OPINION | Right problem, bad timing, wrong action

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HOW ironic is it, that the decisions and actions Governor Torres has made and taken since becoming a public official, are now his major burden and self-defeating?

The cumulative effects of bad decisions and wrong actions made and taken for political and personal interests through the years of his leadership, are the very issues that brought this government to its current financial collapse.

How is it that a young man who started his fresh political career back in 2009 full of ambition and a promising future in public life turns out disastrously painful to watch? What went wrong with Governor Torres’s political evolution? The answer to this question is in the execution of his POWER and the morality of his INTENT. Having watched all sorts of leaders in so many different organizations, including those in public offices, one thing they all have in common is the POWER they have and the INTENT by which they exercise those power. Careers of all leaders, in almost all cases, are defined by their INTENT and the use of their POWER. (“The measure of a man is what he does with his power.” — Plato)

Daniel O. Quitugua

For Governor Torres, we have already seen how he used his POWER and his INTENT in discharging them. Let us take for instance the problem of a bloated government. He knew even before he became Governor, this issue was of major concerned. Nonetheless, he took advantage of his power by increasing the financial burden of the government through his hiring of hundreds more of his political supporters. His intent in using his power to increase government workforce, was to place those he hired beholden to him for selfish political and personal benefit. The net effects of his decision and action puts the government in debts by increasing costs, but the corresponding result is insignificant productivity.

Take the above case and compared it to the Marianas Variety article on April 29, 2020 wherein Gov. Ralph Torres was quoted saying, “this is the right time to restructure the Commonwealth government and address issues that have been raised through the years.” These include a “bloated government, overspending, travels, the need for accountability, and positions that should be audited.” 

Governor Torres identified the right problems but provided wrong solution. For example, his decision to displaced government workers at a time when the economy was desperate, and suffocating does not prove to be a right decision. Compounding the problem is that he did it at the wrong time. Letting workers off payroll and throwing them on the street to fend for themselves, does not sound like a smart thing to do. Doing so would only increase adverse social disorder and further aggravated the economy he is trying to mitigate. Besides, Governor Torres was responsible for causing a bloated government.

You do not attempt to restructure the government by causing hunger, increase crime and a multitude of other social disorders, not to mention acute mental fatigues and emotional instability. When you are trying to cure the ills of the government, and inversely aggravated the sickness by causing more pain, it fails logical reasoning. You do not lead your citizens into despair, you creatively facilitate the resources available to lead them out of despair. It is call facilitative leadership not destructive leadership.

Governor Torres had a golden opportunity to restructure the government back when he claimed the CNMI was experiencing unprecedented economic growth. If bloated government, overspending, unnecessary government and elected/appointed officials' accountability was truly a conscionable matter of greater concern to him, he should have done it back then when the economy was super. (So he said)

Around that time, even the economy of the private sectors was robust enough to demand increase in their workforce. Governor Torress including his Economic Committee were appealing to the U.S. Congress for increase in CW quota. There was even a threat by the private sectors for a possible closure of some businesses if their workforce needs were not increased.

So, it would have been his memorable legacy if he proceeded to restructure the government back then rather than now. Back then his option to reduce the bloated government was available and would be dramatically less painful. As a matter of fact, he could have accomplished downsizing (restructure) the government without displacing employees. His option to right size the government was ripped, the economic climate was conducive and transferring those excess government employees laterally to the private sectors where the demand was high, would be more sustainable.

Governor Torres only needs to command his controlled Legislature to effectuate legislation for the transfer of civil service employees. It would have been a win-win arrangement for the government, the private sectors and the employees themselves, and the bloated government would be less than half of its total workforce by now. Rather than treat these employees as disposable and undignified human being. He would be considered a hero by humanely providing them gainful employment to sustain their family's livelihood.

Governor Torres, hundreds of our people, especially those government employees, who you have given their walking papers, are financially and emotionally in great pain. Not only suffering from the indignity they were treated but the uncertainty of their family’s future. Governor, when you subject these employees to the kind of treatment you did; you are inflicting lasting psychological scars on their self-confidence...their self-worth. Displacing people from their employment without affordable option offered to them is apathetically cruel and dishonorable.

Governor, you volunteered to accept responsibility to be our adopted parent, as a matter of fact, you swear under oath to be our guardian angel, but you disappointed all of us for your abusive treatment, dereliction of your duty and for dishonoring your legal guardianship. You have failed us for the pain and suffering you put us through.

Personally, I want to give Governor Torres the benefit of doubt. I honestly want him to succeed in getting us out of our desperate economic nightmare. Though undeniably, his leadership was responsible for bringing us to this desperate point. I have no choice but to support him in saving us from the deadly threat of Covid-19 disease. Even though I do not trust Governor Torres, I am willing to give him that benefit. However, what he says and what he does is causing me great misgivings because of his deceitful history, ignoble intent and detestable use of his power.

By the way, just before I send this article for publication, I was tipped regarding a chartered flight to Rota last Friday. As usual, and it has been government official's behavior to find a government related activity to justify for off-island trips, but the true underlying reason was purely for self-gratification.

The decision and action taken above by these rogue leaders further points out the indiscriminate use and abuse of power by this administration.  When people were being removed from their employment and the health of citizens are at risk, Governor Torres and Senate President Victor Hocog still have the audacity to charter a flight to travel to Rota just to fill their hungry stomach with local delicacies. We all know what kind of food they were gorging on. The question is since both leaders are known liars, (doesn’t they reminds us of another leader who is a pathological liar) we as citizens of this community cannot expect any truth to come out of this trip. For what significant purpose was the travel made? The answer is simply for the purpose of self-benefit.

Edmund Burke succinctly provided an appropriate description on the corrupt of power.  “The greater the power the more dangerous the abuse.”

The writer is a resident of Kanat Tabla, Saipan.

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