Saturday, July 28, 2012

Citizens on Patrole

I’ve now been living in St. Thomas for over a year, and while there is no doubt that I love what the island has to offer, most people would agree that a good portion of the population down here has some serious accountability issues.  Quite simply, things on the island aren’t run as efficiently as they are in the States.  As a resident, if you can’t accept this, then you will literally go crazy or have a massive breakdown at some point, so you have to laugh it off and trust that things will somehow work out in the end. 

I could give countless examples of how the smallest of tasks somehow turn into long, drawn out, complicated and confusing burdens.  Like when I went to OfficeMax to have 4 binders created for a presentation, only to wait there for 3 hours while the lady tried to figure out where to place each tab.  It took every ounce of strength for me not to have a complete melt-down after 2 hours, and by the 3rd hour I simply wanted to jump over the counter and do it myself.  However, when I asked if I could help in any way, the lady glared at me and with some serious attitude said, ‘If I needed your help, I would have asked you for it.’  I couldn’t help but think (over and over again) that Kinko’s in Chicago would have had my order knocked out in 20 minutes…20 MINUTES!!!!  Clearly, I still haven’t recovered from this episode, but writing about it has been cathartic.

Anyway, the most recent example of what should be a seamless duty going awry is that the local police department has run out of tickets to issue.

Yes.  Right now in the U.S. Virgin Islands a police officer can only pull you over and issue a warning because he or she doesn’t have the proper paperwork to issue a formal traffic violation.  Of course, a spoke’s woman for the police department is denying this, but the Deputy Police Chief has confirmed that officers cannot enforce the law right now. 

So, you’re probably wondering how something like this could happen.  Let’s dissect this convoluted mess…

According to an article in the Virgin Islands Daily News, it’s the responsibility of the Superior Court to order new ticket books.  The court is saying that there has been a great deal of back and forth with the printing company on the mainland since January.  The court’s story is that they wanted to redesign the format of the tickets to be a certain way, which has caused this unusual delay.  I’d love to hear the printing company’s story, but somehow the court can’t remember the name of the company for reference.  My take is that the USVI still hasn’t paid them for the last batch of tickets, and unlike the local companies down here that will kowtow to the government when they don’t pay their bills, the mainland expects to receive compensation for their services.  Pretty simple.      

A spokeswoman for the court, Glendia Caines, said that while she understands that this may have a direct impact on the revenue for the territory – revenue that is so desperately needed that the government can’t and often doesn’t pay their bills as mentioned above - they ‘wanted to get it right the first time.’  She went on to say, “We wanted to get it done and done correctly.”  Hmm…perhaps Glendia was a bit short-sighted in how she defined getting it done “right” or “correctly”.  I’m a critical person, but to me the priority in ordering tickets should be…getting the tickets. 

However, my favorite of Glendia’s responses was when she said, “I know the public might be happy when they read this story, but there are probably a couple of officers still out there with ticket books, so this is not to say that anybody’s off the hook.”  Oh, Glendia, you can’t fool me with all of your uncertainty and incompetence.  I’m going to head out in my car and try to break 40 mph somewhere on this island just as soon as I’m done with this posting.

Breakin’ the law, breakin’ the law….