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PHAT MAPP! Governor At A Weight Loss Clinic In California – At The Taxpayer’s Expense


CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Gov. Kenneth Mapp is at a swanky weight loss clinic in California — and charging it all, flights, fees and fruits — to the territory’s taxpayers, the Virgin Islands Free Press has learned.

Mapp is officially in California to investigate how to transition the government’s health insurance care to a wellness-based program and has brought Health Commisioner Dr. Michelle Davis with him, according to Government House.

“Under a wellness program, combining exercise, diet and lifestyle changes can result in improved health for the individual and thus reward their efforts with premium savings based on that individual’s overall health,” Cherie Munchez told the Virgin Islands Daily News.

Munchez said Mapp sees an opportunity to reduce long-term premiums and improve the health and well-being of people in the territory. But critics say it was just another boondoggle planned to shed a few pounds from his ever-expanding waistline.

“He is personally participating at one such wellness facility and with the governor’s personal weight loss goals, we wish him great success,” Munchez said.

After a speech to the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce at The Palms in March of 2015, a reporter said the long line of people waiting to speak to him after the talk suggested he was a “rock star.”

“No, I’m a fat star,” Mapp replied with characteristic self-deprecating good humor.

When he opened the 2016 Carnival Village, the governor said he intended to enjoy himself but said he wouldn’t be sampling all of the food.

“I am on a dedicated plan to lose 75 pounds,” he said, noting he is looking forward to eating “lettuce, tomato, fungi, fish, conch and rice and sweets.”

In August 2015, Mapp proposed $1 million more in aid to help farmers in the territory grow healthier foods that could be used in public schools.

Food served in school lunches is filled with sugars and processed foods, Mapp said during his opening remarks to the 31st West Indies Agricultural Economics Conference.

“You see what happens when you are filled with sugars and processed food,” he said. “I am an example of what you look like. We need to change that example and provide healthier and fresh foods for our children.”

Munchez wouldn’t say whether taxpayers paid for Mapp’s flight to the weight-loss clinic. Nor would she say whether the taxpayers are directly paying the fees for his treatment.

She was not available to answer questions about how much is being spent to provide security for the governor while he is at the unnamed posh “fat farm.”

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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