Fitial Pushes Agenda in Washington, DC

February 27, 2011

Governor Fitial is in Washington, DC to with his consultants, to attend meetings with federal officials, to cozy up to Republican leaders, and to attend the Republican Governor's Conference. The press releases from the CNMI Governor's Office are rolling in indicating that Governor Fitial met with USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas, with staffers from Speaker Boehner's office and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus.

It's difficult to know what transpired in the meetings because the news comes in the form of press releases from the governor's press secretary, but of course, Fitial is there to push his agenda.

Fitial's lobbyist and "special" advisor-attorney, Howard Willens reportedly accompanied him to meet with staffers from Boehners office. The press release stated that Fitial, his press secretary Angel Demapan, and Willens met with chief of staff, Barry Jackson, and assistant to the speaker for policy Will Kinzel to ask them to amend the CNRA.

Apparently, the anti-federalization lawsuit that is estimated to have cost nearly $1 million was a bust so now the Fitial Administration is focusing on amending the CNRA. (Who will Fitial hire to lobby for that and for how much?) I agree that the CNRA should be amended. It must be amended  to include a provision that should have been there from the start - a provision providing for the long-term nonresident workers who have worked in the CNMI for five or more years should be issued green cards and a pathway to citizenship.

It was interesting to see Howard Willens' name pop up after many months of silence. He appears to have retreated in silence after the very expensive Jenner-Block lawsuit failed to stop the implementation of federalization.  The lawsuit that Fitial, Willens and Siemer pushed, wasted an enormous amount of money that could have been used to provide services that had to be cut, or to pay workers who have had their salaries slashed.

Does the governor have credibility in Washington, DC? I don't think so. Even if by some miracle he could get his agenda pushed in the House, there is no way it would pass the Senate or the President would endorse it.

Fitial's move from the Covenant Party to the Republican Party, was made (as all of his actions are) to push his personal agenda and self-interests with the national Republican Party. It is all political games and I predict in the long run, the governor will lose. Most people have memories, intelligence and at least some integrity.  Most people research and weigh facts before aligning themselves with someone or jumping onboard with a proposal. There is just too much history, scandal, corruption, connections with convicted felonsoutright deception and lies associated with Fitial, his spokespeople and others in his administration for any credible Washington official to buy his agenda outright. This governor faces a serious uphill battle as opposition to his agenda continues to grow.

The Governor's Office has refused to release documentation related to Tina Sablan's Open Government Act request regarding  payments to Willens, Seimer and other "consultants". If any law should be amended, it is the CNMI Open Government Act.  Since the CNMI officials consistently and blatantly fail to abide by the OGA, it might help if a provision was added to provide for mandatory jail time for officials who fail to cooperate and release documentation.

It is not even about the ten day time limit. Reasonable people would understand another week or two may be needed to collect and copy documents.  But these lawbreaking and arrogant officials have no intention of ever releasing documentation unless they are hauled into court. They openly defy the law, knowing there will be no consequences for violations.

An editorial by Zaldy Dandan of the Marianas Variety revealed the arrogant attitude that has poisoned the Fitial Administration, which has consistently pushed the governor's personal agenda in blatant disregard to the best interests of the people. He said that a "gubernatorial minion" responded to a MV request for information with the reply, "We don't work for the media."

This editorial is one of Zaldy's best. He wrote:
Still, even if administration officials don’t work for the media, they are supposed to serve the public. And this newspaper works for the public. We don’t just print news and opinions to irritate the powers that be (it’s more profitable to smooch their daggans). We do it because our job is to inform members of the public so they can make informed decisions regarding their community as well as their government’s policies and proposals. Clearly, the free flow of information is crucial to a democratic society. It is important that citizens know what is happening to their government and what it is doing in their name. Information, however, is power. Those in power want to control information. They are not exactly thrilled that this newspaper is redistributing power to the public by giving away information.

In other words, when government officials refuse to provide us information, they are depriving you — the reading public, their own constituents — of information.
How true! Government officials who use their power to withhold information, conduct under the table transactions, and conduct official work in secrecy behind closed doors are not working for the people.   Government officials that do not want to share documents or information are not working for their people.  Government officials who blatantly lie in official reports and public  statements are not working for the people.


Anonymous said...

Convince one major news outlet to carry the story of the ongoings and federal immigration, the lawsuit and these personal meetings. Thro in the factories and Abramoff's name, and these state law makers will run for the hills.