Marianas Variety

Friday, August 1, 2014-9:44:44P.M.

Last updateFri, 01 Aug 2014 12am

Headlines:

Fletcher not fired—yet

GOVERNOR Benigno R. Fitial has yet to decide whether to fire Commonwealth Utilities Corp. acting Executive Director Alan Fletcher whom he accused of lying to the House impeachment panel.

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Alan Fletcher
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Benigno Fitial
Fletcher told the panel that the $190 million power purchase deal Fitial signed was not in the CNMI’s best interest.

Fitial now claims that Fletcher said no such thing to him, the governor.

Asked if he would fire or ask Fletcher to resign, the governor said, “I have not made that decision yet.”

Asked if he was considering firing Fletcher, Fitial said, “Well, he lied.”

CUC is under the direct control of the governor who has placed the utilities corporation under “a state of emergency.”

Fitial said Fletcher gave the impeachment panel “false and misleading information” regarding the discussion on the power purchase agreement that transpired from July to August.

The governor said it was Fletcher himself who prepared the draft memorandum informing him that CUC had reviewed the final draft of the power purchase agreement. He added that the CUC chief even offered technical and economic analysis during the negotiation.

But Fletcher, in a statement yesterday, said he was “surprised and perplexed by the governor’s press release proclaiming that I was not truthful in my sworn testimony before the impeachment committee last week.  My entire testimony was truthful.   I am here to bring compliance under the stipulated orders and committed to making CUC successful. Despite this personal media attack, I continue to support the governor’s efforts to act in the best interest of the people of the CNMI.”

The impeachment panel chairman, House Minority Leader Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero, R-Saipan, said Fletcher’s testimony was consistent with the documentary evidence they had gathered.

Fletcher told the panel that no economic analysis had been done yet to justify the sole-source deal.

Asked for comment, Senate President Paul A. Manglona, Ind.-Rota, said it will be a cover-up if Fitial fires Fletcher or ask him to resign.

Noting that Fletcher was under oath when he testified before the impeachment panel, Manglona said the CUC chief had to speak the truth or he would go to jail for perjury.

Manglona said the governor, in the first place, should not have been negotiating the contract.

Why was he the lead coordinator in this power purchase agreement? Manglona asked.

Fitial, according to Manglona, should have allowed the “technical people to work on the specification and the scope of the project.”

Another OPA probe

Meanwhile, the Fitial administration is facing a new investigation regarding yet  another no-bid contract.

Rep. Ramon A. Tebuteb, R-Saipan and one of the impeachment panel members, will ask the Office of the Public Auditor to look into the $229,000 sole-source contract that the Department of Public Works awarded to Jun Miao Guo’s Success International Corp. to provide heavy equipment for the Marpi landfill operations.

In an interview yesterday, Tebuteb said he will first call OPA and if necessary, will write the agency a letter requesting for an investigation.

His main concern, Tebuteb said, are the environmental issues facing the Marpi landfill which must meet federal standards.

Tebuteb wants to know if Success International Corp. met those requirements and is certified to do the job.

Tebuteb said he wants to make sure that the CNMI will not end up violating any federal grant condition which may result in the suspension of federal assistance.

Press Secretary Angel A. Demapan said it should be noted that the sole-source contract is good for four months only or until a request for proposal is issued.

Success International Corp. is reputedly backed by some of the governor’s key supporters.