September 27, 2005
Well runs dry for USGS program
Faced with a lack of funding, the U.S. Geological Survey’s cooperative program in the CNMI may have to end this year. In a recent letter to USGS Hawaii office, Lt. Gov. and CNMI Water Task Force chair Diego T. Benavente said that the local government failed to secure funding for the program. “This is to regretfully inform your office that the CNMI is unable to secure the funding necessary to sustain USGS operations in the CNMI for the rest of the calendar year,” said Benavente in an Aug. 18, 2005 letter to Gordon W. Tribble, USGS Pacific Islands Water Science Center director. Benavente said that the Water Task Force has been in contact with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Insular Affairs for funding opportunities for the USGS program.
Anatahan volcano starts to wake up
After a temporarily lull early this month, Anatahan’s volcano is again showing signs of activity, with long-period earthquakes occurring, albeit sparsely. The volcanic earthquakes indicate magmatic movement that may lead to another eruption. The Emergency Management Office and the U.S. Geological Survey said in a recent report, however, that tremor levels have been low, a few percent of peak levels recorded in June. While the volcano emitted no significant ash this month, there were at least three periods of elevated tremors on Sept. 15, 16 and 19.
September 27, 2006
3 airlines oppose petition
Three U.S. air carriers—Continental Micronesia, Northwest Airlines, and United Airlines—have opposed the CNMI’s petition with the U.S. Department of Transportation to grant Japanese, Chinese, and Australian airlines unilateral access to the CNMI, warning that it would “jeopardize” ongoing U.S. negotiations with these countries. Continental Airlines and Continental Micronesia, in a written testimony submitted to the department on Aug. 31, said they support certain parts of the CNMI’s air expansion program, particularly its request for foreign air carriers to provide the same expanded services to Saipan, Tinian, and Rota that the department has tentatively decided to permit for Guam services. But Continental said it “strongly opposes the CNMI’s request to give way to all Chinese and Japanese airlines and to Australian combination airlines rights [that] those countries refuse to give U.S. airlines.”
OPA: Private sector will lead NMI-wide jobs audit
Businesses that have a history of hiring local workers, rather than the CNMI government, will head the Commonwealth-wide private sector jobs audit, according to Public Auditor Michael Sablan.In an interview yesterday, Sablan said that about a dozen employers would be part of the audit, which seeks to identify private sector jobs currently held by foreign workers that can be filled by residents. These businesses include Pacific Telecom Inc., Joeten Group, DFS Galleria, Tan Holdings Corp., Pacific Trading Co., Triple J, Hyatt Regency Saipan, Pacific Islands Club, World Resort Saipan, Aqua Resort Club, and Shell Marianas.
September 27, 2007
No new budget by Monday
With just three days left in fiscal year 2007 and no appropriations bill at the Governor’s Office, the CNMI government will continue operating under the current budget beginning Oct. 1. The government will follow the amended FY 2007 budget law, which set a spending limit of $163.5 million. This is about $2 million higher than the available resources identified in the governor’s new budget plan.
Casino investor promotes Tinian condo in China
Bridge Investment Group has begun promoting its condominium project in China with the help of a Beijing-based real estate marketing firm. Phillip Mendiola-Long, executive vice president of Bridge Investment, reported in a news release that the casino investment group and some Tinian officials held a press conference in Beijing on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2007. At the media event, Mayor Jose P. San Nicolas, Rep. Edwin P. Aldan, and municipal council members helped announce the official offering of Tinian condo units in China.