Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Flame Tree Festival 2008

Like many others, my family and I went to the FTF over the weekend. I had planned to give a quick tour, eat some probably unhealthy food and expose Alexander to more arts, crafts, dance, music and eclectic cultures...maybe a couple of hours at most.

Instead we stayed most of the day on Saturday and came back for several more hours on Sunday. We had a good time and experienced all of the above mentioned luxuries and a few more. I even got a free trip to Pagan Island. Here are a few pics culled from the hundred or so taken during the Festival.

Thanks to our friend Parker Yobei and the rest of the staff at the Arts and Culture Council. They all had to work very hard to put this show on.

My only complaint is about the venue. Once again the event was held at the thin strip of park at the Civic Center and once again it was too small, too dusty, too crowded, had too little parking and they wouldn't let me wear a tutu. Worst of all...not a flame tree in sight. Might I suggest a change of location for next year?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, April 22nd., 2008

Welcome USS Higgins
Once again we have a US Navy vessel in port, the USS Higgins DDG76. The Higgins is an Arleigh Burke class Destroyer, meaning she is a modern, extremely well equipped warship carrying a variety of armaments and a finely honed crew of technical experts and professional sailors.

The crew of the Higgins has been on deployment for some time now and are here to get some much deserved rest and relaxation. If you have never been to sea, take it from me that everyone on board works long, exhaustive hours to make and keep a Naval vessel ready to respond instantly to any call. They need a rest.

Sailors, you will find Saipan a very military friendly place to spend some time. The scuba diving is great here fellas, as is the golf…world class in both cases. There are scores of great restaurants, outstanding resort hotels, and good shopping for those items to take back home. Bars, lounges and nightclubs abound too.

Charter fishing, snorkeling and many other water sports are available (I will volunteer to take a few of you sailing if you want to go - many others will volunteer to help you out too). Hikers will find lots of jungle trails to keep them busy (check out the Hash Run each Saturday at 3:30PM – meet at the Bank of Guam parking lot across from the Hard Rock). The Flame Tree Festival sporting food, music, dancing plus arts and crafts is coming this weekend too. Finally, Saipan and Tinian are filled with historical and cultural sites that invite exploration.

We welcome you, Officers and Crew, one and all!!
* * * *
Will I live to see 80?
A friend of mine wrote to me recently saying:

I recently picked a new primary care doctor. After two visits and exhaustive lab tests, he said I was doing 'fairly well' for my age. A little concerned about that comment, I couldn't resist asking him, “Do you think I'll live to be 80?” He asked, 'Do you smoke tobacco, or drink beer or wine?” “Oh no,” I replied, “I'm not doing drugs, either.”
Then he asked, “Do you eat rib-eye steaks and barbecued ribs?” I said, “No, my former doctor said that all red meat is very unhealthy!” “Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf, sailing, hiking, or bicycling?” “No, I don't,” I said. He asked, “Do you gamble, drive fast cars, or have a lot of sex?” “'No,” I said .

He looked at me and said, “Then, why do you even give a darn?”

I find this exchange pretty enlightening. Its allegory bids us to do the things we are interested in doing while we can still do them. If you like to dance, well then dance before arthritis or gout sets in and leaves you sitting on the sidelines.

This advice seems to work for countries as well as individuals. Pozzolan is in the news again, and according to the last expert hired to go up and take a look at the stuff lying around Pagan, because of erosion there is a whole lot less of it now than was reported to be there 15 years ago. The money that natural resource could have provided to the whole CNMI during the last 10 years of economic decline might have made up the difference and our lives and infrastructure might be a lot better now. Maybe we would have a first-world power generation system instead of what we have.

One thing is for sure, we can’t go back 10 years for a redeux, so all we can do now is fret over lost opportunities and vow to do better in the future. Self interest, eco-advocates, court cases, shady deals, investors with another agenda, political pandering, all have played a role in seeing nothing productive happened. Meanwhile the pozzolan ash slides off Pagan into the sea. Maybe the greatest single cause is simple procrastination. We expect the stuff will still be there as a resource forever so we put off tapping the resource. Some few individuals think it may be bad for us so we all put off enjoying the fruits until now it may be becoming too late to enjoy them at all.

This pozzolan pickle is not the only time we will be faced with a similar dilemma. Do we harvest our resources? Do we reserve the right or fight for the right to harvest our countries resources so we may make use of them when the time is right as other more prosperous nations do? Or do we leave the steak on the platter and die without tasting its abundance?
* * * *
Water Power

An interesting alternative to the electric power generation problem we have was proposed a number of years ago but languished and went nowhere because the money was rolling in the early 90’s and we could afford all the then-cheap diesel we needed to run our generator’s engines.

Proposed by Seimens, one of the world’s biggest technology companies, the idea was to have the never-ending action of the sea, power our generators using water movement like many other hydroelectric systems do. Water is trapped and released and its moving energy is tapped to drive electricity generating turbines. They wanted to place it facing into the prevailing seas direction up in Marpi. Back then $45 million would have bought the system, but would undoubtedly cost a lot more now.

The lure was 10 cent per kilowatt power generation payback until the system was paid for then 3 cents per kilowatt cost from then on. Compared to our current costs of 41cents commercial and 25 cents (17 this month, maybe) residential it sounds pretty darned good. The question is, is it still a viable alternative? Is this a real possibility, or just a pipe dream? Having been spurned 15 years ago would Seimens be willing to make another proposal? Someone should take the lead and start checking into this alternative as we look at ways to make our power stay on 24/7 and be affordable. Who will step up to the plate?
* * * *
Fire Safety
New regulations will soon require business owners to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy from DPW requiring safety checks and adherence to the Uniform Building Code as before, plus a newly created Certificate of Compliance issued after inspections by DPS Fire Division to ensure compliance with the Uniform Fire Code and the CNMI Fire Safety Code.

Pursuant to Public Law 11-56 the new inspections and Certificates will be implemented soon at a proposed cost of $25 for the 1st inspection and additional fees for the certificate itself and for more inspections if a passing mark is not met the first time.

DPS will interact and educate the business public with seminars held at the Rotary Club, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce and other venues. Improved fire safety and prevention measures help insure that all of us are less likely to be victims of fire. If you have ever seen or known a burn victim, as I have, you will be more aware of fire safety and be willing to do most anything to prevent it happening to you, your loved ones or the general public.
* * * *
Quote of the Week:
We should try to be the parents of our future rather than the offspring of our past. -Miguel de Unamuno, writer and philosopher (1864-1936)

Monday, April 21, 2008


Saturday afternoon I met Missy and Deece at their weekly knosh and knit function at Coffee Care. They were kind enough to show me how to perform the initial slipknot/braid base that all crochet starts with.

I'm sure the initial attempts were pretty laughable. Unlike the photos you see above of nice crochet work, mine looked more like a miniature dog leash, after the dog has chewed on it for a while. My son, Alexander, pretty much stayed away from the manufacturing table sensing pending embarrassment at his Dad's gnarly attempts at craftsmanship.

My homework for the week is to buy some yarn and practice that procedure until it looks better and the loops are even. Then they will teach me to add rows to the edges. I should be able to make whole dog collars within a year or two.

Thanks, Ladies, I had a good time. The conversation was fun and I learned a lot about the process. The food was good and afterward I met up and had a few beers with Heinz Stauffler who was hanging around there too, but not (or knot) knitting.
Oh yes, in southern-speak it's called "Cro'shee" instead of the correct pronunciation "Cro-Shay' "

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sour Grapes for Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Welcome USS Columbus and Ingraham
Last week we welcomed the USS Curts to our fair shores and this week it is the US Navy fast attack Submarine USS Columbus SSN 776 and the Frigate USS Ingraham FFG61 that are stopping by for a few days rest and recreation for their hard working Officers and Crews. US military personnel like to come here to enjoy our beautiful weather, fine beaches, great food, friendly people, historic sights and many fun things to see and do. Plus it is a safe place to take liberty and it is a very ‘military friendly’ place to spend some quality time ashore.

Once again we should thank the crew of the USNS Safeguard for working to remove those impediments in our shipping channel, which were keeping large deep draft ships from entering our port. Now that the channel is clear, many more US Navy and other large ships will be calling on Saipan for much deserved liberty calls.

We welcome you all to Saipan and hope you enjoy your stay in the enchanting CNMI!!
* * * *
Human Lottery
There was a Reuters article in the paper some days ago relating the story of how within hours of the opening of the application period for workers H visas, the US Immigration Department was “flooded” with more than 3 times the number of applicants for the available slots to be filled.

Manufacturing associations in the US point out that the system currently in place is woefully inadequate to keep the US competitive with the rest of the world because it allows too few skilled foreign workers to he hired. The US system allows for only 65,000 worker slots in a country of 300 million people and millions of private businesses. They actually hold a random drawing, a lottery, to choose who will have a job and who will not be allowed in.

This has been a problem in the US for a long while and appears to have no solution in sight even though it is in their best interest to correct it. The political will to change the system is just not there. Congressmen fear for their reelection hopes if they allow more foreign workers to come into the country.

It makes me wonder just how receptive this same group of US politicians and bureaucratic agency staffers will be to carefully balancing our labor needs here in the CNMI if they take over the system. According to some sources we need about 20,000 workers here, many skilled, many not. Do you think the politicians 10,000 miles away and far out of sight will really care how we fare out here? Do you think that any 3 or 4 of the 91 Senators that just voted to have the US system take over out here could even find Saipan on a map, much less be bothered to see that Immigration regulations to be drafted by the Homeland Security folks will really address our needs? When they don’t care enough to solve the same problem in their own backyard do you think they will go out of their way to see to it that the problem is solved here in the CNMI 10,000 miles over the lonely horizon? I doubt it seriously.

I would not want to be a foreign national guest worker under contract here if the crazed Senate committee staffer (Stayman) and two obsessed US Congresspersons (Miller and Pelosi) finally get their way and the CNMI’s labor and immigration laws are superceded by the uncaring cadre over in Washington DC. It looks to me like most will be going back to their home countries whether they want to or not. With about 19,000 guest workers remaining here and 15 or 20 thousand already gone back home that means that once the US system is put into place some 3,800 workers will have to leave the CNMI each year in order to reach the goal of zero workers remaining that US immigration wants to achieve 5 years after they take over. Will you be one of the ones ‘chosen’ to leave next year? Will they do it by ‘lottery’? Will you draw or be issued a number and have your fate determined by blind luck the way they do it in the US right now? Homeland Security and US Immigration will have to come up with some way of removing all those workers, what is your best guess about how they will do it?

Maybe we don’t really need 20,000 contract workers here, I can’t say one way or another. It appears we are about to find out as they begin to be sent home by the thousands by the US Immigration system they themselves have marched in ‘unity’ to see put into place. If that is not ironic, I don’t know what is.
* * * *
Veterans Clinic on Saipan?
A friend of mine who, like me, is a veteran of the US Military has suggested something that would be of great help to all military veterans and other military personnel here. He learned that by registering ourselves, one and all, with the VA Office up on Capital Hill we might reach that critical tipping point of having sufficient numbers of potential users to have a Veterans medical clinic be installed right here in the CNMI. That would remove some pressure from CHC and Vets would not have to travel to Guam for simple check ups and other procedures.

Ruth Coleman, our Military and Veterans Affairs Office Director thinks there may be as many as 1000 US Military veterans here on the island. No one knows for sure because many, like me, have not registered themselves as resident veterans.

Ruth will welcome the opportunity to help you register with the VA and with the local M&VAO. I understand it is a simple procedure and one that does not require a lot of time. Veterans need to drag out a copy of that DD214 and bring it along to the Saipan office up on the Hill in building number 1362 on Anatahan Drive, phone 664-2650.

Please note that Memorial Day is just around the corner and there is a meeting each Tuesday Morning at 9AM at the M&VA office to organized and prepare for the events that will take place on that important Holiday. If you have some time on your hands and can be of help please volunteer. Because of government cut backs, Ruth has many responsibilities and no one on staff to assist her. Please contact her as above. Any assistance will be gratefully accepted.

One last scheduling note: on Thursday April 24th at 1PM representatives from the Guam Vet Center will arrive on island to provide private counseling for any and all combat veterans and their spouses. These sessions will be held at the Army Reserve Center in Puerto Rico and are, of course, free of charge.
* * * *
Instead of a Quote of the Week this week, I will give you a reminder instead: The 4th Annual Mahi Mahi Fishing Derby will be held this weekend. Sign up to participate or just come out to enjoy the daily weigh ins and the family style gathering that takes place. Registration is Friday evening at Smiling Cove Marina. The Derby is on Saturday, all day. Bring beer and a chair. You might get to taste some fresh Mahi sashimi.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sour Grapes for Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Welcome USS Curts
Supremes say figure it out yourselves
Well the day was appropriate; April 1st marked the day the Supreme Court declined to answer teacher representative succession questions posed by Bennett (ex rep and wanna be new temporary Rep) and Benevente (ex board chair). The Supreme Court ruled their request did not meet the constitutional requirements for answering official questions, as they were both on the same side of the issue.

After all this bickering and interference back and forth from several sides, maybe the teachers can go back to deciding for themselves who they want to represent them. Maybe they already have. Maybe not. If not, one would think a ballot sent around to each teacher to be marked and returned sealed when they pick up their pay checks, or by such and such a date certain, would solve the issue once and for all. The newly elected rep could then begin attending School Board meetings to make sure PSS teachers have some input there.
* * * *
Glowing report
On a positive note, a CUC line crew working in the area, when asked to, replaced the light sensitive switch on the street light near my house. Now it shuts off during daylight hours as it is supposed to. Before it was lit all the time. This is one small step toward saving some power currently being paid by all of us CUC customers as ‘line losses’ or ‘public use’.

I'm sure that light burning 24/7 chewed up a lot of kilowatt hours. A reader told me “if it's the typical 175 watt street light, @ 24/7 would be 126kWh per month. at .41/kWh, that’s $51/month, or $1.72/day.” I’m not sure of those figures but it sounds reasonable.

$612 per year for just one street light burning means we should all keep our eyes peeled for lights burning in the daytime and report them when seen. We can save half that amount by having them fixed to light up only at night. The CUC crews are happy to repair them, as long as they have the parts and are close by.

I'm betting there are lots more of them out there. Now that I am looking, I have noticed several already.

Thanks CUC crew!!
* * * *

More equal than others
A few days ago in the Philippines the elected President of Palau was asked to submit to a standard pre-boarding security check along with his fellow passengers. He was flying on a public flight back to Palau along with some tourists and his fellow countrymen. He reportedly took umbrage and left the airport in a huff rather than be security screened and have his baggage scrutinized.

It brings up some interesting questions. For one, many cultures including many from Micronesia, Asia and SE Asia are rooted in showing respect to elders, hereditary leaders and key family members. This respect is as integrated as breathing or eating and most would not think of ignoring it. But does that unquestioning respect extend to elected political leaders? Good ones, bad ones, indifferent ones? Would that respect extend to all political leaders from all countries no matter how bloodthirsty or avaricial? Should that universal respect be shown by everyone from any other country for any leader of any other country? Hardly.

On the other hand why would it be disrespectful to be checked just like all the other passengers he was about to ride with? How so? Should he, or any other elected leader be above the law? Are they saying “Sorry citizens, we dignitaries don’t have to put up with the rude and mostly useless security screening WE bureaucrats put in place. That stuff is designed to give you citizens a feel-good sense of security but is beneath the dignity of us higher up politicos.” I don’t think they would want to put it that way. I don’t think most of them feel that way, including the President of Palau.

If security exceptions are to be made, where do they stop? What about the President of Continental Airlines? When he flies public instead on his own corporate jet should he be exempted from security checks? What about the President of Exxon, or Enron or Ed’s Barber shop? The former two are, or were, much bigger deals than the Republic of Palau (or Brazil or most other countries for that matter) the latter one differs only in degree. Should the President of Ed’s Barber Shop not be security screened because he is a President? Huge multinational companies have more workers and represent far more wealth and power than a lot of independent countries. Should their Presidents all be exempt?

Perhaps perceived disrespect is not why he elected to leave the airport instead of having his baggage inspected. He had just met with the President of the Philippines (not exactly universally respected by her constituents) who, with her family, is currently accused of some pretty shady cash-under-the-table business dealings. Maybe it had less to do with disrespect than with not wanting his carry on baggage checked. Maybe he was just having a bad day. Maybe he would rather ride on the later proffered private jet back home with a nice bottle of free champagne. Maybe he forgot his toothbrush.

Truthfully, I don’t see any disrespect in Continental’s actions at the Manila airport. I don’t think it is any different to perform security checks on a President, or a Governor than on a Mr. or a Mrs. or anybody else, or even a nobody else. What about you?

Now if they want to exempt me from further checks the next time I fly, well then I’m all for it! (J)

* * * *
Make mine neat, no rocks

Thanks to a survey done earlier and reported back to maritime authorities and thanks to recent additional work accomplished in our shipping channel by the Officers and Crew of the USNS Safeguard, US Navy ships and other large vessels can once again enter our harbor safely.

Most recently docked and still in port today is the US Navy Frigate Curts. Welcome to Saipan to her Officers and Crew!

Each of these R&R visits gives our military men and women a much needed rest and introduces them to the wonders of Saipan and the CNMI. Much need revenue comes to our shores but more importantly, we send out ambassadors who tell friends family, neighbors and fellow personnel on other ships and shore stations what a great place the CNMI is for liberty, rest and relaxation. All who come here for liberty enjoy the diverse culture, friendly residents, great food and world class sporting activities found here. US military personnel are always welcomed with open arms here and they appreciate that. They like the diving, the golf, the entertainment and the weather. We like them. Please come again.
* * * *
Quote of the week:
The long unmeasured pulse of time moves everything. There is nothing hidden that it cannot bring to light, nothing once known that may not become unknown. Sophocles (496 - 406 BC)
Photo above stolen shamelessly from the Saipan Tribune. Credit to Jacqueline Hernandez.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Back to Austerity Fridays

The Senate passed the Austerity Bill without ammendment (5 for, 1 abstention, 3 missing in action) placing it on the Governor's desk.

The Governor gets additional reprogramming authority.

Many Government workers will have every other Friday off, unpaid. (The scuttlebutt was about doing it EVERY Friday).

3 unpaid Holidays, Memorial, Labor and Liberation Day.

Underpaying the Retirement fund. (11% contribution across the board)

Of course there are exceptions. PSS exempts its 1100 or so employees. NMC exempts the couple of hundred over there. So call it 75% will feel the Austerity Bite and 25% will go unscathed.

As an interesting side bar, Sen Pete Reyes abstains from voting citing pozzolan income as an alternative to Austerity measures.

Friday, April 4, 2008

CUC Out of Fuel

They need 2 Million to pay the credit card bill.

Help me with the math on this one. They go short on residential income 1 month late last year (November election time- conveniently) to the tune of about a nickel/kWh. Then they collect full tilt for a few months. Now this month it goes back to under collection (the temp emergency ban expired) but they increased commercial rates more than enough to make up for it. So why are we still 2 Million in the hole? They aren’t even collecting the shorted amounts yet. They are still collecting from full charge months.

Should we be asking/demanding a full audit to see what the real costs are and the real expenditures? Without that piece of data how can they hope to charge at least the true cost of production? Could a privatized CUC guess any better? I don’t think so. Real hard data is needed. If it is already there, why not share it with the public? If it is not in hand, when will it be available?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Marianas Dive Club Meeting, Porky's Wednesday April 2nd 6:30PM.

This in on the email from Marianas Dive Club. From Jonathan and Mark in lieu of Mike Tripp who is off island:

Hi everyone.
This is a reminder our next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 this
Wednesday at Porkey's. In addition to the great food and company, we
will address the following:
1) Monthly clean up in participation with DEQ's Environmental
Awareness Month Dive Clean-up
2) Wyland's upcoming coral mural for CHC
3) Beautify CNMI service award recap
4) Website (surprise, surprise)
Hope to see you there.
Jonathan & Mark


You do not have to be a member to attend the get together and share diving stories, some great photos and the good company of the members and guests of the Marianas Dive Club.

Good eats and a great sunset are part of the evenings entertainment.

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, April 1st., 2008

Umbrellas and Icebergs
FLASH – Corned Beef found to be a potent aphrodisiac by Einstein Medical Center research staff. See below for details.**

Tip of the iceberg
What was the tip-off that it was going to be so expensive?

We learned the other day that a person purportedly quoted $300 for a medical procedure (circumcision) was later charged almost $8,000 for the job. So far we have not heard CHC’s side of the story so jumping to conclusions is not a good idea. There may have been complications, or some other reason to charge such a seemingly high fee for a simple operation. Perhaps it was charged as a cosmetic surgery since the patient was 18 at the time. The customer is not sure what the flap (boo) is all about.

In England, a circumcision operation performed in a certified hospital runs between 1,000 and 1,500 Pounds according to HealthcareUK, whereas in India it can cost up to 2 goats. A hospital in Shanghai was reportedly charging the equivalent of $131 US for the job. I could find no information about comparative costs for an adult operation here in the CNMI, but a local Doctor said he could perform the procedure for $60 and a bottle of Jack Daniels (joking here). The typical fee for infant circumcision runs $250 here in the CNMI and is accomplished in minutes with the use of a medical device and the skilled hands of a Doctor.

On the one hand it seems prudent to pay whatever is necessary to get a quality surgical operation in so delicate a spot. On the other hand an increase in fees from $300 to $8,000 seems a bit excessive. CHC cited Operating Room rental fees and rising costs as the primary culprit in the case at hand.

The moral of the story is to get an estimate before getting an elective operation. A friend of mine (who’s life was saved at CHC, by the way) recently needed a heart artery bypass operation. He was quoted $150,000 in Hawaii and $12,000 for the same operation in a quality facility in Manila. Getting a quote ahead (sorry) of time saved him $138,000 for which I’m sure he can find a good use. So could you.

Circumcision tip: if they quote you $300 then charge you $8,000 maybe you should ask ‘em to sew it back on.

So how much do you tip the surgeon after such an operation?
* * * *
Not a bad payday

Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth Govendo has sentenced lawyers Reynaldo O. Yana and Antonio M. Atalig to 30 days in the Iron Bar Motel for charging what Govendo thinks is too much for their 'services'. He thinks they have contempt for his opinion. He is probably right.Mathematically, it works out pretty nice. At $1,285,500 in fees that pays off at $42, 850 per day in the hoosegow. Not bad pay by most standards. I wonder if they are eating hot dogs or caviar for lunch?
* * * *
Parasol Pete
Senate President Pete Reyes says he will continue to resist holding the annual Joint Session/State of the Commonwealth speech in the recent traditional venue, the Multi Purpose Center. He has quoted cost cutting as the reason he will not allow the Senate to participate in such an event if held there. We should all be grateful to Senator Reyes for thinking about, and doing something about saving precious resources in these bleak economic times. I’m not sure what the rental fees, extra security, chairs and a few hundred bottles of water costs over at the MPC but however much if we don’t spend it then we save it for other purposes.

On the other hand, Senator Reyes suggests the constitutionally mandated State of the Commonwealth address be held instead in the Chambers of the House of Representatives up on the Hill. That venue is so small that it will block access to hundreds of citizens who would otherwise attend the event and hear this important message. Even at the much larger (and properly air conditioned) MPC the crowd that gathers is SRO with just about every inch filled to capacity. In the much smaller House chamber only a small fraction of those wanting to attend will be able to do so plus it is hot and stuffy.Hey, if you really want to save money Senator Reyes, just hold it outside the Legislative Building on the lawn. Then we don't need to spend for electric lighting or aircon inside and everyone who wants to can attend. Give the Governor and the DC Representative a DPS bullhorn (already paid for) and let 'em rip. Attendees: bring an umbrella, and your own chair.
* * * *
Where the heck is Saipan?
Along with a group of a hundred or so other interested persons I attended the recent speech made by Dr. Leroy Laney, the chief economist for First Hawaiian Bank and a professor at the University of Hawaii. His credentials are impressive, the talk he delivered was an interesting but very general account of the state of the US economy and where it might be headed. He then went on to give some predictions about Guam’s economic reactions to the much heralded military buildup.

Dr Laney had just arrived on Saipan after spending a few days on Guam while putting together the first forecast report for that island territory since 2006. What got my attention and what troubled me most about this learned man’s forecasts was that none involved the CNMI directly.

In fact he disclosed that this was his first trip to the CNMI wearing his Chief Economist’s hat since the mid 90’s. He admitted that he “had not even heard the phrase Federalization of Immigration” until he stepped off the plane a couple of hours before delivering his remarks. Think about that for a moment. The Chief Economist for a company that controls about one third of the banking market share for our whole country’s economy hasn’t even looked at our numbers for over a decade. Things have changed just a bit since then.

To be fair Hawaii is a state with a population of millions instead of tens of thousands. They host 7 million tourists a year not a half million like the CNMI so the dollars flowing in and out of their economy understandably take most of this analyst’s time. Even so, one might think a glance in our direction once in a while might be in order.

Luckily we have Ed Stephens and Bill Stewart keeping an eye on the place for us.

* * * *
Quote of the week:
Hey, anybody see the new $5 bill that just came out? The
Treasury has taken steps to discourage counterfeiters, such as making it worth less than a dollar. -- Jay Leno, The Tonight Show. March 20, 2008.

** April fools joke. It wasn’t corned beef after all.