Monday, December 03, 2007

Upcoming Unity March

Can we all agree on a few things?

Can we all agree that nonresident workers are an important and integral part of our community, economy, and in many cases, families?

Can we all agree that it was wrong of Boni Sagana to tell Dekada members that a $100 membership would buy them a greencard long before there was any serious hope of getting them one*?

Can we all agree that it was wrong of Taotao Tano to tell Dekada to Go Home?

Can we all agree that anyone living on this island has the right to participate in our democracy by invoking their First Amendment rights?

Can we all agree that there were lots of Labor abuses in the past and that they still exist today, however that there are fewer now than in the past?

Can we all agree that not all nonresident workers have been faced with Labor abuses?

Can we all agree that some nonresident workers knowingly came here illegally and are abusing the system?

Can we all agree that there are racists on both sides?

Can we all agree that Mainland liberals calling these islands a “rogue territory” and constantly telling us that “Saipan sucks” is not helping matters much?

Can we all agree that protecting indigenous rights and culture is a worthy cause?

Can we all agree that people have different definitions of indigenous rights and culture?

Can we all agree that most of the people that moved here from somewhere else came here because the situation here is somehow preferable to the situation back at home?

Finally, can we all agree that the issues that are truly keeping all of us down, regardless of where we come from, are underfunded public education, poor infrastructure, greedy and self serving politicians, poor land and water stewardship, lack of economic opportunity, alcoholism, poor diet, and a bloated government?

...or am I just taking crazy pills?

* We all can't agree on this one. See the comments section for discussion.


Bruce A. Bateman said...

Yes, by in large, yes. I think you have listed largely agreeable items.

Rick Jones said...

I'll go along with about all of that. Quick story about the Saipan Sucks thing:

I was in Portland in June to testify at a trial for my old company, and one of the court reporters told me that one of the other court reporters there had considered coming to Saipan to work, there was some kind of federal job posting she came across.

She decided against it after reading Saipan Sucks. I tried to get in touch with her to tell her what it's really like here, but never did, so as far as I know she stayed in Portland.

Kind of makes you think that a series of positive blogs and websites about Saipan might have the opposite effect.

Marianas Eye said...

What are "indigenous rights"?

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

You know, like the right to pull spawning Salmon out of the Hafa Adai drainage.

Votewise '07 said...

We could agree "it was wrong of Boni Sagana to tell Dekada members that a $100 membership would buy them a greencard . . . ." if he had ever done that. Never happened though. The purpose of the $100 was always very clearly stated. Great pains were taken to make it clear that this was to create a fund to finance costs of campaigning for future status, that it was nonrefundable, and that there were no guarantees of success.

The CNMI government spends millions of taxpayer dollars to help keep foreign workers under the yoke and at low wages, and hardly anyone bats an eye. But when somebody like Boni Sagana organizes to promote human dignity and an improved life for workers, for free markets and sustainable economics, the scurrilous and defamatory allegations fly, mostly from cowards who hid behind a cloak of anonymity or cite alleged anonymous "contract worker" sources.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Mr. Woodruff,

Jack Abramoff is in jail. Tom Delay resigned. Richard Pombo lost. John Doolittle barely won in 2006 and has since been abandoned by his own party. Congress increased our minimum wage and will probably soon pass a bill extending federal immigration laws to our shores.

Trust me. Somebody noticed what was going on out here.

I'm not Boni's legal counsel or public relations person. That's your job.

I'm not spreading rumors or making things up. This issue has been discussed on the blogs and in the traditional media many times.

Perhaps if you really want to clear this up you should release an accounting of the number of memberships and the costs incurred?

Also, you are a lawyer. You should be able to come up with a better argument than just calling your opposition "cowards." That reflects poorly on you.

Pragmatic Plato said...

What reflects poorly is you spewing gossip without proof.

If you know for a fact through legitimate witnesses that he charged $100 for a greencard than it would be different.

You put that down as a fundamental truth without having any secure sources for this information.

Dekada has claimed that they charged a membership fee for their group. They claimed that their mission was to improve guest worker conditions. They claim that they charged the membership for a span of about a year and have since stopped collecting. They claim that they have used pro-bono legal help for the last 3 years in their efforts and collected no dues.

Marianas Dive, Rotary, SCC, almost every union I know of all charge dues to members. This is not a unique case. They also all have various missions that they use those dues to reach or achieve.

Boycott Porky's!


saipanboonieman said...

i can agree with the last paragraph (not the pills one) and that i think that pretty much hits the nail on the head.

Jeff said...

$100 for organized opposition to the CNMI government and their lobbyists' efforts to keep contract workers broke hardly seems like a steep price to pay. The chamber of commerce charges people to watch local candidates debate for crying out loud.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

I guess we all can't agree. I thought I was being pretty non-controversial.

I thought wrong.

Votewise '07 said...


No need to be so formal. You can even call me Steve, I'm that kind of guy.

I neither said nor insinuated that you were making things up. However, you also, so far as I know, never did anything to check out the veracity of the information you were passing on. The first time you mentioned this matter, you had the sense to indicate that you did not know whether the claim had any validity. Your current blog entry is written as if the information were accepted fact. It is not.

In the law of defamation, repeating something that originated with someone else is called republication, and the same legal standards and potential liability attach as to the original publication.

You are correct that these scurrilous suggestions have appeared more than once "on the blogs and in the [so called] traditional media." It is not correct to say that it was ever "discussed" there because neither I nor Boni Sagana nor anyone else from Dekada have ever made a response. Generally it is our policy -- especially my policy -- not to dignify garbage with a response.

To the best of my knowledge it was Harry Blalock who initiated the spread of this disinformation, using his radio program to assert that an unnamed, anonymous "friend who is a contract worker" had told him these things.

On separate programs of which I am aware he tried to get both Richard Pierce (of SGMA fame) and Howard Willens join in his much desired condemnation of Dekada and anyone actively assisting in advancing Dekada's cause. Both of these gentlemen had the sense not to take Harry's bait.

I can hear you (or some other reader) saying, writing, or thinking, "So why don't you file a lawsuit?"

The simple answer is we have a lot better things to do. A lawsuit is just too much trouble. Besides, one has to have damages to make out a defamation claim, and what are the damages? What is the point of bring a defamation case merely to obtain nominal damages?

You, Angelo, at least have your identity attached to your blog, although not immediately available to the naked eye. Most of the propogation of this malicious disinformation however has been by anonymous postings here and there.

The falsity of the claim of "promises of green cards" has always been readily determinable simply by checking with me or any Dekada officer or director. No one, however, ever asked any of us to so much as confirm or deny the claim, and the publishers and republishers of this disinformation never made any effort whatsoever to find out the truth of the matter.

As for the suggestion that Boni Sagana has been living off of Dekada funds, there simply is no factual basis or evidence of any kind to support it. This is what is known as a bare allegation, and if a lawyer were to put such a statement in a court pleading, he or she would be subject to sanctions. Factual contentions need to be supported by reasonable inquiry before being advanced or propagated.

Boni Sagana does not control Dekada and certainly does not control its funds. Dekada has a whole set of officers and directors for that purpose.

Boni Sagana, Dekada, and others associated with the movement may be regarded as public figures. A false statement about a public figure is defamatory and actionable if it is published with malice or in reckless disregard of the truth of falsity of the statement. There has been, at a minimum, a lot of reckless disregard relative to these unworthy and untruthful aspersions.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Thanks for clearing that up.

The only time I listen to Harry's show is when I am on it, as I do not own a radio.

Please see how I've edited the post.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

...and I think it is cool that you took the time to comment on my blog.

I see that you have three blogs, too. I believe that blogging is the best way to get your unfiltered message out to the masses.

I've promoted blogging through We Love Saipan, and used blogging in my own crusades, like Beautify CNMI et al.

I told Wendy Doromal when she was here last that the best way to get the contract worker story out was for someone to create a blog.

She didn't like my idea, I'm assuming because (in her own written words, nonetheless) she considers me an heartless young Chamorro.

If you or anyone else would like help blogging, we have a blogger meetup on the last Wednesday of the month at Java Joe's at 7 PM.

Wendy said...


Please stop with the rhetoric about the statement you made at lunch. You said, "To me the guest workers are invisible." Period. You made no clarifications about what you said, just that one sentence at that point in the conversation. I interpreted the statement the way I felt you intended it and posted a two-sentence statement, not even referring to you. Wade, the other lunch companion, interpreted the statement the same way. As I told you before you are not the first person to have said that. In fact, Angelo we have communicated about this. Why do you keep bringing this up? This is the 2nd time in a week I have been referred to a blog where you have discussed this.

Again, I do not think you are a heartless young Chamorro. As I told you, I respect your work with the environment.

Angelo, some guest workers are trying to put up blogs, but they lack the equipment and skills. Could you help them please? I will connect you with them if you are willing to help. Thanks!


The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

The blogger meetup is once a month at Java Joe's.

Wendy, I'm not a big fan of what you do because you choose to vilify all Chamorros, not just the ones who deserve it. You've tried to create this scenario where the only hope for ending the years of labor abuse is for the Federal government to come down on us, because the heartless young Chamorros are no different from the heartless old Chamorros.

I find that insulting.

That tactic will never work because the nonresident workers need the support of the Chamorro people if they want improved status.

You are making the situation worse, not better.

There are a lot of people here who would support what you want to do, but your accusatory tone turns people off.

Same goes for your buddy, Dengre.

His constant remarks about "saipan sucks" and "rogue territory" are insulting.

That's why nobody here likes what you have to say, not because we disagree, but because your delivery is so distasteful.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

So, Steve, just what does Boni Sagada live on? It has been bandied about as a rumor without substantiation, but bandied frequently nonetheless, that he hasn't had a job in many years but remains here doing quite well it seems as the story goes.

I will tell you that the rumors go further than that to include descriptions of a 'palatial house' in the Philippines bought by the hard earned dues of his members. I have heard this from many inside the Filipino community, not just from contrary crabbers.

Rumors sometimes have a basis in fact. Rumors sometimes are underhanded trash designed to malign or cause harm and often result from self interest motivations. Which is it in this case? Can you be specific, or can Boni? It might help allay deep running suspicions currently circulating.

saipanboonieman said...

i think that angelo is right again on the issue of villifying all chamorros. there are many of us out there that want to participate in this movement. unfortunately, many are turned off or feel defensive toward the way locals are being generally portrayed. it behooves me that none of these advocates take the time to point out that the majority of these labor abuses/human trafficking cases, to the best of my knowledge anyway, are perputrated by non-locals(as was the case with most of the garment factory cases and night-club/massage parlor cases) when testifying about the need for change.
this movement would have a higher chance for success if the movement, as angelo suggested, was managed to give the locals a sense of ownership too.

again, there are many locals who would like to support the movement, but not enough has been done by those who are leading the cause for inclusion of who would arguably be the strongest ally of their efforts, the local population.

...just got lost and lucky.... said...

As for the "Can we agree..." by Angelo, I would agree on most except for the "pill thing.."

And for Boni Sagana being accused of unclear things, I suggest the group should present some kind of a financial report and do it in public so as to clear whatever allegations that are being thrown to them. If nothing is unscrupulous with the group then they should not think twice in doing so.

as for saipanboonieman, the unity march is for everybody. I guess you knew that. Were you there?

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

We were both there.

...just got lost and lucky.... said...

I was there too. I was the emcee.