The recent shakeup in the United Kingdom government has caused all kinds of speculation about the possible impacts here in the Virgin Islands. One political candidate even suggested in a radio interview that, with a new overseas territories minister in charge, the British may suddenly recall the governor and/or institute direct rule here. To a Beaconite, that suggestion seems illogical. First of all, governors are rarely recalled unless they’re facing serious, credible allegations, such as in the Cayman Islands in 2018. Second, the ruling UK Conservative Party is already in a complete meltdown politically and may soon be facing a contentious general election of its own. A VI constitutional suspension would mean running a whole territory directly from Whitehall. Does that really sound like something already overtaxed ministers want on their plates on top of sorting out their own problems? The UK has already made it clear that it wants to give the VI the chance to improve governance on its own, and instituting direct rule would be anathema to that goal. To the Beaconite, this type of speculation from VI candidates appears to be rooted in fear tactics — something they have a history of using in any situation where it might benefit them. She urges people to take it with a grain of salt, and to do their own research and critical thinking.
Going for gold
This territory and the United States Virgin Islands celebrated their 50th annual Friendship Day this weekend, welcoming delegates from both territories to celebrate here. A Beaconite was intrigued when leaders expressed a desire to work together more closely on matters like tourism and environmental issues that affect both territories. Such partnership certainly seems like a smart move, especially considering the vast potential for attracting vacationers to the Caribbean as travel becomes more practical. The Beaconite hopes these discussions result in direct action, like collaborative tourism campaigns, partnerships on habitat preservation projects, and the like. It was also a delight to see so many people enjoy the mini-parade and other festivities.
Librarian of the Year
A Beaconite likes to keep up with news from her hometown, and she saw this week that the director of the city’s library recently won the distinction of librarian of the year from the Wisconsin Library Association. She was recognised for her exceptional leadership, especially during the pandemic as she helped organise a programme to help feed families in need and homebound residents. Librarians do so much to support their communities, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Beaconite hopes real plans are soon put in place to build a new library in Road Town. She heard from several community members during Reading is Fun Week about how much they want a facility to replace the one destroyed by Hurricane Irma. With a new budget cycle on the horizon, she hopes the project gets priority.
A Beaconite from Guyana watched with interest as the 2014-2015 wall project at Elmore Soutt High School came into the spotlight once more. The project was first highlighted by the auditor general in 2018 for its cost overruns and other issues, which must have raised several eyebrows at the time. A police investigation was launched the following year, and the project was criticised again in the Commission of Inquiry report this year. In Guyana, such questionable public projects are routinely highlighted in auditor general reports almost every year. Some have also appeared in media reports. A small guard hut costing millions at a ministry comes to mind. The Beaconite is fascinated by the process of accountability surrounding the ESHS wall project — though he recognises that this process is the still the exception rather than the rule in the VI as well. He wonders if the people behind the countless questionable projects in his home country will be held accountable one day. And what about others in the VI?