A staunch supporter and dubbed the son of Commonwealth retirees described the temporary restraining order imposed on Gov. Benigno R. Fitial's emergency declaration along with the stay being lifted in federal court case as a “huge” step in turning the NMI Retirement Fund around.
Glen Hunter posted this comment on the retirees' blog Friday when the U.S. District Court for the NMI judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood issued a TRO that prohibits Fitial from enforcing an executive order declaring a state of emergency for the financially troubled agency.
“The TRO that has been imposed on Fitial's emergency order along with the stay being lifted in the federal court case are huge steps in perhaps turning the NMIRF around,” Hunter said in his message to the retirees.
Hunter said he had high hopes for the Fund moving forward with federal oversight, but still worry about the shenanigans occurring with some recent legislation and the potential harm that may be inflicted by a mass withdrawal of NMIRF funds.
“With proper federal oversight moves such as these can be appropriately weighed. At the moment they are being volleyed around lightly and the true potential fiscal impacts are not truly known,” said Hunter, referring to a pending bill that authorizes active members to withdraw contributions without resigning from government position.
Hunter said he was grateful to the U.S. District Court for the NMI judge Tydingco-Gatewood for her quick decision-making and what he described as a “true concern for the well-being of the Fund members.” He is hopeful that with support from Judge Kenneth Govendo for federal intervention, retirees can finally see the first light of progress in rehabilitating the Fund.
Hunter is also grateful to attorneys of Roe/Doe namely Bruce Jorgensen, Steve Woodruff, Margery Bronster, and Robert Hatch for a job well done for the retirees.
“They have been on the side of the Defined Benefit Plan members for the past years. They have been fighting in federal court to protect the Fund assets and effectuate collection efforts of the default judgment against the CNMI government. They have been doing and admirable job along the way despite the many obstacles that they have encountered from both the central government and the NMIRF,” he said.
Hunter said the aforementioned lawyers are the only ones that stepped up to the plate and did the legal work needed to file a TRO to stop the disastrous emergency declaration issued by the governor. He added that while millions upon millions of Fund dollars and taxpayer money have gone to government attorneys and Fund counsel over the years, these Roe/Doe attorneys “have not been fattened by chewing at the carcass that the NMIRF is becoming.”
“While this is just another of the many battles that they have been fighting over the years, it was one of the more monumental ones. Should they have lost this battle the NMIRF in effect would have been eviscerated and full power and control over the NMIRF assets would have fallen into Mr. Fitial's hands. That in my opinion is one of the worst scenarios imaginable,” he added.