During the 2009 election, CNMI voters approved a popular initiative making the Open Government Act applicable to the CNMI Legislature, demonstrating a growing public concern about corruption in government. This was a result of the impeachment proceedings against former governor Fitial. The people of the CNMI were pleased with the actions of the vocal minority in the Legislature, at that time, but were obviously concerned about white collar crime at all levels of government.
However, when concerned citizen Glen Hunter filed a taxpayer’s lawsuit in May 2014 against the mechanism used by the Legislature to create casino gaming on Saipan, an assistant attorney general opined that the OGA is unconstitutional and cannot apply to the legislature.
Fortunately, on Feb. 25, 2015, the CNMI courts decided that members of the Legislature had violated the Open Government Act in the passage of Public Laws 18-38 and 18-43, also known as the Saipan casino law. They were forced to admit to the violation, re-write the law, and pass it again, legally.
This implies, then, that the OAG does apply to the Legislature.
So, then, why can’t we know how the Tinian Legislative Delegation overspent its budget by $40,000, and for what purpose Lt. Gov. Hocog gave them $40,000 in campaign bonus?
On what did they spend their entire budget, when nothing—zip, zero, zilch, nothing—is happening on Tinian? This island is dead, sent back into the dark ages, because Sen. Frank Borja, now president of the Senate, did not insist on getting direct flights to Tinian before voting to support casino gaming on Saipan?
And, what happened to that vocal minority that gained the respect of the people of Saipan back in 2012 and were rewarded with the majority? Are they now afraid of cleaning their own house?
The people of Tinian deserve to know what happened to their money. How exactly did the Tinian Delegation overspend by $40,000: first class travel, champagne, steak and lobster for dinner while campaigning all across America for absentee votes from voters who have no idea what is really happening on Tinian—while the real people of Tinian eat crackers?
On a positive note, congratulations to Rep. Ed Propst, who had the courage and conviction to stand up for what he believes in when he voted on the House budget bill—even though he knew it might make him a minority within the minority. This is the stuff of which President John Kennedy wrote in his award book Profiles in Courage.
Don A. Farrell
Marpo Heights, Tinian