From: Bill Stewart
To: Retired Friends and others:
In case you missed it —
the following article is telling as to the seriousness, not to mention the lack of moral concern, which the administration has for its financial obligation to the DBP retirees and their families.
This omission of the largest unpaid judgment of more than $300 million is conspicuous in its absence from the AG letter to to NMI Legislature in spite of all that has been publicly stated regarding the three year old Superior Court judicial decision in favor of the Fund.
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Buckingham reminds Legislature about $27M judgments
FRIDAY, AUGUST 10 2012 00:00 BY EMMANUEL T. EREDIANO – REPORTER
BEFORE Attorney General Edward T. Buckingham left the island last weekend, he prepared an official communication informing the Legislature of unpaid judgments of more than $27 million.
Buckingham’s letter to Senate President Paul A. Manglona, Ind.-Rota, and Speaker Eli D. Cabrera, R-Saipan, was transmitted on Monday. It lists 15 court judgments and settlements including the $5.9 million between the Department of Lands and Natural Resources and Tony Pellegrino’s Marine Revitalization Corp.
Most of the judgments involve more than $4.5 million in land compensation claims against the Department of Public Lands, the biggest of which is $2.6 million owed to the heirs of Rita Rogolifoi.
There are also two sets of judgment totaling $$228,000 against the Commonwealth Health Center and three judgments totaling $1.4 million against the Department of Public Works which includes the $179,572 owed to Felipe Q. Atalig.
The Office of the Governor also has to pay former Arts Council Director Cecilia T. Celes the five-year old $34,250 settlement. 1 CMC Section 7207 requires that “any final judgment of a court shall be paid only pursuant to an item of appropriations for settlements and awards.”
Buckingham told Manglona and Cabrera that the judgment and settlements are waiting for appropriation by the Legislature.
During Wednesday’s session, Senate Fiscal Affairs Committee Chairwoman Jovita M. Taimanao, Ind.-Rota, said the fiscal year 2013 appropriation measure that her committee is working on right now does not include those judgments.
The AG’s letter was sent to her office only last Tuesday.
“None appears in the fiscal year 2013 budget bill,” she said.
Sen. Juan M. Ayuyu, Ind.-Rota, says the judgments are a serious budget concern. There should be a way to meet these obligations, he added.
Sen. Frank Q. Cruz, R-Tinian, noted that the Legislature always take the blame for any unpaid obligations so they need to address the matter promptly.
Senate Floor Leader Pete P. Reyes, R-Saipan, recommended that the House, the Senate and the administration create a committee that will meet with “creditors” like Pellegrino who has expressed willingness to accept payment under terms affordable to the government.
Senate Vice President Jude U. Hofschneider, R-Tinian, reminded his colleagues that the DPL’s budget does not “co-mingle” with the general fund so he asked legal counsel John Cool why shouldn’t DPL take care of its own obligations.
Cool, in response, said there should be an appropriation to meet obligations but since DPL’s revenues are earmarked for itself, it might as well be the one to pay its own debts.
Ayuyu suggested the possibility of tapping DPL’s $1.2 million budget submission for operations to pay for some of the judgments against the department.
Taimanao finds this a “valid” suggestion.
In an interview after the session, Manglona said the judgments and settlements cannot be addressed entirely in the coming fiscal year but he believes the Legislature can make some “gradual payments” “so the people would know that we don’t forget our obligations.”