Flashback — May 2000 – May 2005


May 19, 2000

NMI eyes increased participation in e-commerce
Efforts are now underway to keep the Northern Marianas abreast with the latest electronic innovation in enhancing commerce as House Speaker Benigno R. Fitial yesterday called for increased CNMI participation in the digital trade. Speaking before members of the Society for Human Resource Management, Mr. Fitial said the CNMI should be in the same playing field as most of the world’s economies which are currently driven by technological improvement. Northern Marianas consumers currently account for big volume of imported items purchased from the mainland U.S. through transactions in the Internet despite the absence of local laws that protect them from e-commerce shams. Government officials expect a sharp increase in the volume of imported items purchased through the Internet following the participation of the Commonwealth in the largest international fight against e-commerce swindling.

PSS receives website funds
The U.S. National Center of Education Statistics this week issued a $20,000 check to the Public School System for the enhancement of its recruitment and information website meant to lure more teachers into exploring career opportunities in the CNMI. The existing PSS website is currently lacking data to give non-CNMI residents a clear picture of the state of the local public school system. CNMI and another school in California are only two among 56 states and insular areas that have been granted the web development contract for two consecutive years. The highly competitive funds are available for projects in 56 states and insular areas and may only be awarded for programs related to educational data improvements. PSS worked with U.S. Department of Education officials to “stretch” the program area to include the display of information via the website.

May 19, 2004

BOE chair: PSS needs to do more to raise reading levels
Board of Education chairman Roman C. Benavente acknowledged that the Public School System needs to do more in educating its students in view of recent findings that some of them graduate from elementary with a reading level of a second-grader or even below. Benavente said the PSS administration headed by commissioner Rita H. Inos has been assuring him that they are moving ahead “but I wonder why this result [came out].” A reading test using a scientifically based program called STAR assessment and Accelerated Reader that was conducted among students at Hopwood Junior High School showed that most of them read below their grade level. Records showed that in school year 2002-2003, 93 percent of 7th grade students read below 7th grade level—with the average reader at 3rd level, and with more 2nd and 4th level.

CUC: Old engines causing power outages
There is no power crisis in the Commonwealth but power outages occur due to old machines, according to the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. House Committee on Public Utilities, Transportation, and Communications chair Timothy Villagomez had earlier asked CUC officials to shed light about “reports” that Commonwealth’s power system is on the verge of a “meltdown.” The utility firm has hired a private consultant, Harris Group, to do the project’s scope of work. The CUC board approved the proposed privatization of CUC’s power plants in July 2003.

May 19, 2005

New delegate bill passes US House panel
The newly introduced CNMI delegate bill has unanimously passed a U.S. House panel and is now up for floor discussion, according to Washington Rep. Pete A. Tenorio yesterday. In his 2005 report to Legislature, Tenorio disclosed that the bill, H.R. 873, was unanimously approved yesterday by the House Resources Committee, chaired by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.). Pombo introduced H.R. 873 in February this year. The measure is identical to last year’s bill, H.R. 5135, which had passed Pombo’s committee but did not get to the Senate on time before the 108th Congress adjourned. The CNMI holds its general elections in November this year. After every two years, the Commonwealth holds its mid-term elections.

Admin needs only to enforce, not impose, new poker fees
If the administration is dead-set in collecting more fees from poker operations, then it only needs to enforce the necessary rules and regulations and not impose additional fees, according to the House leadership. Part of the enforcement would be the imposition of penalties against violators, he said. “There should be some kind of financial penalty in order to discourage operators who are breaking the law.” Despite findings of illegal operations on Tinian and Saipan, the Department of Commerce does not see the need to close down shops or impose fines against the operators.

Press Release
News under Press Release are official statements issued to Saipan Tribune giving information on a particular matter.

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