Variations: Open and shut

THE allegations against the governor are clear-cut. The House minority bloc members and their legal counsel who drafted the articles of impeachment did their homework.

drawWe’ve also heard the governor’s side of the story through a lengthy letter published by the MV in its dreary entirety. But his defense is lame and is premised, apparently, on the hope that we are all stupid — or that most of us are government employees whose contracts are up for renewal next month.

After saying that “people must be held accountable” he insists that he, the governor since Jan. 2006, shouldn’t be blamed for the CNMI’s worsening problems. He says it’s all a misunderstanding, really. Yet he didn’t offer any other “understandable” justification for asking DPS and Corrections to bring a federal detainee to his house for a massage. He didn’t say why he refused to fill vacancies on the Civil Service Commission, CPUC and the high court. U.S. Interior’s inspector general says the ARRA sole-source contract he awarded to his former Commerce secretary violated ethics rules, but the governor merely “disagrees.”

He also didn’t explain why it was in the public interest that his security officer, deputy DPS chief as well as DPS and CPA police officers had to escort the then-AG to the airport even though they knew that OPA was trying to serve court summons on Mr. Buckingham.

Regarding the $190 million no-bid contract that the governor (without disclosing to the public) signed with a mystery firm (created five days before it was awarded the contract), he says it’s still under “review.” Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Review first, then, if justified, sign? The contract, as most people who have read it would attest, is not favorable to the CNMI. But the “investor,” Saipan Development, told KSPN that it considers it a done deal and that it will protect its contractual rights.

What did we misunderstand Mr. Governor? What still needs to be investigated about the allegations against you?

The impeachment proponents cite facts. The governor points fingers. The impeachment panel conducts a meeting. The governor’s House minions boycott it. The public wants the process to move forward. The governor wants it blocked.

But it is an open and shut case — except to those whose paychecks depend upon the governor’s remaining in office.

The governor says his critics are “diverting our attention from addressing the serious issues that face our people [and are trying to] turn your attention away from their years of inaction while in office….”

On the contrary, impeachment has finally focused the people’ attention on the serious issues involving the governor’s abuse of power, corruption and neglect of duty. Finally, moreover, the public has turned its attention to Uncle Ben’s years of inaction while in office.

One of his online minions says “fixing the CNMI will take all of us working hard together.” True. But first the governor should be impeached and convicted. The CNMI cannot endure two more years of the governor’s disastrous leadership.

No one, in any case, is saying that the governor’s impeachment will “solve” the CNMI’s problems. (It is the governor and his minions who believe in a “magic potion” when they claim that a Saipan casino is the “cure” to the islands’ economic malaise.) We say the governor ought to be impeached because he committed impeachable offenses. We are not advocating “shortcuts.” We are for the constitutional process that allows the people to hold their governor accountable for his misdeeds. That is what needs to be done. “Politics as usual” is to look the other way. Not this time. No, not again. No more.

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