Mar. 11, 2004
PSS wants its money back
The Public School System wants to get back any of its unused money from the Office of the Public Auditor in light of its serious need for funding. Board of Education chairman Roman C. Benavente said the board will discuss the issue in today’s meeting. “We’re looking at the possibility. If that’s allowed, then we want to get any unused money we have from OPA because we have several funding needs,” said Benavente. Under the law, PSS, like all other government agencies, is required to remit 1 percent of its operations budget every year to OPA to cover audit costs. Earlier, PSS had argued that the mandated OPA deduction be computed against the agency’s net budget, not the gross amount of $37.2 million.
House recalls $400K measure for road project
The House of Representatives yesterday recalled a $400,000-infrastructure projects bill so the money could be returned to the Precinct 2 water reservoir project, at the prodding of the Water Task Force Chairman, Lt. Gov. Diego T. Benavente. Benavente lobbied Legislature members to return the money to the water infrastructure project, stressing that the reservoir is a vital part in resolving the island’s perpetual water woes, particularly in the Chalan Kanoa and Susupe areas. House Bill 14-51, which saw passage last week, had reappropriated exactly $300,000 for Precinct 4 road improvements and $100,000 for the renovation of the Susupe Beach Park in Precinct 2.
Mar 11, 2005
Bill penalizing govt for late payments defeated
With only seven “yes” votes from the House leadership, a bill that aims to penalize the government if it fails to settle debts owed to vendors after 60 days was defeated during Wednesday’s session. House Bill 14-290, or the Government Prompt Payment proposal authored by Vice Speaker Timothy Villagomez, was rejected by nine lawmakers-the entire minority bloc plus leadership member Janet Maratita. Another leadership member, Tinian congressman Norman S. Palacios, abstained. Prior to voting, minority bloc Rep. Heinz S. Hofschneider said the bill “is redundant and not really necessary.” “Finance is the trustee of funds under the Constitution, not the agencies, so this bill only adds another complication,” said Hofschneider.
High Court affirms $350K judgment vs tour firm
The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a tour company and one of its employees that sought to avoid paying over $350,000 in damages owed to two traffic accident victims. In its March 8 decision, the Supreme Court upheld a Superior Court decision ordering STS Enterprises Inc. and Joseph Anthony Rasa to pay Christine E. Santos and her son Carlos $355,577.17 in economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. “We find no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s admission of Rasa’s testimony that he tested positive for marijuana the day after the accident and no error in the court’s decision allowing the issue of punitive damages to go to the jury. We further find that the amount of punitive damages awarded by the jury was not excessive under the circumstances,” associate justices Alexandro C. Castro and John A. Manglona said.
Mar. 11, 2006
Casino industry on a roll
The Fitial administration will sign an agreement for a fourth casino investment on Tinian next week, the governor announced yesterday. Gov. Benigno R. Fitial also said that the administration has found a fifth investor that could take the final casino license that the gaming commission was allowed to grant under the Tinian gaming control act. According to the governor, the CNMI government and Baltimore-based Cordish Company will sign the memorandum of agreement next week. Cordish is reportedly looking to build a casino and golf course on Tinian. The minimum investment amount is about $200 million.
Hotel investor eyeing Hopwood lot
An international luxury hotel company wants to use the Hopwood Junior High School property as the location of a new hotel on Saipan. Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, who met with businessmen in Japan last week, reported that Okura Hotels and Resorts is eyeing Hopwood as the site for its new hotel. “They [Okura] have been eyeing the Hopwood property since 12-13 years ago. But I don’t have a place to relocate Hopwood,” Fitial said. “We could relocate Hopwood to Koblerville, but then it would be very close to Saipan Southern High School.” Fitial added, however, that the planned relocation would not be done without proper consultation with Hopwood personnel and the parents of students at the middle school.