SOUR GRAPES

Train of thought

Amelia please
There is a wealth of information, including many eyewitness accounts, that place Amelia Earhart and her airplane in the Marshall Islands in July of 1937, then on a Japanese freighter, then disembarking on Saipan. That narrative ends a few months later with Amelia Earhart dead of dysentery, her copilot/navigator Fred Noonan dead at about the same time at the hands of their Japanese captors, then more months down the line her Lockheed Electra being purposefully burned by U.S. troops at Isley field while under orders from their superiors.

There are two or three other theories about her disappearance, though none with any eyewitness accounts such as the “died-on-Saipan” narrative boasts of. The mainstream media sticks with the conservative “mystery disappearance” theory that suggests she will never be found.

There are many books written about the subject but many are tediously long and contain far more detail and far more conjecture than most people are willing to read through. I recommend you instead read the short booklet (36 pages) of condensed and interesting information written by a local lady many of you know, Marie S.C. Castro with assistance from Mr. Mike Campbell titled Marie Castro: My Life and Amelia Earhart’s Saipan Legacy. If your curiosity and interest in this fascinating story is piqued by this short introduction you might read the much lengthier Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last by the aforementioned Mike Campbell. It goes into great detail with literally hundreds of pieces of hard data that point at the died-on-Saipan story. There are many other similar books too.

There is a non-profit NGO group here (AEMMI) that wants to have the CNMI take possession of our link to this famed aviatrix and to tie our tourism brand name to her far more widely recognized brand by building a monument to her and her world-famous career as the premier woman pilot of her day. Far more people around the world have heard of AE than have ever heard of Saipan, Tinian or Rota. Far more. This is an idea that costs little but that could spread our CNMI fame worldwide and materially help drive thousands of tourists our way. I, for one, am intrigued and see a tremendous potential in such a tie in. More later about this way to quickly supercharge the worldwide brand recognition of our beautiful islands.

Don’t yell fire
A recent Fire Department executive spent much of his effort trying to generate cash income for the government via fines, fees and “safety” inspections of business premises. One of his worst actions was stripping western Garapan of roughly half of its already rare parking spaces by randomly and without real justification painting them red and unilaterally calling them fire lanes. This literally puts businesses that are on-the-verge out of business.

While I am a big fan of revenue generating efforts by government, this one smacks of legalized blackmail. Paint your curb red but not the store next to yours? Don’t gripe or I’ll come back and paint the others side of the street red, too, so no one can park at all. Some areas I will hound and patrol frequently to write expensive tickets and even tow your car away. Other areas not so much.

Here is the cure: Since most of those “fire lanes” are totally random anyway, let’s get several buckets of concrete gray-colored paint and have the firemen paint all the curbs gray except those very near fire hydrants. Immediately we double the available parking in our highest rent commercial district, enabling customers to get to businesses and buy their goods and services. That will generate more revenue for the government than the aggravating parking tickets and will make customers and business owners alike smile like the proverbial Cheshire cat. On second thought, maybe those revenue producing business friendly curbs should be painted “mint” green.

I’m wondering if I can do that in my village. Just get myself a bucket of red paint and make a mint.

Slush fund
Most of us read with interest Sen. Paul Manglona’s letter in the Saipan Tribune (CNMI Financial Crisis) to Gov. Torres regarding the state of our economy and the need for cooperation of all stakeholders in getting back on track. I agree with much of his assessment but note that he might want to show up at the Multi-Purpose Center next Wednesday to hear the outreach financial information Gov. Torres will provide for the benefit of all interested parties. I’m sure his questions will all be answered. It appears to me that the Torres Administration is trying to voluntarily give us the financial information we need without the browbeating.

Meanwhile, he and other senators might want to contribute to the austerity reduction measures by returning some (say 2K/month) of their $5,000 monthly unaudited slush fund money they receive in addition to their annual salaries stipulated by law. As Sen. Paul is a self-proclaimed major proponent of government transparency, he might want to introduce legislation (or at least a regulatory rulemaking) that would disclose to the taxpaying public just how that $60,000 per year each Rota and Tinian senator receives is spent…in the name of transparency.

Hmmm. Six senators X $2,000 X 12 months = $144,000. That a gross of thousands that could offset the austerity salary reductions of a dozen minimum-wage government workers.

Another of Sen. Paul’s great ideas is making all the elected and all the department heads share in the joys of austerity shortened paychecks. However, how many of his elected peers in the House of Representatives and Senate will vote for that one?

Thank you
Thank you, Consul Kazuhiko Ono-san for your kind remarks in your letter to the editor of the Saipan Tribune last June 14. Thank you also for your exhaustive list of mutual opportunities to understand the culture and physical beauty of each other’s country. Finally, thank you for your willingness and enthusiasm to help promote our beautiful islands to the great people of Japan in hopes they will venture here as visitors to relax and refresh their souls in our clean air and fabulous waters. In addition to working with government and private business in that regard please feel free to reach out to me if I may volunteer to be of help to you in achieving that worthy goal. Domo arigato gozaimasu.

•••

Next time we’ll look at the sad possibility of treating some businesses one way and other businesses another way at the whims of certain legislators.

Use your fear. …It can take you to the place where you store your courage.
—Amelia Earhart

The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life and the procedure. The process is its own reward.
—Amelia Earhart

Bruce Bateman (Special to the Saipan Tribune)
Bruce A. Bateman resides on Saipan with a wife, a son, and an unknown number of boonie dogs. He has owned and operated a number of unusual businesses and most recently worked as the marketing manager for MVA. Bruce likes to read, travel, tinker with bicycles, hike, swim, and play a bit of golf. He is opinionated and writes when the moon is full and the mood strikes.

Bruce Bateman (Special to the Saipan Tribune) Author

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