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    Monday, October 14, 2019-7:53:13A.M.






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OPINION | Epitaph of CNMI democracy (46): What GOP has DONE and failed to DO

THIS is really a continuation of Epitaph 43 but since the Governor likes to BRAG about what he has DONE in paying off some of the CNMI’s debt when that doesn’t mean squat when We the People end up for AUSTERITY measures that should have been placed MORE on IPI for their FAILURE to live up to the original contract  because if they had we wouldn’t  be in Austerity mode.  Readers need to understand that our Governor makes CALCULATED moves that are mostly intended to BENEFIT him in his quest to remain Governor first and foremost as everything else is secondary.

I would list the numerous things our Governor and GOP have DONE and FAILED to DO in our relationship with Best Sunshine/IPI but I’ve already written about those things and I’m sure most readers are now aware of the many-many-many FAILED to DO things that our Governor and his GOP controlled Legislature Failed to DO for us folks in the cheap seats. But there are many other things our Governor and GOP have DONE and is still FAILING to DO that should be highlighted and even etched in the minds of voters.

Look at what the GOP has DONE over the past two decades while in control of our Government as they ROBBED and KILLED the Retirement Fund which is why I can’t understand WHY any retiree would even think about supporting the GOP -for REAL! Now they are trying to put-off paying the Retirees’ Yearly Bonus that is due to the Settlement Fund for Retirees. Even CUC is now on the hook as the Settlement Fund in seeking the court’s help in enforcing the final judgment approving a class action settlement to collect unpaid employer contributions from the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. Attorney Nicole M. Torres-Ripple for the Settlement Fund said: “refusing to recognize the Settlement Fund’s right to proceed on these claims against the CNMI is a clear breach of the settlement agreement and is tantamount to bad faith”. Our Governor and his GOP controlled Legislature has continued to FAIL to DO what they SHOULD DO when it comes to retirees and now the obligations of CUC to pay Retirees has been breached.

We the People continue to see what our GOP has DONE wrong to our children and Public-School System over the years. BOE has been in a CONSTANT Battle to the get the money that is DUE not to mention what they really NEED for our children. I don’t know why Mr. Muna resigned and I wish his WELL but had I been selected for the Commissioner Position back in 2007, PSS would not have the money problems they have today! BOARD of Education member MaryLou Ada was RIGHT about threatening to close the schools to the Governor and his GOP Legislature if they don’t pay-up. Sometimes Enough-is-Enough and I hope she is not just BLUFFING because someone MUST stand up to our Governor & Legislature and hold them ACCOUNTABLE for what they have DONE and especially for what they have FAILED to DO!!!

Our Governor didn’t exercise any wisdom with his austerity decree as he just cut EVERYTHING meaning our children were no more important than any of the many Government Agencies where there are some people who actually sit around a desk all day KILLING most of their TIME. Health (our hospital), education (our children) and welfare (people support services) are the three pillars of our Government Services and education is only second to our healthcare system as OUR CHILDREN really DO come first Governor. I have said it before that every CUT in Education is an entire SLICE out of our future outcomes which will be in the hands of our children! While these cuts generate intangible slices there is a cumulative effect that can only be seen over time.

Our Governor needs to know that our Public School System is AUTONOMOUS for very good reasons and one of those reasons is to AVOID the politics of our leader(s) and their manipulation of the revenues. In fact, PSS should automatically be exempted from austerity by its very status as an autonomous entity, as PSS’s funding should only be subject to a decrease by an “Emergency Decree” — I hope the Board will check out the possibility that I could be right based on the law. But regardless, our Governor clearly FAILED to do the right thing when it comes to our CHILDREN and their caregivers (teachers & staff) because THEY are the ones who will suffer the END RESULTS of the Governor’s austerity. Our Governor did not prioritized properly as NO ONE can complain about the WISDOM of making sure OUR CHILDREN get a good quality education.

Now MVA is telling the Governor to “prioritize tourism” due to the FAILURE of the Government to give MVA the 5.7 million in hotel occupancy tax and they are right too as “so goes our tourism so goes the CNMI”. I don’t know why Ms. Larson left and I don’t blame her given what is going on at the Department of Finance which is literally conducting a “juggling act” with the revenues as they come in. The Association of Native Medicine and Culture, has even requested the Department of Finance to release the $122,000 appropriated by the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation for the Chamorro-English dictionary project. Talking about robbing Peter to pay Paul, our Governor is robbing ALL of us folks in the cheap seats, our children at PSS, the Retirement Funding that is due, and now MVA is asking for their fair share. Our Governor has created a big financial mess with his delay in addressing our financial situation until after the election and the PROOF is definitely in the details of all the funding that our Government has FAILED to deliver.

The recent Bill by the House of Representatives which unanimously passed H.B. 21-19 which would allow the Department of Commerce to increase the fees it imposes on existing businesses. Many if not all existing businesses are struggling because of the economic downturn but Commerce says it needs more money to make it easier for businesses to comply with some of the department’s (according to a lawmaker) “cumbersome” rules — why didn’t Commerce “un-cumbersome” these rules and lighten their work load, DUH! The decrease to Commerce’s funding in the Budget that they are now trying to pass on to businesses. I guess it didn’t matter that the chamber of commerce had noted that the proposed new fees are “twice to five times higher than Guam’s which has a good economy that is doing well.” The BUCK is supposed to STOP at the Governor’s desk but his administration continues to “PASS the BUCK” to citizens and now businesses. Someone please ask the Governor Why didn’t he take a cut in salary during austerity and WHY is he hiding behind the Constitution that protects his salary. Why didn’t he LEAD by EXAMPLE and take a voluntary pay cut? A real test of CHARACTER on the Governor’s list of FAILED to DO things.

So here we go again and look at what our GOP Legislature has DONE while WE (people & businesses) are both suffering under AUSTERITY and they want to make it even harder on us instead of making it hard on the one who is MOST responsible for AUSTERITY — IPI and its FAILED promises that our Governor & GOP FAILED to DO in holding IPI accountable for paying the dozens of millions in taxes & Community Chess Funds that are DUE. I still don’t understand WHY Independents voted for this Bill but they either believe we need that small amount of money in fees so bad that it was necessary or they are just trying to play “political-cozy” with the GOP controlled House in hopes of present or future support for something.

Voters need to know that our GOP will continue to DO the Wrong-thing and FAIL to DO the Right-thing until WE the People place a REAL “check & balance” between the Legislature and our Governor and that can ONLY be accomplished through a TWO-PARTY System — it is really that simple! To be continued: One people one direction for DOING the Right Thing and not FAILING to DO anything RIGHT!

The writer is a resident of Kagman, Saipan.