Thursday, October 7, 2010

No Budget-Essential Services

The relevant constitutional provision of our CNMI Constitution reads:

If a balanced budget is not approved (by the legislature) before the first day of the fiscal year, no money shall be drawn from the General Fund, provided that certain government services and employees shall remain available as provided by law, in order to deliver services essential to the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the Commonwealth and to protect against damage to and destruction of property.

The exact contours of this provision are now being tested by our current situation. And the limitations and protections of this provision seem to have already been stretched beyond reason and good sense in service of political motives.

1. The Saipan Tribune reports that Attorney General Ed Buckingham has used and is using public funds to hire a private attorney to represent him in the OPA investigation into his use of public office to support federal election (House of Representatives) candidate Joe Camacho. The hire of attorney G. Anthony Long occurred on September 17, 2010 --so predates the constitutional restriction on expenditures of public funds. But now the question becomes whether the continued services of Mr. Long can possibly be considered "essential services" during this government "shut-down." The answer seems obvious--NO! Legal services to cover Mr. Buckingham's ass in the investigation are not vital to "health, safety, and welfare OF THE PEOPLE."

No time that Mr. Long puts in from October 1, 2010 to the enactment of a budget should be billed to the public or paid for with public funds.

2. The Marianas Variety reports that Deputy Police Commissioner Ambrosio Ogumoro told DPS supervisors during work hours in a meeting to have their subordinate police officers bring food to a political gathering for US House candidate Joe Camacho. Almost worse than this political pressure is the report that police officers, while on duty, "delivered picnic tables, cut fish and helped in the preparation" for the political gathering.

Not only is it a violation of law for state government workers to aid in a federal election campaign as part of their state government work, we are in a SHUT-DOWN and only essential services are to be provided and paid for.

Helping on a political campaign is not essential service for the "health, safety, and welfare of the people of the Commonwealth."

We need a full investigation of both of these. We may need a lawsuit challenging expenditure of taxpayer funds in derogation of the Constitution. And for this, we need leaders to take the lead. They must step up and insist on behalf of all of us that the tyranny end; that our rights be protected; and that our government remain and return to democratic principles.


Anonymous said...

one has to wonder that if any drawdowns are done during this period of shut down for anything other than truly essential services that "deliver services essential to the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the Commonwealth and to protect against damage to and destruction of property" will they be challenged?

i think any taxpayer can raise a suit against the payment to any legal counsels for any branch of this government including the NMIRF and Jenner and Block. i think they would have good grounds to sue for a violation of the constitution if funds are drawn down to pay for the Governor's Press Secretary and the many other positions that he has exempted due to political ties.

blatant violations such as these should be grounds for impeachment.

Anonymous said...

There is also no provision for keeping a "state" office open, just because some staff are federally funded. Even if it was justified, they've cherry picked which ones are or aren't working.

Why is CDA is open? DPW groundskeepers are mowing parks and hanging out along beach road. Is WIA an essential office? The retirement fund? Aging Office? Governor's PIO or Cabinet? Anyone other than sections of DYS at Community Affairs?