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Petition: Rota casino commissioners don’t deserve monthly pay

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A PETITION signed by hundreds of Rota residents is demanding that Rota casino gaming commissioners and officials be paid only for attending meetings.

The petition was submitted to Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig, according to Rota resident Pedro Q. Dela Cruz who is also urging the Rota Legislative Delegation to “follow up” on the petition once the delegation convenes on Jan. 22 at 9 a.m. in the Rota mayor’s conference room.

Dela Cruz likewise supports Rep. Donald M. Manglona’s House Local Bill 21-34, which would reduce from $60,000 to $30,000 the salary of a Rota casino gaming commissioner.

In his written comment regarding the bill, Dela Cruz said he recommends that the commissioners’ compensation be limited to actual attendance at board meetings at a rate of $200 [for each meeting].

The Rota gaming commission chairman is Viola Hocog Atalig, the vice chairman is Mateo Apatang Santos, and the members are Lucas Mendiola and Audrielyn Manglona.

Right now, the commission stands to receive $100,000 from the Saipan annual casino license fee as appropriated by Public Law 21-10.

Dela Cruz said the Rota commission has been in existence for more than 10 years now, but there is still no actual casino business operation on island.

“I am rather perturbed that the Rota Casino Gaming Commission continues to be in operation without any actual progress. Wasteful spending of public funds continues without regard to their fiduciary duties and lack of transparency. Most of all, the commission members continue to [receive] full compensation…even though they [are] idle and not functioning,” he said.

The funding could have been used for other public purposes, he added.

“Rota municipality public facilities are dilapidated and needing immediate repairs and renovation. One of the most visible facilities widely used is the Round House. The funds spent on a not-functioning public agency, the Rota Casino Gaming Commission, could have been used for the repair of the Rota Roundhouse, [which] is not safe and is a public hazard,” Dela Cruz said.

He recalled that the original objective of the Rota Casino Act of 2007 was to provide for much needed revenue in order to improve the island economy, create jobs, and raise the people’s standard of living.

The commission was supposed to be a revenue-generating agency, he added.

Dela Cruz said the original goals of the Rota Casino Act of 2007 remain on a “shelf collecting dust” while commissioners get paid for “overseeing” a nonexistent industry.

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