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Mr. Chairman, I have not had an opportunity to prepare any brief, but I will do so at a later time.
I would like to comment on the forming of the organic act commission, because I think it is important that you honorable men know just how this came about.
I have heard names mentioned by Senator Merwin in his statement, but he did not in his statement specifically state how this commission was created.
At the time the resolution was passed in the legislature, Mr. Chairman, I happened to be absent. I was sick at the time. The resolution stated that 6 members should be elected by the members of the senate and that the 6 members should appoint 7 citizens to work on the committee with them.
I got a phone call sometime about 8 months ago at a meeting in this hall together with the senators to work on the membership of the citizens committee. Not being on the committee of the legislature, I though it was not necessary for me to come, but, being interested, I came nevertheless.
At that meeting there were four senators–Senator Gomez, Senator Rhymer, Senator Carroll, and Senator Merwin-and consultant Mr. Hill, and one of the members of our St. Croix staff. I think it was Mr. Christian.
Senator Gomez was acting chairman, and we were trying to find out how we were going to go about creating this commission, if we were going to ask different committees, the chamber of commerce, labor unions, to give top men to create this commission.
Senator Gomez said, no, they already had six names on their list that they thought should serve on it, and that they would recommend the seventh man to be Mr. Wilfred Benjamin, who was then the chairman of the Unity Party in St. Croix.
I recall at that time Mr. Merwin suggested our present judge of the police court here, Bill Moorhead, as a member. Mr. Merwin thought, with all respect to Mr. Benjamin, Mr. Moorhead was better qualified to represent the people of the island.
The 3 Senators from the Unity Party suggested that we take a vote, and naturally the 3 of them had already decided that their chairman here on St. Croix should be the seventh member. We then voted for the seventh man. The six others they had presented us with. I, not having a vote, there were 3 Unity men voting against Senator Merwin, and as you will expect, all 7 were elected, 4 with 4 votes, and 3 with 3.
That is about all I can state at this time, but I thought it only right that I should clear it up since I was one of them that sat by and listened how it was created. I thought it only right I should go into how the commission was created.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Thank you, Senator.
We will now hear from Dr. D. C. Canegata, administrative assistant for St. Croix. Dr. Canegata, do you have a statement!
STATEMENT OF D. C. CANEGATA, M. D., ADMINISTRATIVE
ASSISTANT FOR ST. CROIX
Dr. CANEGATA. No, Mr. Chairman, I have no statement to make. I did not think I would be called upon to say anything before the committee today.
Mr. O'BRIEN. At least you will give the committee an opportunity to say we have been well received here, and we really love this island.
Dr. CANEGATA. We are very glad to have you, sir. Mr. O'BRIEN. Would you care to sit up here at the table, Doctor? Dr. CANEGATA. Thank you. Mr. O'BRIEN. Mr. Warren Young, spokesman for the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Young,
STATEMENT OF WARREN YOUNG, CHAMBER OF COMMERCE,
ST. CROIX, V. I.
My name is Warren Young. I am an attorney and also a businessman. I sell a little insurance in St. Croix.
I was not born in St. Croix. I came here about 7 years ago, and I have been here ever since, and I hope to stay. I have adopted this island as my permanent home. I am very much in love with it, and I, of course, want to see it be improved exactly like all the rest of the spokesmen here.
I am before you as a representative speaker today. I am here to represent the Chamber of Commerce of St. Croix. "As such, I theoretically represent the majority views of the businessmen for the members of the chamber. Fortunately, the views that I am going to tell you today also reflect my own personal views, so I can give them with a quite a bit of conviction personally.
I was under the impression this meeting was to be tomorrow, and I did not have a chance to dictate an entire presentation, but I made some rough notes from the so-called publication which was given to me a few days ago, and what it is supposed to do is compare the present organic act, that is, the one of 1954, with the one of 1936, and also give what we have as proposed amendments to it.
Mr. O'Brien. Mr. Young, may I suggest at this point, at this stage in the proceeding we are hoping for rather brief opening statements, and then we will go over the organic act. If we departed from that, we would be in a somewhat difficult position in decoding our own record when we get back to Washington. But I can assure you there will be ample time, ample opportunity, to discuss any change or any objection to a change after we complete these opening statements. The committee, I am sure, would prefer that we not go into specific details, section by section, of the organic act at this particular moment.
Mr. Young. I appreciate that comment, Mr. Chairman. I merely meant to refer to the fact that we in the chamber, the executive committee and the committee appointed specifically to review the proposed changes, had several discussions, and we came out with a definite conclusion, and that is what I want to give to you in my opening statement.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Fine.
Mr. Young. These notes I have might have scared you when you saw them.
Mr. O'BRIEN. On the contrary, it was the other document for which we are responsible.
Mr. YOUNG. At any rate, the standing of the chamber of commerce is that we do not wish any changes to be made in the organic act as it presently stands. I cannot give any greater general reason for that stand other than those which Senator Merwin gave to you. They reflect in large part why the chamber has taken such a stand.
Apart from that, I can say that when we discussed every one of those proposals we came to a sensible reason why we did not want such a proposal at this time.
Now there may have been certain proposals which the chamber or the members of the chamber of commerce might go along with in the future, such as Mr. Merwin mentioned, probably some day some sort of States rights or some elective Governor. We do not feel at this time that we are ready for it, nor do we feel that the present 1954 organic act has been given a fair trial. That is our general reason in support of retaining the 1954 act in toto.
i might say, too, as a general opening statement, that a lot of controversy has existed over our tax exemption status, our tax exemption program, our tax subsidy program, and the idea that we must amend our organic act in order to make it more feasible for the Virgin islands to enact some sort of a subsidized program. We will get into that later I am sure when we discuss this section by section. But I would like to say we are not against a good sound tax-exemption program. We want it. We need it very much. But we feel that it can be done under our present organic act.
With that, gentlemen, I will conclude my opening statement at this time.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Thank you very much.
We will next hear from Mr. Henry Rohlson, who is the spokesman for the Democratic Party. Mr. Rohlson.
STATEMENT OF HENRY E. ROHLSON, VICE PRESIDENT, ST. CROIX
Mr. ROHLSON. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is Henry E. Rohlson. I am vice president of the St. Croix Democratic Party, and I speak for and on behalf of that party.
We take this opportunity to welcome you to the Virgin Islands and hope that your stay in St. Croix will be a very pleasant one, and that as a result of your visit you will be able to return to Congress with even a greater knowledge of the problems that confront us here in the Virgin Islands.
We have been striving for a change in our political system so as to operate on a party basis. We feel that much good can come to the people of the Virgin Islands by having our elections and our politics run on a party system.
Accordingly, in the Virgin Islands today we have four parties. We have the Republican Party, the People's Party, the Unity Party, and the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party in the Virgin Islands is part of the national Democratic Party system in the United States. We were represented at the convention, and we were able to have
planks put into the national party platform for the election of a Governor by the people of the Virgin Islands, and a Resident Commissioner.
We, therefore, cannot take the stand that no changes are necessary in our organic act. We feel that even through the act has been in force a very short time there are certain basic changes that are quite evident and will remain evident regardless of how long the act operates.
I hope during the discussions of the act that I will be able to bring forth the changes we have in mind that should be effected at the earliest date possible.
I feel that, if the committee itself did not have an indication that changes were necessary, if they felt things were working out quite smoothy, I am sure you would have devoted your time to more important matters than being here in the Virgin Islands with us.
At this time I would also like to thank all of you for the interest the Congress has shown in the affairs of the people of the Virgin Islands. I have been a former member of the legislature, and I have been to these hearings previously. During the time I have served we have had many visits from your committee, and the people are deeply grateful for your interest, particularly in returning here to see how the act has been working and what benefits or what changes may be indicated.
I want to be very brief, and I think I will close my statement by asking, since you mentioned in your opening statement that this is a bipartisan committee, that your interests are here primarily for what is best for all of the people of the Virgin Islands, that we, in presenting our testimony and our ideas, are asking you will do what is best for the Virgin Islands, knowing that it will also be best for the United States of America.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Thank you, sir.
Next we will hear from Mr. Shaubah, the spokesman for the Republican Party.
STATEMENT OF JOSE SHAUBAH, STATE CHAIRMAN OF THE
REPUBLICAN ORGANIZATION OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
Mr. SHAUBAH. My name is Jose Shaubah. I am state chairman of the Republican organization of the Virgin Islands, and I speak in its behalf.
I am a cattle raiser and dairyman.
I have very little to say this afternoon except that we are in favor of certain amendments to the organic act, and we request to be permitted to send our brief in to you.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Thank you, sir.
Mr. ABBOTT. May I ask at that point, Mr. Chairman, in your case, in submitting a statement, and in the case of any other individuals or groups wishing to submit statements after the hearings for the record, which will be printed, if you would key them to the sections in the act so that the comments--for example, if a comment is made on section 5 by your people, having to do with the apportionment and composition of the legislature, then we can place it at the point in the record where there is a discussion on section 5. If you simply number them, it could be done that way.
Mr. O'BRIEN. I might add to Mr. Abbott's fine suggestion, if there are any other persons in the room who do not plan to testify but who have views on these subjects, do not hesitate to send them along to the committee as long as they are pertinent, because I know very often people will sit back and hesitate about coming forward. We want your views as well as those of the gentlemen who are in the front constituting the panel.
Mr. ABBOTT. Mr. Chairman, I did, I believe, fail to point out that the usual 15-day period from the closing of the record this afternoon or tomorrow will be permitted under previous ruling of the Chair for submission of such statements. Those should be sent to the chairman of the committee at 1324 New House Office Building, Washington, D. C., or if it is simply addressed to the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee in Washington it will certainly reach the proper office.
Mr. O'BRIEN. According to the schedule I have before me, the final opening statement is to be made by C. Lloyd W. Joseph, acting chairman of the Virgin Islands Civic Movement. Mr. Joseph. STATEMENT OF C. LLOYD W. JOSEPH, ACTING CHAIRMAN OF THE
VIRGIN ISLANDS CIVIC MOVEMENT, ST. CROIX, V. I. Mr. JOSEPH. Mr. Chairman, I am C. Lloyd W. Joseph. Mr. O'BRIEN. Mr. Joseph, I have before me the statement that you label “Testimony to House Subgroup", and I note that a great deal of it relates to specific sections of the organic act that you wish to discuss. Is that right?
Mr. JOSEPH. That is quite right.
Mr. O'BRIEN. I wonder if you would be so kind as to fall into the pattern we have suggested and just make a brief opening statement, and later on when we get into the panel discussions section by section, then go into these matters that you propose to discuss. Would that be agreeable to you instead of reading this whole statement? I think it would be better if you read parts of it or refer to parts of it when we are discussing these specific sections of the organic act. Then it would be in its proper place in our hearing record.
So if you will have just a brief opening statement, perhaps explaining what you intend to do later on, it will be better for us.
Although I have stated whom you represent, you might state that.
Mr. JOSEPH. My name is C. Lloyd W. Joseph, acting chairman of the Virgin Islands Civic Movement.
I took this opportunity to come here as a layman this afternoon because I am interested in the welfare, growth, and economic benefit of the Virgin Islands.
I believe that with the discussion concerning the organic act that the committee here will come to a better understanding as to what is needed here in the Virgin Islands.
I would leave myself open to any and all questions pertaining to any statement I make here this afternoon.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Fine. Thank you very much.