Friday, November 02, 2007

Judges and the austerity holiday

I listen to a small bit of Harry Blalock's radio show on my 10-15 minute drive to work each day, and given that tomorrow is election day, today's show was especially entertaining.

Harry is generally the voice of reason, but I disagreed with two things today regarding austerity and the role of judges in austerity. Harry said a listener urged him to inveigh against judges who didn't submit to the ten percent cut, and he wasn't harsh or anything, but he obliged the caller. Last week Harry very appropriately railed on the legislators who didn't accept the cut with some rightfully pointed commentary involving Luis Crisostimo, who I've come to feel is about the worst law maker of the entire bunch, which is saying something for this place. Crisostomo is a poker millionaire, yet wouldn't take the cut, and even takes the gratuitious Rota and Tinian subsistence allowance. Dreadful in every way. Crisostomo is also the only Senate candidate who didn't attend the education roundtable at SVES. Crisostimo has also incurred the wrath of Brad Ruszala -- probably because Luis is not a hot Asian chick. Anyway, today Harry pointed the fingers on judges who didn't take the cut nothing that none of them did.

I feel that judges are different in several ways. First of all, judges have real jobs and real educations. They need to exist, unlike the abundance of elected officials we have here. They are also in demand people with career options, again unlike the elected officials. They also haven't been the people mismanaging this place for years. They also didn't come up with this half assed austerity scheme. I wouldn't take it either if I were a judge. The argument is that the island is suffering, everyone needs to share in that burden. If this place were being run without any waste, or even without the grotesque waste we have, I would pitch in myself, but when someone is paid $4,000 per month for writing pro-administration letters to the editor, and an entire delegation went to Hawaii for a fruitless business conference, other lawmakers spent funds for the needless federalization fight in Washington, a lobbyist was hired again to keep poor people poor after the millions spent on Abramoff, and a public relations firm was hired to spew BS, we have a useless entity like municipal councils collecting checks, non-essential agencies like the various "Affairs" offices, and $150,000 is given to lawmakers for who the hell knows what, the system is wrong and hardly thrifty. There are lots of ways to cut down spending, yet the tone has been that austerity is the only way.

There is talk about all the money the government is losing by not cheating people by not paying them on holidays. I don't want doctors, prosecutors, police officers and teachers to be docked because the government refuses to give up the patronage jobs that help their re-election chances, and I wouldn't expect a judge to give up his or her money either given the wasteful excesses described.

15 comments:

lil_hammerhead said...

Alot of people have real jobs, and real educations (not that that usually matters in my experience). The cuts, however, they come, should be fairly across the board. All should sacrifice.

And I say this of course in lieu of any real long-term plan. People should sit down and decide what and who is going to remain and what and who is not, and a strategy over a period to make this happen. If this was done, blanket cuts wouldn't be needed. As it is, however, cuts should apply to every single employee.

Jeff said...

A lot of people don't have real jobs and real educations. Doctors, lawyers and teachers are legitimate functions of government, and things we need through supply and demand. They aren't equal to assistant director of Chamolinan Affairs that any political hack can be stuck in to get a paycheck. One group is important and one isn't.

bradinthesand said...

...true. if luis was a hot asian chick i might cut her some slack.

lil_hammerhead said...

And those are the decisions that need to be part of a plan.. until then "across the board cuts", should exclude no one. The Judiciary needs to be cut drastically as it is. Judges like to yelp that their salaries need to be on par with their stateside counterparts.. so should everyone elses than.

Pilgrim said...

Lets see.. my guess is that you receive $30-$35 an hour for your 190 days of work per year. Maybe more, especially if you add in your benefits such as medical insurance and retirement benefits.

So let me see if I understand your logic. If a PE teacher only worked 5 hour days and played games all day received the same salary as you, who probably grades papers at home after school and weekends, that PE teacher should take a pay cut and not you? Because you have a real job? You are important and the PE Teacher is not?

Jeff said...

I don't have retirement or medical benefits. This is Saipan. This is PSS.

I don't even know what you're talking about with PE teachers. They work the same and more as any other teacher. In fact, PE teacher is by far the hardest job at my school. Out in the hot sun all day, coaching sports and we have limited PE equipment.

I think teachers, doctors, lawyers, judges, police are more important jobs than public information officer to the muncipal council. Not all government jobs are equal. Sorry.

Your PE comment makes absolutely no sense.

Anonymous said...

Do you seriously think that teaching PE is the hardest job in your school? Harder than an English composition teacher, suffering through written papers of tortured grammar and making meaningful comments- spending perhaps 10-15 minutes per paper to critique it, mostly after school or during lunch?

SteeleOnSaipan said...

Good opinion piece and good argument against the general stance that any cuts for now should be across the board. Not only can serious cuts be made just by cutting fat but it wouldn't hurt to realign the gov't workforce to get people out of the aircon and outside collecting money. I still haven't figured out how to put change into those meters on Beach Road Garapan.

Jeff said...

At my school there is no shade, no gym, limited equipment, lousy changing facilities, large classes and the PE teacher has to try to get teenagers, many not too keen on physical activity, to exercise in the middle of day. We've had like 14 PE teachers since I've been here. I don't think that's an accident. So yes, I think it's the hardest by far. It's both mentally and physically taxing.

bradinthesand said...

Anonymous said...
"Do you seriously think that teaching PE is the hardest job in your school? Harder than an English composition teacher, suffering through written papers of tortured grammar and making meaningful comments- spending perhaps 10-15 minutes per paper to critique it, mostly after school or during lunch?"

have you seen how pe class works here? you get three kids who will run, ten who will trot, and fifteen fatties who will walk around so they don't get a failing grade.

we need to raise chris farley from the dead so he can give some of these kids the "i live in a van down by the river" motivational speech!

sucks for the english teachers, too. especially since they can't go all the way back to elementary school and build a foundation for the kids early on.

the folks in high school are paid to be there and deal with whatever passes through the system.

i mean, teachers, honestly, what percentage of high school students read at a high school level?

i guess it's a draw between the pe and english teachers.

or maybe jack black said it best in 'school of rock' when he said, "those who can't do, teach. those who can't teach, teach gym."

lil_hammerhead said...

And I know a maintenance guy, who is one of many working at one of our largest agencies, who breaks his back in the hot sun or driving rain every single day, who makes $12,000 per year (less last year due to the austerity holiday), who will again be affected by the cuts. Is this right? Of course not.

I don't disagree with parcing out who is more crucial and what programs are more important, but it needs to be part of a comprehensive plan. No one speaks for that poor maintenance guy.. the Judges and Teachers on the other hand have loud mouthes. Just because they scream and yelp when cuts are around the bend, doesn't mean the poor maintenance guy should get shafted and the Judge or Teacher shouldn't.

Jeff said...

I don't think broke maintenance people should be cut. I do believe there are a lot of patronage jobs that can be eliminated completely.

lil_hammerhead said...

I totally agree. The Governors office alone has grown from the Governor and a cabinet of six to 14 or more, each with secretaries and assistants of their own. Departments have grown from a Secretary and a secretary for the Secretary to a Secretary, a PIO, two accountants, an Executive Secretary, Admin assistants, etc. etc.

I just don't understand why the administration can't sit down and come up with a plan. Knowing your position will be "phased out" in six or twelve months is better than coninuously wondering if you won't have a job tomorrow. At least you'll have time to job hunt, save and plan.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the "spokesmen" for just about every agency in government. Is it because nobody else can write a legible sentence or present a coherent answer to the public? Or is it to put a buffer in the way to head off direct criticism.

bradinthesand said...

i think it's the latter.