The House of Assembly passed budget adjustments last week approving about $29 million in extra recurrent expenditure, among other changes. A Beaconite, however, continues to be perplexed at a general lack of transparency in managing the territory’s budget. The written resolution included very broad strokes about the adjustments, but lawmakers are allowed to make whatever changes they see fit in closed-door committee. When they returned to the floor at the end of the day, members allocated themselves only five minutes each to discuss the amendments they made (whereas they had an hour and a half to discuss personal business at the end of the previous sitting). Only five HOA members besides the premier took the floor. The Beaconite appreciates the details offered about changes to school funding, but she would have expected at least a few sentences from each member about the biggest cuts and additions made to their budgets. The premier also announced plans to speak to the state of the economy, which is great, but the reporter doesn’t see any reason members couldn’t provide more information during official proceedings to give residents a better idea of how the territory plans to progress despite the pandemic.
One quirk of the Virgin Islands that a Beaconite has always found endearing is the myriad ways in which people schedule fun throughout the week. It seems like almost everyone he knows has at least one extracurricular activity they never miss. There are the quiz night faithfuls and the weekly bowlers, the aerial dancers and Thursday rugby stalwarts. A few weeks ago, the Beaconite had the pleasure of learning about a hobby he had never before encountered: racing model sailboats. Because the wind was so still when he dropped by, there wasn’t much movement on the water, and the sailors humorously assured him that the races are often much more exciting. The Beaconite responded that there was no need to justify the lack of racing dynamism. The calm of watching the cream-coloured boats glide along the water was much like the sensation of watching koi fish swim about a lily-padded pond, something the Beaconite welcomed after finishing up the edit of the newspaper just an hour earlier. Though he doesn’t think he’ll be purchasing one of the remote-controlled boats anytime soon, he completely understands the appeal of standing at the edge of a dock as the sun sets and gently ribbing your friends as your boat, travelling a little faster than a snail on a hot day, somehow overtakes theirs.
A Beaconite has been working remotely and travelling in the United States since early this month. Today, she will reunite with a good friend and Virgin Islands native who has since relocated to the US, and next week with two more friends who are also former residents (and former Beaconites besides). She may end up reuniting with two or three other former VI residents before she returns, and has plans for a spring trip with still more of them. She’s looking forward to hours of laughing, reminiscing and catching up on everything that’s happened in the territory since they’ve gone. It’s remarkable how tightknit the extended VI community is, even among those who have been away for years. Certainly, it’s a transient place, with people coming and going all the time. But along with that, there’s an understanding of all the joys and challenges of living in a unique place that binds people together, even as their lives and careers may take them away. Ironically, it’s one of the reasons she’s looking forward to returning.