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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.


Marianas Pride said...

Is Jack Abramoff available?

Anonymous said...

Debby Ellen would be a fine addition to PSS.

saipan sucks said...

To quote the most famous web site about Saipan regarding todays post:

"Nepotism rules on the islands. Fueled by money paid by American taxpayers and diverted to the far-off territory, politicians run for office primarily for the sake of being in a position to appoint their relatives to high-paying sinecures. Politics in the CNMI is a blood sport. In an election year – which includes nearly every year, since there are primaries when there are no general elections – campaigning starts on Memorial Day, with political signs littering the roadsides. During the interminable election seasons government employees commonly take leaves of absence or sick time from work and dedicate all their time to getting either themselves or their relatives elected. And what do the campaigns consist of? Nothing more than photographs of the candidates with their family names exploding on the landscape. One candidate for U.S. Washington Representative, for example, was known by her married name throughout her career as president of the local community college. She was married to a Mainland American. Suddenly as a candidate she became a local, returning in her campaign posters to a long-ignored family name blaring from the middle of the name she had used professionally for years. Her campaign posters, like all the others, screamingly appealed to nothing more than indigenous racial and family interests.

Campaign platforms are non-existent. Political campaigns in the CNMI are less sophisticated, if this can be believed, than a typical high school student council election in the Mainland U.S. They are popularity contests -- family popularity contests and nothing more. Candidates are a conduit for their relatives' government employment. One Senator regularly runs for reelection under the slogan "Why not!" Why not, indeed? There are hundreds of reasons why not. Ignorance and illiteracy are two. The candidate offers not a single reason why he should be given anyone's vote. He is routinely reelected.

Another Senator complained in the local media that because the Legislature keeps passing laws, modifying and then rescinding them, the legislators look like they don't know what they're doing. He has a point: they don't know what they're doing.

The "success" of the Legislature is measured solely on the number of bills introduced and laws passed, regardless of their constitutionality or their ultimate demise.

One member of the Legislature, for example, introduced a bill during the Summer of 2002 to amend the CNMI Constitution to prohibit anyone other than persons of Northern Marianas descent from running for political office. Of course, the prohibition is innate, since nobody else has the slightest chance of being elected. This politician was rightly assailed in the media (by non-indigenous island residents, of course) first of all for racism, but also for having no concept of the CNMI’s obligation to recognize the United States Constitution, which was endorsed and accepted as part of the Commonwealth’s deal with America. Of course, assuming the politician had an even passing familiarity with the Constitution (a dubious proposition), he was speaking plainly for the rest of his ilk for whom the “law” is little more than what the English refer to as a “dodge.”

“It’s odd,” notes P.F. Kluge in his excellent book The Edge of Paradise: America in Micronesia. “The other islands chose leaders who were exceptional, one way or another. . . . In the Northern Marianas they elected men who were most like themselves, typical rather than special.” And “typical” in the Northern Marianas is anything but special, unless one considers rapacious greed and racism to be special.

The only question in any election is which candidate will be given his turn to steal the money pouring in from the United States government.

In early 2003 two CNMI senators faced trial on federal indictments charging them with official corruption for “employing” the other’s family members in high-paying, phantom positions. Because each senator is allocated $500,000 per year for “office expenses,” theft is laughably easy. Apparently not content to “employ” illiterate family members to sit behind a desk from time to time and chew betel nut, one senator allegedly “employed” another’s daughter pursuant to three separate contracts – not letting the fact that she was a full-time college student living 100 miles away in Guam stand in his way. Witnesses testified that the daughter never appeared for “work.” Of course, the other senator reciprocated. Theft, like sex, is much more fun when it’s done with a friend.

Locals vented their opinions in letters to the newspapers. If you think they were outraged about their elected representatives stealing taxpayer money and paying it to their families, think again. Their principal concern was that the senators were being unfairly prosecuted and they should not be called to account, since it is common knowledge that “they all do the same thing.” Of course, Nazis supporting Hitler and American fascists supporting Bush all spout the same line: “they all do the same thing.” (Another implicit worry was that this prosecution and others of its kind might upset the gravy train.) One defendant, in fact, up until the time of trial, professed bewilderment at his prosecution. So psychologically ingrained is the culture of theft that, even facing jail, he considered the practice to be no big deal.

The trump card of every local politico or public official brought to trial is the jury. Defendants know with certainty that they or a friend will have a relative or dependent government employee on the jury. Faced with blatant intimidation by defendants’ supporters glaring at them from the gallery – even the governor showed up recently in the trial of some local drunks who shot to death a 7-year-old girl at a family barbecue, since the local drunks were family members of the lieutenant governor (guns don’t kill people, assholes with guns kill people) – jurors commonly acquit even in the face of overwhelming evidence of guilt. They know which side their bread is buttered on.

Amazingly, in spite of all the protections available to him, the first senator tried was convicted. Pending his incarceration he was actually suspended from the senate. It was unknown whether the presiding senator – a relative of the convict – suspended his pay as well. Indications are that he did not.

One reason the federal government is prosecuting the case against the senators is that their offices and positions – like everything else in the CNMI government – are funded exclusively by federal money. This is federal taxpayer money at issue and the “citizens” of the Northern Marianas – like most people on the dole – pay no federal taxes.

Another reason the federal government is prosecuting the case is that the local government is the biggest crook in the Pacific, and it can’t really be expected to prosecute itself.

An anti-nepotism law in the CNMI might simplify the election process: it would weed out virtually all the candidates, with the probable exception of the perennial gubernatorial candidate who was the unabashed pawn of the garment industry.

That candidate, late in the 2001 election, was shown to have paid a prospective voter $550 by check drawn on his campaign organization. A photocopy of the check was published in one of the two Saipan newspapers – not the one owned by his sponsor and former employer. The candidate's spokesman answered the charges. Unable to deny the allegations of vote-buying, the spokesman defended the practice – claiming the payments were an "accommodation" and that such payments are made out of the kindness of the candidate's heart. They represent "the island way." (He actually said that. You can't make this stuff up.) At least one other payment was disclosed later, also drawn on the candidate's campaign organization and similarly defended. Vote-buying, therefore, is openly argued to constitute acceptable conduct. And where did this candidate's money to buy votes come from? From the garment interests, of course. Because garment workers are paid nearly slave wages, the factory owners are able to amass enormous capital both to pay off United States Congressmen to maintain the CNMI's political status quo and to buy votes for their local candidate.

Bribe-taking by governmental officials in the CNMI is also so common as to be hardly newsworthy. It's "the island way."

Additional garment industry money was devoted to paying for television campaign commercials and print advertisements featuring "conservative" Republican U.S. congressmen (read "whores") supporting a candidate they may never have met but whose sponsor can be very generous.

Partly because of the electorate's resentment of the well-publicized abuses perpetrated by the garment industry, its candidate lost. Knowledgeable observers and islanders themselves also understand that a major consideration in the minds of the voters – and perhaps the controlling factor – was that the candidate's wife is from the Philippines. The prospect of a Filipina as their First Lady was repugnant to most of the locals, who see themselves for some reason as racially superior to everyone else, especially people from the Philippines. A third, unexamined factor possibly leading to the candidate’s loss was his physical ugliness and mean-spiritedness, which were not outweighed by his sponsor’s money."

William Betz Sucks Dot Com said...

I'm getting sick of the "Saipan Sahcks" spamming.

Betz, William
50 A Sagamore Hill Drive
Port Washington, New York 11050

Why not call this jerk and have him quit it already?

Dear William,

Your mother should have named your Richard because you really are more of a dick.

You Suck,

Anonymous said...

dam island dont have good and trusted educators like Dr. Borja. its all about the administration and their fault!

Marianas Pride said...

Perhaps Governor Fitial can appoint his buddy/best friend, former Guam Governor Joe Ada!


Anonymous said...

Deborah Ellen is an international educator currently teaching in the middle east and a former teacher on Rota. I agree with anon above that she would be a fresh choice compared to the other politicians.

Anonymous said...

marianas pride. thats just his buddy but his buddy doesnt follow fitial with his acts in the cnmi. fitial just wants to dominate the freakin island unlike former gov. ada who is as smart as his BETTER TIMES but WILL MAKE IT WORSE buddy!

NMI's crooked school board said...

Dave Borja should get the job back and we should do something decent for our kids by not giving board members MONEY!!!!!!!!!

It is a disgrace in our economy for theiving board members to take money.

The word is this current board wants Rita and she will keep them on the take...shameful.

Anonymous said...

Rita Sablan runs the board like it is her personal piggy bank. The qoute "student's first is a joke. " TEACHERS BE WARRY OF SAIPAN. You will be used and abused. They DO NOT support their teachers. The BOE also doesn't know what they are doing.

Anonymous said...

They follow her commands like they are sheep. If you teach out there. Ms. Sablan is a viscous backstabbing old lady who does not care about education or the future of the students.

Anonymous said...

They follow her commands like they are sheep. If you teach out there. Ms. Sablan is a viscous backstabbing old lady who does not care about education or the future of the students.

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