Epitaph of CNMI’s democracy | 101: Why a permanent emergency management team is needed

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WITH all due respect, I must first commend the Governor for what he has done and is doing to fight this virus as he along with the rest of the world were not prepared making it totally unfair to try and grade him on his efforts.

However, this Epitaph is more about how any Governor in the future can perform BETTER in dealing with our emergencies and catastrophes. It’s not personal nor political, as this virus is just the latest example of WHY we need to adhere to the LESSONS LEARNED in CNMI’s history of dealing with these phenomena.

If WE the People of the CNMI have learned anything about dealing with emergencies and catastrophes is the fact that our Governor and GOP have FAILED in many ways including the MISUSE of funds. The CNMI is virtually ALWAYS facing a catastrophe with Typhoons and the recent strikes by Typhoons is all the more PROOF that WE the People need a Permanent Emergency Management Team. But this Covid-19 has thrown us real curve-balls that our Governor can’t hit figuratively and the main reason is because he is making arbitrary decisions. Yes, the Governor may seek advice but there is no real ACCOUNTABILITY on his decisions. The Governor’s GOP Crew in the Legislature just gave him ALL power to manipulate ALL the resources and All the funding of the CNMI with NO form of Legislative Accountability. NY’s Governor is looking to his experts tell him what to do, Nevada Governor is looking to the Pharmaceutical Experts for leadership and similar with other Governors except for #45 who thinks he knows more than the experts, duh!

But I would be calling for this Team even if the Governor was a Democrats given our history of these emergencies and catastrophes. So, no one should view this as Politics but as a matter of FACTS historically and more recently that are “proper and fitting” to address the constant threats of emergencies and catastrophes that continue to hit us. With the establishment of a Permanent Team to address our adversities that will function more like a Board will insure there is REAL ACCOUNTABILITY over the decisions made. There are all kinds of questions and concerns every time we have a typhoon and the Governor takes charge but somehow, WE the People never get all the answers but a permanent Team will change all of that.

We know the Governor will select all of his YES People for his taskforce because they won’t challenge what he is doing which is really not a good thing and it makes the taskforce “muted” and more of a “sounding board” than a team implementing plans, for TRUE! If WE need a real permanent team with each member having a vote on: 1. The priorities 2. The Distribution of Funding 3. A Segregated Accountability on the Federal funding that is separate from the Department of Finance. The members will vote on the recommendations to the Governor which will be a form of “shared accountability” and if the Governor refuses to follow their recommendations then the Governor will have to explain WHY for full accountability.

For example: when there is a decision on which business will get the contract, it should be based on bids and their merits voted upon by the Team before being recommended to the Governor. In other words, everything will go through some form of “checks & balances.” The main reason the founders of America wanted checks & balances throughout our Federal System is because “PEOPLE cannot always be TRUSTED” which is something we should have learned about our Governor by now given he is facing a RICO Investigation with possible INDICTMENTS and that’s with a capital S! WE the People would need this team regardless if it was a Democrat or Republican Governor as this is about FIXING or ADJUSTING our System to function more fairly, more efficiently and for BETTER outcomes during and after an emergency or catastrophe.

The Governor’s only role will be to LEAD based on the Team’s recommendations. The Team’s Leader and each Team member will have a fiduciary duty to report to the People of the CNMI on the decision made and the Governor’s response to carry out the recommendations or his refusal to follow the recommendations for real ACCOUNTABILITY on all the important decisions made regarding our future emergencies and catastrophes. We should be learning from this virus which will make the CNMI all the better off when it comes to dealing with emergencies and catastrophes. This virus has proven at the national, state and local level that America WAS NOT READY but lucky or should I say BLESSED that we are a resilient People and able to overcome our shortcomings. WE need to STAY READY with a Permanent Emergency Management Team and not just GET READY with a make-shift taskforce. It’s really common sense and a lesson learned.

The Team should be composed of but not limited to a representative from: CHCC, CUC, the Business Community, the Construction Experts, all viable Government Agency Heads, All Boards & Commissions accompanied by a call to the Feds, which is in the Covenant, for any and all the Scientists and Experts needed to address the emergency or catastrophe. The Governor will only determine “which of the people who will be needed for a specific emergency or catastrophe.” I know there will still be a lot of people who were appointed by a GOP Governor and even our present Governor which is all the more reason why the leadership of the CNMI needs to change to Democrat so that in the future there will be a more balanced political team. But all of these individuals should be willing to do what is RIGHT and BEST and not just what the Governor wants. I was so glad to see Representative LJ speak out against his GOP Governor on his mistake with limited store hours which is an excellent example of how everyone on the Team should act. For me, the stores should have all been all opened longer hours with “monitoring by DPS or Corrections or Deputized Fire Marshal officers” to prevent overcrowding and that everyone has gloves & mask to enter. People also needed to be reminded on how to process bringing things into the house from the store.

But those who have been following the events with this virus at the national level you should know and see how #45 (Trump) has continued to literally defy the experts and scientist on dealing with this virus. Now he’s talking about Easter to start ending things like he has control over the virus when in reality the virus is dictating to us on what and when we do anything. #45 is PROVING there is no real checks & balances on what the President can do under an emergency that we are now facing. But this is not the first time for #45 to defy his own experts because the entire nation knows how he literally “put-down All of our Federal Investigative Agencies (CIA, NSA, FBI) and chose to believe Vladimir Putin. What a disgrace to our nation. But we only learn about the President defying the experts because there are just entirely too many eyes watching. However, in the CNMI there are literally NO eyes watching the deliberations between his taskforce and what he actually ends up doing. I can only wonder how many I Told You Sos have happened.

But the Emergency Management Team should consist of ALL Stakeholders in the CNMI through a representative on the Team as they will be “automatically on the Team” given their role in our society. The composition of the working teams will change depending upon the type of emergency or catastrophe. For example: In dealing with this virus the Lead Persons on the Team will be the “Epidemiologist and CHCC” which is common sense because they KNOW more than anyone “HOW to deal with this virus. To go against that person’s recommendation would be Political Suicide but WE don’t know who is really calling the shots. But I’m sure no Epidemiologist would want the stores to shut down at a certain time literally forcing shoppers and the delivery people to congregate together when we should be practicing “social distancing.”

Being a teacher, economist, social scientist and a person who actually studied to work in a “think-tank” seeing these kinds of things with our Governing Systems actually comes like second nature. I’m not saying that I’m fully right on every part of this suggestion for a permanent Team but I do know that I am fully right on the need for more permanent team with real checks & balances on the Governor in our efforts to deal with continuation of typhoons, emergencies and catastrophes. I keep saying “if we don’t learn the lessons taught to us by history (this virus) then we are DOOMED to keep repeating the SAME mistake” and we keep making the same mistake putting the GOP in full control of our Government, duh! I have a lot of confidence in the fact that the majority of People are really sick-and-tired of the GOP’s style of leadership after 22 years and that the Democrats will surly CHANGE the way WE do things in the CNMI especially in the way WE handle emergencies and catastrophes. To be continued: One People One Direction for a Permanent Emergency Management Team!

The writer is a resident of Kagman, Saipan.

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