• Mobil Smiles Reward

Of incompetence


How do you dispose of legislators who raised their salaries by 80 percent while completely ignoring the livelihood of 14,000-plus employees earning poverty income level and below? They also ignored 3,000 retirees with fixed income.

Did you forget that salaries have remained the same for over 20 years while the cost of basic goods have exploded like giant firecrackers into the evening skies? What in this equation did you miss as family men? Or did tidings of your impending largess turn you deaf, mute, and clinically dead? Or isn’t this more like politically dead moving forward?

I’m sure you know that hardship includes paying for the first family home, food, clothing, family car, childcare, healthcare; various insurance from real estate to life; and tuition. Income is bogged down to pennies for survival and hardship is a lifetime epidemic throughout the archipelago.

Families must endure these obligations against salaries that remained the same all these years. Did you folks expect villagers to juggle magic from the filthy swamp of your arrogance and negligence?

The only reason this hardship doesn’t show its ugly face is because of the culture of inclusion. We cover for the wellbeing of the whole. We even share food stamps to ensure kids have something at the dinner table in the evening. It’s a cultural forte that has saved the day for the multitude of hard-hit families! But it doesn’t absolve you from your arrogance and incompetence leapfrogging their needs!

To illustrate a point, I used federal poverty income guideline for a family of two, four and six to demonstrate income at this level. You compare it against how much the Lords of Weed on the hill would be raking in beginning next year. A family of two makes $16,240 per year, family of four, $24,600 and family of six, $32,960 per annum.

The 80-percent salary hike gave each legislator an increase of $31,600 for a base salary of $70,000 per year. You add other perks like a monthly stipend of $2,500 or $30,000 per year for Saipan senators. Ooops! Add an auto lease of $400-$600 per month for $4,800 per year; cell phone deposit of $100 plus fee for service; computer and services for $125 per month or $1,500 annually for total perks per year of $36,400.

Party! Each Saipan senator happily walks away with $106,400 while House members some $76,400. The 14,000-plus employees could only salivate at the largess headed to the elected elite. No wonder they brave humiliation seeking re-election to begin receiving their largess by 2019. Seriously, did they do anything to improve the power of family purses?

Plan: A legislative initiative seeks to use $1 million from accrued interest obtained through the Marianas Public Land Trust to pay for health insurance of eligible individuals of Northern Marianas descent, while the remaining accrued interest is deposited into a special account for distribution to eligible NMDs annually. A house joint committee has begun public hearing on this plan.

Health cost is definitely a huge ticket item under any government. The federal government spends about $700 billion yearly subsidizing Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program to ensure low income are covered.

But the issue requires dedicated review how many are now under Medicaid, Medicare, Children’s health program, especially who are very poor and don’t have access even to any form of assistance. If the intent is to help then it should be every NMI descent regardless of income. Coverage ensures sick people get help rather than stay home where conditions worsen out of embarrassment for inability to pay such nightmarish issues as deductibles.

Noticed the measure toying with the term “eligible.” Are you suggesting that help would include use of income brackets? Shouldn’t this be based solely on genealogy? Think about it and think hard!

The preliminary amount being earmarked for this purpose is laughable. Please, engage due diligence and secure expert views. I think this item requires at least upwards of $8 million. Learn to do the right things by doing it right. No more half-cocked measures!

Remember, everybody is a full owner of these public lands! Have you checked the accrued interest to see if it is sufficient for this purpose? Just thinking out loud!

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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