The discussion started with a brief explanation of executive politics at the state level. Governor Simina offers a look into his daily schedule. We then lead into Chuuk's current issues such as eductional reform, improving the health department, employment availability, financial deficits and more. We close on his candidacy for Chuuk's at-large seat.
The governor is the head of the executive branch, one of three branches in government. Its role in politics is to implement laws and policies at the state level.
A normal work day, according to governor Simina involves staff meetings and meetings with principal officers of the state. Officers include department directors. Often times, he has meetings with officials from other states.
A current issue that governor Simina mentioned is the need to improve policies for Chuuk's hospital. Chuuk's hospital, he explains, is at a deficit in terms of equipments and medicines. Other needs include Chuuk's schools and education system. There is a need for reform to respond to Chuuk's poor education system and constant lack of school supplies.
Chuuk state receives 10-14 million dollars annually for education. These funds are from the Compact and supplemental grants. According to governor Simina this amount is still not enough per capita when compared to the amount of funds allocated to Pohnpei and Kosrae.
Along with the problem of insufficient supplies governor Simina addressed concerns of schools canceling classes and school days all together. The short answer is teachers do not show up for classes. On the other hand, students often times don't show up either. There is a shortage of teachers in Chuuk and Chuuk's scattered islands compound the situation even more. Plans are in place for regional monitoring offices. Their duty will involve daily monitoring of schools and should be active by next year. This monitoring system may help in preventing teacher dishonesty. Governor Simina assures that there is no problem with paying teachers.
On the note of minimum wage, Chuuk's minimum wage for government employees goes at a starting rate of $1.25 an hour. The private sector does not have a minimum wage. Leaving privatized entities the freedom to set their own employee wages.
The discussion moved to his plans for his second term. He plans to pick up where he left off and finish the works put forth in his first term. This includes completing school infrastructures, health facilities, utilities, public roads, the sewage system, water lines and a financial reform for the state.
The financial reform hopes to stop a string of annual budget deficits. Under his administration Chuuk's budget has found a balance as far as expenditure is concerned. Upon his appointment into office for his first term, he was faced with about 9 million dollars of mishandled funds from the previous term. He states that that number is now nearing 0. Chuuk's overall budget deficit was 21 million by 2006. By 2008-2009 it is down to 7 million in deficit. Governor Simina reports that they've been working with legislature with the reform project.
A quick reference to the state's legislation office burning down; it is still under investigation. It is believed to be the work of arsonists. It is very likely that they are delinquent children up to no good.
Our talk steers to Chuuk's constant power outages. Governor Simina explains that the generators are old and fuel continues to be a problem. The short-term solution is 2 temporary generators that have already been purchased and are soon to be in place by the end of this year. The bigger project is a 14 million dollar project that will bring an international contractor to fully reconstruct the state's power system. This plan is awaiting finalization and my take up to 2 years.
With the discussion of hiring international employees, we began to look into Chuuk's own employment status. There are vacancies in most departments, namely the department of education. The most sought after profession is teacher. But with the starting rate at 150 dollars every two weeks and a general 200 to 600 dollars for certified teachers or teachers with a college degree prospects are uninterested. There is also a great need for nurses in the state but again, most prefer to work in countries that pay more.
The most apparent and talked about need for the state continues to be the state's roads, or rather, the main island's road sytem (Weno Island). Currently there is a contracted team working on the roads. The projected completion date is summer 2012 for the main roadways. Projects on village road systems will continue immediately afterwards. The project is delayed about 6 months but this has been due to the water, sewage, drain and electrical systems that have taken priority over the roads.
Towards the end of our discussion it becomes evident that Chuuk needs help. Though all areas need to improve, one solution held more weight than the rest: the need for education and community involvement. Starting with the family. Family and state values need to be instilled in the citizens at a young age. The absence of fundamental core values in Chuuk's citizens may lead to more incidences such as the burning of the state's legislation building and an overall unappreciative citizenry. Though the efforts may not see immediate changes. The fruits of today's labor will be sweeter for our children in the future.
Without question, Chuuk state is going through a major rebuilding phase. This remodeling could see some complications with governor Simina's announcement that he'll be running for congress in the upcoming special election. If he wins this election and moves to the national level will he be abandoning his many unfinished projects? Not necessarily. There are capable individuals who worked alongside him who will continue to work hard in the state. And if moved to the federal stage it does not remove him from Chuuk's affairs. If elected he plans to provide technical and financial assistances. Governor Simina states that financial assistances expected from Chuuk's at large has been pending for the past 4 years. However, the state has received help from President Mori.
He assures us that if elected into the at-large seat he will instill a healthy national and state relationship that has been absent in recent years. This consultation between the state and the national government should benefit both areas.
The candidates for the upcoming special election for Chuuk's at-large seat are: Setiro Paul, Mark Mailo, Joe Suka, Ben Enlet and Wesley Simina.
The Fourth Branch would like to remind all political officials from all the states in Micronesia that we are more than interested in connecting our political leaders with their respective citizens.
We would like to close by thanking governor Simina and his staff for allotting this time to sit with us and associate with the citizens of FSM.
Provided below is Governor Simina's background:
The Honorable Wesley W. Simina
Governor, State of Chuuk
Federated States of Micronesia
1977-1979----------- Chuuk High School (Weno, Chuuk)----------------------Diploma.
1979-1981----------- Jackson State University (Jackson, MS)-----------------(Transferred).
1982-1983----------- US International University (San Diego, CA)------------Bachelor of Arts.
1985-1988----------- William S. Richardson School of Law (UH, Oahu)-------Juris Doctor.
1983-1985-------------Part-Time Instructor College of Micronesia-FSM (Chuuk State Campus.
1986-1987-------------Law Intern (Summers) Chuuk State Supreme Court & FSM Supreme Cour.
July-Nov. 1988---------Staff Attorney Chuuk State Constitutional Conventional.
1988-1990-------------Directing Attorney; FSM Public Defender Office (Kosrae State, FSM.
1991-1992-------------Staff counsel; Association of Pacific Island Legislature (APIL).
1992--------------------Floor Leader, Oneop Constitutional Convention.
1990-1993-------------Legislative Counsel, Chuuk State Legislature.
1993-1997-------------Attorney General, Chuuk Stake Government.
1997-2004-------------Staff Attorny to Congress of Federated States of Micronesia (during congressional sessions) Palikir, Pohnpei State, FSM.
May-Aug. 2001--------At-Large Delegate for Chuuk State Third FSM Constitutional Convention.
1997-2004-------------Legal Counsel Chuuk Public Utility Corporation.
1997-2005-------------Private Practice (Law) Federated States of Micronesia.
Apr. '05-Apr. '09-------Governor, State of Chuuk (first term).
Apr. '09-Present-------Governor, State of Chuuk (second and final term).
Board and Other Membership:
Since 1990----------Member, Chuuk State
Since 1989----------Member of FSM Bar
1991-1993----------Member, Chuuk State Public Contract Review Committee
1992-1993----------Member, Micronesia Maritime Authority (MMA)
1992- 1994----------(currently known as Norma Board of Directors) Palikir, Pohnpei State
Married to Ancelly R. Simina, of Chuuk, with children
Both from Oneop Municipality, Mortlocks Region, State of Chuuk