« AnteriorContinuar »
The CHAIRMAN. I am talking about work.
You know of your own knowledge, or you should, that during the administration of Fred Seaton as Under Secretary of the Interior, that the board of directors of Virgin Island Corporation met in the island continuously and outside of cocktail hours, do you not.
Mr. HODGE. He asked me if I have ever seen them, if I have been to a meeting.
Senator ALLOTT. Let us cut out this play on words. You know that they meet, do you not ?
Mr. HODGE. Certainly they have met.
Senator ALLOTT. And meet in the islands. You know this. You know they have met in St. Thomas, in St. Croix, they have met in St. Croix? You know this?
Mr. HODGE. I have never attended a meeting, sir,
Senator ALLOTT. You know they have met there. You have read the papers ? Mr. HODGE. Certainly..
Senator ALLOTT. Then why do you try to raise the implication here, as you just have, that the only time they have met there was once to gather around a cocktail table?
Mr. HODGE. I have been to cocktail parties even under the Democrats.
Senator ALLOTT. You do know that the board has met there repeatedly?
Mr. HODGE. Certainly. It is not intended the way you are taking it, Senator.
Senator ALLOTT. I say that is the only way your words could be interpreted.
Mr. HODGE. It is not intended that way. I notice over the years I have been in government the changes in administrations
The CHAIRMAN. Has the present Governor any relatives who are affiliated with Mr. Paiewonsky, any business enterprises that you know of? Mr. HODGE. The present Governor? The CHAIRMAN. Yes, Mr. Merwin? Mr. HODGE. Except in the rum business, I don't know whether they are affiliated or not, but I do know that the Skeochs were in the rum business and Paiewonsky.
The CHAIRMAN. Who? Mr. HODGE. Skeochs, the first cousin of the Governor, he is the first cousin to the present Governor, Governor Merwin.
The CHAIRMAN. He is part of the Consolidated Distilleries.
The CHAIRMAN. Did it affect anybody down there when the price of this alcohol or molasses went down from 17 cents to 10 cents and then to 7 cents a gallon?
There is a report made by the Virgin Islands Corporation directors and they say:
A total of 333,275 gallons of molasses were produced and sold to the local rum distilleries and livestock producers at a price of 7 cents per gallon for 52 percent sugars. However, this price agreement was reached by negotiation between the Corporation and the local rum distillers without going to arbitration.
I understood from testimony the other day there was a contract that said they had to get 2 cents less than the landing price at St. Croix for this alcohol-7 cents is certainly more than 2 cents difference from the landing price at St. Croix. · I am just wondering if you regard it as significant at all that this contract could be negotiated and agreed upon by the Virgin Islands Corporation.
Mr. HODGE. Mr. Chairman, the record of the Corporation was never made public and never made available to the members of the legislature. I would be in no position to make any comments on the circumstances or the situations under which it was made, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. They are not made public? Mr. HODGE. No, sir. I mean the Corporation business is a Federal thing and I understand everything is handled through the Department of the Interior, but the local legislature has no method of having these records made available to them.
The CHAIRMAN. I am just trying to find out if the legislature ever worried about this situation at all, of the losses in the sugar business, the losses in the molasses business, the losses in the power business.
Mr. HODGE. We have been concerned about this over the years, sir. We are much concerned about keeping the Corporation going because it still is the backbone of St. Croix.
The CHAIRMAN. What good does it do the islands? It does the individuals some good by buying these things. What good does it do the islands to have a dying business on hand?
Mr. HODGE. St. Croix is a largely agricultural island; 750 small farm families sell all their crop to the Corporation.
The CHAIRMAN. Would it not be better to grow some of the food they need down there rather than sugar which cost the Corporation $600,000 and some last year?
Mr. HODGE. That may be better, sir, but still we have these 750 small farmers who deliver their products to the Virgin Islands Corporation sugar mills.
The CHAIRMAN. I am trying to ask you why they do because it says here the low production of sugarcane was reflected in factory operations which showed a loss of $427,288.
At the head of this there was a paragraph that said:
If you add $208,000 to $427,000, that is $735,000 that they lost trying to produce sugarcane and did not supply the domestic needs for food.
Would it not have been better to supply food which people could eat than the sugarcane out of which other people seem to be making profits and the islands lose ?
Mr. HODGE. That may be so, Mr. Chairman, but, remember, the sugarcane was already planted, you had a drought. It has to be harvested. It was a question of getting whatever you can for the sugar.
The CHAIRMAN. What you can for it?
The CHAIRMAN. They sold it far below the final production price, did they not?
Mr. HODGE. I do not know, sir. I am talking about your question regarding the
The CHAIRMAN, I am reading from the report:
The 1960 sugar crop was sold at an average price of $6.36 per hundredweight which represents a good marketvalue for the price above the average for the country. It is most unfortunate that the Corporation was again forced to sell its sugar at an early date for future delivery inasmuch as prices rose somewhat later in that year.
With the millions of dollars of revolving fund why did it have to sell?
Mr. HODGE. Mr. Chairman, don't you think that the management of the Corporation would be in a better position to answer that question ?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes, I will come to them. You see, lots of things go on here with reference to government corporations that Congress sometimes takes a little interest in. I thought maybe the legislature down there that is asking for all sorts of government might be interested in these losses.
Mr. HODGE. We would certainly be interested in what is going to happen to the Corporation, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you ever had an investigation ?
The CHAIRMAN. You can investigate your own people down there planting this and not getting much for it, can you not?
Mr. HODGE. Employees of the Federal Government are such that they hide behind their cliques.
The CHAIRMAN. All the people interested in sugarcane? Mr. HODGE. No, sir; the people employed by the Virgin Island Corporation, but the farmers, they don't have any voice in deciding what the sugar price would be.
The CHAIRMAN. We just passed a bill yesterday to raise some agricultural prices. I had to vote against it. Does not your heart bleed a little for these farmers down there at election time, at least. Mr. HODGE. They are my constitutents, I am always sorry for them. The CHAIRMAN. Why not try to get them a good sugar price? Mr. HODGE. We are not in a position to do that, sir. The CHAIRMAN. All right. Senator MILLER. May I ask a question, Mr. Chairman? The CHAIRMAN. Senator Miller. Senator MILLER. I understand that you testified that you were a farmer. Mr. HODGE. Yes, sir. Senator MILLER. What do you grow? Mr. HODGE. I raise cattle and sheep. . , Senator MILLER. To whom do you sell them? " Mr. HODGE. On the local market.
Senator MILLER. Do you have any business connections with the nominee?
Mr. HODGE. No, sir.
Senator MILLER. Purely on the matter of financing?
Senator MILLER. Those financial obligations were taken care of, paid off? . Mr. HODGE. Yes, sir. It was through the bank, Senator MILLER. How long ago was that? Mr. HODGE. 1953 and 1954. Senator MILLER. What was the amount of the financing ? Mr. HODGE. $10,000. Senator MILLER. Thank you. The CHAIRMAN. Are there additional questions?
Senator BURDICK. Mr. Chairman, I would like to have the reporter go back to the testimony, if he can, in regard to Mr. Rosenblatt for something that was said about Mr. Rosenblatt taking money.
I would like to know what was said about that specifically
The CHAIRMAN. Would you try to repeat it, or would you want us to hunt back. It will be pretty hard to go back. Mr. HODGE. I did not say that. Senator BURDICK. What did you say? Mr. HODGE. I said that I knew he was working for the Department of the Interior, but I had my doubts as to whether or not he was working only for that Department and I believe he was working—from the questions directed to me, that he was working for another nominee. I called him by his name, Mr. Connie Gay.
The CHAIRMAN. I am sorry, we will have to go back through the testimony because you did bring up the question of money because I commented on it.
The REPORTER (reading): Mr. HODGE. I am not questioning the judgment of the Secretary. I am questioning whether Mr. Rosenblatt worked only for the Department of the Interior on his jaunt to the islands. Whether he made some more money on the outside, sir.
Senator BURDICK. Do you have any proof of that statement ! Mr. HODGE. Not proof. I have a doubt from his questions to me.
Senator BURDICK. Did you think a member of the Virgin Islands legislature could make a statement like that without some foundation.
Mr. HODGE. I believe I have some foundation.
Mr. HODGE. Because he was sent as an investigator for the Department of the Interior it would seem to me rather strange that he would direct his question and particularly against a particular candidate and in favor of another candidate.
Sentor BURDICK. What about the foundation for his taking money from some place else. Do you have any proof of that? Mr. HODGE. I have no proof.
Senator BURDICK. Do you not think you should apologize to Mr. Rosenblatt?
Mr. HODGE. No, sir; not from the way he questioned me regarding Mr. Connie Gay.
Senator BURDICK. That is all ?..
The CHAIRMAN. Do you see what we were talking about when you said the other side were mudslingers?
Mr. HODGE. That is the way it appears to me, sir,
Senator DWORSHAK. Mr. Hodge, as a member of the legislature, do you appropriate money used to build roads in the islands?
Mr. HODGÐ. Yes, sir.
Senator DWORSHAK. I received a report recently that $200,000 was appropriated for roads in St. Thomas. Is that true?
Mr. HODGE. More than $200,000.-
Senator DWORSHAK. Is a large part of this appropriation used to pave the Skyline Drive in the islands.
Mr. HODGE. I can't remember now what the particular budget bill may be, but we did appropriate
Senator DWORSHAK. You do not even know whether they had a Skyline Drive?
Mr. HODGE. We did appropriate money, including funds for the Skyline Drive.
Senator DWORSHAK. You do have a Skyline Drive there?
Senator DWORSHAK. I did not know by the tone of your answer whether you knew that or not.
Also, it is reported that Mr. Paiewonsky and his brother own a considerable acreage adjoining this road. Are you aware of that?
Mr. HODGE. I do not know, sir. I do know that the Governor's residence is on the Skyline Drive, and the Governor requested money to have that Skyline Drive fixed.
Senator DWORSHAK. That is why you built it?
Senator DWORSHAK. How about the roads that are generally used on the islands? Are they in good shape or in bad repair? · Mr. HODGE. The roads in St. Thomas, or in St. Croix ?
Senator DWORSHAK. In St. Thomas, the principal roads.
Mr. HODGE. In St. Thomas they are not in such good shape. The money is available for them.
Senator DWORSHAK. But preference was given to the building of this beautifully paved Skyline Drive instead of repairing the roads which are generally used by traffic?
Mr. HODGE. That is not the legislature's problem, sir. Senator DWORSHAK. Who does that? Mr. HODGE. The Governor and the public works commission handle that. We appropriate the money to them.
Senator DWORSHAK. You have no strings whatsoever on the money you appropriate as to how it shall be used or allocated ? Mr. HODGE. We made the money available for roads and highways.
Senator DWORSHAK. Then you are through, that is the end of your interest?
Mr. HODGE. We have a public works committee that supervises this.
Senator DWORSHAK. Who is “we”?
Senator DWORSHAK. You just said that the Governor had control of the roads program. Mr. HODGE. Certainly, sir.
Senator DWORSHAK. He has it, but you have a public works commission?