Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It’s a Pinto
Drug needle
I have heard several folks criticizing local and federal law enforcement for their failure to stop the importation of drugs found in a Chinese garment worker’s car recently. I do not agree. Trying to stop this kind of thing at the border seems almost impossible.

While 176 grams sounds like a lot (and is a lot if it is being used by a relative who is destroying his family with it) it is really a tiny amount size wise. About 6 ounces of anything, illegal drugs, shredded carrots or beach sand is a pretty small package and could be hidden most anywhere.

Before finding fault with DEA or FBI or CPA or DPS think about how difficult it would be to find that needle in a haystack. Interdiction of large quantities is probably possible because of the physical size of the contraband package. How on earth would you expect to find something that small on a regular basis? I’ve heard of drug smelling dogs but would that work on something sealed airtight and really tiny in size? My guess would be probably not. Any experts in the field willing to give an opinion?

So it seems that solving the problem by reducing demand or by curbing illegal usage would be a far more profitable use of DPS/FBI/CPA/DEA personnel time than trying to find that tiny needle in the haystack of incoming people, baggage, merchandise, ship and air cargo.

Congratulations are due to the patrol officers who were observant enough to catch this guy during a routine traffic stop and get him and the drugs off the street.
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Up the wrong tree

Recently a group of people assembled at fishing Base to vent their frustrations at the power outages that have plagued our island for the last few months. Why the leaders of the event waited to protest until after the problem was temporarily solved by the Aggreko generators is a mystery only they know the answer to.

What they want is reliable and affordable power. That is a laudable goal. The way they want to do it is a throwback to the failed mechanisms of yesteryear. Individually and collectively they are calling for and insisting that ‘affordable’ power is a right assured to everyone. It is not a right; electric power is a commodity and has a price like any other good or service.

They are asking for a regression to the old days that they themselves in the next breath call for an end to. Then as now the local government owned and operated the power plants. Here on Saipan there used to be relatively reliable power and it was affordable as well, it was cheap in fact based on what it actually cost to produce it. It was cheap because the rate paying customers were not charged as much as it cost to make the power. The difference was made up for by government subsidies. They took all the money paid by the ratepayers into the system and used it for operations, plus they took more funds wrested from other sources and threw them in on top to keep the lights on. Little or nothing was spent on a decaying infrastructure as we all know and now it has come home to roost. They kept rates artificially low and that was the problem, not the solution. So to call out now for artificially lowered rates is irresponsible and won’t work this time any better than it did last time.

We should look to someone other than our government’s Administration, this one or any other one, to come up with answers to the affordability question. Likewise we should look elsewhere to find a professional operations company if we don't want to see this emergency fiasco repeated endlessly into the future. Rate setting and reliable operations should be done by a responsible and professional third party company or co-op, not the government. Let’s leave upside pricing oversight to a well trained Public Utilities Commission and downside pricing to real costs and reasonable profits. We will all pay less and have the reliability we all want to boot.

Privatize CUC with a completely open, no strings attached bid process. Then we have a chance for reliable affordable power. Begging another government group to take the reins from this government group is begging for more of the same.
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Which color horse?
Last week’s Sour Grapes had a section about the importance of consistency of purpose between the local Administration and the new Officer we are about to elect called a Non Voting Delegate. As a side issue in that piece I wrote, “Our elected Washing Rep is still in office though he is running for another office and the Constitution says he should resign.” Pete, and a couple of other people have sent me emails offering a different interpretation and claiming that he need not resign. Pete had a copy of that email printed as a Letter to the Editor citing his reasoning. Hopefully you read it.

Pete claims that the new federal law that mandates the new NVD office was written so as to define his old job to be the same as the new job he hopes to be elected to even though they are completely different. Maybe that is true.

Note that Pete A. currently works for the CNMI and is paid by the CNMI treasury. His title is “Resident Representative to the United States”, he is an elected and paid lobbyist for the CNMI. The new position he hopes to be elected to is the “Delegate to the House of Representatives”, a different animal entirely. Whoever wins will be paid by the United States Treasury. This is clearly a different job with a different title, different responsibilities, different authority and a different paymaster. To say he is running for the same office is not factual and at best constitutes semantic pandering. Note also that the office term of Washington Rep does not even expire until 2010. Maybe the reason for the language calling an apple an orange is so there are not two representatives from the CNMI floating around Washington at the same time, and not so the current Rep does not have to resign before running for a different job.

So it is a matter of interpretation whether the current Resident Representative should resign to run for the Non Voting Delegates office. However, the time frame is so short now that I guess it doesn’t make much difference so I won’t continue to beat this different colored horse of an argument any longer.

One other point deserves mention. Some think I bring this up because I don’t like Pete A. Nothing could be further from the truth. I like and respect him. In fact I find him to be an engaging man with enough intelligence and diplomatic capability to do the job if he is elected by the people of the CNMI. I don't agree with his new philosophical position nor do I want to personally back someone who has 'flipped' positions, but he is certainly capable if elected which is also true for most of the other candidates.

Anyway Pete, good luck and thanks for reading Sour Grapes.
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Quote of the week:
When you point your finger at the moon, you want others to look at the moon, not your finger. Zen Homily

1 comment:

KAP said...

Can't see the forest

Why do you keep ragging on Tina, Ed, et alii for keeping CUC's feet to the fire? Aggreko is not a solution, it's a band-aid priced like a Pentagon toilet seat.

While I don't agree that our rich uncle should get involved, I certainly appreciate their keeping the subject on Page One. The Legislature? Watch them too, at least as long as they're passing full-employment privatization bills.

Throwing the whole mess into receivership appeals to me. In fact, why not give the receiver a mandate to privatize? That would keep the politicians out of it.

Of course, CUC is so entangled with the government it's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. It has been "given" funds, "offset" bills, "forgiven" (and then unforgiven) debts for so many years it would be a career to balance the accounts.

(So far, PUC's idea of well trained is predictable: off-island travel)