Fitial Washington, DC Hopes

March 2, 2011

Fitial Meets Boehner Staffers
Governor Fitial also took time to have his photo snapped with some former Abramoff-DeLay pals including the orange-faced Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OHIO). How appropriate. After all the governor should know Boehner from his felon buddies, DeLay and Abramoff.

A press release from the Governor's Office states that Fitial, his press secretary, Angel Demapan and "special" consultant Howard Willens met with Boehner's chief of staff Barry Jackson.

So who is Barry Jackson? Jackson worked as Executive Director of the House Republican Conference chaired by Boehner, for Karl Rove in the White House under the Bush Administration, and he was also the director of the Contract for America.  He also worked in 1996 to plan one of the earliest congressional junkets to the CNMI. Documentation shows that Jackson met with Neil Volz, Kevin Ring, Todd Boulanger and other Abramoff lobbyists to discuss lobbying schemes as revealed by email and CNMI billing records.

Several other Boehner staffers previously worked for felon Tom Delay including Brett Loper, Ann Thorsen, and Danielle Maurer.

Fitial may think of the present obstructionist climate in DC that is fueled by the Republican-controlled House as the "good old days."  He may even think that he can revive the Abramoff-type schemes and deceptions, manipulate congressional legislation and hearings, and otherwise pour poison into the democratic process.

Unlike the Abramoff years, where the CNMI was a faraway place and coverups were possible, today, thanks to technology and blogs, people can watch every move almost as they happen, and every misstep will be reported immediately on a blog or in the news and then shared with federal officials

Read about Jackson's Abramoff connection and questionable meetings:


Permanent Visa Waivers for Chinese Tourists?
A headline from the March 1, 2011 Saipan Tribune, "China-US accord inked at NGA," caught my attention because accords made between foreign nations and the United States are conducted by the U.S. Department of State.  The article suggested that the MOU was penned by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) and the National Governor's Association.

Apparently the signing at the NGA was a ceremonial agreement. The MOU was signed during China's President Hu Jintao's January 2011 trip to Washington, DC.  Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and China's Yang Jiechi, signed the memorandum of understanding on January 19, 2011 to create the U.S.-Chinese Governor's Forum as a way to promote "sub-national" cooperation.

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said, "Governors will share ideas, connect people and businesses, and then sustain and deepen these connections through regular meetings. Our states and provinces can be laboratories that generate solutions. We can help each other grow trade and investment, create jobs, educate our children, and solve the problems we all share." (Read her entire press statement here and a fact sheet on the MOU here.)

The February winter meeting of the governor's in Washington, DC was the first exchange. The governors were also invited to a dinner at the Chinese embassy.

The Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries is one of China's three major foreign affairs organizations of the People's Republic of China. It was founded in 1954 with the purpose of promoting friendship between China and foreign countries.

The governor's press release published in CNMI papers suggested he would use the opportunity to push for visa waiver:
The first of its kind, the new agreement aims to strengthen the two countries' ties and establish a collaborative effort to address critical issues such as economic development, jobs creation, energy efficiency and tourism. Governors from China will join America's governors for the first time at the summer meeting of the NGA in July. Likewise, American governors have been invited to participate at the China meetings in the coming fall.

Fitial shared with his colleagues that the accord could open doors for greater opportunities for the CNMI and the other territories. “With this new relationship status, the Commonwealth's push to for a permanent visa waiver program for Chinese tourists is poised to gain support,” said Fitial. “I will get together with Governor Calvo and Governor Tulafono to put together a solid plan that will be able to lure benefits to the territories.”
The discussions may identify mutual issues and suggest possible solutions, but it will still be up to the federal government to approve a permanent visa waiver program for Chinese tourists.

Except for the Guam and CNMI newspapers, news coverage about this agreement in the US was almost nonexistent. However, a google search shows that this was big news in China. The Chinese People's Daily Online, Xinhua and other Chinese news outlets covered this story.

The governor's press release stated: "The Ambassador greeted the CNMI delegation and expressed his appreciation for welcoming Chinese tourists and investors to the islands."

I wonder if the ambassador knows how many Chinese nonresident workers were cheated and abused in the CNMI. Does he has any idea how many Chinese foreign workers filed labor complaints and were issued DOL Administrative Orders stating that employers owed them money, yet they were never paid?  Then again, with the abyssal human rights record of the People's Republic of China, perhaps he would not be concerned with the welfare of his people.

More Money
One of the Governor's main agenda items was to plead for federal money. There is none. We are seeing huge cuts to vital programs because of enormous budget cuts. I doubt that American taxpayers will want to pour any more money into a corrupt commonwealth where allegations of misspending have been made in recent years; where officials are untruthful and deceptive; and where the residents don't pay federal income taxes. It is time that the CNMI legislature come up with some revenue-raising plans instead of waiting to be told that there is no money!


the teacher said...

"Lure" is the wrong word to use for tourists or investors, but sadly the NMI has a well documented history of luring investors here and most have been swindled.

CNMI Governor Ben Fitial "I would like to get together with you and my old friend Jack Abramoff over pizza to discuss strategy and we would like you to visit Saipan and take the Tom Delay island tour with a massagee nightcap".

Speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner (R-OH)- "I thought your money well ran dry out there Ben and for Gods sake don't let the liberal media get a copy of this photo".

Anonymous said...

Get ready for the new status. It's called H-5 and it is only in the CNMI. Same as the other "H's", but you cannot go to the USA. Might only be good for the 3 + 3 and then go back for a year, but that could be looked at later. It should cover everyone who was here when the CNRA was starestablished (May 8, 2008). They are working to bring down the cost for the employer to pay (would like to see minimum of $3000 for 3 years per employee) It is improved status, but it is not Green Card or Citizenship. It should cover

Anonymous said...

4:48 And where do you get THAT information from?

Wendy said...

I am not sure what you are talking about and agree, with 8:10 that you did not cite a source for your "information". The rules or regulations for the CNMI-only guest worker program, which will be released this month, may include a new category, but that is NOT status. That would be a visa category. The US Congress will determine status. They will take into consideration the fact that the CNMI government allowed the routine theft of wages from many, if not most, of the CNMI nonresident workers, the DOI report recommendations, the intent of PL 110-229, and testimony from CNMI including the fact that over 7,000 signed a petition asking for green cards and a direct pathway to citizenship for the legal long-term workers who have been in the CNMI 5 or more years. They can also expect demands for reparations from cheated workers.

Anonymous said...

Wendy, any chance you might cover the new anti-immigrant legislation brewing in Texas? (Texas HB 1202)