Response to Lynn Knight

October 13, 2010

Lynn Knight, a project manager for Management Analysis, Inc. and Communications Director in Washington D.C. at Office of the Governor, Northern Mariana Islands, has left a comment on the post below. I am responding in this post.

Wendy, you are out of line and unfortunately, you are being used in a larger political game. This is the only time I'm going to respond, just for the record.

Lynn, I am not “out of line.” As a U.S. taxpayer who is paying a share of the CNMI funding and grants, I have a right to question federal spending. I am not “being used” by anyone. I work for no one, and answer to no one. I don’t play political games. I would like to point out that others are questioning this also, as comments in the Marianas Variety reveal.

The whole point of DOI's "Business Opportunity" conferences is to encourage networking and commerce in the territories. Like so many other businesses, MAI took the initiative to come to the conferences, and yes, that is where I first met people from the company and where they met a whole host of other well-intentioned people who were there to promote the CNMI. I attended these conference as part of my own volunteer work.

Of course, we know that conferences are helpful to network. That is not the question. The press releases stated that you attended the conferences in an official capacity as “chairwoman of the Commonwealth Economic Development Commission”, not as a volunteer. Press releases state you were lobbying in Washington. A Saipan Tribune article stated, ”The CEDS Commission is co-chaired by Lynn Knight and Commerce Secretary Michael J. Ada. It hired as consultant the Virginia-based Management Analysis Inc.” The CEDS Commission hired MAI before they were awarded the federally-funded the desk audit contract. How much were they paid by CEDS to be consultants? Is that contract completed or still ongoing? These are valid questions.

Another Saipan Tribune article states: 
“There has been open and full discussions between representatives of the Commonwealth and representatives of DHS, in respect to all outstanding issues,” Willens said. 

One such representative is Lynn Knight, chairperson for the Commonwealth Economic Development Commission. Knight is currently stationed in Washington D.C. to work on the federalization law and other economic development issues.” These articles do not classify your work as “volunteer,” but in an official CNMI capacity. Here’s another article: “Every state and territory in the United States is feeling the pressure as governments compete for the stimulus money, according to Lynn Knight, Gov. Benigno Fitial's representative at a Thursday stimulus meeting in Washington D.C. Knight, chairperson of the Commonwealth Economic Development Strategy Commission, was among state and territory representatives from across the country that learned about the process.” There is no mention of being a volunteer here either.

From another Saipan Tribune article: Century Hotel general manager and Saipan Tribune publisher Lynn Knight will be taking a six-month leave of absence from Tan Holdings Corp. in order to represent the governor in Washington D.C. on issues relating to the impending federalization law… 
Knight will keep her title as chairperson of the Commonwealth Economic Development Strategy Commission, a position Gov. Benigno Fitial appointed her to in January 2008.” There is no mention of the position being a "volunteer" position.

Finally, a July 2009 article states: “For the past six months, she has been working in Washington, D.C. representing the governor in the nation's capital on federalization of immigration and other economic issues.” The article states "working" and not volunteering. In fact, you did state at one point that you had "private funding" to help with your living expenses. Revealing that source may clear up questions.

Since the 1990's, MAI has done business in the region. When there have been opportunities, they have bid in open competitions for several projects that were advertised to the general public. This was before my time with the firm. The company was selected for a couple of projects in the CNMI because of MAI's 34 years of qualifications and experience.

Yes, I saw that MAI has also done work for the Marshall Islands. No one questions their work or their business roots in Micronesia. As you probably read in comments in the Marianas Variety, people are questioning the process and connection. The news articles clearly state that the Economic Commission that you previously chaired hired MAI. It is a fact that you are currently employed by the company. It is not out of line to ask if there was a bidding process or if they were given a sole source contract since federal funds are involved.

Your linked in profile shows that you have worked as the governor's communication director from April 2010 to present, and as a project manager for MAI from August 2009 -present.  Previously, you list your work as Governor's Washington, DC Representative from February 2009 to July 2009.  Clearly, you are representing both MAI and the Governor's Office:


I am proud to be associated with MAI and also to serve the CNMI wherever I can be of assistance. However, I was not the project manager, nor was I a member of the project team for the recent organizational reviews as you have speculated.

I did not state, nor did I speculate that you were the MAI project manager for the CNMI desk audit. I stated that you are employed by MAI as a project manager. The information on your linked-in page (above) states that you currently hold two positions: “Communications Director in Washington D.C. at Office of the Governor, Northern Mariana Islands Project Manager at Management Analysis, Inc.”

I am not a lobbyist. I have supported education and outreach through largely volunteer work that is all about finding more help and resources of any type to lift the islands out of this devastating economic crisis. As a resident for more than 20 years, and as someone who has children who were born on Saipan, I will continue to use whatever knowledge I gained in the islands to try to help. The islands need as many people as possible from many walks of life to pitch in and help.

The CNMI papers stated that you were a lobbyist.   I do not question your dedication or sincerity.  I do question the sincerity and honesty of the Fitial Administration.

You have always claimed you were fighting for those who didn't have a voice. You do not need to tread on others to do what you think is right.

Revealing the truth or  questioning how our federal funds are spent or how federally funded programs and/or offices are run is not "treading on others.”  I absolutely have every right to question a possible conflict.  The CNMI has received billions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers. I too have a child who was born in the CNMI; I also have relatives and many friends who live there. I applaud any person's commitment to work for reform and any efforts to improve the economic situation of the CNMI. That is not the issue.

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I only wish that you had answered the questions raised in the post and in the Marianas Variety comments. It is difficult to believe, as the governor’s press secretary claimed, that the Fitial Administration had no idea of your ties to MAI.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lynn,

You've been Wendied!

Who cares if being chairperson of the Commonwealth Economic Development Strategy Commission is a volunteer position, just like it is for every other non-government member? (Why am I not surprised that the local press does not report that?)

Who else has served on this “shadowy” organization since 2006? Were (non-public) financial disclosure forms filed with the Office of the Public Auditor annually before May 1st by all the CEDS Commission members?

As for how much Ms. Knight was reimbursed for travel expenses to Washington or paid for any non-volunteer efforts, it sounds like an Open Government Act request (and possible lawsuit) might be useful . . . if the requester has a lawyer lined up beforehand.

Anonymous said...

How did this volunteer commission hire an outside consultant as the press reported, if it was not funded? CNMI funds?

Anonymous said...

CNMI Department of Commerce funding?

Federal grants?

Anonymous said...

Contributions by private sources concerned about the economic future of the CNMI in the face of federalization?

Those might not be “public records” subject to disclosure under the OGA.

Anonymous said...

Poor Lynn Knight. She moved to Saipan with Bill Millard of Computerland fame to avoid US taxes (http://articles.latimes.com/1986-08-25/business/fi-16194_1_tax-law/2).

When Millard bolted she worked for Willy Tan (http://www.thestandard.com.hk/stdn/std/Weekend/GH13Jp04.html)

After Tan bolted, she then aligned herself with King Fitial. Nice company she keeps.

Anonymous said...

Just another Chapter in the "Stinks on Ice" section of Saipan Politics. Actually, they would be better off just saying "Yeah, so". That's what the Soporanos do and it seems to work out for then. Of couse, the Government does not really "whack" people (really, they don't), but they do reward the folks...actually they reward themselves, through the folks they support. Oh yes, this $$$ will find it's way around to some of the Kings of Saipan and Friends of The King. Strangly, maybe not the King himself. No, he can go take it at any time so why get his hands dirty. Uh, to late!!!

Anonymous said...

I suppose "Wendied" means outed?

Anonymous said...

Read what Lynn's friend Sergio Loya of MAI had to say on his Facebook page...

"Sergio Loya hard to believe i haven't been on FB but currently in saipan working on a project whose political implications get more serious and dangerous. am having to cut short a planned 3 week bus. trip to address the issue. Argh!!!
September 1 at 3:33pm"

What was so dangerous?! Was the desk audit dangerous?

The Saipan Blogger said...

I think the political implications he was referring to were the desk audit recommendations. Implement the desk audit recommendations now!

Anonymous said...

Knight told Wendy, "...you are being used in a larger political game." Knight doesn't know who she is speaking to. Used? Never! Wendy's thoughts are her own, and as Bob Dylan says, You " may as well try to catch the wind."

Anonymous said...

Judging from the photo, Lynn's gained weight. Must be the age.