REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK

‘Leave Clifford alone!’

Marine Corps Forces Pacific officials listen during an often heated and passionate public hearing on Tinian last Thursday night. (Dennis B. Chan)

Marine Corps Forces Pacific officials listen during an often heated and passionate public hearing on Tinian last Thursday night. (Dennis B. Chan)

Clifford Guzman, the moderator for all three public hearings of the U.S. military, was told off by CNMI residents several times when he had to remind them that their time to speak had run up. To be fair to Guzman, speakers were only allowed three minutes to speak and the CNMI did sure want to speak. One commenter, who was asked to end his time at the microphone, told Guzman, who is from Guam, that “Y’know, you really are such a pest.” Some commenters noticeably hurried their speaking as Guzman drew near.
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The public hearing on Tinian was a crowded and humid affair. About 300 people packed the Tinian Jr. Sr. High School cafeteria last Thursday night. Nonessential military staff reportedly stepped out to give residents more space inside. MARFORPAC executive director Craig Whelden had to sit on the stairs as he listened to comments.
• • •
Students got involved in Tinian high school, sharing poems they had written.
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At Friday’s hearing, one Saipan resident said he had packed his bag and was ready to leave…for Pagan. The man claimed he was recently made a permanent resident of the island. Military training would interfere with his food and living, he noted. But as part of his training with the Hopi Indians, he said, they smoked a “peace pipe.” “There’s no conflict that cannot be solved around a shared joint,” he said, directing this to the military.
• • •
While most of the public comments were in support of a “no action” alternative to military training, a couple of speakers thought otherwise. One man essentially alleged that the CNMI was being hypocritical in balking at the military’s proposed actions. “What are you giving back? All states got some military apparatus. It’s your turn, baby. It’s your turn,” he said. “What are you afraid of? That Uncle Sam will look at your dirty deeds, pull out your dirty laundry? That they gonna’ double check, triple check? They goina’ look into your surveillance, they gonna look into how you sold this island to the Chinese.” The last comment drew some heckling from a man filming the hearing. But that man continued, “It comes down to us versus them? Everybody here’s spending green money. Everybody here’s using cellphones, son. It’s us versus them? It’s a white man on those dollars. It’s us versus them? Right.”
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Some CNMI officials made it to all three public hearings. Biba for perfect attendance.

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Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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  • zajiversal

    A MIS-QUOTE, BUT OTHERWISE CORRECT. IT’S YOU GUYS VERSUS THE ESTABLISHMENT.. BECAUSE OF ALL OF YOUR DIRTY GARBAGE, ALL OF THE FREE PASSPORTS THAT YOU HAVE GIVEN OUT TO GRASS-CUTTERS, SHOWGIRLS, AND NANNIES.. ALL OF YOUR VIOLATIONS OF THE FEDERAL LAWS.. ALL OF THE FOOD STAMPS FRAUD, ALL OF THE INCREASED CW-1 WORKERS, THAT WE U.S. CITIZENS MUST PAY FOR, WITH THEIR CHAIN IMMIGRATION.. THATS WHAT I WAS SAYING.

    • HeadHunter

      Who are you talking about? Please name a country that does not have the problems, or similar to, that you just stated. In the end…the CNMI wins.

  • jay-z

    Cliff Guzman doesn’t care about the Northern Marianas, so why should they care about him? Save Tinian and Pagan!

  • Kimberly

    The point of a mediation is to be heard but you can’t get heard if only one person talks the entire time. With a time limit, it provides everyone who wants to speak, with a chance to speak. His intention was to give everyone a chance to be heard and he did just that. So yes, give him a break… he’s just doing his job.

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