We never learn

ANOTHER government-instigated task force that will come up with another report and draw up another plan to “solve” another “problem.”

Why not? Not a lot of people remember previous government “initiatives”  and their “results.” This time, moreover, proponents will use “positive” words and phrases that no one can possibly disagree with: “holistic,” “sustainable,” “innovative,” “viable.” Throw in “shared responsibility” and “community coming together” and then mix them with apocalyptic rhetoric that dates back to the TT and early-Commonwealth days when littering and illegal dumping were truly severe problems on island.  Again, not a lot of people remember specific details about the past anyway.  “Trust us; this won’t hurt a bit,” Doctors Government and Economic Advisers tell us while they put on surgical gloves that we hope are sterile.

It seems that the powers-that-be have already decided upon a course of well-intentioned action that may trigger unintended consequences and create bigger or worse problems. We’re talking about the Universal Garbage Collection “proposal.” All indications point to a done deal.

Is there a (federally funded?) government contract to be awarded soon? Or federal funds that can be tapped like there’s no tomorrow?

As we say in the biz, don’t bury the lead.

We really don’t

 THE Universal Garbage Collection program will combine two of the worst ideas in recorded human history: big(ger) government and higher taxes or fees or whatever it is they will call the additional cost that this government and its economic advisers would want us to pay.

And again with the non-sequiturs. There was littering during the weekend at a popular beach. Oh no! So let’s try universal garbage collection and ask people — including those who don’t litter and who regularly volunteer to conduct beach cleanups — to pay for it! And let’s designate the government to oversee this new program. Yes, the same government that has bankrupted its Retirement Fund and pushed CUC and CHCC to the brink, and will soon operate in a bleak and almost barren economic and financial landscape without ARPA funds. Let’s saddle the same overstretched, overburdened, overindebted and overreaching government with yet another major responsibility that effects everyone on island!

A better idea

TOGETHER we can? We, the people — or almost all of us — can. We do not litter. We do not illegally dump our trash. We — including our children, other family members, employers, co-employees, neighbors, friends — join cleanups all throughout the year, through all these years. We are cooperating. We are following the law.

It is this government that has to get its act together. It has a “beefed up” anti-littering law since 1989 that was supposedly “beefed up” further in 2016 with much fanfare and hoopla. Eight — eight! — agencies have been designated to implement the law.

Where are the enforcers? Except for the government, it seems that everyone else on island knows  where and when littering usually occurs. It was an outraged local resident with a smartphone that busted an illegal dumper who had to return to the site and clean it up. Was he cited for littering? No one knows.

The supposed enforcers of the anti-littering law should take a cue from American Memorial Park. Over 10 years ago, a federal park ranger cited a politically well-connected CNMI government consultant for littering in the area. The perp was brought to  the federal court which scolded him for a “disgusting display of disrespect,” and found him guilty of littering.

Here’s an idea for the CNMI government. Instead of saddling yourself with another major responsibility, why not enforce your anti-littering law first?


Zaldy Dandan is the recipient of the Best Editorial Writer Award of the Society of Professional Journalists, and the CNMI Humanities Award for Outstanding Contributions to Journalism. His three books are available on amazon.com

comments powered by Disqus