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  • Potter at Island Resources
    [The educational element of this new constitutional initiative in the US Virgin Islands is being spearheaded by Dr. LaVerne Ragster, president of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 24, 2006
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      [The educational element of this new
      constitutional initiative in the US Virgin
      Islands is being spearheaded by Dr. LaVerne
      Ragster, president of the University of the
      Virgin Islands, and also a member of the Board of
      Trustees of Island Resources Foundation . .
      bruce potter]

      from the VI Source at

      Constitutional Convention Seeks Input on Changing V.I. Organic Act
      by Molly Morris

      [Photo caption: Tregenza Roach, convention 2008
      coordinator, and LaVerne Ragster, UVI president. ]

      July 22, 2006 - How would you structure the
      government under which you live? Virgin Islanders
      now have a unique opportunity to participate in
      answering that question.
      The territory got a jump start Friday in
      determining its future as the University of the
      Virgin Islands announced its public education
      program in support of the territory's fifth
      constitutional convention.
      UVI President LaVerne E. Ragster welcomed
      the press and other community representatives to
      the initiation of the program and the launch of
      its new Web site, www.itsourfuture.vi, at a
      Friday morning briefing.
      She stressed the significance of the
      project, reflecting back on the territory's first
      convention in 1965, when Ragster said she was
      just entering high school.
      Though the previous four attempts - in 1965,
      1972, 1978 and 1980 - to replace the Revised
      Organic Act of 1954 have not succeeded, each has
      proved useful.
      Ragster thanked Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone,
      who sponsored the initial supporting legislation
      in 2006, and Sen. Louis Hill, who amended that
      bill to postpone the convention to 2007 and to
      provide a $100,000 appropriation to UVI for an
      education campaign.
      She introduced Tregenza A. Roach, USVI
      Constitution 2008 coordinator, an example "of an
      informed citizen." Ragster said Roach possesses
      all the qualities they hope to see in those
      persons running for delegates to the convention.
      Roach, a UVI alumnus, is an active member of
      the community. An attorney and former Board of
      Education executive director, he currently
      teaches several classes in constitutional law,
      journalism and humanities.
      "We are involved in history, in an historic
      moment," Roach said. "We are privileged to be
      able to participate; everybody in the territory
      should be involved."
      He pointed out the Web site's dialog
      section, where people can express their ideas and
      questions. The site starts the dialog with
      questions such as: What is the present political
      status of the Virgin Islands? What is a
      Constitution? How will the adoption of a
      Constitution impact my life and the lives of the
      people around me? Though the site has only been
      up about 24 hours, Roach said people are already
      replying to the question, "If you could change
      one thing about the government, what would you
      However, Roach noted the importance of
      contacting people who are not on the Internet. He
      asked the group Friday for ideas. He said there
      will be a series of town meetings, feature
      lectures, panel discussions and other gatherings.
      A door-to-door neighborhood campaign was
      suggested, an idea Roach welcomed, contingent on
      enough staffing.
      Hill, whose legislative amendment moved the
      convention forward a year, said Friday, "It is my
      intent that should a constitution be adopted to
      move [the process] all the way to the U.S.
      Congress and president, to sponsor a bill for
      more legislative funding."
      Hill was clearly pleased at Friday's event.
      "I'm excited," he said. "I can't imagine how we
      could have moved forward the way it was initially
      set up. It would have been a disaster."
      Hill was concerned about the 2006 elections
      and what he described as the electorate not
      "having all the information they need to make an
      educated decision on the issue."
      Ragster and Roach said they hoped to get
      delegates with a good sense of the actual task at
      hand, with knowledge of V.I. history and an
      ability to work with others.
      Roach's convention 2008 team comprises
      Marilyn Krigger, Rupert Ross, Paul Leary, Joanne
      Buzzuto, Malik Sekou, Basil Ottley, Velma
      Abramson, Patrice Johnson and Raul Carrillo.
      There will be 30 delegates for the
      convention: 13 from the St. Croix district;13
      from the St. Thomas-St. John District; and four
      elected at large, two from each district.
      Each delegate must be a U.S. Citizen, a
      qualified voter and a resident of the Virgin
      Islands for not less than three years prior to
      the election date. They must file with the Board
      of Elections by May 16, 2007.
      Roach said, "Sometimes we take our time here
      for granted. There are so many things we can
      engage in on a regular basis.
      "To be involved in the making of history,
      think of Rothschild Francis or David Hamilton
      Jackson-people who wanted things to be better,
      motivated by the interest in the whole. It's
      about cohesion, giving value to what you think. I
      believe no matter what, we have more in common
      than we do apart."
      Regarding the territory's status, Roach
      said, "We are only going to engage in status from
      the point of view of people who don't even
      understand what our status is now. Our
      territorial relation to the U.S. is a separate
      questionŠWe are focused on how you would
      structure the government under which you live
      The fifth convention will convene at 10 a.m.
      July 23, 2007, at the Early B. Ottley Senate
      Hall. The deadline to adopt a new constitution is
      July 27, 2008.
      (For a complete history of prior
      conventions, see "Constitutional Conventions:
      What's Gone Before.")

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