CUC: Citizens watching keenly


No one could blame “we the people’s” frustration over ill disposition of matters that affect family pocketbooks after the marathon 20 years of zero increase in family income.

For instance, it is rumored that the CUC board is tiptoeing the Reverse Osmosis (RO) deal without exploring whether there’s a factual need for it. Is the persistent agenda supported by a study confirming the need for expensive water while CUC seems to openly ignore that the real issue is the major or 60-70 pipe leaks all over the island?

So CUC wants expensive RO water to pump into the grounds? Gee! It just doesn’t make sense, does it? Why would you saddle ratepayers cost of wasted water? I see, so it’s okay for as long as the consultant gets his $160 million fees at our expense? It means we would be pay more than $3,000 per household per year for water that doesn’t reach our homes, right?

A preliminary study would give the board an idea of charges, e.g., mean and average and final fee in order to recoup expenses some reasonable profit. As it is it’s a big plunge that would only adversely affect the pocketbooks of families all over.

Wasn’t there a lesson learned in similar proposal of recent past on the same issue? Does this require an entirely different learning curve? We’re ready for a taxpayers’ lawsuit to protect our very limited economic freedom!

Furthermore, it is also rumored that Best Sunshine would buy a generator for placement at the Power Plant at Lower Base with sole dedicated line to the new hotel. Woe! This raises more questions than there are answers.

Isn’t this a form of privatization and would CUC allow other hotels the same deal? Who pays for fuel, maintenance, and liabilities? Why allow a deal that only presents more problems as the utility agency drowns in insolvency? That you lack savoir-faire—ability to do the right thing—by doing them right isn’t an excuse to pile more fees upon struggling consumers.

Empathy: Occasionally, I’d retreat to the silent corner of my mind to listen empathetically to the voice of hard hit villagers struggling daily to make ends meet.

With stagnant salaries—zero increase—over the last 20 years under toxic republican charge imagine what families had to put up with throughout the period.

To bridge actual villagers’ experience with hardship versus a new shopping list of more empty promises would be a woefully hard sale. It’s my wallet against your big mouth! Against the backdrop of staggering deficit and inability to pay obligations like utility bills, is there any hope ahead?

You can say anything you wish in hopeful public relations stunt. But the fact remains that a woefully depressed economy hasn’t lifted boats in households throughout villages. So where did you park the economic improvement? Family pocketbooks are still woefully empty? Isn’t the economy about improvements in the ability of families to make ends meet beyond the borders of abject poverty?”

The mountain of obligations of the local government (deficits) forces it to slide conveniently into what’s known as “deficit spending”. It means spending public funds in advance of actual revenue collection. It’s a dangerous practice eggheads on the hill have yet to come to terms with. It doesn’t even grant it room to maneuver salary increase of any sort. The cumulative debts owed CUC, CDA, other vendors and the old retirement program is a tale of a financially troubled government.

Hellish hole: At another level, I talked to friends in all three islands. If life is hell on Saipan imagine living on Tinian and Rota where basic goods are far more expensive where, again, joblessness or salary stagnancy is a daily challenge for our brothers and sisters. The MV Luta isn’t helping any in the reduction of cost for basic needs. Perhaps Biktot Hokog has another lame excuse for the hard familial miseries at home. Explanation lai?

Elitist culture: Opportunities for meaningful employment are as scarce as a good local mango. And not with politicians taking the destructive role of fruit flies. This is because the elected officials have come to enjoy the “elitist culture” waltzing with rich friends instantly ignoring “we the people” who placed them in office.

I may be redundant on this issue. But it’s the truth and must constantly be flagged to remind voters that their forced conditions in poverty and hardship need not be prolonged any longer. Yes, it’s time to change the confused captain and crew!

Clarity: When flies scatter around a trash can it shows some toxic pollutant stuffed in it, decomposing. This is the case in the recent announcement by Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig replacing Vivian Hokog as director of finance.

It is rumored that it involved misappropriation of public funds by the former director. If such is the case, why is she under “administrative leave?” Wasn’t she a civil service employee? Where did the mayor scrounge the authority to grant administrative leave? Did the mayor effect an internal investigation on the former director? If not, do I take it that it’s an attempt to roll the issue under the carpet? I openly request OPA and the AG to jointly probe this matter ASAP.

As a taxpayer, I insist to know how much money was misappropriated and whether there’s a plan of action by the mayor’s office to retrieve it via the legal system? If not, I could easily move in to ensure once more that hard-earned taxpayers’ contributions are legally disposed. Interesting to probe too if there were external recipients of the alleged misappropriated funds. Mr. Mayor, this taxpayer and others insist for an answer forthwith. Si Yuus Maase`!

John S. Del Rosario Jr. | Contributing Author
John DelRosario Jr. is a former publisher of the Saipan Tribune and a former secretary of the Department of Public Lands.

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