(The following was written by Ed Propst, a member of the CNMI House of Representatives from Saipan)
By Ed Propst
Here are a few statements I would like to hear from anyone running against Ralph Deleon Guerrero Torres for Governor:
If elected Governor, I will...
...drive to and from work. I do not need a chauffeur or security detail to go to work or to Church or to Joeten.
...pay for my own CUC bill. I am receiving a $120,000 salary each year. That is a generous salary that is more than enough to pay for my monthly power and water bill, just as everyone else is expected to pay for their own utilities. What makes me so special that I suddenly don't have to pay for my own utilities?
...ensure any off island travel by me is in economy class, as stated by law. Should I choose to fly in first class or business class, I will pay for this upgrade out of my own pocket or use my frequent flier miles for such an upgrade. If my spouse wants to travel with me, I will pay for his or her ticket. There is nowhere in CNMI law that states a spouse of an elected official gets travel tickets paid for by taxpayers. Our spouses are not recognized as government officials.
...ensure no cabinet member receives overtime. The law is clear. If you are an excepted service employee, you are not entitled to overtime. You do not time in or time out. You are a public servant. You put in additional time during crises because that is expected of you. Public service demands sacrifice. If you do not agree with this, you will not serve in my cabinet. End of story.
...not ever expect the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety to greet me at the airport and carry my bags upon my arrival. I am sure the Commissioner has far more important things to do than to be my personal bag handler. I will also never expect DPS boats to transport me or my family to Managaha or to the Northern Islands. The DPS Boating Safety needs to prioritize search and rescue and patrolling our island shores and seas.
...pay for my own bar tabs and dinner parties. If we are hosting off island dignitaries, it will be officially recognized and sanctioned and approved and billed to the Office of the Governor and a report will be put together to justify it. Any informal gatherings will be potluck island style with BYOB (bring your own booze).
...lead by example by being fiscally conservative. Money does not grow on tangan tangan. A desk audit will be performed for every department. Every secretary and director of every department or agency must ensure every dollar spent is spent wisely, not wasted. No luxury vehicle purchases will be permitted whether it is local or federal dollars. If you want to drive a luxury vehicle, you can purchase it with your own money.
...ensure every cabinet member remembers that they are public servants providing valuable service to the public and must behave like professionals. Trolling and bullying and disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated.
...end corrupt sole source contracts. We have procurement regulations for a reason. For emergency purchases, we will still allow for all legitimate contractors to put in a bid. No favoritism. No more corruption. Fairness to all businesses.
We are a peaceful, loving Commonwealth. We are a humble people. We do not recognize royalty. A "head of state" for our islands must also have enough humility and common sense to understand we cannot afford to run our government as if we have a wealthy economy. We have five straight deficits to deal with and over half of our people are living in poverty. Despite all the federal bailouts we receive on an annual basis, we still see misuse and abuse of such funding. The vicious cycle of corruption, cronyism, and nepotism must end. It is up to the good people of the Commonwealth to determine when that time comes. Hopefully soon....