February 27, 2012
Submitted by E-mail for Submission & Filing in the Courts Record Re: Civil Action No. 06-0367
Hon. Kenneth L. Govendo
CNMI Superior Court
Saipan, M.P. 96950
Re: Civil Action No. 06-0367 - Feb. 28, 2012 Hearing
Dear Judge Govendo:
I understand there will be a hearing today in your court to hear various motions on the civil action above. The Commonwealth Retirees Association
(CRA ) will likely be there as interveners, presumably to represent the retirees “best interests”. I’ve become aware through recent e-mail exchanges that there has been discussion in some circles in the CNMI about proposing pensions cuts. I have a real concern that the CRA board members may, for whatever reason, be enticed to voice support for proposed pension cuts to retirees. This would impact many of us who don’t want a pension cut as well as the probable few who may in theory agree to it. If the topic of pension cuts is proposed by anyone at today’s hearing, and if the CRA representative(s) agree to it, then I am hereby voicing my objection to you as the Judge in this matter. The CRA Board does not represent me or my interests in any contractual matters, and I do not give my consent for them to do so. Neither I nor any other retirees (that I’m aware of)have been asked by the CRA to vote on whether we would even agree to such a pension cut if it were possible or legal. Further, even if the retirees were asked by the CRA to vote on the issue of pension cuts, I would object to it as it violates CNMI Constitution, Article III, Section 20, which prohibits retirees benefits from being deminished or impaired. Again, the CRA Board does not speak for all its membership, has not consulted with all retirees on this proposal, and does not have the authority to agree to any such cuts on behalf of retirees.
In the past I’ve written e-mails to you and to the CRA Board about the lack of democratic process in how the CRA Board issues opinions and position statements that supposedly reflect the opinions of the majority of the retirees, without bothering to even poll the retirees. Those of us who live off island might as well live on the moon. We have asked to be included in the voting process – such as voting for new board members, but once again were excluded from the process. The CRA has a mechanism to contact members to vote on issues, but it has seldom been used since it was set up. (See attached correspondence about CRA / member issues and previous objections by retirees about the board giving position statements without first seeking full membership voting on the issues – Correspondence_-_CRA). There has been no notification by e-mail advising of any proposal about agreeing to pension cuts, nor any request to vote on it.
I agree with Sapuro Rayphand’s comments in the attached declaration ( 7.Ex.SapuroDecln.13Oct2011.11-18 ). As he points out in items 5 through 10, which highlights some of the past problems in this regard. I do have high regard for some of the CRA Board members, including David Sablan, and this is no reflection on them. However, I do feel the CRA Board as a whole is attempting to act outside their authority on some critical matters that could seriously impact the lives of the retirees, and are doing so without consultation of the membership it purports to represent.
CNMI retiree / Fund member