NMC board terms at odds with staggered dates set by law


Contrary to the staggered terms required by law, all five Saipan members on the Northern Marianas College Board of Regents were appointed on the same year and have terms expiring on the same year, a Senate chart on appointed terms shows.

According to this chart, copies of which were obtained by Saipan Tribune, regents Elizabeth Rechebai, William Torres, Maria Peter, Frank Rabauliman, and Juan T. Lizama have terms that expire in 2017.

Notably, these dates appear to conflict with the staggered term dates that Attorney General Edward Manibusan called “correct” in a recent letter to Gov. Eloy S. Inos.

In April, Manibusan wrote Inos to urge that the “staggered” four-year term cycles set for the NMC board by a 1985 law has to be followed.

According to the cited statute, Public Law 4-3, NMC board members would serve staggered terms of four years.

Of the inaugural board, three members drew four-year terms, two members drew three-year terms, and two members drew two-year terms.

These dates were supposed to set up the terms of board members that followed.

In other words, if these staggered dates were followed up to the present day, five members of the board would not expire on the same year, as the Senate chart shows.

In his letter, Manibusan answered this question: Do board member terms begin on the “predetermined dates as established by the 1986 appointments, or the date on which an appointee is confirmed?”

He found the predetermined dates to be the “correct” date as fixed by the lots drawn in 1986.

He said this conclusion modifies the expected expiration dates for all of the regents.

He said regents Elaine Orilla and William Torres’ terms have since expired.

“Their seats are vacant and appointments must be made to fill the vacancies,” he wrote.

“Rather than using these predetermined dates for the four-year terms, the practice has been to use the confirmation dates of new appointees to determine the beginning and end dates for the four-year terms.”

“As a result, the purported expiration dates for the NMC Board of Regents are erroneous and must be corrected,” he said.

The expiration terms of the first board members were traced, Manibusan said.

Using these dates to project terms for the current board, he said, the seat held by Peter would expire in April 2016; Rechebai’s seat would expire in May 2016; Rabauliman’s seat would expire in April 2017; Lizama’s seat would expire in April 2017; Torres’ seat would expire in April 2014; Michaela Sanchez’s seat would expire in May 2018; and Orilla’s seat would expire in May 2014.

To compare this to the Senate chart, Rechebai’s term expires in December 2017, Rabauliman’s in June 2017, Lizama’s in November 2017; Torres’ in June 2017; Sanchez’s in September 2018; and Orilla’s in March 2016.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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