Running on Empty

June 16, 2010

While the CUC is struggling to locate funds for fuel, the EPA has fined the agency $140,000 for failure to come up with a reorganization plan to bring the wastewater plants, collection systems, and public drinking water systems into compliance. The EPA press release:
(06/14/10) SAIPAN – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. $140,000 for failing to properly submit a plan, as required by a stipulated order, for reorganizing CUC to bring its wastewater plants, collection systems and public drinking water systems into compliance.

Under the order, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands utility was required by September 2009 to submit a plan and schedule to improve the efficiency of its operations and make required organizational changes. To date, CUC has failed to submit the plan, despite repeated requests from EPA.

“As CUC has acknowledged, this plan establishes the management and organizational foundation CUC will need to achieve and maintain compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act,” said Alexis Strauss, Water Division Director for EPA’s Pacific Southwest region.

The order requires CUC to ensure lasting compliance through the reformation of CUC’s management and operations; the development of a wastewater and drinking water master plan; development of financial plans; and the construction of water and wastewater infrastructure.

“EPA will continue to oversee CUC's implementation of these required improvements to bring long-needed environmental and public health gains to the islands,” said Strauss.

This order also requires CUC to comply with its water discharge permits for the Agingan and Sadog Tasi wastewater plants and to implement changes to prevent sewer overflows. It similarly requires CUC to achieve compliance in its drinking water systems, which currently present a health risk to the public. A second order requires CUC to prevent oil spills at its power plants and pipeline, to comply with oil spill regulations, prepare to respond to oil spills, and provide appropriate cleanup for past and future oil spills. Failure to meet requirements of either order could subject CUC to further penalties.
In December 2009 EPA fined CUC $29,000 in addition to $630,000 in total fines for failure to comply with the stipulated orders that were signed in March 2009. Couldn't the CNMI pay someone to make a comprehensive plan for CUC instead of continually spending money on special advisors and lobbyists?

Meanwhile the CNMI government owes $2.2 million in fees to CUC and another $1 million will be added by the end of this month.

To make matters worse, Lt. Governor Inos called an emergency meeting of the Legislature to grant reprogramming power to the governor. Inos claimed that without this power government workers will face a payless pay day tomorrow. If there is a money shortage isn't shifting or reprogramming it just a bandaid? Shouldn't the focus be on making a plan for revenue like creating a sales tax for instance.


Anonymous said...

The "payless payday" is famous on Guam and the CNMI. I don't think there has ever been one, at least not in the last 15 years or so. Now there are hundreds of reasons for why there is no money, but payless paydays are the acts of two groups. One, the politicans that know they don't have the money so they let the Media know. The media, who consider this type of story "Manna from Heaven" hype it to max to sell some papers. After all, if it's in the paper it must be true. The folks get together in a special session, like now, or the Gov reprograms some money and people get paid. Always happens.
However, with the current state of finances this may not always be the case. I think we could see actual payless paydays six weeks from now. Note: Let's change the name to "Critical Position Only Paydays" since there should be some money to pay someone. If your not on the list, then you know where you stand. Then you better get moving.

Captain said...

Looks like this Gov. is trying anything to get back his "reprogramming power"

So what is he going to do? The same thing every month for CUC and every payday reprogram funds?
It seems like nobody in this admin has any solutions except to keep shuffling funds around.

If I remember correctly that was what he was doing in his first term.

Until this Govt. starts the "dreaded" layoffs of all of the political hires along with getting educated experienced people in the various agencies, things will keep going down hill with increasing speed.
Also the need to raise the pay scale in the private sector to match the Govt rate is a necessity to absorb displaced workers and shore up the economy.

When everyone sees that CUC has not even come up with the court ordered plans to keep it on track, shows the sad state and the lack of knowledge of this administration.
I thought that CUC hired "Willie" Sword (from A. Samoa)to handle this.
Seems like this agency will continue to accumulate fines that they will be unable to pay.
This also says a lot about Muna's expertise as an accountant (lack of)
Could it be that the Gov.has rejected any plans submitted because it would prohibit him further from "shuffling" money around?

I wonder how much longer until the Feds put CUC in Receivership like they did with the dump in Guam.
It is past due to "disconnect" the Gov agencies until the bills are paid. That would also cut payroll down as many would not be able to work.

So what is the long term solution besides getting rid of this Gov. and the rest of his "clowns"?

Captain said...

BTW Wendy, on your side bar with the blog pages, Ruth Tighe blog page has turned into "an attack page". It has a virus and is corrupted.

Anonymous said...

Wendy, Tina Sablan's blog is also infected with virus.

Wendy said...

5:06 and 5:12 What does this mean?

Anonymous said...

Wendy, it means when you open these blog sites via your side bar if you do not have an updated anti virus program, your computer will become infected.
My anti virus blocked Ruth's page from opening and notified that it was an "attack site" and to get out.
On Tina's site the computer notified of a virus and blocked the virus and would not open it.
I do not know how this affects your site or if you have any way of cleaning or blocking this.
Just to let you know so you maybe can notify these people via e-mail etc.

Anonymous said...

This mean we are infiltrated.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 9:16 thanks. I deleted the sites from my sidebar until the problem is fixed. I will let them know and I am bringing my computer to the Apple Store to get my virus blockers updated.

Anonymous said...

How many CNMI employers never paid their foreign workers? Now some will experience first hand what it's like not to get paid for your work.

Anonymous said...

What is Fitial's medical treatment in Philippines about?

Anonymous said...

I thought PI is a third world country as described by some racists? PI never experienced a no payday in the gov't.

Anonymous said...

Maybe CNMI gov't is expecting the Feds to pay the gov't payroll.


Where is the folks that whinning for self government without uncle sam? Now lets see what solution you have.And please don't pull my tax rebate....

Wendy said...

Anonymous 8:47

You said, "Maybe CNMI gov't is expecting the Feds to pay the gov't payroll."

Maybe they do, but as a taxpayer, I totally object to having even one penny of federal dollars used to bail out the CUC or CNMI general fund because corrupt CNMI officials and a legislature that has been asleep or has acted as an accomplice to a corrupt administration, abused their power, didn't do their jobs, and wasted funds on lobbyists, special advisors, trips and unnecessary expenses think that when things get bad Uncle Sam will fix everything. These elected officials showed their failings previously, but they were re-elected by the people. It is mind boggling.

How many billions of tax dollars from U.S. mainland citizens (not CNMI citizens who don't pay federal income taxes) have flowed into the CNMi to be wasted or unappreciated? This is a local government that has gone against the United States in numerous ways and has made false accusations about federal officials and agencies. This is a defiant and uncooperative administration that lies and rallies the masses to support the lie. Want money? Then fire the advisors; fire Lynn Knight and the other lobbyists; put an end to the numerous CNMI-funded off-island trips/vacations; close down unneeded offices; get rid of unnecessary political allies and the family members who collect paychecks, but do little work; have an OPEN government; stop the lies and propaganda; enforce the laws; and get it together.

Isn't it time for the people of the CNMi to increase taxes and focus on local revenue sources other than relying on the American tax payers and federal government as a main source of income? Maybe sales taxes, property taxes, etc.

Sometimes people need to suffer the results of their consequences in order to change. It's time for the people of the CNMI to demand good governance, stop the nepotism and political appointments that drain funds and fuel corruption, and come up will solutions on a local level to address the many problems that afflict the CNMI as a result of unwise and immature decisions made by their elected leaders.

Anonymous said...

Yes and notice how Stanley I hate the US of A Torres always accepts federal money without a complaint. Too funny.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the feds should stop bailing out the NMI. If the lights go out for a couple months and no one gets paid maybe it will wake people up before the next election. Hell, maybe it will wake them up enough to recall the guv.

Anonymous said...

You're right Wendy, that is what every politicians' thinking. They're all have kid's mind and immature childish people showing this attitude towards Fed, they think Fed are obligated to save this island if it goes bankrupt.
But the truth is they are enriching themselves and expected that Fed will prevail anyway and handle all the problems. And they go free and secured!

Anonymous said...

Our taxes are TOO LOW. On top of it, many businesses either get huge rebates or are not paying taxes at all because they were granted a tax waiver. Taxes pay for government. No wonder CNMI is in this mess. Businesses aren't going to bail out because taxes are raised 5%. If it improves service, power and water, MVA promotion, it will be a HUGE BENEFIT to their business.