Sunday, December 16, 2007

Look who's in Taotao Tano and what they are saying . . . .

Taotao Tano bills this video as "CNMI TaoTao Tanos Speak Out on Federalization." I didn't hear the word "federalization" even once in there, but no matter, it is interesting and revealing nonetheless.

The fourth speaker (blue shirt, glasses) is Antonio (Tony) Benavente. Mr. Benavente is one of CNMI's biggest labor abusers historically. He was the proprietor of Benavente Security Agency, which brought in a large number of Bangladeshi security guards, collected lots of money from the companies that contracted their services, and did not pay the workers. A huge labor award was entered against Mr. Benavente by CNMI Labor and a court action was subsequently filed for collection, after which Mr. Benavente filed for bankruptcy and never paid a penny.

The final speaker says: "Taotao Tanos are the superior of the island." Textbook definition racism.

Maybe they should view these videos posted by Tamara.

Name change

I've decided to change the name of this blog from Committee for the Public Interest to the one you see now. This is, first, because I want a place to post things related to the Unity Movement, which, in my opinion, is the single most important thing happening in the CNMI today.

Second, with the addition of soon-to-be Representative Tina Sablan's vision, leadership, and HEART to the efforts that were being made by Boni Sagana, Dekada, the Human Dignity Act Movement, Jerry Custodio, and so many, many others, including myself, in one critical area and broadening it to truly encompass the interests of, and bring in, so many diverse individuals and groups, there has been a realization of that aspiration, a sprouting of that seed so long lingering in the back of my consciousness in the form of my idea of a Committee for the Public Interest.

We have proven the potentiality is there; let us move ahead together from this beginning. This is more than a committee. This is a movement; accordingly, we should describe it as such.

The first core issues on which I believe the foundation of a unity consensus exists are extension of federal immigration laws to the CNMI, improved status for long-term alien residents, opposition to casinos (any form of commercial gaming), eradication of poker machines, and transparency and accountability in government.

Foundation of a unity consensus means there is a clear majority of the population that would support the position. It no more requires true absolute consensus than the local cultural preference for consensus is based on full, true consensus. This putative preference for consensus usually is realized as the minority submitting to the will of the majority or dominant parties, and has its principal public manifestation in the absence of negative votes in the Legislature.

Legislators who do not vote "no" on measures they oppose, do not truly support, or have serious reservations about do their constituents a serious disservice and undermine democratic processes. They rob the public of information on the true positions and views of their elected officials and shield the supporters of bad policy and bad laws from the harsh light of public scrutiny. They undermine accountability and transparency. They do this by creating a false impression of unanimity, a false consensus, a facade designed to lure the public into unquestioning acceptance of the actions and decisions of their "leaders."

Such unquestioning acceptance serves only special interests and personal aggrandizement of office-holders, and benefits only prevailing economic and political elites. It is not in the public interest.

Government belongs to the people. The Unity Movement is about the people, about government, policy, and law responsive to the needs of the people -- all of the people. It about a just, productive, healthy, culturally rich and prosperous future for all the people who live in the Northern Mariana Islands.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

1. Call to Organize

For years, I have felt the need to organize a group to work to make the CNMI a better place, to overcome the old politics and contruct the new. But I never got to it, never felt able to overcome daily demands and the law of scarcity. Tina Sablan is a pathbreaker where I for years was only a dreamer. As Tina has said, we all need to put our shoulders to the grindstone. So here I am now, trying to lay out my ground rules and call for a citizen action Committee for the Public Interest.

All are welcome who are committed to certain principles and positions. Anyone is free to recommend principles or positions, but for now at least, I will be the final arbiter of governing principles and policy positions.

Here are the binding positions and principles to which members of the Committee for the Public Interest must be committed:

1. Elimination of poker machines.
2. Federalization of CNMI immigration (but absolutely not without #3)
3. Improved status for long-term alien residents of the CNMI
4. Economic revitalization
5. Environmental cleanup (no more overflowing sewers)
6. Island beautification for improved tourism (no more overflowing sewers)
7. Community based services and policy development