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


bradinthesand said...

i still don't see how #2 helps the cnmi as a whole. i understand about the benefits #3 will have on thousands, but not #2.

can't #3 be had without #2? i think so.

Votewise '07 said...

Good point, Brad, but unfortunately, based on years of experience with this effort, it appears that #3 cannot be achieved without #2. Perhaps it could if enormous financial resources could be committed to the cause.

As to the first part of your question, "federalization" of immigration will benefit the CNMI as a whole in several ways, and others besides me have written and spoken to this issue. First, the millions the CNMI now must commit to administration and "enforcement" of its immigration and labor system will be assumed by the federal government, and those resources then can be allocated to other needs. Secondly, it will end the uncertainty about what the future labor and immigration environment will be, creating stablity and confidence in the business environment that will aid economic revitalization. Third, it will help eliminate the worldwide perception of the CNMI (deserved or not) as a third-world economy with exploitative labor practices and banana-republic politics, and this too will be good for economic revitalization.

I am sure you noted that I put "enforcement" in quotation marks in the preceeding discussion. This is because CNMI administration of its immigration and labor laws is decidedly uneven at best and too often reflects political considerations or emotional predilictions rather than sound policy, real needs, and the letter of law. Moreover, too much of our labor and immigration law is not well-grounded, having been poorly drafted and often driven by political expediency and pandering to the basest impulses in our community rather carefully tailored to address real problems and needs in our islands. Under these circumstances, change is our best opportunity for improvement.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Have you ever read "Don't think of an Elephant" by George Lakoff?

It is a book on political linguistics.

In using the terms "federalization" and "takeover" you've lost the fight before it even starts.

Very few people think those two terms have a positive connotation. Putting them together is twice as bad.

Think of the words "invade" vs "liberate." They both technically mean the same thing, but have very different connotations.

You guys need to frame your debate better. I've seen you do it with other arguments, even if you didn't mean to.

For example, the #3 principle is a well framed goal. Who doesn't want to improve stuff?

Same with #4, who doesn't want to revitalize stuff?

...just my thoughts.

Votewise '07 said...


I have heard of the book but not had an opportunity to read it.

I agree with your points about political linguistics and the terms "federalization" and "takeover" . . . however, in the instant case use is largely unavoidable, as "federalization" has become established in current civic discourse as a sort of shorthand for the issue. "Takeover" is similarly unavoidable partly because it accurately describes what must occur, and partly because it is necessary to wrest control of the current dysfunctional system from those who control it.

Mind you, the dysfunction arises from the highest levels of government, not the rank and file, most of which are quite sincere and admirable in the performance of their duties. There are some truly bad eggs, however, and their superiors allow them to continue.

That said, I'm not sure where I used the term "takeover." I don't see it anywhere here.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

I guess you didn't...but it is used so often that the two seem to go together. People hear takeover even when you only say federalization.

Anonymous said...


Saipan Writer said...

I agree with Angelo, but haven't figured out better words to use either, so I've been using "federalization." Must give it more thought.

Steve, would you stop by the Day In Court blog and read the entry on TWAs and taxes. I'd like your take on this.