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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Flores finally names Camacho acting mayor—with limits

By JAYSON CAMACHO
jayson_camacho@saipantribune.com
Reporter


After months of defiance, Saipan Mayor Donald G. Flores finally complied with a local law that requires him to name the chairman of the Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council as acting mayor whenever he goes off island.

Yet in his Feb. 5 memorandum appointing Ramon B. Camacho as acting mayor, Flores enumerated limits on Camacho’s power and authority, including instructions that he should not interfere in projects being done by the Saipan Mayor’s Office staff.

Flores is on official business outside of Saipan from Feb. 6, 2014, to Feb. 11, 2014.

Among Flores’ instructions to Camacho is that, “My office is not available to you. Please conduct your business in your own Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council office.”

When asked for comments yesterday, Camacho said, “I’m glad he followed the law.”

As for the limitations imposed on him by Flores, Camacho said, “I don’t [consider] that as an obstacle to performing as an acting mayor.”

It will be recalled that Flores had defied Saipan Local Law 17-08 that mandates him to appoint the chairman of the Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council as acting mayor whenever he is off island. In previous instances, he would designate an officer-in-charge whenever he was physically outside the CNMI.

Back in October 2013, Flores told Saipan Tribune that his office was created by the Constitution and that “we follow Commonwealth law.” SLL 17-08 is a local law. He had argued that the only thing that can change the mandate of his office is through constitutional convention or popular initiative.

The Office of Attorney General had warned Flores in 2013 that if he continues violating SLL 17-08, he would face as much as a year in prison and fined $1,000. After that warning, Flores hasn’t left the island since and his trip this week is his first in awhile.

Flores stated in his memo appointing Camacho that its purpose is to define the limits of Camacho’s appointment. He also wants to be clear that the appointment is limited, in addition to those limitations set out in SLL 17-08.

He told Camacho that he has assigned various projects for his staff to work on in his absence and that Camacho should not interfere with the performance of those projects.

“You may not assign additional projects during the period my staff are performing the projects I have assigned them,” he said in the memo.

Camacho is also barred from making any commitments or obligating the mayor’s office to perform “any promises you make.”

Camacho has expressed an intention to run for mayor of Saipan in the upcoming November elections.

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