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‘With reason and decorum’

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Commonwealth Utilities Corp. board director David Sablan Jr. hit the nail on the head when he urged that discussions of important CUC issues, such as personnel hiring, be done “with reason and decorum.”

Fellow CUC board directors and the rest of CNMI appointed and elected officials should heed Sablan’s suggestion, which is not only common sense but is included in rules, policies, and laws governing the proper conduct of meetings by those in public offices.

Trying not to be outsmarted, the other CUC board members fired back with responses that were not only unreasonable and unbecoming of public officials, but also defied logic.

Trying to quell the tension or save the board from further embarrassment in the eyes of the public during last week’s board meeting, CUC board chair Adelina Roberto tried to continue the discussion in an executive session.

Sablan is not only among the most qualified—if not the “only” truly qualified—member of the CUC board of directors when it comes to relevant experience in making policy decisions in running a utility agency, requisite skills, educational background, and mainly because of these, he knows what he’s doing and knows what he’s talking about to help CUC and the CNMI. And he stands for what’s right and reasonable.

If only the Inos administration hired more reasonable and knowledgeable members like Sablan, perhaps the CUC board will be of much greater relevance and help to the CNMI.

What’s the point of reviving a CUC board that creates more problems than offers solutions?

Sablan is among the first ones to be appointed by the Inos administration last year to revive the CUC board after a nine-year hiatus. Among other things, Sablan is a former chairman of the Guam Power Authority board that helped reverse load shedding in the early ‘90s and helped develop a 20-year GPA resource plan. He is also the state chair for the Guam-CNMI Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve or ESGR.

His fellow CUC board members unseated him as chairman for still unclear reasons.

Back to last week’s CUC board meeting. Sablan questioned his fellow board members’ decision to open up five new positions each on Tinian and Rota and two for Saipan. He called for a cost-benefit analysis to be completed first to determine the 12 positions’ long-term need.

For raising valid points, Sablan was attacked and blamed for being absent when the board discussed in August the new positions in the aftermath of Typhoon Soudelor, which knocked down power services on Saipan.

But for Rota and Tinian, is there an increase in power generation or revenue-generating capacity that would warrant the “need” for more hiring?

“Madame chair, any discussion we have on this issues must be had with reason and decorum. You are attacking me because I am trying to be reasonable about how we spend our funds here at CUC. You people are just trying to hire people left and right. It seems like [that] is the most priority for you rather the system and that has to be addressed,” Sablan said.

Again the response was not whether there’s an increase in both power generation and revenue, but because the positions have “already been advertised” and should therefore move forward.

That’s from CUC board member Alberto Taitano of Rota, the same person who made a motion in August (when Sablan was absent) to hire Velma Palacios to a top management position, drawing flak from counsel, management and the public.

“This discussion is over, it’s done.” That’s from CUC board member Eric San Nicolas of Tinian, who said Tinian has hotel-casino developments, at a time when Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino is barely surviving and where the power plant is run by a private contractor.

Sablan, in response, said he still has the floor, invoking “Robert’s Rules,” the recognized guide to running meetings and conferences effectively and fairly.

Let’s just hope CUC board members will at least start trying to discuss issues with civility, respect and good amount of reason.

But then again, the CUC board does not have the monopoly of on-the-record statements and remarks during official discussions in the CNMI that lack reason, civility, and decorum.

Who would forget about “Screw you” or “Mr. Chairman, I want you to shut up and let me finish what I’m doing” at a Senate public hearing on some of the governor’s nominees during a previous Legislature?

Or the “Drink milk” or “Stupid people” remarks by a former governor? (Haidee V. Eugenio)

Haidee V. Eugenio

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