Thursday, March 5, 2009

337. Oh, for a Good Lame Excuse

Voting No on the override of the Governor's veto of the budget:

Republican
Joseph James Norita Camacho--no reason given*; he'd voted for this budget when it was originally passed.

Stanley T. Torres--abstained; "I was not ready to vote yet because I just got in when they had a roll call. I would have voted yes to the override."

Democrat
Justo S. Quitugua--no reason given; he'd voted for this budget when it was originally passed.


Covenant
Edwin P. Aldan-no reason given; he was absent when the budget was originally passed.

Oscar M. Babauta--he'd voted against the budget when it passed because he supports Governor Fitial's call for austerity Fridays, so presumably he objects to the override for the same reason. He also said, when questioned about his reasons, that he recommended that the House of Representatives "move on" to more pressing concerns.

Raymond D. Palacios--no reason given; he'd voted for this budget when it was originally passed.


Independent
Victor B. Hocog--he voted for the budget when it passed, but voted against the budget veto override because the Governor telephoned him threatening to furlough contractual workers, especially in Rota and Tinian.

David M. Apatang--absent; he'd voted for this budget when it was originally passed.



Some thoughts:

1. Rep. Babauta--There are no more pressing concerns. We need a budget immediately. We need to stop discretionary spending, stop uncontrolled deficit spending, stop irresponsible-no account needed spending. Your support of austerity Fridays is a sham to hide the fact that you really support this governor having unlimited power. A budget, even without austerity Fridays, puts in more fiscal controls and restraints than the phantom austerity Fridays you pretend to hold out for.

2. Rep. Torres--Why were you late? You needed to be ready and present from the start. You have a responsibility and need to live up to it. This is probably the lamest excuse from a legislator to date--and that's really saying something given all the lame excuses we've heard over the past year from you and your colleagues.

3. Rep. Hocog--Where is your backbone? Stand up to the Governor and vote for what is right. The CNMI needs a budget. You are concerned about contractual employees in Rota. Why does the CNMI have so many government employees who are not civil service? Why do we have so many ordinary citizens in political appointments and contractual jobs that are subject to political pressure tactics? We cannot be hostages to our leaders. And you, as a "leader" should not be bowing to political pressure and caving in to threats of job losses when you actually supported this budget to begin with.

4. Rep. Camacho--Although you gave no excuse on the record in the House, you explain your reasons on your website. Basically, you say your change of mind relates to separation of powers, because the budget contains a provision that requires Legislative approval of any and all new hires. You say you originally voted for the budget because this provision can be viewed as merely ministerial (an administrative function), but now that the Governor says it violates the Constitution, you must respect the Governor's interpretation.

This is a lame excuse. The budget as passed--HB 16-213--contains at sec. 801 a "severability" clause, basically saying that if any one provision is unconstitutional, it shall be severed from the law and the rest remain in effect.

You should have voted to override the veto. Then we would have a budget. If the provision is challenged and the court rules it unconstitutional (neither a sure bet), we still have a budget and the constitution is upheld by severing it from the rest of the law.

Stop trying to confuse the electorate with make-believe justifications. This is nothing but a lame excuse and a poor one at that. I suspect this excuse masks other political motivations. Be honest with us.

5. Rep. Quitugua--What does it mean to be a member of the Democrat party? What possible explanation could you reasonably give for voting against the veto override? I suspect your vote has nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with your personal politics and limited vision.

6. Rep. Palacios--I understand that you voted this time with your party. I don't agree with you or your party. I hope Covenant loses resoundingly in the next election.

7. Rep. Apatang--Why did you miss this session? I understand that you may be sick. You didn't look good today when I saw you at the memorial service for the Honorable Marty W. K. Taylor. I hope you get well soon.


WE STILL NEED A BUDGET!




12 comments:

Pragmatic Plato said...

Such a great summary SW!

I can't agree with you more but I would like to add one more bit to your response to the lame excuse on Josi's website.

He mentions that constitutionality of the hiring clause in the budget and states that is why he voted "no".

I must say that is hogwash he himself proved it by immediately voting "YES" to HB 16-212 that does exactly the same thing and with even more force. The bill states that under continuing resolution (as is the case now) ALL Hiring by the judicial and executive branchs will be subject to legislative approval. HE VOTED "YES" TO THIS BILL right after voting "no" to the budget on the grounds that the clause in the budget that mandates ALL Hiring by the judicial and executive branchs will be subject to legislative approval.

HE is really stuck on stupid. An attorney? Are you kidding me? He says, "It is unconstitutional for the legislative branch to meddle with hiring by the judiciary and the executive branches. That is a breach of separation of powers." And then turns around and VOTES YES to 16-212??? A bill that mandates legislative approval for hiring by the Judiciary and the Executive branches under continuing resolution.


WTF?!

Josi you have to go!!!

Forget coming clean now just take your toys, say goodbye and go home.

Saipan Writer said...

OMG, Plato. I will have to look at that.

Can I trot out that H word again? How hypocritical of Joe!

Pragmatic Plato said...

GRRRRRR.... I can honestly say that I have known Joe for some time now even prior to his run for office. I have always had a deep down feeling that something just wasn't right. He campaigned as a person who embraced change and transparency in government. He played it off that he was anti status quo. I truly never bought it.

I could tell from his campaign tactics and his rhetoric that that was it was hogwash.

He got elected, hired his best friend and mother-in-law, had his brother hired, had his wife hired with kilili part-time while she was still hired with retirement, took floor leadership and has failed miserably at that, consistently attempts to squash any debate or dialogue during sessions, introduced the most bills (the most nonsense bill too), i can go on and on.

needless to say he has lived down to my expectations. I had so hoped I was going to be proven wrong.

Lil' Hammerhead said...

I believe this is the most intense post I've ever read on your blog.. and because of your stature and respectability.. one of the most intense and moving posts I've read on any blog ever.

Saipan Writer said...

Thanks, Lil.

I think you should read my blog more! :-) This didn't seem all that intense to me...

the anarchist said...

Victor's vote was the most disturbing and disapointing.

Victor,
Personally, I don't care about the budget. If you can't take a lttle political pressure you should never ask for the position which you now hold. Where is your honor, integrity, and courage? Where is your conviction and sence of responsibility and loyalty to the commonwealth. Man, what are you afraid of? If your moral conviction can be held hostage my friend, you are an indeed weak individual, and a shameful representative of these islands. I would have expected more.

Anonymous said...

Vic:

Please park the Pathfinder and get a bicycle. Saipan's taxpayers are footing you and your cronies contract workers.

Also, stop using the $5,000 whirlwind fund for your cockfighting gambling addiction.

We, taxpayers, deserve better...

captain said...

Too good,much said,all true.

Anonymous said...

Jane, your "severability clause" justification for a veto override is symptomatic of the major cause of government waste in the past decades -- bogus lawsuits!

We have essentially ceded the functioning of our government to the judiciary. They make every decision around here, and have for the most part not been chosen based on their legal skills.

Maybe as a lawyer you think a judiciocracy is the salvation of our Commonwealth, but it has turned out to be our destruction!

Words have meaning. "Separation of powers" is not an idle phrase. The legislature should not be micro-managing executive branch hiring.

Now we see where the real problem lies. Too many bogus lawsuits!

Don't pass a law if you know it is defective.

Not having a budget is not the worst thing that can happen to us. (I never heard your voice raised on this issue when your hero Nekai was in office.)

We are a government of laws, not men, but for decades the OAG has been under-funded, with an AG who does not control his own budget (like the Public Auditor does).

Then we are surprised at all the bogus lawsuits, mostly lost by the government.

Judges are the problem, not the solution. We have ceded our democracy to a few corrupt judges.

You, by feeding ever more decisions to them, are making things worse.

Saipan Writer said...

Anon,

1. I've always supported having a budget each year. I'm sorry you don't know about my views. I wasn't blogging (didn't even know about it) when Juan N. Babauta was governor. I did support enacting a budget then, too. Continuing resolutions are a poor way to manage fiscal matters.

2. I'm not in favor of passing laws that are easily challenged on constitutional grounds. I don't think the Legislature should include these type of provisions in ANY of their bills.

3. But it's a lame excuse that this is the reason for JJ Camacho voting no on the override when he supported the bill; and worse when he voted yes on the very next bill which has the same defect.

4. Separation of powers and balance of powers by our constitution puts certain functions in the hands of each branch of the government. The judiciary has the function of deciding whether laws are constitutional. This does not make our government a "judiocracy."

5. It only seems like "all" the important decisions are being made by our Judiciary because that is only branch of the government that is consistently functioning as designed. If the other branches of government did their jobs as well, we'd have much better government, and a more-balanced sharing of power. (My perception is that the Executive Branch has, under our current governor, usurped all the power. So obviously, your point is also subject to indivual perception.)

6. You complain about bogus lawsuits, but bogus means unfounded. If the grounds for challenge are substantial--as in laws that violate the real meaning of separation of powers, then the lawsuit wouldn't be bogus at all. The real bogus lawsuit is the current federalization lawsuit that is costing us $400,000 (or more); and that is another reason we need the Legislature to step up and enact a budget--to stop this kind of spending.

7. I agree that the AG's office is underfunded, as is the Public Defender's Office (and MLSC, and many other components of a fair and open justice system).

8. I don't know of any corrupt judges.

I know of charges against Dave Wiseman from years ago that were never proven and did not prevent the Senate from confirming his nomination (even though raised again during the nomination process). I know of different allegations made in the newspapers against Justice Castro and Judge Govendo, each by disgruntled lawyers with proceedings before these respective judges at the time--none of the allegations proven, none persuasuive evidence of corruption in my opinion. Perhaps there are other allegations.

But writing on a blog that our judges and justices are corrupt is libelous, and completely unfounded.

9. In my experience, our judicial system is one of the better components of our constitutional system of government. Even if it weren't, though, that is no reason for a Legislator to make a lame excuse that is illogical and inconsistent with the law, offered as an explanation for his voting against a budget.

10. You say there are worse things than not having a budget. Undoubtedly this is true, but we're not aiming for the worst, are we? Do we want to sink into the mire of how absolutely bad we can get? I think we're trying to have a government that functions as it should.

And that means the Legislature must manage its fiscal responsibilities and enact a budget that becomes law, that acts as a blue print for government spending, programs, priorities.

That's the point of my letter.

Jane Mack Fan Club President said...

Saipan Writer, after your letter to the editor, and these latest posts, I have become your number one fan.

And by the way, the anon above sounds suspiciously like a certain person from the AGO's (whoops -- OAG's) office that I know.

Biba Jane Mack!

Saipan Writer said...

Thanks, fan club pres.

But I'll let you off the hook when I write another letter that you don't like.

:-)