Does anyone remember Typhoon Soudelor and how all the federal monies could not seem to be accounted for? Or maybe remember the Typhoon Yutu overtime payments paid to administrators while the actual front-line workers did not get paid? Does anyone remember any resolution of these issues?
Now let’s skip forward to today. The Legislature confirmed three dubious choices to the casino commission. These guys are lifelong political operatives. The former commission executive director? The former House speaker? The former Zoning board chairman? Seriously? These guys have all had ties, either directly or indirectly, to that unfinished monstrosity sitting in the middle of Garapan. IPI has many documented labor violations, a dangerous work environment, workplace deaths and injuries, various negative environmental impacts, failure to pay vendors and employees, and failure to pay in a timely manner with little taxes imposed. And, as previously noted, these three guys are among those responsible for IPI even being here. Yet, somehow, the Legislature thought it a good idea to let the foxes back in the hen house.
And then there is the issue of possible nepotism and/or favoritism regarding use of federal COVID-19 funding provided to the CNMI. To paraphrase Rep. Sablan, even if it’s just public perception, it is still a problem.
What bothers me about all this is that we never seem to learn. I have lived on Saipan for nearly 34 years and I have repeatedly observed the process. There is a problem, someone says something about the problem, there is a period of mild public outrage, the offending party obfuscates, the issue is then forgotten, and we reelect the same questionable characters to start the process all over again.
Lastly, what is the deal with the continued complaining about the $20 million community benefit contribution? It is not hard to get the information about this issue. I’ve had the documents (the various public laws, the casino agreement, and the amendments) for over a year. I don’t agree with the apparent public consensus that IPI must turn over $20 million a year to the CNMI government. That’s not what the documents say. A lawyer friend of mine says that they are obligated to account for how that money is used. I’m not sure I agree with that. In any case, if those complaining feel that strongly about it, I have some advice: take the matter to court because that’s what the courts are for. Use them. This continuous complaining serves no actual public purpose.
A few weeks ago I wrote a letter to the editor regarding lessons we can learn from the COVID-19 pandemic. It appears we have learned nothing.
Fina Sisu, Saipan