July 23, 2001
Lower retirement age mulled
A proposed bill is now in the works at the House of Representatives that aims to amend certain provisions of the Commonwealth’s retirement law, particularly the lowering of the retirement age to 55 and increasing member contributions to 10 percent. In addition, the amendatory bill, which is still being drafted by Rep. Rosiky F. Camacho, also seeks to redefine the requirements for crediting prior service for Class I members and readjusts the annual annuity of members. According to Northern Mariana Islands Retirement Fund administrator Juan S. Torres, Camacho’s bill will be the House counterpart to Senate Bill 12-15-introduced by Sen. Ramon S. Guerrero-which aims “to improve the retirement benefits and the conditions for retirement for Class I members of the CNMI Retirement Fund.”
Bidder takes hands off in landfill case
Pacific Drilling, Ltd., a partner of the leading consortium in the Marpi landfill bidding, does not want to meddle with the on-going litigation filed by its competitor against Public Works Secretary Juan B. Cepeda and Procurement and Supply Director Herman S. Sablan. "Let the government handle it," PDL general manager Ravindra Gogineni said in a telephone interview. He said PDL and its partner, Dick Pacific Corporation, is not involved in the lawsuit filed by its competitor, the joint venture of Western Equipment, Inc. and DRC Pacific Corporation. The legal action, which was docketed as civil case no. 01-0386 C, seeks to stop Cepeda and Sablan, in their capacities as public officials, from awarding the multi-million dollar contract for the Marpi Solid Waste Facility to DPC-PDL.
July 23, 2003
Fuel found in water well
Representatives from the Division of Environmental Quality unearthed at least two gallons of fuel from a water well in Koblerville, which they believe to be part of the military’s airfield during World War II. The DEQ sipped the fuel from the 180-foot deep KV1 well in a two-day experiment to assess the current situation at the well. DEQ environmental planner Ray Masga said the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. drilled KV1 as an exploratory well in 1992. CUC discovered that the underground water is contaminated with fuel. “We don’t know how the [fuel] product ended on the ground,” Masga said. Local officials suspect, though, that the contamination was associated with military activities during the war, he added.
House passes 6th version of prison bill
With little time to mourn the death of House Bill 13-306, which was defeated yesterday at the Senate, the House of Representatives hoisted another prison financing measure-the sixth-that identifies funding for the Rota and Tinian dialysis centers, in addition to the prison completion. The lower house wasted no time in passing H.B. 13-317, introduced by Rep. Arnold I. Palacios and co-sponsored by Rota Rep. Daniel O. Quitugua and Tinian Rep. Norman Palacios. HB 13-306 met its death in the upper house after the Senate leadership inserted amendments that reflected additional appropriations for Rota and Tinian public health projects amounting to $2 million.
July 23, 2004
Teacher rep supports PRAXIS testing
Teacher representative Ambrose M. Bennett expressed disappointment yesterday over the Board of Education’s decision to start requiring teachers to take the PRAXIS test-an exam required by some states as a measure of competence. Bennett stressed that he supports the testing but added that certain scenarios “may” be raised due to the lack of consideration for teachers. “I’m for the testing, but teachers deserve the right to have some input before a final approval,” Bennett said in a letter to the Board. “With PRAXIS testing not being a requirement under the present teacher contract, there could be some opposition to the testing being forced on teachers.”
$200K needed for high school interscholastic sports
The Public School System recently asked for the governor’s help in funding an after-school sports program in the Commonwealth. The PSS said it needs a total $200,000 to fund the Interscholastic Sports Program for the five high schools in the CNMI. Education Commissioner Rita H. Inos disclosed in a statement that the money for the program could not be taken from either the Safe and Drug Free Program or Title V U.S. Department of Education federal funds, or even the annual local appropriation to the PSS.