Newly installed Gov. Eloy S. Inos said yesterday that there will be changes in the Cabinet, which is currently under performance review. The announcements will come at a later date, however. As with any administration and in any jurisdiction, the chief executive gets to select his own Cabinet.
At the same time, Inos said former governor Benigno R. Fitial's nominations submitted to the Senate for their advice and consent remains the property of the Senate unless withdrawn by the administration.
Inos said the Senate will be “busy hearing appointees because we will start filling these vacancies.”
Among Fitial's nominations that are pending Senate confirmation include Superior Court Associate Judge Perry B. Inos to serve as associate justice of the NMI Supreme Court and Pete Itibus as Department of Public Lands secretary.
While he could change Cabinet secretaries and commissioners, Inos said positions below that such as deputy commissioners will be up to the agency heads.
Inos and Lt. Gov. Jude U. Hofschneider convened Cabinet secretaries and directors for the first time yesterday at the Emergency Operations Center on Capital Hill.
Both were sworn in on Wednesday, hours after Fitial resigned barely two weeks before the start of his impeachment trial. The House impeached Fitial on 18 charges of corruption, felony, and neglect of duty.
Attorney General Patrick San Nicolas, among those in attendance, told reporters that the purpose of the meeting was to introduce the Cabinet members to the new lieutenant governor and Hofschneider.
Minutes later, this was echoed by the new governor when he and Hofschneider emerged from the building.
Inos and Hofschneider met not only with department heads but also division directors and special assistants, something that the governor wants to do at least every other month.
The governor said they asked for reports from each agency covering the last 12 months, listing their accomplishments as well as their goals for the next year to “establish a baseline performance.”
He said the administration will prioritize projects.
“So I think we're off to a good start,” he said, adding that the only thing he now has to get used to is being called “governor.” He said when some people called him such, he didn't realize they were calling him but when he's called “L.T.,” he responds.
Inos, the lieutenant governor during most of Fitial's term as governor, said U.S. Interior's Office of Insular Affairs Director Nik Pula was among the first to congratulate him on his new post. He said his office will also be officially notifying regional and national governors about the change in leadership in the CNMI.