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!

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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.