August 15, 2005
’Fall hazards, poor water quality’
Fall hazards and poor water quality remain the major challenges in occupational health and safety in the Commonwealth, according to a visiting U.S. Department of Labor official. Frank Strasheim, administrator of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Region 9, said that the federal agency, in inspections conducted locally, found most of the serious hazards in the construction industry. The general industry, which includes hotels and small businesses, continue to be burdened by water contamination and electrical hazards. But despite these problems, local businesses have shown a great deal of improvement in complying with workplace safety and health requirements, Strasheim observed.
Arrivals from top NMI markets drop
Due to reduced airline seats capacity, visitor arrivals from the top three tourism markets of the Northern Marianas declined last month, compared with the same month last year. Arrivals from Japan fell by 2.28 percent, from 32,037 visitors in July 2004 to 31,306 in July 2005. The Marianas Visitors Authority attributed this to the continuing impact of the decline in airline seats capacity from the Kanto region, the largest market segment covering areas such as Tokyo, Narita, and Chiba. Kanto recorded a decline of 13 percent in arrivals in July 2005, compared with July 2004. The situation is expected to worsen when Japan Airlines ceases to operate its regular, scheduled flights to Saipan effective Oct. 4.
August 15, 2006
CPA: Taga Air still flying
Taga Air planes continue to transport passengers between Saipan and Tinian, said the Commonwealth Ports Authority yesterday. CPA acting executive director Reno Celis said that the Federal Aviation Administration has not issued any notice against Taga Air after one of its aircraft crashed Friday. The seven-seater plane crashed on Saipan a minute after it took off en route to Tinian at dawn Friday, injuring all seven passengers aboard. “They [Taga Air] are still flying on chartered basis. We received no memo from FAA to that effect [grounding of Taga Air],” said Celis in an interview yesterday.
Senate passes own version of budget
The Senate passed on Friday its version of the fiscal year 2007 budget, which earmarks funds for government utility expenses, cuts the Department of Public Lands’ funding, and addresses retirement contribution issues. Members of the Senate held a marathon session until 9pm Friday to approve its substitute to the version approved by the House of Representatives. The budget bill now goes back to the Lower House for approval of the amendments. The Senate seeks to preserve the $193.5-million budget ceiling for the CNMI government. However, the latest budget version raises the allocation for personnel to $130.8 million, increasing it by nearly $260,000. It also sets aside $13.2 million for utility expenses from the $62.7 million operating funds.
August 15, 2007
High Court ground zero for field hearing
All eyes and ears will be on the U.S. House field hearing on the NMI immigration bill this morning. The House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, led by U.S. Virgin Islands Rep. Donna Christensen, will conduct the hearing at 9am in the Guma Hustisia in Susupe, Saipan. The door will open 15 minutes before the hearing. Seating for the public will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Christensen and Guam Rep. Madeleine Bordallo arrived Monday night from Guam, where the subcommittee held a hearing on the planned military buildup in the U.S. territory.
Congressional staff inspects power plant
The U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources responded with action to testimony it received in April from Washington Representative Pete A. Tenorio by dispatching to Saipan a staffer who toured yesterday the power plant operated by the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. U.S. congressional staffer Steve Feldgus, Ph.D, arrived at Saipan’s failing power plant Tuesday afternoon, along with Tenorio, to view first-hand the energy scene in the Commonwealth. According to Tenorio’s staff, members on the House Energy Subcommittee want to know how Big Oil prices are affecting people in the Commonwealth.