Respect is timeless

LAST week’s reinterment ceremony for the ancestral remains that were found  in Chalan Kanoa was meaningful, moving and much appreciated. HPO followed the old rituals based on historical records and announced that, henceforth, the CNMI will no longer consider ancient remains as archeological findings that will be placed in boxes and in crypts. “Our protocol now is, where we find them, we put them back,” the historic preservation officer said.

As for Triple J, to quote HPO, “they went above and beyond what was required.”  

Another and a much larger reinterment ceremony will be held today, Friday, at ground zero, so to speak, of the most contentious construction site on island. And once again, HPO, with the help of other CNMI government entities and cultural advocates, will take the lead in performing traditional rituals as we pay our respects to the local people’s history and cultural heritage — and realize that they remain as vital and relevant as ever.

Hard work? 

THE recent discussion in the House of Representatives about the FY 2021 budget bill was, basically, one lengthy “press release” issued by politicians seeking re-election. They then proceeded to congratulate themselves for their “hard work” of copy-pasting the budget proposal drafted by the administration, and then shifting some of the funds here and there.  (The last lawmaker who actually read and reviewed the budget bill, line by line, was Senator Frica, and that was over a decade ago.)

“Everyone” in the House is for the lowly paid government employees. “Everyone” is “saddened” that hundreds were furloughed. Someone even compared the job of a lawmaker to running an executive department, several of which are large organizations expected to deliver critical public services — unlike this Legislature which can shut down and no one who isn’t its employee will notice.

In any case, the proposed pay cuts target “unpopular” cabinet officials and will “save” the government…$300,000 which will not be allotted for the furloughed employees. Recalling all of them will require $13 million. But not a lot of House members want to talk about that number. Instead, some House members said the executive department heads decided who to furlough among their employees so it is only “fair” that the same department heads get pay cuts. In other words, “they started it!”

The same House members, however, know that the pay-cut provision is likely to be rejected by the Senate and is also subject to the governor’s line-item veto power. But they included the provision anyway for “show and tell.”

Lawmakers who are serious about passing serious legislation are aware that it requires reaching out and consensus building —  none of which was evident in the House version of the budget bill. What we witnessed instead was the usual election-year moral preening. Expect more of the same as Election Day draws nearer.

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