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Editorials | More blah on the hill

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Stanley and Joel 

WE need more government officials like Stanley T. Iakopo, the executive director of the CNMI Office of Veterans Affairs. He saw a problem — loose cows at the veterans cemetery — and did what he could to solve it. He didn’t complain about the lack of funds. He did not wait for other government agencies to “do something about it.”  And he did not just talk about it. Through his efforts, a temporary fence has been installed and a more permanent structure is set to be completed in November.

To be sure, not all community problems are as easy to “solve,” but a buck-stops-here attitude can go a long way.

Rep. Joel Camacho would probably agree. Despite the obvious lack of funding, and with the little that he has, he continues to do what he can to provide his constituents with safe recreation areas, the latest of which is a playground at a popular beach.

Anyone — and just about everyone — can say that s/he is “deeply concerned” about public health and that we all need to exercise more. But so far, Representative Camacho is among the (very) few elected officials who is helping, in his own way, to make it possible.

Good job senators

ALWAYS watch out for the well-intentioned measures. If we’re lucky, they won’t be fully implemented and eventually forgotten. If, however, they are actually enforced, their unforeseen and unintended consequences can end up harming the supposed beneficiaries.

So when in doubt, don’t. And we’re glad that doubtful senators consulted stakeholders and thought long and hard about the pros and cons of the bill to “authorize a freeze on rent increases, evictions, and foreclosures during a declared state of emergency or major disaster.”

As the senators pointed out, there could — and should — be other and better ways to reach the bill’s avowed goals. Meanwhile, more analyses and more public hearings are needed. We also recommend a federally funded seminar  conducted by an economist who will discuss  basic economic concepts, including prices, and the (dismal) history of price controls.  Lawmakers should be required to attend.

Not as entertaining as Netflix

ON Wednesday, the political theater in the House chamber was, for a change,  not unbearably boring. The tense colloquy between the DPS chief and Rep. Tina Sablan was somewhat entertaining, if you’re into that sort of spectacle, but we’re pretty sure that some members of the public also wanted to know if all that verbal display had a relevant point.

Are House members saying that there should be more restrictions on nepotism? And what about the rules that govern government furloughs? Who should implement them? Were they violated? Are there penalties for violations?

Usually, an “investigating” lawmaker has already conducted research and gathered the pertinent facts prior to a hearing. S/he already knows the answers to his/her questions when “grilling” an “unfriendly witness.”  But that seems to be not the case during Wednesday’s DPS budget hearing which some could compare to a (political) fishing expedition. (No, not a witch-hunt. The witches have already been identified. And the House hearings that will be held all throughout the election campaign season are the political equivalent of burning witches at the stake.)

In any case, there was a time not too long ago when politicians were “deeply concerned” about the CNMI’s “bloated government.” But when government furloughs were announced, everyone was, suddenly, “concerned” about the furloughed employees. The concerned politicians say it should have been “done right.” But if the other government employees were furloughed, do we think they would feel that it was the “right thing” to do? And do we believe that they would not complain to their lawmakers about the unfairness of it all?

As we’ve stated before, recalling the furloughed employees will cost $13 million. When will the speaker of the House create a “special committee” for that important issue?

 

 

 

 

 

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