STRAPPED CNMI GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOORS AGAIN

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By Gemma Q. Casas

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Sept. 22) – A majority of government offices will be closed today as the islands observe the second of 28 unpaid austerity holidays designed to reduce the biweekly payroll of government employees by 10 percent.

But public elementary and high schools, Northern Marianas College, the public hospital and other government offices with critically needed services will remain open.

Acting Gov. Timothy P. Villagomez has exempted the following from the austerity holidays:

At the Office of the Public Defender — Assistant Public Defenders Douglas Hartig, Samuel Randall, Adam Hardwicke, Kelly Butcher and Imelda Antonio.

At the Department of Public Lands — Managaha Rangers Omar Dimas, Fred Guzman and Juan Pua.

At least 15 staff members of the Division of Environmental Quality were also exempted as well as lawyers working for the Attorney General’s Office and certain personnel of the Division of Immigration.

In his own office, Villagomez exempted his chief-of-staff Arnold Seman and his legal counsel Teresa Kim.

For the Department of Public Health, Villagomez exempted "direct and indirect healthcare provider positions that are critical in ensuring uninterrupted health and medical services for the people of the commonwealth."

Those exempted are mostly nurses, doctors, and dentists, among other medical-related employees.

At the Emergency Management Office, Villagomez exempted seven communications operators — John Mario, Vicente Ilo, Patrick Cepeda, Steven Van Winkle, Farah Iguel, Ramon Aldan and Richard Songao.

Office of Homeland Security Director Patrick Tenorio was also exempted.

Some employees of the Departments of Community and Cultural Affairs, Corrections and Public Works are also exempted.

"The executive branch will monitor the duties, responsibilities and performance of the exempted employees. Should any of the above positions be deemed non-critical at a later time, the respective employees will become non-exempt. Likewise, should other positions become critical, a supplemental list shall be forthcoming," said Villagomez in his letter of exemption dated Sept. 7.

The succeeding austerity holidays will be observed on the following dates: Oct. 6 & 20; Nov. 2 & 17; Dec. 1, 15 & 29, and; Jan. 12 & 26, 2007; Feb. 9 & 23; March 9 & 22; April 5 & 20; May 4 & 18; June 1, 15 & 29; July 13 & 27; Aug. 10 & 24; Sept. 7 & 21, 2007.

September 22, 2006

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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