Rep. Edwin K. Propst (Ind-Saipan) is doubling down on his allegations that it was illegal for Cabinet members to receive overtime pay during the immediate recovery period after Super Typhoon Yutu.
In an interview yesterday, Propst cited the CNMI Administrative Code pertaining to excepted service personnel regulations. He pointed out that NMAC §10-10-005(d) states that, “Publicly elected officials, department heads, including resident department heads, other constitutional or statutory gubernatorial or mayoral appointments, and individuals on independent service contracts or other contracts processed through the procurement system are not excepted service employees.”
This section essentially means that Cabinet members, who are gubernatorial appointees that require Senate confirmation, are classified as not excepted service employees.
Title 10 of the NMI Administrative Code defines overtime pay as “…time a non-exempt employee is directed or permitted to work in excess of the 40 hours during a standard work week [40 hours in seven consecutive days].”
However, in Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ directive dated Nov. 16, 2018, it authorized the overtime payment of “…both civil service and excepted service” employees for “…government employees engaged in work directly related to the Commonwealth’s recovery efforts” for the super typhoon at the time.
Propst further cited NMAC §10-10-120(d), which states that, “An employee will be designated by the director of Personnel as overtime eligible or overtime-exempt based upon the duties performed and in accordance with the federal [Fair Labor Standards Act]. Such designated executive, administrative, and professional employees are exempt from and shall not be paid, overtime payment.”
This section emphasized that gubernatorial appointments are not eligible to receive overtime payment.
“We have to learn from our mistakes and the problem is, nobody has ever admitted to their mistakes,” Propst told Saipan Tribun. “…And they are not owning up to [their mistakes] even if laws are not being followed.”
Propst noted that his concerns are Cabinet members who have reportedly already been paid huge sums of money in overtime while frontline workers who are “doing the heavy lifting” and the “actual physical work” are reportedly waiting for their overtime pay.
“My concern is that because this $15 million Marianas Public Land Trust Fund was issued, I want to ensure that any monies that are going to be used to pay for overtime is not going to…any Cabinet member because we already established that it was improper and possibly illegal,” he said.
Saipan Tribune tried to obtain comments from the Torres administration yesterday but there has been response yet as of press time.