An Official State of Emergency at Commonwealth Health Center

March 6, 2012

Governor Fitial has returned from his almost month-long trip to the U.S. and has declared a "state of emergency" for CUC through executive Order 2012-02.  The declaration gives the governor the power to:
1.Enter into a loan agreement among the Commonwealth, CRC and MPLT; and

2. Suspend all statutory or regulatory provisions as required; and

3. The reprogramming of funds necessary to meet this emergency.
As the declaration states, the state of the CHC is an "impending disaster". What it doesn't state that it is another needless CNMI disaster that could have been prevented or stopped. It is a disaster because of lack of planning, fiscal irresponsibility and years of neglect at that institution. The hospital failed to send out and collect bills in a timely manner so, of course, there is no revenue.  An infusion of funds will not cure this mess. It will continue as long as there is corruption and nepotism and excuses are made for every failure from not paying the staff to irresponsible management.

The governor should have just declared the entire CNMI a "state of emergency" because, in fact, it is. The retirement system is near total collapse; the Commonwealth Utility Corporation is barely surviving; the Department of Public Safety is unable to solve the ever-growing number of crimes; and there is illegal activity in federally funded offices. The Public School System has been shutting off the power even when students are in the classrooms (in sweltering tropical heat) to save money. Yesterday it as announced that the Commissioner of Education will close all schools because CUC will disconnect the power for nonpayment of bills.

As news of the unstable and unsafe conditions in the CNMI spreads, more tourists will stay away from the CNMI, opting to select safer, more stable and more attractive destinations for their vacation. Even the foreign tourists who go to the CNMI to give birth to their babies so that they will have U.S. citizenship, will most likely think twice about delivering a child at a hospital that is in a "state of emergency".

There is no indication that the elected officials have the desire or ability to address any of the problems. As the revenue shrinks to near bankrupt limits, no bills have been introduced to impose a property, sales or income tax and the pot only grows smaller. This emergency will likely fall into the CNMI's typical pattern –mess up, destroy and then beg Uncle Sam and the American taxpayers to pay for fixing the mess.