Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, October 2nd


I’m banking on it
Banking rules here tend to be anything but customer friendly. Some bigger, full service banks flaunt US banking law because they can get away with it out here. Lack of regulatory enforcement means the customers, you and me, suffer poor and delayed service from some of them.

I must say, to be fair, that the local personnel behind the counter and in the local administrative offices always seem to offer a smile and offer the best service they can. It is their bank’s home office that sets the draconian style for second-class service out here on Saipan.

Their corporate home offices are off island and that is where most of the CNMI’s money goes too. These banks have little interest in reinvesting here locally. They prefer to send nearly every dime to other far off pacific islands and do their investing there. They send our money offshore electronically, usually the same day it is deposited.

These corporate offshore banks get money from other banks the same way, electronically. Meaning usually the same day or within 2 days of the time it is requested. In violation of US banking law they then rub salt in the customer’s wound by delaying credit to that customer’s account by as long as three weeks. Meanwhile they have had the use of your or your businesses’ money for free all that time. Nice deal, for them. Rotten rip off for you, the customer.

You have probably experienced it. You deposit a check from another FDIC bank with corporate offices on the same island a few thousand miles from here, but the deposit is not credited to your account for 5, 10 even 15 ‘working days’ (meaning 1, 2 or 3 real time weeks). How long do you suppose it took the bank to get the money from the check issuer’s bank account? Minutes usually, a couple of days at most, even for ‘off island’ checks.

US banking regulations instituted a few years back took notice of the instantaneous nature of money transfers and posited rules about how soon banks are required to post credits. Those rules are flaunted by some banks out here. Those rules are adhered to by other big and small banks out here that have corporate offices a lot closer to home. Where you bank is up to you. Might I suggest you bank with those that follow the banking rules designed to protect your rights as a customer.
* * * *
McCoys and Hatfields
PSS and DCCA are fighting over some public funds wrung out of taxpayers somewhere in Idaho or Oklahoma that is supposed to fund child care here in the CNMI.

I think the 1.7 Million windfall should be split evenly between the twenty new incoming House Representatives. Think of the bushcutters and barbeques this would buy. All manner of popular entertainments could be devised and a nice batch would still be left over to fund that new Escalade each has had his or her eye on. There will even be a few Congresspersons who will want to fund local childcare with their share.

I say the whole idea of public childcare is counterproductive. What do 14 year old girls do for pocket money if all the babysitting jobs are publicly funded? A hulking bureaucracy, chewing up the funds and spitting out rulebooks is also unlikely to provide meaningful childcare no matter who is at the helm or who is spending the loot. Lets keep childcare in the private sector.

Alternatively, divvy the loot up among all 14 year old girls. Hello Kitty stock would get a boost and babysitters would never be better dressed. Each gal (or guy) has to perform x hours of Babysitting Duty weekly to stash a share of the federal cash.
* * * *
Continuing revolution
Here is a simple solution to the no budget is passed after an Administrations first year in office problem. Let’s change the rules so that the government has to shut down if no budget is passed by the fiscal year funding deadline. Period. No extensions, no excuses, no ‘continuing resolutions’…it just comes to a grinding halt.

The fire Department and the Police Department get to draw directly from the Treasury to fund their operations. Everything else stops. No paychecks, no programs, no services, just nothing. Autonomous agencies like CUC that provide their own funding keep on trucking as before but everything else ceases until a budget is passed.

I’m betting this would stop the continuing resolution dance in its tracks. This would stop the overspending that always occurs under a continuing resolution. I’m betting that the Administration would submit and the Legislature would pass a budget on time every time. Why? Because their biggest fear would be for you, the citizen and taxpayer, to find out that you can do very well without them for the most part. Plus the hardworking government employees would not stand for the stoppage and other citizens would not stand for it either. Moms with kids in tow mobilizing on the Legislature’s lawn because the schools are closed? How long do you think that would last? Ever read the Lysistrata?

I believe this solution would require a citizen’s initiative as no legislature would ever pass a bill or produce a legislative initiative to alter the Constitution or the funding rules to make themselves fully responsible. Where is Tina Sablan when we need her?
* * * *
Still Yes
Another reason to vote Yes for the Saipan Casino Act: As the US military pulls thousands of troops away from Okinawa and puts them in Guam, we will want to attract them to come to the Marianas as tourists for R&R.

Properly regulated, clean and well lit casinos in some of the major hotels and resorts will attract those soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines to come here. Once here they will find the many other charms the Marianas have to offer. These thousands of potential GI tourists tend to have a lot of disposable income they like to spend on pure fun and recreation. They also can be a repeat source of income for CNMI businesses and government. If we can make ourselves attractive to the Military personnel on Guam, new and old, they will come to visit us over and over again. Professionally run casinos and the entertainment they will attract will add a big draw tempting them to come here over and over for “getaway weekends”.
* * * *
Quote of the week:
A man may learn wisdom even from a foe. Aristophanes (450 BC – 388 BC)


bigsoxfan said...

Not that I'm agreeing with thier practices, but at the Bank of Guam, a check deposited with the teller takes 15 working days, if I put a mainland check in the atm (when it is working) it clears in three to five days. Not sure about boh & bos, but this is the best deal I could find. I tried transfers from the states, but the fee's equal the amount the bank would make with a fifteen day hold. Bend me over, I'm at your mercy.

lil_hammerhead said...

Didn't you hear Bruce, 14 year old girls can't babysit anymore. If you were reported to the Department of Youth Services for leaving your child with a 14 year old, you'd likely be in some trouble. I'm not kidding either.

The days of the young teenage babysitter were over a few years ago.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Seems the nanny state is truly upon us.

glend558 said...

Did you ever figure out the computer mystery?

Lapa said...


He has, also, translated into Portuguese the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith.

He has been awarded several prizes.

Don't forget the name of this great author, you'll be hearing of him soon.

Thank you for spending time in Universal Culture.

Thanks for visiting.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Lapa: Next time I am in Portugal (or Uruguay) I'll be sure to look him up.

No, darn it, Glen. I was at Porky's yesterday and did not go on line so didn't try to hook up to your blog. Thanks for helping. I will do it next time there and then know difinitively.

Saipan Writer said...

I disagree with lil hammerhead. 14 year old girls can and do babysit. Yay!

The public child care is only for indigent families where a parent is working or in school and needs child care to make that happen. (At least in theory--and in my experience, which admittedly dates from a while ago, in practice, too). So teens can't be babysitting during working hours because they should be in school.

Anonymous said...

Plato Says:

October 13th, 2007 at 7:14 pm
Will it eliminate Poker?

There is no indication what so ever in the SCA that eliminates poker parlors. Ask anyone to show it to you in the SAIPAN CASINO ACT. It does not exist.

The Proponents of the SCA say that by voting “yes” you will kill the poker industry.

Is this true?

They say that that the casinos will take away the poker parlor customers thus depriving them of their source of income. They say this will lead to the shut down of the poker parlors. That is their own thinking.

The same Proponents however state publicly that the Casinos that are allowed to operate will NOT TARGET LOCAL MEBERS OF OUR COMMUNITY. They say that the casinos will be for Tourists. How many Tourists frequent Poker Arcades? Practically none. If the casinos will be filled with tourists what would stop the local population from going to the poker parlors? This argument holds no water. The if the proponents truly believe that they will not have local members of the community spending their hard earned dollars in the Casino then they would have to agree that the Poker Parlors would not be harmed and the two gambling places (poker and casino) would operate together peacefully.

Let us assume that the Casinos do attract local residents. Let us say that they pull all the poker players into the casinos and the poker parlors shut down.

Is this a positive?

Right now poker is limited to certain types of machines. There is also a limit on how many machines Saipan can have. The Casino lift that restriction. There will be no cap on how many poker machines and other gambling machines Saipan can have. Look at the Tinian Casino. 2/3 of the Casino is Poker Machines, Slot machines and other electronic gambling. Do we really believe that saying yes to SCA will eliminate the problems we see with poker?

Let us be honest. Either way it goes it will not. We had problems with poker since they arrived. We limited it at the time and had problems. We lifted the cap and the problems got worse. By voting yes to SCA you are doing nothing more then once again lifting the cap and this time just fully removing the cap completely.

Push aside the hype. Ask questions. Don’t believe what is being shoved at you. Question me. Question everything.

Plato Says:

October 14th, 2007 at 1:25 am

“Saipan Casino Act - Article III - Section 8:

Public Land. The Department of Public Land (DPL) or any future entity responsible for the administration of public lands in the Commonwealth, upon this Act becoming law and at the request of the NMDIC, shall issue public land to NMDIC. NMDIC shall hold leasehold interest to all public land issue by DPL and pay one dollar ($1.00) per year for the land or lands issue by DPL for as long as NMDIC is in business. The land or lands issue to NMDIC shall not be transferable. Upon dissolution of NMDIC, the land including all improvements shall revert back to DPL or its future named entity without cost.”

NMDIC, a for profit corporation, will have all the legal right to claim all public land for $1/year? No limitations?

The SCA states directly that upon the request of NMDIC the DPL must issue public land to NMDIC. Where is any clause that prevents NMDIC, a for profit corporation from taking advantage of this?

Where does it state in the SCA that the public lands requested and issued to NMDIC must be used for Casino Purposes?

Where in the SCA does it state any limitations as to what public lands can be requested from DPL?

Does DPL have the right to deny Public Lands that the for profit company NMDIC requests? If so, where is that written in the SCA?

Do you want to give your public lands to one for profit Business for $1/year?

Where are the safeguards? Where is the legal jargon that keeps this provision from being abused?

Who wrote this SCA? Would any of the proponents of the SCA please find out who penned this Act? Would you please ask them what legal background they have? Was this Act ever passed through any legal counsel?

I have only begun to look at the provisions and I have already come across a multitude of reasons that I can not for the life of me or my children feel comfortable voting yes to this Saipan Casino Act.

I am open minded.

To the proponents,

Please help me answer all of the questions I have posed in my posts. Do not argue about the issue of Casino Gambling in general. Do not tell me about the plight of the CNMI and our economic woes. Do not tell me about the Casino Success stories in other areas of the world. Educate me on this Saipan Casino Act. Read it and see if you can truly alleviate my many concerns.

To all thinking of voting “yes” to this act, please remember that this is an initiative that can not be changed by an act of our legislature. Once the SCA is passed it is untouchable by our local representatives. If we overlook a clause (any of the ones I mentioned above) and our Public Lands are put in Jeopardy, Our taxes our wasted away on a commission and no casinos, NMDIC turns out to be a useless operation with no real ability to secure a casino investor, and many other possibilities, Changing or amending even one small part of this Law will be impossible without a local initiative.

In other words, if there is any part of this SCA that we find out in the future is not beneficial to Saipan we must go through all of this again. 20% of the population must sign a petition, then a local election must be held and 2/3 of the population must vote in favor of the amendment.

Is that sane? We are embarking on a journey through unchartered waters. The SCA has many many questionable clauses. There is much ambiguity. Many facets of this Act are not specific. To say the least there are many legal arguments and challenges that have already been raised to the constitutionality of this Act. Do we really want it to be so set and binding? So inflexible?

Remember we are dealing with our public land. We are dealing with our home. We are dealing with our childrens land. We are dealing with our childrens future.

Question everyone. Do not take them at face value. If someone tells you to ignore these questions do not follow their advice. If the proponents tell you this act will feed your family ask the “How?”. Ask them to cite it in the SCA. The ACT does not promise to feed your family. The act does not promise to give you a job. The act does not promise to pay you money for your purchase of stocks.

The Act does nothing more than set up a questionable monopoly for a company called NMDIC. The Act does nothing more than force our taxpayers to pay for a commission in the neighborhood of $1.6 per year for an unknow period of time.

This act will cause the loss of Government Jobs. This Act will further burden our crippled government. This act promises to cost us taxpayers more money and and has no writen promise of economic gain.

Help me understand why anyone would be in support of this SCA. Remember this is not about Casino Gambling this is about this Saipan Casino Act.

The only person I cna see with a reason to support this Act would be a person who will be given a Commission job or a member of the company NMDIC.

Is it really worth it to the community as a whole? Are we being lied to yet again? Are we going to do nothing but line the pockets of a few with our own hardearned money? They promise us riches. How? Show me where that is stated in the SCA. They promise that this is a solution to our woes. They are not being truthful. We need to see this. We need to question them. We need to ask for proof.

Plato Says:

October 14th, 2007 at 1:44 am
Enough with the propoganda. I get enough of that from my government as it is. I am a voter and I demand facts and analysis. If you support this Saipan Casino Act tell me you have read it. Tell me you fully understand its provisions. Tell me you are familiar with the company called NMDIC. Tell me have full faith in them. Tell me you can prove that this will not cost the CNMI more money and plunge us further into this hole. Tell me that this does not put our Public Land at risk. Tell me that the CNMI government will not be burdened with countless litigation if this is passed.

Don’t tell me about pie in the sky promises. Don’t tell me that this will save our island. Tell me how and show me where it is stated in the SCA.

We need to change how we operate here in the CNMI. We need to be more alert to what is going on. We need to take some responsibility for where we are at. We need to look at the black and white. We can not take people on their word alone anymore. We have had enough lip service.

The proponents are playing on our fears. They are using fear tactics to get this passed. They don’t argue the merits of the SCA they say that there is “nothing better”. That is no argument. Forget everything else look at this SCA. What is good about it? What problems will this cause us?