UWM Presentation a Success Despite...

July 21, 2010

The United Workers Movement sponsored a presentation by Attorney Rose Cuison Villazor that was attended by about 200 guest workers and attorneys.  Guest workers reported that they gained valuable information and clarification on immigration issues.  Attorneys Jane Mack, Joe Hill, former Rep. Tina Sablan and workers from the Filipino, Bangladesh, Nepalese, Chinese, and Korean communities attended.  One attendee said, "It is clear that federal law preempts PL 17-1."

Rose Villazor, an associate professor at Hofstra University School of Law, is the daughter of former CNMI contract workers and graduated from Mount Carmel High School. She served as a human rights fellow at Columbia Law School where she focused on the domestic application of international human rights.

The event was a success despite problems with the venue. Although the UWM reserved the Multi Purpose Center and deposited $100, the afternoon before the event, UWM president, Rabby Syed received a call that they would not be able to use the center because it was "reserved for a public hearing."

Mr. Syed questioned why if the auditorium was reserved, was his event also booked and the fee was accepted. John Arriola who booked the Multi Purpose Center for the UWM told Mr. Syed to call Joe Villagomez at the Governor's Office.  Mr. Syed called trying to resolve the situation, but Mr. Villagomez claimed that he didn't know about the situation, and would get back to Mr. Syed. He never did.  Mr. Syed called Villagomez repeatedly on Tuesday only to be told that he was "unavailable" and he was told that he was "not in the office" on the day of the event.

Finally, Mr. Arriola offered a tiny room for the event that would have held about 10 people.  Mr. Syed had to rent a tent and scramble to prepare for a meeting outside the Multi Purpose Center.  The hearing that took precedence over the UWM meeting was reportedly attended by less than 10 people, and could have easily been held in the small room.

Mr. Syed was told that the $100 rental fee was non-refundable.  If these people have any sense of honor they will give the money back!

This photo of the sparsely attended hearing shows that it could have easily been held in the small room.

Photos donated ©2010


The Saipan Blogger said...

That's messed up.

Anonymous said...

Petty thugs. On the other hand, Rabby should have known not to expect impartiality or fair/legal treatment from this bunch. I don't personally know the specific history of the Multipurpose Center, but I think it's safe to say that it's Federally funded?

Saipan Writer said...

The workers organization should complain about discrimination in accommodations. And demand the $100 back.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

If he rented the auditorium and PAID for the auditorium he should have gotten it. That is bs about hearing. How many people were there? FIVE? Does the discrimination ever end? YEs, the money has to be refunded!

Captain said...

If this was me and I had a receipt for this area I would not have moved anything.
But then again when these elected Govt. people are trying to push their "greater than thou attitude" and blatant ignorance and racist attitude to "outsiders" what can you expect.
I hope the MV picks up on this and puts it in the paper.
AND this is all done by a local, I assume is working for the Feds at this Park.
Is this more discrimination, or more just typical incompetence?

I would hope that Syed goes to Pam and hope that she can get some results and explanation on this possible "double booking" (along with his money back)
The rest of my comment would be unprintable in regards to this situation.

Anonymous said...

8:33 If a person pays for a room, they get the room or they get the money back. If a person reserves a room and makes other arrangements holding that room, which would deny another party from using it, maybe then the money would be understandably non-refundable. This is out and out discrimination. Rabby should sue them.

Captain said...

Wendy, this is my mistake on my previous comment, I was under the understanding this that this event was originally scheduled to be held at the American Memorial Park.
My comment is still the same but the Feds have nothing to do with this place, so there will be no refund forth coming from this corrupt admin. AND the INCOMPETENCE concerning the double booking would be the norm, considering the local Govt. attitude to CW. I wonder who's pocket the deposit went into.

Anonymous said...

Are you guys (commenters above) new to the CNMI or something? Laws do not apply here, and racial discrimination is blatantly open! This $100 is such small potatoes compared to everything else the workers go through. (How many workers have been scammed how many hundreds of dollars each by DOL after Federalization?)

Anonymous said...

This is clearly a content-based restriction of the workers' First Amendment rights. Fitial disagrees with the message of fairness for workers, so he takes away the public forum reserved by Raby. He agrees with the racists who fear the Pinoy Peril, so they get the forum. But Fitial and his racist supporters violating workers' Constitutional rights is nothing new.

Anonymous said...

9:22 $100 is not small potatoes to a guest worker who has a crappy salary. Plus he had to pay even more to get a tent! Rabby, I hope you get your money back.

Don't Jump to Conclusions said...

Saipan inhabitants and blog commenters are tremendously prone to jumping to conclusions!

The end of an article in the Friday, July 23, 2010 Marianas Variety:

Former Rep. Tina Sablan said she talked with one of the staffers of the center and was told that the Department of Public Works made a prior reservation.

She said the center offered one of the rooms but it would not accommodate a large number of people.

“They were very apologetic. They allowed us to use their chairs,” Sablan added.

One of our community's biggest flaws is an unseemly haste to impute ill motives to others. Doing so publicly, casting aspersions on innocent people, makes good people much less likely to undertake or continue public service in our community -- leaving the field to people with fewer scruples or less concern about their reputations.

A willingness to be attacked or abused should not be a pre-condition to public service.

Anonymous said...

This is the previously scheduled meeting for the same location.

See Clarissa David, “Only 2 show up at DPW public hearing,” Saipan Tribune, Friday, July 23, 2010, available at http://www.saipantribune.com/newsstory.aspx?cat=1&newsID=101550.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 3:07

No matter how "nice" they were or how "apologetic" they were, the facts are that Mr. Syed had to go through a lot of unnecessary trouble and expense because someone at the center:

1. gave one day notice that they had double-booked the auditorium and told him that he would need to find another place;
2. referred Mr. Syed to a person at the governor's office who failed to return his many calls;
3. Mr. Syed had to pay extra money to rent a tent;
4. The center did not return the fee for the auditorium that he did not get to use;
5. The center used poor judgment in putting a hearing with 5-10 people in an auditorium when they could have used the smaller room offered to Mr. Syed for the hearing and left the auditorium to the UWM presentation. Then both events would have been held without problems inside; and
6. Having to set up outside was time consuming and ultimately unnecessary

Who is innocent here? Mr. Syed is, and he needs to have his money returned.

Anonymous said...

Noni 3:07 You are so wrong. No ill motives were implied. As stated, the facts show that the MPC should give the money back. Did the DPW pay $100 also? If so, the MPC got $200 and only one group got the room. It was their mistake and they need to refund the money.

The Saipan Blogger said...


Anonymous said...

Don't Jump to Conclusions
Okay not jumping, but it makes no difference if a person is ripped off politely or rudely. The person is still ripped off. Why do you make excuses for this? Was the DPW hearing with two people in attendance told to move? No! The guest worker group was the one called. DPW made "a prior reservation" and so did the guest worker group! If they don't give the fee back, the Multipurpose Center should be attacked and SUED!!

Don't Jump to Conclusions said...

Generally, the non-refundability of a deposit is based on a failure of the “user” / “purchaser” to perform, not the “facility provider” / “seller”. This is a matter of contract law.

Even if the form used by the CNMI to reserve space has an ambiguous deposit non-refundability clause, it cannot be interpreted in such a manner as to create an “illusory contract”.

So, yes, the CNMI owes the workers' group a refund. And if the relevant officials consult the OAG, they would undoubtedly be advised to give it to them.

If this had to be taken to court, it would be a small claims breach of contract or unjust enrichment matter, not a civil rights lawsuit.

One of the very creative members of the CNMI bar could undoubtedly turn it into one, but that is why the CNMI is in the situation it currently finds itself. Lawsuits and the CNMI judiciary are not the solution to society's ills. We are.

And no, I am not excusing incompetence, miscommunication, poor record-keeping, or laziness. But anyone who has been around a while should know enough to at least consider those as among the possible causes as to why things don't work as they should.

Political vindictiveness by misguided bureaucrats or underlings, while always a possibility as well, should not automatically be assumed to be the primary motive for everything that happens in the CNMI.

Anonymous said...

People want to spin it the way they want. Even the Newspaper said that they could not get their money back and, yes, it is non-refundable. In reality it could mean they could not get their money back last night, which is very possible due to the red tape involved. It would be a really bad move by the adimistation to not pay back the money. I think we can probably strike this up to either a mistake (probably) or something on purpose (stupid move). What they should do is give them a free or significantly reduced fee for a future date. That's just good business...oh, I forgot, this is the CNMI.

Anonymous said...

The use of the multipurpose center is not regulated, and the fee is charged based on policy. The money is refundable since they have no authority to accept it in the first place.