Saturday, June 21, 2008

Another Illegal WESPAC Meeting

According to the Western & Central Pacific Network the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WESPAC) has conducted another meeting without giving the public the proper notice in the Federal Register.
HONOLULU: JUNE 20, 2008 -- Decisions made during the Tuesday, June 17 and Wednesday, June 18 meetings of the June 16-19,2008, meeting of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (Wespac) are null and void because, for the second consecutive regularly scheduled meeting, the public were not given proper notice as required by federal law (see attached Federal Register; no notice for Tuesday, two Wednesday agendas, and March instead of June). The affected actions include: the MHI Bottom fish season opening and a hearing for the National Environmental Protection Act changes. The decision-making portions of the meetings will need to be held again at an estimated cost of $50-$60,000. Official participants are flown infrom as far away as the Commonwealth of the Norther Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Guam and in addition to their annual salaries and benefits, officials attending the Wespac meetings are paid approximately $650-day per diem in addition to their airfare, lodging and ground transportation costs.

The failure to provide proper public notice also occurred during Wespac's March 17-18, 2008, meeting in the CNMI and the decisions made there had to be reheard and voted upon during a subsequent makeup meeting in Honolulu on April 15, 2008. In an april 15, 2008, media release, Wespac blamed "a bureaucratic error" by theNational Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Scott Foster, the Communications Director for the Western & Central Pacific Network said, "We have no doubt that Wespac's ED, Kitty Simonds will again lay this mistake off on others -- but the fact remains, as ED, Simonds job is to provide steady management which she has not done. Simonds must have known about this before the four-day series of meetings even began. Why wasn't anything said or the important bottomfish closure vote moved to later when it would have been legal?"

Foster also noted, "It gives us no pleasure to again call this error to Wespac's attention because this will require all interested parties to once-again attend or monitor yet-another meeting on yet-another day during yet-another month while our fish stocks move ever-closer to total collapse. Continued mismanagement by the WesternPacific Fisheries Management Council is driving the Main Hawaiian Islands bottom-fish stocks closer to collapse with the self-inflicted nullification of the few good rules they actually pass." "Fishermen should be upset if Wespac doesn't hold another meeting to re-do that vote simply because the Bottom Fish Season may reach the catch limit and close before Christmas" Foster said. "Wespac will have to do what they did after they botched the public notice of the last Wespac meeting and schedule a re-do that will end up adding to the already ridiculous costs paid by taxpayers." It is anticipated that at the make up meeting, likely to be called the 143rd if Wespac follows form, the Council will find itself in the unenviable position of having to approve minutes for the 140th, 141st and 142nd meetings due to Wespac's dereliction. "Kitty Simonds derelict management of the Council would have resulted in her dismissal if she was employed in the private sector." Foster continued, "this will probably not quiet the calls, by many groups, for her removal."
Tsk, tsk.

WESPAC continues to be the main source of opposition for the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument idea. Their most recent activity is to coordinate an anti-monument petition with the Office of Carolinian Affairs. This is nothing new for them. They have been accused of manipulating indigenous people in Hawai'i, too.

I asked to sign the petition when I went into the Office of Carolinian Affairs this past Monday. I was told by the secretary that the WESPAC coordinator, who is a federal employee, had already picked them up (I have one other witness).

I assume that the petition is a result of the closed door meetings the WESPAC coordinator has been calling with Carolinian Affairs. I wouldn't know for sure though, because when I asked the director if I could attend one of the meetings, she told me that they were being called by the WESPAC coordinator and that he wouldn't want me there (I have two other witnesses).


Lil' Hammerhead said...

Now I know why these guys defend Wespac so vehemently. The perks are outstanding!

*Free roundtrip to Hawaii (I wonder if it's first class?)
*Hotel (Bet you they're not staying at the Hana Hotel)
*Ground Transportation
*And the kicker.. Shopping Money!!!

Explains alot.. or at least a little.

Max Sand said...

How much are the PEW reps getting to fly back and forth to the CNMI fromt the US and elsewhere?

First class?


Ground Transportation?

Expense account?

How much did they pay Dr. Iverson to come up with his 'economic study'?

Plenty, and that also explains a lot.

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

I believe Dr. Iverson stayed at Century Hotel, where they have a $99 hotel/car deal. I believe he charged his fried rice at Shirley's to his room.

RB Seman said...

It purplexes me to find statements being made about the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC)by folks who have very little or no knowledge of the council. They attacked WPRFMC if it was a criminal intity or some sort. They like to mention about ongoing federal investigations about the council's and Ms. Simonds expeditures and what not. Folks, WPRFMC is nothing more than a Federal Agency (1 of 8) created by the Magnuson Act to manage fisheries inside federal waters through the direct participations of stake-holders so that balance-management measures can be developed and implemented. It was created to ensure that ALL stake-holders concerns are considered and included so that no one (stake-holder) is ignored and excluded. The council is not Ms. Simonds. The council are the individual representatives from each of the islands (CNMI, Guam, Hawaii & A.Samoa) and federal agencies (NMFS, USFWS, and US Coast Guard). These are the individuals that discuss and vote on issues affecting their respective jurisdictions and mandates. The Council and Ms. Simonds are simply following instructions from the Council voting members as mandated by Law. The round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations, etc. for off-island members for meetings are included in the mandates of the Council in order for all island representatives to be able to participate and deliberate just like the rest of the other 7 regional councils. By the way, Ms. Simonds works delegently for all the islands and will do anything within her power to ensure that the islands are fully informed and empowered of its respective marine resources and some folks hates for that. She's been wrongly accusses so many times before and the so-called ongoing investigation won't be the last either. One thing is clear though, Ms. Simonds always come out CLEAN. People hate her because she is outspoken, tough and very knowledgeable of her job. By the way, please be inform that when the council is attacked, its the island members that are being attacked, not Ms. Simonds.

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

Thanks for the comment, Richard.

I've personally had some issues with the council. On several occasions they have called public meetings, including the 140th, and told people in attendance that I was invited to speak.

Of course I wasn't invited, so it makes me look bad.

It is very unprofessional.

Lil' Hammerhead said...

I think Richard needs to read up on Wespacs "exploits". I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt that he hasn't. Wespac is a federally created body run awry.

So, after your reply.. do you think "Max Sand" will be back?

RB Seman said...

I have participated in some of the meetings/functions where you were indicated as presenter/speaker to which you were not present. I am not sure why you were included if they had not confirmed your participation, let alone your invitation. Regardless, it is not good for anyone to be listed when he or she is not given confirmation. I wish I knew what exactly occurred in your case.

By the way, I appreciate the tone and manner in which you conduct your responds. Not attacking and remaining professional about it. This is the way to keep open and peaceful discussion going for the good of all.


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

It is a blatant attempt to discredit me.

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


Could you post the text of the WESPAC anti-monument petition somewhere? I can't find it online.


RB Seman said...

I have good knowledge of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council having served as the CNMI State Designee for over 4 years and Council Nominee for over 6 years. Prior to my involvement as a Council voting member I was a member of both the Bottomfish and Pelagic Plan Teams. I have attended the Council Membership Code of Ethic Workshop and participated in a number of council-sponsored fisheries management functions. In all of the management/regulatory agencies the US Government has, the Fishery Council is the only federally mandated organization that gives the tiny little American islands such as Guam and the CNMI the opportunity to speak, deliberate, recommend, and vote on issues that affects us. It is the only organization that first seeks our position and concerns on fisheries issues and then allows us to decide how our resources should be managed through our recommendation to the National Marine Fishery Service. This is where we the little guys have a say on how to manage our resources and not the other way around - top down approach. There is no other similar opportunity like this that exist for the little island governments under the US flag. Currently, Marine Biologist Benigno M. Sablan and Dr. Ike Dela Cruz are the two voting members of the Council. They represent the concerns of the CNMI and are responsible for anything that comes out of Council on our behalf.

RB Seman said...

I'm very sorry but I haven't seen the petition myself. I haven't even signed the petition.


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

Manny Duenas of WESPAC also called me an "idiot" with "coconut mentality" after I called WESPAC out for trying the legal capture of a Napoleon Wrasse into an international incident.

Click Here

Your take may be different, but my take is that they try to shout down and discredit anyone who disagrees with them (like me).

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

"trying" should be "trying to turn"

RB Seman said...

Not to turn this discussion into a chat, let me just add that Manny Duenas is a voting Council member through the submission of Governor Felix Camacho and Nomination of the US Secretary of Commerce. Manny is the President of the Guam Fishermen's Co-op and he represents his members to the fullest extend. When it comes to fish and fishing that affect the people he represents, Manny will fight to death to protect the interest of his members. He does not hide his position and doesn let anything deter him from doing so. He speaks for his members to the fullest extend possible and doen't hold back any punches. No one in the Mariana Islands knows more about Guam's fishing and the people that fish there. He has personally sacrificed a lot to help the fishing community of Guam when everyone else failed them, including the government. Through his strong personality he managed to build a viable and successful fishing co-op on Guam and has brought pride and power to his members they all deserve. Manny would never have anyone second guess him unlike most people. He is true to his words. Manny gets agitated however whenever someone picks on a small time fisherman, especially traditional ones. Manny maybe a member of the Council but he never place his members in second. They always come first, with or without the Council.


Lil' Hammerhead said...

I know you know what Wespac is supposed to be about Richard.. I was being sarcastic, as you seem to blind yourself to all that they do to fight any type of conservation area.

With regard to this statement about Wespac.. "a federally mandated organization that gives the tiny little American islands such as Guam and the CNMI the opportunity to speak, deliberate, recommend, and vote on issues that affects us"..

Then why did they try to shut down any conversation about the Marine Monument Proposal so hard and so fast? You know.. if they're all about facilitating discussion and deliberation.

It is complete nonsense.. and I know that you're not so stupid as to believe otherwise. Despite the positions you take.

In depth discussions, deliberations, etc. are great. Let's let the discussion about the Monument progress.

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

While discussion about the monument has begun in earnest, the actual process to even assess a monument has not.

The White House has stated in the media that should they do an assessment there will be an opportunity for public forums and public input.

The monument thus far is just a concept being presented by a non-government, not for profit organization and a number of indigenous and non-indigneous people in our community.

Anyone who says otherwise is being untruthful.

RB Seman said...

I haven't seen anything from the staff and Executive Director of the Western Pacific Fishery Council trying to shut down any move with regards to the proposed National Monument here in the CNMI. I have seen position statements from some of its members defending the Council with some of the recent negative correspondence about the WESTPAC that questions the science behind some of the fishery management measures. We have to remember that these members are not employee of the Council and do not do any business or commerce together. The members are not prohibited from stating their personal views and how they are supposed to state them. Yes, they do have code of conducts when they are actually engaged in a Council Meeting/Functions that is covered under an official travel order indicating their covered period with the Council. Most of the members of the Council are private citizens who are working for themself or for a private company and not the government.


Max Sand said...

Blogger, you obfuscate and try to slick your way out of answering by reducing your reply to Dr. Iverson's Pew paid hotel room bill. I suppose you hoped we would not notice that you failed to answer the rest of the questions asked.

You are a Pew paid employee so perhaps you know or can find out the answers to the questions actually posed.

The Questions were:

1. How much are the Pew reps getting to fly back and forth to the CNMI from the US and elsewhere? Meaning all of them and all of their multiple trips? Jay Nelson? His attending Cronies? John Salas? William Aila? Iverson? The others?

2, First Class? Meaning did any or all of them fly coach? Business class? First Class? How much has been spent so far?

3. Hotel? Did they all stay at the Century for $99 per night? Jay Nelson? All the others? How much has been spent?

4. Ground transportation? Meaning did Pew pay for ground transportation for any or all of the above mentioned supporters? How much was spent?

5. Expense account? Meaning How many of those mentioned and the others that have been sent here to hype the monument had an expense account? How much was spent? Could they - did they go shopping?

6. How much did they pay Dr. Iverson to come up with his "economic study"? Meaning how much did they pay Iverson to produce a study that pleased them? How much was paid by Pew to buy the study itself? You have already been kind enough to tell us how much he paid for his room. Thank you. How may nights did he stay? Did his expense account include any Garapan style entertainment? How much was spent total to bring him here and keep him?

Please be so kind as to put this all into perspective for us by disclosing how much Pew is spending, has spent and is willing to spend in the future to promote this deal. Thank You.

While we are at it, how much are you paid to promote this project for Pew? How much has Pew paid other Saipan residents for one reason or another since the monument project has been in the works?

I would ask you to respond truthfully and completely, Blogger. Thank you again.

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

1. Those who work for Pew have travel as part of their job.

2. I don't know.

3. Century Hotel has a $99 room and car deal.

4. See #3

5. No expense account, but meals at Shirley's were charged to their room.

6. I don't know.

Question with no number: I am the only employee, but I have contracted Practical Solutions for a few hours of work per week plus I get all of my color copies made at quick print.

We have spent over $5000 in color copies.

Do you have any more questions?

Lil' Hammerhead said...

I want some money! :}

"Max Sand".. I am one of the most vocal proponents of the IDEA of a monument. I've helped, as a citizen and member of this community, in any way I can. I've been contacted personally by dozens of "monument supporters".. I've not been offered one single penny to forward my position.

That might be the way Wespac works.. I don't know. Ideas that are beneficial to our community, usually don't require folks to be "paid off".

dominic said...

Why can't PEW wait until Bush leaves office? The final months of his presidency are like the white part of the bird-crap. The media will now know that Bush is trying way too hard to polish the turd with this monument designation. Don't any of the new candidates for POTUS want some of the "Blue Legacy" action?

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

Pew Environment Group isn't the one making any decisions. All decisions will be made by the governments.

I wrote a letter to the editor recently about this.

...I'll explain the timing issue in an upcoming letter to the editor.


dekada lawyer said...

PEW's money is private.

Westpac's is taxpayers' (i.e. coerced).

The difference is fundamental.

Max Sand needs to learn the difference between feeding unproductively at the public trough and growing one own's rice (or catching one own's fish) -- the difference between personal liberty to do what one wishes with one's own property and theft of another's.

Even if PEW's expenditures were lavish (and I have no information one way or the other on the subject), "Mr. Sand's" questions would be irrelevant because it is private money.

People paid with public money should be accountable. Moreover, one can very reasonably infer from circumstances such as described here that what is happening goes far beyond "mere" repetitive gross incompetence to actually be willful error to permit relevant parties to harvest the financial benefits to be gained from redoing meetings.

CNMI prosecutors have been known to obtain easy convictions with far less compelling facts ....

Scott Foster has a long and very credible record in Hawaii of fighting for public accountability and environmental causes.

Executive directors are sometimes very skilled at using an agency's perks to control their boards and memberships. The phenomenon is quite familiar in the Commonwealth.

Structurally, Westpac is sound, giving small jurisdictions like the CNMI a voice in how the U.S. controlled resources tied to their geographic locations are managed.

That said, it is incomprehensible how the "nationalistic" issue of CNMI self-control of resources, and deference to a federal agency in which the CNMI has a minority voice, are used as the basis for opposition to a proposal to designate a monument and protected area in exactly the fashion the people of the CNMI have already decided, through their Constitution, should be the case:

The islands of Maug, Uracas, Asuncion, Guguan and other islands specified by law shall be maintained as uninhabited places and used only for the preservation and protection of natural resources, including but not limited to bird, wildlife and plant species.

CNMI Const. art. XIV, sec. 2. No part of the PEW monument proposal lies outside this protected area, which surely was intended by the voters to extend to the maximum area under CNMI jurisdiction, including waters. The CNMI has always (that is, until now) disagreed with assertion of federal authority over any part of of waters and submerged lands to the limits of the EEZ.

Nevertheless, the incontrovertible fact is that the federal government has the authority and jurisdiction. Now, when there is a proposal that would have the federal government act relative to these resources in a manner that furthers the prescriptions and intent of the CNMI Constitution, it is met with virulent opposition in certain quarters?

The federal government should not act relative to these resources in the manner the CNMI people have already said in their constitution these resources should be managed? The federal government should not act relative to these resources in the very same maner the CNMI government would be constitutionally required to act if it controlled the resource?

Plainly, there is a fundamental dissonance in these positions that indicates certain people are not forthrightly stating the true basis of their positions. This is an inescapable logical conclusion when fundamentally incompatible positions are taken such as appear here and in the "federalization" arena.

Part, but not all, of this can be explained by personal relationships (i.e. positions determined by how one feels about certain other individuals who have a position, rather than on the basis of rational analysis of the issues).

dekada lawyer said...

I might add that Angelo's dad was a delegate to the 1985 constitutional convention that added the quoted language to the Constitution.

He also was one of the strongest advocates for self-government in CNMI history. Moreover, he was consistent and steadfast in his positions (agree with him or not), not opportunistic or patronizing.