Mark Zachares Sentencing Delayed

October 12, 2009

Former CNMI Secretary of the Department of Labor and Immigration, Mark Zachares has had his sentencing date moved up once again because he is "cooperating with government agents and prosecutors." A status conference that was scheduled for October 16, 2009 was postponed until January 8, 2010.

From the joint motion to continue the status conference:
As part of his plea agreement, Mr. Zachares has agreed to cooperate with the government in any and all matters when required. In conformity with this agreement, Mr. Zachares has been cooperating with government agents and prosecutors, including in several ongoing investigations. The government anticipates that Mr. Zachares’ cooperation will continue for the foreseeable future. In view of both parties, no issues have arisen which require the Court’s intervention at this time.
Some Alaskans are following this because it is likely that Zachares is talking about Rep. Don Young's involvement in the Abramoff scandal. He is also likely to be discussing the involvement of other former Alaskan staffers including Frasier Verrusio who was indicted last year and Lloyd Jones, Young's former chief of staff for the transportation committee.

The Anchorage Daily News reported:
Under his plea deal, he faces 18 to 24 months in prison, though the judge is not bound by the agreement. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years.

Zachares' charge arose out of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal that has so far led to charges against 20 people, mainly public officials and lobbyists. Abramoff is now serving a four-year prison sentence for defrauding American Indian tribe clients and corruption of public officials.

Zachares admitted using his position in Young's committee to tip off Abramoff and his team of lobbyists to transportation projects, maritime issues and homeland-security matters.

In return, Zachares admitted, he accepted more than $30,000 in tickets to sporting events, a luxury golf trip to Scotland, and $10,000 in cash from Abramoff or his associates.

Abramoff got Zachares his job with Young around 2002, then told a fellow lobbyist that Zachares was "pulling our load inside" the committee.

Young, under investigation over unrelated matters in Alaska and Florida, was not named in Zachares' charge. But Abramoff has had several connections to Young over the years. In 2000, when Zachares was an official in the government of the Northern Mariana Islands and Abramoff was lobbying for the island government and the local garment industry, Young spiked a bill that would have imposed U.S. labor laws there.
The article also reported that Young has spent more than $1 million from his campaign account and a legal defense fund on lawyers since 2007.

CNMI residents may be interested in Zachares' cooperation because it is also likely that he is talking about some past and present CNMI officials who were involved with the Abramoff scandal.

Zachares worked in the CNMI from 1994 until January 2002. He served as an assistant attorney in the Office of the Attorney General. Some say his Alaskan ties to Herb Soll landed him the position in the CNMI, as both Soll and Zachares came from Alaska to the CNMI. Soll worked in the Office of the Attorney General, and as a labor hearing officer. He was appointed Attorney General in 2000 by Governor Pedro Tenorio after the Maya Kara appointment as acting attorney general was ruled unconstitutional since she served in that position for more than 30 days.

A January 1999 article from the Saipan Tribune reveals that Zachares followed the A-Team's agenda and talking points. The main focus of the lobbying team in 1999 was to refute a report written by the investigative team contracted by the Department of Interior. The report exposed severe labor abuses, horrendous working and living conditions, and serious health and other problems in the guest worker community. The cases cited in the reports were extensively documented with hundreds of pages of statements, labor cases and other documents. Documentation also included video footage that documented transhipment and smuggling of Chinese through Rota to Guam.

At 902 talks in January 1999 again Zachares repeated the Abramoff-CNMI mantra that "there has been reform, the abuses are old news, and there is no need for a federal takeover." Edward Cohen proposed having employers pay their workers through a third party straight into the workers' bank accounts. Zachares rejected that idea. Perhaps if it had been approved there would not be $6.1 million in unpaid wages and other monetary judgments.

Zachares testified at the September 1999 House Hearing defending the CNMI's labor policies. It was the Abramoff-run hearing with Abramoff foot soldiers Rep. Don Young (R-ALASKA) and former Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), and former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R-CO) controlling the direction and flow of the hearing that was referred to as a sham. Correspondence from Abramoff to Fitial, Willie Tan and Eloy Inos that preceded the hearing indicated it would be held for the purpose of vilifying federal officials, and to push the agenda of Abramoff's client, the CNMI. Zachares was obviously part of the scheme judging by the transcript of the hearing. Rep. Schaffer addressed him as "Mark."

While Zachares served in the Pedro Tenorio Administration as the Secretary of the Department of Labor and Immigration (DOLI), he was considered an arrogant bully by guest workers, asylum victims, and some advocates and others who attempted to communicate with those locked in the detention center. He authorized warrantless raids on private homes where workers resided. He was sued multiple times including law suits for human rights abuses, imprisonment of ayslum seekers in the detention center, and illegal arrests. Even the Saipan Chamber of Commerce criticized DOLI under Zachares for delays in processing of documents, bonding fees, deportation of nonresidents workers, as well as the influx of undocumented immigrants to the Northern Marianas.

I received dozens of letters, phone calls, and emails when Zachares was Secretary of DOLI. All were complaints from foreign contract workers and advocates. A guest worker who was held in the detention center in the late 1990's complained of being denied basic rights and being verbally abused by both Zachares and Robert Goldberg. Illegally held Muslim guest workers complained that they were continually served SPAM and other pork products even though they protested. Detention center visiting hours were limited and even those who attempted to visit during the hours were denied access to prisoners. I wrote to former Governor Pedro Tenorio about irregularities in the detention center, illegal raids, and other human rights abuses. Then Acting Attorney General Maya Kara responded with a letter that danced around issues and defended the policies at DOLI. Worker leaders, the guest workers and attorneys refuted the response.

In 1999 Zachares wrote a letter to the Department of Interior's Insular Affairs Office complaining about the new ombudsperson, Pam Brown. God forbid, the guest workers have case workers who can speak their languages or be represented by an advocate seeking justice for minor children. Zachares objected to foreign-born case workers being hired and Attorney Brown's request to use the deportation fund to repatriate three young children with their mother who was being deported.

An email from Zachares to Abramoff also mentioned Pam Brown and the ombudsman office and revealed the close relationship between the two men:
From: Mark Zachares (mailto:41MMWMWA
Sent: Wednesday, January 02, 2002 5:59 AM
To: abramoff]OIMMONNO
Subject: Re: Zack
Jack: I was told today that the people who applied for the Ombuds job were told by Interior that the position would not be filled. Interesting? The woman I thought got it is hired, is now doing legal research for Interior out here. So right now, the CNMI has no Ombuds and there are just case/workers, former hacks of Pam Brown, finishing up their contracts. I just thought that this tidbit would be of interest to you. I saw Richard Pierce today and he was heading out to play golf with Diego, Pete A., and of course James Lin. He's such a whore. Hope to see you, Jordan, and the Caps soon, in that order of course. Take care. zack
Read the entire e-mail chain to get an insight as to how White House officias including Karl Rove and Susan Ralston were involved in trying to get Zachares the OIA position; the briefing paper from Kevin Ring backing Zachares; a series of emails successfully sabotaging a White House endorsement for Juan Babauta; a couple of remarks from Fitial; a plea for more cash from Tan; and one where Abramoff arranges a photo-op for Fitial.

The billing records from Abramoff to the CNMI indicate that the CNMI was billed for helping the lobbyist find Zachares a position in the federal government:

2/9/01 2.0 hours Kevin Ring Continue drafting outline for J. Abramoff remarks to CNMI leaders; phone conversation with D. Stephens regarding Zachares candicacy

2/13/01 4.0 hours Tony Rudy Contact numerous congressional offices to help Mark Zachares; deliver materials to Hill; obtain signatures on letters

The initial position that Abramoff and his team hoped to place Zachares was in the DOI Office of Insular Affairs where Zachares could manipulate policy to be favorable to the CNMI as this email from Kevin Ring to Abramoff indicates. Even though the attempts to land him that Insular Affairs position went as high as the White House, as correspondence between Abramoff and White House personnel indicated, he did not get the position.

Abramoff, who had hired Reed in 1999 and 2000 to run anti-gambling drives in Alabama to fend off threats to the Choctaws' casino profits, was looking for more help. This time, Abramoff was trying to secure a job at Interior for Mark Zachares, a former secretary of labor in the Marianas government.

On January 11, 2001, Abramoff e-mailed Reed. "I was thinking about this appointment" to the Office of Insular Affairs at Interior, Abramoff wrote. "I know it is perhaps a bizarre request, but considering how quickly I was named to the transition advisory team thanks to your request, perhaps it would be possible to ask Karl [Rove, the president's chief political adviser]... that they should appoint Mark Zachares to head the Office of Insular Affairs.... Do you think we could get this favor from Karl? It would be my big ask for sure."

Reed replied quickly: "It never hurts to ask. What's the next move?" Later that day, Reed sounded even more eager. "Just let me know who to call, when to call, and what to say. And while you're at it get me another client! NOW!"

On March 6, Abramoff met with Rove for about half an hour and pushed for Zachares, according to Abramoff's former lobbying colleagues at the firm Greenberg Traurig and to Secret Service logs released earlier this year. But Rove didn't come through, and Zachares didn't get the job.

One former Abramoff colleague said he wasn't surprised that the effort failed, because Zachares was "too radioactive" and had "the worst possible profile" for the job. Zachares had received $10,000 from an Abramoff-run charity, getting half of the money before he held his Marianas job and half after. What's more, Democrats in Congress, with help from some GOP members, had mounted a bruising but unsuccessful fight to impose U.S. minimum-wage laws on the Marianas. The islands, a U.S. territory located in the western Pacific Ocean, paid immigrant workers in their garment industry wages of just $3 an hour.
In September 2000, Secretary of DOLI Zachares and Attorney General Herb Soll traveled to San Francisco to terminate the MOU with the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division Office. In 2002, Soll returned to the Department of Labor to resume work as a hearing officer. That same year, Zachares was off to Washington, DC to take a Abramoff-secured position with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chaired by Rep. Don Young (D-Alaska).

Governor Fitial was close to Zachares. As Speaker of the House it was Fitial who landed Abramoff his government contract during this time period. In fact, Zachares attended the governor's inauguration flying in all the way from Washington D.C.

Zachares was arrested in April 2007. He has been talking for two years. Here are some selected phrases from the Information:
On or about June 2002 and through November 2004, ZACHARES served in various
positions on the staff of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee of the United States House of Representatives; specifically, ZACHARES served: (a) from June 2002 through December 2002 as Legal Counsel to the Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee; (b) from January 2003 through December 2003 as Staff Director for the Coast Guard & Maritime Subcommittee; and (c) from January 2004 through November 2004, as Special Counsel to the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.
The Lobbyists and Their Clients
3. Jack Abramoff was a Washington, D.C. lobbyist representing numerous clients, including the government of the CNMI, which Abramoff represented from 1996 to 2001, receiving fees in excess of $7 million.
4. Beginning in the mid-1990s, ZACHARES came to have extensive contact with Abramoff during ZACHARES' tenure as an official of the CNMI, and ZACHARES and Abramoff became personal and professional acquaintances.

6. On repeated occasions from late 2000 through in or about April 2004, ZACHARES communicated with his coconspirators, including Abramoff and his lobbyists, in furtherance of the below-described conspiracy to defraud using interstate electronic mail transmissions and interstate telephone calls.

8. It was a purpose of the conspiracy for ZACHARES to enrich himself by using and agreeing to use his official positions within the House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and by performing and agreeing to perform official acts in return for a stream of things of value.

9. It was a further purpose of the conspiracy to enrich Abramoff and his lobbyists by providing favorable official action to them and their clients, and by referring prospective clients to Abramoff and his lobbyists.

10. The conspiracy was carried out through the following manner and means, pursuant to what ZACHARES and Abramoff came to call their "two year plan":

a. ZACHARES would and did take a stream of things of value from Abramoff and his lobbyists, including the prospect of future employment as a lobbyist by Abramoff and of salary enhancements in that prospective employment, an overseas trip, monetary gifts, meals and drinks, golf, and tickets to professional sporting events and concerts.

b. In exchange for this stream of things of value, ZACHARES would and did provide a stream of favorable official action to, and would and did use his influence on behalf of', Abramoff, his lobbyists, and their clients.
20. ZACHARES took a stream of official action benefitting Abramoff, his business interests, his friends, and his lobbying clients. The stream of official action included, but was not limited to, the following:
a. On or about July 30, 2002, ZACHARES sought, at Abramoff's request, a United States Department of Justice Threat Assessment Report concerning Guam and the CNMI that was not then available to the public.
Included in the Zachares Plea Agreement is the agreement not to prosecute his wife, Cynthia.


the teacher said...

"Our government is again funding a lobbyist to coddle the interests of our richest one percent while our deteriorating schools are underfunded. No community should paint such a bleak picture for their children. Our politicians have squandered opportunity and abdicated their responsibility to our most precious resources. When you go to the polls the next time, please remember your arrogant politicians sipping bubbly in Vegas on your dime while your needy child eats U.S. federally funded cold canned green beans in a non air-conditioned, dilapidated classroom because the money for an oven was redirected to a senator’s ghost employee per diem account. We want all perpetrators of the Abramoff bribery scandal that have internationally disgraced the name of the CNMI prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

quote from Chamberonomics I

Anonymous said...

PS No matter what Mark may have done, the prosecutors must think his cooperation efforts are sincere and productive, and he is doing the right thing to pay his debt to society. Not dragging his wife down with him was noble too, unlike others around here that could not.

Anonymous said...

1:45 good point about his wife, but he may be talking to stay out of jail. The guy is not very nice. I would watch out if I were involved in any way.

Anonymous said...

I had no personal dealings with Zachares, but do recall several attorneys indicating that his top lieutenant , Rob Goldberg, was very unprofessional and reneged on promises made to other attorneys on a regular basis. Zachares must be providing the prosecutors with some valuable information for them to keep on granting continuances. I wonder what the future holds for some of Saipan's finest!

Anonymous said...

"Rob Goldberg, was very unprofessional and reneged on promises made to other attorneys on a regular basis."

A lawyer? Lying? You don't say.

Anonymous said...

What people forget (at least people on this site) about Zachares and Goldberg is that they were the scourge of the garment factories as well as the workers. They drove the factories crazy. Their famous series of warrantless raids was directed against the factories themselves. Entering a factory, their teams would cut the phone lines from the guardhouse to the office to keep the element of surprise. They seized truckloads of outbound garments. Goldberg's vigorous prosecution of MGM for wage violations was unprecedented by the CNMI government. Their goal was to demonstrate the CNMI's will and ability to enforce its own labor and immigration laws, and indeed anybody who now bemoans the CNMI's supposed historic laxity in these areas was never in Superior Court on Wednesday afternoon (immigration day) when Goldberg was king.

Did they take it all too far? Of course they did. And then inevitably, their excesses, intended to show that federalization was unnecessary, almost immediately were seized upon as a new argument that it WAS necessary. It was all futile, actually. Their zeal was rooted in their naive assumption that when the feds said, "We want you to enforce your laws," they meant it, rather then what they really meant, which was, "We want to control you, and we will seize on whatever excuse presents itself to justify that." (This was all pre-9/11, so they hadn't thought of the terrorism angle yet. By no later than 9/12, they would.)

So condemn them for their excesses if you want. You are right to do so. But give them credit for their vigor and their zeal, and for their now-quaint ingenuousness in believing that the US ever actually had substantive policy concerns with the CNMI that were capable of being solved by diligent local effort.

Anonymous said...

Noni 5:29

Nice spin. Zach and Goldberg weren't interested in enforcing the law evenhandedly. They harassed aliens and deported them because they had the power to do so. They impeded the efforts of federal enforcers, such as the Ombudsman's Office and the U.S. Department of Labor, to assist workers and to bring labor abuse to the attention of DOLI. You make them sound like well-intentioned but brash and headstrong young lads, instead of Stormtrooper-wannabees. They were sued dozens of times, and sanctioned in various ways by the courts, including the NMI Supreme Court. Remember Goldberg's infamous line about "alien women using their vaginas as weapons" against the CNMI?

As to your assertion that the feds were never really interested in enforcement of the law here, that is your opinion. I remember it differently. I remember EEOC, US Labor, NLRB and even the US Attorney's Office actively and aggressively enforcing labor laws, with and without assistance from the local government.

I doubt many would agree with you, outside the narrow circle of those few who profited from the inexhaustible supply of alien labor, artificially low wage rates, and the near-total exclusion of resident workers from the private sector workforce, and were willing to funnel millions of taxpayer dollars to corrupt lobbyists and politicians to maintain their profits.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 6:15

I agree with your take 100%.

Anonymous said...

As someone who was also involved and has personal knowledge, both Noni 5:29 and Noni 6:15 are correct, from their respective perspectives.

It is when we try to impute motives to others (federal insincerity, Zack & Goldberg "power-tripping") that we are most prone to mistakes. That is a common shortcoming of CNMI bloggers and politicians alike.

But the objective facts stated in both comments of Noni 5:29 and Noni 6:15 are correct, i.e., enforcement against garment factory and individual foreign national worker alike, attempts to satisfy U.S. and prove the CNMI was capable, heightened federal enforcement efforts, proven claims of excessive actions by DOLI, etc. The infamous sanctionable quote in a CNMI Supreme Court pleading actually was about a "uterus" and "dropping babies" not being a license to remain in the Commonwealth.

Since moving on from the Commonwealth, Rob Goldberg has been in a two-man civil litigation partnership in Kauai.

What is Mark Zachares doing these days? Obviously, it's not practicing law. Consulting? Lobbying?

Other than Soll and Zack, there have been plenty of other former Alaskan attorneys here, including Linn Asper, Josh Berger, Jim Benedetto, Linda Wingenbach, and many others. Don't paint with too broad a brush.

Anonymous said...

Goldberg and Zachares were two thugs who should have never been allowed the power they were given.

Anonymous said...

Noni 11:36

Did the other "Alaskan attorneys" work together in the Tenorio Administration with Soll and Zachares? Travel with Zachares?

Anonymous said...

Any attempt to impugn Herb Soll through an "Alaska connection" to Zachares is completely misplaced. No government official, CNMI or federal, has ever been so fair or understanding of the situation facing nonresident workers as Soll has been as a Labor hearing officer.

As a judge before that, he was the author of what remains the landmark CNMI case on aliens' equal protection rights, which holds the local government to a considerably stricter constitutional standard than US courts hold the feds.

Anonymous said...

James J. Benedetto was also part of the "Alaskan mafia" associated with AG Herbert D. Soll, despite earlier problems in Alaska, arriving here in 1999 (while Maya B. Kara was still Acting AG, before her January 2000 loss in the lawsuit challenging her status brought by Pete Atalig and Joey Arriola on behalf of Juan S. Demapan). Once in the CNMI, like the "power-hungry" Mark Zachares, Jim allegedly embarked on his own vindictive schemes -- such as conspiring with AAG Bill Betz (author of the racist "Saipan Sucks" website, which indicates Betz came to despise Herb) in an attempt to frame former Public Defender Masood Karimipour, as possible retaliation for the PD pointing out the negligent six-month detention of a defendant without any bail hearing.

After Benedetto complained publicly in court about "local juries," he did at least issue an apology, yet was criticized for it in November 2000 by the then-publisher of the Tribune, John Del Rosario. He was still promoted to Deputy Attorney General and had become a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney.

Eventually Robert T. Torres became AG in January 2002; Jim and the OAG had a parting of the ways (and a new Deputy AG) by May 2002, Benedetto never having passed the CNMI bar exam. But his resulting departure from the CNMI was not forever; he was hired as Ombudsman in October 2002 by Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior David Barrett Cohen. During his absence, Rob Torres had resigned as CNMI AG in August 2002 over issues with Governor Babauta.

It's a small island. Everyone is connected to each other. Sometimes that means something, sometimes it doesn't. Not everyone who went to work for the CNMI government and dealt with Abramoff or Fitial is a crook. Some people are simply committed to the ideal of public service, regardless of political influences and sniping.

Anonymous said...

Benedetto never took the Bar exam in the NMI. His service as an AAG and Deputy were pursuant to a waiver extended to all CNMI government attorneys for up to four years.

Anonymous said...

To Noni 6:00

Good try Maya. Zachares admitted guilt. Are you afraid?

Anonymous said...

Noni 6:00 (big allegations, no face) Your comment was an attempt to deflect guilt from those who deserve it to an upright and honest attorney who actually is serving the community. Zachares has admitted guilt to felony charges. There are some in the CNMI who worked in the Tenorio administration who he could and probably will throw under the bus. Jim is not one of them.

Anonymous said...

Jim must be locking up to many of Fitial's ice suppliers, otherwise why do they attack him?

Anonymous said...

To Noni 7:09:

not maya. Siemer.

Anonymous said...

The Noni 6:00 "allegations" are all from the public record, and seem not an attempt to ascribe guilt to Jim but rather to exonerate other innocent people who equally do not deserve blame in the guilt-by-association witch hunts that are a specialty of CNMI "reform" politicians and bloggers. A page of history is worth a volume of logic. The more things "change," the more they stay the same.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I don't know, noni 8 pm. Saying someone engaged in "vindictive schemes" seems like ascribing guilt to me. And nothing in the "public record" cited indicates he had anything to do with Betz's website, or attempted to frame anyone. Sounds to me like Fitial's lapdogs are still obsessed with someone, and blame him for their own failures and shortcomings. They probably need psychiatric help. Thank God Fitial will soon be voted out, and the worthless liars and psychos who advise him will soon be unemployed.

Anonymous said...

I read ALLEGED vindictive schemes and CONSPIRED with Betz. Not put up a website with him. But then the whacko fringe "change" propagandists like Glen Hunter never were very good at reading. LOL.

The facts you and Bitter Ed use to attack the "OBN" are just as baseless.

Anonymous said...

The frame-up was in the link about the former PD.

But it looks like someone is laying groundwork for a disqualification motion if Benedetto's office prosecutes corruption referred by Zack.

cactus said...

Zachares: Hired to protect CNMI self-government, wrongly concludes that doing so requires suppression of civil rights for alien workers.

Benedetto: Hired to protect alien workers' civil rights, wrongly concludes that doing so requires suppresion of CNMI self-government.

Soll: Recognizes that CNMI self-government and aliens' civil rights are not only compatable but can be mutually complementary, with unique status of CNMI employed to protect and defend workers' rights and interests.

Biba Soll! An unsung hero of the free CNMI.

Anonymous said...

Noni 5:29 AM:

just wondering if they also raid one of Tan's factory?

Wilbur Mercer said...

Herb Soll.

Now there's a name that's almost legendary in Alaska.

Once upon a time, long, long ago....while still in private practice, Herb represented the infamous Johnny Rich an Anchorage underworld kingpin.

An odd coincidence is that years later, the building which once housed a massage parlor owned by Rich became the headquarters of the Don Young campaign committee.

Soll is even mentioned in "Johnny's Girl" a book and made-for-TV movie written by Johnny Rich's daughter, who coincidentally is married to the General Counsel of the Alaska Republican Party.

Small world, eh ?

Soll was also the Chief Prosecutor for the State of Alaska in the infamous Neil Mackay case. Soll took over for Dan Hickey, who was purged in the Bill Sheffield impeachment scandal.

It's also rumored that Soll could once do the limbo down to 18 inches.

Anonymous said...

Soll must be very old....the limbo was from the early sixties?

Jim Benedetto said...

A few points:

Cactus, I did not immediately conclude that the CNMI could not protect alien workers; as recently as four years ago, I was still advising Congress and other interested parties that the CNMI was making progress and cooperating with other enforcement agencies, and that as long as it was moving in the right direction, its efforts should be supported, even if it wasn't moving as quickly as we would like. By late 2006, however, it became apparent that there was no political will at the local level to curb the abuses. Once that realization hit home, there was only one rational conclusion to reach. I respect your view that it was wrong, even though I disagree with you. You have always been a friend to workers, and have devoted many hours of pro bono service on their behalf.

Herb Soll is still a legend in my book. He's the real deal, and I am proud that he asked me to be his Deputy, and backed my efforts to rewrite portions of the criminal code dealing with sexual assault, sexual abuse of minors, domestic violence, etc.

I would never assist in 'Saipan Sucks' because I don't believe in the view of the CNMI's people that it espouses.

Masood and I had a very contentious but professional relationship. We are both very competitive, and a bit temperamental. He gave as good as he got, believe me! I have no ill will toward him.

Everyone makes mistakes, and I have made some doozies. When I stick my foot in my mouth, I apologize and move on. Life's too short to carry a lot of baggage.

And finally, to my anonymous detractors, such as Noni 6:00 p.m., I think what my Roman ancestors said a few thousand years ago still applies: Nomina stultorum in parietibus semper videmus.

Biba Jim Benedetto! said...

Benedetto is an honorable human being and a terrific attorney. He probably has no idea how many supporters he has in the CNMI.

His efforts to protect workers rights, clean up government corruption, and prosecute iceheads and sex abusers over the years might have won him a few enemies --but for the great majority of the people here, he will always be held in the highest regard and with deepest respect.

Wendy said...

Jim is honest and dedicated. He has the patience to deal with idealists like me, and he always took the time to explain the law to me in a way that was never condescending. He doesn't sugar coat his answers or tell people what they want to hear. I think that is what made him a fair and trusted ombudsman. I am among the many who also hold him in the highest regard and with deepest respect.

Anonymous said...

It means: "We always see the names of idiots on walls."

Anonymous said...

The lesson of this thread, including by alleged “detractors,” is that guilt-by-association is not, not, NOT a basis for judging others' character -- particularly when that “association” consists solely of serving the people as a CNMI government employee.

Almost everyone reading these comments fully understands how blessed the CNMI and OAG have been to have people of integrity in our midst like Herb Soll, Jim Benedetto, Maya Kara, and many others before and since.

lesson said...

Maybe the lesson is that people should not try to distort the meaning of statements to imply that there is a suggestion of "guilt by association" if that was not the point. Maybe the lesson is that every time someone tells news of a criminal act, someone has to say, "well, he did it too." Maybe the lesson is that people did things to hurt other people and justify it as alright because it "was their job." Maybe the lesson is that too many people have big egos and think there is a suggestion of guilt when none was made. Maybe there is no lesson.

Anonymous said...

This thread makes Jim Benedetto look like a saint! LOL :}
Now I gotta get the spewed coffee off the keyboard....

Anonymous said...

Click through the links on the comment of October 14, 2009 at 6:00 PM.

And Wendy's original post, and indeed her whole blog, is very heavy on the "guilt by association" meme.

This is echoed by local political hacks who mimic her -- most particularly against government employees serving while Fitial remains governor.

Anonymous said...

10:50 Funny, I heaved when I read that Maya had integrity.

Anonymous said...

11:02 About the guilt by association - Lay down with dogs and you get fleas.

Anonymous said...

See what I mean?

That tired aphorism is EXACTLY what is wrong with the amateur would-be-reformers who are the very cause of perpetuating what is wrong in the CNMI!

The only way to preserve a workable government in the Commonwealth is to maintain a core of civil service employees whose employment does NOT depend on political patronage or the whims of public critics and their politician allies like Stanley Torres, Pete Reyes, and Tina Sablan.

The ongoing attempts to politicize government employees -- a tradition here that began with Jesus P. Mafnas and continues with Glen Hunter by proxy -- is the major cause of so much of what is wrong in the CNMI.

Within the federal government and most states, working for the government is not belittled as "sleeping with dogs" but respected as a noble, sacrificial calling (if a bit pedestrian and bureaucratic -- "government gray" if you will, somewhat dull and uninteresting). Yes, Reagan and others have validly complained about some government sloth and inefficiency, which is at least as prevalent in the CNMI as elsewhere, particularly given the hiring by "connection" rather than merit that does still happen here.

But this wholesale attack on anyone and everyone who works for the government is one of the major problems with the so-called reformers.

YOU are the problem.

Anonymous said...

Noni 11:59AM:

Nice try on the Spin. Glen Hunter could wrap you around his pinky with the logic and reasoning he has.

As for the attempt to make it sound as if he is in favor of wholesale attacks on everyone in Government that is an outright lie. Nice try though. Might want to check who he is a bit more thoroughly and you will discover that him mother worked as a special assistant to the governor for programs and legislative review for two terms under Teno, under Froilan, under Larry Guerrero and under Babauta. Sounds to me like he should know a thing or two about what sleeping with dogs means and what having a parent wearing government gray is.

The problem that he and many others (including you and I) have is that we now have a government that does rely on political patronage in order to staff government positions and does so openly. Lino fired for loyalty and the Governor saying so on TV. Demapan removed from board because of no loyalty to Covenant Party and Gov says so publicly.

Here comes (in the comments that follow) a list of the current administrations political hacks. Please add to it.

Anonymous said...

Fitial Political A Team (LOL)

LABOR: Gil San Nicholas (MIA for last 9 months leaving Cinta who is now running for office leaving Barry Hirshbein [maybe] at the helm both of which are puppets for Siemer)

IMMIGRATION: Mel Grey (MIA for over 6 months. Antonio Sablan now MIA running for office now Vince Lizama)

CHC: Joe Kevin Villagmez (MIA for more than 8 months leaving Pete Untalan who is now MIA leaving Tagubuel)

AGs OFFICE: Newly appointed Buckingham (took over for the longest serving Acting AG Baka who served unconfirmed for almost a year)

DPS: Santiago who is the fourth of the poli hires in 3 years Warfield, Clyde and some other dude.

DPL: John Del Rosario --- No need to say too much more

CRM: John Joyner can you say Hot Diggity Dog? Doctorate in Divinity.

DEQ: Rabauliman formerly a Carolinian Affairs director.

DFW: Sylvian Igisomar anti Monument dude

CUC: Tony Muna... Numbers guy who ran CUC to the ground and put CNMI through worst 2 years of blackouts in history and 4 years later kind of got the generators back to where they were in 2006.

Anonymous said...

Acting Secretary of Finance Bob Schrack, who is the sad puppet for

Former Finance Secretary Eloy Inos, who is now Lt. Governor who replaced

Timothy Villagomez, who is now in Jail, along with

Former Secretary of Commerce James Santos and his wife, and Santos himself has since been replaced by

New Secretary/Former Deputy Secretary of Commerce Mike Ada, who is a master of excuses for why this administration can't spend or account for free federal money,

and who recently picked up former Commerce Secretary/failed politician Andrew Salas,


Acting Executive Director for Commonwealth Ports Authority and the micromanaging Board of Directors appointed by this Governor, running CPA into the ground and likely default on the bonds now that the eminently-qualified no-nonsense Efrain Camacho has quit his post, and

Efrain himself replaced Clyde Norita (yes, same guy who got canned from DPS) followed by the previous Executive Director Stanley Torres, Jr. who like Clyde (and Efrain) quit because of a micromanaging and incompetent Board of Fitial appointees,


Ray Mafnas, a known thug turned "policy advisor" who used to run Corrections, and was later replaced by

Lino Tenorio, who was later fired for "disloyalty" to Fitial, and subsequently replaced by a more loyal

Dolores San Nicolas, who (poor lady) can't seem to keep convicted felons from being assigned to work at Corrections, and

"Volunteers" Deanne Siemer, Howard Willens, Lynn Knight, and possibly others I'm sure influencing policy with zero accountability,


DCCA Secretary Mel Faisao, who was a warm body in the Legislature before he was picked up at DCCA, where he then served as Acting Secretary for months while Secretary Celes was missing in action after blowing a lot of federal and local funds, and Celes also replaced Daisy Villagomez-Bier, and

Jose Itibus, who was appointed by the Governor and confirmed to the Election Commission, shortly after being charged with theft of public funds, and

Robert Guerrero, now the Election Director former Labor dude that we all distrust regardless of party affiliation, and

Retirement Fund trustees recently apointed by Fitial (aka Yes Men), all led by Acting Chairman Pete Dela Cruz, who replaced Juan Pan, but my personal favorite being Jerry Crisostimo, whose main qualification is that he is the brother of Senator Luis Crisostimo,


Richard Seman, now Director of Agriculture, former Director of Fish and Wildlife and more recently director of a failed federally funded fishing coop, who works closely with

Dr. "Kill" Dela Cruz, Secretary of Lands and Natural Resources, who opposes the Endangered Species Act, hates protected areas, and wants to open up hunting seasons for the endangered fruit bat and turtle,


I could go on, but my head hurts and my fingers are aching from all this typing.

But before I forget I must add that all of the above-listed Missing in Action Fitialites are still collecting their full salaries.

Tom Salas, the Governor's ever-incapable Special Assistant for Renewable Energy/Geothermal who always looks like a deer in headlights, and

the overwhelmed and underqualified Acting Secretary of Public Works Diego Songsong, whose department has lost many if not most of their technical staff but gained much in political hires,

and Songsong replaced Joe Demapan,
who we assume is now gone because he was "disloyal," but no one will say that he was more qualified than Songsong because he wasn't,


Peter Eche, the Governor's Multipurpose Special Assistant for Who Knows What at $50Gs/year...

Anonymous said...

Danny Buniag a Special Advisor for Business to the Guv. Danny boy is a failed businessman who drove his construction company Marfran into bankruptcy. Danny Boy, Tony Raisiang (some sort of Special Advisor), Jack Manglona,and Perry Inos are partners in a company called RMIC that was formed on Jan,10 2006 to specifically go after CNMI government construction projects. Perry Inos was with CPA when Clyde Norita of CPA fame threw a few CPA projects to RMIC. Also, when Clyde was with DPS he threw two DPS projects to RMIC.
Joe Inos Jr. is the Director of DPW Technical Services Divsion he is the son of the Mayor of Rota and brother of Perry Inos. Many qualified TSD technical staff were a threat to him and so were pushed out the door under his and Diego Songsong's leadership. Jack Manglona also owns the Mobil station where most of the gov cars and trucks refuel. He of course charged the higher fuel price for "Service" not "Self Serve" even though the gov boys filled their own tanks...petty I know but there is lots of cash made there.


Anonymous said...


Guess what?

You said, "The only way to preserve a workable government in the Commonwealth is to maintain a core of civil service employees whose employment does NOT depend on political patronage"

I hate to tell you this but the listing above about 90% were put into the position they have within the last 3 and a half years. Right after FITIAL took office. You also got your title at that time! And of those in that list ALL of their current employment depends on their political patronage to Governor FITIAL. And this has been fully documented and Fitial himself will tell you that to your face. He doesn't care. He thinks that is how it should be. You obviously don't have a problem with Glen Hunter. You two see eye to eye. Your issue is with Fitial and his employing political hacks to replace all the government greys that did such a great job for so many years when he took office. Now he holds them on a thin thread of political loyalty ... the same thread that is attached to your neck right now.

Anonymous said...

Glen Hunter is a smart fellow. While I don't agree with his rudeness or condescension, he is on the ball and does have a lot going for him.

It is not necessarily true, though, that "all the government gr[a]ys . . . did such a great job for so many years."

We have had a big time corruption and political thuggery problem around here for decades -- Larry Guerrero, Froilan Tenorio, and Juan Babauta. Each of them had more than their share of political hires.

But correlation is not causation. On the list above for instance, Mike Ada is a stand-up guy. And Tony Muna has done a heck of a job, with the integrity of a Naval Academy grad.

What do they get for their pains? Bitter personal attacks and vituperative slander. Has anyone ever paused to consider that the reason a few of the department heads or special assistants are less than sterling is the abuse they endure from people like you makes better qualified people decline to serve? Seeing what happens, who else will volunteer for such treatment?

In a republic, the elected leaders get to choose their department heads. We have seen glimpses of the alternative in the self-dealing autonomous agencies. Winning with only 27+% of the electorate, of course there will be a lot of naysayers.

Those who actually act to serve the people, and do so in the face of daunting obstacles, opposition, and resource issues deserve our praise, not condemnation.

Until we can develop a lot more civility and respect for one another, the CNMI will continue to have severe ongoing problems.

No matter who we elect.

Anonymous said...

5;26 Is there is a reason you failed to omit Gov Pedro Tenorio, one the most corrupt? It was his administration that rehired Abramoff in the scheme with Fitial and the others. Yes, Kara was involved not by association, but by participation. Taking a government job is not always. serving. Most people (except Siemer) get paid and their aim is to serve their bosses to keep their pay checks. Spin it any way you want that's the bottom line. The only ones I respect are the ones who see the corruption, speak out, and take a stand by QUITTING. What we really lack here is people of principle.

Anonymous said...

Quitting is just that. Giving up. Surrendering.

Far better, in my view, to keep on struggling for the right thing.

The CNMI absolutely needs to build a tradition of apolitical service, of people who serve the people.

The doctors at CHC are not the Governor's doctors, they are the people's. Within the federal government, for instance, the USDOJ lawyers serve under Republican and Democrat alike, except for specific positions subject to Senate confirmation and their immediate personal staffs.

We need to develop that same tradition of dedicated public service here in the CNMI.

Otherwise we will have a perpetual revolving door and never achieve progress. We need our best and brightest to actually want to serve for its own sake.

Gotta love the declaration of independence. said...

We hold these truths to be self-evident,

that all men are created equal,

that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,

that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,

and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;

and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable

than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism,

it is their right,

it is their duty,

to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.


I often wonder, how bad do things have to get before the good people of the CNMI will finally exercise their rights to alter or abolish this very destructive form of government that currently exists, and create a new form of government that will actually, well, serve them?

Anonymous said...

Noni 11;34

Corruption breeds corruption. People responding here defend the corruption of some by saying that they were just serving. If you choose to serve with those who are corrupt, you are supporting the corruption. If you support the corrupt administration you are promoting corruption.

Anonymous said...

noni 11:34
You will be stunned at the number of civil servants and government workers that will not be voting for Fitial. They have had enough of his appointed micromanaging thugs.....

Anonymous said...

This really is the biggest bunch of crooks, liars and bullies that I have seen in my 15 years in Saipan. Throw them out. ANYBODY BUT FITIAL!

Anonymous said...


Let it BE! said...

You will be stunned by the voters' and government employees' rejection of the bitter political attacks on hard-working professionals made by the likes of Glen Hunter, Edwin Propst, Tina Sablan, Ralph Torres, and their cronies.

That is what is so great about the secret ballot. The people get the final word -- not Glen or Ed as in these blogs.

There will be an answer, let it BE!

Anonymous said...

Hey Baka,

It will be you that is stunned. Bye bye FITIAL, BYE BYE unqualified Political Hires! Bye bye corruption!

Anonymous said...

Baka is not a political hire. He was recruited as an Assistant AG by Jay Livingstone, Civil Division Chief.

Anonymous said...

And back to the topic.

I hope that Zachares has learned a lesson and has gained some humility and perspective. He showed neither when he was heading DOLI.

Anonymous said...

A pair of handcuffs and losing one's bar license has a tendency to do that.