Let The Blame Game Begin: Osbert Potter’s Own State of Emergency
Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp
CHARLOTTE AMALIE – In May, when the Mapp Administration decided that it was time to address the governor’s $20,000 per month apartment in Estate Nazareth, it trotted out the No. 2 man Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter, not knowing that he, too, would be asked about his own housing scandal.
In late June, it was left to Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter to announce that Dr. Alfred O. Heath’s Sea View Nursing Home would be forced to close by the federal government because of its alleged brutal abuse of the elderly.
So in September, with the territory in the grips of a spate of violent crime, it was not surprising that Gov. Kenneth Mapp tasked himself with attending the “West Indian American Day Carnival Association Labor Day Parade” in New York, while delegating that it would be Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter who would give the state of the territory when it comes to rampant violence here.
The acting governor was scripted to say that the State of Emergency for the U.S. Virgin Islands is effective September 5 – Mapp left the territory for New York City on September 3 – when it comes time to evaluate whether the Mapp Administration has done a good job on fighting crime – it is at least conceivable that the blame could be put on Potter.
“As the vicious cycle of senseless murders and gun play permeates our territory, I appeal to the residents of this community, who are the parents, relatives, friends, and associates of the victims, to cooperate with and assist police and all law enforcement agencies in their efforts to solve these crimes,” Potter was delegated to say. “Since many of these violent crimes seem to be retaliatory in nature, we must, as a community, change the mind set of victims and their associates, who too often take it upon themselves to resolve matters on their own, as if to preserve some code of honor.”
A press release on new roads projects was issued by Government House just before Mapp left the Virgin Islands Thursday to attend the parade in New York on Monday – no where in the good news press release did it mention Osbert Potter’s name.
“Unless we are able to discourage and overcome this misguided attempt to enforce ‘street justice’ among groups, gangs, and families, we will continue to bury more and more of our residents, particularly those among the young male population,” Potter said. “The time has come, if we are to survive as a community, for each of us to demonstrate responsibility, and share what we know with our law enforcement community, and enable our duly authorized professionals to do the jobs which they have been trained to do.”
Presumably, if the crime problem gets totally out of control – Police Commissioner Delroy Richards Sr. said in published reports that he has asked the FBI to assist the territory with violent crime – the blame for out-of-control violence can be conveniently shifted to Potter, and Mapp can do what he always does instead of addressing any salient issue head-on –- fire another government employee, or simply leave the islands to fend for themselves while he parties.
What is the point exactly of Mapp glad-handing people of New York in a Carnival parade about the benefits of visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands when the governor knows (if he is intellectually honest) that his own house is not in order? Is he telling every person that he meets in Manhattan that the territory is in a State of Emergency over rampant violent crime?
And if he is not, what happens when a person that he meets on his latest trip abroad decides to actually visit the U.S. Virgin Islands and something bad happens to them? Is it not conceivable that Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp could be called to the witness stand one day in a civil suit over injuries a tourist sustained and asked if he fully disclosed the facts about crime here to the person?
At the beginning of his term this year, the Mapp Administration could reasonably argue that the wayward, wanderlusting governor spends so much time out of the territory because he is “selling” the tourism product. Now that we know the product is defective – at least when it comes to how it impacts the people who actually live here – does it still make sense to jet off everywhere on a moment’s notice with no overall plan communicated to us his electorate about how he plans to improve things going forward?
Governor Kenneth E. Mapp has been in office for nine months – he campaigned his whole career on how he would “get tough” on crime once elected. Now is the chief executive’s chance to prove to the public that they were correct in choosing him to steward these islands to a better place. Roman Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burned and was justly criticized for it. What is it that Governor Kenneth E. Mapp can point to as an accomplishment in his first nine months in office?
Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter