Greetings my fellow Virgin Islanders,
My name is Guillaume Mimoun, your USVI Green Party candidate for the Delegate to Congress in the 2012 general election. The Virgin Islands is my home and I care deeply for the people, environment and future of the territory. Observing the changes that have taken place over many years, the Virgin Islands has taken an economic downturn with resulting job losses, increased crime, high power rates, and reduced opportunities. Virgin Islanders can no longer bear the strain and weight of the results of inefficiency and complacency in the link with Washington and the funding losses resulting in near economic collapse.
Businesses are closing leaving thousands unemployed, aggressive cutbacks, layoffs and salary reductions are all indicators of a collapsing economy. The crippling effect of the LEAC coupled with the increase of gross receipts taxes, in its present state the VI most certainly presents a precarious and challenging environment for existing businesses, potential prospects, and the resident population.
A committed effort between the delegate’s office, Congressional appropriations committees and government agencies will become absolutely necessary, along with the private sector and all who call the Virgin Islands their home. We must unite together and play our part in the revitalization of the territory in order for it to survive these turbulent times. The Delegates role in this challenging environment will play a pivotal part in achieving success and I assure you that my approach is the optimum way to maximize the full benefit of our relationship with Washington, and attain our rights as both US Virgin Islanders and American citizens.
In the role as Delegate, a liaison between Washington D.C. and the territory, I will focus on insuring that we are included in ALL federal grants opportunities, and although the delegate does not have a vote on the floor, committee membership is a means whereby alliances are established, and legislation introduced via co-sponsorship will benefit the territory and the United States. As an independent I will bridge together bi partisan representatives and foster unity on critical issues facing the Virgin Islands.
Independent U.S. Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, is an effective example. He is currently working with the President on overturning the Supreme Courts ruling of Citizens United, which allows an uncapped flow of donations from super PACs into the coffers of political campaigns. This unregulated and unlawful practice has a negative impact on the democratic process. The special interests of corporations more often than not greatly differ from that of the people and supporting the president in his altruistic approach in reforming the electoral system will benefit the VI as well.
Hundreds of millions of available federal grant dollars are not being requested and obtained to improve the lives of Virgin Islanders. Not a single grant from the National Institute of Justice was awarded to the territory in 2011, which could have funded the department of corrections and the police department to serve the public better. The one variable that the delegate has overlooked or ignored for a decade and a half is the territorial funding formula. The Virgin Islands federal grant formula is largely based solely on population. Due to the closing of HOVENSA and the loss of roughly 2000 jobs, the population has decreased and as the population drops so do the appropriations of funding. As an archipelago the current federal funding formula doesn’t work, as all funds must immediately be divided into three parts of varying distribution. Our unique circumstances of duplicity, compliance with federal mandates, consent decrees, and all resulting shortfalls can be addressed in changing our funding formula. The Capital Improvement Grants program from the Office of Insular Affairs uses a competitive allocation system designed to elicit good accountability in the territories comprised of ten objective criteria that measure demonstrated ability of the territorial government to exercise responsible financial management practices and to meet federal grant requirements. TheVirgin Islandscomes in last, and is at the bottom of the list for capital improvement competitive grants that address critical infrastructure such as hospitals, wastewater and solid waste systems, energy generation, healthcare and public safety.
Critical services such as hospitals, education, transportation, public safety, power and water generation and maintenance of roads must be provided on all three islands; all are associated with federal mandates and consent decrees, Congress has already accepted supporting documentation citing this formula failure in a prior discretionary funding request, a precedent has been established, paving the way for discussion and acceptance.
As delegate, I will engage our established law firm, on Capitol Hill, to request a change in the federal funding formula with the various Committees on Appropriations as meetings are held throughout 2013, addressing each agency of the Virgin Islands across the board. Federal appropriations that have excluded the Virgin Islands in parity with the USA in relation to the Patient Health Care Act will be requested on an emergency basis to address the lack of access to health care of 26,000 – 30,000 Virgin Islanders as well as the resulting financial crises of our hospitals providing uncompensated health care and compliance with federal mandates. I understand what it means to be uninsured and no citizen of these Virgin Islands should lose their savings or their home, or be disabled, or not be able to afford health care for their children, no Virgin Islander should be forced to leave their home to seek health overage on the mainland where programs are available and the VI is being excluded from these critical health programs. I will make sure that we achieve equal and fair access to federal programs here in the territory and restore our position as first class citizens, which we as Virgin Islanders and American citizens are entitled to. Our young men and woman who have volunteered to fight and die for the United States and freedom, our police officers who put their lives on the line everyday to protect the community are left destitute and on their own when tragedy strikes. TheVirgin Islands has been excluded from participating in the one program that could help them. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits to disabled adults and children whose income and resources are limited and need this social service extended to all Americans on the US mainland. We have many elderly citizens who struggle on a daily basis to make ends meet, SSI could have helped them and Officer Colvin Georges, a police officer who put his life on the line and now must raise funds to help with crushing medical bills and round the clock care. SSI will be on my list of first request priorities.
I will request those federal grants available to the Virgin Islands with and without waivers for matching funds, and this will be priority ONE in my office. My door will be open and I will listen to your concerns and needs and respond with solutions to the territories economic and social crises. My staff and I will work with Commissioners in all departments and agencies of the Virgin Islands to develop their Federal grant opportunities, requirements and create a reporting system that monitors allocation and disbursement. I am asking for your vote this November and am ready and committed to working for you, the people of the Virgin Islands and am committing 10% of the delegates’ salary to Virgin Islands non profit organizations that are struggling to provide essential social services to the community. United we stand, united we win.
Thank you for your time and attention