Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Capitol Punishment
So there I was, about to get my drivers license renewed in record time, when …you know what happened, don’t you? Sure you do, the power went out. That of course brought the whole process to a grinding halt.

Careful research had indicated the correct day and hour to make that trip to BMV so the line would be at its shortest. With the proffered renewal application firmly in my sweaty grasp I was off walking to the Guma Hustisia building next door to pay my now-doubled fee and to get a traffic clearance from the Department of Justice computer. I walked. I paid. The recipient smiled.

I walked on over to room #1 and lined up to get that computer generated, hand-stamped-with-the-big-official-seal document that proved I had not been caught doing anything wrong while driving. I made it to the front, handed over my receipt and my application with the old license now dutifully stapled to the top. The nice man smiled. He hand entered the info into his computer console and just at the moment when the printer was about to spit out my form……….bzzzzt bzzzzzztt, zap, click,….dark.

A few seconds later the back up generator came on and …. flash, bzzzzt, bzzt, lights on, blink off, flash again, lights on. Funny clackity noises emanated from around the room as fax machines and other electronic gee gaws reset themselves. It’s pretty familiar to all of us now. It usually happens just when the shampoo is running into your eyes, or when the soufflĂ© is just about to reach maximum altitude.

Now comes the fun part. Some 10 to 15 minutes pass while the now punch drunk DoJ computer tries to reboot and bring itself back to full electronic consciousness. In the embarrassing silence I talk to the now not smiling man about the state of the long suffering populace and the much abused computing machines. I ask the obvious question, why should that computer have to reboot….isn’t it hooked to a battery backup and surge protector? Yep, sure is, but the back-up is broken from so many black-outs and no longer functions. I ask the next obvious question the answer to which is that there is no money forthcoming to replace the battery back up boxes. Hmmmm. Let’s see, a computer costs $1500 and a battery box that keeps the computer from melting down costs $100. So the answer is…you guessed it.

Further queries around the Guma reveal that most of the building’s many computers are not properly surge protected. The IT staff wants and asks for the proper machinery, the DoJ working staff wants and needs their computers to function properly so they can help provide judicial services to the people of the Commonwealth. No money arrives, no batteries are bought, the computers and other gear go unprotected until the day arrives when they go up in flames from neglect. Your tax dollars are not at work, they are on vacation.

After a decent mourning period, the machine comes back to life and grinds out the needed form. The friendly but frustrated man stamps it and hands it over. I don’t need the form just yet as the main BMV building has no generator so is in darkness until CUC removes the handcuffs and lets them get back to work. Once their power is back on the friendly, smiling folks at BVM process my papers, snap my photo and produce the brand new license quickly and efficiently. All is well for 3 more years of driving by which time the topic of conversation in the license renewal waiting line will be Article 12 land alienation and why we are still having power outages for the six people left who can afford $20 per KwH electricity.
Some observations: First, let me say that while I could certainly use the exercise that short walk provided, it seems a bit counterproductive (as in slide the dollars over the counter) to remove the Cashiers Window from a known revenue generator like the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. It would also make a great deal of sense to have the BMV computer be able to talk to the DoJ computer located right next door since it contains the information they need to renew your license to motor-vate. A simple piece of coaxial cable and voila!

Second, it seems the old adage “penny wise- pound foolish” never got transmitted to the good folks who dole out the ill-gotten government cash to the subsidiary agencies. To withhold a hundred which is almost certain to cost the eventual expenditure of $1500 is not the action of a rational human.

So unsqueeze that purse string Mr. Scrooge and let go a few pennies to buy those battery backups for each necessary government computer. One less round trip first class airfare aught to pay the bill nicely.
* * * *
Performance gap

While we are talking about airfares, let’s call up Philippine Airlines to come and take over that empty office at Saipan International recently vacated by Continental. I’m betting they would be happy to fly some full airplanes back and forth between Manila and Saipan. They might even be persuaded to make hops to Honolulu or Seoul or Hong Kong or Narita or Shanghai or Hagatna or Houston from here too. Maybe PAL could use Francisco Ada Saipan Airport as its US entry port and near Asia hub for flights to and from the US. These callous connies aren’t the only kids on the block.
* * * *
Blue Lagoon?
Has anyone else noticed that in the Outer Cover Marina there are no trash cans? There are plenty of new signs telling you not to litter, but no trash barrels to put the litter in. Maybe the enforcement arm of the US Parks Department got its check from Uncle Sugar before the maintenance department. There are plenty of tourists that use that docking facility and there are plenty of local boaters that use it to accommodate the tourists. All could use a place to toss the day’s trash. Form the signs into a trash bin??
* * * *
Quote of the week:
Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you, but not the one ahead. Bill McGlashen

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More CUC - but different

I was reading Boni's blog for the first time in a couple of weeks. She was ranting about CUC. We are all ranting about CUC. A nony in the comments section points out, rightly, that all the griping in the world does nothing...what we need is the money (and I would add, a plan to spend it). Ed jumps in to say even if we had the money, what he calls the OBN would waste it.

Here is my take on it:

Let's use OPM, other people's money.

Why? Because Marching is a waste of time. Suing ourselves is a bigger waste of time, because if we win, we lose since we are the ones who have to pay.

So here is a solution that will actually work: get the activists/advocates/to spearhead a Popular Divestiture Petition that if passed by the 2/3rds majority needed, forces the gov't to divest itself completely of CUC and allow a competent private firm to come in and do what is necessary to get the power on reliably.

Forces, as in an immediate order to sell at whatever (if anything) they can get someone to pay for it. There are small population power producers that specialize in just our dilemma. One or more will want to come into this market and make a buck. If this is backed by a competent PUC to oversee the monopoly and prevent it from abuse, we have our wish come true: we don't have to think about the power any more and we can get on with the important things that need to be done.

The rest of the rant: Why bother to read the published outage schedules? You know there is a 50/50 chance that it will occur on or around the published time anyway. You may bet your bottom...err bottom on the fact that you will also experience one or more other unscheduled outages as well. I agree with Ken, most of expect one of these days the power will blink a few times, switch out and just not come back on for days or weeks. I hope we are in time to do something before that happens.

Popular Petition forcing divestiture. It will work. But only if we force it to happen.

Roadside Pleas(e)
Thou shalt not give
I see an odd contradiction in the fact that many of the same people ranting indignantly about how unsafe it is for groups to stand by the road to solicit funds for some cause, seem to be perfectly happy with groups of people standing by the road to protest some policy of CUC. Apparently it is only unsafe if the complainers have to shell out a couple of bucks for a cause. Apparently it is only unsafe if the complainers are not the ones standing there beside the road themselves showing their ‘solidarity’ with some other protest group with a sign waving campaign.

It is both common practice and traditional here to use the ‘traffic method’ of fund raising for everything from cancer awareness to baseball clubs. Sometimes roadside fund raisers are trying to generate money for the catastrophic personal illness of a loved one or friend so they can have a chance at life. Sometimes it is students trying to get money for a field trip or for some extracurricular sports activity that PSS has no funds to support.

In those rare cases where there really might be a safety violation, there are plenty of applicable rules on the books that DPS can use to quash unsafe roadside activities. We do not need laws on top of laws to micromanage our lives and the lives of those who simply want to get a message out or to try to raise a buck for a good cause.

Making a law that forbids this practice based on the assumption that “someday” someone may be hurt standing beside the road is an intrusion into the rights of every citizen to gather and state their case. Spending time making laws against this kind of benign behavior is simply a waste of time and effort. There are plenty of important things for our lawmakers to focus on. This is not one of them. This is a prime example of a proposed regulation that inhibits our freedoms while pretending to save us from ourselves. We can take care of ourselves thank you. Parents can decide for their own children whether this is a practice they want them to engage in. We don’t need another law to restrict our choices.

Whatever the reason a group has for roadside fundraising, be it serious or flippant, do they not have the right to ask for your support? You can then decide whether to help their cause or not. Do you need a law that forbids you from donating? I submit that you do not.
* * * *
Party crasher
I dropped by the home of a friend that was doing some work for me to discuss the strategy of repairs. When I drove up there was a gathering of folks sitting around tables under a tent obviously enjoying a party of some sort. In US culture it would be considered rude to invite yourself to a party, so I was about to drive off and come again some other time. Luckily here in the Marianas, close to Asian culture and with centuries of welcoming tradition by the indigenous islanders, I was welcomed; no I was commanded to join in the festivities. This was a birthday party thrown by Filipinos but only the language being spoken and some food variations differentiated it from the many wonderful Chamorro and Carolinian gatherings I’ve been invited to join. The welcome was the same.

I was helped to embarrassing quantities of delicious food and was ‘forced’ (yeah sure) to drink some beer, chat happily and enjoy fellowship with the group, most of whom I had not met before. It was a refreshing and fun experience. One that I have had repeatedly here and one that I hope to repeat many times in the future. What a wonderful experience it is to meet new people and share their ideas. Celebrating life is one of the best things we humans do. It helps to make up for the times when we do harm to each other.

The point is that in the rush to be more American, to assimilate that financially successful culture and make it part of local island life, it is possible to lose some of the core beliefs that make this culture unique. The ‘separate individual’ culture nurtured in the US where people often live for years in an area where they do not know or associate with their neighbors is not something this place should emulate. I am not suggesting a return to full communal life, but I am sounding a warning that taking on the mantle of change offered by those who come here from afar or from those who leave here to be educated elsewhere is not always advisable. That mantle of change can be protective, and it can also be destructive. In the midst of all the technical things that need improvement here resides the reality of a wonderful place to live. I for one am thankful to be here, power outages or not.

When I first came here many years ago I was happily surprised by the welcoming nature of the people’s who call these islands home. I still find myself enthralled by the giving and friendly nature of the Marianas population. Carolinians and Chamorros hosting Filipinos, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thais, and even a few US mainlanders, Russians, Bangladeshis, Europeans and others who all manage to get along pretty well here. Better than most disparate populations get along, that’s for sure. The level of mutual assistance and reciprocal aid is refreshing too.

For all our faults and petty grievances, this is still a great place to be, and a traditional party is a great way to express our joy. Now where did I put that abs toning machine?
* * * *

Post Toasties
Note to Postmaster Medina:
I read your letter in the Saipan Tribune. My latest ‘lost’ package arrived. It took a month to get here by Priority Mail, and had been smashed, dashed, crashed and hashed enroute. It had been cut open; I suppose to check on the suitability of children’s clothing and a package of yellow rice being used as fodder for terrorists. Usually when a package goes missing, that puppy is gone forever. This one at least arrived. Thanks for tracking it down...and thanks for reading Sour Grapes.
* * * *
Quote of the week:
You only have to bat a thousand on two things; flying and heart transplants. Everything else you can go 4 for five. Beano Cook (1931 - )

Monday, July 21, 2008

B-52 Bomber crashes off Guam

HONOLULU - The Air Force says a B-52 bomber carrying six crew members has crashed off the island of Guam.
Coast Guard says two people have been recovered from the waters. Their condition was not immediately available.
Rescue crews from the Navy, Coast Guard and local fire department are searching for the others.
Officials say the crashed occurred about 25 miles northwest of Apra Harbor.
The accident is the second for the Air Force this year on Guam.
In February, a B-2 crashed at Andersen Air Force Base in the first-ever crash of a stealth bomber. The military estimated the loss of the aircraft at $1.4 billion.
********** *********
The above is off the AP wire a few minutes ago.

Looks like all the airplane activity around Guahan is causing some pilot rust to show through. Lets hope they find the other crewmembers safe and sound.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fishing for Bombs
Let’s eat tomorrow too
Fishing requires only three things: Fish plus the skills and equipment to catch them. Well okay, water is helpful.

Right now we have an abundance of fish around most of the CNMI but we have one place that is losing fish populations on a daily basis. The Saipan Lagoon is over fished and “subsistence” fishermen are killing the resource. Many more fisherman are fishing and most are using modern technology to make their catches, making it easier for them to strip the waters.

Responsible catch limits on numbers and size of fish taken can allow fish stocks to replenish themselves inside the Lagoon so Saipan families can continue to be fed far into the future. That is not happening now. Those who will be leaving may not care.

Hoards of fishermen, hundreds every day, ply the waters of the Lagoon taking every thing that lives. Every fish, no matter how small, every shellfish, every invertebrate, every crustacean; all are taken. When all, including the babies and the breeders are taken and eaten too few survive to breed and sustain the fishery.

Indigenous peoples sustained large populations in these same islands solely by the use of local resources. They did not import food or other commodities. They managed to sustain themselves through internal regulation. Chiefs and elders strictly controlled fish takes. They even had ‘no take’ zones such as we see today. It was forbidden to fish in some zones altogether and others were regulated by fishing only at certain times or seasons. All zones were restricted to members of certain groups. Others fished there literally on peril of their lives. In short, they made fishing rules and enforced them stringently. That indigenous system is no longer in place and needs to be replaced with another.

The fishing license proposed by some is a start. Then we know who is fishing. It would also give any new size/take regulations some enforceable teeth. No License, no fishing. Regulation offenders could be barred from the waters for a time or have other punishments (short of death) meted upon them.

As times get tougher many, local citizens and foreign nationals alike, are turning to the Lagoon to provide extra food for the table. The problem is too many are taking too much for the fish to survive. We must remember that the Lagoon acts like a nursery for fish and other aquatic life of all kinds. Sea life outside the Lagoon abounds and thrives but close in fish populations will crash if over fishing continues. The Lagoon will die, not 50 years from now, but soon if unregulated, ‘scorched earth’, take everything fishing is allowed to continue. Already, the catch is fewer and fewer…smaller and smaller.
* * * *
Attention CUC Protesters

Standing around with a protest sign will not get your power turned back on or fix the generators or make the cost of fuel go back down. At best it is an exercise in futility, at worst it is a waste of your time and money.

Here is a suggestion. Here is something you can do right now, today, that will actually have an effect. Take your business elsewhere. It’s that simple, just unhook yourself from the CUC grid and do without that electricity. Build yourself a small fire in the back yard to do your cooking on, or buy a gas stove.

Get a generator, buy a flashlight and a big box of candles. Use them daily. Put a catchment tank on the roof and use gravity to feed water into your house. Then there is no need to support CUC by buying water from them either. Now you are really doing something that counts. Now you have some punch behind your protest. Get your friends to join you.

We electric users are all aggravated by the continuing outages and ultra high bills, but protesting just doesn’t feed the bulldog. Standing at the side of the road will net you a soggy sign if it rains, and not much of anything else. This may be the reason so few of you showed up.
* * * *
Another Suggestion

Advocates, protestors, carpenters, kings and just about everyone in the Commonwealth has an interest in power production, its reliability and its costs today. The newly formed Public Utilities Commission met this weekend to discuss just what to do about the problem. Want to guess how many interested advocates and revolutionaries cared to show up? None. Thanks Ken.

Electricity users, if you really want to be part of the solution instead of just another voice in the kilowatt wilderness, make it a point to attend the PUC meetings, the CUC board meetings, the public addresses by CUC and the Legislative committee and other meetings where allowed. Find out what is being done. Make a reasonable suggestion if you have one and have the opportunity to speak. You might just make a difference that way.
* * * *
Since I seem to be harping on electric power again, it seems only right that I point out we had our first outage in over a week on Sunday. It was of mercifully short duration. Thanks CUC, something went right seven days in a row. I’m grinning.
* * * *
Effete war mongering

An article in the Wash Post last week was headlined “Pentagon to opt for less deadly bombs”. That caught my attention. The upshot of the unsigned Associated Press article was that Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. thinks our bombs work too well, but not always. This sounds like your tax dollars at work all right. Hey instead of those dastardly cluster bombs that go around killing people, maybe they could start using cardboard boxes filled with Styrofoam ‘shrapnel’? To really teach those military foes a lesson we could print “BOOM” on the side of the box. That would show ‘em who’s who. I’m not sure if that bit of nastiness would pass muster with the Geneva Convention folks though.

Speaking of Geneva, several of our NATO allies also call for the US to stop making these deadly explosives. Are these the same Europeans who were quite happy to have dear old Uncle Sam come over and slap that nasty Mr. Hitler around a few years back? Why yes, I believe they are. Now they would prefer us to smack ‘em around with powder puffs and silk blouses.
* * * *
Quote of the week:
A critic is a gong at a railroad crossing clanging loudly and vainly as the train goes by. Christopher Morely (1890 – 1957)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Justice is Expensive

I spent the morning on Capital Hill in the House Chambers inhaling the Chief Justice's State of the Judiciary speech.

In a nutshell, as you might guess, the majority of the time was spent in pursuits other than speechifying. A 2 hour time block netted a speech lasting about 45 minutes in which a direct message of perhaps 5 minutes was given inside of which there were nearly 45 seconds of actual hard data delivered.

Here is the crux of the biscuit: Times are tough, the judiciary is important, we work hard, please don't interfere with us, please don't cut our pay or our budget. We'll give up 10% without a fight. Applause, cookies & water.

Such is the state of formalized grade-card announcements. Demapan gave as good an address as you normally find under such circumstances and better than a lot I’ve heard.

I enjoyed talking with everyone afterward.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Package Deal
Snail Mail
Something happens to mail on Saipan. Much of the time it works well, considering we all live thousands of miles from the nearest sizable hub and even more thousands away from the US mainland, our mail manages to get here most of the time. True, a Priority Mail envelope takes a week or 10 days or two weeks to get here, but it does get here, most of the time. But not all the time.

Everyone I have talked to about the ‘disappearing’ mail seems to have experienced it. In casual conversation it has come up many times. That tells me it is a significant percentage of loss, one worth talking about. After you read this, start asking around. I’m betting you will find most everyone you talk to about it has either sent mail that did not arrive or has waited to receive mail that never got here, multiple times.

I have noticed that a package sent from the States to be received here has a much greater chance of being ‘lost’ that one being sent the other way. I’m not sure why that would be, but it is noteworthy. I have noticed that a package sent “insured” for any amount has a far greater chance of being received than one that is not. Insurance provides not just a financial buffer against possible loss but also a mechanism for tracking. Perhaps the tracking capability is what causes the successful delivery ratio to rise.

Missing mail is not just an inconvenience; it is a crime…and a Federal crime at that. Mail that goes missing is almost unheard of in the US, maybe that is because the penalties for stealing it are so severe. A recent case in North Carolina turned out to be an inside job where a USPS employee was stealing mail that looked like greeting cards. She would keep any cash, then destroy all the checks and the cards themselves. She kept quiet about it but still got caught because of internal security systems in place. Those systems don’t seem to be working too well on the route that gets mail out here.

The above is a rare event Stateside, an inside job doesn’t happen all that often. Mail is sometimes stolen from corner pick up boxes (which we don’t have here) or from exposed multiple outside mail delivery boxes near apartments or office buildings (which we also don’t have). Those mail thieves are usually caught and do severe prison time. We had a case a while back where someone broke in and stole mail from the Capital Hill post office branch and was caught fairly quickly.

I think it is more than distance, more than coincidence, more than a logistically complex path of mail delivery. I think there is a security breech somewhere up the line and that someone inside USPS internal affairs needs to take a hard look and find the cause of Saipan’s “Missing Mail”. Since it travels via commercial air carrier, maybe that is the source of the leaking mailbags.

Missing or not, we should count our blessings about having access to one of the best, most efficient and even with all the increases, one of the cheapest forms of mail and package delivery on the planet. It is a pretty darned good deal to send a letter from here to Omaha or Boston, for the same price it takes to send it to Chalan Kanoa or Guam. I would just like it to arrive more often.
* * * *
Own-lee fie dolla
I see in the news where ex attorney general Pam Brown is ringing in with her negative opinion about whether or not our government should sue the US government to get the Federal Court’s opinion about the legality of interference with our local labor laws.

Is this the same Pam Brown who has remained conspicuously absent from public scrutiny since her foray into paid ‘philanthropy’ a couple of years back? Pam’s ‘last great hurrah’ as attorney general was a regulation change snuck into the Commonwealth Register public record under a phony cover name so it would hopefully not be discovered.

Her scheme to kidnap Vietnamese hookers, bring them to Saipan and 'rehabilitate' them for fun and profit was a low point in CNMI history and rightfully drew mass public criticism when Ruth Tighe (perhaps the only person who actually reads the Register) exposed the sordid affair. Ms. Brown didn't even show up at the 'hookers for hire' public meeting, she was so embarrassed at being caught.

Right…her’s is an opinion I sure want to give a lot of credence to. Not.
* * * *
Ace of Spades
On a more important note, the legal question posed above is an interesting one. It is a question I would like to see answered, and one that many other residents and business owners and a good number of attorney’s and scholars in the CNMI would like to have answered. Does the US Constitution trump the CNMI Covenant when the only reason the US Constitution has any sway here at all is through the enabling provisions inside the Covenant itself?

The answer to the question may well determine the fate of ‘local self government’ as promised in the Covenant and as promised to the people who voted to accept the help and assistance of the US as they transitioned from a public ward to a free people. A promise was made to the world. Will it be kept?
* * * *
Quote of the week:
The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case. Thomas Paine, patriot and philosopher (1737 – 1809)
Put another way: He who’s representative does not have a vote, has no representative. That person and that nation of persons without representation are slaves and colonists, not free men. Bruce A. Bateman, pundit and curmudgeon. (1918 - )

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bon Voyage Turbitt Family

Another positive asset has flown the CNMI coup. Irascible Jeff Turbitt, writer, teacher, diver, ex-bon vivant – now family man, has packed up his family and moved to the desert southwest. Phoenix will be richer; Saipan will be poorer for his move.

He follows scores, nay hundreds of others who have left and precedes hundreds, maybe thousands more who will follow him on the exodus out of Saipan.

Jeff and I seldom agreed on things political or philosophical but managed to become good friends and scuba diving buddies none the less.

Jeff fell in love on Saipan and married Cynthia, a charming girl and inherited a 2 child instant family and recently added Baby Ashley to his tribe. So he came as a bachelor and returns to the States as a family of 5.

Bon Voyage Jeff and Family. May you find green pastures and blue skies.

Butt out
First, I will tell you that I don’t smoke. No one in my family smokes. I don’t plan on taking it up. Next, I will tell you that trying to legislate the personal choice of whether to take the risks involved in smoking is futile and it is intrusive and it won’t curb smoking, it will only curb business and piss people off. Making laws that tell people what they can inhale and what they can’t, when or where they can inhale it and in whose presence they may inhale it is a window dressing law made to try and garner a few votes from the virulent non-smoking set. They forget it will lose as many or more votes from those who do smoke.

If questionable science attributing all kinds of terrible things to second hand smoke can be used to force otherwise law abiding citizens to not light up, then I wonder just what else is on the horizon. Will the crazed nanny government ban mayonnaise? Why not? That level of fat has been shown to be bad for your health. What about those french fries and the great burgers found here? They could be a contributor to diabetes, so will they be banned? What about the foods found at just about every local barbecue? Will parties and Rosaries be legislated out of existence because they are ‘bad’ for us according to the legislature?

What about other harmful practices? People die every day from drowning, so should they make laws forbidding you to enter the water? Why not? Driving kills plenty of people. Will they have us all walking so as to protect us from ourselves? People fall and hurt themselves and others, should our lawmakers draft legislation banning all ladders? Stairs? Elevators? Trees? You get the point. Attempting to legislate your complete safety is impossible and directly inhibits your constitutional right to pursue happiness as you see it.

So if you don’t like second hand smoke, vote with your feet. Vote with your wallet by not patronizing those places which allow people to smoke or not as they choose. If you prefer a place which forbids smoking, then by all means go there. If you prefer a place that let’s you choose, then give them your business. But do not expect the legislature to turn those business owners and other customers into slaves to your particular desires. This is a question that should be answered by business owners and by customers, not by bureaucrats, proselytizers and lawmakers.
* * * *
Washington Speaks
In an informal interview our Washington Representative, Pete A. Tenorio, said that the current attempt to designate a no-take monument in the CNMI’s northernmost three islands will die, as it requires the actual support of the local community and its government, which it does not have.

Relating what the White House Director of Ocean and Coastal Policy, Dr. Gerhard Kuska, told him, Pete A. claims neither the President nor his administrative folks have received the CNMI Legislative Resolution about not wanting the monument designated without prior locally approved negotiation. He claims further that no one in DC has received the letter penned by Governor Fitial flatly refusing the ‘offer’ proffered by PEW and it’s local champions. This is surprising news. The dog ate it?

Mr Kuska advises both the Legislature and the Governor to resubmit their responses to President Bush via fax, email or through his (Pete A.’s) office to make sure they are received this time. Once the ‘no thanks’ letter and the legislative resolution are received, the motion to designate a monument in the CNMI will ‘die immediately’ says Mr. Tenorio.

Pete A. goes on to say “To me, there is no doubt that the White House will not move on the matter unless and until our government requests for such exchange.” So it appears that a formal request would need to be given. Since that is not likely to happen, perhaps the PEW induced mini frenzy and the surrounding controversy will sink, for good or for ill, peacefully into the western sunset. Or not, depending on how much cash PEW is willing to throw at it.
* * * *
Sergeant CUC?
While chatting about a variety of topics with friends at lunch the other day an interesting idea came up. Why not ask the US Military to assist us in our hour of need, electrically speaking. The idea is not as far fetched as it sounds. If the US, so eager to take over immigration and labor to our economy's detriment, would help us as they help other places around the globe, we might have our answer to reliable electric power until a new power plant can be built.*

The military owns barges with complete “plug in” powerhouses capable of supplying all the electricity we need here on Saipan. They offer aid to other places with disasters and power outage emergencies, why not us? If our citizens can be cannon fodder for US wars, if aid can be sent to completely foreign countries in need then why would they not directly help a Commonwealth/colony that is politically aligned with them?

If we ask, they might just be willing to help out. Hey There! Mr. General Sir, Mr. Admiral Sir, send us a barge or two, please. We’ll have the hook up ready by the time you get here. We only need about 50 megawatts to get us by. For less than the cost of a single tank or plane you can gain the gratitude of over 50 thousand people. Besides, it would be a good place to open a recruiting office.

* For a discussion of IPPs and possible new power plants see Dr. Arkle’s excellent overview letter at in which he describes several alternatives.
* * * *
Quote of the week:
Of all tyrannies a tyranny exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. - C.S. Lewis. (1898 – 1963)