CUC: Messy utility agency

The lack of institutional history of efforts taken years ago to strengthen the utility agency has resulted in déjà vu or repeat of the same errors, time and again.

More than a decade ago, the U.S. Office of Territorial Affairs recommended placing a requirement for the CEO of CUC. Legislators saw its importance and approved it into law. It also slammed CUC’s ugly chapter on key people who’ve turned aggrandizement into an art.

The fix set the path for the utility agency to be financially self-sustaining after five years.

But politicians aren’t sure what to make of it. There was issued an “emergency” by the Fitial Administration to tinker with the operations of CUC.

The insatiable appetite by politicians to turn it into simple employment agency prevailed. Thus more incompetent people were hired to the delight of airheads. In the process, strengthening the agency took tertiary consideration.

Interesting Raffy’s request to Interior to forego the CEO qualification requirement listed under the consent decree. He literally ensured incompetency of the utility agency at ratepayers’ expense.

In the process, ratepayers would be saddled with quadruple taxation to meet CUC’s bloated payroll.

Thus, the OPA report simply failed to insert institutional information all must know so the utility agency is strengthened and not left at the mercy of the “unthinking few.” Political interference is the seed of corruption and ratepayers must say their piece now to ensure the NMI remains a government of laws.

Saluting 68AndMe: Waking up to the break of dawn yesterday morning, I knew the number 68 has descended on this son of Metformin. It was time for some reflection of a long journey meeting the number representing pomp and circumstance 49 years ago.

I woke up humming the melodic and patriotic song, “America The Beautiful.” It was a song mom hums on long dark nights when wind driven rain knocks off power island-wide.

Vision: I was attached to the melody and kept it in memory through the years. I think it is the visionary aspect of it where I find hope and confidence in what lies ahead. It says in part, “O beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years.” It speaks of vision of our country founded on an idea.

In brief, I’m ever grateful for my freedom. I can’t imagine waking up to huge brown sand with exhausted, dehydrated and hungry kids in a war torn country. Imagine staring hopelessness that is simultaneously a walk-in living cemetery. It’s life in the Middle East and North Korea. It’s peaceful here and grateful for all my blessings.

Brotherhood: The other stanza says “…and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.” It encourages the fostering of harmony in the rainbow of colors and people to make life better than it was yesterday. There’s that opportunity for one and all. It’s about patriotism!

It has been a rewarding journey and have enjoyed meeting with you on this corner of the paper. I may have stepped on your gangrened toes but it’s all about the truth, nothing less. I have donned the role as guardian of the public conscience from the tyranny of the unscrupulous few. Not ready to embrace willful blindness. It’s 68AndMe!


Need for think tanks
Magoo was all ears as we discussed the need for think tanks or a research and development center in the NMI. He was excited and wanted an explanation of their benefits forthwith.

A policy research institute or research and development center is needed in the islands to ensure issues are translated into policy with depth and accuracy.

“Think tanks subscribe to, and the best adhere to, the intellectual virtues of reasoned inquiry and debate, openness to diverse views, and high standards of evidence, argument, and civility.

“Walk in the door, ask about global warming or tax reform or Taiwan, and you will get a polished, highly-informed position—but one intended to advance discussion, not shut it down.

Here at home, the usual habit of taking wild swings whimsically must slowly fade into the swampland of ignorance and parked there permanently.

Researched materials give policymakers, planners and businessmen the depth to understand issues before policies are made to enhance life in the islands. Shortsightedness ought to be a thing of the past. The shallowness of policies today is a tale of the dire need for these services.

Magoo wanted simple examples of the benefits of the work of one or the other. Said he, “Explain it to me so I understand why we need research materials for policies and all in the islands”.

“Let’s take salaries that have remained the same for over 20 years,” offered Lia. “W need to study what forced wages and salaries to remain stagnant this long. Was it the exit of investments? What were the underlying causes of such phenomena? Why did we toy around with a superbly mature economy like Japan? Has the NMI recovered the loss of $12 billion worth of investment losses?”

Magoo listened intently then asked: “Then what has the elected officials here done to revive investments beyond ‘temperamental’ ones we never planned for?”

Lia chuckled and said, “The utility agency’s finances are in shambles not to mention inadequate funds for PSS and CHC. Must show responsibility and accountability managing scare resources to strengthen our spouts about self-government.”

Said Magoo, “And we are cursed with a very protracted system of government in what’s known as democracy!” Indeed, it’s slow machinery especially if we leave things with the usual attitude, “Leave It To Beaver”. I was yawning by the time the discussion came to an inconclusive ending. In agreement though that one of the two institutions is a must in policymaking.

John S. Del Rosario Jr. | Contributing Author
John DelRosario Jr. is a former publisher of the Saipan Tribune and a former secretary of the Department of Public Lands.

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