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June 27, 2007

Border Patrol to US Virgin Islands: You're On Your Own

Illegal immigration is a real problem in the territory - and it looks like the feds are not ready to give the islands any more help:

(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. Virgin Islands have long been known as a convenient Caribbean paradise, boasting sandy beaches, palm trees and sunshine -- and no passport requirement for American citizens.

But that convenience is also making the Virgin Islands a conduit through which illegal immigrants, and possibly terrorists, are finding their way onto U.S. soil, according to law enforcement and government officials.

"It's a good way to enter the United States," said former Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent Mike Cutler. "If you can get yourself to the Virgin Islands, you're in the United States ... the likelihood is no one is going to even look at you, you just show a driver's license, get on the airplane, and you're on the way."

At one point, the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) are separated from the British Virgin Islands by just four miles of open water. It's also one of the busiest cruise ship destinations in the world. Yet U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has told USVI officials not to expect any additional help anytime soon.

The rest of that article is here. We know an ICE agent and he personally talked about how under staffed and under funded they were. It seems the government just won't take these issues seriously enough for some reason.

June 26, 2007

St. Thomas- St. John Chamber of Commerce Buiness After Hours

The Schneider Regional Medical Center
will host the next

St. Thomas- St. John Chamber of Commerce
BUSINESS AFTER HOURS

Thursday, June 28, 2007

5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The Schneider Regional Medical Center request the pleasure of your company at a special Business After Hours introducing our community to the new PET/SCAN Services now being provided at the Schneider Regional Medical Center. Business After will be held at the rear of Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute.

Complimentary Hors d'oeuvres, Door Prizes, The Famous Chamber $2.00 Bar, 50/50 raffle and entertainment.

We encourage members, guest and potential members to attend!

This is really a great way to meet people in the business community on St. Thomas - we used to attend often when we lived there.

June 25, 2007

CZM Denies Permit for Great St. James Island Development

A couple of days behind on this story, but here it is from the St. Thomas Source:

June 21, 2007 -- Citing various environmental and ecological concerns, members of the Coastal Zone Management Committee voted unanimously earlier this week to deny plans for the construction of a high-end housing community on Great St. James Island.

Detailed within a lengthy CZM permit application, the plans included the building of 53 individual home units, priced at about $750,000 apiece. The documents state that the proposed project would have spanned approximately 163 acres, with each house sitting on three acres of land.

More here.

June 15, 2007

Red Hook: Lots of Problems, Few Immediate Solutions

The St. Thomas Source has an article this morning about crime and other issues in Red Hook:

June 14, 2007 – Red Hook residents and business owners brought issues such as lack of police presence and increasing crimes before the Public Safety, Homeland Security and Justice Committee Wednesday night.

Testifiers also addressed other issues such as road conditions, parking and traffic in that area.

An issue continually revisited throughout the evening was increasing crime in the Red Hook area. Residents noted that with no permanent police station in the area, the crime problem will only grow worse.

Archive link for this entry: Red Hook: Lots of Problems, Few Immediate Solutions | |

June 13, 2007

V.I. Property-Tax Bill Passes U.S. Senate

From the St. Thomas Source:

June 12, 2007 -- The U.S. Senate overcame a months-old parliamentary hurdle and passed, on unanimous consent, a bill sponsored by Delegate Donna M. Christensen that repeals a 1936 federal law limiting the authority of the V.I. government to administer its own property-tax system, according to a Government House news release.

The bill, which passed the House of Representatives last January, now goes to the president for his signature.

The bill had been held up by a U.S. senator who had put a “legislative hold” on all bills reported by the Senate Energy Committee, including the V.I. property-tax bill, the news release said. The senator agreed to release his hold on the bill after the Senate leadership agreed to separate the V.I. bill from the other Senate Energy Committee bills that prompted the hold, the release said.

Archive link for this entry: V.I. Property-Tax Bill Passes U.S. Senate | |

June 11, 2007

Prominent St. Thomas attorney Stephen Brusch suspended from practicing law, faces disbarment

Story about Stephen Brusch from the VI Daily News:

ST. THOMAS - Stephen Brusch, one of the Virgin Islands' most prominent and successful attorneys, has been suspended from practicing law in the Virgin Islands and faces possible disbarment.

A V.I. Supreme Court panel ruled Friday that Brusch's violations of the V.I. Bar Association's rules of conduct in at least two cases - and the likelihood of similar violations in several other cases pending before the Bar's Ethics and Grievance Committee - warrant an interim suspension.

Brusch, a former federal court public defender, has been at the forefront of some of the most high-profile criminal cases in the Virgin Islands. In the past year, he has defended Ashley Andrews in the Global Resources Management corruption case; Joel Dowdye, a police detective who killed his ex-girlfriend; and Jamal Hart, one of two brothers arrested on suspicion of killing two tourists, a crime that made national headlines.

More here.

June 08, 2007

Federal Audit: Property and Procurement Squandered $9 million

Some more bad news from the Virgin Islands, courtesy of the St. Thomas Source:

June 7, 2007 -- The Department of Property and Procurement bungled $9 million in taxpayers' money from 2000 to 2005, according to a new federal audit.

As a landlord, the V.I. government's primary property-management agency failed to collect some $3 million rent -- letting renters go more than a decade without paying.

As a renter, the Virgin Islands has been less than shrewd, spending $3 million renting land it could have bought for $4.2 million, said the audit from the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of the Inspector General.

"In effect, both as a landlord and a procurer of private space for government agencies, DP&P has not acted in the best interest of the government of the Virgin Islands," wrote the report's author, Michael P. Colombo, the Department of the Interior's regional audit manager.

Unfortunately the VI has a penchant for corruption and waste, especially with public money. The citizens of the territory need to get involved and demand more from the local government going forward to ensure this kind of stuff stops happening.

Tom Bolt & Associates

Tom Bolt has been practicing law in the Virgin Islands for more than 20 years. I met him once or twice at various functions when living on St. Thomas, but never really got to him on more than on a say hello basis. He has fully grasped the idea of the Internet however, and there is a lot of good stuff on his website for people interested in real estate in the Virgin Islands, including this PDF article, "Advising New Landlords". He is also a candidate for the Virgin Islands Constitutional Convention.

Archive link for this entry: Tom Bolt & Associates | |

June 06, 2007

Co-defendant wants Auffenberg case moved to Caribbean

From the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

Co-defendant wants Auffenberg case moved to Caribbean By Nicholas J.C. Pistor ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH 06/06/2007

EAST ST. LOUIS — A co-defendant of Metro East car dealer Jamie Auffenberg wants what is expected to be a four-month trial in the tax evasion case moved to the Caribbean.

J. David Jackson is asking a judge to hold the trial in a U.S. District Court in the Virgin Islands, a U.S. territory in the Caribbean where prosecutors say the alleged crimes occurred.

Prosecutors have yet to file a response. A judge is set to rule later this month.

The trial of Auffenberg, Jackson and others allegedly involved in the fraud scheme is set to begin next year in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis. According to court documents, it is expected to last four months.

Sort of sounds like this is a blocking/stalling tactic or designed to try to torpedo the feds case on a technicality. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here.

June 05, 2007

Homeownership Expo, Saturday June 9th, St. Thomas

http://www.virginislandsmls.com/images/mail-thumb.jpg

Archive link for this entry: Homeownership Expo, Saturday June 9th, St. Thomas | |

June 04, 2007

Senate Overrides deJongh’s Sirenusa Zoning Variance Veto

The St. John Tradewinds is reporting:

The 27th Legislature of the V.I. wasted no time overriding Governor John deJongh’s veto of the controversial Sirenusa zoning variance bill on Tuesday morning, May 29.

The senate originally approved Enighed Condominium LLC’s request to construct seven additional units — adding another story on two buildings — at its five acre $35 million luxury condominium site overlooking Cruz Bay on April 17.

DeJongh sent his veto down on May 10, one day before the deadline to take action on the bill.

May 29 was the first scheduled legislative session since deJongh signed the bill’s veto and the senators got right down to business. Around 11:15 a.m., following various committee reports, veteran St. Thomas/St. John District Senator Celestino White introduced a bill to consider an override of deJongh’s veto.

St. Thomas/St. John District Senator Louis Hill was the lone dissenting vote, with St. Croix District Senator Terrence “Positive” Nelson abstaining. All other senators, including St. Johnian Senator at Large Carmen Wesselhoft, voted in favor of the override consideration.

As people have noted, there is something fishy here. The worst part of this to me is that it seems that the legislature is acting against the will of the people - the people they are supposed to represent. More of the story here from the VI Daily News.


Coldwell Banker, Stout Realty, St. Thomas


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