Tuesday, September 9, 2008

265. We Shall All Bow Down

We shall now all bow down in homage to the great King Fitial. Anyone who defies his wishes shall be banished from the kingdom. We shall follow his lead, whereever he shall take us. He is our King, and may he declare emergencies, issue proclamations, and assume the rightful command of all lesser agencies, departments, and beings, for lo, he is most powerful.

Governor Fitial, an elected official, asked the Board of Education, elected officials, to postpone the start of classes from September 8, because of the problems the government/CUC is having with providing electrical power.

The BOE, after due consideration and input from teachers and concerned citizens, decided to open schools as scheduled. They had already postponed the start of school by ONE MONTH because of the increased costs in power.

And our Governor, who is not one to respect other elected officials, looked for any way he could to

Ah, yes, the reason--excuse given: The Division of Environmental Quality tested the water a while ago and found e coli. That could be a basis for closing schools. Never mind that each of the schools already addressed the problem by cleaning their water tanks. Never mind that some of the schools replaced the bad water FROM CUC (yes, the same operation that can't provide reliable electricity to the schools, businesses, and residences in the CNMI) with CLEAN water from a private vendor. Never mind that the water in the tanks is either reserve water in case of emergency, or used simply for the toilets.

And never mind that DEQ had not yet returned to test the water, a situation over which PSS has no control, so we don't know whether there is any on-going problem.

King, I mean Governor Fitial issued an urgent order on the night before schools opened shutting down 3 schools and 1 head start.

You can read reports at the Marianas Variety or Saipan Tribune. They show our new Commissioner and the BOE scrambling to handle the situation as professionally as possible, with the students' interests in mind.

The Governor's action, in stark contrast to the BOE and PSS, is disgusting. I'm very glad my daughter is not attending MHS (but is rather at SSHS). I'd be tempted to sue.

Tina Sablan has it right when she characterizes the Governor's actions as blatant and outrageous abuses of power. But what worries me more is the comment made in response to the MV article--that PSS better watch out. The Governor might issue an emergency directive and take over it, too!


Boni said...

When we had that problem at GES,some five odd years ago, we followed a protocol. Notices on the buildings of the school, put sanitizers in the bathroom and reminded kids not to wash their faces (water could get in their mouths), assured stakeholders that we had potable drinking water in each classroom and filled our tanks after cleaning them with water from the Mayor's office. There was no need to shut the schools down, to postpone an already late start and most of all to hamper effective and efficient operations. Each school has it's emergency operations (SOP). It was rumored that the governor's lawyers were at schools forcefully encouraging principals to shut down. They never made it here. Let's all pray that worse things are not coming our way.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Looks like they found your button.

Saipan Writer said...

I'd say closing schools at the unnecessary expense of our children might be one of my buttons.

Boni, your voice of experience helps put the Governor's action's in perspective. He's even more out-of-line than I realized.

Jeff said...

The Bush parallels are so clear. Fitial is a man who is so clearly incompetent, wildly unpopular and elected by only the slimmest of margins, yet the oversight board aka Congress just bows to this jackass.

Anonymous said...

It's time to broaden Tina's Sept 17th demonstration against CUC/The Gov to include a protest against all of the other ludicrous things he and his cronies have done. Everyone who has had their button (nice insight Jello) pushed should join in...

Anonymous said...

The Lawyers didn't make it to two schools, just late night fax from the govenor office to BOE chairwomen, then phone calls to Ms Sablan, and then to principals. The rest of us peons, the ones really affected, didn't find out until 45 minutes before school started, by radio or upon arriving at school were told if we stayed it would be voluntary, not paid. Talk about acting professional!! Where did he learn to be Govenor?

Anonymous said...

Boni is a good school administrator. She and her staff are able to get her school ready for opening day.

What bothers me is that administrators for MHS, the other schools and Headstart (read Malua Peters) did not see the need to ensure that the water is free of bacteria before opening day.

Boni said...

I'm not sure that is entirely accurate. DEQ tests our water regularly. If there was a need to act, it would have been given before school started, as I know was the case at my school. We drained our tanks before the opening and re-filled with city water. MHS, Head Start, like the rest of us were given the same directions I assume. Regardless, there was no need to shut down. I certainly don't know much about water quality i.e. testing the water and assessing whatever levels of harmful bacteria may be in it, but I know that when DEQ says to clean up we do it. School principals are not environmental engineers.

Saipan Writer said...

Karen Borja at MHS is also doing a very fine job as administrator.

There's no indication that any of the schools failed to properly and promptly respond to the water tests.

The problem seems to be that DEQ didn't get back out to the schools to test again in time to have results before school opened. It's all about lead-time.

And I believe that the Governor used this merely as an excuse to close the schools--givving no due process and having no real / actual need to be concerned for the kids safety, just wanting schools off the power grid.