CNMI historian Don Farrell resigned yesterday as a member of the Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission, a resignation that Tinian Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz said he “regrettably accepts” at a time when the commission is reviewing the application of Taiwan-based Howarm Golden Islands Holdings Ltd., which wants to buy the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino.
Farrell described Howarm as “the largest single investment opportunity that has come to Tinian since Michael Kwan brought us the Dynasty Hotel and Casino.” Tinian Dynasty is currently the only operating casino in the CNMI.
Dela Cruz submitted yesterday to the Tinian Municipal Council two new nominees to the Casino Commission-Lydia F. Barcinas and Matthew C. Masga.
“I regrettably accepted Farrell's resignation. We have one of our biggest investors knocking on our door. I don't want to jeopardize our economy because of local politics,” Dela Cruz told Saipan Tribune.
Farrell resigned days after a judge issued a temporary restraining order that stops him from serving as a commissioner in connection with a complaint filed against him by two political candidates claiming his appointment to the casino commission was illegal and unethical.
“It is with great regret that I tender my resignation from the Tinian Gaming Control Commission. I had hoped that candidates for Municipal Council Ray Cing and Patrick Manglona would have recognized they were being used by Ray Quichocho for his personal vendetta against you and dropped the suit. However, that has not happened and it is time to move forward,” Farrell said in a letter yesterday to the Tinian mayor.
Dela Cruz appointed Farrell to the commission on Sept. 4 for a full six-year term. Farrell volunteered a lower annual salary, compared to the two other commissioners.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit alleged that the mayor violated the Government Ethics Code Act when he named his brother-in-law, Farrell, to serve as casino commissioner.
But on Tinian, previous mayors also appointed their close relatives to the casino commission and Cing and Manglona didn't complain about these previous appointments.
Dela Cruz reiterated yesterday that nobody questions Farrell's qualifications and credentials.
“Everybody agrees he is more than qualified. But it's only local politics that's the issue. I really appreciate his decision to put the interest of Tinian before his,” Dela Cruz added.
Farrell said it would not be in the best interest of the people of Tinian for him to doggedly pursue a position on the Tinian Gaming Control Commission “at the expense of jeopardizing the largest single investment opportunity that has come to Tinian since Michael Kwan brought us the Dynasty Hotel and Casino.”
Rep. Trenton Conner (R-Tinian), in a separate interview yesterday, said, “It's unfortunate that circumstances had to occur but hopefully we could move forward.”
Conner said he also hopes that what happened “will not hamper our efforts and promotion of our gaming industry.”
Farrell also submitted a copy of the Taiwan trip report he filed with Casino Commission acting chair Ignacio K. “Ike” Quichocho.
Along with the commission investigative team, Farrell traveled to Taipei, Taiwan to visit with Howarm Golden Island Holdings Ltd.
He said it was his “general impression that Howarm is a company of good standing with sufficient capital reserves to reinvigorate the Tinian gaming industry.”