Gov. Mapp suspends assistant commissioner
Dec. 06--ST. THOMAS -- Territorial officials have confirmed Assistant Public Works Commissioner Roan Creque has been suspended for two weeks without pay for his testimony in front of the V.I. Senate.
Gov. Kenneth Mapp announced the suspension at a press conference Monday without identifying Creque by name. Mapp equated Creque's statement of his opinion before the Senate Committee of the Whole on Thursday with setting policy for the V.I. government.
"One of my commissioners of the Department of Public Works took it upon himself to go down to the committee and to put position on the record... that they support the burn ban and that we should simply chip and compost," Mapp said. "I have suspended that assistant commissioner for two weeks without pay because members of the cabinet, sub-members, members of the sub-cabinet do not get to set public policy in the Virgin Islands. That is a discretion left to those who are elected and to those who are confirmed by legislative vote to manage the affairs of the government."
Creque and Public Works Commissioner Nelson Petty Jr. declined comment.
Personnel Director Milton Potter confirmed Creque had been suspended in a one-sentence email to The Daily News on Tuesday evening.
In his position at Public Works, Creque earns $90,000 per year in salary, according to Personnel records.
The public statement of opinion by any Cabinet member is unacceptable, Mapp said.
"And in my government, and in my administration, if I make a decision, a policy decision, to go forward I cannot have members of the sub-cabinet or the cabinet going down and basically saying, 'You know, I respect the old man, but we are right on this one, here is what you should do,'" Mapp said.
Creque's public dissent crossed a line, Mapp said.
"I give my cabinet members full and complete freedom in our discussions to disagree with me, to make their case, to question my proposed decisions," he said.
"The whole how we arrived at a final decision on managing the disaster, the debris, comes out of a robust conversation with four members of the governor's cabinet," Mapp explained.
"We then can't have employees deciding that there is a better policy that ought to be utilized," he said.
Creque testified that he personally opposed burning storm debris in the territory because of the potential for the release of dioxin and other health-threatening chemicals.
"There's too much shadowboxing taking place around here now, too much of it. I don't believe the governor is getting the information straight up front, I don't think so at all," Creque told senators Thursday.
On Friday, the Legislature approved a burning ban, not just in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria, but following any future natural disaster, and did so with 10 votes, enough to override a veto. Mapp has said he will veto the bill, which prompted Senate President Sen. Myron Jackson, one of the bill's sponsors, to announce he would ask for a vote to override any veto.
The decision to burn organic debris was made on a recommendation by Petty, Waste Management Authority Executive Director Roger Merritt Jr., Agriculture Commissioner Carlos Robles and Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Dawn Henry.
Petty said Tuesday he wasn't aware of an alternative to burning.
Officials have said they intend to burn about 35 percent of the organic waste in the territory, while preserving mahogany and other useful tropical hardwoods.
-- Contact Brian O'Connor at 340-714-9130 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.