As the Sirenusa rezoning measure heads back to the V.I. Senate for a possible override vote, freshman Senator at Large Carmen Miranda Wessel-hoft should recuse herself from any further involvement in the legislative process because of an apparent conflict of interest.
The St. Johnian Senator at Large acknowledged after the senate’s 13-1 vote to approve the rezoning that she had been impacted by the project as a neighboring property owner in some undefined way.
Although Sen. Wesselhoft has offered no elaboration on that revelation, she was involved in a meeting of property owners in the Valley neighborhood below the five-acre Sirenusa project in late February which included St. John Public Works official Ira Wade.
At least one of the neighboring property owners was negotiating with Sirenusa’s developers for a utility easement over private property to hook the project to the municipal system.
Those negotiations apparently proved unsuccessful because the two sides could not come to a financial agreement.
Since the impact of Sirenusa on the island’s in-frastructure — specificially water and sewer service — has been a major concern raised by opponents of the project, Sen. Wesselhoft should have informed the public of her personal knowledge of infrastructure negotiations involving the project.
Did the proposed utility easement for Sirenusa involve property in which Wesselhoft had an admitted interest? The public should know.
While Sen. Wesselhoft has denied she influenced any other senator’s vote on the rezoning since the senate votes alphabetically, other senators have said they were influenced by the St. Johnian’s position on the matter before they voted.
On this and other matters in which she has a real or apparent conflict of interest, Senator at Large Wesselhoft should not vote or influence the vote of other senators — starting with the vote to override Gov. deJongh’s Sirenusa rezoning veto — if it comes to a vote at all.
Name Withheld by Request