Monday, April 28, 2008

More Local Support

The Marianas Resource Conservation & Development Council's Vice President has written to the Governor to express his support for the proposed "National Park of the Sea."

In my previous post I wrote that the proposal is unlikely to survive the month without a showing of considerable community support. This letter is a step in the right direction.

The newspapers have been alive with discussion the last two days.

Jaime Vergara
, sixth grade teacher at San Vicente Elementary, wrote:
I was stunned when our leaders up the hill legislated their fears. I have an image of scared and spineless ghosts (as opposed to the forceful and dynamic personalities they exhibited during the political campaign) shaking in their loafers and pumps before the shadows of the ubiquitous un-homogenous feds (there’s just as much diversity in ’em Wash. DC-based bureaucrats as any!), and rather uncivil to a civic group called Ocean Legacy, not to mention a guy named Angelo and his PEW.

Ruth L. Tighe in her column wrote: “The proposal has been deemed a “no-brainer” by most who are aware of the proposal-with its protection of marine resources, its promise of world-wide attention to the CNMI, its assurance of increased tourism, scientific research, economic investment-all at no cost to the CNMI-what is there to object to?”
Jane Mack wrote her first letter. I'm sure there will be more. She says:
The national marine monument will also produce income, possibly more than the commercial fishing interests presently operating. We can expect to see a tourist center in Saipan. We could revitalize our tourism industry with promotions of eco-tourism. We could see people from around the world seeking to visit this national marine monument. We can also help improve our CNMI image, so tarnished by the lingering imprint of human trafficking of sex workers and sweatshop labor abuses. Instead, we could share our natural beauty with the world and be known as an ecological haven, a “green” bit of paradise.

I support the creation of national marine monument. We need this. We need it now.
Ken Kramer, who has lived on Rota and Saipan, wrote a very long, sarcastic letter. He writes:
And, finally, who needed the Ocean Legacy or the Pew Charitable Trust, anyway? Who needed the annual influx of $10-$20 million dollars of federal funding for the CNMI? What for? Who cares or wanted all those good paying jobs? All those jobs the local people could have had, could have prepared for by studying courses at NMC; they are all gone: Poof! And: "We Don’t Need No Stinkin Visitor’s Center!" It would just bring in more of those troublesome tourists and an annual budget of millions. WESPAC thinks that World Heritage status for the NW Hawaiian Islands would harm it, because it would draw too many tourists. So, the conclusion to be drawn from WESPAC, is that we may not want to create the monument in the Northern Mariana Islands at all, because it might attract too many tourists. The CNMI wouldn’t look good, having all those tourists and researchers coming to Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, spending money, staying in hotels, renting cars, chartering boats, investing in the CNMI, and eating at restaurants. How can that possibly help the CNMI? Are we not doing just fine without all that money? After all, it only represents about 10 percent of the annual CNMI budget. Please, do not count the spin-off value of those dollars.
Wes Bogdan finally had his letter published on the Internet, too.

Brad Doerr
also wrote a letter. He wrote:
I was a bit disappointed by the recent legislative resolution against our proposed marine monument in the Northern Islands. I too was a bit apprehensive when I first heard the proposal back in December of 2007. Years ago, my parents taught me to look twice before crossing the street. Nowadays I look four or five times before I take those first steps. I guess that was good advice since I have never been hit by a car. All of us have learned that lesson. So I understand the Legislature's abrupt reaction and united stand against our proposed marine monument. They have justification. The U.S. government has screwed over everybody. But it has money. The CNMI has received millions of dollars in federal aid over the years. What most people do not know is that the federal government did not propose our marine monument; the Pew Foundation did after a through analysis of possible worldwide sites for a marine monument. PEW did not push this proposal, it simply presented it to the CNMI. Since the legislative resolution against our marine monument, Pew has moved on. The decision to proceed is ours. So after reading this letter, write to the editor, governor, President of the U.S. and voice your opinion. For or against. It is your right. Use it. I do. That is the voice of the people.
We also had a negative letter, written by Joe Cabrera. I might as well address this letter point by point.
I’VE been hearing lots about Pew, Angelo V., the National Park and now Taotao Tano says they like the idea of Northern Islands National Monument or whatever it is Mr. Angelo is calling it now. Let me take a load off my shoulders. Why won't anyone say my last name? What's up with that?

This idea of a National Monument being or trying to be imposed on our three northernmost islands sounds like it will benefit only the dive operators and divers. The only mention of benefiting fishermen, regardless of what type of fishing is done, is that the CNMI registered fishing vessels CAN fish up there but we CANNOT take our catch out of the boundaries of the park. No wonder Mr. Angelo can’t get support for his pet project! In your forum, held at Porky’s on Thursday the 24th, it was mentioned that you may get support for your pet project if this restriction can be changed. There are many benefits to fishermen. The Division of Fish of Wildlife has got posters available printed with the benefits of protected areas. If this proposal were to be considered by the White House, there would be a period of public comment. That is a great place to make your suggestions.

You were also asked, “Why are you pushing for a National Park?” Your reply was, “Because its a good idea.” Is that the best you can come up with? You can do better than that! After all, you were educated in the U.S. This is a good idea. I had just finished giving a 45 minute presentation on why I support this project. Were you listening?

You also mentioned money for the CNMI. Your presentation showed millions of dollars. My question is, “How much of that will come to the CNMI?” We are but a speck in Oceania. How much will actually go into local government coffers? The actual percentage that goes to the local government will be worked out by the federal and the local governments working together. Athline Clark from the Hawaiian Monument explains the breakdown in her email which I posted previously.

You also mentioned jobs for locals. Your presentation also showed a number jobs that will be available. Dude, how many locals will qualify for those jobs you showed on your presentation? I say none for a long time until we get educated in those fields of study. The jobs that I listed are similar to the jobs at Division of Fish & Wildlife. Are you saying that nobody at DFW is qualified for their jobs? I don't think so. Who would want all those high paying jobs anyway? Are you suggesting that we only look for low paying jobs for locals?

My advice to you Mr. Angelo is that when you put on a presentation again you better be prepared to answer ALL question put your way. I answered every question I was asked.

Don’t you just hate it when someone tries to shove something down your throat and the best answer they can come up with is, “Oh, I’m not an economist,” or, “Oh, I’m not a scientist.” Prepare yourself to save face. Wisdom is understanding that you don't know everything. Pew Environment Group has commissioned an economic study and a scientific study. Why is it wrong for me to defer to experts? The studies will be available to the public in May.

To Mr.Taotao Tano. When you announced that Taotao Tano is supporting the idea of a National Park in your media release you listed all the benefits. But did you mention the setbacks, the negatives and the restrictions that will be imposed on the local people that your organization is supposedly looking out for? Folks, Mr. Taotao Tano needs to sit down with Mr. John Gourley and study the proposal in detail. Mr. Taotao Tano also has to study the Northern Hawaiian Islands National Park in detail before he agrees to support this Park to the north. Soooo much restrictions in the Hawaiian National Park. Restrictions are a part of protected areas. That is how they are protected from destructive use.

Did you know that the Hawaiian National Park to the north employs Hawaiian islanders (not native Hawaiians) and a few native Hawaiians? What percentage of Hawaiians are native Hawaiians? It is not very high. I think the Superintendent is native, so at least the Monument is heading by someone of indigenous heritage.

Did you know that the Hawaiian fishermen were bought out and supposedly received millions? NOT! And did you know that there is NO fishing there anymore? Completely outlawed! Mr. Taotao Tano, is this what you want for our future generations? Your organization is supposed to be advocating indigenous rights and culture. You are not doing that! So please do not criticize Tina S. because you and your organization are no better. You were a no-show at Porky’s, too. There is fishing going on in the Hawaiian Monument right now. There were exactly eight fishing vessels permitted to be in the area before it was declared a Monument. After the Monument was designated, they were given 5 more years to fish. At the end of five years, their boats will be purchased at fair market value.

Did you know that there is a fledgling company here and on Rota that is trying to establish a fishery in the CNMI? They have spent millions already starting the business. Well, if Pew, the National Park and Mr. Angelo get their way, this company will shut down and take their business elsewhere. Another loss in revenue for our broke government. Think about it! The ocean is a big place. There are plenty of places to fish. If the business goes out of business, it won't be because of the Monument. It will be because of gas prices and lack of fish. It is my belief that the revenue from the Monument will be greater than the revenue from fishing. The economic study will settle this.

To the Senate: A big thank you for not entertaining the National Park issue. It only stands to benefit a certain few. Conservation as a rule benefits everyone. The Monument will benefit local fishermen because it will keep foreign fishing vessels out of our northern waters.

Dandan, Saipan


Ron Hodges said...

Again, the NMI needs to ask Dennis (Greenia) of and Wendy (Doromal) to help expose the facts of this case in our local media. There would be many local citizens that would be interested in our current fishing situation.

Saipan Writer said...

Dear Mr. Villagomez,

You so need to get this response in the newspapers!

You're absolutely right about the references to you as Mr. Angelo. If we refer to you as Mr. Villagomez, people might get the idea that you're local, a Chamorro. Oh, you are!!! I think we all need to refer to you again and again as "Mr. A. Villagomez, son of former Associate Justice Ramon G. Villagomez."

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

I submitted a letter for tomorrow. Perhaps I will submit it after that one is published.

Tamara said...

I agree with Saipan Writer..Not everyone reads the blogs...This information needs to get out in the local papers and through other outlets...

Tamara said...

inspired by tonights news..