Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Judge Govendo & Jersey Rails

Over a year ago, I read a letter to the editor that Judge Ken Govendo wrote concerning his son's tragic death after his car plunged over the ravine at Sadog Tasi Road. I was compelled to do what I could to help him in his quest to get guard rails put up in that area before anymore lives were lost.

I asked Rep. Justo Quitugua, Chair of the Delegation's Fiscal Ways and Means, to help me identify funds for this project. With his help, we were able to identify $100,000 to build the Jersey rails that everyone sees today. But, boy, it wasn't easy.

One of the things that Judge Govendo complained about in his article was the fact that many people offered to help, but help was not forthcoming. I pledged that I would stick with the project from beginning to end and prod and prod unti the job got done. I thank the wonderful folks at DPW for their infinite patience as my office worked with them to help facilitate the project and to keep Judge Govendo from writing one of his famous unhappy letters. :) More importantly, however, was the need to build the Jersey rails before others lose their lives in that area.

Thank you to all who made it happen! I thank the Administration, Rep. Justo Quitugua, my colleagues in the 15th SNILD Delegation for voting on the funding, to Secretary Joe Demapan and his wonderful DPW staff, all the agencies involved, and last, but not least, to my wonderful staff Daisie Camacho, my chief of staff, and Dennis Cabrera, my administrative assistant, for their excellent work and follow through.

Click here for Judge Govendo's letter.


Lucy said...

While I am glad that Judge Govendo's request to put in those guard rails was heeded, and while I have all due respect for the judge, I am very saddened that it took a person with "status" to get things done. I am certain that other deaths brought similar comments, suggestions, and pleads to put in guard rails. (I remember even as a child that that area was treacherous.) I am sure that common people like you and I have mentioned such precautions. Yet, no one heeded them. Why is that? Why did it take a Judge's letter to the editor to move the government into action? Imagine how many lives would have been saved....maybe even Beloved Benji's. Like Judge Govendo said: "What if?"...What if DPW took action earlier? What if all we needed to do to get the attention of our government was to be a responsible, caring citizen...a voter?

CNMI Blogger said...

Thank you for your visit and comments. You're absolutely right, "status" should never matter. But, let me tell you, even though Judge Govendo has "status," it wasn't that easy to get the Government to get moving on the project.

Too many hurdles to overcome -- permitting challenges, procurement challenges, rules governing CIP, challenges with nonresident engineers being pulled from the project because the exemption expired, on and on and on. It took many, many phone calls from my office to keep prodding to get this project moving along despite the myriad of challenges.

I also couldn't do it by myself -- I needed the cooperation of my colleagues in the House and Senate as well as all the government agencies themselves. I knew that things did not move as quickly as we would have liked them to move and it was extremely frustrating to everyone, most especially to Judge Govendo and his family.

After he complained that others initially offered to help but didn't come through, I pledged my support and the promise that I would stick with this project and see it through. I kept my word.

I kept Judge Govendo informed of the status because I really didn't want him to keep blasting the people who were really trying their best but were hampered by procurement regs, agency permit requirements, etc., etc. Every time I saw a car take a dive, my heart stopped. I am grateful that we finally succeeded in putting these Jersey Rails up. It took many people to make this happen and I'm grateful to each and every single one of them.

As far as I'm concerned, safety concerns all of us. It is all our business. Perhaps had I been in office when you were a child and a similar situation came up, I might've been able to do something about it back then. But I wasn't.

However, since this is my first term in public office and I find myself in a position to help, I felt compelled to help even though some people told me Sadog Tasi is not even in my precinct. Of course, that kind of thinking doesn't sit well with me. Hence, I will continue to push for similar projects that promote our citizens' safety no matter where in the CNMI.

Thanks again for stopping by and I welcome your concerns.

Peace and God Bless.

Lucy said...

Thank you so much for your constant follow-up, prodding, pleading, etc. You did what needed to be done to get our slower-than-molasses-on-a-cold - Vermont-winter-government moving. I know what you mean, about having to constantly keep on top of things. How sad that our government appears to move very slowly for the populace yet very quickly to benefit their special interest groups.

CNMI Blogger said...

Thank you.

I tried to come up with a tropical version of "slower-than-molasses-on-a-cold-Vermont-winter-government", but couldn't find a fitting analogy. :) LOL!

CNMI Blogger said...

P.S. "How sad that our government appears to move very slowly for the populace yet very quickly to benefit their special interest groups."

Although I don't condone it, unfortunately, this is not something that's unique only to our government. That's why many organizations enlist the aid of celebraties because of their power to draw attention to the particular cause or causes.

There's also the saying that "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." Everyone knows Judge Govendo is not shy about making his opinions known. Heck -- he was known for this way before he ever even became a judge!

But it was not Ken Govendo -- the Judge, who compelled me to offer my assistance. It was Ken Govendo -- the grieving father. I think all of us could relate to grief and we all share a common concern for safety. As I said, this is my first term in public office, a position that enabled me to offer the type of help that I would not be able to offer had I not held this position.

I say this from years of experience helping the displaced residents of the Northern Islands who remain marginalized and under-represented. Talk about being so far removed from any "status"!

That's why it's important for citizens such as ourselves to remain fully committed to participating in government. Only then will we be able to make the necessary changes needed to have a government that truly serves ALL our people rather than just the "special interest few."

As a public servant, I am fully committed to helping everyone regardless of status. In fact, my office has helped many in lots of ways that will never make the papers. But, as I said, in order to effectuate real change in our government, I will need your help as well as the help of all of our good citizens to hold our government officials accountable for their actions and inactions.

Thanks, again, for visiting and for sharing your thougths and concerns.