When you get stuck along Beach Road, better take the Middle Road. This is a website for those who choose to tread Saipan's off the beaten path. * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * +

Dec 27, 2008

Discriminatory Acts? Whose Church is it?

Yup. These are the questions going around the community right now, especially the alien workers' community. Someone has been passing along emails to almost every one on the island with regard to a recent incident within the Kristo Rai Parish Church in Garapan.

The email and the request are petitions to boycott the Kristo Rai Parish Church. Allegedly, one devout who is from here blurted in public that the apparent church is theirs and not the "Filipinos." I asked around if this really happened and one Filipino caroler attested to the incident inside the church.

Now question is, perhaps people are just being too sensitive? Or is it discrimination?

While I personally have different opinions on religion and churches, should the community be bothered at all? Sources said that the group had relayed the incident to the bishop but he has not acted on it nor included it in his homily.

The email you can read below:
After the Aguinaldo mass last Saturday at Kristo Rai church, a member of the Parish Pastoral Council berated and humiliated in public Ate Shirley, a Filipina who works in keeping the church clean and orderly. It is not very clear why the Parish Official was upset but whatever the reason was, he should have reprimanded the poor lady in private and not in full view of other church goers. What shocked every Filipino who were there was when the Parish official told Ate Shriley:
"THIS IS OUR CHURCH, IT IS NOT FOR THE FILIPINOS. YOU CAN TELL THAT TO THE PRIEST, I DON'T CARE"
This statement was heard by many Filipinos. All were speechless and shocked. The general feeling was frustration and anger. How can a parish official say such a thing when majority of church goers are Filipinos, HOW CAN HE CLAIM THAT KRISTO RAI IS THEIR CHURCH?
[a]DOES GOD DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN FILIPINOS, CHAMOROS, CAROLINIANS, KOREANS, ETC? I DON’T THINK SO.
[b] Even if they have contributed to the church more in terms of monetary value (because how much does an average Filipino earn in Saipan compared to the income of locals?), does that make them more holy and pleasing in the eyes of God?
Kristo Rai Church is not the building. It is the people that gathers there to worship the Lord. They are the faithful, the altar servers, the choir members and all church goers no matter what their nationality is.
A CHURCH CAN EXIST WITHOUT A BUILDING; BUT EVEN THE MOST BEAUTIFUL STRUCTURE CANNOT BE CALLED A CHURCH WITHOUT A PRIEST AND FAITHFULS WHO WORSHIP THE LORD.
The Parish Pastoral Council of Kristo Rai is also attempting to petition for the removal of Father Glen as Parish Priest. Please let us not allow this to happen. We urge all Filipinos and Catholics to unite in condemning these discriminatory acts. Kristo Rai Church is the house of God. It should be open to everyone regardless of nationality or creed. In support of Father Glen, we urge all Catholics to stop attending mass at Kristo Rai Church until the issue is resolved by the Bishop. There are other churches in saipan where Filipinos are more welcome. We also encourage everyone to refrain from donating during the masses at all churches. This will show our unity and our desire to have the matter resolved immediately. Without our contributions, the parish councils will realize the value of the Filipino in the religious community. Please pass this message to all concerned. E-mail this to all your friends and relatives in Saipan.

Dec 20, 2008

Power Outage...How We Miss 'Em!

As we welcome the year 2009 we are welcoming back the ominous power outages around the island. Last week there was a four-hour blackout in Garapan area and the hotels were affected. Reports said that felled trees had something to do with the outages.

One of our friends booked an overnight stay in one of the prominent hotels on the island and as the power went out the incident triggered a fire alarm in the hotel. Consequently all the guests rushed down to the lobby in their night gowns and sleeping attire. It was midnight.

Then the hotel management apologized that it was indeed a false alarm. Then the guests went back to their rooms. After so-so minutes the fire alarm went off again. Thus, the guests had to get up and gather at the lobby. Yes, false alarm. The hotel management apologized dearly and explained that due to the power outage the alarm went off inextricably.

According to our sources, the fire alarm went off three times. Hence, my friend and her family decided to leave the hotel that night.

Imagine the inconvenience to our deteriorating number of tourists....

Dec 18, 2008

Quick Note: Teens with Guns?

Folks are asking here on the island that how come it was not in the news that two high school students from MHS were detained for bringing in guns in school?

How true? Sources said that MHS students confirmed the incident.

What's happening to our teens these days...?

Funnyman Deanne Siemer

The email snafu between CNMI Government "volunteer" attorney Deanne Siemer and Congresswoman Tina Sablan is getting more bizarre. For those who haven't followed the story, Sablan sent a letter to CNMI Deputy Labor Director Cinta Kaipat on certain immigration issues. Siemer drafted a response for Kaipat to sign, and emailed it along with instructions. The problem was that Siemer emailed the draft letter and instructions to Sablan instead of Kaipat. Oops! Here's an excerpt from Siemer's instructions:

In my view, Tina has decided that you are a rising political star, and she's upset that someone she tried to brand as a racist is succeeding in persuading her colleagues at the Legislature. So we'll be on her radar screen for awhile. It is useful not to answer too promptly, but promptly enough. Letting her wait for a week or 10 days sends a message that we are respectful of all legislators, but we help productive people first and she is not in that line.

Siemer now claims that the whole thing was a joke. Siemer claims that she drafted a fake, satirical letter in order to be humorous, and purposely sent it to Sablan as a joke.

This piqued our interest. We had to see this brilliant piece of satirical humor that Siemer had sent to Sablan as a joke. Our intrepid investigative reporters dug it up. Here is Siemer's idea of comedy:

The Department is considering a policy change with respect to cases that have been on the docket of federal administrative agencies for over three years. It seems to us that three years is sufficient time for an agency to act. In the absence of action, unemployed foreign workers remain in the Commonwealth, often incurring medical and other expenses that Commonwealth taxpayers must shoulder. However, there may be countervailing policy considerations, and we are discussing these with the agencies involved. When you next have a conversation with one of these agencies, you might want to urge them to act on cases from the Commonwealth with more dispatch. It has been our experience that nearly all the cases filed with these agencies ultimately either are dismissed by them or a no-action letter is issued. Waiting for years for an agency to decide that it will not act is an administrative waste.

Wow, Deanne, that's funny stuff. When we read that, we laughed so hard that we peed in our pants. Shame on you, Tina Sablan, for not appreciating Deanne Siemer's hilarious sense of humor.

And to think, some of you thought that Siemer had sent this to Sablan by mistake, and didn't have the honesty, integrity, humility and courage to admit that she had made a mistake.

Dec 17, 2008

US Justice Department Mocks Anti-Federalization Lawsuit

The U.S. Justice Department has moved to dismiss Governor Fitial's anti-federalization lawsuit against the Federal Government.

Justice cited several reasons why the case should be dismissed. For example, Justice asserted that only the CNMI Attorney General can bring such an action on behalf of the CNMI. This suit was filed without the involvement of the Attorney General, with Howard Willens listed as the CNMI's attorney.

Justice also noted that the damages the Governor claims will occur as a result of federalization are speculative, based largely on a GAO study that contains numerous disclaimers stating that the report has no predictive value whatsoever. As we all know, the CNMI's current economic troubles began quite some time ago, and federalization has not even gone into effect yet.

The Governor has asserted that he has no objection to the Federal Government taking control of CNMI immigration law, as clearly allowed by the Covenant. Fitial and Willens assert, however, that the new federalization law also takes control over CNMI labor law because it would impact the number of foreigners who could work in the CNMI. According to Justice, this argument makes no sense, and reflects a fundamental failure to understand U.S. immigration law: "Laws pertaining to whether aliens are authorized to be present in the United States and, if so, whether they are authorized to be employed in the U.S. labor markets, is exclusively the subject of federal immigration law," according to Justice. "U.S. immigration laws affect labor markets. That is one of their primary purposes, but it does not make them 'labor laws.'"

As others have pointed out, no community in the U.S. gets to decide how many foreign workers will be admitted to work in that community. That is controlled entirely by U.S. immigration law.

Clearly, the Justice Department is not impressed with Howard Willens' legal arguments. Might even opponents of federalization concede that this lawsuit is a waste of the CNMI's scarce fiscal resources?

Dec 12, 2008

Diego to Go!

It's former Lt. Gov. now Congressman Diego Benavente's turn to spin local politics as he has announced his intention to run for CNMI Governor next 2009. The most interesting of this move is that it will be a three-way competition among former Gov. Babauta, 2005 Gubernatorial Election runner-up Hofschneider.

A local primary is now expected within the local Republican Party.

I heard that Benavente if selected would have a chance for the much-coveted seat up at Capital Hill. However, Hofschneider as they say is the man to beat. They also say, the former governor will have to get back in the limelight for a chance of a close fight.

Well, what do you think?

Dec 3, 2008

Survey Says: What Are You Putting Off from Your List This Christmas?

So, it is Christmas and the world is in the midst of a financial crisis, what would you be putting off or at least not going to do or spend for this holiday?

We want to know....

Nov 30, 2008

Do We Ever Learn....

Drunk Driving...Claims another....

At 11pm last night the road going to Susupe right before the Gilbert C. Ada Gym was almost blocked by the traffic police due to another car accident. A car went through a concrete fence across the Mobil Gas Station.

Friends were caught up in the traffic last night. We learned today that the victims were Koreans --Husband and wife. Allegedly, the man was drunk and was the driver while the wife was his passenger. Sources said the wife died from the accident. On the spot? We don't know.

People say that it's sad to lose a wife and be charged of murder in the end after his recovery....

Nov 25, 2008

No to Chinese and Russian Waiver...

Breaking news from the KUAM website that the "Feds reject the bringing Chinese and Russain tourists through waiver program" to Guam that would trickle down to the CNMI's similar request. The report says that the feds find it not allowable at this time due to security concerns.
KUAM - With the downward spiral of tourist arrivals from Japan, the Guam Visitors Bureau was dealt a devastating blow as efforts to bring in tourists from China and Russia via the newly-created Guam-CNMI Joint Visa Waiver Program were shot down by the federal government. According to the Federal Register the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in a ruling issued today stated nationals from China and Russia "cannot at this time seek admission under the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program due to security concerns."

Nov 18, 2008

MHS Security Murder

Driving this morning going to Susupe was a bit a morning surprise that police cars were all over the area. I wondered what had happened. Then passing the Marianas High School intersection again there were police cars up with their warning lights.

Then I spoke to a senior from the largest high school in the CNMI that classes have been suspended for the day because this morning the school administrators found the school security guard dead. Sources said that the guard died from a gunshot wound.

Burglary turned more sour. Poor guy. I've always seen him very strict and efficient of what he does whenever I visit the school.

Nov 16, 2008

Fun Ends to a Tragic Accident

Just found out that Saipan again took lives of two two non-residents through a fatal accident early this morning. Four Filipino friends just came from Club V last night and as they drove friends back home the car just slammed on an electric post. Witnessed said that the electric post allegedly fell on the car that took lives of the female driver and the passenger on her right and injured the other two. The female driver and a passenger died on the spot, sources said, while one is in critical condition and the other suffered injuries but now is in stable condition.

Drunk or not, it's tragic.

Nov 14, 2008

Quote of the Day: Bleak Holiday...

Taken from today's news:

Saipan Tribune-

“We have a feeling because of the economic condition, especially contract workers, they don't really know what's going to happen in the future, so they are just saving money. That has an effect on our sales big time,” said Micronesian Brokers, Inc. GM about a dismal sales this holiday season due to economic crisis.

Nov 10, 2008

Wanted: Running Mate

As the Gubernatorial election comes close the current administration is now looking for a new running mate for the current governor. News reports says that the party is not divulging yet who the runningmate for Gov. Fitial will be. Also, news says that "two of the losing delegates express interests to be the governor's running mate on 2009 elections."

Of course the party has people in mind, but who do you think can qualify for the party?

Nov 6, 2008

Kilili In. Tenorio Out?

We know that Obama is finally in and Bush is out by January 2009, but here in the CNMI the recently held election geared toward Kilili who's likely to be the first-ever elected US Delegate to the US Congress. With a running edge of over 360 votes, according to the news, Kilili could be the next face of the CNMI in the Congress.

Congratulations!

Nov 5, 2008

Oh Mama, It's Obama!

Wow. It's been overwhelming just following the US Presidential Election over a cup of coffee and chocolate chip cookies. CNN has been great following on this momentous event.

We must congratulate both men for a wonderful campaign they both pulled off. Watching McCain during his concession speech has made me admired him for being the resilient and dignified man that he has been. He mentioned about Obama's grandmother who would've been honored and proud had she seen her grandson's presidential victory. Some of McCain's supporters booed when McCain mentioned Obama's name but McCain raised his arms and said, "Please, Please." Then he went on to his concession speech.

Then Obama went up on his own victory speech in Chicago where according to CNN over 125,000 supporters attended including Oprah Winfrey in front weeping. Analysts said Obama delivered his speech in no longer campaign mode but to-be-president manner.

Very touching. The music the campaign used moved us all.

I couldn't help but notice the transparent glass surrounding Obama during his speech. Of course for security reason.

Nov 4, 2008

Vote! Vote! Vote!

As the US gears to its presidential election, the CNMI is not far away from the election hype. News today informs the voting community about places where to vote and the names included in the ballot.

There are some 13,000 voters expected to throng voting precincts. A first in the CNMI, that is to vote for the first ever Congressional delegate. The following are the candidates for this race:

Incumbent WA Rep. Pete A. Tenorio, Sen. Luis Crisostimo, former Election Commission executive director Gregorio C. Sablan, retired judge Juan T. Lizama, former senator David Cing, Saipan municipal councilor Felipe Atalig, local television talk show host John Oliver Gonzales, high school teacher John Davis, and businessman Chong Won.

Happy voting!!!

Nov 1, 2008

Mr. Vasectomy

Yep. That's how the lawyer is called by friends when they learned from today's news about the victory of a case about a man whose vasectomy surgery failed couple of years ago. A whopping of over $900,000 have been awarded to the victim that will cost the local government.

Considering that the local government is financially challenged, where would it source the money from?

However, reading the entire story makes sense to me, in my opinion, that indeed there really was a case with what had happened to family.

This lawyer, i bet, will have clients scrambling to his doorstep whenever a failed testicular surgery or whatever comes their way.

Congratulations, btw.

Oct 30, 2008

How Would You Like Your Eggs, "Xenocide" Up?


Ahh...this brings us back to our older posts about the graffiti on walls of bus stops around Saipan.

Now, it's the word "Xenocide" that is written conspicuously on its walls. I remember that some of the bus stops had graffiti that says "Priests Gays, Illegals" et. al. However, this time the vandals have caught the eye and surveillance of the police. Reports today defines what the word "Xenocide" means that is in its literal sense means "killings of foreigners."

Hmmmm...this makes us think and wonder what was the intention of this vandalism. Could the culprits even know the meaning of such word?

What actually is most interesting here is that the bus stops were newly painted. Obviously, it has caught the eyes of the graffiti artists on Saipan.

Oh well...just another note.

(Photo: Saipan Tribune)

Oct 27, 2008

Cars Nowlimited....

Another business jumping on the bandwagon. Like we don't predict this will not happen. Cars Unlimited, Inc. will soon bid the car rental business adieu. According to the owners business has been so slow and it couldn't keep up to the changing time. Hence, at least eight of their cars are now up for grabs for $1,500 to $1,600 each.

I'm sure you can still haggle with them. Cars have not been well-maintained either anyway. Long time residents recalled that Cars Unlimited used to be the number one car rental business until other car rental businesses joined in to cater to the once booming tourism industry on the island.

Cars Unlimited began its Saipan operations in October 2001. At that time, the company only had five cars available for rent. Before that year ended, Markos brought in another five cars to add to Cars Unlimited's fleet.

In 2005, the company had 22 cars available for rent to both tourists and residents.

Reports said the car rental business actually branched out from Guam, where Cars Unlimited has been operating for the past 15 years. On Guam, the company has a fleet of about 154 cars (2005 records).

Oct 26, 2008

Missing Person Missing....

Just following up on this thread we posted back in August about a missing contract worker on Saipan. His truck had been found and to date the police has not had any follow up story on this. We are posting recent anonymous comments below with regard to this matter:
I don't understand why is it taking too long for the DPS to provide the family the results of the investigation of the vehicle found. They believe the person is alive so where is the conclusion coming from. Was there a thorough investigation on the vehicle, assuming if there's a foul play? Why is the local govt. not responding and taking any action of the foreign workers in CNMI. The community is too small at CNMI, people should know each other and there should be some people who may have seen this guy prior missing. Did the DPS issue a memo to the nearby Islands, they should consider all the possibilities. This will distract tourist visiting this beautiful island knowing it's not safe to visit.

According to the local news the engine still warm when they found the vehicle, so there should be some leverage where to start the investigation and they can still find some traces where the vehicle came from by checking the tires. Was there any DNA found in the vehicle? We have all the latest technology available to conduct all the feasible evidence, so what's going on? I've read this blog for few months now and I have not read any latest news from the local DPS nor any update concernin g this missing person. It must be hard to the family, not knowing his whereabout.

Is there any hope to this investigation or this file is just sitting in their desk. They must understand this person has family waiting for him, he has two teenagers girls waiting for him at home also. If the local investigator couldn't find anything, they should seek some federal help to assist them to this case. Saipan is always been a very religious and friendly environment, so please give hand to his family who is presently seeking information.

Oct 24, 2008

Unpaid Holidays...Should There be an Exemption?

Now that the "no pay holidays" will kick off on Nov. 4, reports said, the community has posed this question - should there be an exemption within the government offices?

The Commonwealth Health Center for instance. Medical professionals have been worried that aside from not getting "on-call" pay anymore, the holiday pay would also be omitted. They said they are somehow glad to get fewer on-calls hence they can relax more and have a break once in a while.

Would this affect emergencies at the hospital when these medical professionals would rather stay home or away from the hospital since they are not going to get paid?

The government is so cash-strapped and it is indeed very challenging now in that position especially in this crisis. Some people say that the government should dissolve offices such as the Municipal Council and realign its budget to emergency expenses such as to the Public Health.

If there were emergencies at the hospital and no doctors and nurses around, maybe it would be a wrong time when that emergency falls on a holiday.

For more details on the no pay holiday dates, read on....

Oct 23, 2008

Carmen Safeway on its Way to the Door....

Another business closing down. The Middle Roaders found out from the community that Carmen Safeway is shutting its doors for good on Nov. 15. Isn't this another sad note from Saipan? Carmen Safeway provides the best Angus beef on the island and on very reasonable prices too.

Carmen Safeway used to be Meitetsu Shopping Center. It was acquired in 2005 and was named Carmen Safeway. The supermarket with its warehouse and offices, stands on a 3,000-sqm land on Beach Road, Chalan Kanoa. It started operations as early as 1976 as Carmen Safeway Meitetsu as a joint venture between the two companies until 1992.

Carmen Safeway sold its interests over the supermarket to the Japanese firm and focused on handling the Carmen's Baby News store next to the supermarket. In 2005 Meitetsu sold its interests over the supermarket to Carmen Safeway.

If it's true or not, we're certain that other businesses will follow this trend. They can't wait anymore for that promise of the Guam Military Buildup.

Oct 22, 2008

Block Busted, the Mayor et. al.

Yeah. As I was amused by today's news about the Saipan Mayor "Shocked" to have seen his name published as one of the supporters of the Marine Monument, I couldn't agree more with Bradinthesand's post about the shutdown of Blockbuster.

I have known the mayor and whenever he says something to people, he says it either as a friend or it's a spur of the moment remark. However, I guess he mentioned it to a media person, consequently it gets printed. It amused me to have read that the mayor couldn't help but say "yes" or "no" to people because he doesn't want to offend them. Cute. Very cute.

With regard to Blockbuster, luck came to members as they get to keep what they recently rented and congratulations to the people that mobbed the store to get hold of DVDs for a buck or two.

I wonder what establishment is next. Music And?

Club Chicago maybe? Nah, I believe despite the economic crunch some men still manage to spend in such bars on Saipan. Well, tourists most of the time flock these bars anyway.

Seriously, some establishments have been suffering from the high utility rates as building owners or corporations are relentless for not lowering rental rates. I've heard some even raised the rental fees. Of course, they must have their own reasons.

It's just sad to find out that there are more businesses shutting down; pre-owned (used) cars for sale on both sides of the road; and, seeing friends leave and work in the mainland or go back home.

However we keep our optimism high, these sad news stop us from our strolls to wonder what lies ahead in the future.

Oct 19, 2008

China Lacks Variety

Quick note from the Saipan Middle Road Shanghai Bureau: It appears that the Marianas Variety website is one of the "objectional" websites that cannot be accessed from China. The Saipan Tribune website, however, is fully accessible from China. Conspiracy theories are welcome.

Oct 18, 2008

Hear 'Em Roar....

As the US Presidential elections draws closer, so as the CNMI's very own election for the delegate seat. Forums have been held left and right with the aspirants and people have been asked if such events had firmed up or changed their votes. Based on these debates Kilili and Gonzales have been eloquent on delivering their visions for the CNMI as a non-voting delegate to Washington.

Saipan Tribune today released a column where Washington Rep. Pete A. and Won forwarded their respective replies to the paper's question - why do they deserve your vote?

Read on....

Oct 14, 2008

Know Your Delegate Wannabes: Won on Winning

Just an excerpt from the news today focusing on CNMI Delegate candidate Chong Man Won. This candidate sort of surprised the community when he announced his intention to run for the Delegate seat couple of months ago.
“I’M a businessman, a family man and just a regular average person who, like most of the people here, is fed up with the way things are,” says Independent congressional delegate candidate Chong Man Won.

He does not have political experience but he “threw his hat” into the election ring because he knows he has the drive and the will to accomplish what needs to be done.

Won holds a bachelor of science degree in electronic engineerin from DeVry Institute of Technology in Columbus, Ohio.
More news on Marianas Variety. He reportedly said he's an underdog and is not investing on advertisement as he has not held any fundraising activities.

Oct 8, 2008

Hosting International Basketball...Are We Ready Yet?

Two officials from the Oceania Basketball Confederation, which headquarters is based on Australia, visited Saipan for a four-day ocular inspection of the CNMI's sports facilities especially the public gymnasium in Susupe.

The Oceania Basketball organization is looking at holding the Oceania Basketball Games in 2009 here on Saipan. The Australians said that this event would gather professional basketball players and teams from Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, and many other Pacific Nations. The visit is to look at what improvements are needed to make this happen and how much the local government should be spending for these improvements.

However, sources said the officials were disappointed with what they'd seen so far especially the locker rooms and the restrooms.

Have you been to the public gym lately? As the CNMI is financially challenged right now, is it ready to host another international competition and spend to improve its sports facilities?

Oct 6, 2008

Block Blalock?

With reports from Marianas Variety, the Legislature expressed disappointments about radio commentator Harry Blalock's weekly commentary that focused on the Legislature. Blalock, who's prominent with his unabashed and no holds barred observations about the CNMI, reportedly criticized the lawmakers.

Reports also said that the lawmakers said Blalock show should be censored. A lawmaker was said to be reminded how "Chamorros were insulted by Spaniards during the colonial era."

Another lawmaker reportedly said if Blalock doesn't get what he wants, "he'll destroy you."

Should Blalock be censored at all by the Legislature? Should Blalock give in to the reactions of the lawmakers?

What do you think?

Oct 2, 2008

CUC Now On Sale!

The House according to reports today has all ready won to veto the Gov's oppostion on privatizing the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.

Reps. Tina Sablan, Salas and Dela Cruz voted against the veto saying that the government should solve the problems first.

Sep 29, 2008

CNMI Family Ties in Politics...Leukemic?

Marianas Variety reports today that "Blood Ties No Longer Work in NMI" according to a speech given by former PSS Commissioner of Education Rita Inos during the recently held Chamorro Conference.

Could this be true? Does this mean "Chong Won" (not sure with the real name) the Korean, will have a chance on the US Delegate seat? How about Sen. Crisosistimo? Is he in trouble this coming election? Who has a bigger clan here, Pete A., Gonzales, Sablan or Crisostimo?

Now, that makes an exciting election in Nov.

Sep 21, 2008

They all want to go to Guam





More people showed up at the Saturday job fair for foreign workers in the CNMI who want to work in construction jobs on Guam than those who joined the Sept. 17 CUC rally. People continued to come and go as early as 12 noon even though the registration was set to start at 1 pm.

Engineers, architects, masons, carpenters, technicians, electricians -- you name it...they all went there to register.

There's no guarantee they will land a job on Guam, but they're trying their luck.

Organizers of the job fair -- the United Workers Movement NMI -- will turn over their database and workers' biodata to the Guam Contractors Association.

They said the big crowd only shows times are hard here that skilled and highly qualified guest workers opt to go to Guam where wages are higher and more opportunities abound. Can't blame them.

While many of the workers who lined up are paid minimum wage here, there are those who have high salaries here but still wanted to try going to Guam.

We won't know the number of job seekers until the organizers complete registration until the end of this month.

Sep 20, 2008

How did $80K worth of 'ice' enter Saipan?

That is the bigger question to ask this administration than what to do with the man who was caught with 176.6 grams of the drug 'ice'.

Wake up Customs, Immigration, CPA, DPS and all other government agencies that are supposed to guard CNMI borders.

For such a small island with few tourists (nowadays) and smaller volume of cargo coming in, there are still remarkable volume of 'ice' making their way to Saipan.

Again, how did the estimated $80,000 worth of 'ice' enter Saipan?

Are there customs officers and other enforcement officers who are in connivance with drug suppliers?

Or are these enforcement officers and agencies sleeping on their job?

Will there be tougher border protection once the feds take over?

------------
It all started with a random check on a man who was driving without a seatbelt. It's the second biggest haul of illegal drugs so far in the CNMI, authorities said.

Was it pure luck for the police officers?

Special agents told the media it "only proves that methamphetamine hydrochloride is still a big problem in the Commonwealth."

The man caught with the 176.6 grams of 'ice' is a garment worker at Rifu Garment Factory in San Vicente.

He said he "picked up the package under the bench of a bus stop as directed by his friend, a person named Chen based in China."

Sep 17, 2008

'Power to the people' rally

Rep. Tina Sablan talks to the hundreds of people gathered for a peaceful rally to call on the US government to step into the power crisis on Saipan.







Young, old, brown, black, white, yellow join Wednesday night's peaceful rally calling for "reliable and affordable" power for all.












Using a candlelight, Rep. Tina Sablan, one of the leaders of the peaceful rally, reads a prayer for those affected by power outages while the crowd gathers near the stage holding candles and cellphones.

















Need they say more?












Businessman Robert Russell, left, shares his experiences about power outages while protest leader Ed Propst listens.

US Palin-Tics....

Just to loosen up a bit, and probably ride on her popularity ;-) below are some goofs I made up for fun. For fun only.

Regarding US Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin...

Question: What do you call the study of fossilized Alaskan PTA member, mother and a governor?
Answer: Palin-tology

Question: What do you call a group that performs spiritual practices in Alaska that originated in China?
Answer: Palin-Dafa or Palin Gong

Question: Why did she join the PTA?
Answer: Because her kids' grades are "Palin."

*John McCain is so white that he chooses a running mate that is "Palin."

Care to add more?

Next...Biden....

Sep 16, 2008

Quote of the Day: Alone on this Road

“The governor is going down this road alone.”

House Speaker Arnold Palacios reportedly said the above statement with regard to the lawsuit against US Federalization of the CNMI Immigration System.

In the report, the Legislature detaches itself to the Government Office's action on filing lawsuit against the US for taking over.

For full report, click here.

Sep 15, 2008

F&B 911: 747 a Rediscovery

Have you been to 747 Restaurant located in Garapan, around the area where the MIHA housing is? I have especially for an hour or two of "karaoke" usually.

Not until recently, I realized how great their food menu is in that restaurant. No wonder our Canadian friends dine in there almost every week. Reasonable yes. Luscious, totally! It's a Japanese owned restaurant but the owner wants a more universal appeal to it. The restaurant doesn't serve sushi. Crispy fried chicken and garlic rice are soooo good. The Crab Spaghetti is one of their runaway sellers.

If you feel like belting it out right after dinner just scoot to the karaoke rooms that can house at least 10 singers. The karaoke rooms have good deals too. For $5 dollars an hour per person, consumable. Drinks are from hard liquor to cocktails.

The restaurant prefers a call for reservations. 747 also provides hotel pickup and drop-off for diners, free of charge. Contact 747 at (670)233-8880. 747 opens at 6pm everyday.

Sep 10, 2008

Yellow Pages Anyone?


Marianas Variety (above) has printed its newspaper for two days now using yellow paper. Thought that was the supplement or the yellow pages. Below is an ad printed on it. Notice the advertiser's attempt to make its ad stand out with its yellow color? Hmmm....

McCain-Palin or Obama-Biden?

Who should win and why? Who will win and why? Is the media being fair?

Sep 8, 2008

CUC Protest (RALLY)

Could this be real? Could this be happening? The people will gather to hold a protest against the current power problem in the CNMI?

Text messages have begun to circulate encouraging the community members to join the rally on September 17 at 5:30pm. Assembly venue will be at the Garapan Fishing Base.

"Affordable, Reliable Power Now!!!" says the text message. "For more info contact Ed Propst for more details...."

Sep 6, 2008

CUC Chronicles

Just a quick note again.

The village of Chalan Kanoa had a 12-hour power outage recently. Residents from this village clamored about it. A source shared that one government official joked about it and told him that CK is less priority for the government to provide intermittent power because there are less voters in the village. This alleged government official said CK mostly has non-resident workers living around it.

Sep 5, 2008

Benedetto

It has now been reported that Ombudsman Jim Benedetto will soon be joining the U.S. Attorney's office in Saipan to be a federal prosecutor. Although this was first reported in the press very recently, it has been widely known around the island for some time. For quite some time, a number of anonymous commenters on this blog and others had been savaging the "Ombudsperson", accusing him of all sorts of misdeeds and attacking his character. Shortly after news that Benedetto would be joining the U.S. Attorney's office hit the coconut wireless, those anonymous commenters abruptly changed their tune and started giving Benedetto (well deserved) compliments for his integrity, fairness and commitment to the CNMI. Wow, what a coincidence!

For the record, Jim Benedetto has been an outstanding, dedicated and able public servant. He has always been fair, and has demonstrated that he cares deeply for all of the people of the CNMI. We wish him the best of luck in his new position, and commend U.S. Attorney Leonardo Rapadas for having the guts to make such an outstanding choice. And, unlike some of those Benedetto-obsessed anonymous commenters, we're not just saying that because we're afraid of pissing him off!

Aug 31, 2008

When Luxury Becomes Cheaper....


We are totally joining this family in their clamor for water. I am trying my very best to be the Zen person that I always am, but coming home from a great Labor Day weekend where there's 24-hour water and electricity (ok, it's a hotel, there was a Labor Day Weekend Special, y'know), only to find out there's no power, no water and no TV?!

I feel like sharing these puns that friends threw in during the weekend:

Q. What does CUC mean now? Ans. Customers Using Candles or Commonwealth Using Candles.
Q. What does the CNMI have before candles? - Ans. Electricity!

A friend also shared that the promo at that hotel, which was $77 for an overnight stay for two with Sunday Brunch, was cheaper than her monthly utility bills. Thus, she concurred that "Luxury is cheaper now than our basic necessities."

As of blog press time, Garapan still doesn't have water since 3pm.

Aug 27, 2008

Pharmacy Fiasco at CHC?

An interesting article appeared in the Saipan Tribune today (8-27-08) entitled, “CHC Belies Closure of In-House Pharmacy.” In this article, legal counsel Alex Gorman, speaking on behalf of Public Health Secretary Kevin Villagomez, confirmed that the inpatient pharmacy is “fully operational and has never been closed.” Now I don’t know if you believe everything you read in the paper, but since the pharmacy staff is prohibited from giving their side of the story, I would like to set the record straight. Because of current staffing shortages, since August 16, the pharmacy has indeed had to close on weekends. According to reliable sources, on weekends there is no pharmacist present to serve the hospital’s needs and no on-call pharmacy service. In my humble opinion, this is a very dangerous situation and one that potentially compromises patient care in the most severe manner.

It is true, the nursing supervisor does have access to the pharmacy, but this is not an ideal situation. In the U.S. mainland, nursing supervisors have access to the pharmacy when it is closed, and only enter in times of emergency. However, they are trained to mix and prepare medications, and have access to pharmacy consultation by phone at all times. The nursing supervisor is supposed to cover only for brief periods of time (usually only a few hours). This is definitely not the case at CHC, where the nursing supervisor would now be expected to fulfill pharmacy functions for 2 days straight! Add to this all the other responsibilities a nursing supervisor has and one can easily see that she is really being spread too thin. This is fertile ground for medication errors, some of which may have fatal consequences! Also, because the pharmacy is closed on weekends, reliable sources state that the pharmacy staff is forced to premix solutions to cover the 2 days they are closed, when ideally these solutions should be mixed daily due to stability and sterility issues.

Another very serious concern, according to my sources, is that one of the pharmacists will be leaving in October and the other has no contract to continue working in the pharmacy (thanks to the Governor’s veto on lifting salary caps). For a hospital that provides care for some very critically ill patients (whose drug therapy needs may change from hour-to-hour), it is imperative that it has qualified pharmacists to provide care on a daily basis. After all, how would you feel if the Emergency Room was only open Mondays through Fridays?

Cable Blackout


As an old adage goes, "For every action, there's an equal reaction," or as some would call, the "Domino Effect," this is evident now with the current cable tv provider on the island.

I have spoken to several subscribers and they are asking why the cable tv goes off for at least 4 hours a day. Worst has been 10 hours on the record. These subscribers are clamoring now that they are paying for the same subscription fees and getting poor service. Should they understand this because of the rolling blackouts?

Some caught the provider's attention and denied that there hasn't been any interruption. I can tell there has been. Our household is a victim too.

Subscribers have endured the cable service that has been airing week old shows except CNN and Fox. Even our friends from around the world gasped in surprised when they learned that we got the Olympics coverage a week old. I told them that even local news in Guam is a week old.

However, we are thankful that there's cable tv on the island. Better than nothing right? Yet, the interruption of service at least four hours a day, has raised some eyebrows on the island.

What gives?

Aug 25, 2008

Coming On Strong....

News today that Rep. Tina Sablan vocally aired during House Session calling for the impeachment of the current governor and the resignation of the "indicted" Lt. Governor.

According to the news, floor leader reminded the congress woman not to prejudge since judges and lawyers can make mistakes too. One legislator reportedly praised her yet encouraged Tina to cooperate because the current Governor is "trying his best" to run the islands.

For the complete copy of Tina's speech click here....

Aug 23, 2008

Should PSS postpone start of classes?

With regard to the request of the CNMI Governor to postpone the start of the 2008-2009 school year in the CNMI for another two weeks, should the Public School System again move it for another two weeks?

Due to budget constraints the PSS had to move the start of the new school year from August to September. Now that CUC has been under "disrepair" the local government is making an effort again to alleviate pains in school by providing uninterrupted power supply to at 20 public schools in the CNMI by the suggested postponement.

Does this move again indicate that education is a priority on the islands? In the past SOCA's (State of the Commonwealth Address) the Governor did not mention anything about the state of education in the CNMI, hence disappointing educators and officials during his past two state addresses.

Guam last school year started class with broken air-conditioners and clamored about it. Can the CNMI classes start without power at all?

Aug 19, 2008

A Little Bit of A Poll

What's worse, a power outage or a water shortage? What if you have both?

Yes, people, we have both. It's been at least three days that our area has water problems. The house keeper kept on calling CUC and this afternoon, he said, CUC dropped the line on him.

Might as well take a shower in the rain since it's been raining for three weeks now and a typhoon is set to pass the islands...

Aug 17, 2008

YouTube vs BoobTube

On a quick note here, I just read about the news from Saipan Tribune that the governor will have his "10-minute state address" with regard to the current issues on Saipan through YouTube while it would be free and inexpensive?

I'm just wondering why wouldn't he just hold a media conference with the local media and television network for this statement?

While YouTube has been a very popular video uploading website, it is indeed public and would reach millions of online users. It has been used by people to upload personal videos, movie trailers, movies, viral videos etc.

In some countries, YouTube has been a venue to address statements and revelations from the left and right in the government. I'd say more left because they don't have the means to pay TV for the airtime.

I guess there's no budget for the local government to pay for the airtime, hence, YouTube is an alternative. If I may suggest, the local government can also upload it to DailyMotion.Com, iFilm.Com, vobbo.com, yahoo.video.com, google.video.com, et al.

I believe that the local TV should be a more appropriate to address the islands first. Better quality, and more professional, in my opinion. Then the rights would be exclusive.

The local government then can have the option to upload it to the video web sharing websites e.g. YouTube after the actual event.

While it is at no cost to the local government, it would appear mediocre and substandard, again in my opinion. Proper marketing and publicizing of this rare yet momentous speech event by the governor regarding local issues can help build momentum within the CNMI and among its people for them to wait and tune in for the video address.

Uploading it to YouTube, would mean vulnerability to puns, video editing tricks and many more because we can download the video from YouTube now.

So, be prepared!

Aug 12, 2008

On a Sad Note...

Photo taken by Saipan Tribune with regard to the indictment of CNMI Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Villagomez and three others.

From the Press Release the federal court statement said that the indictment is only an accusation until proven guilty.

Aug 10, 2008

Yet another 'welcome rally' for the feds: Give us green card!



The rain didn't dampen the spirit of these guest workers who patiently waited for the US congressional team to pass by the American Memorial Park on their way to Hyatt Regency Saipan on Sunday afternoon.

Their patience paid off when the congressional team waved at them. The visitors are set to meet with the workers on Monday.





The Coalition of United Workers, sadly, has been having leadership issues of late.

Irene Tantiado, who has been one of the founding members and president, stepped down recently because of clashes with other leaders.

Just when the immigration regulations are being drafted and the workers' sentiments are being considered by visiting federal officials, here comes the issue of disunity among guest workers.

But Irene was at the peaceful assembly on Sunday, and vowed to continue advancing the cause of guest workers.

Aug 6, 2008

"Fitial mischaracterizes GAO report...."

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued its report on the economic impact of the federalization of the CNMI's immigration laws. The bottom line is that the impact will depend on how the feds (specifically, the Executive Branch) implement the law, and that the feds will need additional data to guide them properly. The Variety news account of the report, under the headline "GAO Downplays Fitial's Economic Disaster Scenario," can be found here.

One thing GAO makes clear is that the Fitial administration has mischaracterized what the report says: "By focusing on one of several scenarios developed for illustrative purposes rather than the full range of scenarios included in our report, the CNMI government comments...inaccurately stated that the report predicts a substantial decline in the CNMI economy as a result of the legislation" (emphasis added).

It appears that the Governor has repeated this mischaracterization of the GAO report: Fitial said today that "the GAO concludes, even with the most favorable (and unrealistic) assumptions, that the law's implementation will most probably result in a 50-percent decline in the economic output (or GDP) of the Commonwealth by 2021 if not sooner." GAO would strenuously object to that mischaracterization of its conclusions.

The Fitial team had requested repeatedly that Congress delay passage of the federalization bill until GAO issued its report.

Congressional leaders replied that such a delay was not necessary. They said that the federalization bill itself would not harm the CNMI, and that the impact would depend on how the bill was implemented. They said that economic studies would be useful not to Congress in deciding whether to pass the bill, but rather to the Executive Branch in developing the regulations that would implement the bill. GAO appears to have endorsed this view.

Now, the feds have the very serious obligation of gathering the additional data that needs to be gathered and ensuring that federalization is implemented in a manner that allows the CNMI to develop a strong economy. We all have an interest in keeping the pressure on the feds to make sure that they do their job properly.

Aug 3, 2008

PSA: Missing Person

A foreign national worker has allegedly been missing on Saipan. It's been five days since his disappearance. Family members of the missing person told his friends that even his car has been missing. They said the man went to Tinian for a project but was last seen on Saipan. Family said he was on a project somewhere around the island before he failed to come home.

The family members went to the police station after 48 hours of the man's disappearance. The guy's name according to sources is Alex Castro, in his mid-30's and a Filipino.

Could he be abducted? Into hiding? On this island? Why is the car missing too? Could he have fallen into a ravine? What type of manhunt or search has been done so far?

The family seeks the community's help on this.

Update:

Real name of the missing person is Alex Matubis, who works for Mr. Candido Castro. He was driving a pick up truck.

Aug. 8 - finaly this story made the papers today with photo.

Aug. 19 - Saipan Tribune
Missing man's car found in Marpi
By Kristi Eaton
Reporter

Detectives from the Criminal Investigation Division discovered and impounded a car Saturday that was owned by a currently missing Filipino man.

Alex Matubis' blue Toyota pickup truck with white doors was found near the Kalabera Caves in Marpi around 11:30am Saturday, officials said. Detectives searched the area after receiving tips from callers who spotted the vehicle.

Detectives got a tip about the car Friday. They were unable to locate the vehicle until Saturday. Detectives also conducted a search on the vehicle and a sweep around the area but were unable to find traces of the victim, according to officials.

Police impounded the vehicle. The case is currently under investigation.

Matubis, a drafter and cartographer, arrived on Saipan Monday, July 28, after conducting work on Tinian. According to investigators, a witness last saw him at 10:30am the same day when he was dropped off at his residence in Garapan.

Matubis, 47, was reported missing to DPS Thursday, July 30.

Anybody with information about Matubis is asked to contact the Criminal Investigation Bureau at 664-9042/9047.

Aug 2, 2008

Quick Note: 5x Off

I don't know if you notice at all, but in our area the power goes off at least five times a day. Wonder if that would reduce our next CUC bill....

Jul 25, 2008

Surrender and declare victory

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Insular Affairs has awarded the CNMI government a $333,000 grant to assist the CNMI's labor and immigration enforcement efforts. This is the same grant that Governor Fitial rejected last year, accusing OIA of "outrageous" behavior by attaching conditions that were "unprecedented, unnecessary and unproductive." He accused OIA of holding the grant funds "hostage." OIA defended the conditions as normal, reasonable and necessary accountability provisions designed to ensure that the funds would be properly spent for their intended purposes. See story here.

Well, the grant that Fitial has now accepted has the same conditions that were attached to the grant that he rejected last year. And rather than complain about the "outrageous" conditions, the Governor thanked OIA Director Nikolao Pula "for supporting the CNMI's strong law enforcement efforts by awarding us with these needed grants." In fact, the primary difference between the grant that he rejected last year and the one that he has now accepted is that OIA was offering $420,000 last year, and has since reduced the grant to $333,000.

So what has changed between then and now? And here's a more interesting question: How much of this grant money, which will be used in part to fund attorneys and paralegals for the Office of the Attorney General, will be used to support the CNMI's lawsuit against the very federal government that is providing the funds?

Jul 23, 2008

PSS Politics or What (Sequel)

Saipan Tribune reports today that there are three applicants for the Public School System Commissioner position. Earlier we had a post on this, and yes, former PSS associate commissioner Rita Sablan is one of the three that has turned in her application. Again, Sablan competed with retired PSS Commissioner David M. Borja and lost by one vote during the BOE election two years ago. Sablan filed a lawsuit against the decision at that time.

Ambrose Bennett and Debra Ellen are the other applicants as of today.

Well, do we now know who will be the next PSS commissioner? Any idea?

Read on our earlier post regarding this issue.

Jul 22, 2008

"Sue the federalizer jerks for the stench of their evil deeds!"

The Saipan Tribune reported recently that the CNMI Attorney General's Office is suing Danny Aranza, former director of the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Insular Affairs, in connection with a $130,000 contract to develop a port security plan. According to the news story, which can be found here, the report by Aranza's company plagiarized federal regulations.

The first question is how you can plagiarize federal regulations, which are supposed to be used and followed by those who are affected by them. Wouldn't the CNMI government want the report to state the requirements that had to be followed?

The more interesting question has to do with Aranza's history with the CNMI. Aranza led OIA during the Clinton Administration's push for federalization. A Saipan Tribune article in which then-Speaker Ben Fitial calls Aranza a "jerk" over the federalization issue can be found here. Actually, the Marianas Variety's version of the same story is even more amusing. In it, which unfortunately is not available online, Fitial calls Aranza a "jerk" seven times.

Not to be cynical, but might Aranza's support for federalization lead some to wonder whether this lawsuit is an attempt to punish the "federalizers" for the "stench of their evil deeds", to paraphrase one well-connected person's hilariously melodramatic recent comment on this very blog? (That quote proves that even humorless people can be very funny.) Could this be part of the strategy to fight federalization, and indeed the "evil federalizers" themselves, in the courts?

Jul 21, 2008

The Commitments

Blog polls are not scientific, in part because the people who respond to them are self-selected, and may not be representative of the community at large. Still, a couple of recent polls conducted on this blog and Glend558 may be worth looking at.


The poll on Glend558 asks: “Will you support a candidate in the next election if they support Fitial filing a lawsuit against the federal government?” The poll was conducted in response to the CNMI Legislature’s resolution to support the governor’s lawsuit (it has been referred to committee, where it will probably die a slow death). The results of the poll are astounding. As of today, 85.3% of those who responded say they would not support any candidate who supported the governor’s plan to sue the federal government.


This site’s poll asks whether people think Fitial could win a lawsuit challenging the federalization of immigration and labor, and fully 70% have responded “Fat chance.”


Numerous posts on this site and others have focused on the drawbacks of filing suit against the feds, and the seeming lack of any legal merit to it. There are many arguments against filing. A lawsuit will make it uncertain, perhaps for several years, whether foreign investors will be allowed into the CNMI, and whether employers will have access to foreign workers. Not knowing who’s in charge or what the rules will be will discourage private investment. Many have also pointed out that we should be working with the Department of Homeland Security to help draft the regulations to implement the new federal law, so we can get regulations that are favorable to our economy. A lawsuit will limit the degree of cooperation between the local government and the feds, and likely result in less favorable consideration.


Other posters have pointed out that the government can’t afford the cost of litigation, which the Fitial Administration has said will be $50,000 a month, and most believe there is little or no chance that the CNMI would win.


Fitial cannot even argue that the new law will harm the CNMI until the regulations are drafted and about to go into effect on June 1, 2009, only about six months before a new governor is inaugurated. Whoever the new governor is could withdraw the previous governor’s lawsuit, just as Fitial did with Babauta’s lawsuit to claim our cover-over money from the feds.


So here is the question: would you be more inclined or less inclined to support a candidate for governor who publicly committed to the following statement:


If I am elected governor, my first official act will be to withdraw any lawsuit filed against the federal government over the federalization of immigration in the CNMI.

Jul 16, 2008

Of CUC and Shutdowns...

Ming Palace shuts down, so they told us.

The ire of CUC bills have been plaguing establishments in the CNMI.

This renowned 24-hour diner griped about the utility bills that soared from $4,500 to over $9,000 just for one restaurant. The manager shared that the management has exhausted all cost-saving measures for the store. "I don't even know now which lights to turn off since most of them are," the manager said. The management said, it has been the worst the store has faced since its existence on Saipan. Then, the manager walked down the memory lane during the golden days of the CNMI. The management said it wouldn't want to raise the prices of the food in the restaurant because it knows that the people have lesser purchasing power nowadays.

Another establishment, a department store, will be downsizing and reducing its store area. The management has cleaned up the owner's backyard where the store will keep stocks et. al. The owner said the bill is just killing the business gradually. Thus, before it dies out, the management decided to reduce the store area and rent just one little space to make it work.

A little hotel used to pay $7,000 for CUC power. Then the management decided to use generator at night again to save from the grueling power bills. The AC's are on at night for the tenant's sleeping pleasure. Then in the morning they use CUC power. At first some pencil pushing saw the potential savings the hotel could reap from the measure, however, the little hotel's current power bill reached to a staggering $10,000 for last month's usage. The owner fainted in disbelief. The hotel had to pay the CUC bill plus the fuel for generators.

A small home or apartment tenant was happy to live in a building with generator. The owner of the building does not charge extra for generator. That should make the tenant happy. Last month usage reached 590 kwh for 31 days. The total bill due was around $160. Due to intermittent power outage, the tenant thought of saving a little because of the generator. New CUC bill came with less usage for the month which was 544 kwh. However, the tenant's bill was $210.

So much stories to tell out there...

So what's yours?

Jul 13, 2008

A Glass Wall for the Legislature?

A more transparent Legislature? Or should the Legislature hold office in a glass house? This is the call of current Rep. Tina Sablan for more signatures to make this initiative a reality-- in time for the November election ballot.

This brings me to wonder what the Legislature's role in all these commotion up on Capital Hill. What is its role on the lawsuit being filed or about to be filed against the US government? Do lawmakers have its say on the current issues facing the Commonwealth at all? Should they intervene? I guess I'm a bit lost. Kindly enlighten me....

Going back to the transparency issue, is making it open really the issue?

Quoting the "freshman lawmaker" from the Trib, “I am convinced that it is up to the people of this Commonwealth to rise up and demand the transparency and accountability they deserve from their elected officials, and to take direct action to apply the Open Government Act to the Legislature through the popular initiative process,” she added.

Click here for the entire story from ST.

Jul 9, 2008

A Text for Recall?

Got this message today. I don't know with you, but I did get one.

It was a text message that said, "If u want to get the CNMI back on track, recall Fitial. Pass it on."

Would such rare "phenom" occur on this island? Would it work at all?

You tell me....

Jul 7, 2008

Quotable Quotes: Fitial on 2009 Election

(From Saipan Tribune)

“If the people still need me, I am here for them,” said Fitial in an interview with the media shortly after the completion of the Liberation Day Parade on Friday.
More story here....

Jul 3, 2008

"Don't hold your breath," but would green cards for long-term guest workers be good for the CNMI?

The following conversation was overheard recently at one of the water coolers here at Saipan Middle Road World Headquarters:

He said: "Did you here that Jim Benedetto said that CGWs shouldn't hold their breath hoping to get green cards?"

She said: "Yeah. He's been pretty consistent over the years in saying that workers shouldn't count on the hope that they'll get green cards."

He said: "OK, but let's forget for a minute about whether it's likely that CGWs will eventually be able to apply for green cards. If they were allowed to apply for green cards, would it be good for the CNMI?"

She said: "I guess that depends on who you are. It would be good for you if you were a foreign worker."

He said: "OK, but what if you were a business owner?"

She said: "Wouldn't most business owners prefer the way things were before the federalization law passed?"

He said: "Maybe, but that's not an option anymore. The feds have made it clear that the CNMI will eventually have to phase out its guest worker program and just follow the federal rules. They'll probably extend the phase-out for at least five years after 2014, maybe more. But eventually it will be phased out."

She said: "So what's your point?"

He said: "The only hope in the long term of business owners being able to keep their best CGWs is to give them green cards. Otherwise, they'll eventually have to leave."

She said: "But if you give them green cards, they can go to Guam or Hawaii or California."

He said: "Yeah, but if you don't give them green cards, they'll eventually have to leave unless they can qualify for a visa under U.S. standards, and some people--although I don't know if I trust these particular people--are saying that most CGWs probably can't. If these people are right, then giving CGWs green cards is the only hope under the new law of being able to keep the best long-term employees. If you're an employer, wouldn't you rather have a chance of keeping your long-term workers, even if they suddenly had more bargaining power and you had to pay them more, than not having a chance to keep them?"

She said: "I guess, but I'd probably like the old system even better."

He said: "Like I said, that's not an option. That's why giving CGWs green cards is probably the best option now for employers."

She said: "What about criminals and people like that."

He said: "They wouldn't qualify. You'd have to meet certain standards, and it would only be a one-time thing for workers who have already been here for, say, five years."

She said: "What about from the standpoint of locals? Do we want Filipinos to take control over our islands?"

He said: "Well, for one thing, that could already happen when their U.S. citizen children are old enough to vote. But if you give them green cards, a lot would leave."

She said: "Well, how would it help the locals?"

He said: "It would help the locals if you didn't have all of this cheap labor. The way things have been, pay is too low outside of government if you're a local, and in order to get a job in government, you have to kiss up to whoever's in power. If you changed the system, maybe locals who have left will come home, and maybe a lot of CGWs would leave to find better opportunities stateside. Businesses would have a shot at keeping the CGWs that they want to keep, but they'd have to compete for them just like employers have to do in Guam."

She said: "Well, I don't think it's going to happen. And also, those workers signed a contract and it was always understood that they would have to go home."

He said: "I know. I'm not saying that it's going to happen. Maybe it will and maybe it won't. And I'm not saying that the workers are entitled to get green cards. I'm just saying that if they did get green cards, maybe it would be the best thing for the CNMI, including the locals and the business owners. And maybe if we all recognized that this would be good for all of us, then we could really unite as a community--locals, businesses, CGWs, even the human rights activists--and lobby for it in Washington. And maybe if we all speak with one voice, rather than contradict each other like we usually do, they'll actually take us seriously for a change."

She said: "Well, if you could get the Chamber and Wendy Doromal and Taotao Tano all holding hands and pushing for this in DC, that might make an impression. But it will never happen."

He said: "Maybe it will never happen. But it should happen."

Translate: saipanmiddleroad.blogspot.com

 

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