CNMI Political Games

January 17, 2010

Fitial Should Change His Ways, Not His Political Party

















How stupid does CNMI Governor Benigno Fitial think federal officials and lawmakers in Washington, DC are?  The governor changed party affiliation from the Covenant Party (the very party that he founded in order to get elected governor) to the CNMI Republican Party in an attempt to have more influence in Washington, DC.  Unless somehow the memories or intelligence of all the federal officials and lawmakers are miraculously wiped out, he has no chance of gaining credibility or pushing his agenda by merely changing parties.

Regardless of political affiliation, the governor carries a massive amount of political baggage that will follow him to Washington or wherever else he travels. He needs to develop an ethical, democratic and just agenda and stop the constant fed-bashing to gain real inroads with the federal officials and lawmakers.

See KSPN2 News for more commentary.

More Coverups


Former Rep. Tina Sablan received some highly redacted documents as a result of her latest Open Government Request. The censored documents show that certain attorneys in the CNMI certainly aren't suffering from the poor economy. In fact, many are reaping in big bucks representing CNMI government departments and offices.

What is particularly disturbing is the fact that the coffers are empty, payless paydays are the norm, and calls for cuts are constant, but there seems to be an enormous amount of money to spend on attorneys, consultants and lobbyists.

The information released from the Governor's Office invites a lawsuit, mainly because it provides a lot of non-information, which is in violation of the Open Government Act.

Listings of payments made with the date, but with no dollar figures, cry for disclosure. It appears that Deanne Siemer, the infamous "volunteer" was, as many of us suspected, not a volunteer at all. Between May 2008 and December 2009 Siemer received 56 payments from the Governor's Office. The documents released to Tina Sablan did not reveal what services she provided, but we can probably fill in the blanks. Seimer and her husband, Howard Willens, who received even more payments from the Governor's Office than his wife were leading the battle against federalization.

The Governor's Office also made payments to attorney Joshua Berger; Walden Q. Beri; Valric Welch; the Washington-based law firm, Jenner and Block that represented Fitial in his anti-federalization lawsuit; and the lobbying firm of Oldaker, Biden and Belair.

It seems certain that the Governor's Office will eventually have to disclose the amounts paid for each line item and the services provided.

The following is a breakdown of payments the Governor's Office made as provided by Tina Sablan:



The documents released by Tina also revealed that the cash-strapped CNMI paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees between 2008 and 2010.  If the U.S. Congress is called the pathway to a lobbying career, then a position in the CNMI OAG must be the pathway to a lucrative attorney position in a government office.

The Commonwealth Ports Authority (CPA) hired several attorneys including Timothy Bellas, Robert T. Torres, Jose Bermudes, Ed Manibusan Law Offices, and the King Law Office. Perhaps they want to spread the wealth.

Jose Bermudes earned $70,000 as staff attorney for two years from 2009 to 2010. Still other attorneys were hired during his tenure to represent CPA.

Attorney Robert Tenorio Torres earned $150 an hour from CPA in a variety of duties including  collecting delinquent accounts.  A collection agency would charge far less than that.

Torres also earned between $120 and $150 an hour representing MPLT. MPLT also retained the King Law Office in 2009 for $150 an hour.

CUC also has maintained in-house and outside attorneys from 2004 to today. Alan Barack raked in over $200,000.  Other CUC attorneys have been or are Katherine Delafield, the Law Offices of Deborah Fisher (Fischer/Huesman), Tim Connor, Joshua Berger and James Sirok.

The following is a breakdown of the attorney's fees paid out by various CNMI government departments  as compiled by Tina Sablan:



Tina Sablan also released the contract between Attorney General Edward Buckingham and Attorney Anthony Long.  Why the CNMI is spending thousands of dollars to defend Buckingham's alleged illegal and unethical behavior begs to be explained.  Complaints concerning the AG's campaign violations related to the last election were made to the Office of the Public Auditor, and Hatch Act violations were filed with the U.S. Special Counsel's Office.

The OPA refused to make their report public.

Contract between Attorney Anthony Long and AG Buckingham:



Hopefully, through the work of Tina Sablan, attorney Mark Hanson and other concerned citizens, changes towards disclosure and open government will be made permanent.

See also this post that summarizes Tina Sablan's OGA requests.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are you telling us that Federal officials in Washington take it personally when challenged?

This is scary.

Imagine how the Feds feel about the hundreds of lawsuits filed by States, Cities, Towns and Citizens across the country each month. Do they personally 'go after' citizens when challenged? You said it yourself that Fed bashing hinders the relationship between the CNMI and Washington.

Anonymous said...

What's scary is your spin. She is not saying officials are offended by the frivolous lawsuit, but it is one more thing that Fitial is known for among many unwise escapades and missteps.

She is saying this governor has no credibility, no ethics, no honesty, no loyalty and no redeeming qualities that would garner him even the littlest amount of respect from anyone in DC. He constantly bashes the feds and even lies about events. He has refused to meet with feds like a spoiled child and then he begs for money. He is the subject of jokes. He is known for being a power hungry, dictatorial bully who has been in bed with crooked garment manufacturers, crooked politicians and crooked lobbyists. He lacks maturity, wisdom, and the ability to see other people's points of view. Wendy is right that the governor needs to change his attitude and behavior, not merely his political party to gain respect.

Anonymous said...

Unless there was an issue with familia or favors, the attorneys should not have been named. Just the amount paid to them. They were hired to do the job they do. Carpenters, Janitors or any other contracted individuals shouldn't be called out. They're hired to do a job and they do it. Question the legitimacy of the expenditure, not of the person doing his or her job.

The Saipan Blogger said...

A lot of the accusations made against the governor's ethics are stereotypes charged against Chamorros as a whole.

Anonymous said...

Gubetna and ethics in the same sentence?

The Saipan Blogger said...

Taxpayer money should all be accounted for. The CNMI doesn't have a CIA or a military, so there are no expenditures that once revealed would threaten national security or the like. People deserve to know how elected officials are spending their money.

Anonymous said...

No, they aren't stereotypes. All Chamorros let prisoners out of jail for a massage, hire criminals, cheat on elections? No way!

Anonymous said...

Accusations made about the Governor's ethics based on stereotypes? The prisoner massages, lies about everything under the sun, the threats to workers, the payoffs, the appointing of political cronies, brazen acts of callousness, ignorance of laws, yelling of epithets out of car windows, mistreatment of good people, squandering of the coffers, etc had no role?

Anonymous said...

If the attorney fees charged to the CNMI government are unreasonable, why not publish the rebate amounts received by all attorneys in the CNMI? These must be disclosed by our government, not only under the Open Government Act, but as a matter of federal law.

“[T]he Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands shall maintain, as a matter of public record, the name and address of each person receiving such a rebate, together with the amount of the rebate, and the year for which such rebate was made.” 48 U.S.C. § 1843(c) (emphasis added); see also Olopai v. De Leon Guerrero, Civ. No. 93-0020 (D.N.M.I. Friday, Sept. 24, 1993) (enforcing tax rebate publication requirement).

Perhaps Tina Sablan’s “puppet” lawyer -- using the term small boat “captain” Carl Brachear so frequently applies to government attorneys -- Mark B. Hanson knows that wholly private-sector practitioners with no government clients generally have been and are making the same or more money.

Why is Hanson participating in the wholesale cover-up of tax rebate amounts over the past five to ten years through the unusual selectivity of his Open Government Act requests? This conspiracy to hide our public records, the CNMI tax rebate amounts since 2000, is a blatant political whitewash!

Shame, shame, Mr. Hanson. How do you sleep at night?

Anonymous said...

7:00 am Okay, so you are one of the attorneys working under the Fitial Administration, huh? So what, you wanted to keep how much you take in a big secret? Too bad. You work for any government and your contract and fees should be public.

How is Hanson participating in a coverup? What is your problem? Where's YOUR OGA request? WHERE? Hanson has some obligation to make every request that every person wants? Write one up and stop whining.

Anonymous said...

Angelo,

You never fail to amaze when it comes to the levels of your stupidity.

Let's me use your logic and apply it to a couple other examples.

The criticisms that Angelo is full of himself, shallow and insecure are stereotypes against all half Caucasian, half Chamorro people as a whole.

And, the accolades that are poured onto Wendy and the great work she puts into this blog are stereotypes of all Americans.

And, the praise given to Tina for speaking out and challenging the status quo is nothing more than stereotypes of all Chamorros as a whole.

How can that be. Are the criticisms of Fitial stereotypes or the praise of Tina?

Your statement is like you, flawed.

Anonymous said...

7:47 am -- typical flawed Hansonite misdirection.

Mark B. Hanson is trying to make the case that the fees paid to attorneys doing work for the people of the Commonwealth are somehow unusually high.

To do so he needs to establish a basis of comparison, such as the rebate received by each attorney in the CNMI, which is a proxy for income.

That burden rests on Mark B. Hanson. I am not his law clerk, nor a CNMI attorney in private practice trying to justify Fitial administration legal service contracts.

Hanson's failure to seek rebate information so as to make a valid comparison does indeed reek of selective data collection and vindictive, self-interested petty politics. What is Mark B. Hanson hiding?!

Bota Kilili Sablan/ Tina Sablan for Governor and Lt. Governor in 2014! Edwin Propst for Delegate! Glen Dale Hunter for Speaker. Angelo Villagomez for Mayor. People's lawyer Mark B. Hanson for AG.

Conscript lawyers for the greater good! Federalize the CNMI bar!

Biba New NMI Democrats! Diego Benavente: HA!

Anonymous said...

noni 10:00am,

typical AGite spin!

also a very sad attempt at establishing a strawman argument.

hanson, sablan, barrineau and hunter are not "trying to make the case that the fees paid to attorneys doing work for the people of the Commonwealth are somehow unusually high".

please point me to the quotes from any of them that ever stated that.

what they are trying to determine is exactly how much has been spent by our cash strapped government in attorney fees over the last few years. in-house, AGO and hired outside counsel. they are also trying to find out what those attorneys were paid to do and what amount they were paid to do it.

once all that data is gathered and made public each citizen can do with it as they so choose and make any educated remarks as they see fit.

so far, i personally am disgusted that we have spent millions of dollars on outside counsel. i don't give a rat's ass how they try and justify it. we have an AGO and an AG that stated that outside counsel should not be used. why then the waste of millions of dollars?

you can pay each outside counsel $5/hr or $500/hr, it doesn't matter. we should not be spending a dime on outside counsel when we can pay for medicine and doctors or any of the staff in the government right now.

take your hogwash and get outta town. you are pathetic.

what are you hiding?

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work Mark and Tina. Don't let up. The people of the Commonwealth need this information. Shine a light on every dark and rotten corner of this corrupt administration.

Anonymous said...

firstly, Angelo is not the sharpest tool in the shed. many of us know that, and are doomed to have to deal with him.

the questions raised by Hanson have nothing to do with rebates. Simply, why is the CNMIK Gov't forking out hundreds of thousands of $$ to contract lawyers instead of hiring more attorneys, which would be cheaper.

I think the answer is that no self-respecting lawyer with a modicum of ethics and morales would ever work for the corrupt Bucky

Wendy said...

Anonymous 7:00

No OGA requests would have to be made if the CNMI government routinely posted every single outside contract and schedule of payments. The leaders use taxpayers dollars to run a secretive and sometimes (too many times) underhanded operation with backdoor deals. Remember Seimer claiming she was a "volunteer?" Not quite. The Governor's Office won't even release the amount of the 56 checks she claimed and what her services were. Are you okay with that? Are the government employees who receive their pay late okay with that? How about the nurses who didn't receive their housing allowances or pay?

If the government were not so wasteful and unorganized, then millions could be saved. I agree that there has to be an accounting of expenditures for legal fees and a total reorganization of the system of providing legal services. The best service could be provided for all government agencies and offices by a smaller number of the most qualified people. Months ago the AG announced that outside counsel wouldn't be hired, but that has not been the case. The CNMI government is tiny, but has huge expenses, compared to some larger local governments in the mainland!

The CNMI coffers are like a bucket with a hole. The OGA requests are acknowledging the hole and trying to fix it. To criticize Tina, Mark or anyone else who is working to improve the government doesn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

No one is questioning fees. They're questioning the contracting of numerous private attorneys when the guvmint is flat broke and can't pay its people or open full time.

The goob above trying to misdirect readers is likely one of the crooks on the hill, or being paid by them.

Tina has taken on the burden for most of the entire community. To disparage her for her good work is obscene.

Anonymous said...

Too bad no one seems to have the ability or courage to request the CNMI tax rebate lists under the Open Government Act and 48 U.S.C. § 1843(c).

Anonymous said...

As for the size and expense of the CNMI OAG, it is considerably smaller than a county counsel’s office and district attorney’s office that together would deal with a similar volume of matters and cases.

When we view the extraordinary political pressure applied on the OAG by the likes of Senator Pete P. Reyes, former Representative Tina Sablan, organized factions of the bar, and some community members as posted on the Marianas Variety blog comments, it is no surprise at all that the OAG has an unusually high turnover and needs to hire outside counsel for continuity purposes so as to achieve effective results for the people.

Conscripting attorneys or trying to evade the laws of supply and demand will not work. We cannot repeal the laws of economics. Passing a law forbidding former AAGs from representing the government for a certain period of time might sound like a good idea, but would be counterproductive in a geographically isolated legal market.

The same misguided officials who make their political careers attacking the OAG have no idea how to solve its problems, and in fact are one of the major causes of its problems. They can’t even get the name of the office right. It’s OAG, not AGO. See 1 CMC § 2151. Zaldy Dandan knows better, but continues to use an incorrect acronym to score points with the rabble who are quick to denounce “problems” and advocate “change” but seldom advocate and support real, workable solutions.

Anonymous said...

"Passing a law forbidding former AAGs from representing the government for a certain period of time might sound like a good idea,"


The law already exists. It is int he ethics law as it stands now. Look it up! Hope you are not an attorney.

And are you kidding me? Pressure applied by Slow and Tina are causing AAGs to flee?

WTF! They need to flee then. What kind of spineless lawyers run from challenges?

As for the AGO/OAG dilemma that constantly has your panties in a bunch, get over it. Who gives a damn. You may want to yell at the AGO staff too. They put AGO on the side of their vehicles. HAR HAR HAR!

Dummy!

Anonymous said...

You are wrong on the law. That is not your fault, because the CNMI is the only state or territory without its statutory codes online.

However, the Office of the Public Auditor summary of the Post Employment Restrictions in the Government Ethics Code makes clear that they apply to representing other parties if they participated personally and substantially in a matter while in office or employment. They say nothing about continuing to represent the CNMI.

http://www.opacnmi.com/content/conflict-interest#post.

Vehicle signage is painted by DPW, not the OAG. The abbreviation “AGO” is also still used by Finance, the Legislature, and was even used at the OAG itself for many years (including still by the current AG) until someone bothered to look up the law.

OAG lawyers are not spineless. They are among the smartest, hardest-working, and most commited to the rule of law people you will find on Saipan. But they won't put up with unlimited abuse. Why should they?

Anonymous said...

9:28 You need to clear the sh#t from between your ears.

Go talk to the Ags. They've been fleeing due to the way that office is being run, and for what they are being asked to do by the goonsquad administration.

Anonymous said...

The uncodified version of the Government Ethics Code Act of 1992 is contained in N.M.I. Public Law 8-11, as amended by N.M.I. Public Law 8-28.

Title One, Commonwealth Code, Section 8443 provides:

Section 8443. Post-Employment Restrictions.

(a) No former public official or public employee shall assist or represent any person other than the Commonwealth in any judicial, legislative, or administrative proceeding involving the Commonwealth or any of its agencies, if the official or employee participated personally and substantially in the proceeding during his term of public office or public employment.

(b) No former public official or public employee shall, for a period of one year after the termination of the official's or employee's term of public office or public employment, assist or represent any person in any business transaction involving the Commonwealth, if the official or employee participated personally and substantially in the subject matter of the transaction during his term of public legal authority[. W]ith respect to a contract this prohibition shall be permanent as to that contract.

1 CMC § 8443 (emphasis added). With respect to litigation or administrative proceedings, representation of the CNMI is expressly exempted, and with respect to transactions, the CNMI is not a person “involved” in transactions with itself. All attorneys who have worked for the CNMI after their employment at the OAG are in full compliance with this law, and the Commonwealth is fortunate to have had their continued services, rather than paying someone else to get up to speed in specialized matters requiring immediate action.

That's why we have an AG, who can decide from a legal perspective whether or not this is a reasonable expenditure of resources on legal work for his client, the Commonwealth. It is easy to second-guess such decisions, but that is why a lawyer is entrusted with such evaluation, not the Legislature or the public.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1:54 PM --

Pete Reyes and Tina Sablan pushed very hard to get Bucky into office. See, e.g., Senate Bill 16-51, SD1, Attorney General Confirmation Act of 2009, vetoed Thur., Aug. 20, 2009. The former to cover up or enable corruption by himself or colleagues, the latter out of misguided constitutionalist idealism about the willingness of qualified lawyers to serve as AG while Governor Fitial leads the government.

“Hon. Edward T. Buckingham: You asked for him; you got him.”

Next up: Joe Camacho? Mike Ernest? Teresa Kim?

How many CNMI Attorneys General in the entire history of the Commonwealth have ever lasted more than three years, other than Hon. Robert C. Naraja (son-in-law of then-Governor De Leon Guerrero)? Why not? Is this AG revolving door normal in any of the 50 states?

Anonymous said...

I was with the AGO for three years, and nobody cared whether we said "AGO" or "OAG," despite the frantic pronouncement of one prissy anonymous commentator who insists that those who use "AGO" are actually "haters" of the Office of the Attorney General. One should never find offense absent an intent to offend.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the CNMI Ethics Code. Let us dust it off.

What of this grand section?:

§ 8544. Negotiating for Nongovernment Employment.

A public official or public employee of the Commonwealth government may not participate through discussion, decision, approval, disapproval, recommendation, the rendering of advice, or otherwise, in a
proceeding, application, request for ruling or other determination, contract, claim, hearing, controversy, investigation, charge, accusation, arrest, any process of legislation, or other matter, the outcome of which will have an effect on the financial interests of an individual or an organization with whom the public official or public employee is discussing, negotiating for, or has an agreement or arrangement for
employment, by contract, retainer, or otherwise."


And your analysis of this great section is incorrect:

SECTION 8543(b):
(b) No former public official or public employee [former AAG] shall, for a period of one year after the termination of the official’s or employee’s term of public office or public employment, assist or represent any person in any business transaction involving the Commonwealth if the official or employee participated personally and substantially in the subject matter of the transaction during his term of public legal authority. With respect to a contract, this prohibition shall be permanent as to that contract.


TRANSLATION: NO AAG SHALL REPRESENT THE COMMONWEALTH FOR A PERIOD OF AT LEAST 12 MONTHS REGARDING CASES THAT THEY WERE WORKING ON WHILE EMPLOYED AS AN AAG.


And here is a section that may apply to a few AAGs who are in partnerships with people who provide representation to the Commonwealth (ie Huesman when AAG and Seimer when a Hearing Officer) :

"SECTION 8539: A public official or public employee shall not have a formal or informal business partnership with a person who provides representation before a Commonwealth governmental entity for a fee or other consideration."

Anonymous said...

I have read no pronouncements, “frantic”, “prissy”, or otherwise, by any commentator who “insists” that those who use “AGO” are actually “haters” of the Office of the Attorney General. Just as “one should never find offense absent an intent to offend”, one should not over-generalize or impute negative motives and characterizations to others or their writings. Stick to facts, not subjective personal attacks.

A few who use the incorrect abbreviation do so for ideological reasons, or out of spite, or to add levity in a stressful situation. Most are more likely to do so to copy what they’ve noticed others say or write, out of habit, through indifference, or because that’s what they’ve read in one of the two local newspapers.

The average citizen doesn’t care any more about OAG v. AGO usage than Capital Hill v. Capitol Hill. But at least one person, Zaldy Dandan, apparently cares deeply, to the extent of writing a 2006 editorial about and restoring the usage of “Capital Hill” in the Marianas Variety, yet repeatedly censoring the OAG abbreviation in reporter quotes and elsewhere in favor of his preferred AGO usage. As to his reasons, only Zaldy can explain. But the official, legal, statutory designation speaks for itself. Office of the Attorney General. 1 CMC § 2151.

What this minor contretemps really signifies is the absolute importance of ending the CNMI’s status as the only U.S. state, territory, or commonwealth whose codified statutes are unavailable online. This unavailability contributes to ignorance of the law and disrespect for the rule of law.

We should not have to depend on lawyers, blog commentators, or newspaper editors to interpret the law for us or tell us what it says. This thread is a perfect example. How can the people of the CNMI be expected to honor, respect, and apply laws they can’t even read for themselves?

The renaissance of CNMI Open Government Act (OGA) requests and possible use of 48 U.S.C. § 1843(c) (“mandatory” publication of CNMI tax rebate list) are only the beginning. What is more important to be made open to the people than our Commonwealth’s own laws?

Wendy said...

Anonymous 6:18

I am mildly dyslexic and mix up numbers, words and letters (especially acronyms), but certainly not intentionally. I appreciate it when people correct me. I don't think it is really important whether people refer to the office as the AGO or OAG except maybe in a formal report because as you pointed out the office is the OAG. What's more important is that people know the meaning.

You are correct the codified statutes should be available online. The CNMI must be one of the few if not only places that they are not.

Anonymous said...

noni 6:18pm,

Did you really spend 4 paragraphs talking about the OAG versus the AGO and not at all touch upon the correction to your improper interpretation of the Ethics Law? Figures.

And no mention of § 8544. Negotiating for Nongovernment Employment .

Not a word about this either, "SECTION 8539: A public official or public employee shall not have a formal or informal business partnership with a person who provides representation before a Commonwealth governmental entity for a fee or other consideration."

Come to think of Joe Camacho may have violated this section as well while he was a seated public official.


I am sure Tina Sablan and other caring people are already working on getting the code online, unlike the AGO who has know of this impediment for decades and has done nothing about it.

I mean even you point out that "absolute importance of ending the CNMI’s status as the only U.S. state, territory, or commonwealth whose codified statutes are unavailable online. I am sure if you were ever at the AGO you would have made it a priority to ensure that the code was posted online and readily available. Because as you further pointed out, "This unavailability contributes to ignorance of the law and disrespect for the rule of law. " No honorable AG or AAG would want that to continue. Would they?

Anonymous said...

I like to consider this period in the CNMI history as the Renaissance of Government Corruption.


The CNMI Open Government Act (OGA) being used is a side effect of the rampant government corruption.

If we weren't dealing with Massage Gate, Parole Gate, Election Gate, Rydlime Gate, ARRA Gate, and so many more Gates along with all of the government cover-ups and under the table dealings in this Renaissance of Government Corruption, than we would not see the OGA being used nearly as much.

The crime, my dear, is the issue not the protection and enforcement against it.

Anonymous said...

noni 2:27 p.m.,

The improper interpretation of 1 CMC § 8543(b) set forth above -- ignoring the plain meaning of 1 CMC § 8543(a) and advancing an untenable theory wholly at odds with the Rule of Lenity -- requires no rebuttal whatsoever. The real truth is readily apparent to any lawyer or educated person who reads the law helpfully linked to above and helpfully corrected with the proper codified section citation (§ 8543 vice § 8443 as enacted) by yourself.

Likewise, unfounded speculation concerning spousal relationships and privileges is of little moment and unworthy of comment.

I am sure Tina Sablan and other caring people are already working on getting the code online, unlike the [OAG] who has know (sic) of this impediment for decades and has done nothing about it.

Given the age of the internet I doubt any state has had its code online “for decades,” but I sincerely pray for and wish her and every caring person success in this endeavor.

Absent any change in CNMI law mandating such action, the decision whether or not to publish the Commonwealth Code online falls to the Law Revision Commission (LRC). The five member LRC consists of the Chief Justice, Chair of the Senate Judiciary & Gov’t Operations Committee, Chair of the Senate Judiciary & Gov’t Operations Committee, the Attorney General, and a CNMI Bar Association representative (Bruce L. Mailman for more than a decade).

Checking the LRC minutes reveals that a motion was made by the Acting AG on 15 April 2009 to publish the Commonwealth Code online, but voted down 4 to 1. The principal reason for opposition is cost. The LRC has a “revolving fund” for publications, paid for by the sale of its various books to lawyers and law libraries. If lawyers and the public could get the Commonwealth Code online for free, they wouldn’t buy as many books, leaving no money to publish new ones, bringing the work of the LRC to a halt. The estimated monetary loss would be $100,000 per year, requiring additional appropriations to the LRC in that amount annually, a tough sell during these hard economic times.

A possible unstated reason for opposition is that if the Commonwealth Code were online, fewer people might consult attorneys.

Other than convincing the two legislative members and the AG to vote for online publication, another method would be if U.S. Department of Justice Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (a major source of Criminal Justice Planning Agency funding) to a state or territory were conditioned on that state or territory having its code online. Such a requirement would have no negative effect on any other state, territory, or commonwealth because they are already complying. Given the hundreds of thousands of dollars of DoJ Byrne JAG funding the CNMI receives annually, the Commonwealth would most likely comply with this unfunded mandate.

This sort of pressure would require the passage of a bill in Congress, perhaps introduced by our Delegate.

Anonymous said...

Internet has been publicly available here since 1994. Nearly two decades.

Anonymous said...

noni 6:30am,

"a motion was made by the Acting AG on 15 April 2009 to publish the Commonwealth Code online, "

Interesting how Baka believes in the "absolute importance of ending the CNMI’s status as the only U.S. state, territory, or commonwealth whose codified statutes are unavailable online." and that its "unavailability contributes to ignorance of the law and disrespect for the rule of law" yet he made one stinking motion about it at an LRC meeting.

Seems like if he would have put as much effort into it as he does into posting comments on blogs it would have been online already.

As the other poster mentioned, the internet has been around for decades.

The AGO has digital copies of the Code and gets them updated frequently. The AGO also has a website http://www.cnmiAGO.gov.mp/ (hahaha AGO in the web address. DPW must update their site too :D ) . Not rocket science to put the two together and VIOLA - CODE ONLINE and immediately we are no longer contributing to ignorance of the law and disrespect for the rule of law.

Wow. Such importance in the mind of Baka and it didn't warrant more than a mention at an LRC meeting. No follow-up, no letter to the editor, no note to Benny, nothing but a small mention in the LRC minutes from 2009.

Anonymous said...

Numerous CNMI websites had posted copies of certain statutes or regulations online, such as laws pertaining customs and taxes by the Department of Finance.

They were all forced to remove them by cease and desist letters from LRC Executive Director Heather L. Kennedy at the direction of the Chief Justice, under threat of federal copyright litigation that most likely would have succeeded. The entire cabinet would have been aware of these letters.

At that point in time the legislature was actively using the OAG as a proxy for attacks on the governor in connection with the ongoing and upcoming gubernatorial and legislative election campaigns, in particular, Senate President Pete P. Reyes. and Rep. Tina Sablan. There were also funding disputes between the judicial and executive branches of government, and the judiciary was threatening professional sanctions against OAG attorneys arising out of the lack of adequate resources for the OAG to accomplish its mission. Unduly antagonizing members of the judiciary can do a disservice to one's clients.

There is a time and place for everything. Rather than complain or speculate why others haven’t done something, if you are in a position to act, do so. Otherwise, speak out in support, as I am doing here on Wendy’s blog, which is a public service by her for all caring people.

(P.S. There are duplicate copies above of the comment of Jan 21 at 11:08 a.m.)