The Hearing May 18, 2010: Part II

May 19, 2010

Governor Fitial's testimony was everything I expected it to be. A manipulation of the truth, arrogant, and one long whine. One unexpected thing I noticed most about Governor Fitial's testimony was that he spoke like Don Corleone from the Godfather when reading his prepared statement. I never noticed that about him before.

In some places in the written testimony Fitial refers to himself in the third person, which is a little odd too. For example he states, "The Governor has designated the Commissioner of the CNMI Department of Corrections, Ramon (Ray) C. Mafnas, to take the lead in negotiating the Inter-Governmental Service Agreement (IGSA) between the CNMI and ICE." In the next paragraph he returns to first person. (Maybe Ms. Siemer just forgot she was writing for the governor.)

Governor Fitial made some rather outlandish accusations. In his oral statement he accused the federal government of having an attitude problem. He said he has a problem with the "attitude of disrespect" shown to the CNMI by USCIS, ICE and DOI. This coming from someone who sued the federal government to block the implementation of the law and stubbornly refused to cooperate to ensure a smooth transition.

The governor made three suggested for amendments to the CNRA:
The Commonwealth believes that this Subcommittee should consider the following three amendments to the CNRA:
First, the elimination of the Covenant’s cover-over provision relating to immigration and naturalization fees paid in the CNMI should be repealed. This punitive provision deprives the Commonwealth of much-needed funds that are available to other insular areas.

Second, the period of time within which CNMI-issued permits remain in force should be extended from the current two years to four years. The Commonwealth’s “umbrella permit” program has provided needed stability in the absence of the required federal regulations. Until all these regulations have been published in final form and implemented, this Commonwealth program should be extended.

Third, the statutory transition period should be extended from the end of 2014 to the end of 2019. Every earlier draft of the bill that ultimately became PL 110-229 provided for a nine or ten year transition period. The five-year limitation was inserted into this legislation at the last minute without providing any opportunity for the Commonwealth, or the federal agencies, to present their views on such an abbreviated transition period.
The CNMI needs to get another source of revenue. For three decades the disenfranchised foreign workers who cannot even vote, and who have little money have emptied their pockets into the CNMI coffers. Other localities have sales taxes, property taxes and other sources of revenue. It is one thing to have fees that make up a small percentage of the overall revenue, and quite another when the fees represent a major percentage of the entire budget. Stop using the foreigners and find a legitimate and ethical source of revenue!

Extending the umbrella permits to four years will just delay the transition. The governor knows that DHS announced that the worker regulations in their final form will be published in September 2010.

The idea of extending the transition period to 2019 is also another delaying tactic. Nix that idea.

The governor danced around the truth, picks apart everything that the federal government does and is so myopic that it is over the top. The only thing he doesn't criticize the federal government for is all of the federal funding that the U.S. taxpayers pour into the CNMI.

According to the governor the GAO report -not acceptable; the DOI report -not acceptable. He ignores the fact that they both meet the spirit and requirements of the law. Fitial finds them unacceptable because he disagrees with the content. That is a persistent pattern of some CNMI elected officials that is really getting old.

I will address the copy of the letter that he sent to Secretary Ken Salazar in another post, but briefly the governor made this request:
I have requested that the Secretary (1) withdraw this OIA report; (2) direct that the data on which the report was based be shared with the Commonwealth; (3) assign one of his deputies to oversee the preparation of another report in full collaboration with the Commonwealth as mandated by the CNRA; and (4) advise the pertinent Congressional committees of these actions. I have received a letter from the Saipan Chamber of Commerce regarding the Interior report which I am also attaching to this Statement.
That is one of the most unfounded and arrogant requests I have ever seen!

It is disingenuous that the CNMI leaders complain that they had no input on the DOI report when they actually had many opportunities to give input. In fact Mr. Babauta met with the governor on several occasions including a February 2010 meeting where the report was discussed. Seriously, two years is not enough time?

It is also ridiculous that he suggested to the federal government that the CNMI must have a direct say in the issue of the status of the long-term foreign workers, but the foreign workers have no say at all and that does not concern him. In fact, the long-term workers have an equal stake in the issue because their jobs, their lives, and their families' future that is at stake. The attitude exhibited is just one more illustration of a broken and un-American system that is one step below slavery.

It is amazing that Fitial has the audacity to suggest that the CNMI foreign workers in the CNMI are not in a unique position:
The OIA report recommends unique immigration treatment for foreign workers in the Commonwealth that is not justified under any rationale; and should be considered only in the context of overall immigration reform in the United States.
Hello? The governor who again at the hearing claimed to have authored the original slaver/labor laws, made the situation unique by allowing the foreign workers to remain in the CNMI for decades. It most certainly is a unique situation! Or perhaps we should say that the situation is not unique and conform to the established federal rules. If that is to be the case then the workers who have lived and worked legally in the CNMI for five years or more must be offered green cards.

The governor claims that the number of illegals is expanding rapidly. I challenge that statement. Is it because he ignores the fact that the foreign workers are now under the federal authority. The foreign workers no longer have to report to the CNMI labor and jump through their hoops.

The most outrageous suggestion? Drum roll please. Here it is:
With respect to the report’s identification of several alternatives for changing the status of aliens in the Commonwealth, I believe that this is an important matter that should be considered at the local level before any federal legislation is considered. In this connection, I plan to discuss with the CNMI Legislature whether a referendum be prepared on this subject for consideration of the Commonwealth’s voters at the November 2010 election.
Governor, with all due respect, a referendum was already held when the people of the CNMI approved the plebiscite to join the American family and follow federal law. The Congress of the United States should decide what federal status to grant the long-term foreign workers.


Anonymous said...

yes, he did it again he did not fail us. the more he opens his mouth, the more lies come out

Anonymous said...

What do you expect? Hmmmmnnnnn....5 more years......

Anonymous said...

as expected! lies, lies and more lies. i expect the same from his cronies.

Anonymous said...

"attitude of disrespect" shown to the CNMI by USCIS, ICE and DOI"

He's personal driver that busted for ice by Feds rings a bell.

The Saipan Blogger said...

4 1/2

Anonymous said...

When did garment workers, construction workers, accountants, maids and housekeepers, engineers, etc. get hired to "train" local workers. When and where has this happened? What a load of garbage. A better question is, where was this intention ever mentioned by political leaders before this hearing? Nowhere. This is the new line of argument, that is total fiction.

Anonymous said...

The Fitialites are smart. They know "divide and conquer" works, and that the "unity" groups would eat themselves up. Look what happened after the unity gathering. Many went after each others throats. Steve went here, Ed went there, Tina went there, Boni went here, Irene went there. It ended up a brawl of sorts.

People like "the Teacher" are playing into the same game. Not one person changed their opinion one way or the other about granting status after that motorcade. The Teacher, however, has been going after the motorcade with vigilance, by stating these things. This is exactly what "they" want to see happen. This is not helpful to anyone who believes that workers here deserve a fair shake and an opportunity to become members of this community, in more than just residence.

Rise above yourselves and your petty peeves people. No one will agree with every detail of your opinion. Rise above it for once.

Anonymous said...

Please stop responding to the teacher.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame that the top leadership of the NMI is such a liar.

the saint said...

The referendum is a waste of money and pointless becuase rights are not an issue for voters as they are cut in stone. He wants to show that a vast majority of citizens ossose citizenship or improved status.

Dear lost child above, snark comments from cowards afraid to identify themselves carry no weight in this discussion and are not considered by anyone, which is better for your case.

Anonymous said...

The teacher is the same as Anon on May 20, 2010 1:05 PM

Captain said...

Noni 12:36 In the beginning when the proposal to bring in the contract workers. Among the reasons given to justify this was for the "skilled" workers to come to the NMI to work and to train the "locals" to do the job and be replaced by "locals". Also, if I remember correctly, the labor contracts were not supposed to go beyond three years.
The workers were to come, work and return back to their country.
That was the original plan.
Fitial (past Governors) and many of these present elected, "connected" and private sector people manipulated and changed the laws to keep these workers here and no training was ever done for the "locals".
Under the original agreement the "contract workers" were never to outnumber the "local" population.
I believe at one time the contract worker numbers were more than double the local population.
The Feds keep sending warnings in writing over the years that the NMI was headed for economic disaster if they did not "trim" the contract work force, start to train the "local" workers.
The Feds started a move to take over Immigration. The NMI hired "lobbyists " to prevent the take over.
The Govt employment wages kept rising while the "private sector" was kept to a bare minimum.
Govt pay scale was kept up so that the politicians could control the vote and keep the private sector contract employees sub serviant.
Thus is a brief history lesson.

Seems Fitial is still trying to convince the Feds that what was originally agreed on at the time to bring in the workers, is what is/has been going on all of these years.
Fitial and the other "clowns" either have "dementia" and are living in past years. Or they are outright lieing to the Feds and misrepresenting the NMI.
It seems the longer these "clowns" stay in elected positions the more they think they are smarter than the rest of the people,here and in Washington.

Batang Makati said...

why can't these people just show and have a ball to accept that all these recommendations has been discussed with them before...lie, lie and total lies..

Anonymous said...

Seems like it is easier to deliver a quick blow as an Anon to Anon than Anon to Known and Known to Anon? Do we need to do this? Since this is the game you want to play, let's stop else let's have this game and see who's F*** is better.
Wendy can easily deleted your post if she wants and have all her friends win, but she's not going to do it, to give you chance. Should Wendi don't publish Anon and aliases like Variety?

Anonymous said...

is there a foreign worker in washington to give the side of us who are maltreated and abused by the cnmi govt?..

Wendy said...

Anonymous 10:41 No, there are two former foreign workers who are my friends in Washington, DC. They left the CNMI in the late 1990's. Neither has knowledge of the current issues and status of today's foreign workforce in the CNMI.

the teacher said...

I support the federalization law in the CNMI and the President's immigration reform plan, but I do not support extending umbrella permits as it is the Governors strategy to further stall the effects of and block the intent of the law.

Anonymous said...

obamas plan is a joke.

Anonymous said...

u are the big joke, joker!

Anonymous said...

Gov. Fitial is creating confusion to the communicty. He contradicted his Department of Labor's stand that they have the power to revoke the umbrella permits. If they really have the authority, why he requested mto have it extended? If DOL have theauthority to revoke the unbrella permits they should also have the authority to extend it! It doesnt make sense. It only shows that the CNMI government/DOL have no more authority over the alien workers. It is now vested to the federal government.

Anonymous said...

No, the CNRA said that CNMI-issued status (entry permits or umbrella permits) would be valid for two years after the Transition Program Effective Date of November 28, 2009. That is what Fitial wants to be extended until 2014.