Mar. 4, 2005
Commerce director terminated
Commerce director Jesus Muna said yesterday that he has been terminated without cause after he aligned himself with the Covenant Party. “I have no doubt in my mind that I was terminated for political reasons. It’s all politics,” said Muna, the head of Commerce’s Alcohol, Beverage, and Tobacco Control Division, in a news briefing held yesterday at the Covenant Party’s headquarters on Middle Road. Muna said he had supported the Republican Party in the past but due to his dissatisfaction with the Babauta administration, he chose to join the opposition. He said rumors about his termination circulated in the department shortly after he was reported to have accepted the post as Precinct 1 chairman for the Covenant in January.
’NMI govt still has right over marine resources’
Despite losing an appeal asserting ownership of the Northern Marianas’ submerged lands, the Commonwealth government still retains the power to enforce regulations that prohibit the taking of marine resources from designated sanctuaries. The Superior Court has ruled that the CNMI government could regulate the taking of marine resources regardless of the outcome on the dispute over the ownership of submerged lands, saying that regulation is a matter of self-government. The court also ruled that Public Law 12-46, which designated certain areas as marine sanctuaries, is not related to the CNMI’s claim to some 264,000-square miles of submerged lands in the Northern Marianas.
Mar. 4, 2006
Over-the-cap request withdrawn
The Fitial administration has formally withdrawn a request for an over-the-cap salary for one of its appointees. Linda T. Cabrera, special assistant for programs and legislative review, wrote the Legislature to recall a Feb. 14, 2006, letter sent by then acting Gov. Timothy P. Villagomez asking the lawmakers to certify an over-the-ceiling salary for John P. Del Rosario Jr. Del Rosario is the governor’s senior policy adviser. He has also been appointed to serve as the interim secretary of the Department of Public Lands, which replaces the newly abolished Marianas Public Lands Authority.
AG clarifies med referral staff issues
The Attorney General’s Office has clarified the responsibility and authority of liaison officers with respect to Department of Public Health staff assigned to the medical referral programs in Hawaii and Guam. According to Attorney General Matthew T. Gregory, liaison officers have no statutory authority over the medical referral program. Their duties are limited to assisting the governor in executing CNMI laws, regulations and policies regarding off-island medical referrals, student assistance, and other matters. “[But] it is the Department of Public Health that has established and administers the medical referral program,” Gregory said in a legal opinion issued at the request of the Office of Personnel Management.
Mar. 4, 2008
Pula: OIA budget plan fortifies private sector
The proposed budget for the U.S. Office of Insular Affairs will support private sector development in the insular areas, according to the lead official for Washington’s relationships with U.S. territories and freely associated states. Nikolao Pula, the acting deputy assistant secretary of insular affairs, recently told a congressional hearing that OIA’s FY2009 budget request will “continue efforts to promote economic sustainability throughout the territories and freely associated states.” OIA administers, on behalf of the Interior secretary, the federal government’s relationship with the territories of Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the CNMI.
Ban sought vs smoking in public places in NMI
Smoking may be banned in restaurants, bars, and workplaces in the Northern Marianas under a bill that has been introduced in the House of Representatives. House Bill 16-47, sponsored by Rep. Justo S. Quitugua, proposes to make public places smoke-free. Exemptions include open-air bars, hotel rooms, and outdoor jobsites. In his 14-page bill, Quitugua cites a long list of studies concerning ill health effects of secondhand smoke. He also says analyses have shown a link between a smoking ban and the profitability of restaurants and hotels.