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BEGGING FOR A BAILOUT! Mapp Goes Prostrate Before Pence Pleading For More Money

SAYONARA USVI! U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife bid the territory adieu and good luck! Gov. Kenneth Mapp went to Washington D.C. on Monday with hat in hand and begged Pence for more money for the Virgin Islands.

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CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Governor Kenneth Mapp said that he met with Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Monday to discuss the status of and to report on the territory’s preparations for the current hurricane season.

Mapp said he profusely thanked the Vice President and the Trump Administration for its “tremendous support in assisting the U.S Virgin Islands recover from the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.” The governor also requested White House support in addressing the bureaucratic hurdles the territory has faced in order to accelerate the recovery process.

Meanwhile, the National Review suggested yesterday that the U.S. Virgin Islands has had money problems for donkey years and that the U.S. Congress should not allocated one red cent for the territory because it has a history of “profligate” misspending of federal tax dollars.

Governor Mapp was accompanied to the White House meeting by Commissioner of Finance Valdamier Collens, who also serves as the Governor’s Authorized Representative in all Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) matters.

Governor Mapp discussed with the Vice President ways in which the Administration could facilitate a faster and stronger recovery in the territory. He raised the need to waive certain rules on the FEMA Sheltering and Temporary Emergency Power (STEP) program and allow FEMA to fund permanent roofing on approximately 4,000 storm damaged homes in the territory.

With significant damages to schools and other traditional hurricane shelters, as well as thousands of homes in need of repair, the Governor urged the Vice President to allow the use of FEMA funding to replace blue tarps and install permanent roofs to building code standards over the next few months. The permanent roof program is estimated to cost tens of thousands of dollars per home, with the total project cost estimated to exceed $250 million.

“Permanent roofs are clearly the best solution.” Governor Mapp said. “We simply do not have time to rebuild our public shelters. If the alternatives are using cruise ships and airplanes for mass evacuations every time a storm approaches or leaving Virgin Islanders exposed to extreme danger, constructing new roofs built to withstand the harsh winds and excessive rain is really the only solution.”

Governor Mapp and Vice President Pence also discussed the allocation of $2 billion that Congress set aside for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act for the rebuilding of the power systems in these areas.
 “HUD’s usual formulas for splitting the funds are not appropriate,” Governor Mapp said. “Congress specifically recognized the Virgin Islands in the Budget Act, calling upon us for this special funding, so we believe that our share should be substantial.”
In addition, Governor Mapp and Commissioner Collens raised concerns over some of the unnecessary obstacles that the Treasury Department has imposed on the administration of the Community Disaster Loan (CDL) program, which provides federal funds to cover disaster-related revenue losses and projected cash outlays not previously budgeted. While the Treasury has approved over $200 million in CDL loans thus far, the Territory still awaits official guidance from FEMA surrounding the types of expenditures that are considered “projected cash outlays not previously budgeted,” for which additional CDLs could be issued.
The Governor highlighted Phase III of the Limetree Bay operation, with respect to providing Liquefied Natural Gas to the eastern Caribbean. Vice President Pence recognized the importance of the project to national security and committed to arranging a follow-up meeting between the Governor and the Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to facilitate the project.

Early Monday, Governor Mapp sent a letter to President Trump requesting his support for expedited federal permitting review for the dredging of Charlotte Amalie Harbor on St. Thomas and Schooner Bay on St. Croix. The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson has already approved $23 million in CDBG-disaster recovery funds for the two dredging projects and approval of another $7 million is expected later this month.

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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 50 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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