Thanks for nothing!


Robert Arrington is doing a great job looking out for his business interests. While the CNMI’s people are denied the $600 per week they’ve been waiting for, Gov. Torres paid at least $100,000 for Arrington to go on a two-week vacation. Arrington even got an official police escort, and carte blanche to break the law, from the governor himself! Not only were his expenses paid, but Mr. Arrington will make even more money from his YouTube ads and Patreon followers.

The CNMI just funded a for-profit business venture. Mr. Arrington’s business venture, not ours. Sweet! For Mr. Arrington.

Just as a juicy cherry on top, our “leaders” in the House, egged on by Leepan Guerrero, spent government resources on Mr. Arrington, officially congratulating him for Deergate. High five!

And wow, Mr. Arrington was even so generous, after we funded his business operations, to donate a whole thousand dollars to a CNMI fishing organization! Maybe that will take some of the sting out of the damage he did introducing invasive species on Pagan, right under the governor’s eye.

I want to congratulate Robert Arrington, because he’s done very well for himself. How often is it that a government official takes you on a paid vacation using police boats, plus gives you a hundred thousand bucks, plus helps you get footage for your for-profit video business? He’s certainly doing better than the unemployed people here in the CNMI.

If I call any state or local government in the U.S. mainland and ask to make a for-profit video about their sights, do you think they’d pay me and give me a free police escort? Of course not. They’d laugh at me. They’d charge me filming fees and taxes. Every city and state collects fees from for-profit filming operations.

Now, what did we, the people of the CNMI, get from Robert Arrington? We got a governor who went incommunicado two weeks in the midst of a pandemic and an unemployment emergency. We got a governor going fishing while the food stamps line blocked traffic and good Samaritans were handing out water to those waiting for hours at the Department of Labor. We got two DPS boats that were busy hosting a beer party in the Northern Islands, when they should’ve been ready for search-and-rescue on our islands. Or did DPS forget that they’re supposed to be “setbienten publiku,” not Gov. Torres’s personal servants?

We got the administration’s proposals to transfer the American Memorial Park, an actual legitimate CNMI tourist attraction, to the CNMI. We got the administration’s refusal to renew the lease of Hyatt, an actual legitimate hotel that people who aren’t gangsters or money launderers stay at. As a complete coincidence, we get the administration’s proposal to amend the casino license deal to obligate the administration to give more land to IPI.

We got the Marianas Visitors Authority, which, instead of maintaining basic cleanliness and safety in tourist attractions, or instead of encouraging hotel businesses, is busy spending money on getting us “exposure.” What benefit did we get from “exposure”? Robert Arrington already made videos about Rota in 2018. Did any tourists come to Rota thanks to all that “exposure”? None. Zero. Crickets. And that’s Rota, where there’s at least electricity, phone service, and hotels. (And a gaming commission, too.)

Forget for a second that people watch YouTube travel videos for entertainment, not for planning their own exotic travels. Forget for a second that most YouTube viewers are teenagers in India and Bangladesh, who have even less money than the CNMI’s poor. Forget that having 2.3 million subscribers isn’t much. DMFD is the 12,000th most popular channel on YouTube! Aren’t you impressed? Forget that the “14 million views” statistic counts each video in the series as a separate view, so someone who watches all 10 videos would count as “10 views.” Forget all that for a second. 

Suppose that somewhere out there there’s a crazy billionaire who happens on Robert Arrington’s channel and wants to visit the Northern Islands and can actually afford to do so. It’s farfetched, but it’s possible. Stranger things have happened (for example, we re-elected Ralph Torres in 2018). If that traveling billionaire visited the Northern Islands, how would that traveling billionaire benefit the CNMI even one penny? Where are they going to spend money in the Northern Islands? Even if they wanted to help us out by “shopping local” in the Northern Islands, where exactly could they shop? What exactly would they do to benefit us, or where could they go that would benefit our economy? 

The answer is either nowhere, because there’s no way to spend money in the Northern Islands, or the answer is “just let IPI build a casino-resort there,” which is pretty much the governor’s answer to everything, and has been for many years.

Meanwhile, the tourist sites we have are going to ruin. There’s a serious movement to get rid of (and give to IPI) American Memorial Park. The Hyatt is threatened with losing its lease. The Mariana Resort, once the pride of the region, stands abandoned, a warning sign to those who might want to do honest business in the CNMI instead of playing the governor’s games.

Deer meat for dinner is delicious. But the governor just ate our lunch.

Ray S. Cabrera
As Lito, Saipan

Ray S. Cabrera
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