THE sun is figuratively rising with “fair-winds” in the House of Representatives but the Senate and the Governor clearly represent that there is still “rough-seas” to pass through if WE the People are to find real prosperity for OUR Commonwealth. The challenges facing the CNMI are indeed immense with the ability to “control & manipulate the factors” being limited with a great deal of dependency upon what is happening in the rest of the world. But the world view of this pandemic and challenges doesn’t mean we should wait & see what happens in the rest of the world to make our decisions to proceed with a real plan. Given the Governor seems to be planning ONLY for IPI and his personal intentions and the Republicans are pretty much like “dear caught in Ur headlights voters” and can’t move even though “Electoral DEATH” is literally approaching the Republican Party. But Republicans still REFUSE to move and help the Democrats following their predecessors who also refused to impeach then-Gov. Benigno Fitial, which decimated and splintered the Covenant/Republican parties. However, there were no Democrats to really fill the void back then but today we have Democrats who are determined to “set-sail for accountability in our Government” even if they can’t determine the direction(s) we will travel to find prosperity, as the Governor and Senate are still in-the-way!
I mentioned in previous Sunrise Reports about the Senate and Governor being in the way and it’s all important that WE focus on the “negative and adverse phenomenon” if we are to learn and understand how to turn the adversity WE face into prosperity which is not an easy trick, especially when there are people in-power out to stop you. I also previously WARNED that WE the People need to keep our eyes TRAINED on the Republicans and Independents, especially in the Senate where they can still do harm. In fact, the Senate has already gotten started by pushing through a Bill on its first & final reading with no committee nor public input. I’m sure readers may already know the Senate is trying to HELP IPI again after already making the People bend-over backwards to let IPI get-away with changing OUR Contract that will leave the People WITHOUT a “governing body over the hotel part of the contract.” There may be Federal and CNMI regulations governing the construction of the Casino Hotel but the Commonwealth Casino Commission is the only entity with the POWER to make sure IPI completes the actual construction of the Hotel and the 2,000 rooms in the contract. If the CCC’s power is severed over the hotel part of the contract, WE the People will literally be left holding an empty-paper-bag AGAIN still wondering what happened to the 2,000 rooms promised and the money that was supposed to have been inside from the rental of these rooms once built — for TRUE. Given that Senator Manglona and Senator Deleon Guerrero voted against the Bill, I’m sure the Democrats in the House won’t fall for this “loop-hole trick” that IPI already pulled once with the Bill that Angel Demapan authored.
IPI has also outlined a “reset and recover strategy” that will involve a raft of amendment to the casino license agreement and new legislations that it says will enable it to solve its financial dilemma, finish its projects, and help the CNMI. This is really just another “manipulation plan” by IPI that will ONLY work to help IPI and DELAY any financial relief the People could expect to get from IPI. IPI’s reset & recovery strategy is the “sc*ew-the-people” to put it in simple and clear terms as anything that requires changing the existing contract is a big NO-NO at this point in the relationship. Ever since Best Sunshine then IPI started their project it has been one DELAY & EXTENTION after another as I think it was nine of them at my last count. WE know the Governor and the Senate will be all for the reset & recovery strategy saying things like “we must help IPI survive to help our economy” when IPI has been literally dying for everyone to see who drives through Garapan. WE are in “BUSINESS” with IPI, not in “BED” with them like the Governor and it’s time to treat IPI like any other business, especially when there is just too much corruption and cheating as their Parent company is still collecting OUR money but won’t pay the CNMI’s share in taxes. I think it is fair to say most of the voters with common sense have seen ENOUGH!
The Senate is really going to make things rough for the Democrats as the Senate President has already shown us-folks-in-the-cheap-seats how the Republicans will continue to treat the minority with the “steam-rolling of Bills” right over the minority and taking Bills generated by the minority and throwing them in the trash figuratively. Senator Manglona and Senator Deleon Guerrero authored a Bill that would allow for a “second casino license on Saipan” in the event IPI fails to deliver but it wasn’t even sent to a committee for consideration which speaks volumes to the ugly behavior in the Senate. Republicans in the Senate can write a Bill to literally “sc*ew the people by helping IPI” and it passes on the first reading without ANY scrutiny being allowed yet when the Democrats write a Bill to “PROTECT the People’s Interest in the Gaming Industry” there is nothing done at all and the Bill just lies there and may never see the light of day as long as Republicans are in control. I told voters in the past election WE must get rid of this entire group of Republicans if we are to fix our Government and true to form the Senate is going to prove I was right.
IPI is doing everything it can to delay what is obviously the inevitable that goes beyond a reset plan to extortion of workers just to try and stay viable. Rep. Edwin Propst is right about the 16 Turkish workers that Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC repatriated last Monday who were allegedly given $250 each in travel money. The Travel Money was not the problem, it was the document they had to sign relinquishing IPI from all future financial obligations to them to get the 250.00. These people were “over-a-barrel” and IPI took advantage of them just like they have been taking advantage of the People in the CNMI with the help of THEIR Republican collaborators in our Government.
The worsening of our economic conditions cannot be all blamed on “typhoons & pandemic” given the many “oversights in making the RIGHT decisions” to govern over IPI who totally CHANGED our entire Tourism Industry almost overnight. The People’s Contract that started with Best Sunshine that switched to IPI has been changed so much in favor IPI most of us-folks-in-the-cheap-seats are wondering if it is even WORTH having a contract anymore for REAL! WE the People haven’t approved any of these changes through Public Hearings and certainly not through a vote. And now IPI is pitting “brother against brother” by having their Bills originate in the Senate for a better chance of getting through the House to the Governor. But being recognized by the U.S. Congress as a Constitutional Scholar, I KNOW that “any Bill that effectuates any Casino FUNDING & Completion of the People’s Contract with IPI for the CNMI Government MUST by Law ORIGINATE in the House of Representatives,” which means the Senate Bill should be dead on arrival in the House — a lesson I tried to teach Sixto which was to “just make marijuana legal with the Senate Marijuana Bill and that a funding Bill should be separate that would originate in the House.” But WE all saw that Sixto had to learn the hard way when his Bill got to the House and was “dead on arrival as null & void” because it affected revenues. So, the Senate Republicans can try all they want to take over protecting IPI from the House Republicans who are now the minority but it’s a useless “political play” if the House will just follow the LAW, as almost any law relating to the Casino WILL have some effect on Government Funding.
I knew the Senate was going to be a challenge which is why I WARNED voters to keep their eyes on Republicans, Independents and especially the Senate and now readers can see WHY. WE are supposed to be a Commonwealth of Laws and not a MAN’s (the Governor’s) Commonwealth but these Republicans are going to figuratively follow this Governor to the “Gates-of-Hell” just like the Republican Senators & voters on the mainland are doing FOR Trump — a sad divide in our great nation. So, objective voters beware that the seas are indeed rough in our Senate so make sure you spread the word to your friends and neighbors to keep their eyes on the Senate for the next election because I’m pretty sure the Feds, Public Auditor and/or the House is going to take care of the Governor — he can’t escape all three.
To be continued: One People One Direction.
The writer is a retired teacher, former CNMI Board of Education Member, James Madison Fellow (U.S. Constitutional Scholar), a Fulbright-Hays & Humanities Scholar who resides in Kagman III.