CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Stories in the Virgin Islands Daily News continue to regularly include mischaracterizations and misinformation and the paper would be wise to invest in hiring at least one Virgin Islander to work in its news department, Governor Kenneth Mapp said this week. The governor took issue with Wednesday’s article on three “pay raises” that contained factual errors and omitted crucial information.
“Sadly, we have grown accustomed to seeing headlines that don’t match the associated articles, and, for the most part, we ignore the many errors and perpetually negative slant. However, this week I am compelled to respond,” Mapp said, “officials already earning top salaries have quietly been receiving hefty raises.” “This article further incorrectly states that Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter received a pay increase of $10,000 bringing his salary to $112,000,” he added.
The lieutenant governor’s salary is set by law, specifically Title 3, Section 31 of the Virgin Islands Code.
“Under the law, the Lt. Governor’s salary is set at $125,000 and cannot be changed by any administrative action,” the Governor said. “Only the Legislature can give the Lt. Governor a pay raise.”
In the same article, the newspaper also cited raises given to two Government House employees last year, but failed to mention that these staff members were actually promoted to new positions of much greater responsibility. Senior Policy Advisor Eugene Farrell was promoted to Chief of Staff in September 2017 at a salary of $125,000. The previous Chief of Staff, Randolph Knight, was paid $130,000 per annum.
Samuel Carrion, who previously wore several hats as a Government House Communications Specialist, was promoted to the position of Senior Policy Advisor at $75,000 per annum following his tremendous efforts after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Governor stated.
“Mr. Carrion became the leader behind facilitating the many delegations we had here from Congress, the White House, the national media, non-government organizations and others,” Governor Mapp said. “All the while, continuing to serve as my office’s primary point of contact for Spanish-speaking Virgin Islanders and our local church groups.”
The Governor, who has for the most part resisted directly criticizing the Virgin Islands Daily News, had a strong message this week for its management.
“I have a history of promoting individuals who are in my employ whose work demonstrates and provides more value to the people of the Virgin Islands,” he said. “The Daily News criticized the hiring of a Conservator at Government House, quoting someone from the mainland who deemed this committed young Virgin Islander unqualified. As Governor, I decide who is qualified to work at Government House, not the Virgin Islands Daily News. To the folks at the V.I. Daily News, when do you intend to hire a Virgin Islander on your staff of journalists and editors? If you do, perhaps you will stop making fools of yourselves.”
Some of the reaction to this article was fast and furious on social media this afternoon.
“The Lieutenant Governor of TEXAS makes less than $10,000 a year! The Governor of Texas makes $130,000,” Bish Denham wrote on Facebook. “I do believe Texas is a bit bigger than the VI with a HUGE economy and infrastructure to oversee not to mention education and borders and a population of over 28 million… So I wonder why a population of 103,000 needs to pay their government officials so much? Can anyone answer that question?”