I have stopped being shocked at how elected government officials in the CNMI do questionable acts and get away with it. For example, how is it that the governor can just make up rules because he feels like it…and apparently get away with it? According to almost anyone you ask, the governor created the policy/rule that allows for Cabinet members to be paid overtime. By definition, they are exempt employees. Yet there is a whole list of Cabinet members receiving what’s being called “overtime” compensation. In a television news interview on April 17, 2019, Virginia Villagomez implied that these people were “first responders.” Seriously? She also said that the overtime money came from the general fund. She made no mention of the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA reimbursement, one of the stories being passed around to justify where this money is coming from.
Another question I have is how is it that the governor can in one breath talk about the prosperity of the Commonwealth and not even six months later put in place austerity measures because of economic shortfalls? And apparently get away with it.
In November, 2018, according to the governor, the CNMI was flush, there was plenty of money. Ask anybody! Today, less than six months later, the Commonwealth is broke; legislators can’t even pay their staff. Austerity measures are in place with more being planned. Yet, the Commonwealth can pay “overtime” to Cabinet members. It’s interesting how that works.
And those same legislators who can’t get their staffs paid are ultimately responsible for the fiscal wellbeing of the CNMI. But they can’t get the information needed to do their jobs. This leads me to think that they may not actually know what their jobs are. Perhaps, they need to go back to high school and learn how congressional style government is supposed to work. On second thought, never mind, no one’s listening. However, though, it really is amazing, I’m no longer surprised.
John H. Davis
Fina Sisu, Saipan