Friday, August 8, 2008

A Few Questions

Food For Thought 8-8-08

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.

As I sat at my desk contemplating the numerous issues that I could talk about in today’s commentary, I guess confusion is the word that best describes my state of mind at the moment. I have a bunch of questions swirling around in my head again with no apparent answers anywhere in sight. Sometimes it helps to go ahead and ask some of the obvious questions, because when other people express the same questions and concerns, you realize that you’re not the only who is wondering, “what the heck?”

One of the first things that made me scratch my shaved head was a letter to the editor in Friday’s paper praising Governor Fitial. It used some lame symbolism about Governor Fitial being a great swimmer and swimming into the eye of the storm, and told about how he had confidence that Governor Fitial was the best swimmer and how many people had admired him for his great swimming skills. Some of the questions this letter brought to mind were: Is this guy trying to get a job in government and what does he want from the Governor? Is he related to the Governor, or was he being paid to help the Governor’s Press Secretary try putting a positive spin on the Governor? Was he just in a car accident where he experienced severe head trauma? Has he been treated for hallucinations? Is he on mind altering medication? Did he happen to find another package washed up on Managaha and did he sample the contents? There were a few other questions that came to mind, but I don’t think those should be shared publicly.

Then there were some of the statements for one of the candidates running for the Washington delegate position. He stated he was the best candidate because he is a Carolinian from Rota, and that he would appoint Rota students to the military academies. If you know anything at all about this guy, you can just imagine the long list of questions that came flooding into my mind when I heard he was first running and then when I heard about some of his statements. Obviously I can’t list all of the questions; I don’t want this commentary to last over 2 hours today. But there are a few questions that I felt should probably be asked. The first question that came to mind was, shouldn’t you be representing all the people on all of the islands in the CNMI, not just the Carolinians on Rota? Do you realize that this is a CNMI delegate position, and not just a Rota delegate position? Do you think other people should be represented as well? Do you believe that under the U.S. Constitution all men are created equal? How much time did you spend on you exhaustive platform? Would you care to tell us what it is like being charged with a crime, convicted of a crime, while arriving at a plea bargain to have a bunch of other charges against you dismissed, and what it is like to serve a sentence in the CNMI jail? Can you remind us once again of what it was that you were charged with and convicted of? With those things in your background, do you really feel that anyone would ever take you seriously if you were to actually be elected? Do you feel that having those things in your background would add fuel to the fire in the criticism of the CNMI? Do you think you have successfully put that kind of behavior in your past, or is it something that may reappear at any time without warning? Do you think there should be any moral or ethical standards applied to someone seeking to represent the CNMI in the U.S. Congress? Now I’m not really expecting that he will bother to answer any of my questions, but since he is running for such a high position, I would think that we should all be demanding answers to each and every one of these questions before giving him our vote. Although I’ll admit, some of the questions were purely to satisfy my own curiosity.

Then while we’re on the topic of the race for Washington delegate, I wonder why not all of the candidates have taken advantage of my offer of free air time to tell the public why they are running for that position, and to answer a few questions? So far only 2 of the candidates have come in to talk about their candidacy on the air, they are Pete A. Tenorio, who is running as a Republican, and John Davis who is running as an independent. I have heard from Greg “Kilili” Sablan that he wants to come in as well, and from John Oliver Gonzales who said he wants to go over possible questions and answers with his people before going on the air – fair enough. But that still leaves 5 candidates who have not contacted me about the offer of going on the morning talk show to discuss their candidacy. They are Senator Luis Crisostimo, who is still a senator and doesn’t want to give up his sure thing quite yet, David Cing – a former senator from Tinian who is representing the Democrats, former Judge Lizama, who could use the opportunity to explain how the 180 day prohibition against him running for office from the time of his retirement doesn’t apply to him, Chong Won – a former CNMI police officer and now businessman, and Felipe Atalig who I should probably refrain from trying to describe to you. Yes, there is plenty of time before the election, and I would hope that they would all want to avail of the offer to get some free publicity and to explain to the public why they are running for this position. Could it be that some of them may not be thrilled about the questions I would come up with for them? The offer will continue to be on the table up until the election, but its first come, first serve of course.

And then I’ve got a bunch of questions regarding the proposed Marine Monument and the opposition to it. First off, why do the opponents keep calling it the Pew Monument? Don’t they realize that the Pew Foundation really wouldn’t have anything to do with it after it was designated as a monument; they simply came up with the proposal, that’s all. Is this really about indigenous rights, or has it simply become a pissing contest? Do some of our politicians have their noses out of joint all because this wasn’t their idea and they weren’t consulted about it early enough? Do the opponents realize that this has nothing to do with the land on the islands at all, but that it is protecting the waters around the islands? Do they realize that they don’t have any rights to those waters anyway according to the U.S. Supreme Court? I see some of them are claiming that they already practice ancient conservation methods, so they don’t need any help from the federal government in protecting the waters. How many of them have ever fished up there? How many of them have ever been there period? I read where they say they hope to eventually repopulate those islands. Do they realize that would be illegal under our current laws because the islands are already sanctuaries? Do they realize these islands would be nearly impossible to live on because of the terrain? What do they think their fishing practices here have to do with conserving the environment up there? Do they really want to allow illegal fishing boats go up there and get away with whatever they can take anytime they want? Who is financing the stickers I’ve seen that have a red circle and a line through it with the words Pew Monument in it? Is it Westpac? Why is Westpac so opposed to this? Is it because they lose money or control? I can understand why the politicians are opposed to it; typically they are always opposed to anything that is good for the CNMI if they don’t get their cut off the top. I just wonder why we can’t have a discussion about this based on the facts and not on misinformation, and a smoke screen instead of the real issues.

And then I am wondering why a certain member of the legislature recently introduced a bill seeking to punish government employees if they don’t provide information to the legislators fast enough, while they continue to block applying the Open Government Act to themselves? Isn’t that pretty much the height of hypocrisy? Does this lawmaker really think that they are all in a class by themselves and aren’t answerable or accountable to anyone, and that everyone else should jump whenever they want something? And why did this lawmaker accompany the Senate President and the Speaker of the House to Washington? What was their purpose of going there? Wasn’t our Washington Representative doing his job, did they feel they needed to do it for him? Did they go with the blessings of the administration, or to tell whoever would listen that they disagreed with the Governor and weren’t on the same page with him on any number of issues? Wouldn’t you like to know what was so important that these 3 felt the need to spend all that money? And aren’t our local lawmakers supposed to be concerned with making laws here? Did they need to do some research? Were their frequent flyer accounts getting low?

And finally just a few random questions that are rambling around in my head, can we really believe anything at all we’re told by anyone at CUC? Did the Attorney General’s Office decide to drop all prosecutions of former MPLA board members, attorneys and employees and just not bother to tell anyone? Is there anything at all about this administration that could be considered transparent by any stretch of the imagination? What was the result of the subpoenas that were served on people connected with CUC? Will we see any results of that? Will it hopefully be handled in federal court if we do? How will things change at the Department of Public Safety with Clyde out and Santiago in? Why don’t police officers direct traffic when power is out at the lights anymore?

Some days you don’t have many answers, just a bunch of questions that you’d like to get some answers to. These days, there are more and more questions and fewer and fewer answers.

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.

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