Friday, July 27, 2007

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, July 24th

We saved it
Aren’t you glad we saved the Sugar Dock? Last year the roof of the shack at the end of the dock collapsed causing serious injury to several children playing there. Last week parts of the dock itself buckled under its own weight after a storm and stranded several cars out at the end. Luckily no one was hurt this time and luckily EMO, DPS, Fire DPW and others, came to the rescue and made an impromptu bridge so the cars could be removed. Right now the pier has been closed indefinitely by DPL, which doesn’t want the liability of additional injuries falling on them. In effect it has been condemned as unsafe. The lawsuits for damage and injuries are probably already in progress.

Remember a few years ago, 2003 I think, when a reputable company came to us in the CNMI with a plan to renovate and rebuild the Sugar Dock? They wanted to dredge out the silted up channel so their boat, and all the other privately owned fishing and pleasure boats could safely come and go in and out of the now nearly impassable waterway to the open sea.

It was their plan to rebuild the dock and the road leading to it. They would have improved the nearby picnic lanai area so popular with us all. They would have improved the channel making it passable like it used to be and adding new, lit modern markers for night use. They wanted to do all this so they could operate a ferry service between here and Tinian carrying cars, people and goods between the two sister islands.

Think of the advantages all this would have brought. Instead of a monopoly service to transport cars to Tinian at an exorbitant fee ($550.00 one way) that we now have, we could have been going back and forth for $25 or $50 bucks a car. It would have opened up commerce at last between the two islands and Tinian residents would not now be paying a premium price for everything they buy as they now do. Local residents and tourist passengers would be going freely back and forth on safe, regularly scheduled runs several times a day at a modest cost on the order of $25 - $30 round trip and be able to take their cars with them. Delivery trucks from Saipan wholesalers could have driven onto the ferry to directly deliver groceries and other necessities to Tinian much more cheaply than the way it is done now. Travel to and from Tinian would be vastly increased right now, to the betterment of both our lovely islands.

The dock itself would be modern, structurally sound and usable for a variety of purposes including just plain old swimming and fun. They were willing to add amusement amenities to the dock structure to enhance the fun experience so many children over the years have enjoyed there, swimming and cavorting. The dock could have been used to load and unload moderately sized commercial cargo as well allowing Tinian to export goods agricultural and otherwise.

Why did they want to do all this instead of just using the existing commercial dock at Lower Base? To save about half the trip time and distance, making the whole operation far more efficient and thus less expensive for the operator and for us potential users.

Why didn’t this seemingly win-win project go through? There was a small local coalition of traditional conservatives and eco extremists that forged an alliance, attracted enough followers and made enough noise to cause this company to take their project to islands in the Caribbean Sea where the citizens wanted the same advantages and benefits that were offered to us. Before I go on it should be noted that I was one of those who called for the downfall of this project. I was a member of the “Save the Sugar Dock’ group and so should be blamed right along with them for losing this valuable opportunity to better our islands, our trade and our relationships with beautiful Tinian. As with many things in life we later regret, I bitterly regret being a part of an organization dedicated to tearing down something good before it had a chance to even get started.

There is no way we could restart this project. That company would not come here again after being threatened and railroaded out of town than would an almsgiver seeing his donation squandered to the detriment of the recipient donate again. So since it is impossible to revive this lost opportunity, why bring all this up and aggravate the mostly good intentioned alumni members of Save the Sugar Dock? Because there is a lesson to be learned. So we can look back on this series of events in hindsight and say ‘there may have been a far better way to deal with this new venture that to dip our heads in the sand and assume since it was different that it would not be good’.

The phrase ‘thinking outside the box’ is an overused, trite cliché but it describes perfectly what we could have done better 4 years ago when opportunity knocked and we slammed the door rudely in it’s face. We could have worked out a reasonable and environmentally sustainable plan. We could have made the project an ecological positive and required reasonable ancillary improvements often required of developers. Perhaps gaining even more concessions than were offered. We could have worked with this group instead of against them to the ultimate benefit of all us citizens.

We have too few opportunities brought to us here on our out of the way island chain to needlessly throw them away when they come knocking. Several folks in the blogging community and many other concerned citizens and leaders now routinely call for creative thinking about the ways and means of improving our quality of life here. Many of those same people joined with me 4 years ago to banish something out of fear-of-change that we should, in hindsight, have worked to promote. We could have done better.

In my opinion we should all look closely for way to make things work whenever possible rather than try to tear them down because the idea is new, or the idea was not ours, or the idea doesn’t directly benefit us because we’re not in the cash flow line. Bigger, more all encompassing benefits should overrule such thinking if we want to survive these tough economic times. We have internal and external enemies of our way of life influencing us very negatively right now. Let’s try to band together and grab on to those few good things presenting themselves to us in the future and mold them to our purpose.
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Next week we analyze the slam dunking we’ve received from the Senate, Congress, staffers, enemies and supposed allies in the cabal to destroy local government rule here in the CNMI. They’re winning. We’re losing. So far.
* * * *
Quotes of the week:
“And let this always weigh down your feet like lead,
to make you move as slowly as a weary man,
to refrain from yes or no when you do not see …

because hasty opinion too often
points the wrong way and then affection
for one's own opinion binds up the intellect."
Dante quoting St Thomas Aquinas
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Help thy brother’s boat across, and lo!, thine own has reached the shore. Hindu Proverb

Bruce A. Bateman writes Sour Grapes when the moon is full and the mood strikes. Stay tuned for each exciting episode.
“Yes, he is opinionated.”


bigsoxfan said...

Elegant and heartfelt job of eating crow, Bruce. You are going to lose some evil points for it, though. I like your new header, I'm going to have to try that.
How about making your print expand to the full page once the page elements have finished, and there is room to go the entire width? Driving me nuts, having all that print in a word wrap format. Especially, as I tend towards the verbose.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

I'll make up the points later.

I don't like the type placement either, Mark. I don't know just what to do about it, however. I suppose I could trial and error it to the lower part by guessing the number of carriage returns necessary. Then use a larger font until it fills the space in a balanced way. I suppose I should call zzSimonB.

bigsoxfan said...

I looked around the blogs some more after my comment and they are all stuck in same rut. Jeff T's template gives him a little more room, but ... Oh, I'm not going to go there. The reserved side for pics and elements seems to have first call on the space. I'll let you know, what I know, when I know it.