Fitial Asking "Uncle Sam, Parent" for Allowance

February 3, 2011

It is clear what Fitial's next game plan is. He's set to go to Washington, DC to convince Congressman Gregorio Kilili Sablan to introduce legislation to amend PL 110-229 and demand money from the federal  government. Demand!

The Marianas Variety quoted the governor:
“Either that or we’re going to demand for compensation,” said the governor referring to the yet to be introduced legislation to amend the federalization law, the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, or U.S.P.L. 110-229. “There were opportunities lost and the opportunity to earn income was lost.”

He added, “If they will not help us on amending and clarifying the intent of Public Law 110-229, then, I think it’s only fair, since they contributed to the demise of our local economy, that our godfather, Uncle Sam, should bear the responsibility of being a parent to the CNMI. I am not guaranteeing anything but make no mistake, I will demand [compensation].”
Nice that he announced his game plan, but all the demanding in the world won't bring results. Fitial can demand to his "Uncle Sam parent", but as Senate staffer Allen Stayman pointed out the other evening on the KSPN2 News, there is no money. The "parent", Uncle Sam, has an empty wallet.

The CNMI will have to raise its own revenue. It's time the governor and legislature mapped out a feasible game plan that includes income, sales or property taxes or another real and immediate revenue-raising source.

Is Congressman Sablan onboard with the Fitial's plan? His name comes up every time the plan is mentioned and this is the second time in two days that amending legislation and requesting federal money was reported. First, the idea was attributed to Senate Vice President Jude Hofschneider who introduced a resolution claiming that the federal government should compensate the CNMI. Both Fitial and Hofschneider said that Congressman Sablan will be asked to introduce legislation to amend PL 110-229. The amended legislation would seek to allow the CNMI to maintain control of labor and keep any fees collected from permits or visas.   Is the Congressman willing to embarrass himself by aligning with Fitial and introducing legislation that parallels the failed anti-federalization lawsuit?


Anonymous said...

There's more than enough money to fund a non voting Congressman, his office, staff, expenses, plane tickets, etc. There's enough money to fund a now quiet Ombuds office, salary, plane tickets, expenses. Stayman spoke on KSPN? Was he here on island or via teleconference? How much did that cost? There's money.

Wendy said...

I communicated with staffers in Congress today. No, there is no more money to bail out the CNMI.

Mr. Stayman was interviewed by the KSPN2 Washington correspondent by phone. It cost taxpayers nothing. The federal ombudsman office is essential, as are the other US offices in the CNMI.

Anonymous said...

Kilili is too wise to play games. He'll take a moderate path.

Anonymous said...

The office of Ombudsperson Pamela S. Brown is “essential”, is it? What exactly do they do now that the CNMI Department of Labor’s authority over contract workers is very limited, if that?

Make referrals to the U.S. Department of Labor, Department of Justice (FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office), or DHS (USCIS)?

Why don't they just transfer those personnel over to USDOL, and get a USDOL lawyer permanently stationed here, something they should have done decades ago? Then Pam could pick up where Faye Von Wrangel left off.

The U.S. Department of Interior, Office of Insular Affairs, Federal Ombudsman’s Office is a relic (whose obsolete website still lists James J. Benedetto rather than Pamela S. Brown as person in charge, even though Jim began work as an AUSA on September 15, 2008).

But Interior likes to keep its fingers in every CNMI federal pie, which is why federal law enforcement in the CNMI has generally been so abysmal since 1978.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 9:15

For starters Pam registered tens of thousands of nonresidents because the CNMI DOL refused to share that information. She assists foreign workers quietly and in a dignified way. She clarifies confusion when the CNMI DOL, Fitial, Kaipat and others twist facts and purposely put out incorrect and conflicting information. She protects innocent workers from thugs and cheats. She reports systematic abuses to the federal government. Why not call and ask her what she does f you are so confused? The number is in the left sidebar.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Federal Ombudsman’s Office website, there are no longer “30,000 plus nonresident workers” in the CNMI.

The number was estimated by Pam to be 19,000+ at the end of 2009, but is likely around 15,000 today, and falling. The Census will soon tell -- what a wasteful duplication (actually triplication, counting the CNMI’s records, but Deanne C. Siemer had something to do with that) of effort.

And the last “annual report,” one of the few since the office was established through FY 1999 Approprations (right column), posted on the website is dated Wednesday, March 29, 2006. After almost twelve years, it's time to disband that office and transfer resources to USDOL.


Wendy said...

Anonymous 10:12 I guess I was not clear with my "for starters" comment at 9:34. It seems that the most productive and essential of government officials receive the brunt of all criticism since incompetent ones go unnoticed. The federal ombudsman office functions with exactly the same mission as it always has: to assist nonresidents with labor, immigration and law enforcement matters. P.L. 110-229 did not repeal all criminal statutes in the CNMI, nor did it remove the CNMI DOL control over workers that are already in the system due to on-going CNMI approved labor contracts. Additionally, the office was Congressionally mandated to act as an "independent and impartial Federal official" to hear nonresidents' complaints and it has always been the safe haven to which nonresidents could come to seek assistance with resolving their complaints whether those complaints involve local or federal jurisdictions. That is why I always refer any nonresident who needs help to the ombudsman office. I have since it opened and I still do. Finally, the mission of the ombudsman has expanded, not lessened, as is shown by its reference in the 2010 Trafficking In Persons Report citing it as the model for all major trafficking locations within the insular areas and the rest of the US. The federal agencies, as opposed to the local agencies, work as sister agencies under the direction of the President to fulfill the mission assigned and that includes protection of all persons within the US according to equal protection and due process guarantees.

The only abysmal (to use your word) offices that need to be overhauled immediately are the OAG with its election-fraud AG, the rogue DPS with criminal cops and interference from the Governor's office, the DOC with it's massage-gate and ICE smoking prisoners, and the JDC with the guard accused of sexually assaulting child detainees and refusing to allow children to have a teacher or classes.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for the insightful State Department (?) 2010 Trafficking In Persons Report, the relevant CNMI portion of which appears in the penultimate paragraph of page 9. [To link to a specific page of a PDF document, at the end of the HTML link just add, for instance, “#page=9” (without the quotes, concatenated (joined) immediately at the end of the “.pdf” ending to the link without any spaces.]

By no means was I comparing the Federal Ombudsman’s Office with the severely under-resourced CNMI government. As a result of economic factors that need not be reprised here, the CNMI law enforcement agencies you mention are gravely lacking in money to do their jobs. This underlying problem contributes to a myriad of other problems, including recruiting and retaining highly qualified people to work there for extended exemplary service, and a resulting lack of community support and people not reporting crimes -- either out of lack of trust, or to protect friends and family.

This doesn't apply to the federal government, and Pamela S. Brown is a highly qualified and competent lawyer who gives her best in everything she does.

But, face it, the role of the Federal Ombudsman’s Office is winding down. Even the report you cited focuses on historical achievements.

The time has come to begin the transition of that office to USDOL. Regardless of whatever morass CNMI law enforcement finds itself in.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 12:19

You said that you were not comparing the poorly run and shameful CNMI law enforcement offices with the federal ombudsman office. No, I was comparing the offices. You were tearing apart the federal offices. You seem to blame everything wrong with the CNMI on lack of funding. More than money is lacking. The offices I mentioned lack good leadership, ethical behavior and oversight. Are you really saying that funding is the primary reason that a guard allegedly sexually assaulted children? That cops committed crimes or beat up an innocent civilian? That an AG violated election and ethics law?

The ongoing problems with the CNMI law enforcement agencies are a result of much more than a lack of funding. How much extra money does it take to put qualified people in positions of authority? There are no excuses for the behavior of law breaking law enforcement officials who are trusted with the protection of the public. In fact, the US has given the CNMI grants for training agency personnel and funding for hiring and other functions within the CNMI law enforcement agencies. It is the CNMI leaders who muddy the departments up by putting in family and friends (some are felons) instead of hiring the most qualified individuals. Corruption is more to blame than lack of money.

Of course, the CNMI government is underfunded. The governor and legislature have consistently failed to identify viable revenue sources.

The TIP Report is available in full from Unheard No More!.

As long as there is corruption and the CNMI and government officials who continue to allow abuses and fail to enforce the laws, then there is a need for a federal ombudsman office.

Anonymous said...

lack of money is not the problem in the cnmi. ignorance stupidity and inbreeding are.

Anonymous said...

Wendy, excellent points. No matter how many times you make them they will continue to argue. You are arguing with Deanne, Buckingham or one of Fitial's attorneys and backers.

Uncle Sam Parent said...

No more Fitial. Now go to time out and think about your behavior.