Saturday, May 31, 2008

New York Times on oceans

On May 31, 2008, the New York Times Editorial Writers published an editorial on President George W Bush's Ocean Legacy:
President Bush has expressed interest in leaving a positive “blue legacy.” Last year, he created one of the biggest protected marine reserves in the world — 138,000 square miles of largely unspoiled reefs and shoals near Hawaii. He should create at least one and possibly more such reserves elsewhere in American waters before he leaves office — and should persuade other world leaders to do the same. [emphasis added]
Additionally, an article in the Times on June 1st reports on one of the Monument proposals being considered by the President:
The Bush administration is taking steps to create a new kind of national monument encompassing Pearl Harbor and other World War II sites in the Pacific.

If the president declares a Pacific war monument, it will require rethinking the concept of how monuments are organized. Unlike land-based national monuments or the relatively new Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument — 139,800 square miles of ocean waters and coral reefs around the archipelago northwest of Hawaii’s main islands — the areas in the monument being contemplated are not contiguous. [snip]

A memorandum from President Bush to the interior and defense secretaries released on Friday by the White House asked for their assessment of the value of a monument declaration “at Pearl Harbor and other sites associated with the war in the Pacific.” It added that recommendations should avoid “limiting the Department of Defense from carrying out” its mission.

The areas under consideration would include Ford Island, which was adjacent to battleship row in Pearl Harbor, where most of the large ships were sunk by Japanese bombers on Dec. 7, 1941. The memorandum made no mention of other sites being contemplated, but Midway and Wake Islands and Guam saw crucial World War II battles. [emphasis added]
I think this the rumored second Hawaiian monument that we've heard about, not the proposed Central Pacific monument from the NPR story. I would recommend reading both stories, but the information I gleam from this is that President Bush is still considering doing one monument with possibly more, which is what we have been saying since the beginning of this process. He is also putting the proposed monuments through an assessment phase, which we've also been saying.

So far there hasn't been any movement on the federal side for the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, whether for or against. I still hold out hope that we will see an article similar to this New York Times article in the upcoming days.

(fingers crossed)

The Fords Visit Saipan - Day 1

The first day was a full day. We started off with breakfast at Shirley's, then we went to American Memorial National Park to visit the museum and the World War II memorials.

Japanese Hospital on Saipan Kevin wanted to see the history museum next, so we drove over there only to find that they were closed down due of a power outage. Customers Use Candles, indeed.

Before we got back in the car I dared Kevin and Catie to walk through the bomb shelter out front. Kevin's going to kill me for writing this, but Catie did it before Kevin!

Ouch!

By that time it was starting to get hot, so we decided to go swimming.

Pacific Islands Club SaipanThe waterpark at Pacific Islands Club was a hit with the kids. I'm not sure how many times they went around the lazy river, but they must have covered several kilometers. We also went kayaking and ate a huge bowl of spicy fries. I even managed to catch a little nap.

Jim took a long nap. While he napped we paid a visit to the Kaipat house in Koblerville and to my Dad's house in Fina Sisu.

The house in Fina Sisu is a mess. Jungle is growing up all around it and someone stripped the house of its wiring.

Talk about a fixer upper.

Kevin Ford and Cinta KaipatI wanted Cinta and Gus to be the first people we had dinner with, so we made plans to go to Abyss for garlic octopus and tuna poki. No offense to all my friends and family here, but Cinta and Gus have been one of the best, if not the best, thing about my return to Saipan.

Cafe at the Park SaipanEating at Abyss wasn't in the cards. They were full, so we ate next door at Cafe at the Park.

Gus and Cinta's sister, Francis, and their Mom made mwaars for everybody. Kevin had a hard time excepting that men can wear flowers in their hair. We'll fix that by the time he leaves.

Friday, May 30, 2008

I like Orchids too

Mischa Orchids GarapanOrchids is a good bar, too. They have free karaoke...just ask Ian.

Did they get here?

saipan airportWhy do all the flights have to come in during the middle of the night? It is so hard to stay awake...

waiting for the planeIs the flight on time? Man, Oreo is getting heavy. What time is it anyway. I hate these late night flights...

airport security micronesiaIs that them? I guess they made it...

It is them! Catie, you got so big! This is your nephew, Oreo...

Slurp, slurp, slurp...

Mom! What has in been, almost three years?

Everyone's here! Even Jim. Man, what are we going to do for a month?

.
.
.
.
.
.
Saipanda and Catie

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Come greet my Mom at the airport!

Two worlds are about to collide.

For all of my life there has been Dad's side of the world and Mom's side of the world. Every couple of years Dad would show up for a day or two in Mom's world, but Mom has never, ever been a part of Dad's world.

That changes in a few hours when Mom, Jim, Kevin, and Catie step off a plane at 1:25 AM coming from Nagoya.

If you are reading this, you are invited to come greet my Mom at the airport. It has been 26 years since she's been here.

******
The Saipan Tribune carried a story today about recently introduced Senate Bill 16-32, "TO ESTABLISH THE NORTHERN ISLANDS COMMONWEALTH CONSERVATION AREA; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES."

Since this is the Saipan Blog and I'm the Saipan Blogger, I'll just repost the part about me:
Angelo Villagomez, a local coordinator of Pew Charitable Trusts, said he welcomes all conservation efforts in the community. But he pointed out that a national marine monument declaration could offer much more environmental protection than the local measure could.

“This bill is different from the Mariana Trench Marine Monument proposal in that it only pertains to the emergent lands. There is language in the bill about submerged lands, but that issue has already been resolved. This bill has the potential to work in conjunction with the Marine Monument proposal to protect both the land and the water,” Villagomez said.

He praised a provision in the bill that would create a conservation fund. But he said the language should be strengthened to keep the money in the fund from being used for non-conservation purposes.

Villagomez also urged the Senate to hold public hearings on the bill, as the Pew group has done since March, to allow for community input.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Where we stand

The conversation about whether or not the CNMI should create a Mariana Trench Marine National Monument is trickling through our commmunity.

From the onset we have told people that if this is something that they wanted, the Pew Environment Group would be there to facilitate. We can fund studies, put together a proposal, do research, and help in other ways and with other things, such as setting up meetings with Federal officials in Washington, DC.

We have been very clear that there is a timeline associated with the designation of a potential monument. It would have to be created before Bush left office on January 20, 2009.

We've also been very clear that there are other areas under consideration and that the President is likely to choose those areas that are non-controversial and supported by a majority of the people.

On May 13, the Marianas Variety reported that American Samoa Governor Togiola T.A. Tulafono requested President Bush to designate Rose Atoll as a national monument. On May 23, The State newspaper in South Carolina reported that Governor Mark Sanford wrote a letter to President Bush requesting that he use the Antiquities Act to protect the deep water corals living off the coast of his state.

That means that two of the five proposed marine monuments have the support of the local governor. Our governor currently does not support the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument.

Fred Hovnaton wrote a very insightful letter to the editor on May 21 explaining our predicament:
Speaking of the future, just a quick comment on the now comatose, if not dead, underwater federal monument. There was an article in the local paper that basically explains how the CNMI has killed the proposal. Then there was an unrelated article the same week about how American Samoa is sending a proposal to the federal government asking the federal government to create a national monument there. It seems a proposal similar to the one the CNMI has rejected is actually being sought by American Samoa. Two different island governments with similar, desperate economic problems and environmental issues. Both have a similar relationship to the federal government. One seems to be looking for new things to try with the assistance and input from the federal government. The other has a “just say no” approach to the federal government. A person could get the impression that American Samoa is looking for new and creative solutions to current and future problems while the CNMI is fighting to maintain its downward spiral. This is just an impression someone could get.

But in any event, either American Samoa or the CNMI is making a big mistake. Someone has been misled and misinformed, yes lied to and even duped. A national monument is either good for the people of those islands and the environment or it’s not. Only one island government is doing the right thing for the future of its people and islands. The question is which one. Time will tell. Anyone want to place a bet?
According to the NPR story last week, the White House has yet to consider which of the five remaining proposed monuments they will assess. It is my hope that the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument makes it to the assessment stage, but that is yet to be seen.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

You know what? I take that back.

I'm not going to wish you a happy birthday today. I'm going to wait two days and wish you a happy birthday in person!

I hope you are as excited in coming to Saipan as I am. You'll hardly recognize the place. What has it been, 26 years since you were last here?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Steamroller

Football on Saipan
The body is a little sore today after playing almost four hours of soccer yesterday. Four teams played in the "Sportmanship Tournament," including my team, Wild Bill's Independents (in orange).

We called it the "Sportsmanship Tournament" because a few of the Men's League games ended with fights out in the parking lot...including the fight between the Ol' Aces and Onwell that forced the NMIFA to cut the league short by one week.

Saipan SoccerWith four teams participating (the Fightin' Ol' Aces and the Brawlin' Onwells weren't invited), we played a round of pool play, with the top two teams playing for the championship and the other two teams playing for third.

Our team played really well in pool play. We drew Inter and the MFC 2-2 and 0-0, respectively, and we beat the Korean team, FCA, 1-0. That was good enough to get us into the championship game against FCA (Football Club Arirang).

Angelo Villagomez Wild Bills SoccerAfter three games, nobody's legs were moving too quick. We were given a respite when Eli showed up half way through the first half, but we were really, really tired.

The game ended in a 2-2 tie and the game went straight to penalty kicks.

We choked.

Damn it.

Even so, this is the best our team has ever done. This was our first time playing in the championship game. I wish we had won, but I'm proud to have just been a contender.

(tear)

The next men's league starts in August. There's always next year.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I love this bar

A few months ago I was scolded by Rose for following a post about my Mom up with a post about two monkeys having sex (BTW, that Youtube video has over 2,100,000 views now).

In that same vein, I will follow my last post up with a post about Godfathers.

Does this picture not describe an average night at Godfather's? I'm looking forward to taking my 10 year old brother, Kevin, there for some chicken fingers and poki (the family gets here next Friday!).

:)

Just kidding, Mom.

Oh yeah, thanks for the shot, Scott.

Godfathers Bar SaipanOf the girls in this photo, one is getting married, one is dating a lawyer, and a third is single. Any guesses as to whom is who? But the real question should be, can they play Co-ed soccer?

Thank you, William

William Aila and AngeloThe dust is settling now that William's visit to Saipan is over.

In four short days we dragged him to over 20 formal and informal meetings to meet with over 300 people, not to mention going on the Harry Blalock Island Issues radio show and the John Gonzales MP 96950 TV talk show. He was also featured in print and on the local evening news.

While he was here he completely dispelled the rumor that Native Hawai'ians were against the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. When one of leaders mentioned the source of the rumor, William vowed to have a talk with that person when he got back to Hawai'i.

He also told our local leaders to demand a seat at the table. The Legislature, the Office of Carolinian Affairs, Taotao Tano, and even the Manamko', should demand an equal role in the creation of a Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. In Hawai'i they demanded a seat and they got one. Native Hawai'ians now play a role in the day to day management of Papahanaumokuakea.

There was so much that he left us with that it is near impossible to cover it all in a blog post. I'm still kind of distilling this whirlwind week myself, but in the meantime, I'm going to go play some soccer.

Thanks again, William.

William Aila and the Saipan EnvironmentalistsBTW, Michael Moore is a cool guy, too. I just wanted to point that out.

Fundraiser Tonight

Tony GomezFrom Tony's Mom:
Please help me raise a few dollars to send TonTon to Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics. He has worked so hard for this and really wants to use it as a way to get into a great music college in the future. He'll be part of a contingent of students from Saipan Southern High who were chosen to march in the opening ceremony with many other musicians worldwide.

I am so proud of the Manta Band from Southern and the kids who keep proving that they can do anything they dream. Please put $15 away and join us on May 24, 2008 at Porky's. You can call me at 287-6781 for tickets.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Mariana Trench Marine National Monument

NPR did a story today on an "Unprecedented Conservation Program." One of the areas under consideration for this proposed conservation program is the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument.

The story corrobarates what we've been saying since day one, that the President is looking for Monuments that are non-controversial:
Conservationists say that CEQ officials last year invited a small number of ocean advocates to an unusual, closed-door meeting to discuss the idea. The White House asked them to help identify potential reserves in waters within the United States' "exclusive economic zone," which extends 200 nautical miles out from the mainland and U.S.-owned islands around the world.

The idea, says Sobel, was to highlight areas where President Bush could create "marine monuments" under the Antiquities Act of 1906. This law gives the president broad powers to protect areas of "historic or scientific interest" without congressional approval.

Administration officials said they wanted things they could do before they left office, says Sobel. "They [also] wanted things that they could do without tremendous political blow back … [but] would have a conservation impact."
The story also says that the White House is planning on having public hearings.

******
William Aila went home to Oahu this morning. Due to the location of our two islands on opposite sides of the International Date Line, he'll actually arrive home yesterday.

We had dinner at Aqua Resort last night with some friends. I'll post pictures later.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Info from the Chamber

The Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the public forum tonight. This is from them:
In an effort to further public understanding of, and facilitate discussion concerning, the Pew Environmental Group’s proposal for a “National Park of the Sea” in the area surrounding the three northernmost Northern Islands, Chamber Vice President Harry Blalock will be moderating a forum in the auditorium at the American Memorial Park museum this Thursday (May 22) evening at 6:00 p.m. This session will allow for a presentation by two individuals – Jay Nelson, Director of the Ocean Legacy Project of the Pew Environmental Group and William Aila, who participated in the creation and management of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument – and then for a question-and-answer period. I attach below brief CV’s, provided by Pew, of Messrs. Nelson and Aila. If you haven’t had an opportunity to engage in primary-source research regarding this proposal, this is your chance.

Jay Nelson


Director - Global Ocean Legacy for Pew Environment Group. Ocean Legacy originated as an outgrowth of work done by Pew in 2005–2006 to support the creation of a fully protected marine reserve in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Partners supporting Ocean Legacy include Pew, the Sandler Family Supporting Foundation, the Oak Foundation, and the Robertson Foundation. Inspired by this success, the Pew-managed Ocean Legacy project is dedicated to establishing, globally, over the next decade, at least three to five large, world-class, no-take marine reserves. Ocean Legacy marine reserves will provide ocean-scale ecosystem benefits and help conserve our global marine heritage.

William Aila

William is a long time harbormaster on the Waianae coast of Oahu and commercial fisherman. He is well-known as an advocate for indigenous Hawaiian rights works closely with the group Na Imi Pono [sic]. In 2006 he ran for Governor of Hawai'i in the Democratic primary. William was intimately involved in advocating for the protection of the NW Hawaiian Islands for Native Hawaiian cultural and religious reasons from the late 1990's through today. He remains active in decisions about the management of the NW Hawaiian Islands today. William is very familiar with fisheries management in the Pacific through his more than ten year’s service on various Wespac advisory panels.

A Fish Story

Yesterday afternoon we stopped at Assins fish market so that William could see what kind of fish they were selling.

grey snapperskipjack tunawhite tunaInside the fish market was a poster on the wall showing how large certain fish species had to be before they reached sexual maturity. Jay noticed that there was a quote by William Aila at the bottom.

fishing posterThe quote read:
"If you claim to be a fisherman, be a proud fisherman, know the resource, take only what you need, get involved in management, and pass on this knowledge."
Fishing Poster William AilaWilliam signed and dated the poster for the shopkeepers.

******
We've been meeting with as people as possible in the short time that William is here. Our first meeting was with the Rotary Club at their weekly fellowship.

Rotary Club of SaipanThen last night we went on the John Gonzales MP 96950 talk show. We can't tell how many people tuned in to watch, but the cable channel has about 12,000 subscribers, so we can assume the number was large.

John Gonzales ShowWe've also met with the Saipan Fishermen Association, the Marianas Visitors Authority, and the CNMI Senate, among others.

Our big meeting at American Memorial Park is tonight at 6 PM. This conversation is being sponsored by the Saipan Chamber of Commerce and is being moderated by Harry Blalock.

Speaking of Harry Blalock, we went on his radio talk show this morning, too.

William will be on island for only one more day. If you are reading this, please make an attempt to come out and meet him.

Monday, May 19, 2008

William Aila is a cool guy

William AilaCinta, Gus, some of the boys, Jay and I picked up William Aila at the airport last night. Cinta presented him with a mwaar when he stepped out of Customs.

We took him straight to his hotel where we had a reporter waiting for him. I sat in and listened.

Wow.

If you are reading this, I hope you can make it to one of our public meetings.

New Marianas Variety Website

Wow.

The Marianas Variety has a new website. After you register on the new website, you can leave a comment on any and all news articles, letters to the editor, and editorials.

This is going to be nuts. The Variety is going to become the most popular website in the CNMI overnight.

I've already signed up and left my first comment. I'm looking forward to some fun discussions.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Public Outreach Week

William Aila will be on island tonight. A lot of people have asked for more information about the monument in Hawaii and we invited him here to provide just that.

We have lined up meetings with the saipan fishermen association and some tourism leaders, among others.

The Saipan Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a public forum with William on Thursday night at 6 PM at American Memorial Park. The public is invited.

We will also be on the John Gonzales MP 96950 talk show this Wednesday at 7 PM and the Harry Blalock Island Issues talk show Thursday at 7 AM.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Good Luck, Bev

Beverly CabanatanBev left Saipan today. It makes me sad when people leave. It seems like only yesterday that I caught her stealing my photos and reposting them on her blog. I'll miss you, Bubbles.

Good luck.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Killer on the loose

On Sunday, May 4, 2008 Grande Nonan was killed in a hit and run accident. The police say it was a drunk driver, driving along Sadog Tasi. The vehicle was apparently a brown or beige Sport Utility Vehicle.

If you know of a gray or champagne color SUV (for example: Pathfinder, 4 runner, Exterra, Expedition, Explorer, Montero, Rav4, etc.) with damage to the front portion of the vehicle, especially if those damages occurred on Sunday, May 4th, please contact the police and or Crimestoppers at 234-7272 (PARA). A reward up to $1,000 will be paid to the informant. Crimestoppers is anonymous.

I apologize for the inconsistencies in the colors of the SUV, I'm just copying what I read on the Taotao Tasi blog.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Online Monument Poll

Saipan Tribune WebsiteThere is an online poll at the bottom of the Saipan Tribune website today asking "Do you support the proposal to create a Marine Monument in the northern islands?"

Please vote "YES"

Thank you.

More Co-ed Soccer

Last week about 15 people showed up for our Co-ed pickup soccer game. We're stretching our legs and honing our skills for the upcoming Co-ed soccer league.

Come on out and play with us. Everyone is welcome regardless of skill level, just keep in mind that this is an adult league. Younger players are welcome, but be forewarned that Brenda Schultz has been known to drop the F-bomb every now and then. Really.

We'll start playing right after work on Thursday at 5 PM.

I'll bring my ball even though Michael Thomas made fun of it last week. If you don't want to play with my ball, which by the way is approved by the Korean Football Association, bring another one.

We're still looking for some captains. Norm and Dora Camacho, Greg and Mel Borja, and Angelo Villagomez (that's me!) and Meaghan Hassel-shearer (Irish?) are captaining three teams. We need three more pairs of captains if we are going to have six teams. Any volunteers?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Good Luck, Yoshimi

Yoshimi YanagasawaYesterday afternoon one of Beautify CNMI's Champions left Saipan for good. Yoshimi Yanagasawa, a manager at Aqua Resort Club, was one of our biggest fundraisers and a dependable volunteer. She was also a great friend.

She moved back to Tokyo.

Good luck, Yoshimi.

Trying to keep up

The amount of chatter about the proposed Mariana Trench Marine Monument has reached epic proportions. In the last 24 hours we have seen comment from Mike Tripp (also on his blog), Jane Mack (also on her blog), Lil Hammerhead, and Jeff Turbitt. Yesterday there was a letter from Ruth Tighe. All are in support.

The newspapers also carry stories about RC&D supporting the Monument and the Governor of American Samoa, Togiola T.A. Tulafono, requesting George W. Bush to designate Rose Atoll as a Marine National Monument.

In less than 48 hours we'll know if the White House will begin looking into new potential monuments. If you are reading this and you want to help me keep the CNMI proposal on the table, I could use a support letter. Email me if you are interested.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Oreo KenobiHappy Mother's Day, Mom.

I'll be celebrating with the Friends of the Mariana Islands later this afternoon. We're having a BBQ.

Oreo says hi.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is The Saipan Blogger?

The Saipan Blogger is Angelo O'Connor Villagomez. Angelo is from Saipan, but lived in Japan, England, and the United States for 24 years before returning to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in 2006. Angelo is an environmentalist. He helped create Beautify CNMI, was the lead local organizer pushing for the creation of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, and was the 2009 Democratic candidate for Mayor of Saipan. Angelo moved back to Florida in 2010.

What is the CNMI? What does it stand for?

CNMI stands for Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. CNMI consists of 14 islands. Saipan is the largest of the 14.

Why is the url of this blog http://jetapplicant.blogspot.com?

Angelo started this blog when he was applying for the JET Program. He didn't get in, but to make a long story short, he went to Japan for a little while and moved to Saipan shortly afterwards. Read the archives if you want the full story.

What is a Chamaole?

Chamaole is a combination of the words Chamorro and Haole (pronounced How-Lee). Chamorros are the indigenous people of the Marianas and Haole is a Hawaiian word for foreigner (basically a white guy). I'm a little bit of both and I've seen Star Wars a few too many times, so I'm Obi-Wan Chamoale. My dog is Oreo Kenobi. He's a half-breed mongrel, too.

Does the Saipan Blogger have a best friend?

Oreo Kenobi Oreo Kenobi! Oreo is my 3/4 Maltese 1/4 Scottish Terrier mix. He likes grilled chicken and pooping on my floor.

How do I contact the Saipan Blogger?

The easiest way is to leave a comment on this blog, but I can also be found on Facebook. You can also send an email to angelovillagomez at gmail dot com.

New Look

My blog was down for most of the day today. I'm liking the new look.

Any comments?

There is a possibility that I'll switch up a few more things, in which case I'll take the site offline again.

Sorry.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Support the Marine Monument Petition

Mariana Trench Petition GatherersA group of students have started a petition asking the local and the federal government to look into the potential benefits of the proposed "National Park of the Sea." They went on KSPN 2 the other day to announce they they were going to start collecting signatures.

The petition reads:
WE, the undersigned, would like the CNMI Government and the Federal Government to continue studying the possible benefits of a Mariana Trench Marine National Monument in the waters encompassing a portion of the Mariana Trench and the uninhabited islands of Asuncion, Maug, and Uracas. Such a Monument could bring positive international media attention to our shores, create local jobs, lead to the construction of a world class visitors center, lead to increase in research and education, and most importantly, protect our islands for our people now and for generations to come.
The petition can be downloaded here. Each petition has room for 15 signatures. All that is needed is a name, a signature, and an email address.

I'll have information on where to drop off the filled-out petitions soon.

The petition is also online (see left hand column of this blog). If you would like to put a similar petition widget on your website, simply copy and paste this code into your template:



Earthquake!!!

There was a 6.7 earthquake this morning. It was one of those earthquakes that rocks side to side. This one was really far away from Saipan, about 250 miles Southwest of us.

I was still in bed when it hit. 10 minutes later the power went out.

Good morning, Saipan.

The Governor Says No, Others Say Yes

In the next week or so, the White House will begin looking into areas that have been proposed by private environmental groups as potential Marine Monuments. Our Mariana Trench Marine Monument is on the list for consideration.

We have presented this idea to hundreds of people in our community. We went on the radio and the local news station to explain the proposed project and it has had several write-ups in both local newspapers. We have made every attempt to speak with as many people as possible and this dialogue is ongoing.

The feedback we have gotten at our many public meetings has been positive. How strong has the support been? Well, both Heinz Hofschneider and Juan Babauta like the idea and want to see more information. When was the last time they agreed on something? The same goes for Tina Sablan, Cinta Kaipat, and Greg Cruz. They have all seen the proposal and like it.

Senator Paul Manglona was on TV last week and said, "The Senate is very much in support of any national monument or national park where we protect the environment. I want to put that on the record." Six other senators read statements into the official Senate Record last Wednesday basically saying that they liked the idea and that they needed more information. The recent joint resolution was passed to make it clear that they needed to know more before they could make any decision.

The Chamber of Commerce and HANMI are both in support. Immigrant rights activist Wendy Doromal and Daily Kos blogger Dennis Greenia are also in support. They don’t tend to agree on a lot of things, but they agree with this.

Many community members have written letters to the editor to raise concerns or to show support. Last week 19 letters to the editor and editorials spoke in support of the Monument. Only three were against.

A member of the WESPAC advisory panel, John Gourley, has been on a campaign of personal misinformation, the likes of which we have not seen since he was hired to take Sugar Dock away from the people living in Chalan Kanoa. Remember Save Sugar Dock?

Gourley and other WESPAC representatives in the administration have convinced the governor that this proposal does not even deserve to be considered.

That is unfortunate, because most people in the community think it is not only a great proposal, but a "no-brainer."

So next week when the White House convenes to discuss which proposals they will consider investigating, they will weigh the governor’s non-support, which is based on the misinformation he has received from WESPAC, against the support of Washington Representative Pete A. Tenorio and the many other people in our community who have publicly stated that they like the idea.

The White House might decide that this proposal is too controversial and move on to another monument proposal, such as the one in American Samoa being touted by their governor. If that is the case, the opportunity to protect the waters surrounding our uninhabited far northern islands using federal funds, not to mention the accompanying local jobs, international exposure, visitor’s center, and increased research and education, will cease to exist.

However, it is my hope that the White House will see the merits of creating the world’s second largest protected area around the deepest part of the ocean. In that case, a dialogue between the local government and the federal government will ensue. There will be public hearings and public comment. Then if this is ultimately something that the people of the CNMI want, we can ask the President to create our monument.

******

The issue of the Mariana Trench Monument is bringing together people that aren't necessarily what I would call friends. I point out a few of those in my editorial today. Bruce and Ed are probably about as far apart as you can get on any issue, but they agree that the Monument is a good idea.

There was another round of letters for and against this week, mostly for. I'll put the links up...maybe tomorrow.

I will point out really quick that the three anti-monument letter writers today are all closely associated with WESPAC, which has a long history of manipulating indigenous people. Need I mention that WESPAC is under federal investigation for doing things similar to what it appears they are doing here in Saipan?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Stretch Those Legs

Environment, Soccer, and Blogging...oh my!

It's co-ed soccer time!

Everyone is invited to a co-ed pickup game up at the airport at 5 PM today. All players and all skill levels are invited (even Brad Ruszala), so please forward this message to interested players.

See you there!

(can someone bring a ball?)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Double Standard

I support the minimum wage increase, my only caveat is that local conditions be taken into consideration. The federal government sort of did that by raising the wage $0.50 per year vs $1.00 per year, but that probably wasn't enough. I'm not an economist though, so what do I know?

I do know that many of our local leaders are dead set against it. Under the current plan it will take 7 years before the local minimum wage equals the federal minimum wage. Our local leaders say that is too much and too fast.

However, doubling the residential electricity rates overnight is fine.

The Legislature had capped the price of electricity at $0.176 per kWh. That price didn't even cover the cost of fuel. The utility was losing money, so something had to be done.

We have a price structure where the less electricity you use, the lower your rate. The price for consumers who use less that 500 kWh in a month (like me) is now $0.373 per kWh. For users that use less than 1000 kWh the price is now $0.423 per kWh, for users that use less than 2000 kWh the price is now $0.443 per kWh, and for users that use over 2000 kWh the price is now $0.484 per kWh.

We knew this was coming, but I see a definite double standard here. Both the minimum wage and the price of electricity will have ramifications for our economy and our way of life. Both had to go up, but seven years is too fast for one and overnight is no problem for the other.

******
The power went out as I was typing this. My apartment has a generator, so it came back on five minutes later.

Compliments

In one of his personal correspondences to DFW Director Sylvan Igisomar, John Gourley writes, "Angelo has excellent grassroots organization skills (and website, blogs, etc.) and I am sure they will be put in use if these public forums are allowed, especially if he is hired by Pew to manage the project."

Thanks, John. That letter is better than any letter of recommendation I could ever get.

Let me know if anyone out there would like a copy of the letter. The correspondence between Sylvan and John is actually an attachment to a letter that Sylvan wrote to Governor Fitial. I've been holding on to this since December. There is some interesting stuff in the letter, never mind the knowledge that the Division of Fish & Wildlife is keeping tabs on our local environmental non-profits. God forbid an environmental group promote environmentalism.

37 KWH

Did you catch the news that CUC raised the price of residential electricity from 17 cents per KWH to 37 cents per KWH. Next month's bill is going to be expensive.

Monday, May 05, 2008

MP Magazine Party

MP Magazine and Ocean's will host a Support the Monument Monument party this Thurday, May 8. There will be free appetizers and happy hour prices all night long.

Please repost this on your blog. Everyone is invited.

In the media for being in the media

Paris Hilton is known for being famous for being famous. Well, Beautify CNMI is in the newspaper today because we're going to be on TV.
Beautify CNMI to air new commercial next week
By Rianne Pangelinan-Brown
Reporter

In an effort to raise awareness on the effects what littering can do to the islands, Beautify CNMI is scheduled to air its new commercial next week on KSPN 2.

The commercial which took two weeks to complete, depicts three young characters who ultimately miss out on doing some fun things because they are helping to keep the islands beautiful by participating in the BCNMI clean ups.

The narrator states that three characters could not attend soccer practice, a birthday party, or a baseball game because they were picking up other people's trash. The commercial also reminds the community that littering is illegal in the CNMI.

The script, which was written by CVI-Creative Visuals International president Cory McRae, was submitted to Beautify CNMI proponent Cinta Kaipat and volunteer Angelo Villagomez for input.

McRae specializes in video production, promotions, and media consulting. Before coming to Saipan, he worked for the FOX Network in KansaS City, MO, as a promo producer.

McRae, who produced the commercial, worked in collaboration with Mike Tripp president of Mike Tripp Productions.

According to Tripp, the reason for the commercial is the importance for people to realize that many people give up countless hours of their own time to try and pitch in an help tidy up the environment.

“They are trying to make the CNMI a better place to live and visit. Ultimately with tourism our number one industry we need to keep our attraction beautiful,” Tripp said.

McRae used video that he shot from a baseball game, birthday party and soccer games.

The videos were then edited together with still shots of children that would help bring across the message that because people continue to litter, it affects the community.

Adults and children “are missing fun activities because they are cleaning up the trash left behind,” McRae said.

Tripp said that every time an individual litters, “they not only disrespect the environment but they also take away from our islands economy. After all, if the litter continues, it is only a matter of time before all those precious tourists find a more desirable tropical island destination. Then what do we do? Thus, littering is everyones business and needs to stop.”

Tripp added that Beautify CNMI wanted to dispel the rumor or sentiment that those participating in the BCNMI clean ups are doing it because it is fun.

“In fact one of the things we discussed when developing the concept was the fact that the first commercial looks like everyone is having too much fun,” Tripp said.

He said one of the frustrations everyone who goes out to clean up the island week after week has to deal with is the fact that the littering never stops.

“Some think that those who litter may do so in part because they know someone else will clean up after them. We wanted to send a strong message that everyone at BCNMI would actually rather be doing something other than cleaning up trash in their spare time. We also wanted to remind people that littering is illegal,” he said.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Guam looks like that?

Check out the CNN story. When was that video of Guam taken, 1956?

Come on people, Guam doesn't look like that anymore.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Weekend Wrapup

The Mariana Trench Monument had another round of editorials on Friday.

The Variety published Ignacio Cabrera's letter to Governor Fitial asking him to support the Monument. He writes:
I encourage you to look into this worthwhile project, which will be an integral part of the worldwide effort by Ocean Legacy to protect our marine environment so that we have fish to catch and eat for generations to come. It will also help the CNMI meet and possibly exceed our commitment to the Micronesia Challenge.
I think this is the first mention of the Micronesia Challenge, a region wide pledge to "effectively conserve 30% of our near shore resources and 20% of our terrestrial resources." This would certainly help the CNMI meet and then exceed that worthy goal, which is supported by both the Governor and the Washington Rep (hey, they agree on something!)

Ed Propst penned a letter outlining 10 things that the Commonwealth must do in order to turn itself around. The Mariana Trench Monument is #9:
Rescind your resolution against the proposed national marine park. I am dumbfounded at how our leaders could so quickly and recklessly come up with a resolution that slams the idea of a national marine monument for the CNMI. What I want to know is if it is really true that the resolution was written by a WESPAC lobbyist. Do you truly understand the ramifications of your resolution? Have you exhausted all efforts in understanding the pros and cons of the marine monument? Since when was conservation a bad thing? Why do you buy into propaganda and sensationalism? As far as our local fishermen are concerned, how many of our local fishermen travel three hundred-plus miles to go fishing? It is not economically feasible, especially given the high cost of fuel! (Maybe the legislators figure the fishermen will swim up and back.) Do you know who is fishing those waters right now? Illegal commercial fishing companies from Korea and Taiwan! And as we speak, the CNMI cannot do anything about it right now! Stop listening to lies and start listening to the voice of reason. I ask that you revisit your resolution and rescind it. There is nothing wrong with changing your mind if it means you are changing your mind for the right reasons.
Dr. Cooper Schraudenbach wrote a letter, Dr. David Khorram discussed it in his editoral, and the Northern Marianas Insurance Association is in support of the idea, too.

Ruth Tighe dedicated most of this week's On My Mind to the Monument. I think she's been in communication with Jay, because her editorial has a very good grasp of the situation. This is highly recommended reading, she's right on in what she wrote:
According to Jay Nelson, Director of the Global Ocean Legacy under the Pew Environment Group, the U.S. executive branch has let it be known that it might be interested in establishing another monument, similar to the one just declared in Hawaii, sometime this year. Criteria for selection would include the viability of the site, its value, and the existence of local support. The federal administration has not yet taken any further action.

In follow-up to that information, several non-governmental organizations began looking at possible candidates for a monument designation. The Pew Charitable Trust is one of them. Thinking that the Marianas Trench, the only feature of its kind in the whole world, together with the near-pristine waters surrounding the northern islands, would make a good candidate, Jay Nelson came out to the CNMI to assess its potential.

According to Nelson, the time crunch is that the NGO's have now been told that by the end of May the U.S. executive branch intends to begin reviewing and assessing sites that have been identified by the NGOs for their suitability as monuments.

It bears repeating: except to say, "we are thinking about establishing another monument somewhere," there has been no other federal decision, or action.

Nor will there be any occasion for the federal government to take action, or to make decisions, until and unless the CNMI's northern island area is chosen for monument status - at which point negotiations would be undertaken with the federal government on the specific terms and conditions under which the monument would operate.
Just to clarify, the Senate entered speeches into the record explaining that their resolution was not written to kill the proposed project, they just wanted more information.

The speeches haven't been transcribed into writing yet, but I'll be sure to make them available when they are.

So what are we going to do this week?

I'm going to drop off information packages for all of the leaders on Monday morning. They've been getting some bad information.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Mark Your Calendars

Men's and Women's soccer is over, so you know what that means, right?

Co-ed Soccer!!!

We're going to form six teams this year. There will be games on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays during the summer. I'll call a meeting sometime next week to determine captains, but in the meantime, let's stretch those legs.

For the entire month of May we are going to have pickup co-ed soccer games at the airport field. We'll start after work, which should be right around 5 PM. Feel free to bring your kids, some drinks, and something to grill. You provide the flame and the meat, I'll provide the empty stomach.

We'll see how Thursdays go, then we'll discuss the idea of having a second day of pickup games, perhaps on Sunday afternoons.

This will be an adult league. Younger players are welcome, but keep in mind that they'll be playing against some 200 lbs grown men...like me. Some of our younger players are developed enough to play an adult game, while others aren't. Just keep that in mind.

All skill levels are welcome. This is a recreational league in every sense of the word.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Beautify CNMI PSA

Here is our new commercial. Look for it on KSPN 2.



What do you think?

In the News

There was more discussion in the media today.

Cinta Kaipat wrote a letter about...me! She was just reminding the people of the CNMI of who I am.

Ignacio Cabrera had another letter today, too. He writes:
We need to protect something for the indigenous, like what Hawaii has done. If they made some mistakes in creating their monument, how can we create our monument so that we don’t repeat those mistakes? If you don’t like what happened in Hawaii, why not focus on how we can make our monument better, instead of fighting each other over the issue? Why can’t we improve on what they’ve done?
There was also a letter against the Mariana Trench Monument from William "Bamboo" McCue, who lived on Saipan several years ago.

I might as well address his concerns point by point. My comments are in bold:
I've read with interest all the folk who are in favor or the Pew national marine monument around the top three islands of the CNMI. Millions of dollars in ecotourism, a huge revenue generating visitor center, worldwide recognition of the CNMI as a green place etc. The best was the two writers that said the local fishermen would use gasoline to drive their boats up there. Any boat that could make it there and back will not have a gasoline engine. Not understanding this simple fact shows the proponents are people who know little about life around the ocean. You cannot have an informed opinion unless you have knowledge of that which you are talking about. How many boats currently fish these islands for reef fish? I'm guessing it's close to zero. That's really all a monument will protect; pelagic fish are just that-pelagic. Look it up if you don't know what it means. I'm guessing someone wrote gas instead of diesel. Simple mistake. The area is large enough that it would protect pelagic species.

I wonder how many of you have been to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, had any experience with the life there or how the people that control the monument interact and conduct themselves. The NWHI monument actually took jobs away from citizens and contract workers. Midway Atoll had a thriving eco-tourism business (catch and release fishing, bird watching and nature tours) that employed over 100 people and it shut down due to restrictive rules. Windsurfing and surfing were not allowed that's how contorted the rules became. I worked and lived on Midway for two seasons. Now there is no virtually no employment there, and dozens of other jobs that supported the Atoll are now gone also. The Oceanic Society is bringing people to Midway right now. He is misinformed.

The islands of the proposed PEW monument are not visited by tourists now, nor will they be if it is a monument. How many people go up there annually now can probably be counted on your hands and toes, and a good percentage of those are scientists already. The CNMI controls the islands, and that's the way it should stay. Nothing good will happen if it gives up control. With a Monument, the CNMI would continue to control the islands. WESPAC opposes World Heritage Status for Hawaii because they think it will attract too many tourists. Which is it? Too many tourists or no tourists?

William McCue
Wellington, FL
******
I applaud the Senate for clarifying their recently passed joint resolution. I hope that it is enough to keep this proposal on the table. I hope that the press reports on the speeches that were given in the Senate Chamber yesterday afternoon.

As I mentioned previously, the White House will cull down the number of proposals. After they do that, they will begin engaging the local governments that make the cut.

I hope we're one of those finalists.