ONE of our frontpage stories in March 1988 announced that a “Crook Still Works for CNMI Government.”

This reminded me of what President Lincoln supposedly asked a congressman, Thaddeus Stevens, regarding Sen. Simon Cameron who was being considered for a cabinet position. Stevens wasn’t a fan of the senator. “You don’t mean to say you think Cameron would steal?” Lincoln supposedly asked Stevens who supposedly replied, “No, I don’t think he would steal a red-hot stove.” When he heard about this supposed conversation, Cameron wasn’t amused. He demanded a retraction from Stevens who obliged. “I believe I [said] he would not steal a red-hot stove. I now take that back.”

As for the “crook” who was still working for the CNMI government 33 years ago, Variety reported that he was a former legislative employee convicted of stealing government money. He was on a work release program. “He is allowed to go out of prison seven days a week, which means that he only goes to jail to pass the night.”

In Jan. 1988, Variety  reported that a House member complained about the “disappearance of typewriters, vehicles and other equipment owned by the Legislature.” He and another member demanded an investigation.

In other news, “An 18-year-old inmate who had been in [prison] 19 days out of a year-long sentence escaped twice Sunday and Monday,” police told Variety. The inmate was serving time for stealing a “motor vehicle.”  He first escaped while playing basketball with the other inmates “in the field between Marianas High School and the Division of Corrections.” The next day, Sunday, he was captured by the police in a San Vicente residence and taken back to Corrections. On Monday, he said “he needed to use the toilet but the restrooms inside the…facility were full. He was being escorted by a guard to the toilet in a nearby police building when [the inmate] ran away.” He called the police on Tuesday afternoon and told them he wanted to give himself up. “Police officers picked [him] up at the basketball court in Chalan Kanoa’s first district.”

On MV’s op-ed page was the Gripe Line section. One of the callers “was fed up with the water situation. She…felt when the governor promised to have water in six months if he was elected,” she thought he meant the whole island, and not just the governor’s house.

On the same page, a letter to the editor from three local residents:

“We fixed our leaky pipes last week and we still don’t have water. Drip…Drop…Drip…Drop.

“P.S. We will soon be opening our shower business. It will be called ‘Shower-A-Minute’ for two dollars per minute. Rub-A-Back commands a higher rate. Double that to soak in a tub.”

Quoting the Division of Environmental Quality, MV’s editor informed the reading public that “Water is Now Worse.” The water “contained excessive coliform bacteria and…no chlorine residual.” Attempts to reach CUC for comment were unsuccessful, the MV editor noted. “Their phone was always busy.”

And then there was this complaint about “bad roads”:

“High officials in the government ‘are not going out on the road and getting their faces full of dust! ... ‘They are not getting the roads fixed…. The Legislature is slow this year.…’ Police cars…go fast in the center lanes [and] ‘the dust goes into your eyes…. Sometimes you can’t even see your way when it’s all dusty.”

A “filler ad” on the same page reminded our readers: BE SURE TO SAVE POWER & AVOID OUTAGES!!

But there was help available for alcoholics. Al-Anon met in the evening every Monday on Navy Hill while Alcoholics Anonymous/Basta Bulacho met in Lower Base.

Also in March 1988, two former lawmakers, one incumbent lawmaker and one government official were indicted on “various extortion charges.” According to Variety, “FBI Grills CNMI [Lawmakers].” (The subhead was more, well, dramatic: “FBI agents invade…halls of the Legislature.”)

And speaking of the Legislature, a House member “denounced the proliferation…of ‘double-dipping’ and excessive pay in government.” It’s a big problem, he said. He mentioned the example of “a former mechanic who worked in government pushing papers then retired, got a business license and got a government contract which paid him $37.50 an hour [worth about $87 today] for maintaining timesheets while…receiving government pension.”

In the letter-to-the-editor section, a science teacher said she and her students had “adopted” a beach area at Sugar Dock where they had installed a trash can after picking up litter.  When they returned to the site a few days later she and her students “weren’t very happy to see trash littered on the grounds…. Perhaps it was too dark at night that some people didn’t see the…trash can. We decided to place another trash can in the same area…. On Wednesday, we still see the same problem.”

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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

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