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Monday, April 21, 2014

Letters to the Editor

Note: The following is a letter from Congressman John T. Doolittle, Republican of California, to Speaker Ben Fitial on various issues pertaining to the NMI. Congressman Doolittle visited the islands in recent years.

Dear Speaker Fitial:

It was good to visit with you recently. Pursuant to your request, I am writing to provide you with an update on federal support for port projects in Rota and Tinian. It is clear that your strong advocacy for these projects has been instrumental in getting Congress to respond, and as you are aware, it is Congress that must appropriate funds for such projects.

Last April, you called our attention to the need for federal assistance to conduct two studies. The first involved the East Port in Rota. You asked Congress to appropriate funds to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study the feasibility of deepening the channel and port area, extending the breakwater and improving the surrounding infrastructure. In your request letter, you also urged us to fund a Corps investigation of the port on Tinian to determine whether it also could be deepened and improved to allow the docking of cruise ships.

Thanks to the leadership of the House Majority Whip, Rep. Tom DeLay, Congress last year responded to your request by earmarking $150,000 in the fiscal year (FY) 2001 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill for these two studies. These monies currently are being used by the Corps to complete what are known as reconnaissance studies. The Pacific Division of the Corps has informed my office that these studies will not be completed until next year. If the reports that result from these studies come back favorable, the Corps will begin the next state of investigation. Completion of that next stage, known as feasibility study, will lead to actual construction and work on the projects.

In response to the Corps’ update, and in response to your inquiry, I will urge the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee to include funding for the feasibility study for both projects in the FY 2002 appropriations bill. As you know, I am a new member of the House Energy and Water Subcommittee. Be securing this funding, the Corps would have the resources necessary to begin the next stage of work on the ports as soon as reconnaissance studies are completed.

Please know that I will continue to work with you to ensure these important projects obtain sufficient federal support. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

John T. Doolittle

U.S. Representative

Congress of the United States

House of Representatives

• • • • •

Advises for Saipan hotel operators

RE: "...Hotel owners in the Northern Marianas have consistently complained about declining hotel occupancy, with the lowest in eight years having been recorded in February 2000 at 69.32 percent."

AND: "...At the same time, government records disclosed hotel occupancy taxes averaged $2.8 million in the first half of the financial year 2000, which translates into about six percent fall from the year ago’s semestral average of $3 million."

AND : "...Notwithstanding a 5.3 percent rise in visitor arrivals in calendar year 2000, CNMI tourism industry once again faced the nagging problem of falling average hotel daily rates last year."

AND: "...Figures submitted by the Department of Commerce showed that average hotel daily rates in 2000 declined by 11 percent from an average of $99 a year ago to an average of only $88 in 2000."

Solution: The fastest growing segment of the hospitality industry for the past 15 years, worldwide (in the double digits I might add) is in fact the ’Vacation Ownership’ Industry, aka, Timesharing.

All major brands including Disney, Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, Carlson Travel etc., as well as independent hotel and resort operators are involved extensively in our industry, reporting phenomenal profits, occupancy ratio’s averaging 86.%, and RPN $126.00 (depending on the property/resort) as well as local, regional, state, federal tax revenue increases.

Timesharing is very popular in Japan (as well as throughout Asia) with not less than 60 Timeshare Resorts throughout the country as well as a substantial number of resorts in the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Fiji, China, Australia etc., and here in Hawaii, at the Hilton, Japanese tourist including business travelers are purchasing their future vacations in record numbers.

There are now over 5 million timeshare owners worldwide and the industry over the next 12 months will net $7.25 Billion (US) dollars from families and/or businesses purchasing their vacations.

Just thought, as a former Peace Corps Volunteer from the mid 70’s who had the privilege of serving in Micronesia, on the Island of Pohnpei and having spent some wonderful time on your lovely Island of Saipan, I would pass on the information so that you might, at your next Rotary, share the news.

Hafa Adai.

Rod Hackman

President, The Timeshare Beat, Inc.

Honolulu, Hawaii

via email

• • • • •

Tracing a friend

I lived in Saipan from 1963 through 1966. My Dad (Jan Prins) taught school at Hopwood High School and my Mom (Nancy) work for the Federal Government. We lived on Capitol Hill, and spent many a memorable weekend on Micro Beach, and Wing Beach. I attended San Roque and Garapan Elementary Schools.

I know things have changed tremendously since I was there. I am aware that Micro Beach now has hotels on it, and Saipan now has a Hard Rock Cafe. When I lived there we had no television at all, and it was only in the last year that we even had a radio station. Our power would go out on a regular basis due to the fact that old military generators were making the electricity. I can remember seeing the movie "Help" at Joeten’s movie theater. Occasionally my Dad would take my brother and me to the airport (we had a flight once or twice a week back then and it was a 4 engine propeller driven DC-6), and race our VW beetle up and down the runway. Of course there is now a new International airport with a modern terminal. When I lived there the terminal was a Quonset hut.

When we lived there we had a friend by the name of Bina Ragolafoi (I hoped I spelled it correctly). She lived in Chalan Laulau village. We have lost touch with her years ago. There are times that I think back on those years of my childhood and wonder what she is doing. I would love to be able to re-establish contact with her again, and catch up on old times. I would not have a clue how to find her. I am so anxious to find her and make contact with her again.

Scott Prins

Saturn Corporation, Columbia, TN.

via email

• • • • •

Thank You

It is now one year since my wife Cathy passed away. She loved the CNMI and especially its people. One of her greatest pleasures was the opportunity to meet and work with so many government employees who really wanted to improve the service they provided to the general public. Perhaps an even greater pleasure was her knowledge that so many of them achieved that goal.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who made Cathy’s time in the islands so enjoyable, who encouraged both of us during her long illness, and who have comforted me during the past year. Your prayers and your expressions of love and concern meant so much to her and are still appreciated by me.

David L. Cahn

via email

• • • • •

He said so!

I am writing because I thought this would make an interesting editorial comment. It seems the Acting teacher Rep is a bad actor after all. I remember all the fuss he raised about how he won an election and how he was somehow the teachers’ choice. Well, judging from an email sent by the Secretary of ACT it would seem such is not the case. Of course, I’m sure he’ll try every trick in the book to hold that acting position for as long as he can. He’s obviously up to it, in spite of the ACT group being adamant about his removal.

However, what is truly sad is that because the "majority" of CNMI teachers won’t ever speak up in a vote, They’ll wind up being represented by some guy who really only wants to represent himself and who doesn’t give a flying crap about the concerns of the real teachers of the CNMI. I shake my head at it all and laugh actually, because, I always said....I told you so!

Craig H. Garrison

via email

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