use the park (which is not very big) for family parties and so on, parking is a problem, especially if the area isn’t kept clear of derelict vehicles, boats and other trash. Commenters on social media give some idea as to what the park is currently used for, and I don’t even know whether any active fishers use the wharf.

 

Skelton-Cline

Now for Mr. Skelton-Cline, who effectively criticised the cheek of the inquiry commissioner for asking him to supply full documentation of his consultancy contracts. Noting that he would have to take advice from his lawyers before complying, Mr. Skelton-Cline complained that the commission was asking him for information that the government should have on file.

But that is the point. The inquiry wants to hear both sides, so one would expect that the commissioner already asked government for the same information.

Ultimately, only lawyers will make money from the COI, from the UK government (taxpayers), the VI government (also taxpayers), and those running scared at the prospect. I suspect the VI government’s Inquiry Response Unit and its leader, UK Queen’s Counsel Sir Geoffrey Cox, can easily be ignored by the commission, which has wide-ranging powers. After all, the UK government is hardly likely to be looking into parking tickets. As has been said many times, those who have nothing to fear should not worry, but so many “worthies” are going public with “the best form of defence is attack” that one wonders what will come out. Hearings were scheduled to commence this week.

 

Speaker of the House

Meanwhile, the speaker of the House weighs in where angels fear to tread, criticising the governor and the UK for delays in assenting to legislation approved by the HOA.

He should be aware that he has no political standing, but of course being a citizen of this territory, like Mr. Skelton-Cline, he can express his opinion. It’s a pity he does not allow such freedom to commenters on his news site.

 

Tourism, ports

So we have a plan to revamp tourism, but it’s secret because we don’t want our competitors to copy it. Tourism is run by industry, with government’s backing, aid and facilitation, but government does not run it. So why haven’t they consulted the tourism companies, and how will it come into effect if tour companies, agents and tourists don’t know what is on offer to persuade them to come here?

Manual workers at the port had their hours cut back because of the pandemic situation. While I sympathise with them, and feel that central government should have done the same with all government employees, they did not work, did not receive pay for those hours not worked, and did not receive a pay cut for the hours they did work. How, therefore, can there be a call for their pay to be reinstated? It is their working hours that need to be reinstated when, and only when, there is enough work to keep them occupied. By the sound of it, it is actually the workforce that needs to reduced.

 

Farmers week

Did anyone notice that we had a Farmers and Fishers Week last week? I don’t recall seeing any advertisements until we were well into it. What a far cry from years ago with the annual flower and vegetable show and Farmers Week, which were well advertised and well attended. I’m afraid reviving agriculture and fisheries is a lost cause.

 

Postal service

Friends report receiving up to 11 Christmas cards this past week. When, oh when, is our postal service going to be brought back into the 21st Century?


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