- Posted June 30, 2011 by
ST. Thomas, Virgin Islands (USA)
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BREAKING NEWS: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN GAIN CONTROL OVER 100 MILLION DOLLARS IN PUBLIC FUNDS
UPDATED: This open letter to Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen has been updated with one of her favorite Thomas Paine quotes. As of June 30, 2011, Congresswoman Christensen has taken no public stand against government corruption in the Virgin Islands nor against the Virgin Islands public officials who violated the NTIA Codes of Conduct. Her use of the below quote is troubling in light of her lack of action to condemn corruption in the Virgin Island . Her silence will insure that generations of Virgin Islands children will not live in peace because of the financial burden placed on them by corrupted government officials.
Congresswoman Christensen, your silence is beginning to shape your place in Virgin Islands history and where you stood when the territory needed you most. Your favorite quote is beginning to shine light on your hypocrisy and neglect of the children of the Virgin Islands.
"If there is trouble in the world, let it come in my lifetime so that my children may live in peace."
- Thomas Paine
Congresswoman Donna Christensen,
Do you agree with how Governor John P. deJongh, Jr., and other Virgin Islands government offIicals at the Virgin Islands Government Public Finance Authority (VIPFA) / Water and Power Authority (WAPA) - (Recipients) - used their official positions to enrich themselves through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) grant program, in light of their certification to the U.S. Department of Commerce?
How was it possible in November 2010 for the VIPFA board to convene in the presence of the Governor (Chairman, VIPFA); pass a resolution authorizing (subawared) themselves, through the newly formed Virgin Islands Next Generation Network ( viNGN, Inc. formed Oct 2010), to implement the USVI broadband initiative - bypassing any competitive bidding process; then appoint themselves board of directors of this newly formed “for profit” business public corporation (Governor - Chairman, viNGN, Inc.), and ultimately give themselves exclusive access/control over 68 million dollars in Federal ARRA grants / 38 million dollars of VI matching funds?
Here are some of the Codes of Conduct provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce to Virgin Islands public officials at the Public Finance Authority Office of Economic Opportunity (Mr. Julito Francis) as part of their grant award package:
U.S. Department of Commerce American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Award Terms
J. CODES OF CONDUCT AND SUBAWARD, CONTRACT, AND SUBCONTRACT PROVISIONS
. 01 Code of Conduct for Recipients
Pursuant to the certification in SF-424B, paragraph 3, the recipient must maintain written standards of conduct to establish safeguards to prohibit employees from using their positions for a purpose that constitutes or presents the appearance of personal or ORGANIZATIONAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST, or PERSONAL GAIN in the administration of this award.
.03 Competition and Codes of Conduct for Subawards
a. All subawards will be made in a manner to provide, to the maximum extent practicable, open and free competition. The recipient must be alert to organizational conflicts of interest as well as other practices among subrecipients that may restrict or eliminate competition. In order to ensure objective subrecipient performance and eliminate unfair competitive advantage, subrecipients that develop or draft work requirements, statements of work, or requests for proposals shall be excluded from competing for such subawards.
b. The recipient shall maintain written standards of conduct governing the performance of its employees engaged in the award and administration of subawards. No employee, officer, or agent shall participate in the selection, award, or administration of a subaward supported by Federal funds if a real or apparent conflict of interest would be involved. Such a conflict would arise when the employee, officer, or agent, any member of his or her immediate family, his or her partner, or an organization in which he/she serves as an officer or which employs or is about to employ any of the parties mentioned in this section, has a financial interest or other interest in the
organization selected or to be selected for a subaward. The officers, employees, and agents of the recipient shall neither solicit nor accept anything of monetary value from subrecipients. The standards of conduct shall provide for disciplinary actions to be applied for violations of such standards by officers, employees, or agents of the recipient.
c. A financial interest may include employment, stock ownership, a creditor or debtor relationship, or prospective employment with the organization selected or to be selected for a subaward. It could also result from non-financial gain to the individual, such as benefit to reputation or prestige in a professional field.
M. MISCELLANEOUS REQUIREMENTS (See page 21)
.01 Criminal and Prohibited Activities
a. The Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act (31 U.S.C. §§ 3801-3812), provides for the imposition of civil penalties against persons who make false, fictitious, or fraudulent claims to the Federal government for money (including money representing grants, loans or other benefits).
b. False statements (18 U.S.C. §§ 287 and 1001), provides that whoever makes or presents any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements, representations, or claims against the United States shall be subject to imprisonment of not more than five years and shall be subject to a fine in the amount provided by 18 U.S.C. § 287.
Congresswoman Christensen, do you still stand behind your press release in which you were pleased to announce that the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority was the recipients of $58,888,469 in funding under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act Broadband Technology Opportunities Program?
You commended Governor John P. deJongh, Jr., and Mr. Julito Francis, Director, VIPFA Office of Economic Opportunity for a job well done. However, after a careful review of all documentation, to include the grant application submitted to the U.S. Department of Commerce by Mr. Francis, it is now evident that the "Codes of Conduct" governing the ARRA grants awarded to the Virgin Islands government were grossly violated by public officials at VIPFA and WAPA.
It is illegal for Mr. Julito Francis, who was the VIPFA public official that submitted the grant application to NTIA, to receive a $70,000.00 pay increase to $170,000.00 after accepting employment as the CEO of the newly formed viNGN, Inc. Other Virgin Islands government officials, to include the Governor of the Virgin Islands, enriched themselves through outrageous perks (bonuses, profit sharing, pension, thrift, housing, compensation, retirement plans, etc.) that were inserted into the Articles of Incorporation of their newly formed “for profit” viNGN, Inc.
Congresswoman Christensen, there appears to be a pattern of deception by Governor John P. deJongh, Jr., when it comes to being a good steward of the Nation tax payers' money. I would take this opportunity to highlight two other instances where Governor deJongh, Jr., was personally involved in questionable unethical conduct starting with the $2.7 Billion tax incentive in the Diageo deal:
“DeJongh says he had no idea his deal would help make the world’s largest liquor distiller the most unlikely beneficiary of the emergency Troubled Asset Relief Program approved by Congress just four months later.”
“It’s kind of like the magician’s sleight of hand,” says former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman William Thomas, a California Republican who ran the committee from 2001 to 2007 and oversaw all tax legislation. “They snuck these things in a bill that was focused on other things.”
Governor John P. deJongh, Jr., also enriched himself when he misused roughly half-a-million dollars in public funds without any authority of law and enhanced his "private residence" with tax payers' money during the MAFOLIEGATE SCANDAL:
"We found that the funds used for the purpose of providing security at your PRIVATE RESIDENCE were set aside for road repairs in the Virgin Islands by the Legislative Branch of Government. In using those funds, the Executive Branch of Government improperly diverted roughly HALF-A-MILLION DOLLARS of specifically earmarked public funds and usurped the authority of the Legislative Branch of Government. Under Virgin Islands law, only the Legislature is authorized to determine how public funds should be spent."
"Moreover, these funds were spent without the benefit of a formal security vulnerability assessment"
"...the Executive Branch improperly depleted funds earmarked for much needed road repairs in the Virgin Islands. Further, the Executive Branch's actions usurped the Legislature's authority to determine how to spend public funds."
Ironically, the tax payers' money that was illegally used to enhance the Governor's private residence came out of the Virgin Islands Government Public Finance Authority.
Mr. Julito Francis, then VIPFA Director, Finance and Administration, responded to a Subpoena Duces Tecum - dated July 16, 2009, from The Honorable Neville James, Senator, 28th Legislature, Chairman of the Committee on Financial Services, Infrastructure and Consumer Affairs, during his committee investigation of the Governor's misuse of public funds. In his haste to response, Mr. Francis attempted to justify the illegal use of public funds and then provided false information to the Senate committee investigating the illegal use of public money. Mr. Francis reported that the total amount of public funds expended to enhance the Governor's private residence at $443,766.26 when the actual cost was $490,000.25 according to the U.S. Department of Interior Inspector General.
The people of the Virgin Islands look to you Congresswoman Christensen for your leadership in calling for the resignation of Governor John P. deJongh, Jr., and all other Virgin Islands Government officials who enriched themselves in this most recent embarrassing violation of the Codes of Conduct governing the NTIA ARRA grants awarded to the United States Virgin Islands Government.
As the Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress, the people of the Virgin Islands expect you to condemn this most egregious violation of the NTIA ARRA Grant Codes of Conduct. Lawmakers in Washington need a clear signal that these corrupted local government officials' misconduct should not reflect upon the law-abiding citizens of the United States Virgin Islands as decisions are made by Congress regarding the future of this Territory.
It is your responsibility Congresswoman Christensen to accomplish this task on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands because the Territory can no longer withstand this level of public corruption waged by our local government officials.
Their misconduct has given new meaning to the slogan "Pirates of the Caribbean".
It is time for you Congresswoman Christensen to stand up and be accounted for by taking a public stand against public corruption in the United States Virgin Islands.
I leave you with the words of our hypocrite Governor:
“Corruption, and particularly governmental corruption, undermines our most basic responsibilities. It robs us of resources to invest in our students and teachers, in our hospitals and health clinics, to meet the needs of those with special needs, to fix pot holes and provide the essentials to improve everyday living. Even more importantly, it shakes the confidence and faith of the people that we were elected to serve.
Public corruption is the most selfish act that one can commit.”
- Governor John P. deJongh, Jr., 2008 State of the Territory Address
Click on link for additional background information on the viNGN Scandal.