Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, December 11th

Wonderful Rota
Burning at both ends
A headline the other day read, “PSS loses 86 people due to money woes”. I have spoken with some of those teachers and most are not leaving because of money woes. Most fall into one of two categories. They have now been here and seen this and don’t need or want to see any more exotic culture, or they have reached the end of their endurance and simple don’t have the patience to wait for better times to cycle back around as they inevitably will. Inevitably sometimes takes a long time. The threat of not being paid timely is certainly worrisome, but is not what causes teachers, good ones or bad ones, to leave. Think burnout or frustration if looking for the real cause.
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Another tree fell on it
Last Wednesday I was sitting in an SCC meeting where a very positive presentation was being given about marketing the Marianas as a world class scuba diving destination (hold that thought for later)…as we leave, we find the power is out island wide and stays that way for 3 or 4 hours. I imagined a dive shop owner saying to a high dollar tourist just arrived from afar, “Sorry sir that you flew 8,000 miles to get here to go diving but we can’t fill your tank because the power is off – AGAIN.”

Now that we are back to paying real market rates for our power maybe there will be a dollar or two left over to buy some functioning circuit breakers so the whole island does not go without power because a tree falls down somewhere. Can we please get that sort of reasonable fix underway?
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Off with his head

Everybody and his brother has rung in on the letter written a while back by Ron Hodges, AKA Mr. Employment Expert without a single employee. My turn. What he wrote was not written as satire; until he had a talk with his lawyer who told him he better cover his ass with some phony story of a satirical piece to keep the Dept of Homeland security from coming down on him like an air marshal on a ticking tennis shoe.

I’ve read and reread his letter and it was not written as satire. It was written, probably in a drunken stupor, calling for and promising to aid in a massive and dangerous public health gaff. He also called for, in no uncertain terms, promoting vandalism and defacement of public and private property. Last, and worst, he specifically asked for government workers to turn terrorist and sabotage our public utilities.

Some other nitwit comically suggests we have a Ron Hodges day. What will we do to honor him…poison the water supply? Kill all the flame trees on the island? Burn the hospital to the ground? (That by the way is satire – notice I did not say I would promise to participate in this, nor did I call on someone else to perform the dirty deed - I mentioned it as an obvious and outrageous over the top example). Please notice that Ron is capable of writing quality satire…see his letter about Article XII as an example…read it. You will see the difference immediately. In the latter he satirically pans the restrictive land alienation system and makes some very telling points while doing so. In the former he specifically calls for terrorist acts, promises to help and incites others to commit them.

The guy is a flaming whacko who frankly deserves to be brought up on charges of incitement to riot and conspiracy to commit terrorism. Censuring him via a legislative proclamation is a waste of time and does not get to the heart of the matter. His criminal intent should be enough to get the attention of the enforcement authorities.

Where is our Attorney General? Where is Homeland security? Kids playing hotshot big guy on the internet have been brought to task, arrested and convicted for far less conspiratorial calls to action. The fact that so far, no one in the contract worker community is dumb or evil enough to answer his call for terrorism does not make his attempt to get them to do so or his promise to help any less onerous.

You may agree with his philosophy and idolize him as a saint or a ‘human rights activist” or vilify him as a rabble rousing little-to-lose outsider trying to destroy local culture and human mores. Either way makes no difference. It is just plain wrong to call publicly for violence, destruction and terrorism and then weasel out on an ‘I plead the First’ excuse and get away with it.

I invite you to read the letter if you haven’t and reread it if you have. Try looking at it objectively, not as a piece written by someone who spouts invective you happen to like or ranting about positions that you don’t like. The man calls for insurrection, terrorism and menaces public health. I, for one, call for a probe, an arrest and a trial to bring him to justice. Need someone to file a complaint to get started? I volunteer.
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Rhode Island Red
A friend of mine points out that the recent spate of personally offensive letters to the editor reminds him of cockfights at the Derby Ring. I tend to agree with him. The polarizing comments from each proponent defending their own chunk of self interest territory are akin to the taunting and shake-in-your-face preparations for a real cockfight. The back and forth sparring that goes on often draws blood in the form of wounded pride and irrevocable harm to reputations. He goes on to suggest that we dig the opposing letter writers a big hole, drop them in two-by-two and bet on the outcome. I’m putting my money on the large local rooster. You may bet otherwise. That’s what makes a cockfight.
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Fair, Splendid Luta

I spent the Constitution Day holiday weekend on the lovely Isle of Rota, exploring, diving and taking in the sights. I saw no actual preparations for the coming casino related boom but the air was palpable with possibilities. One of the small but well constructed vacant beachside hotels has been purchased and may prove to be Rota’s first gaming attraction.

We explored the now forlorn and abandoned beachside water park near Songsong and I found it hopeful…depressing now, but hopeful for a resurrected future. That is exactly the kind of ancillary attraction that folks attracted to Rota from Guam would like to enjoy between trips to various casinos and exploration tours of the beautiful countryside.

The scuba diving there is graced with excellent visibility, abundant and varied sites that are mostly close by and easily reached in a matter of minutes. The people are friendly and accommodating…even when you are out in the middle of the boonies, obviously lost and probably trespassing, they give you a smile and directions to what you are looking for. The restaurants and other facilities are few but interesting and supply quality services. Those places will grow in number in response to increased tourist traffic lured by all the great things Rota has to offer plus the thrill of a casino game experience. The hotel we stayed at was wonderful and the dive shop professional. Both were moderate in cost.

Other attractions will spring up and Rota will boom, at it’s own pace and while maintaining its charm, but boom it will. The key in my opinion is to target Guam. The military presence there is large and growing, they also have a big chunk of our Japanese tourists on Guam looking for interesting experiences. Target them, provide them some transportation and they will come to Rota and leave it ‘greener’ than when they arrived. Thank you Rota for your hospitality, I’ll be coming back often.
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Quotes of the week:
An arrow may fly through the air and leave no trace; but an ill thought leaves a trail like a serpent. Charles Mackay (1814 – 1889)

I look to the future because that is where I am going to spend the rest of my life. George Burns (1896 – 1996)


Melissa said...

Great article, Bruce... I did some checking in the Commonwealth Code, and we do have a riot statute, but not an incitement statute, and no terrorism statute.

The riot statute (6 CMC § 3102)states:
(a) A person commits the offense of rioting if he or she assembles with two or more other persons and together with the latter, by force, violence, loud noise, shouting or threats, places others in fear or danger.
(b) A person convicted of rioting may be punished by imprisonment for not more than six months.

So, it is possible that theoretically one could charge, in certain circumstances (not necessarily this one) an Attempt charge based on the Riot statute, but I don't think I'd want to be the one to present it to a jury... looks like it would be tough to sell an attempted riot- that would be to say that trying to get 2 or more people to assemble for the purpose of people others in danger or fear would be the attempted riot.

The reality of it is that the person attempting the riot would be better charged as a Disturbing the Peace charge instead, and DTP doesn't include letters to the editor, although sometimes I think it should or could!!

It looks as though any follow-up would be better done by the U.S. Attorney's Office under federal law.

And thanks SO much for your hospitality (even without your physical presence!) at Porky's for mom's last night in Saipan! We got amazing service from the staff, and mom loved the fried shrimp and I chowed down on some nachos!

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Thanks for doing the legal legwork, Melissa. I'm assuming that Federal Court would be the place and that federal law would have more than sufficient jurisdiction over acts of conspiracy to terrorize (perhaps too much with the new DHS capabilities).

In all, I agree that even under fed law procecution would be both lengthy and costly and probably won't be done, unless someone takes him up on his offer and actually commits one or more of the acts he calls for. Lets hope not.

Thanks for coming out to Porky's, Melissa. I'm glad you both had a good time. I will pass your praise on to the staff.

I hope your Mom got off okay and will have a good flight home. I know you will miss her, especially in that she must leave now, just before the Holidays, but I know you had a good long visit with her over the last month so all is not sad.

pogi said...

"The riot statute (6 CMC § 3102)states:
(a) A person commits the offense of rioting if he or she assembles with two or more other persons and together with the latter, by force, violence, loud noise, shouting or threats, places others in fear or danger."

Riot? Heck, where I come from that's called a "board meeting."

glend558 said...

On the tree thing. I once read/heard CUC stopped trimimg trees as, of course, a budget savings so I guess they'll trim then one at a time as they knock down the power lines and cause an outage each time. Better to clean up the ashes then prevent the fire, I guess.

Jeff said...

The departing teachers were not replaced for the usual no money reason. It isn't so much that so many are leaving all of a sudden --just that they aren't being replaced and class sizes continue to swell.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Yeah, Glen they used to go around trimming trees occasionally. Even on private property, without permission. It wound up costing them because they had to pay for damaged trees and property damage too. Maybe that is why they stopped. Just guessing. Most trimming is along public right of ways though so that should not be a factor.


So what size are your classes now, Jeff? Is you school being impacted?