The culture of corruption

An informed friend whispered I should keep my ears to the ground to hear the culture of corruption on the islands. Heard a myriad of them like pollen in the air. But I’d defer to investigative professionals first in the interest of justice.

 

Or did I miss smelling the stench beyond pungent they’ve sniffed in recent past? We shall hear about it soon when folks begin visiting the confessional near fishing base.

 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines corruption as “dishonest or illegal behavior especially by powerful people (such as government officials….)”

 

Acts of corruption usually involves conflict of interest, bribery, cronyism, nepotism, sinecures—jobs with salaries but no duties; and fraud. With this, it doesn’t take rocket science to reasonably figure out what may be coming down the pike.

 

Sensitivity skips collusion momentarily, focusing on the 80-percent salary hike against the 14,000 employees earning poverty and below income levels. Did you help any of them improve family buying power they could use when they go to grocery stores?

 

The Bloomberg piece has turned mouthwash everywhere. How do you convince ordinary folks otherwise? If you put the dots together, are you anywhere near the truth?

 

Sure, people skipped under the 80 percent legislative largess have turned acid critics fuming at politicians padding their pockets ignoring them in the process. This omission is hard to dismiss or forget.

 

Interesting how the new “corruption, and the unaccountability that is its signature feature” has seemingly sprouted, grown and bloomed here since recent past.

 

Example: A good case of the culture of unaccountability is the $400,000 engineered by Biktot Hokog for the MV Luta run by the Mendiola family. Its expropriation was by resolution, avoiding constitutional requirement of “legislative appropriation.” Illegal!

 

Appalling that the Legislature hasn’t even lifted a finger to guard its authority on appropriation nor has the governor instructed his lieutenant to return the funds.

Do we ignore collecting what’s owed taxpayers, the work of an evil genius that has no regard for the rule of law? Walk it people and get to learn what really is the fiscal posture of the NMI. Evidently, Christmas comes only once a year!

 

Alternative: I’m still a believer in giving the multitude choices among candidates fielded by both Republicans and Democrats. It’s about choice and each must work the clock to provide voters who it feels are best poised to represent “we the people” in the public domain.

 

It’s time to begin placing fiscally responsible folks who understand the essence of a solvent NMI government. Must critically look into old debts, current deficit and obligations versus revenue generation. It’s good to know the fiscal posture of the NMI. Let’s not emulate Guahan’s GMH where vendors refuse sending it vital medication. I have sympathy, though, for Calvo’s round-the-clock effort to make up the $85.7 million shortfall resulting from Trump’s tax cuts.

 

Powerless: I have seen the filthy tentacles of corruption. Sadly, I was relegated to my corner of humility, adversely affected by the loss of trust and hope in the future of the islands. I ran up against politicians marching to the Disneyland of Greed.

 

My focus was to have the elected elite embrace trust and hope in their dispositions so that “we the people” can own our dreams of brighter tomorrows. That trip to the mound was reduced to dirt! Wary that they aren’t listening, it was time to exit. I had to resign and I did.

 

What a waste dimming the lights of trust and hope that would have lit up the blue skies of paradise at the pinnacle of their career. It wasn’t to be. They were ousted by fate. Gone permanently into the sunset! Never again!

 

Deceit:  The ill-fated disposition of issues by politicians would dominate the center of discussion this election year. At any rate, politicians associated with either issue—alleged collusion or the 80-percent salary hike—have placed self-inflicted hurdles at their own peril. No easy feat clearing the air.

 

Would you ably find persuasive explanation increasing your salary by 80 percent while more than 14,000 employees are under poverty income level and below?

 

The federal income level for a family of two is $16,640 per year. An 80-percent increase pans out to $13,312 for a total of $29,952 per year. Family of four: $25,100 and an 80-percent increase totals $45,180 per year. A family of six it’s $33,740 per year; a hefty 80 percent should give the family about $60,732 per year.

 

Legislators are still ahead by $10,368 with the new annual salary of $71,100 per year. Talk about padding their wallets when we all went to sleep one fine evening.

 

Collusion: There’s a more blatant form of collusion that pales the Russian attempt to interfere in the U.S. election of 2016. Remember some four years ago when a certain firm here paid CUC $10 million to pay the utility bills of consumers?

 

Isn’t this the epitome of corruption and is the firm preparing to repeat the same generosity? Heard rumors, too, that some folks are going around passing out more money to voters. Would you like to stop by my house? I need something quick like $4,500 for an urgent need. Coming?

 

Ooops! The cost or price of medication and vitamins has increased upwards of a dollar to six dollars recently. Bad news for 14,000 employees with poverty and below income levels and those with fixed income, like retirees.

 

Vendors need to remember that the 80-percent salary increase is limited to legislators. You could charge them more but be mindful of the 14,000 employees still languishing in poverty and below income levels. It’s also heavy for retirees’ fixed income!

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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