Shutdown Continues

October 2, 2010

With all of the unnecessary political hires, unneeded consultants, inflated expense accounts, and government corruption, of course the CNMI budget is in the red.  Still, it is the responsibility of the Legislature to pass a balanced budget that prioritizes essential services and eliminates waste.

How can this be accomplished with self-serving legislators stubbornly insisting that their pockets be lined before passing a budget is any one's guess. Some House leaders insist that their leadership accounts should be increased from $76,000 to $400,000, while at the same time they ask other government employees to take a drastic pay cut or reduction in hours.  Do the Legislature and Governor even need  discretionary funds when drastic cuts must be made?

Speaker Tenorio announced he won't run again to applause from constituents in the House gallery.  Senate Floor Leader Pete Reyes accused Tenorio of using blackmail to push his casino bill.

King Fitial is also responsible for the shutdown:
“We were under the impression that the House will finally pass a budget in line with an agreement with the Senate, but the 2pm meeting with the administration changed everything. There's no agreement anymore. The governor rejected the agreement between the House and Senate leaderships,” one of the lawmakers privy to the agreement said.

Another lawmaker said “every time the administration sticks its fingers to the House, the initial agreements change. The House cannot think for itself.”
Fitial's press secretary, Angel Demapan was quoted as saying, “During a state of emergency, there is only one power and that is the governor." God help the people of the CNMI!

Corruption bears a price and the people of the CNMI are paying it. Some constituents have reacted to the shutdown by letters to the editor and showing up at the legislative meetings.  I am amazed at the overall non-response of CNMI residents to the shutdown. I expected that thousands of residents would march to the Legislature to protest days ago.

A few residents have publicly shown their disgust, according to the Saipan Tribune.  One resident showed up with a placard calling for passage of a balanced budget. Former Rep. Tina Sablan chided the Legislature:
Former representative Tina Sablan, during a public comment period at the session, said it is “disrespectful” for the Legislature to allow the Sept. 30 deadline to come and go without passing a budget.

“It's unacceptable. It says so much about the leadership of the CNMI,” she said.

Sablan presented two sets of petitions to the House, including one that calls for the Legislature to pass a balanced budget that prioritizes essential services.
In a letter to the editor in the Saipan Tribune Ed Probst wrote:
It isn't enough to get made solely at our leaders. If anything, we should get mad at the people who voted for this disastrous administration that has largely contributed to this bloated government. The fact is, the people who trek up to Capital Hill and attempt to attend all these canceled sessions are mostly people whose jobs are not directly affected by the shutdown. My question is, where are all the hundreds of people who are affected by the shutdown? I suppose they are in their homes or outside under their pala palas, sitting around, wondering what will happen next. And I am sure they are relying on people like Tina Sablan, who will fight their battles for them. It is depressing how so many in our community are so unwilling to stick their necks out for fear of losing their jobs. What is even more depressing is that the same people who are directly affected by these inept leaders will probably vote for these same inept leaders come election time. Why? Because people in our islands have short-term memories and tend to forgive and forget right before elections. I suppose the tents and tables, temporary jobs, free beer, empty campaign promises, and the almighty chenchule help erase painful memories of the suffering we all had to endure under selfish, arrogant, incompetent, short-sighted leaders.

If we really want change, our populace needs to stop sugarcoating the harsh truth. We need to stop smiling and patting our leaders on the back, as if they were doing a good job. We know there are better solutions to our problems, but the leadership refuses to listen to logic and reason, unless of course they are going to personally benefit from it.

The bottom line is, we need to tell our leaders that we are not satisfied with their poor performance. We need to tell them that we are tired of the political games they play at our expense. We need to tell them that the money they are dealing with belongs to us common folk, the taxpayers! We need to tell them that political consultants and slush funds and perks and junket trips should be on the cutting block before anyone else. And we need to get a thousand people together to march up to Capital Hill and shout at the top of our lungs, “We're as mad as hell, and we're not going to take this anymore!”

Perhaps then, and only then, will Froilan and Uncle Ben and the rest of this misadministration finally hear us.
Good advice.

Election Affected By Shutdown?

The shutdown will apparently be an excuse to screw up yet another election. What a mess:
Commonwealth Election Commission Executive Director Robert Guerrero said because of the shutdown, he could not send absentee ballots requested by off-island voters.

Since Friday, about 50 voters living in the states, including those in the military, had been emailing and calling the election office to request for ballots.

But his office was closed on Friday because it was not included on the governor’s list of essential services.

Guerrero said the Office of Public Auditor, which has to check the absentee ballots before they are sent off island, is also not considered “essential” so there is no way they can accommodate the absentee voters as long as there is no new budget law.

Guerrero said his office sent out more than 500 absentee ballots before the government shutdown.

Absentee voters, he said, only have until 4:30 p.m. this Friday to request for their ballots.

Guerrero said it takes three to five days before CNMI voters in the U.S. can receive their absentee ballots. Those who are in foreign countries will have to wait longer.

A resident, who declined to be identified, said the government shutdown is depriving absentee voters of their right to vote.

Perhaps the affected absentee voters can file a lawsuit, the resident said.
This is a federal election. Feds where are you?! Take over this election!


The Saipan Blogger said...

Calling this a shutdown is a misnomer. 80% of the government is open for business.

Wendy said...

Just calling it what the press, government and CNMI and federal officials are calling it. 80%?

Anonymous said...

Open for business is the misnomer. No funds can be appropriated for any purpose in the absence of a balanced budget. No vendors get paid, no scholarships, no medical referrals. The list goes on. Meanwhile, those who report for work have no assurance the money will be there to pay fir even the "essential" workers.


Anonymous said...

80%? still not a shutdown! there are 70% non-essential employees so 30% should be the only open for business.

Captain said...

At the rate Fitial keeps exempting people (100 more today)we are all back to the original problem of "money" The nmi could not make payroll before and Fitial keeps "allowing " more people to work. Plus announcing more positions.
What clueless idiot(s)

Anonymous said...

The OCWs who were not paid there salary know how it is to be without pay. How to pay for electric, phone, food? We can share food because we know how it was not to have any and with no family here.