Friday, October 17, 2008

All Good Things Must Come To An End, (and yes I borrowed the line from the Wildwood Weed song)

Food For Thought 10-17-08

Hi friends, this is Harry Blalock; General Manager for radio stations KZMI & KCNM. Typically this is the time you’ve become accustomed to tuning in for Food For Thought, and finding out what thoughts were rambling around inside my head. And I guess that’s what you’ll be getting once again today.

Every year on her birthday, my wife Kelli stops and takes time to re-evaluate her life and take a look at where she’s at, and where she is heading. It’s a good thing to do and when you do it on your birthday, you always have a built in reminder to do it every year. I have to admit that I haven’t always taken the time to do it like she has. But today is my 48th birthday and it seemed like a good time to stop and reflect and reassess. But for me the last several months have been a time to take a look at my life and figure out what I wanted to do and what was truly important to me.

I’m sure it will come as a surprise to no one that diving and everything underwater is not only important to me, but is something that I love sharing with as many people as I possibly can. I have literally taken hundreds and hundreds of people out on dives with me since I moved here 12 ½ years ago. For some, it was their first experience underwater, and it was their introduction to a magical world they had only seen pictures of previously. And for many others, like many of the officers and crewmembers of the various Navy ships that have visited Saipan over the years, it was a chance to let them experience the beauty of what Saipan has to offer underwater. I have had a ton of fun with it over the years, and even had a fictitious tour company sort of spring up as a result. I say it’s fictitious because it’s not listed in the phone book, and I’ve never charged anyone a penny to go diving with me, but it’s very real to the hundreds that I’ve taken out for a dive or two. I’ve had people discover my diving blog online and contact me from Japan, Ohio, Australia and various other locations asking if I’d be willing to take them out diving when they came to Saipan. The answer is always yes. And over the next several days I’ll have the privilege of taking some of the visiting White House staffers out diving as well. It has truly been an amazing life and I’ve been privileged to share my passion with many other people over the years.

A couple diving friends of mine have been talking to me for the last year or so about furthering my dive certifications so that I could actually teach diving and share my passion with that many more people, introducing them at the very basic level. Mike Tripp and Mike Ernest were very patient with me and all my arguments against it, and didn’t push too hard, but yet kept continually encouraging me to take this next step to be able to become even more involved in the diving community. But it was Mike Ernest who was eventually successful in convincing me to take the PADI Rescue Diver class and Divemaster. Once I did that, I realized that I was only one step away from becoming an instructor, so I went ahead and made plans to go to Guam to attend the Instructor’s course over there for the first two weeks of November. So I’ll be gone for a couple weeks as I take the course, but I will be returning to the airwaves November 17th.

The reason I’m taking this next step is because it will allow me to share my love of the underwater world with many more people and to help them experience the magic and wonder of it as well. It’s something that is that important to me and it’s a dream that I’m following. As I get older, I want to spend more time with the things I’m really passionate about and make as much of a difference as I can in them. I think its part of human nature to want to leave your mark and to leave a legacy you can be proud of.

At the same time, I have been thinking about whether the need continues to exist for Food For Thought or not. Food For Thought was never meant to solve all the islands problems or to answer all the questions. It was meant to get you thinking about the issues that confront us all. It didn’t matter whether you agreed with my point of view or not, what mattered is that you spent time thinking about the issues and talking about them with one another. Food For Thought asked a lot of questions, the point of the questions was to get you searching for answers so you could draw your own conclusions. I started Food For Thought 7 years ago because I didn’t see anyone speaking up about the issues and some of the abuses that were going on. I didn’t feel that the newspapers were addressing the issues in their editorials, they were either in bed with or afraid of the politicians.

But that has changed now; people are speaking up about the issues and are writing letters to the editor. They realize that they can speak out against their leaders and question them, and that they have rights as voters and citizens. The need for Food For Thought is not there like it once was. Much has happened in the past 7 years that I’ve been sharing my Food For Thought and I’ve made many predictions throughout the years about where we were heading and what we could expect to happen. I talked about the impending collapse of the garment industry, back when the Babauta administration was calling me an alarmist, saying I didn’t know what I was talking about. Now we’re down to the final 3 garment factories, and they probably won’t be around that much longer. I talked about how the Babauta administration lied to us about the budget and how much was being spent. They kept claiming they achieved a balanced budget, and yet when the audits were performed we learned they had racked up the biggest deficits in the CNMI’s history. I talked about Rota and the Global Country for World Peace. I talked about lawmakers who poached coconut crabs and smuggled in fruit bats. I talked about a previous Attorney General who protected her boss’s fishing buddies, refusing to prosecute them even when they were caught red handed fishing in a sanctuary. I’ve talked about this administration and the nepotism that continues. I’ve talked about the failure to follow through with prosecutions of former Marianas Public Land Authority officials who enriched themselves while in office. I’ve talked about the situation with Commonwealth Utilities Corporation and the folly of their plans. I’ve talked about the issues of the week nearly 400 times with you so far, but I believe this will be the last.

I know there will be many who will be making claims that they are the ones who got me to finally retire Food For Thought, but they will all just be spouting hot air. I’m not stopping because a few members of the legislature tried to formally censure me and have me voted persona non grata. Frankly I was a bit disappointed they didn’t have the guts and the votes to follow through on it. I’m not stopping my commentary because a legislator sent a letter to my boss. My boss got a good laugh out of it, but if you want to know his thoughts of that legislator, you’ll have to ask him yourself. I’m not stopping because I questioned the Drug Enforcement Agency’s timing in my commentary last week. Although I did get a visit from Resident Agent-In-Charge Antonio Marquez from Guam wanting to set the record straight, that had nothing to do with my decision. I’m not stopping my commentary because of any pressure from any politicians, and I’m not stopping it because I have decided to take up writing fairy tales for a living, although that one is very tempting. I am simply stopping because I think it’s time, and I’m passing the torch to others to speak out about the issues of the day. There may be more writing in my future, but it will likely be in the form of books.

When I return from getting my scuba instructor’s card in Guam, I will be continuing the talk show in the mornings, and I’m sure that there will continue to be hot topic issues and opinions expressed there by myself and guests alike, but that will have to suffice. To those of you who have found your public voice, keep speaking out and questioning your leaders. Demand answers! This is your life, your livelihood, your islands and your future, you have every right to expect and demand accountability of elected leaders. Make them answer for their past and their track records don’t just forgive and forget or you’ll be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

And if you’ve always thought about trying scuba diving but just never took the plunge, let me show you what I’m really passionate about, give me a call and I’ll introduce you to a whole new world.

Thanks for your listenership over the last 7 years and I’ll be expecting you to keep joining me on Island Issues.

I’m Harry Blalock, thanking you once again for giving me a generous slice of your valuable time, and allowing me to share one last Food For Thought.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Off To A Bad Start

Food For Thought 10-10-08

Hi friends, this is Harry Blalock; General Manager for radio stations KZMI & KCNM. It’s that time once again to take a look at the issues of the week, and to offer some Food For Thought.

Today I want to talk about the incident that happened with the inaugural flight from Shanghai last week. From what I understand, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency decided they were going to do a random check for drugs and decided that they would do it to the passengers on that flight. I’ve been told that the DEA agents were supervising local Customs agents and had them do the body searches on the passengers. And I’ve received statements from various Chinese business people relaying to me what the passengers told them they went through. It seems that some of them who spoke English tried asking what was going on, and why they were conducting the searches, but they weren’t given any answer. And it’s not like the search of the passengers was only conducted on random passengers, but nearly everyone on the flight was subjected to the searches. Not only were all their suitcases and bags thoroughly searched, but many of them were also subjected to strip searches, and many complained that they thought the way the strip searches were carried out was not only unnecessary but also very humiliating and demeaning.

I think it is important to establish a few things before moving on to some of my concerns. Did the Customs agents have the right to go through the tourist’s luggage and make sure they weren’t bringing in any prohibited items to the CNMI? Yes, they not only had the right to search the luggage, but they had an obligation to search it to make sure that there was no meat, plants or any other prohibited item being brought in illegally, whether intentionally or ignorantly. And it should be pointed out here that they confiscated many items that are not allowed to be brought into the CNMI. To realize the importance of a Customs agent doing their job properly, we don’t have to look any farther than the problem we have with the scarlet gourd. If a Customs agent had caught that when it was being smuggled in and confiscated it the way they should have, we wouldn’t have the problem with this runaway vine all over the island right now.

Then we also need to realize that the Drug Enforcement Agency has the right to try intercepting drugs before they come into the country. And they have also told us that they believe most of the crystal methamphetamine, or “ice” is being brought into the CNMI from China. But I believe there are a couple questions that would be prudent to ask here, such as, does the DEA have the right and authorization to strip search the majority of passengers on a flight coming from a country that they believe to be the primary supplier of ice to the CNMI? Was this truly just a “random” search and was it just a coincidence that this happened to be the inaugural flight from Shanghai?

Governor Fitial believes that the feds are just trying to hurt our tourism in retaliation for his lawsuit over extending federalization to our immigration system. Is it possible that there’s any truth to that theory, or is it just paranoia? Let’s just say I wouldn’t take it quite as far as he has, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t at least a bit of truth to it. Could it be that the federal government isn’t worried about messing with our image with Chinese tourists because they have no intention of giving visa waivers to Chinese tourists once they take over immigration? Could this be one of the first demonstrations of the federal government showing us how things will be once they have installed Homeland Security here and taken over immigration? Could the federal government be retaliating for the lawsuit that Governor Fitial filed against them for taking over our immigration? I honestly don’t have the answers to any of these questions, and I wouldn’t even know which way to guess about the truth at this point. I would certainly hope that the federal government wouldn’t be so petty, and I would hope that they would look at the big picture and what the consequences of such an action might be.

So will there be any consequences of this action? Was it handled as well as it could have been, or should have been? Yes, I believe there will be some very serious consequences. Let me ask you, if you had just traveled to a new place, and had to wait for 3 ½ - 4 hours in the middle of the night to get through the airport because you and most of the people you were traveling with had been strip searched, how would you feel? Would it put a damper on the rest of your vacation? What would you tell people when you got home about your vacation? And would you ever go back there and risk having the same thing happen again? Would you recommend the place as a good destination or would you warn people to not go there unless they wanted to be harassed and humiliated, and not be told what was going on? And do you think this is the kind of treatment China was expecting when they gave us Approved Destination Status? Do you think that status may be in jeopardy now as a result of this incident? When you are trying to grow a tourism market you need positive feedback and responses from the visitors, something like this can kill it for a long time to come if word gets around about what happened. And yes, the story has already been carried in the news in Shanghai and is quickly making the rounds of tour operators in Shanghai as well.

So where do we go from here, how do we keep from getting a reputation as a destination that no tourist wants to have to put up with? Can we sit down and talk with the Drug Enforcement Agency and make sure that when they do “random” searches in the future, it isn’t a case where it happens to something as important as an inaugural flight with several dignitaries on board? Would it be asking too much to have them have translators there explaining what is going on and putting the tourists minds at ease? Is there a standard for how many passengers get randomly strip searched? Shouldn’t there be some kind of good reason to go as far as a strip search? Should our government be meeting right now with Homeland Security to see what kind of requirements they are going to have when they have more of a presence here and start calling the shots? Are any of these departments even willing to meet with our government since our Governor has filed a lawsuit against the federal government?

There may have been some valid reasons for doing the searches, but the timing was horrible. You don’t start off with an inaugural flight like that from a new destination making an example of the passengers. You don’t delay the passengers by 3 ½ to 4 hours to leave the airport after arrival. And you don’t strip search the passengers without at least telling them what is going on and why they are being put through something like that. That is you don’t do things like that if you expect to have more tourists from that destination. We desperately need to have our government sit down with the federal government and work some of these issues out so that we don’t lose the last leg of our economy.

I can completely understand how the federal government might not be happy with the CNMI government, both the Executive and Legislative branches, but now is not the time to be getting in turf wars and letting tourism suffer as a result. The Chinese and Russian markets have been the brightest spots for the CNMI in the past year or two, but it won’t take many more incidents like this to destroy everything that has been gained in no time at all.

I really don’t have many answers in this particular situation, but have plenty of questions. These are questions we can’t afford to ignore, and that we’d better take very seriously if we value our Chinese tourists. As is always the case, it doesn’t matter whether you agree with me or not, what matters is that you think about the situation and then discuss it, seeing how it can be improved upon, and how we can learn from our mistakes in the past.

Food For Thought is now available online at and if you want it by e-mail distribution please send me an e-mail at

I’m Harry Blalock, thanking you once again for giving me a generous slice of your valuable time, and allowing me to share my Food For Thought.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Legislature's Grand Plan

Food For Thought 10-2-08

Hi friends, this is Harry Blalock; General Manager for radio stations KZMI & KCNM. It’s that time once again to take a look at the issues of the week, and to offer some Food For Thought.

I’ve had some people criticize me recently for never looking at the positive side of things, and just pointing out the negative. Well, I’ve decided to remedy that today and share some good news with you. I’m sure you will be thrilled to know that our legislature has come up with a plan for Commonwealth Utilities Corporation. And I think I can say with a certain amount of certainty that they must have done their homework ahead of time and spent a lot of time putting together a fool proof plan. Now you may be thinking that I’ve finally lost it, or that I went too deep while diving a few too many times, or maybe that I was in a car accident and got thrown through the windshield head first into a taotaomona tree. But before you draw any hasty conclusions, hear me out here and see if you don’t have to agree with my logic.

Our legislature came up with a bill to privatize CUC, and they managed to do it without any outside help, advice, expertise or public hearings. Now it’s not that they didn’t have people coming to them offering to help. It is my understanding that Simon Sanchez from Guam and some of his colleagues from Guam Power Authority came over to talk to them, and share what they did on Guam, and even offered to help them with putting together a plan and helping out in the bidding process. They even offered some input on the privatization bill that the legislature was considering, telling them how to avoid certain pitfalls that were obvious in the legislation, like the $250 million price tag. Our legislative geniuses said “thanks, but no thanks”. Well, I’m assuming they said thanks first, but maybe not, maybe they just said no thanks.

One of the things I found most interesting in Simon Sanchez’s talk to the Chamber of Commerce last Wednesday was the comment that if we switched over to generators that burned heavy oil, or RFO, residual fuel oil, we would save enough money in one year to not only pay for all the new generators, but that we’d even have a savings of $30 million in the first year alone. Could I possibly have heard that right? We would save enough money to buy brand new generators, and pay for them in the first year through fuel savings over what we are spending now, and still have an additional savings of $30 million? Did you know that even with the escalating price of fuel, Guam is still only paying .25 cents a kilowatt hour? I don’t know about you, but this information makes me really excited to see just how amazing our legislatures plan must be! I mean it’s got to be much better than what Guam is doing right? Otherwise it would be a no brainer to not go with their recommendation and save $30 million the first year and have brand spanking new generators. And evidently, our legislature has a better plan than burning heavy oil, as there was no stipulation that whatever company won the bid would convert to burning heavy oil to save us money. I sure hope that part of their plan wasn’t based on geckos farting out money – that was just a fairy tale, did they not get that?

The Governor didn’t like this privatization bill, and vetoed it claiming that the $250 million purchase price would simply be passed along to consumers, and would result in even higher power rates than we’re currently experiencing. He also didn’t like the fact that it reinstated another autonomous board to oversee the utility company. But the legislature, this bunch of financial and power generation experts decided they knew better than the Governor, and overrode his veto. They didn’t care that the $250 million dollar purchase price would raise your rates; all they cared about was getting some money to be able to appropriate to such things as fishing derbies, additional baseball fields they could name after relatives, and countless other projects that would ensure their re-election once again. So obviously there must be something that we’re all missing here and that only the legislature is privy to, that’s the only thing that makes any sense. Surely they wouldn’t sell us all out and make us all pay higher rates just so they’d have more money to play with, would they? No, I have to believe that’s simply not possible, they were elected to represent us, and I’m sure that is primarily what motivates them and dictates their decisions.

And another thing that convinces me that the legislature must have a very good plan and not need anybody else’s help is the fact that when Nick Pula, from the Office of Insular Affairs was here last week, he told the legislature that they should probably rethink their override of the Governor’s veto if they really wanted financial assistance from the Interior Department to pay for the overhauls of engines 7 & 5. Now it is my understanding that he didn’t come right out and say, if you override the Governor’s veto of that bill, you can kiss any money from us to overhaul those engines goodbye. He was trying to be diplomatically correct and drop hints, letting them know that they needed to read between the lines, and that time was running out, and they’d better have a very good, plausible plan if they wanted any financial help. So I guess we have to either assume that these guys are not so good at reading between the lines, if they can indeed read at all, or that they got the message, but were sending a message of their own back to Washington. That message would be, “keep your money, we don’t need it anyway, we’ve got a better plan!” So again, while some might be worried about sending that kind of a message to Washington, I’m not worried at all, I know it means that our legislators must have a much better plan, and we truly don’t need any financial help from Washington. I sure hope that they’ve told Tony Muna their plan though, because last I knew, he was still counting on that money from the Department of the Interior to overhaul engines 7&5. I hope their plan isn’t really counting on mouse powered power generation plants, that was just a fairy tale. It wasn’t meant to be used as the new blueprint for privatization of CUC; surely they knew that, right? So thanks for the trip out here Mr. Pula, and thanks for patting us all on the back and congratulating us, but we don’t need your money, really. Well, at least we don’t think we need your money. Wait, should someone go and check with Tony Muna first? Nah, what am I thinking, our financial wizards and power plant experts in the legislature have things completely under control, they know exactly what they’re doing.

Well, this privatization plan must be an impressive one if it means we can finally stand on our own two feet and thumb our noses at the federal government. And one of the most impressive aspects of it is that we can count on it being not only bid out and awarded with no objections filed, but that we can count on the new company coming in and having new generators to replace the Aggreko generators in less than one year, when the Aggreko contract expires. That’s definitely an ambitious and impressive time line, but surely these guys wouldn’t play games when we are under a time deadline like that, would they? You don’t think they took that part of the fairy tale seriously about gecko powered generators do you? Wait, that couldn’t be why that old white haired guy was running around chasing geckos with a butterfly net the other day, could it? No, now that I think about it, I think they were chasing him with a butterfly net and a white jacket, never mind.

I think it’s become quite clear that there are many of us who have been too hard on this legislature, and harshly judged them for not listening to outside experts, for not holding public hearings regarding the privatization of CUC, for telling the Department of the Interior that we don’t need their money, and for not knowing what they were doing. So let me be the first to say, I’m sorry if I jumped to any wrong conclusions, I’m sorry if I’m not smart enough to follow the logic in your flawless plan, and I’m sorry that I didn’t have the faith to believe that you guys finally got your act together and are truly acting in the best interest of the people of the CNMI. I am very excited to watch this plan come together and to put a stop to all the nay-Sayers, myself included. I am so glad that you have a plan that will save us more than $30 million in the next year in fuel costs and still have paid for all new generators. I am thrilled that we can tell the feds we don’t need or want your money; we have a plan of our own, so thanks but no thanks. And most of all, I’m thankful that you have once again given us a reason to respect you and to accord you all the honor that is due you. But of course this would not apply to the 3 legislators that did not vote for the override, Representatives Tina Sablan, Ed Salas and Francisco Dela Cruz.

Now there may be some that hear or read this and might accuse me of sarcasm. But the only ones who could possibly think such a thing would be those who don’t believe all the things I’ve just praised the majority of our legislature for. And surely none of the legislators would, with a few possible exceptions. So bring on the plan I say, show all of us that you truly do know better than everyone else. I can’t think of a better time to prove me wrong and put me in my place once and for all. So thank you legislature for ignoring everyone else and for sticking to your guns, I know it couldn’t have been easy to ignore that many people. Thank you for taking the time to come up with a superior plan that blows all the others out of the water. And thank you for restoring honor and respect to your body. I know that I for one plan on giving you all the honor and respect you have earned from this point forward. I’ve learned my lesson!

Food For Thought is now available online at and if you want it by e-mail distribution please send me an e-mail at

I’m Harry Blalock, thanking you once again for giving me a generous slice of your valuable time, and allowing me to share my Food For Thought.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Disturbing E-mail & Questionable Actions By Cabinet Members

Food For Thought 9-26-08

Hi friends, this is Harry Blalock; General Manager for radio stations KZMI & KCNM. It’s that time once again to take a look at the issues of the week, and to offer some Food For Thought.

I want to start off today addressing an e-mail I got about my commentary last week from a Merced Santos. I’m assuming she’s a contract worker, because she states in her e-mail that she’s not a U.S. citizen. She proceeded to blast me for my fairy tale because I was critical of Tony Muna. She said she personally blames Kumoi, Tim Villagomez and Tony Guerrero for the mess the utility is currently in, but that Tony Muna is doing the best he can and doesn’t deserve my criticism. First of all Miss Santos, were you not paying attention to the disclaimer? Did I not say the fairy tale was completely made up and not based on any person? Did I stutter? Did I not make myself perfectly clear? Did I not put disclaimers at not only the beginning, but also at the end of the fairy tale? Everybody knows our generators are not the mouse powered power generation units, come on!

But everybody is entitled to their opinion, even if they did ignore the disclaimers. The part of her e-mail that troubled me was her harsh criticism of America and American’s like me. I am going to quote a part of her e-mail, so that I don’t take anything out of context, and all grammatical errors will be presented exactly as they were written.

“My daughter is a junior at MHS and she would listen to your commentaries sometimes and she once asked me why you are so anti-local government, anti-local leaders, and just about anything in the CNMI. I told her that you are one of those transient statesiders who came to doctrinate us with the "American values." And she asked what I mean about such values. I told my daughter that the federal government and some transient statesiders want to continue to study us and force the American values on us but they will not get away with it as they did with other people they call fellow Americans. Such values I said, include enslaving the black people and traded them as properties, horded the American Indians into the desert reservations in the U.S., cheated the Eskimos of their traditional lands and overthrew the last monarchial queen of the Hawaiian islands. These are the core American values that I described to my daughter. The U.S. is one of the most hypocritical nation in the world. Why did the 9-11 tragedy happened? I am not an American citizen, us in the CNMI are second class American citizens who are not allowed to vote for the American president but its government welcomes my son to fight its war in Iraq!! American values? Give me your food for thoughts on American values Mr. Blalock and it better be a good one.”

Again all misuses of words, such as doctrinate, instead of indoctrinate, are the errors of Miss Santos, and I am simply quoting her e-mail exactly as she wrote it. I copied and pasted it fact, just so there would be no chance that I wouldn’t quote her exactly. She told me how much better her English was than mine, so I figured she would want these things pointed out. But I guess my question is, if you hate America and Americans so much, then what are you doing working here? Did someone force you to come to work in an American Commonwealth? Is someone holding you here against your will? I’m fairly certain they must be, because after the things you said about America, I can’t imagine you wanting anything to do with it willingly. If that’s the case, I’d be more than happy to see if we can arrange for your immediate return to the Philippines, where you told me you are from. Are you one of the ones who are hoping for some kind of green card, U.S. citizenship or permanent residency as a result of the federalization of the CNMI’s Immigration system? And if you are, why? Why would you want to go to a country you believe to be so hypocritical and horrible? I’m sorry, but something here just doesn’t compute to me.

As far as my thoughts on American values, I obviously don’t condone every decision made by the United States, and know of very few citizens who do agree with everything. Yes, our country has made some horrible mistakes in our past, and continues making some today. But the awesome thing about the United States is that it allows its citizens to express their thoughts and ideas, even when they differ with the official government position. It vehemently protects individual rights and freedom of speech. It allows me to say whatever I want to say. And believe it or not, but it even allows you to say what you want to say as well, even if your reference to the reason for 9-11 happening was sickening and deplorable. But you are entitled to your opinion, and are even allowed to express it publicly. However as you pointed out, you are not a U.S. citizen, and you do have your own country to go back to, and frankly Merced Santos, that is probably what you should do if you truly feel that way about America.

Now on to a couple issues from the past week that left me wondering if this administration truly wants to get rid of everyone who is not a part of their exclusive club. The first one involved a situation with the Secretary of the Department of Lands & Natural Resources who also happens to be the government veterinarian. A citizen wrote a letter to him complaining about an issue she had with Dr. Tudor, the islands only private veterinarian. But instead of addressing the issue with Dr. Tudor, who happened to be away on vacation at the time, he decided to call the veterinarian who was filling in for Dr. Tudor and threaten to revoke his license to practice in the CNMI. The veterinarian claimed that Dr. Dela Cruz did indeed revoke his license to practice over the phone; however Dr. Dela Cruz claims that he only mentioned that he could revoke it. Whatever the case, the temporary veterinarian decided he had better things to do than put up with tyrants who just wanted to throw their weight around and show how important they are, so he packed his bags and left that night. So rather than dealing with things in a professional manner, and talking to Dr. Tudor, who the complaint was written about, Dr. Dela Cruz managed to chase off the vet, meaning that if your animals needed any care, you had no choice but to take them to Dr. Dela Cruz, rather ironic I thought. I’m sure that this little incident will not go unreported in veterinarian circles, and good luck the next time we need to get a temporary vet to fill in. It also reinforces our image as being unfriendly to business, and extremely difficult to deal with.

The other incident involves the Secretary of the Department of Public Lands and the Attorney General’s office. They decided to attack the company that recently purchased the Rota Resort, because they claim they didn’t come to them asking for their blessing before executing the deal to buy the resort. And instead of quietly going to the owners of the company and trying to settle whatever dispute they may have had, they decided to publicly attack them in the newspapers and accuse the new owners of trespassing on the property and demand that they vacate the property immediately. Whether D.P.L. and the A.G’s office had the legal right to do what they did is not even the issue with me, it’s the way they went about it and the message they just sent. The message they sent to any and all potential investors is that if you buy a business that is on public property, they can and most likely will make your life a living hell. So all businesses owners who are located on public property just watched the value of their business plummet, as they realize these actions will make it extremely difficult to sell their businesses in the future.

Did I miss something somewhere? Wasn’t this the administration that claimed they were going to be pro business and make it easier for people to do business here? Or was that just one more of the many promises like getting rid of the fuel surcharge, addressing the Commonwealth and answering questions every Wednesday morning on the radio, and prosecuting those involved with the plundering that took place at Marianas Public Land Authority? Their track record may be abysmal, but you have to admit, they’ve been pretty consistent. The administration will try to tell you that we’ve already hit bottom economically and we’ve turned the corner, but like most of their promises it simply isn’t true. If you talk to anyone in business, they will tell you that we aren’t even close to bottom yet and that things will get much worse before it improves, if indeed it ever does. Actions like those of these cabinet members of this administration are guaranteeing that things will only get worse, because the reputation they are giving us is one we won’t lose or change easily.

So I guess my question would be who are these cabinet members accountable to? Who do they answer to? Who is allowing this kind of behavior to go unchecked? What is your definition of dereliction of duty? And do we just want to see how much worse this administration can possibly make it before we consider impeachment? Do you still think you can’t find grounds for impeachment? Two wrongs does not make a right, and I’m thinking the people are going to correct the mistakes they have made in upcoming elections.

Food For Thought is now available online at and if you want it by e-mail distribution please send me an e-mail at

I’m Harry Blalock, thanking you once again for giving me a generous slice of your valuable time, and allowing me to share my Food For Thought.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Fairy Tale

Food For Thought 9-19-08

Hi friends, this is Harry Blalock; General Manager for radio stations KZMI & KCNM. It’s that time once again to take a look at the issues of the week, and to offer some Food For Thought.

*Disclaimer – Today’s commentary is a fairy tale, and any correlations you may see between characters in today’s story and people you may know are purely a coincidence. This is meant for entertainment purposes entirely, any lessons you may draw from it are the product of your own imagination. So with that said, let’s get into the story…

Once upon a time, on a tiny island far, far away (well it is far away from most places), lived a king whose name was Bite The Hand That Feeds Me, everyone just called him by his nickname, King Bite Me. This king was a great king, well in his own mind at least, and he had a public liar, I mean crier, who was paid to go everywhere telling everyone what a great king Bite Me was. He was known as one of the best story tellers on the island, he had to be in order to do his job well. The crier’s name was Sir Spins Alot, and not a day went by when the common islanders weren’t subjected to Spins Alot’s fanciful tales and being reminded of what a great king Bite Me was.

King Bite Me got his name for his heroic (that is Spins Alot’s word, not mine) actions against a much larger land far to the east, all the way across the big pond. This much larger land had previously come to the tiny islands defense and rescued them from invaders from another much larger island. Ever since then, this much larger land had given the tiny island millions and millions of dollars to help them with their many troubles. They even adopted the people from the tiny island and issued them their very own blue Indigenous Identification Stamp Book, which was the same one the people in the much larger land used whenever they wanted to travel to far off lands. The much larger land had been very generous to the people of the tiny island, but it was never enough, and certain people, like King Bite Me always wanted more, and would throw temper tantrums when he didn’t get what he wanted.

At one point, King Bite Me decided that he wanted to lay claim to 200 miles of sky above his tiny island. Why he wanted 200 miles was a puzzle in the first place, the tiny little island he lived on was less than 15 miles long, so where did he get off thinking he could make such ridiculous demands? All the villages in the much larger land got to own 3 miles of the sky in their own places, and that seemed to be the standard amount of allowable sky. But King Bite Me thought he was much more important than anyone else, and instead of asking the much larger land for 3 miles of sky, like all the other villages had, he demanded they give him 200 miles of sky. The much larger land decided to let their council of white haired elders decide the matter, and it was decided that since King Bite Me wouldn’t ask for a reasonable amount, that they would give him nothing at all, and hopefully teach him a lesson. At the end of the proceedings it is rumored that the king left in a huff and loudly proclaimed his nickname, Bite Me. So now because of the king’s stubbornness and arrogance, the people of his tiny island have to crawl around on their bellies so as to minimize the amount of air space they take up, since they have no legal claim to any air above the ground at all. It is rumored that as a result of having to crawl around on their bellies so much, many of the politicians, or leeches as they are commonly referred to on the tiny island, actually turned into snakes. Sure many of them had been called snakes for years, so maybe it was just some kind of backwardly evolutionary thing that can only happen in fairy tales, or maybe it was them getting their just desserts, it’s very hard to say, and that’s not really the point anyway. The people of the island frequently wound up paying the price for the decisions made by their great king, Bite Me, but they had been taught not to question their great king, and to just accept whatever he told them as truth. Independent, individual thinking was discouraged, people were just supposed to listen to Sir Spins Alot and trust whatever he told them.

The tiny island had also gotten itself into trouble with the much larger land because of their policies and practices involving bringing in other workers to do all the jobs they didn’t want to be bothered doing themselves. There were problems with all kinds of things, and the much larger land finally decided they would take over the Department of Jobs We Don’t Want To Do. This infuriated great King Bite Me as it meant that some of his favorite entertainers might have to go back to where they came from. He decided that he was going to hire a company that specialized in harassing people and have them to harass the leaders of the much larger land. There were a couple problems with this though, harassers don’t come cheap, they want a lot of money to go harass other people, and it didn’t seem like there were very many other people that agreed with great King Bite Me that hiring the harassers was a good idea. The people elected those from among themselves to make laws and represent them; these were called the honorable leeches. But even the honorable leeches didn’t support hiring the harassers, and they refused to give the king any money to hire the harassers. But great King Bite Me decided he was going to do whatever he wanted to do, after all, he was a king, he didn’t have to worry about being re-elected or anything. So he instructed Sir Spins Alot to tell people that he was going to hire the harassers anyway, and it was none of their business where he was getting the money to pay the harassers. Again it was rumored that as he hired the harassers, he turned in the direction of the much larger land and screamed his nickname once again, Bite Me!

There were those who questioned the sanity of King Bite Me because at the same time he was hiring the harassers to bother the much larger land, he was asking the much larger land for $4 million dollars to buy more mouse food, and to replace a bunch of the mice in power wheels 7 and 5. There were those who tried telling the king that the much larger land might be much more likely to help them out if he didn’t hire people to harass them, but he didn’t care, he stuck his fingers in his ears and kept chanting his nickname over and over, Bite Me, Bite Me, Bite Me, Bite Me.

You see while the rest of the world was moving away from mouse powered power generation plants, King Bite Me and his predecessors had buddies who were in the mouse power generation business, and they offered them rewards if they bought their mice and products from them. So even though there were better options out there to produce the kingdoms power, the king and his predecessors ignored what was in the people’s best interests and kept doing business with their cronies. The main problem with this is that the cost of mouse food was going out of sight, and then if you didn’t give the mice regular checkups, they had a tendency to get sick and stop working. All of the mice in the king’s power generating wheels had been worked for years without any checkups at all, their health was completely ignored. Mice were dying on the job and nobody seemed to care. The ones that were left were breaking their little legs trying to run extra hard to make up for their fallen fellow mice. But instead of buying new mice and taking care of the new mice, King Bite Me had his mice handlers just tape toothpicks to their legs as splints and try to make them keep running on the power wheels. Sure they could whip and beat the poor little mice and get a little more life out of them and make them produce a little more power, but they would eventually just collapse, turning off the lights on the tiny island yet again.

The residents of the tiny island were getting sick and tired of the constant power outages and had talked about putting King Bite Me in a boat with no paddles and sending him out to sea in a storm, and there was also talk of cutting out Sir Spins Alot’s tongue. He realized he had to do something, so he instructed one of his most faithful aides, Why Me, (who he had put in charge of the mouse power plant even though he had no experience with mice, power or plants), to bring in some miniature geckos on tiny little power wheels and have them produce some extra power. He finally found a company, called A Gecko Power Company, who trained geckos to run on the wheels instead of mice, geckos are much faster than mice and it was theorized that they would be more efficient, creating more power on less gecko food. The only problem was it was expensive to bring in A Gecko Power Company, so they took some money from the This Land Is Our Land Fund, and used that to pay for 3 of the months, then Why Me figured he would just wave his magic wand and the geckos would start farting out money and their problems would be solved.

In fact Why Me was so convinced that his plan was fool proof that he found the biggest rock he could find on the island, he stood on top of it and started screaming from the top of his lungs, “We’ve gone 48 straight hours with no power outages, I hereby declare an end to power blackouts”. Of course you can almost guess what happens next, there was a power outage just a few short hours later on Mount Olympus. Then a short 2 days later there was yet another early morning power outage on Mount Olympus. So after his grandiose boasting that we had gone over 48 hours with no power outages, they had now gone 48 hours with 2 power outages since the declaration of an end to the power outages. Was Why Me just that delusional that he really thought there wouldn’t be any more power outages, or had Sir Spins Alot given him the party line to spout, even though everyone knew it was a lie? There were those who said the tiny island would continue having outages because the mouse powered power wheels that had been breaking down causing the previous power outages would continue to break down and cause more outages because they were still using crippled mice to run them. More and more of the tiny island residents were seeing that they couldn’t believe anything at all that was said by anyone connected to King Bite Me, and they continued to make plans to move to the much larger land. So much for Why Me’s grand promise and the end of power outages. Maybe he will have better luck with his magic wand getting the geckos to fart money, well we can always hope.

But you need to remember that part of this plan was to get an extra $4 million dollars from the much larger land to buy mouse food and replace a bunch of the ailing mice. One of the prominent citizens from the tiny island went to the much larger land to talk to some of the leaders there about problems that were being experienced on the tiny island, but when she got there she found out that her invitation to meet with the leaders was revoked because of the king’s plan to hire the harassers. The leaders asked why they should meet with anyone from the tiny island when their king was hiring harassers to pester them.

As with all good fairy tales, there is usually a moral to the story. When you have a King named Bite Me, who likes shouting his nickname at those he is asking to get help from, your chances of success are not good. And waving a magic wand and expecting geckos to start farting out money is probably not the most logical way to go about getting reliable 24 hour power.

Don’t you feel so much better now that you live where you do and not on some tiny island far, far away with a king called Bite Me? See, no matter how bad it is where you are, you can always find somewhere that things are worse, even if it is just in a fairytale story that was completely made up.

Again, any similarity between this fairy tale and people you may know is the product of your overactive imagination and is purely a coincidence. Any lessons to be learned from this fairy tale are totally unintended. And since I’m in the radio business, I obviously listen to a lot of music, and decided that I’d like to finish with a line from the chorus to one of my favorite songs by Carly Simon, with one minor substitution. “You’re so vain; you probably think this story’s about you, don’t you, don’t you?”

Food For Thought is now available online at and if you want it by e-mail distribution please send me an e-mail at

I’m Harry Blalock, thanking you once again for giving me a generous slice of your valuable time, and allowing me to share my Food For Thought.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Misinformation, Deception & Lies

Food For Thought 9-12-08

Hi friends, this is Harry Blalock; General Manager for radio stations KZMI & KCNM. It’s that time once again to take a look at the issues of the week, and to offer some Food For Thought.

A healthy discussion on the issues is usually a good thing; it allows both sides to see things from a point of view they may not have realized previously. That’s provided that both sides base their arguments and point of view on facts and not lies and distortions. If you have to make things up to defend your point of view, that should tell you that maybe you’re on the wrong side of the issue right away. But for some people it’s not about figuring out what the right thing to do is or what makes the most sense, it’s about fighting the issue because your boss is against it, or because of political pressure.

I have listened to those who are opposed to the Marianas Marine Monument, and I consistently hear a couple of either misconceptions, distortions or just outright lies. They keep trying to tell people that the federal government would own those three islands and would not allow anyone to go up there to visit them. The fact of the matter is that this monument is about protecting the water surrounding the islands, and has nothing to do with the islands themselves at all. The islands would remain under the control of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; we would still own them and make all rules pertaining to them. A marine preserve deals with the water and all the creatures living in the water, the laws would pertain to what is allowable in the waters; it has nothing to do with the land on the islands in this instance. But the opponents don’t want you to realize this, they want to keep you confused about the issue, believing it is really about the land on the islands, and is just one more instance of the federal government coming in and taking over our land and pushing their laws on us. Think about it for a minute though, if it was really about the islands themselves, why would Wespac be fighting it so hard? They are a fishing organization; they are concerned with water, not land.

I also found it quite ironic that in their resolution they passed against the proposed monument, one of the reasons the legislature listed for being against it was that the federal government wouldn’t allow local people to go up and visit those islands. This is ironic because our local legislature has already designated those three islands as Sanctuary islands, meaning they are already off limits to visitors. You might recall the case several years ago when a group of lawmakers took a boat on a joyride to some of the northern islands supposedly to look into the possibility of establishing a school up there. I kid you not, that was the listed purpose of the trip. So they chartered a private boat, and went up on this “fact finding” trip. One of the lawmakers at the time had a private zoo, and wanted to capture some coconut crabs for his zoo, so he got a permit from Fish & Wildlife to capture 5 coconut crabs from the island of Pagan and bring them back to exhibit in his zoo. But for whatever reason, this group of lawmakers, and their friends decided to go to Asuncion Island instead. Asuncion is a sanctuary island and we were told they were not even supposed to step foot on the island, not to mention that it was blatantly illegal to capture coconut crabs on the island. This group of lawmakers turned lawbreakers decided that the laws were for other people, not them, and they proceeded to capture over 20 coconut crabs and had a big feast of them. That attitude by lawmakers is nothing new obviously, and it is still alive and well.

That was the first time I found out that under our own constitution, you are not even allowed to step foot on a sanctuary island, they are totally off limits. So while this bunch of meatheads, I mean honorable meatheads, passed this resolution blaming the federal government for not allowing them to go to the islands if the monument was signed into law, the truth of the matter is that they did it to themselves long before the Marianas Marine Monument was ever proposed. By the way, there were 3 legislators who voted against that moronic resolution; they were Heinz Hofschnieder, Tina Sablan and Edward Salas. So the rest of them all willingly distorted the facts and made it look like one thing, when the reality of the situation was that they themselves were the ones responsible for the situation they were supposedly trying to avoid.

The other major issue that they don’t really want to admit is that the C.N.M.I. currently has no ownership or jurisdiction over the waters surrounding our islands anyway. Most people seem to think that we own and control 3 miles out from each of the islands, however that is simply not true. You may remember a couple years ago when we were fighting with the federal government over how far our ownership and control of the offshore water extended, Governor Fitial was demanding that we fight for 200 miles. I remember at the time there were those that told him that he should be more realistic and only ask for 3 miles, since that is what most other states and territories have. But our Governor, as seems to usually be the case, thought he knew better than everybody else and insisted on fighting for 200 miles. The case wound up going to the U.S. Supreme Court and we wound up with nothing. We didn’t get 200 miles, or 20 miles or 10 miles, or even 3 miles, the federal government said that they owned and controlled all water right up to the high water mark. That’s what happens when you get too greedy and try imposing yourself on the U.S., you wind up with nothing if you’re not willing to be reasonable and compromise.

So since we don’t own or control any of the water according to the U.S. government, what do we really risk giving up? It’s not ours to give up, we don’t own or control it now anyway, we just keep trying to convince everyone that we do. I’ve heard several people say that they are hesitant to support the monument because they haven’t heard how much control we’d have to give up or what we’d lose the rights to. They don’t have to wonder anymore, that question can be easily and truthfully be answered right now. We wouldn’t have to give up any land or rights to the islands at all, because this isn’t about the islands, it has nothing to do with them actually. And we wouldn’t have to give up any mining rights, fishing rights or rights to the water either, we don’t have any! According to the U.S. government, they currently own right up to the high water mark, and the only way I can see that changing is if we were somehow successful in pulling away from the U.S. and declaring ourselves independent. But that probably wouldn’t be a very smart thing to do if we expect to keep getting financial help and handouts from the U.S. Once you understand the truth about these 2 fairly simple issues, it takes a lot of the confusion over the issue away and makes you wonder why all the fuss if we really don’t seem to have anything to argue about anyway?

So if this isn’t really about those 2 major issues, then what is it all about? Could it be that Wespac just doesn’t want to lose that potential fishing area? Is part of their funding dependent on the size of the area they cover? Is this just a jurisdictional thing with them, and are they fighting over turf? Is Wespac behind the reluctance of the lawmakers to support this? Has Wespac been making some big campaign donations? I don’t really know the answers to any of these questions, but I think they are all worth looking into, and I’d like some answers to them.

Is the real reason that the Governor and his “yes men” oppose the monument just because they are still mad at the U.S. government for forcing them to finally raise the minimum wage here? Are they still mad about the takeover of our immigration system, and this is just too close to those events? Is it a spite thing? Are they trying to block it just because they think they can? Are they trying to show the U.S. how big and tough they are and impress them by standing up to them? Have your representatives asked you what you think about the proposed monument? Have they told you they would represent your ideas and attitudes since they are indeed supposed to be representing you?

Or could it be that they really don’t understand the facts themselves? Do you think they really are that misinformed that they believe this is really about the islands? Were they sleeping when the decision was handed down that we don’t own or control any of the water surrounding our islands? Do you think they are under the mistaken impression that the Governor actually won that challenge and we own and control 200 miles out? Do you think it’s possible that these leaders we’ve elected could really be that misinformed about everything, and not have bothered checking into the facts themselves before issuing a resolution? Surely they wouldn’t do that, would they?

Can it be that they really believe that rot about what a good job we’re doing managing our own resources and patrolling our own waters? They don’t even want to open that can of worms and look at just how dismal their record really is in that matter. This commentary isn’t meant for our elected leaders, I don’t believe they have the capacity to understand it anyway. This commentary is meant for you, it’s about using common sense and reason and basing your opinion on the facts, not on misinformation, deceptions and lies. It all boils down to these two basic facts, the Marianas Marine Monument has nothing to do with the islands, and we don’t own or control any of the water anyway. When you establish those two very basic facts, it makes their arguments against this whole thing look very silly and inappropriate. Amazing what a difference a little thing like the facts makes!

Food For Thought is now available online at and if you want it by e-mail distribution please send me an e-mail at

I’m Harry Blalock, thanking you once again for giving me a generous slice of your valuable time, and allowing me to share my Food For Thought.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fitial's Fabulous Plan

Food For Thought 9-5-08

Hi friends, this is Harry Blalock; General Manager for radio stations KZMI & KCNM. It’s that time once again to take a look at the issues of the week, and to offer some Food For Thought.

You can see the relief on people’s faces the last few days, most of them were able to get a good uninterrupted night’s sleep because there weren’t any power outages in the middle of the night. Commonwealth Utilities Corporation managed to get another of their generators up and running, so they were now able to produce enough electricity to move away from the three hour, three times a day schedule they had supposedly been following for the previous week and a half or so. But before you get too excited and put too much hope in the Aggreko generators that are supposed to be up and running by September 13th, I think it’s important that you understand a few things.

Tony Muna, the Executive Director for CUC spoke to the Saipan Rotary Club this past Tuesday and gave us an update on the situation and answered questions. He explained that Power Plant 1 was down to only one functioning generator at the time. It is a generator that should be producing 16 megawatts, but was currently only producing slightly over 4 megawatts. He said they just brought another engine online that morning that should hopefully allow them to cut down on the outage schedule. So these two generators that were being operated by CUC should have been producing 32 megawatts, but were only producing 8 megawatts between them. That’s good old fashioned CUC efficiency for you. At that point PMIC, which operates power plant #4 was producing 15 megawatts of power, even though they are only contracted to provide 10. That meant we had 23 available megawatts to meet a demand of 41 megawatts.

Nothing was mentioned about power plant #2, which was in the news recently because of the contract with CISCO, even though not a single generator is operating there currently. At this point I think it is probably worth pointing out what that contract was all about, and why even after spending all that money on a contract, we still have no operating generators at that power plant. CISCO was only supposed to supply parts for the generators and offer expertise in repairing the generators, but CUC employees were actually supposed to do the work, install the parts and get the generators up and running. So after spending all that money, and getting the parts delivered, once again the brilliant minds in charge of CUC decided that instead of having their employees actually install the parts and repair the generators, they would keep them working on the generators at power plant #1. Now you may ask yourself why CUC entered into that contract in the first place, if they didn’t have available manpower to install the parts and get the generators up and running, or why they didn’t just contract to have CISCO install the parts themselves and be responsible for getting the generators operational again? I guess you could ask the board that oversees CUC why they allowed such a foolish decision to be made. Oh wait, Governor Fitial did away with that board didn’t he? So does that mean he is ultimately responsible for that huge screw up involving the CISCO contract and the fact that we still have no operating generators there? Even though he may not have personally made the decision himself, he is ultimately responsible for all decisions made by CUC since it falls directly under his office now, isn’t he? Thanks a lot Governor; we could have really used the power provided by those generators at power plant #2 recently. Maybe he didn’t really care that much since we found out recently that we’ve been paying his utility bills for him and for the Lt. Governor as well, and since the blackouts don’t seem to affect his area very much.

So why don’t the Governor and Lt. Governor have to pay for their utility bills at their houses like you and I do? Do they think that just because the utility bills would be paid for if they lived in the official residences that they should be paid for even though they’ve elected to stay in their own mansions instead? We aren’t forcing them to stay in their private residences; they are more than welcome to stay in the government provided residences with the utilities included there. But when you elect to stay in your own private residence because it is so much plusher and fancy than the official governor’s residence, you should pay your own utility bill like any other citizen. After all, it takes quite a bit more electricity to keep your private swimming pool nice and clean. And why did the Lt. Governor’s utility bill jump from 1700 kilowatts a month before the government started paying his bill for him to over 5,000 kilowatts a month when the he got his electricity for free? Did he start just turning on every single electric appliance and air conditioner in his house and let them just run all the time for the heck of it? What happened to the conservation they were telling the rest of us we had to practice? Or is it possible that some of his relatives that live in the same compound could have had their electricity run through his meter, so they could get free electricity too? I have no idea, but I do think it’s something worth looking into, for those with inquiring minds.

I’ve gotten sidetracked though; let’s get back to the state of CUC. So the Aggreko generators are scheduled to be online and producing 15 megawatts of power by September 12th. Again, this is a 6 month rental contract that will cost CUC $500,000 a month. They will be paying for that with the interest income from MPLT investments in 2009 - 2010. I think they are living in Never Never Land, and just don’t have a clue. One thing you need to understand right now is that when CUC says they repaired a generator and have it up and running again, it doesn’t mean they have overhauled it and that it’s now as good as new, it means they’ve replaced the broken part to get it running again, but they still haven’t fixed the problems that caused the failure in the first place, so it will just be a matter of time before it happens again. In fact this administration has done exactly the same thing the last administration did; it has totally neglected the maintenance schedules for the engines and generators. They still haven’t done a single overhaul, they are simply providing band aid fixes and repairs, so these engines will continue to constantly break down and fail because the core problems aren’t being addressed or fixed. That’s also why these generators are only producing a fraction of the power they are capable of producing and why they are so inefficient.

The Governor chastised Pete A. Tenorio for wanting to tell the federal authorities that we are in the middle of a humanitarian crisis as a result of our power situation. He said the situation is much worse after a typhoon and we’ve come through those in the past, and besides, he has a plan. First of all, the problems after a typhoon are distinctly different from the problems being currently experienced by CUC. After a typhoon, you have to deal with trees that have fallen on power lines, downed power lines and distribution problems. It’s just a matter of chasing down all the various distribution lines, and clearing them or replacing them, but once you’ve done that, you’re good to go. Our problems right now have nothing to do with distribution; they are the result of total failure of our power generation system. If that’s not a crisis, I don’t know what is. You didn’t exactly reinforce your credibility by making that statement Governor; you just proved how out of touch with the situation you really are.

Their plan is to put out Requests For Proposal for private companies to overhaul and rehabilitate the engines and generators. Have they forgotten that they can’t seem to actually produce an RFP that isn’t plagued by challenges and delays? Didn’t they just have to cancel the RFP for renewable energy? They plan on having all of this completed during the 6 months that Aggreko is providing the supplemental power. Have they forgotten how much lead time they need to order parts and have them manufactured? Where do they think they are going to come up with the money to have the engines overhauled? Do they have extra money now that they’ve stopped buying so much Rydlyme? Do they think the feds are just going to give it to them and trust them to do the right thing with it, without having a competent and experienced project manager overseeing everything? Tony Muna is an accountant, remember? Is he really qualified to oversee the overhauling of engines and generators? Does he really know what needs to be considered in the contracts? Can he do a better job of the contract that his predecessor did with the CISCO contract?

And in order for this plan to work, with reliable 24 hour power in the meantime, it means that the engines and generators CUC has working right now with their band aid repairs have to continue operating with no breakdowns. What do you think the odds of that happening are? If I was a gambler, I’d set some pretty long odds on that one. So now that you know the real situation and this administration’s plan, do you feel better about things? Are you confident in their abilities to actually pull this off? How do you feel about the Governor and Lt. Governor getting free power and not having to conserve anything, while you and I continue to have to turn off air conditioners even when we do have power just because we simply can’t afford to run them anymore? They’ve had nearly 3 years now, are you enjoying the Better Times? Do you feel they’ve made good decisions regarding the utility company, since it is directly under their control now? Have you appreciated the lower rates they promised before they took office and the consistent, reliable power? Looking back I realize we couldn’t really believe any of their promises or what they told us, and I’m not thinking we should put much stock in this new plan or the current batch of promises either, but then again, that’s just me!

Food For Thought is now available online at and if you want it by e-mail distribution please send me an e-mail at

I’m Harry Blalock, thanking you once again for giving me a generous slice of your valuable time, and allowing me to share my Food For Thought.

Friday, August 29, 2008

What Was Tina Thinking?

Food For Thought 8-29-08

Hi friends, this is Harry Blalock; General Manager for radio stations KZMI & KCNM. It’s that time once again to take a look at the issues of the week, and to offer some Food For Thought.

What was she thinking? How could she possibly expect them to do such a thing? Didn’t she realize the consequences that could be in store if they actually followed through and did what she was asking? I’m referring to Representative Tina Sablan’s suggestion that the House actually entertain impeachment proceedings against Governor Ben Fitial and Lt. Governor Timothy Villagomez. Her colleagues couldn’t believe she was actually considering such a thing, not to mention bringing it up publicly during a House session. They quickly scrambled to dust off the Constitution and see just what exactly the grounds for impeachment were. They showed her that they had no proof that they had broken any laws, therefore they couldn’t do anything. They said it was up to the FBI, or the Attorney General’s office or the Department of Public Safety to bring them proof that laws had been violated, and then, and only then would they even begin to consider such a thing. I guess we are just supposed to pretend that the Attorney General isn’t appointed by the Governor and serves at his pleasure, and that the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety also isn’t appointed by the Governor and serves at his pleasure. And as 3 other Commissioners of D.P.S. have already found out during this administration, it doesn’t take much to fall out of pleasure with the Governor and to wind up out of a job.

Yes, there is that pesky little phrase about dereliction of duty in the grounds for impeachment in the Constitution, but what exactly does that mean anyway, and after all, which of them couldn’t be accused of dereliction of duty as well? Just because the Governor made some outrageous promises about getting rid of the fuel surcharge on your CUC bill before he took office, should we really hold that against him? Just because he abolished the board that was ultimately responsible for all decisions made by CUC, and then placed the government utility company directly under his own office, and has since completely run the utility company right into the ground, was that really dereliction of duty? Hardly, gross incompetence maybe, but they couldn’t figure out how that could possibly be construed as dereliction of duty, come on Tina, work with us here.

Just because the Governor proposed coming up with a Public Utilities Commission to oversee the utility company and set rates for it, and then submitted names himself for those who would sit on this board, and then when they actually wanted to do their jobs and look over questionable contracts, the Governor did away with the PUC board and declared another state of emergency for the failing power company and gave himself total authority to award sole sourced contracts and do away with all procurement procedures, well surely she couldn’t expect them to use that as grounds for dereliction of duty, could she? She couldn’t possibly be expecting them to entertain impeachment against the Governor for allowing corruption at the utility company involving his own Lt. Governor, the Lt. Governor’s sister and a member of his cabinet, who also happened to be the Lt. Governor’s brother in law, all while the utility company was directly under the Governor’s office could she?

Obviously this young, inexperienced lawmaker hasn’t been around long enough to know how things really work here. If they entertained impeachment proceedings against the Governor or Lt. Governor, they would risk them exposing all the skeletons in their own closets, after all, they would undoubtedly not go quietly. The Governor has been involved in politics for a very long time, and has no doubt at least witnessed many of their questionable little schemes as well. She couldn’t possibly be expecting them to take a chance of having that happen, could she? And the Lt. Governor’s family is one of the biggest, and most power political families on the island, wouldn’t it be the kiss of death if any of them decided to try holding the Lt. Governor responsible for his actions? How would they ever win re-election?

After all, had she forgotten that under the American justice system, you are innocent until proven guilty? Although, anyone with an ounce of common sense realizes that you are not really considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, if you were, then why can you be jailed after being charged with a crime? After all, you haven’t been convicted yet, so you are supposed to be considered innocent, right? And if the court truly considered you innocent, then why would they have the right to impose bail on you before they let you out of jail pending your trial, you haven’t been convicted yet, have you? And if they really considered you innocent, why would they have the right to confiscate your passport before the trial, have you been convicted yet? It is glaringly obvious that law enforcement agencies and the court system consider you guilty once you have been arrested, as you will all the sudden find a lot of your freedoms being stripped away. They have no problem at all arresting you, handcuffing you, locking you up in jail, and bringing you before the court in handcuffs all before you’ve been convicted of anything. So are they assuming you’re innocent up until you’re actually convicted of a crime? They are saying they not only believe you are guilty, but they have proof to back up their claim that you are guilty, and they are going to start treating you as a criminal from the point they take you into custody. A grand jury has already heard the facts of the case, and they found there was sufficient evidence to move forward with a trial, so they obviously don’t think you’re innocent either. And the court also believes there is a very good chance you’re guilty of the crimes you’ve been charged with, otherwise they wouldn’t bother with bail or taking your passport. So let’s stop with this charade of pretending that people are really innocent until proven guilty, our entire system functions on the premise that they are guilty once they’ve been arrested, and then it’s just a matter of whether some slick lawyer can find a way to get them off through a technicality.

But the legislature can keep hiding behind the whole innocent until proven guilty thing, and stall for time right up until the end of the trial. That way they can’t be blamed for taking any action against the Lt. Governor, that way they don’t risk having him uncovering any of their dirty deeds as retaliation for impeaching him. And if they’re really lucky, this whole thing will drag on beyond the end of his term anyway, and then they’re completely off the hook. After all, why should they be the ones to have to take a stand and to put themselves on the line? This isn’t what they got into politics for, is it?
So why is this young upstart lawmaker trying to shake things up? Doesn’t she realize this will all blow over just like everything else out here always has? Doesn’t she know the island attitude is to forgive and forget, after all, we never really hold anyone responsible for anything? It’s always been that way, and as long as this good old boy network can keep it’s stranglehold on power, it will always be that way.

Then they figured if they start lecturing her about being a team player and throwing a bunch of stupid clich├ęs at her, maybe she would finally shut up and just go along with the flow. After all, the people don’t really expect her to do the right thing anymore than they expect them to do the right thing. If they did, they wouldn’t keep re-electing them over and over and over, and letting them keep getting away with the same stuff year after year. She obviously doesn’t understand how politics works; it’s all about building consensus, give and take, compromising on your principles so that you can call in the favors when you need them. It’s not about doing the right things for the right reasons; it’s about working your way into positions of more power and influence. It’s about chinchuli. Chinchuli is the local custom of when you give money at a funeral or rosary, or bring food; the family that you helped now owes you the same amount that you just helped them, whether in cash or food. Things aren’t just given out of generosity or out of the goodness of their hearts; it’s done so that favors can be called in later. And this is taken so seriously that most families actually keep ledger books of not only what they owe other families, but what the other families owe them as well. Now the polite thing is to just go ahead and offer the same thing in return when it is the other family’s turn, but if favors need to be called in and repaid, that is certainly an option.

But chinchuli has made the jump from rosaries and funerals to politics. Lawmakers regard their votes the same way, if you vote for my bill, then I owe you, and I’ll vote for your bill next time. Most of them even keep track of votes and favors owed. So when they are up there on the hill, they are not really representing you, they probably could care less what you happen to think about a certain bill, it’s all about chinchuli and banking favors so that you can call them in at a later date. It’s all about earning favors and paying back favors, it has nothing to do with the issues. It’s all about special interest projects, like lawmakers voting to give outrageous amounts to fishing derbies when several of them compete in those derbies and actually win big prizes in them. Is that like the conflict of interest they claim doesn’t exist in the legislature, and which is the biggest reason they say the legislature should not be changed to a part time legislature?

That silly Tina, here she thought she was being elected to represent the people and do what was in their best interest. The truth of the matter is that every other member of the legislature is up there playing the chinchuli game, and protecting those who have protected them in the past. Which kind of legislator will you be voting for next time?

Food For Thought is now available online at and if you want it by e-mail distribution please send me an e-mail at

I’m Harry Blalock, thanking you once again for giving me a generous slice of your valuable time, and allowing me to share my Food For Thought.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Cost of Freedom

Food For Thought 8-22-08

Hi friends, this is Harry Blalock; General Manager for radio stations KZMI & KCNM. It’s that time once again to take a look at the issues of the week, and to offer some Food For Thought.

Today I want to talk a little bit about freedom, and the fact that it really isn’t free at all, it’s usually quite costly. I think most of us have heard about the staggering cost of freedom when it comes to war. And there are few places that have seen the cost paid out right in front of their very eyes like Saipan and Tinian have during World War II. The cost of having a free country where you have the right to worship as you please, vote for your candidate of choice and openly speak your mind can be counted not only in dollars spent on a military, but also in the blood of the thousands of soldiers who have given their lives for their country. Whether you agree with the United States policies on Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea, and the list goes on, is not really the point. The point is the cost of having a free country is very expensive, and that’s something that no one can argue.

Then there is the freedom to choose where you want to live within the United States or its associated Territories and Commonwealths. That is really a huge blessing; you can come and go as you please, you can choose to live here, or choose to live in any of the states. Even though you weren’t born there, you still have the freedom with your blue passport to live and work anywhere within the U.S. I’m sure we all know dozens or hundreds of contract workers that would give anything to have that freedom and privilege. You have the right to drive on any of the roads that connect the states, to benefit from the infrastructure that has been put into place. If you live in the United States, that isn’t really free either, because you pay federal taxes that help to fund all those things.

As an American, I also had the freedom to choose to move to Saipan, and to live a life that many of my friends back there would have been truly jealous of 8 to 10 years ago. I wasn’t able to come here and buy property, so I’ve rented the whole time I’ve been on Saipan, but I’ve had the freedom to stay here as long as I wanted. But now there seems to be quite a price associated with living here. There is the fact that we are paying the highest utility rates anywhere in the country. We are also paying more for most goods we purchase here as well, including food, clothing, electronics and pretty much anything else we buy. That means that you have less disposable income at the end of the day because more of your income is eaten up because of the higher cost of living and the lower wages. So even though many of us have the freedom to live here, we now have to ask ourselves whether the cost is worth it anymore. For many it is, because this is home, it’s where your family is, where your roots are. For others, the beauty of the tropics and the ocean is enough to keep them here and it makes up for the additional cost to live here.

But lately there is another cost that needs to be factored in, that is the cost of not having reliable 24 hour power. If you don’t have any appliances or electronics that are susceptible to being destroyed by brownouts or power fluctuations, it probably isn’t as big a concern. We have fallen below the acceptable minimum standards of most third world countries, and instead of it getting better, it’s only gotten worse for the last 2 years now. Part of the freedom of living here now includes sleeping without air conditioning because most places lose power for at least a couple hours every night now in addition to several daily outages as well.

Then we also have freedom of speech here, but as most people who have actually exercised their freedom of speech can tell you, that’s not free either, and usually carries a very steep price. Sure, you can say whatever you want, criticize whomever you like, but if you have the guts to actually put your name to whatever you say, there will be a price you will pay, and it will usually be staggering, especially if you’re very vocal about your criticism. If you’re in business and you openly and vocally criticize the government, you can expect them to retaliate in any number of ways. And one of the things you may or may not recognize or identify right away is the fact that the relationships between politicians and their family members in other businesses are like spider webs, they seem to be everywhere and can be very difficult to avoid.

When you’re a part of the media, this can be a very difficult line to try walking. On the one hand, supposedly you have a social responsibility and obligation to be a voice for the people, to speak out about problems and abuses you see. Many people look to you as a sort of social conscience and expect you to say things that they wish they could say themselves, but realize they can’t for any number of reasons. They expect you to expose corruption and to ask the hard questions, they want you to put your neck on the line and be ready to take the heat. But when the heat comes, and you turn around to see those who have been prodding you on and encouraging you, they are nowhere to be found, you’re standing there by yourself, and you’re the sole target of those wanting to retaliate.

The cost comes in politicians that refuse to advertise for their re-election bid, they take their business elsewhere. The cost comes in federally funded government advertising campaigns that you no longer get because you spoke out about something. The cost comes when you lose contracts because you criticized policies or decisions made by certain politicians who have the wife of the person you’re doing business with working for them. The cost comes when you have friends who have to pretend to not know you when certain people are around or are looking. The cost comes to your children when they participate in school competitions and they don’t stand a chance just because of their last name. The cost may come to your spouse who is applying for a new job, but doesn’t stand a chance because she is your wife. Freedom of speech is far from free, and the more you exercise it, the more costly it will become. In a perfect world it wouldn’t be that way, you would be able to speak your mind without fear of repercussion or reprisals, but unfortunately that’s not reality, and this isn’t a perfect world.

The easy and safe thing to do is to just lay low, not ruffle any feathers, always be politically correct and never speak out about anything. There are those who have chosen that path, it is the path of least resistance, and it is the path that has been the most widely taken out here in years past. And honestly, after doing this for over 12 years out here now, I have to ask myself if that wouldn’t have been the smarter path to choose. The costs to my family, my friends, my employer and me would have been so much less.

It is because of the high cost of speaking your mind and exercising freedom of speech that there are so many anonymous blogs out there. They have determined that the cost of identifying themselves while speaking their mind is just way too high and they’re not willing to pay it. I can’t say as I blame them, I totally understand the price of speaking your mind. The only problem with that is you then have no track record, no history and no credibility. Nobody knows who you are, what the motivating factors are behind what you are saying or what your personal or political affiliations are. You can slander anyone you want to without fear of reprisal, because no one knows who you are. It’s quite convenient and allows you to say things you would never dream of if people knew it was you saying them. I suppose it does allow people to have a voice without fear of reprisal, but I’m not sure that’s an entirely good thing. It encourages irresponsibility and recklessness. You don’t need to check your facts before saying anything; gossip or hearsay works just as well as the facts, especially if you can never be held accountable for it. I think it also allows people be much meaner than they would ever dream of being personally or if people knew who was behind it. I gave up reading anything from anyone I don’t know or can’t identify long ago. I just don’t want to be sucked into listening to anything from anyone who isn’t willing to stand behind their own words; it makes them suspect right off the bat. So even being an anonymous blogger isn’t free because the cost is your credibility and your history. You may have some great points of view and concerns to share, but without the credibility and history, they then become suspect and lose their value. I gladly read things from people with whom I know are on the opposite side of an issue, but I know where they’re coming from and can look into their history if I need to. Credibility and reputation aren’t free, they require you to take ownership and stand behind what you say.

All freedoms come with a price, and it’s usually a fairly steep one. The question you need to ask yourself is when those freedoms are no longer worth the price you have to pay to exercise or enjoy them. You may still have the right to exercise your freedoms, but the price of doing so may outweigh the benefits of exercising those freedoms. It’s usually a good idea to stop and reevaluate your situation, take inventory of the price you’re paying and then make an educated decision whether it’s still worth it or not.

Many people in the CNMI are doing a personal cost analysis right now, and you will be seeing their decisions played out as they either decide to stay here and keep speaking their minds, or as they decide the cost has gotten too great, and it far outweighs any perceived benefits or results. Even though the price for free speech can be very costly, I can’t imagine living anywhere that I wasn’t able to exercise it.

Food For Thought is now available online at and if you want it by e-mail distribution please send me an e-mail at

I’m Harry Blalock, thanking you once again for giving me a generous slice of your valuable time, and allowing me to share my Food For Thought.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Federal Charges & Solutions

Food For Thought 8-15-08

Hi friends, this is Harry Blalock; General Manager for radio stations KZMI & KCNM. It’s that time once again to take a look at the issues of the week, and to offer some Food For Thought.

It finally happened this week; something that many of us had heard was coming for at least a month. That was the arrest and arraignment in federal court of Lt. Governor Timothy P. Villagomez, his sister Joaquina V. Santos and her husband, Commerce Secretary James Santos. Former Commonwealth Utilities Executive Director Anthony Guerrero was also arrested but accepted a plea agreement to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy in exchange for his testimony against the others. They each face 3 counts: conspiracy to defraud the federal government, wire fraud and theft of federal funds.

For those of you not familiar with what led to this, let me give you the Reader’s Digest version of the story. Back in 1998, when Tim Villagomez was the Executive Director of Commonwealth Utilities Corporation, he used some federal funds to purchase thousands of gallons of Rydlyme. The problem was that he ignored CNMI procurement regulations and sole sourced the contract out to a company owned by his brother in law, James Santos. Santos had formed the company shortly before the purchase of the Rydlyme. There are also laws against doing business with family members when acting as an agent of the government. They very quickly found that using the chemical caused more problems with the equipment than it solved, so they stopped using it, and CUC still has 8,175 gallons of Rydlyme that remain unused. But according to the indictments, this was a very lucrative transaction for the James Santos as he marked up the cost of the chemical by 400%. If this was a legitimate purchase and the chemical was really needed, why didn’t CUC test the product first to make sure that it worked and didn’t have any adverse effects before buying such a huge quantity of it, the purchase price was $280,000? The fact that procurement policies were ignored, and the fact that it was a sole sourced contract through a family member makes this a very questionable, if not outright illegal transaction.

Now if it weren’t for the fact that procurement policies were ignored and that it was sole sourced to a family member, I could almost swallow the explanation that they erroneously bought a chemical that just didn’t work out. We all know that sometimes you just make mistakes when buying things, although one would hope that if they were spending that kind of money they would make sure they knew what they were doing and buying.

But the thing that really makes this whole thing stink even worse is that they didn’t stop at that one transaction back in 1998. Evidently they all made so much money out of this little scheme that they decided to bring it back for another round in 2006-2007. This time Tim Villagomez was no longer the Executive Director of CUC, but was the Lt. Governor. Since Governor Fitial has gotten rid of the Board of Directors for CUC shortly after coming into office, he had appointed the Lt. Governor in charge of the troubled power company, since he was after all a former Executive Director of CUC. So even though CUC was in the middle of the worst financial mess they’ve ever had to face, the Lt. Governor decided to launch their little plan one more time, only this time his sister set up the company that would sell the Rydlyme to CUC. So even though they already knew the Rydlyme wouldn’t work, and would just cause more problems if it was actually used, they went ahead and bought another $120,000 worth of it through the company set up by his sister. Since there was another Executive Director of CUC now, he had to be instructed to go ahead and approve the purchase of the Rydlyme, even though we already still had a bunch sitting around. According to the indictments, the Lt. Governor in his capacity as the boss of CUC Executive Director Anthony Guerrero, included him in this scheme and had him sign off on the purchase, again without going through proper procurement procedures. They didn’t even have the creativity to use a different chemical this time, they didn’t figure they would ever get caught, and even if they did, they didn’t figure anybody would do anything about it anyway. After all, that’s just the way things work here in the islands. So at a time when we were already experiencing rolling blackouts as a result of not being able to pay for fuel, and we didn’t have the money needed to do the proper maintenance and repair of the engines, the Lt. Governor went ahead with this little plan to buy more of the useless chemical to the tune of $120,000 and route it through his sisters newly formed company.

There are so many things that bother me about this whole thing that I almost don’t know where to start. First of all, how dare they enrich themselves at a time when the rest of the Commonwealth is suffering through constant rolling blackouts? Did they not care that the money was needed for things that might help alleviate our rolling blackouts? Did they not care about the effect this would have on you as they sat in their generator powered air conditioned homes? I know that this kind of thing happens all the time here, and has been done numerous times in the past, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it or tolerate it.

Then I am also dismayed that the Lt. Governor has not voluntarily stepped down pending the outcome of his trial. Does he not realize that having him continue in his capacity as Lt. Governor as he faces these charges in federal court once again makes us a laughingstock to any and all potential investors and business people? Does he not care about the image of the CNMI and our already badly bruised reputation? I am also disappointed that the judge didn’t issue a prohibition against him having anything to do with CUC pending the outcome of the trial. Do you realize that the Lt. Governor is still in charge of CUC since there is still no board to oversee the corporation? And now that the Governor has declared another state of emergency for CUC, will that just open the door to numerous other sweetheart deals and scams that we’ll all wind up paying for? How much access does Tim Villagomez have to CUC documents and records right now? Can he go through and destroy other documents that that could possibly be used against him in other deals he was involved with? I think you can see how this is not only a very unhealthy situation, but a disaster just waiting to happen.

I was extremely disappointed by statements made by the Senate President in the newspaper about the situation regarding the Lt. Governor on Thursday. He went out of his way to say that he was confident that the Lt. Governor would be found not guilty and that he was very, very close family. Shouldn’t he be waiting to see what a jury has to say before declaring his belief that the Lt. Governor is not guilty? And was it really appropriate for him to point out his close family ties at the same time? Does this mean we can’t count on him to be unbiased and to look out for the best interests of the citizens of the Commonwealth? Does this mean that he won’t take his responsibility to consider impeachment proceedings against the Lt. Governor seriously?

And what about the responsibility of the Governor, he is after all the one who put the Lt. Governor in charge of CUC and let him oversee its operations. The Governor also just lost a cabinet member as James Santos was the Secretary of the Department of Commerce. Does this show that the Governor hasn’t used the best judgment in choosing not only his running mate, but also in the top people he surrounds himself with? Is the Governor the final authority? Does the buck stop with him? Since he is the one who abolished the CUC Board of Directors, does that make him ultimately responsible for what happens at the utility company since it is now under the control of the Executive branch?

I believe there is more than enough reason for both the House and Senate to look into impeachment proceedings against both the Governor and the Lt. Governor, but of course we all know that won’t happen, because as the Senate President so succinctly pointed out, they are dealing with very, very close family. So will our House and Senate put family ties ahead of their sworn duty to protect and safeguard the people of the CNMI? The Lt. Governor has also reportedly rejoined the Republican Party, who happens to be in control in the House of Representatives right now, and was reportedly getting ready to run with a very prominent member of the Republican Party and the House of Representatives in the next gubernatorial election. So because of all these connections and the close family ties that seem to permeate nearly everywhere, I’m fairly certain that we can’t count on the House or the Senate to do their jobs.

So will the Governor and Lt. Governor do the honorable thing and voluntarily step down as a result of all of this? I don’t believe they will, even though they should, because as this whole thing has shown us, they are far more concerned with their own well being and enrichment than they are of the feelings of the people and the needs of the Commonwealth. We have seen and even heard from various politicians’ mouths in the past that when they get in office, it’s their turn to enrich themselves in any way they can. It’s considered an inalienable right.

I don’t think this upcoming trial in federal court will be as much about guilt or innocence as much as it will be about getting family members on the jury and on trying to get an acquittal through technicalities. I think it is very important to remember that even though you may be found not guilty in a court of law, it doesn’t mean that you didn’t do what you were accused of; it just means that your lawyer figured out a way to get you off. So should the removal of the Lt. Governor be dependent on the outcome of the trial or should it be decided based on what has happened? The facts of the case seem pretty clear and straightforward, but sadly as the Senate President pointed out, they aren’t nearly as concerned with facts as they are with family ties.

I know that I have expressed my frustration with CUC many times and in many different ways over the past couple of years. It should be pointed out though that much of what has happened at CUC is not the fault of the line crews, or the mechanics or the rank and file CUC employees. They do their jobs and follow orders given to them by the administration of CUC, which has been taking their orders from the Governors during the previous two administrations. The frustrations should be directed at those responsible for the messes we are currently experiencing. They deserve your rath and your frustration, but remember that the CUC linemen, mechanics and rank and file employees can only do what they are allowed to, they don’t make the decisions, they simply follow orders. So during these days and nights of extended power outages, if you want to know who to blame for the current mess we’re in, you could start by thanking former Governor Juan Babauta, the CUC Executive Director under his watch, Lorraine Babauta, Lt. Governor and former CUC Executive Director Tim Villagomez, former CUC Executive Director Ramon Guerrero, numerous former CUC board members, and yes our current Governor, Ben Fitial also has to accept his role for what has happened not only when he was Speaker of the House but also now while he is Governor. There is plenty of blame to go around, but it belongs to these people, not the rank and file CUC employees. Keep that in mind the next time you see a CUC line crew out looking to isolate the problem at 3 am on a rainy morning.

Food For Thought is now available online at and if you want it by e-mail distribution please send me an e-mail at

I’m Harry Blalock, thanking you once again for giving me a generous slice of your valuable time, and allowing me to share my Food For Thought.