SIX members of the Saipan Awaodori team will be performing at the Awaodori Festival in Koenji in August.
LOCAL artists are invited to sell their art and crafts during “Art in the Park” on the CNMI museum grounds from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 29.
HAGÅTÑA — The Guam Power Authority is set to start a wind-turbine pilot project to be constructed along Cross Island Road in Yona.
THE Northern Marianas may see over $20 million in investments squandered if improved status is not given to long-time small business owners.
THE House Ways and Means Committee wants the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. to revise its fiscal year 2014 budget request that seeks a $9.9 million government subsidy.
GOVERNOR Eloy S. Inos yesterday shared a few life lessons with the Marianas High School Class of 2013 during a graduation ceremony led by valedictorian Jimin Cheon and salutatorian Marjorie Ann Cuerdo.
GOVERNOR Eloy S. Inos yesterday fired Coastal Resource Management Office Administrator Rita C. Chong-Dela Cruz in light of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s suspension of all its grants to the CNMI.
Because of the CRMO’s failure to submit a CNMI-wide audit after the end of fiscal year, NOAA decided to suspend all its grants to the commonwealth, Variety learned.
Also suspended were NOAA grants to the Division of Fish and Wildlife, the Division of Environmental Quality and Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office.
Inos’s termination letter was hand delivered to Chong-Dela Cruz by administration staffer Lucy Aldan at around 9 a.m. A copy was not immediately available yesterday but Variety was told it ordered Dela Cruz to vacate her office as soon as possible.
None of the local grant handlers could give an estimate of the total amount of the suspended federal assistance but DEQ’s Coral Initiative alone has four programs that were affected. One of them was receiving $500,000 a year.
Over the last several months, NOAA had been reminding CRMO of the terms and conditions the agency had to meet in order to ensure continuation of funding for its federal programs.
Dela Cruz-Chong, Variety was told, had been given many opportunities to comply with grant terms and conditions, but the CRMO chief failed to do so. This prompted NOAA to demand that she submit a CNMI-wide audit also known as A-133 for fiscal year 2011. Dela Cruz-Chong’s deadline was the end of FY 12 but she did not come up with a report until the end of last month.
Variety was unable to get a comment from her.
Still, the suspension of all NOAA grants does not necessarily mean the loss of federal funds right away. The federal program employees will still be covered but NOAA cannot just give the money in advance.
During the suspension of the grants, payroll must be paid by CNMI government and NOAA will reimburse the commonwealth later.
Chong-Dela Cruz, an unsuccessful Precinct 3 House candidate in 2009, is an appointee of then-Gov. Benigno R. Fitial.
When Inos took over following Fitial’s resignation two weeks after he was impeached, Chong-Dela Cruz was among those who were asked to submit courtesy resignations.
Almost all the cabinet members, except her, did so immediately.
Asked for comment about the recent changes to Inos’s cabinet, Senate President Ralph DLG. Torres said he respects the governor’s decisions relating to the reorganizing of his administration.
He said the governor has to choose individuals who can assist him in achieving his goals.
His expectation is that the administration, the House and Senate will work together for the betterment of the CNMI.
Acting Speaker Francisco S. Dela Cruz said it is the governor’s prerogative to reorganize his administration and set a new direction.
“The new governor has a new set of goals to achieve. He will keep only those that he feels will assist him in achieving those goals,” the acting speaker said.