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 clichés 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.

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