Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, May 27th., 2008

A statute in the lobby
Thanks Firefighters
Last week was EMS Week and I hope you had a chance to thank a rescue worker, a firefighter or some other EMS person for the 24-7 protection they provide us with. They are severely undermanned and endure very long duty hours. If you did not attend any of the functions last week you can still stop in to any fire station and say thanks to those guys for putting their butts on the line for us. They will appreciate knowing that we appreciate them.
Thanks Veterans. Yesterday was Memorial Day. I took my son up to Marpi for the Veterans Memorial Service. It’s hard enough to explain dying to a 3 year old, but explaining why it can sometimes be good taxed my powers of persuasion. Anyway, he enjoyed the marching band and was impressed by the soldiers in uniform. My hat is off to all who have served and paid the ultimate price.
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He’s in the Foyer
Saipan Congressman Joseph N. Camacho has introduced legislation (HB 16-96) that attempts to restrict the hiring of lobbyists without the permission of the legislature. If passed, this law would have the effect of hamstringing this and all future Executive Branch administrations and would give undue powers to the Legislative Branch, the very branch that wants to pass the law.

I should disclose that I am not a detractor of Joe Camacho. In fact I ‘lobbied’ in his favor and worked directly to help his election bid. That does not mean we agree on all issues, we don’t. That does mean, though, that I have high regard for Rep Camacho’s abilities and his sense of providing fair and balanced government. In the case of this legislation, however, it seems that Joe has lost part of that sense of balance that is so important in staving off unwarranted concentration of governmental power. This bill is wrong for the CNMI and wrong for any government wanting to provide a limited representative democracy to its people. We citizens should be wary of allowing the Legislative Branch too much leeway in interfering with the Executive Branch. This law would allow way too much.

Hiring consultants and trained lobbyists is a legitimate, albeit expensive, way for smaller regional governments to make their positions known to the massive and often uncaring central US government. It is often the only way to gain favorable action which fosters those local positions and goals. Like it or not, that is how the US system works. We ignore that reality at our peril.

An example might be the most recent case of lobbying in which a specific remedy of $15 million is sought to offset some of the additional expenses that will be incurred because of federalization of our immigration and labor departments among other things. (Frankly I think they should have asked for $50 million or $100 million, either of which is a pittance to the cash rich US federal treasury). That aside, without asking for the aid and without using a lobbyist to push for that agenda, we are unlikely to get the cash no matter how little it is.

There are some few here, especially those in the pro-federalist camp, that will applaud this legislation as necessary to keep the Executive from lobbying against their personal wishes. You can see their vitriolic complaints in that regard spinning across the blogsphere and their oft repeated letters to the editor. Wait and see, those same folks will be singing a different tune someday if a liberal (excuse me, ‘progressive’) minded governor is elected and decides to push via legitimate lobbying efforts some agenda close to their left leaning hearts and does not have the flexibility to provide essential lobbying efforts to gain that, probably distasteful, result. These same people will be squealing for the right to hire lobbyists then.

So please, Congressmen, don’t pass this ill-conceived piece of law. It is not in the best interest of the Commonwealth and will probably wind up hurting you along with everyone else should it become law. Joe Camacho can do better than this.
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You can’t make me
I am planning to join the pack and run for the new Non Voting Delegate seat in November. I will run on a simple one-plank platform: I shall not vote! As your non-voting delegate it is my blood oath to you that “I-will-not-vote”. Come hell or high water, even if they hold me down and try to make me, I will abstain from voting.

In addition to a platform, all political candidates must make promises. Here are mine:

First, I promise to fly 1st class wherever I go, and will only stay in the best hotels. I will do both as often as possible. Remember, the CNMI is off the hook. The US government will fund all the expenses and salary for the NVD from now on. So let’s stick it to those dumb saps paying taxes out there in Nebraska.

Second, I promise to keep my eyes peeled for an opportunity to sponsor some legislation actually written by some other congressman with an axe to grind or a score to settle. Like Ms Christensen of the Virgin Islands, I won’t care who takes it in the shorts as long as I get some nice benefits tossed to the CNMI in return. I further promise to do it in an underhanded and sneaky way and to bring aboard lots of ‘advocates’ for this and that so the dirty deed looks palatable, even laudable, to average person on the street. Who knows, we may save polar bears, we may grant a munificent living to needy sea slugs (or land slugs) all while secretly hiding a bill to run Aunt Tilly’s Laundromat over in Scotts Bluff out of business because it is competing against the local congressman’s Mud Pie and Laundry Emporium. Who knows what kind of devilment-for-profit we can come up with. (Sorry, Cornhuskers, if I seem to be picking on you. Feel free to substitute ‘Kansas’ and ‘Coogan’s Bluff’ if you so choose).

Third, I will bring home the bacon. I will sponsor one or more pork barrel bills designed to bring some of that US loot back here to the CNMI. We should be able to shake those funding trees and get a few hundred million to drop out and be tossed our way easy.

Fourth, at the taxpayer’s expense I will send you some great looking but totally fictional reports on what I’ve accomplished while there. They will be on glossy paper with lots of charts, graphs and pictures.

Fifth, I will not subject you to the embarrassment of being seen around Washington in a cowboy hat. A beret, even a Scottish tam, but never a cowboy hat.

Sixth, I also promise to have my picture taken 10 times per day and send it to all the papers here in the CNMI for publication.

Okay, so much for promises. I’ll come up with some more later to give you a good reason to cast a vote my way. If I keep throwing spaghetti promises against the wall one or more are likely to be favorable to you and will perhaps persuade you to shove that vote up my ballot box once in the privacy of the voting booth.

Some politicians promise to be transparent good little girls and boys, some promise to improve your life with grandiose public works, some promise you a job due to economic upturns, etc, etc. All those promises are made to be broken and most, sure enough, will be broken, mine included. Remember though, whatever else happens…I WILL NOT VOTE!

There will be 30 or 40 people vying for this position. Why not? It pays a buck seventy a year. Contract deliverables are….nothing. You can pretend to do this job and run a profitable business on the side in your spare time. It has lots of prestige…you can put on your resume’ later that you dazzled ‘em in the halls of Congress. (Literally in the halls because they won’t let us NVDs into the actual voting Chamber). You’re almost certain to come back rich after a few years of cutting side deals in DC. So please don’t be distracted by posers. Plenty are running but only one is really qualified to not-vote. Cast your vote for the guy who absolutely will not vote. Me.

One other thing. We need to have a political party in order to look like a serious candidate for election. Independent is so trite and overused. Instead, I am forming the All Night Party. You can send your donations (in an unmarked brown envelope) to:

The Bruce to Monte Carlo Fund
PO Box 2 or 3
Twisted Sense of Humor (Right next to Truth or Consequences)
New Mexico 77666
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Quote of the week: Lobbyists are in many cases expert technicians and capable of explaining complex and difficult subjects in a clear, understandable fashion. They engage in personal discussions with Members of Congress in which they can explain in detail the reasons for the positions they advocate. Because our congressional representation is based on geographical boundaries, the lobbyists who speak for the various economic, commercial, and other functional interests of this country serve a very useful purpose and have assumed an important role in the legislative process. - John F. Kennedy ( 1917 – 1963)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Stop the Bus
The silly idea of mass transit on our tiny island is rearing its head again. The huge waste of money that would result from big buses careening around the island belching black ash and diesel fumes would be shameful. A mental image of near empty buses picking up an occasional straggling passenger waiting in the rain comes to mind.

Even in large cities with big populations, the mass transit systems usually lose huge amounts of money and have to be subsidized by the taxpayers. The idea of having that type of time scheduled, large capacity transportation actually work here on Saipan is an impossible dream, or rather nightmare that will cost us dearly if enacted.

It should be pointed out that we had a perfectly workable ‘mass transit’ system operating here until a few weeks ago. It was working so well that you could go anywhere on the island, at a time of your own choosing, for a paltry $3. We had access to good, reliable transportation without the huge costs associated with government run boondoggles. In fact, it cost taxpayers here or in the US nothing at all. So what did we do to help that working transportation system along? Arrested the producers.

I’m referring to the meterless ‘illegal’ taxi industry that has blossomed here on Saipan providing reliable and near instantaneous pick up and delivery of people to where they wanted to go. Not only was this system affordable even to the lowest paid workers on the island but by running the business efficiently, it was quite profitable to the operators of such taxies. They bought and paid for brand new, fuel efficient cars and used an on the go mobile telephone dispatch system that would be the envy of big taxi companies anywhere. All for 3 bucks a ride.

The private sector can do this job a lot more efficiently, environmentally cleaner and a heck of a lot cheaper than some rambling, top-heavy government bureaucracy can. I suggest we let them do what they do best; provide us all with cheap reliable transportation when we want it. Let them alone and let them do the job. They benefit and we benefit, so what is wrong with that?

The sticking point seems to be that the government does not get it’s cut if done the way it was in the past. There is a simple remedy for that. I recommend a moderate increase of the fee to $4 a ride. We still pay the taxi man $3 for a comfortable air conditioned ride, but we also pay the CNMI Treasury $1 per ride. Now everyone should be happy. The taxis keep operating and provide us with a necessary and useful service, and the government collects money for…um, being able to.

The last thing we need are big empty busses roaring around the island adding to pollution and using lots of fuel at the taxpayers expense.

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A lotta regatta
Well the 33rd running of the Saipan Laguna Regatta is in the books. It is the sailboat race held annually in the Lagoon and is the longest continuously running sporting event in the Marianas (some say all of Micronesia). Hobie Cat sailors gather each year to duke it out and see who has the best skills and the most capable strategy to win the most points during several heat races held over two days.

This year the team of Tony Sterns and Janet McCullough won the coveted ‘Brass Bat’ 1st prize given and took possession at the awards banquet held at Porky’s Beach Bar in Garapan Sunday evening. Tony and Janet have won several times consecutively and seem to be the team to beat in next year’s Regatta as well.

Ron Smith and Ted Parker amassed enough points to place second while Lino Olopai and Amada Rabauliman finished third. Fourth place went to the husband and wife team of Tyce and Angie Mister. These winners and all the competitors finished the 2 day event with smiles on their faces.

To see photos of this year’s race, the Managaha picnic and the awards banquet go to where photo galleries from the last several races are cached. You can also find other information about the Over the Reef Yacht Club, sponsor of the annual event at that web site or contact the club’s Commodore, Ron Smith, via the website for membership or scheduling information. The club holds weekend “fun sails’ off Oleai Beach from time to time and offers free rides and free lessons so come on out and have some fun sailing around Saipan’s beautiful Lagoon. You might be the one to beat Tony and Janet next year.
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People with Power

Recent promises by the new CUC Director, Mr. Tony Muna, pave the way to a ray of hope. If he can nudge CUC into keeping the promises made at a recent Saipan Chamber of Commerce meeting we will see the last of the rotating ‘brown out’ power outages “sometime in June”. He didn’t specify whether early or late in the month, but the promise of 24/7 electric power for all customers was made. That in itself is welcome relief.

But Muna went on to promise that by September of this year the repairs to all the engines would be complete and CUC will finally be producing more power than consumers use for the first time in quite a while. If true, that bodes well for all businesses and residential users. Instead of struggling along barely able to cope with demand, the powerhouses will have a substantial surplus of available power at long last.

Mr. Muna did not say when he would ask the biggest users, the major hotels, to rejoin the grid but that event will probably signal that the health and reliability of our power generators has been greatly improved.

Another promise he made was to be back at the next meeting of the Chamber next month in June with hard data about the actual costs to produce power and administer CUC broken down by category. He further promised to show up with ledger proven data on how much CUC actually collects versus how much is billed, and who the main non-payers are. This should be very interesting information. Most people don’t mind paying the real cost of producing electricity efficiently, we just want to see what those costs and payments are. Let’s hope he will be able keep all these promises.
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Or do it yourself
Many islanders are interested in generating their own power using one or more alternative technologies and want CUC to gear up to buy or give future monthly credits for their small excess power sent back into the grid for others to use. A recent law mandates CUC be able to buy this power from individual producers. By producing more power than they use, they will be able to make their meters “run backward” showing that they are due a payment or a credit. The real accounting system is a bit more complicated.

Only a handful of people are set up to take advantage of this ‘sell-back’ option right now but many others seem interested in moving in that direction. As the international price of oil keeps going up and the availability of reasonably priced power goes down locally, these people and their off grid systems will look more and more like self actualizing prophets of the future. Web searches will provide a wealth of information about these systems and the various options that are viable and available to you today. Right now it is still a back up system at relatively high cost but the day is fast approaching when alt power systems may outperform mass generation systems. It is worth checking out.
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Quotes of the week:
Life is like a taxi. The meter just keeps a-ticking whether you are getting somewhere or just standing still. Lou Erickson (

It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up. Muhammad Ali ( 1942 - )

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Midget Firefighter rescues Turbitt

Thanks for your Support

The fundraiser drew a nice crowd and a good time was had by all. Back pats should go out to Boni for putting this together and taking on a third full time job. Thanks.
The Manta Jazz Ensemble played many notable (okay, cut me some slack) tunes. The sound was fabulous. Thanks.

Everyone liked the gourmet Chinese food buffet. Thanks to Olive and the inspired staff. Thanks

Danny saved the day by welding Tony’s broken Trombone. Thanks.

Anthony Gomez, Trini MacDuff, David Bautista, Michio Nagata and Raegina Castro, hopefully soon to be on their way to Beijing, all say “Thanks”.

Most importantly, there is still time for you to donate to this wonderful cause. Contact Boni Gomez, principal at Garapan Elementary School, or Will DeWitt the Bandleader at Saipan Southern High School. Thanks

This is the CNMI's only chance to have a presence at the Summer Olympics and it's worldwide audience so please kick in whatever you can afford to help them defray expenses. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fundraiser This Saturday May 24th. 6PM

5 musicians will represent us in the opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics. Please come out and help them raise enough money to participate.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

A Merry ‘Ol Soul
I read with interest Bill Stewart’s 2005 revised and republished article about alternative energy in last week’s paper. The argument makes perfect sense as he and several others have pointed out over the years, as our local power generation crisis has grown steadily worse.

Coal powered, steam driven turbine generators provide stable, reliable, cost effective electricity to most of the people on the planet. In our case it bears looking at for several reasons:

First, the cost of refined oil products, especially the expensive top grade diesel fuel our generator engines have been converted to burn, is going up and will continue to go up. Those price increases, already difficult to bear, will soon become impossible to bear causing ever more people and businesses to abandon the CNMI.

Second, the technology to build and run coal powered steam generators has been refined and honed to an easy to manage science over the years. They are simple and safe to run.

Third, it is fast (which we desperately need) and comparatively cheap to build steam generators. We can afford it.

Forth, the fuel, coal, is the most abundant and by far the cheapest form of fuel to be found on planet earth and is located in huge abundance nearby and at a cost we can afford to pay. It is easy to buy and easy to transport.

Fifth, we live on a tiny island and where the trade winds cleanse the air continuously. The tiny plants needed to provide us with affordable, reliable electricity can be built using environmentally sensitive technologies that won’t do substantial harm to the rest of the world either. We won’t notice and neither will they.

Sixth, if we don’t do something soon we will all be standing down by the beach rubbing two coconuts together.

I like the idea of alternative energy. Whether a modern version of nuclear as our researcher from Tinian suggests, harnessing the awesome power of the ocean by converting water motion into electricity, or using the alternative carbon based fuel, coal, each has an appeal. On a smaller scale, wind and solar can be used by individual households and businesses that want to help even more.

We need to ask, beg, cajole, and finally demand that our leaders stop putting their fingers in the CUC dike with short term band aid fixes and cure the root problem of insanely high power costs and increasingly unreliable electric power. The power house is worn out. The engines, once converted from the heavy oil they were intended to run on have never worked properly and are the primary reason for our current electric woes. Let’s replace them with a modern coal fueled plant and solve our problems once and for all.
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Wild Pigs
Do you know how to catch wild pigs?

You catch wild pigs by finding a clearing in the jungle and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day you build a fence down one side of the clearing. When they get used to the fence they begin to eat again and you put up another side of the fence in the clearing. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence erected and a gate in one side. The pigs, now used to the free corn, start to come through the open gate to eat some more. That’s when you close the gate on them.

At first the pigs run around and around inside the fence squealing in protest, but they are caught. They have lost their freedom. Soon, they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for food to feed themselves anyway, so they accept their captivity. There is only one reason why you would want to spend all that ‘free” corn to catch those wild hogs. You know it.

Think about it the next time you see someone cash in their food stamps, or hear about yet another ‘free’ government handout program, or feel inclined to seek a no-need-to-repay government grant. Think about it again as you line up at the TSA counter to be and show your ‘papers’ so you can travel. Think of it again as you see a man’s property confiscated without due process or see a farmer paid to not grow crops. Think of it when someone comes along and wants to decide for you who comes and goes through your borders or who you can employ and how much you should pay them. Think of it when you take that ‘free’ check from the government economic stimulus program in an election year. There ain’t no free lunch.
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Quotes of the week:
If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams (1957 - )

Government is actually the worst failure of civilized man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping and unintelligent. HL Mencken (1880 – 1956)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

$15.00 gets you a Chinese Dinner and two free drinks plus a sampling of the talent that will represent the Marianas and the Public School System in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. You may even get a chance to play Rock Band! Bloggers: please help spread the word. Tickets available soon from Boni, Tony Jr., Saipan Southern High School, Porky's or shoot me an email!

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The above is posted as copied from Boni's Blog (stolen rather, without permission).

The occasion is a fundraiser for the 5 music students here on Saipan who have been chosen to play in the opening ceremonies for the upcoming Beijing Olympics. The kids are working hard and will essentially give up their entire summer holiday to practice, travel and perform.

They need funds to get them to Guam where they will continue the practicing and then to get them to Beijing and maintain them.

Please come out on Saturday the 24th and support these fine students and their mission to positively portray the Marianas in the upcoming Olympic Games. You'll have a great time, the food will be excellent and the cause is a good one. See you there!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sour Grapes for Wednesday, May 7th., 2008

My friend, with whom I occasionally agree, Angelo Villagomez is the spokesman for the PEW groups attempt to get Dubya to sign on to a US national park or monument encompassing our 3 northernmost islands and about a third of our national waters. The proposed monument is huge at about 115,000 square miles or roughly the size of the whole state of Arizona.

So far, I neither support it nor do I oppose it. Why? Because so far there is no proposal to look at. There are no concrete points to even talk about. We have only a moderately slick PowerPoint sales presentation with none of the specific blanks filled in. Who will administer this monument? Who will enforce the regulations? Who controls access? Who will draft the regulations? Will the US government, so reluctant to provide Coast Guard security to the northern islands now, come through and do so because there is a monument? Will jobs formed benefit the local population? Will anyone be able to visit this park after the ‘transition period’ other than a handful of government scientists? Will tourism jump start itself as suggested or fall flat as it did years ago? Where will the mentioned but not promised ‘visitor center’ be sited …Saipan, Maug, Pagan? Will tourists even be allowed to go up there? Would we lose access to all natural resources there forever? Will we lose the chance of gaining control over the whole 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone for ourselves through continued litigation? How is PEW involved before and, if instituted, after the monument is formed? There are a lot more unanswered questions right now.

More than a year has passed since this was initially suggested and PEW has made several trips here (3, I believe) but still there is no concrete proposal to look at. General mistrust of government programs (having seen most of them end in endless money wasting snafu’s) makes me skeptical about the prospects, but the lure of a possible major benefit makes me stay open minded and non committed until we hear real details. I am hoping that will be soon.

Prudence tells us we should have as much information as possible before making up our minds, on this or any other question. We should leave the door wide open to this proposal, when and if they come up with a formal proposal. That does not mean we should place undue emphasis on the incoming ‘economic study’ paid for by the very people trying to sell the park idea to us. Let’s gather our own facts. Lets look hard at all the real data pro and con and at the actual proposal when drafted; if the project is in our best interest, then sign on as wholehearted supporters. If not, dump it.

Be wary and remember that every good salesman tries to create a ‘sense of urgency’. Do not be fooled into thinking this is the ‘last opportunity’ or that ‘time is running out’. Balderdash…the next US prez is as likely (or maybe more so) to want to fatten his enviro-wallet resume’ with an ‘Ocean Park’ of monumental (sorry ) proportions. Bush is not the only person who can make this happen. We need some time to see what it really entails and to decide how best to proceed or if we should proceed with it at all. Let’s take our time looking and not be rushed along.

It is as ridiculous to stop the dialog now before we learn as much as we can, as it is to mindlessly jump on board as a supporter when we have no real information to go on yet. Neither position makes sense…neither furthers our cause. Is see hell-bent supporters that have signed on to the idea without a shred of hard data or real written promises to go on. I also see adamant opposition from some folks without waiting to find out if the myriad details can in fact be worked out to the benefit of the CNMI. The pro-siders seem hopeful that the US government can be trusted to wield the whip gracefully and in our interest not theirs. The opposition groups raise substantial and important questions. But no one really knows what is actually being offered, or what is to be lost. There are no specific terms and conditions to talk about yet, so let’s wait and see.

On the negative side We don’t need a national park to start tourism to the Northern Islands. We don’t have to let the Federal government get their hooks into us via an intractable regulatory system. We don’t need them to set up a visitor center or to restrict access. We can do all those things as a STATE park and still get some federal funding. The islands themselves are already protected by our CNMI Laws and Constitution. On the positive side, if this can be made to work without the CNMI losing complete control of a third of its sea assets we need to try to work out the details when they are made public because we stand to gain access to positive international attention, some money from the feds (watch for strings) and the possibility of creating meaningful jobs.

The idea that this is somehow a good move even if it is bad for the CNMI is ludicrous. The extremist mentality that we somehow benefit our children by setting aside huge tracts of the planet that no one but chosen government workers can enter (usually the ones who touted the area’s set aside in the first place) is just silly. Our children and their children are best served by making sure that every facet of our scarce resources are used and maximized to the benefit of the NMI as a whole. Specifically we must be very wary of releasing ever more control of those resources and of our very lives to the hulking bureaucracy of the United States. There may be a way this can work, but we should enter those negotiations carefully and make it abundantly clear that we must have a final say in the drafting process. We must not let them slam dunk us with a park by executive writ and then be stuck trying to make the best out of a bad deal. We must negotiate first, then and only then allow them create their park from our lands and waters. To do it the other way around is to invite disaster.

Let’s hope it works out. Angelo is a good man and should provide us with some answers soon.
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Quote of the Week:
Truth is tough. It will not break, like a bubble, at a touch; nay, you may kick it about all day like a football, and it will be round and full at evening. Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809 – 1894)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, April 29th., 2008

5 ul get ya 10
There has been a movement afoot to force CNMI Judges to accept a pay cut along with other government employees. You might think that Judges are earning too much, but without question they could be earning a lot more in private practice. To attract and keep reasonably talented persons as judges we need to offer them reasonable incentives. Salaries in the very lowest six-figure range seem fair compensation for such work. We rely on them to be fair and to make difficult and often unpopular decisions for us. They should be paid well to keep them from being too easily swayed by outside influences.

Our CNMI Constitution forbids, and rightfully so, the reduction of a sitting judge’s salary. If the legislature or the executive branch was allowed to reduce salaries of the Judicial Branch, judicial independence would be lost and the basic tenet of separation of powers would be lost. Without that separation too much power would devolve to the other branches leaving the citizenry open to more exploitation.

Contrary to some opinions, I see no reason why a Judge cannot voluntarily act to reduce his own salary as a show of solidarity and equality with his fellow government workers should they have to have their pay cut. A judge could opt to donate 10% of his salary to the general fund, a particular Agency or to some favorite charity if he so chooses. It is extremely important, however, that he or she makes that decision without forceful intervention from other branches of government for the reasons outlined above.
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Twenty more lashes
On another subject, maybe that public job/private job salary difference is what has caused Judge Govendo to jail the Malite estate attorneys for 30 days because he thinks they were paid too much for their services. They got a million-two for their work and he only got a buck twenty for his. They were released after serving their ‘contempt’ time as stipulated. Now he apparently wants to jail them indefinitely without even a hearing, not to mention a trial, until they make him feel better by coughing up the fees. How long can he keep them in jail without a trial? I’m not an attorney, I don’t even play one on TV, but I seem to remember something about due process being required to incarcerate people.
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Bring your DD-214

As a reminder to all veterans of the US armed forces, the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs urges all Veterans to register with that office as a CNMI resident Veteran. It costs nothing but a few minutes of your time and might just lead to getting a VA sponsored clinic on island if there are enough vets to warrant it. Call Ruth Coleman at 664-2650.
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Book ‘em Dano

Our new DPS department head, Clyde Norita, seems hell bent on enforcing the laws around here. I don’t agree with some of them, the taxi sting, where private property is confiscated without due process as an example …but that is not the point. Clyde’s job is to enforce the law and that is what he is doing. Others have the responsibility to make or change the law. Still others have a responsibility to point out inconsistencies or injustices and try to get lawmakers to amend existing laws or to generate new ones.

Fair, even handed and equal enforcement of existing statutes is vital to keeping the social fabric intact and gaining the respect and cooperation of citizens in abiding by our laws. Mr. Norita seems intent on making the presence of the Police visibly known and making sure they enforce as fairly as possibly. He and his officers should be commended.
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Advertisio Flagranto

A case in point would be false advertising claims. A matter for the Attorney General rather than the police. We see a lot more of the ‘bait and switch’ tactic advertisements published around here than would be allowed in a US market or other world markets. In this scheme, an item is advertised, when the customer arrives it is not in stock and no ‘rain check’ is allowed for later purchase. It is of course suggested you buy the higher priced item they just happen to have.

Airlines seem to be among the most flagrant violators of false prices advertising. You know the drill, the $329 to Hong Kong fare emblazoned across the newspaper ad really adds up to a $740 ticket when all the fine print is read and they are finally ready to charge your credit card. In fact there is a phrase called “plusplus” currently in use here that describes this, I’m sure you have heard it many times. “How much is the new airfare to Hawaii?” goes the question. “$1200 plus plus plus plus plus.” Goes the response.

Others similarly guilty would be grocery stores, department stores and others offering sales on items they actually have in very limited stock. Another area that could use some enforcement is price tags on merchandise. The law clearly stipulates that all items will carry price tags. They are actually found on less than 30 % of the items in stores here. These gripes fall pretty far down on the priority list of enforcement when budgets are cut to the bone and affected agencies are short of personnel.
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Bigamy gets expensive
While I am a proponent of user fee based charges for government services, one that rankles is the ‘police report’. A couple of years ago one stood in 2 different lines at the Guma’ Hustisia, paid $5 and came away with a sheet of paper that said you had no adverse police record. Now we still stand in the lines but pay $15; the fee has tripled. If the House of Representatives has its way, we will soon pay $30 for the same 4 milliseconds of computer time and 1 minute of personnel time. Can we say gouge?

HB 16-90 seeks to increase user fees for a variety of licenses, permits and services offered by or enforced by our government. In a couple of months you will be paying more, a lot more, for your drivers license, your car and boat registration, your copies of public documents and a many more items required by government fiat. Even marriage licenses are due to go up in price. Try not to get more than one.

Hidden inside 16-90 are some other ‘fund raising’ ideas. It calls for a reduction from 18% to 11% on co payments made by the government to employees retirement fund benefit plan. Considering that no, nada, zero payments have been made into the retirement fund the last two years and darned few in the last 8 years, it is hard to conceive of how any money will be saved by paying less in the future. Less than nothing is….well, still nothing.

Some reprogramming of funds by the Governor and the Legislative Councils will be allowed if 16-90 passes into law and CUC will be allowed to spend, yes spend the deposit money it holds in trust for its customers. Additionally, a few million here and there will be shuffled around, mostly to benefit and subsidize CUC so it can buy fuel. Why does CUC need money to buy fuel? Because the Legislature restricted how much they could charge. This sounds a bit like the revolving door principal at work.
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Quotes of the week:
REPRESENTATIVE, n. In national politics, a member of the Lower House in this world, and without discernible hope of promotion in the next. Ambrose Bierce (1842 – 1914)

Moses dragged us for 40 years through the desert to bring us to the one place in the Middle East where there was no oil. Golda Meir (1898 – 1978) former Prime Minister of Israel

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Taps plays - 2739 passes

By nearly a 2 to 1 margin S-2739 passed on 4/29/08 @ 7:18 US time. Miller and Pelosi score knockout!

The QUESTION was : On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass (I wonder if Rep Sablan objects to them suspending the rules in order to get to the vote?).

BILL TITLE: Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008. We are considered a natural resource of the US, to be used, mined and the slag cast off.

With one more signature, self rule ends in the CNMI.

Soon we can bend over and try to work out the best deal we can as a subjugated colony.

Or is there still hope?