Some Reaction to Massage-Gate

January 15, 2010

With the news of Governor Fitial's early morning massage hitting the national press in newspapers like The New York Times, people are asking when the governor will come out and apologize to the people of the CNMI for his serious lapse in judgment. If comments on newspapers and blogs are any indication of the general public's reaction and opinion, then there appears to be an overwhelming number of people who are outraged by the governor's latest questionable act.

Some comments from the Marianas Variety story, Prosecutor: Fitial ordered masseuse released:
Congratulations Saipan…you made it big time in the news…"Where's all that Island Pride" and chest beating now? I think out of sheer self-respect…one of you so called locals…could muster up enough moral courage to call for Fitial's impeachment…or is it gonna take those big bad FEDS to come in and do your jobs for you?
Governor Fitial: "the feds just don't like me"
Because of your criminal acts and brash attitude.
- Complain about enforcement acting on a drug tip and searching passengers!
- Complain about enforcement investigating your driver and catching him selling drugs out of your car near our schools to our kids!
- Complain about enforcement investigating your LT and indicting him and removing him from office!
- Complain about Federal takeover of immigration because you will not have the "local controls" you need to keep your personal profit machine going!
and now
- Remove a federal detainee from her cell in the middle of the night to meet privately at your house with her!!!!

First, this is what happens when you have an elected Dictator. There are no checks and balances when the livelihoods of family are at stake.

Second, CHC obviously wasn't an option. the Gov. appoints the leaders and he still declares it under emergency, yet makes no changes.

Third, The closed door "cover your tracks" session has to rate as one of the busiest government actions in CNMI history! If a handful of people could shovel that much in an hour, think what a whole department could do to fix our roads during a 4yr. administration!
Reminds me why the feds did not tell the governor that his driver was under investigation and he was furious or when he got mad with the DEA and ended joint projects . It is no wonder why the feds pay no attention to him and took over the islands. I think that it goes without saying, these actions rise to an impeachable offense. Does this clown think he is above the law and can walk into jail and remove anyone he wants from custody. Enough is enough. Some of you spineless jellyfish in the Judicial and lawmakers need to make a stand and do something. You are the perceived to be nothing more than a bunch of toadies for the governor and he can do whatever he wants.
I guess since the Governor sets the tone, whenever we need extra workers, massages, painters, we just put in a request with the DOC? I hope they prosecute this nefarious governor to the max extent possible. He is a disgrace to the position.
Where the heck is YuYu Spa, and who owns it? I get massages all the time and I've never heard of it. They're not even listed in the phonebook. And what about that boat? Who owns the boat?
The way the governor RAN to his office with Eloy in tow makes me really wonder just how much his back is hurting and in pain.

Heck, he was dancing up a storm on the 11th and hopping between hotel gala balls, fancy $10,000 dollar dinners and home gatherings and celebrations with off-island dignitaries and financial backers.

Either that masseuse is related to JC and performed a miracle or that was a front story created as smoke and mirrors to cover the real reason for the SECRET MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT MEETING.
From the Marianas Variety story, Human smuggling defendant is governor's masseuse:
But back to the real issue—why did the Governor do this? How do we rein in this kind of blatant and offensive conduct? Because it's simply wrong to use your power to get someone out of jail for your own personal agenda (whether that's a legit massage or the other kind of "massage").

And why did we re-elect him when we already had 4 years of his abuse of power? his disrespect for the law? his skewed priorities? Why did we do that?
This is as absurd as it is embarrassing. I bet this is not the first time this has happened. I bet it has happened so often that the governor didn't think that he would get caught or called out on this time either. The man must think he is totally untouchable.

I hope the feds demand a written report for every other sketchy instance where detainees have been released from DOC for sketchy purposes.

And while they're at it, I hope there is also a report of all the crooks that were released without charges, all the charges that were never prosecuted, and all the corrupt officers that were allowed to come back to work even after they were busted for breaking the law.
This is a complete abuse of authority and a mockery to the federal authorities. I guess this is the "we need the understanding and support of the federal government." that he mentioned in his inaugural speech. San Nicolas-Aldan should be charged with tampering with a federal case and as for the governor? Wake up CNMI! IMPEACH FITIAL! This is a disgrace to every CNMI descendant even though they had no part in it. He was voted in, WE CAN SURELY VOTE HIM OUT!
The Saipan Writer has a post, 3 days down; 362 days to go in which she calls the Saipan Tribune story, Fitial in Pain "predominantly spin". Here are some statements from the post that ring true to me:
Both [Fitial an Aldan] should face consequences for their actions. Those consequences should include both employment discipline /loss of their jobs and criminal contempt/other charges.

Also, the veracity of their statements should be thoroughly tested. I hope the Feds get the communications records to confirm whether San Nicolas made such phone call/attempts to the AG and the US Marshall. Can records show this?
The Saipan Tribune also covered some reactions to Fitial's decision to release his masseuse from jail to give him a back massage.

U.S. Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan said that he “feels bad that the governor got sick but expressed hope the incident is an 'isolated' one."

Who doesn't feel compassion for the sick? I certainly do. Still that is no excuse for abusing one's power.

Former Rep. Tina Sablan had a different take. The article quoted her as saying:
“No matter how we look at it, Fitial has just committed a major and outrageous abuse of power, and he must answer not only to the federal government but to all the people of the CNMI for his actions.”

“That he would simply order the unauthorized release of a detainee using his position and authority as governor is bad enough, but this happened to be a federal detainee who was just recently indicted on human trafficking charges, who was being held without bail because she was determined to be a flight risk. Moreover, the reasons that he has given us for this unauthorized release are just ludicrous,” she told Saipan Tribune.

The former lawmaker said Fitial's actions “were absolutely wrong no matter how he tries to justify or explain them, and he is absolutely responsible for the choices he has made. There are no good excuses, and no easy scapegoats. The buck stops with him.”
I agree with Tina.

The Pain Made Him Do It Theory
There is maybe a handful of supporters who are claiming that Fitial had a valid reason for doing what he did. They claim that the pain from his spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord, made it necessary for him to pull the prisoner out of jail to get a massage.

I am sure that spinal stenosis is a painful condition. I have relatives and friends who suffer from chronic back pain. In fact, lots of people have pain from medical conditions, but they don't make irresponsible choices.

There are literally dozens of masseuses on Saipan. If the governor wanted a massage he certainly could have, and should have, called someone who was not in jail to perform one. Something is just not right with this argument and with the whole story.

I also dismiss a Fitial supporter's argument that any of us who are outraged by the governor's actions are not compassionate. I'm a teacher. I get that childish type of argument all the time. "If you were a good teacher, you would give me extra time for that assignment that I didn't turn in." "If you were a good teacher you would give me a higher grade even though I didn't do the work." The rationale of some Fitial supporters is, "If you were compassionate, you would support and understand the governor's actions." All unsound arguments.

Call for Action
The Saipan Tribune story included some suggestions from former Rep. Tina Sablan on how the public can call for accountability from the governor:
Tina Sablan, who successfully sued Fitial for the non-release of financial documents related to the CNMI government's lawsuit against federalization, said there are many ways that people can express their outrage and call for Fitial to be held accountable for his actions. She said the comments on blogs have been a good start.

“People can also cooperate with federal investigators and submit any information they have that would shed greater light on Fitial’s actions, or on the human trafficking cases that have surfaced. In addition, they may write letters to the editor and to the Legislature, and call upon the Legislature to open an investigation and determine whether or not Fitial’s actions rise to the level of impeachment and removal,” she said.

Sablan, who authored the popular initiative that re-applied the Open Government Act to the Legislature last year, said people can also “directly call on Fitial to resign from office, or effectuate a recall petition and force his removal.”

“Under our Constitution, a recall petition can be filed after Fitial has served at least six months in his term, and would require the signatures of at least 40 percent of qualified voters in the CNMI. Between now and six months from now, people can be gathering signatures for the petition,” she said.

Sablan, who served only one term in office as House member before losing in a senatorial race, said in her view, “Fitial’s actions would more than justify his impeachment, recall, or resignation.”

“How seriously the people of the CNMI take this latest abuse of power, and how brave and willing we are to actually take a stand against it remain to be seen. I am more than willing to talk to anyone who shares my concerns and who would like to take further action. I can be reached at 285-3935 or,” she added.
Fitial issued a statement admitting that he had requested that the prisoner be released, but blamed it on his back pain. The reaction of Fitial reminds me of the reaction of other former officials who also refused to admit any wrong doing and failed to take responsibility for their actions. Look where they are now.


Anonymous said...

What is “ludicrous” is Tina's description of the emergency alternative medicine session as a “release”. Her extraordinarily vindictive political bias is on full display.

Fortunately the people of the CNMI have learned to disregard such gamesmanship, but perhaps there is a new audience in the national media.

Here we go again!

Anonymous said...

Noni 10:38
Yes, here we go again. Fitial supporters pushing the spin and propaganda. You think if you say it enough times people will believe it's true. Sorry, won't work anymore.

Any gamemanship is coming from the Fitial administration. National audience? It went international and people are writing letters to the editors of major US papers. Major news networks were invited to the hearing. Game's over.

Why don't you reel in your playboy and ask him to resign. He can go to San Diego and get some real medical care.

Do you actually believe people are so damn stupid that they will buy the story that the massage by the governor's favorite girl is alternative medicine? THIS IS LUDICROUS!!!

Anonymous said...

1. How was Cheng paid?
2. How much was she paid?
3. Can she file an EEOC COmplaint?
4. Did they ask her if she wanted to go, or demand that she go?
5. Did she ask to speak to her attorney?
6. Does she speak English?
7. Can her attorney file charges against Fitial?
8. Does the governor pay for any legal fees ffrom his pocket?
9. Who pays for the salaries of the officers who took this trip?
10. Can the court file an order forbidding the governor, Aldan or other Coorection officials from speaking to her?
11. Can she be moved to Guam until the trial?

Anonymous said...

Taking her out of the jail without orders from a federal judge is an escape, and a violation of the court's detention order punishable as contempt, no matter how many guards transported her.

Anonymous said...

This is perfect diversion from what Fitial's cronies are really doing - squeezing the alien workers in order to keep collecting the $$$ that DOL has supplied to the general fund. Wake up people. let the feds - Omalley is good and so is Rapades - handle this nonsense and focus on what Futial really wants - control over labor and its coffers.

Anonymous said...

2:33 and the guards are helping in the escape.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that people think that there should be two sets of rules. One wishy-washy set for the CNMI where rules can be modified, and one strict set that is followed for the US mainland. If this happened in the US there would be immediate action. The woman would be moved to a secure location away from the DOC people who were involved. Are the 4 officials still working or were they suspended? Should they even be near this defendant?

If this happened in the US mainland the governor would resign or would be impeached. This is not like the other governors who had an affair. This is a violation of a court order and of law. There must be consequences. These slaps on the hand issued from the benches in the CNMI do nothing.

Anonymous said...

So how did this play out? Aldan wakes up Cheng and orders her into a car or van with three other corrections officers. Was she terrified? Did she go willingly?

Anonymous said...

Anyone who calls this a “release” or an “escape” needs to turn in her bar license and law degree. It is clearly neither.

Ms. Qingmei Cheng was in the lawful custody of DoC the entire time she was tending to the Governor's emergency alternative medicine needs.

MrCoffee said...

It's taken the Fitial camp 72+ hours to come up with "alternative medicine" "Show Compassion, understand his pain," "she was in custody the whole time, so she wasn't REALLY released"-- that is pure spin and only helps this get more play nationally. Please stop, it reveals your provincial amateurism.

For the rest of us outraged and frustrated, we must be patient, they got a month. With Munson outgoing a week later, it's as good a time as any to keep up the pressure. Because Buckingham needs to doctor the statements, Fitial is basically on "Mute" for a bit, but that only helps those who wish to call for his departure from office.

If people are still outraged and disappointed, that outcry has to last 4 more weeks and show people like Delegate Sablan (who's up for reelection in November) that there are two sides, those who believe in rule of law, and those who don't. Make it clear to him that weak, mealy-mouthed statements about "an isolated incident" will NOT get your support for his return to DC.

If you want to get Saipan out of the "Odd News" section of national papers, it begins with unifying against this "joke."

Anonymous said...

Mr. Coffee is right. Cong. Sablan has insulted anyone with intelligence, ethics and and a sense of justice. He has made it clear over the last couple months that his concern is getting re-elected. Who is running against him?

the teacher said...

She is a prostitute not a messagee expert. She diserved hard time and then deportation until the Governor hauled her to his mansion in the middle of the night.

Now she will likely receive a green card as a victim, sue everyone invoved, and walk away free. Her council is a sharp guy and I expect her to do well now.

Anonymous said...

Where is the outrage from the Chamber? Where is mad Jim Aranofski? Irate Doug? Fuming Marianne Peirce? Where is an upset HANMI? Where is Jerry, Perry and MVA's ire?

When the feds do so little as cough and they think it may harm their livelyhoods they jump to and have a million quotes on how bad the feds are killing our economy. They hold meetings and discuss the tragic impacts.

3 days now and they are all silent! What a bunch of malarkey.

What of your own governor? What he has done will have the most horrifying effects on our main economy, TOURISM!

Kiss the visa waivers goodbye. The human trafficking prisoner and victims he just made international news will CRUSH any hopes of continued parole for Russia and China.

Where is the ANGER that spewed from these business leaders' mouths when they feared a dent in tourism due to federal impacts? Is the governor and what he has done not worse than anything that the CNMI has ever had to deal with.

Only one incident trumps this. Willy Tan and Fitial's largest labor abuse case and largest fine in the history of the world. The other time we got international recognition,.

One may only conclude that the only reason they are all silent now may be that they were never mad about tourism being affected they were fearful about this... their human trafficking, drug dealing, money laundering and other illegal activities being exposed!

Anonymous said...

""The State is the real party in interest only as the prosecution in a criminal case. It is absurd to suggest that taxpayers must finance the defense of a criminal action against a Governor who is accused of corruptly betraying the public trust for personal and financial gain. As the lllinois Supreme Court has stated: "No official of public government should be encouraged to engage in criminal acts by the assurance that he will be able to pass defense Costs on to the taxpayers of the community he was elected to serve.""
This comes from a story regarding a request by a sitting Governor to have the AG appoint a state paid for defense attorney to him.

So who will the Governor get to represent him once criminal charges are filed? The AG won't be able to. Why is the AG representing him now? At what point must the AG step away and do what they are entrusted to do, represent the people of the CNMI?

Anonymous said...

You answered your own question. The OAG is representing the subpoenaed employees because of that status, and because there are no criminal allegations against them. It is most elementary law that if criminal charges are filed, the OAG does not do criminal defense. See US v. Timothy P. Villagomez. That would be the job of private counsel or the Public Defender.

Why hasn't the Chamber spoken up? Successful businessmen do not jump to conclusions.

The hearing is on February 17th.

Anonymous said...

Noni 11:24 Successful businessmen kiss butt.

The Saipan Blogger said...

The AG lost a case to Tina Sablan who isn't even a lawyer. They also lost submerged lands. If I were Fitial, I wouldn't want the AG representing me.

red october said...

noni 11:45 I'd like to add,

Successful businessmen play and bets on both sides of the games.

Anonymous said...

" Successful businessmen do not jump to conclusions."

You are not a businessman and if you are you are not and do not know of successful ones.

Our main product in the CNMI is tourism. Our main market for this product is Asia. Over the last 3 days, our product has not only been blemished that blemish has been marketed across the globe in 1000s of stories. We have for years been trying to rid our product of the stains of the labor abuses of the past. Garment is gone. Federal immigration and CBP are here. And now this!

I am sorry. As a damn great businessman this is disgraceful and needs remedy QUICK.

Time is money! Your governor can continue to stretch things out all he wants with AG delays and other crap but each day is more lost revue and a bigger mark on this already soiled product.

I have had 5 cancellations in the last 2 days.

The federal government will reassess the parole program for Russia and China.

My financiers are wary about the state of this government and the possibility of a Coup.

You take your "not leaping" advice and boil your butt in the water you are sitting it.

Anonymous said...

A coup on this island? Give me a break! You are the one running people down and jumping to conclusions. Hell,you should start a exercise club.

Anonymous said...

A former staff at the Legislature reportedly committed suicide in his cell at the Department of Corrections in Susupe shortly after his bail hearing for domestic violence case yesterday morning.

Saipan Tribune learned that Walter David Deleon Guerrero was brought in the afternoon to the Commonwealth Health Center where he was pronounced dead.

Deleon Guerrero, 40, was said to be found hanging in his cell, but no other details were available yet.

DOC Commissioner Dolores Aldan confirmed to Saipan Tribune about Deleon Guerrero's death, but stated they cannot release information because police took over the investigation as a criminal case.

Deleon Guerrero was arrested over the weekend for domestic violence. He was taken at 11am yesterday for initial appearance hearing before Superior Court associate judge Kenneth Govendo.
Govendo imposed a $10,000 cash bail for the defendant's temporary liberty. The judge ordered him to stay away from his common-law-wife and their two children.

Court records show that the defendant had previous criminal cases for assault and battery in 1989, 1999, and 2003.

Deleon Guerrero worked as a community service worker for a representative. His contract was not renewed last month, Saipan Tribune learned.

Commissioner Aldan said they conducted initial investigation then handed the case over to the Department of Public Safety.

“I want to make sure that we are accurate on it (details),” Aldan said.