Friday, October 31, 2008

Dr. John Joyner, Take 2

Laurie Peterka and John JoynerDr. John Joyner hit the streets of Garapan again last night. He started off with a nice grilled mahi mahi dinner with some friends at Hawaii Bar.

John Joyner and Walt GoodridgeThen he did the Garapan circuit, visting several bars througout the night. Did you know that when Walt first moved to Saipan, Dr. Joyner was there to meet him at the airport?

John Joyner at GodfathersDr. Joyner saw a lot of his friends at Godfathers. He competed for the most original costume contest, but did not win.

John Joyner at Hawaii BarAll in all it was a good night. Happy Halloween!

girls dancing at flairDr. Joyner also busted a move on the dance floor. I don't remember if he shook it like a salt shaker or a polaroid picture, but I guarantee you everyone had a good time.

******
Overall Halloween on Saipan is very tame. Halloween in Orlando is a bit more crazy.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

John Joyner goes to Godfathers

John Joyner Sylvan Igisomar Angelo VillagomezI knew I wanted to be John Joyner for Halloween the minute I saw him at the September Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Brad Ruszala and John JoynerThey say imitation is the highest form of flattery.

John Joyner Saipan Halloween CostumeThere aren't a lot of bright green pants available in the Saipan stores, so I went with a slightly darker, forest green. Even those were hard to find.

Godfathers Bar HalloweenHappy Halloween, everyone!

Local Campaigns on Youtube

I just found the Youtube accounts of the congressional delegate candidates. Greg Sablan has two accounts. He has this one and this one. John Gonzales has one here and Luis Crisostimo has one here.

If there are other Youtube accounts from the candidates out there, please let me know and I'll link to them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Election Watching Party!

The Democratic Party of Garapan will host an election results viewing party at Hawaii Bar on Wednesday, November 5 starting at 11 AM. There will be two wide screen TVs showing news coverage.

The first polls close at 9 AM local Chamorro standard time and the last poll closes on the West Coast at noon, so we might know who is the next president by early afternoon.

All Hockey Moms and Joe Sixpacks are invited! Members of all political parties, religions, and/or ideologies are welcome to attend, as long as you support Barack Obama.

Food and beverage will be available for purchase...and I promise to buy a round of drinks every time Obama wins a state.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mariana Trench Posters

These posters were created to hang in businesses, classrooms, etc. They also make for good banners on websites. I have some in the office. Ask nicely and I can give you one.

good for the environmentgood for businessgood for education and researchgood for culture and tradition

Vote for Scott Randolph

My former roommate, Scott Randolph, is running for reelection in Florida House District 36. He was recently endorsed by the Orlando Sentinel on October 9, a newspaper that usually endorses Republicans (although they endorsed Kerry in 2004):
As a legislator, Scott Randolph remains a work in progress. The Democrat is much improved over his rookie season, when we labeled him as "class clown" for some bizarre proposals like awarding a sales-tax rebate on ticket sales only to teams with winning records.

Two years later, he's become a strong champion for education. He also advocates a much more open process in setting a state budget, and he supports commuter rail.

He also showed concerns for consumers by filing a bill to stop predatory-lending practices.

Stephen Villard, Mr. Randolph's Republican opponent, ran unsuccessfully for Orlando mayor years ago. He was a no-show at several candidate forums in 2000, and declined an interview with the Sentinel's Editorial Board for this election. Of the two, he's the one behaving like a class clown.

The Sentinel endorses Scott Randolph in District 36.
Biba Scott! Bota Scott!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Best Halloween Costume on Saipan

sarah palin halloween costumeLast night Sarah Palin winked at me. It was awesome. Too bad I already voted for Obama.

So why was Sarah Palin drinking campaigning at Godfather's last night? No she's not here to hunt whale sharks from a helicopter, last night was the Red Cross' Club 200!

And I didn't go!

Yeah, lame, I know. Club 200 is the biggest event of the year. All the cool good-looking people go there. I went in 2006, but last year I was in Laos.  Now I'm a two year no show.  Oh well, there's always next year.

Anyway, Club 200 was a Halloween party this year. I missed out on the fun. Stupid work budget.

I've got a pretty awesome costume lined up for next weekend. I don't want to give too much away, but it involves a purple shirt, green pants, and a new haircut. Now if I can just find some red suspenders...

The Color of Flame Trees

Somebody remarked that our T-shirts are the color of the flame trees, our national tree. How cool is that?

An Environmental Afternoon

IgnacioThe Friends of the Monument turned over 5593 signatures in support of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument at American Memorial National Park this afternoon. They also turned in 201 business petitions, that is petitions signed by business owners and managers.

American Memorial ParkKudos to the Friends of the Monument and to Chairman Ignacio V. Cabrera for all their months of hard work. Over 60 volunteer signature gatherers helped collect the (now) 5600+ signatures over 4 months. Kudos also to the volunteers from Marianas High School and Saipan Southern High School who volunteered their time to put all the names into a database. Finally, kudos to Christina who punched holes in all the petition pages in order to load them into the binder.

tree plantingRight after the Friends turned over the petitions to American Memorial Park I participated in a Beautify CNMI tree planting. Members of the Kanagawa Trucking Association from Japan were on Saipan and they wanted to become a part of Beautify CNMI.

Kanagawa Trucking AssociationAya Matsumoto set up a tree planting event for them and we planted two young flame tree saplings at American Memorial Park. Cinta Kaipat and her family, Ranger Rheanna, Brad Doerr, Mr. Horiguchi from Paseo de Marianas Promoters and I were there to serve as Commonwealth Ambassadors to the visiting Japanese businessmen.

The visiting guests gave us Kanagawa Trucking Association shirts and several boxes of Yokohama Shiomai, which I take it is what Yokohama is known for. Not a bad afternoon, if you ask me.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Managaha Morning

I spent a much needed morning on Managaha Friday. I went swimming, saw some fish, took a nap and read on the beach.

I also got in some tourist watching.

My favorite was the fat Korean kid in a speedo.

I love the way the Japanese and Korean tourists dress when they go to Managaha. Undoubtedly there will be a handful of people dressed like Darth Vader, covered from head to toe so as not to let any sunlight touch their skin. These tourists are usually found in the shade covered in a blanket.

Amazing.

Then, of course, you've got your Korean and Japanese bikini babes taking pictures of one another.

korean bikini babes

Jeff Turbitt's second best reason for living on Saipan was the Japanese Bikini Girls. Makes you wonder why he ever moved?

Not a bad morning. I need to get out there more often.

*bikini is one of the top search terms for people finding my blog. Shameless, yes. Effective, absolutely.

An Open Letter to President Bush

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Bush:

The Friends of the Monument was formed in the spring of 2008 to express the voice of the local community and consists of a cross-section of indigenous and resident people of the CNMI who are dedicated to the conservation, preservation and protection of marine flora, fauna and geological features of the oceans; and the creation and proper management of a Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

We, the Friends of the Marinas Trench Marine Monument, thank you and support your interest in declaring the marine ecosystems surrounding the three northernmost islands of Uracus, Maug, and Asuncion as a marine national monument, in accordance with the Antiquities Act of 1906. Declaring the waters as a monument under the Act would expedite the process of bringing protection to the precious resources found in the waters there, while establishing specific federal responsibilities toward governance of the monument, and enhancing our ocean legacy.

Additionally, we ask that you specifically include in the language of the Executive Order under the Antiquities Act that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, through its National Marine Sanctuaries Program, be the federal agency that administers, co-manages, and enforces the monument, along with the CNMI.

Furthermore, any co-management agreement must anticipate unknowns and allow for responsible change. The management arrangement, goals, and objectives of the monument should be reviewed on a regular 10-year basis.

The health of the world's oceans has declined drastically over the past several hundred years, and we believe the most effective means of restoring their wellbeing is through the setting aside of large no-take zones or sanctuaries, such as the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. This would offer marine life a safe haven.

We believe that the creation of a monument in our northern waters would generate many benefits for the CNMI. The monument will enhance the stature of the CNMI on the world stage as a contributor toward the revitalization of the world's oceans, and as a contributor to the Micronesia Challenge to set aside and effectively conserve 30 percent of the region's near-shore resources by 2020. The monument would also provide countless benefits to the people of the CNMI.

We have taken the liberty of spelling out a number of the benefits, in the form of a vision that we believe would accrue from the monument. These fall into six categories: management and enforcement, culture and tradition, conservation, education, research, and economic development, which we address, in turn, below.

Management and Enforcement, by which we mean not only management of the monument once it is declared, but also the process of defining how the monument would function once it is established.

The Friends envision that the federal and local government officials will co-manage the monument. We would like the Friends to be involve in this co-management; we are sure that there are innovative means for our members' support and contribution. For example, we hope that the initial Advisory Committee for the Monument includes members of the Friends and other conservation-minded people who actively supported the creation of the monument.

Additionally, critical to see these efforts are the necessary resources to enforce any protections established by a special designations. With this regard, we would request your assistance with the necessary equipment, training and support to properly enforce the designated area. We envision having planes and boats for enforcement and patrol. In order to better manage and enforce the protections of the monument, we suggest that all vessels entering the monument area should be required to carry a VMS tracking system and adopt strict invasive marine and terrestrial species prevention measures.

Culture and Tradition, by which we mean the lifestyle, practices and beliefs of the Chamorro and Carolinian peoples that have been handed down from generation to generation.

The Friends believe, first of all, that the Chamorro and Carolinian cultures and tradition must be treated with respect, and taken into full account in decisions that are made about the management and use of the monument. We should take into consideration the precepts of our indigenous culture and tradition when deciding issues like, for example, sustenance fishing, canoe travel and other similar matters.

Conservation, by which we mean the protection and preservation of the marine ecosystems and their interrelationship with land ecosystems; and their continued presence and existence in the future.

The proposed monument contains some of the world's most unique habitats and unusual features, such as chemosynthetic and photosynthetic organisms living side-by-side, mud volcanoes, vent communities and other natural wonders. One of these is volcanic coral reefs, which occur nowhere else in Micronesia. The coral reefs that exist there are flourishing and vibrant, and need protection to help guard our planet from the threat of global warming and potentially act as a source of corals for other marine areas.

The Friends acknowledge that people of the CNMI and the world have historically relied on the oceans for food and other resources. We believe that the need for continued availability of our precious, limited marine resources does not conflict with conservation. We believe that creating the monument will help increase the oceans' abundance by contributing to the survival and recovery of depleted marine resources and biodiversity.

Education, by which we mean both formal and informal education, for students as well as the public, for residents as well as the rest of the world, in all relevant media formats, produced both commercially and non-commercially.

The Friends believe that funding should be made available to enable oceanography to be taught in schools, at the college and through lectures and programs for the public, and to ensure that pertinent education materials will be readily available, that careers in the marine and geological science will be encouraged, that opportunities for field trips for students, teachers, the general public and tourist should be made available.

We envision a Visitors' Center, including a centrally-located facility funded under the auspices of the NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries Program that would be open to everyone that would contain not only displays of various sorts, but would also offer related items for sale.

The Friends believe that the Visitors' Center would bring benefits not only to the local economy by attracting tourist, but to the people of the CNMI as it would showcase information about marine geology in general, about the monument in particular, about the CNMI, and about its indigenous history and culture to all who visit it; it would present, in a variety of formats, the results of marine research done in the area and relevant research done elsewhere; it would regularly present programs open to the public on matters related to marine life in general as well as marine life specific to the area, thus allowing the people of the CNMI, tourists, and other visitors to benefit from the establishment of the monument.

It is our dream that this monument will inspire and contribute to the first indigenous students receiving their Ph.D. in marine biology, deep-sea geology, or other related sciences.

Research, by which we mean the process of studying marine life, geology and other sciences, and of data generation, as well as the products of such activity generated by scientists, teachers, or students.

The Friends believe the researchers and scientists who base their work on the marine monument and its environs should be asked to obtain permission prior to undertaking research in the area and should share the information they garner with the local community through presentations at the Visitors' Center or in other forms and forums. They should make accommodations to take along local students and teachers on research trips, so that local students are encouraged to become scientist and researchers.

Economic Development, by which we mean assistance in improving the economy toward enabling the CNMI to become self-sufficient. The CNMI, being a small island with limited assets, will always be dependent to some extent on outside forces and influences, but certainly more is needed and can be done to increase independence.

There are many great economic benefits that we anticipate from the monument. We envision a surge in the media attention from your designation of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, which will attract more visitors to the CNMI. The CNMI relies heavily on tourism as its number one industry, and help to this sector of economy-whether from traditional or high-end visitors-will have a significant beneficial impact. The monument will likely attract scientists and other researchers, who will contribute financially while visiting or living here. The operation of the Visitors' Center and administration of the monument will create jobs, both directly and indirectly.

The contribution that a monument would make to the CNMI economy is in stark contrast to the present situation, where the only economic benefit that presently occurs from this significant resource is limited to illegal foreign fishing activities, such as shark finning. Obviously, this current economic activity has little benefit to the CNMI.

The Friends believe that the anticipated economic activities from the monument are much more suited to the CNMI's image in the world and more productive of tangible benefits. The increased flow of traffic from Saipan, Tinian, and Rota to the monument would also benefit the people of the CNMI in that it would make more feasible resettlement of the Northern Islands and provide transportation and communication with the “lower” Northern Islands.

We envision the northern island of Pagan being used as a staging area for research, fuel storage facility, and other needs. Of particular benefit would be the expansion of the landing strip for easier and faster access. The provision of the floating dock could preserve its unique black and beach.

Greater protection of our monument resources from illegal fishing, exploitation, or harvesting will also help our fishermen who follow the law to stay competitive.

In conclusion, the Friends of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument hope that you make the designation of this monument soon and expressly give it the highest possible protections available by law.


Ignacio V. Cabrera
Chair, Friends of the Monument

Agnes McPhetres
Vice Chair, Friends of the Monument

Andrew Salas
Vice Chair, Friends of the Monument

Belinda Norita
MarjaLee Taitano
Ken Kramer
Chailang Palacios
Karl T. Reyes
Jane Mack
Cinta M. Kaipat
Emelain D. Fejeran
Wes Bogdan
Lynn Knight
David M. Sablan
Ruth L. Tighe

Boring?

An anonymous commenter on another blog called my blog boring. Boring? I can't have that.

I guess I'll have to post my photos of Harry Blalock and Stanely Torres* from Godfather's last Friday.

Last Friday was Harry's 48th birthday.

Harry was in the corner with his family and some friends when Stanley Torres walked in and plunked himself down at the bar. I told Harry that he should go say hello and try to get a picture with him since it was his birthday.

Harry walked up to Stanley, tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he could have a picture. Stanley didn't move and completely ignored Harry. Not even a flicker.

Unperturbed, I told Harry to turn around and pose.

Harry Blalock and Stanley TorresHappy Birthday, Harry!

*For those of you not up on your local politics, earlier in the week Commonwealth Representative Stanley Torres introduced a bill to declare Harry persona non grata because Harry called the members of the legislature a bunch of "meatheads" and other colorful names in print and on his radio talk show, Island Issues. The bill was defeated, but the egos remain bruised.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Feeling Better

I haven't played soccer since August because my ankle is hurt. I should probably go see a doctor.

Anyway, it is feeling better. I might start doing some light jogging to see if I can handle it. If I can, I might be playing soccer within two weeks.

If I can't, it might be time to go see a doctor

Hawaii Bar has good beer

Hawaii Bar AnneAnne is the bartender at Hawaii Bar. She's the boss.

Notice the NO SMOKING sign on the right.

Biba Hawaii Bar!

Biba Anne!

White House Public Workshop

Turnout at the White House Public Workshop was unbelievable. We had someone stationed out front to count people as they came in and he counted 360. The feds' number is higher. They are saying that 400+ people showed up. In my best estimation, 2/3 to 3/4 of the people were wearing orange t-shirts.  Cinta said she thinks about 90% of the people there were supporters.  I'd call that an overwhelming showing of local support.

From The Saipan Blog - Saipan's most popular blog since ever since
Not to say that there wasn't non-support (I know you ain't supposed to use no double negatives). There was a "protest" outside the Fiesta Resort before things got started. It consisted of about two Carolinian families, staff from the Division of Fish & Wildlife and some longline fishing "consultants" flown in from Hawaii. The whole thing was being orchestrated by John "What am I thinking" Gourley and Manny "Angelo Villagomez is an Idiot with Coconut Mentality" Duenas from Guam.

Once the meeting started, James Connaughton, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chairman (he is one of twelve advisors to the President of the United States), gave a short talk on the Presidential Memo that directed Interior, Commerce, Defense and CEQ to do an assessment of potential increased protections for marine areas in the Pacific. He told everyone that he was on Saipan to gather opinions and comments on any increased protections for the Marianas. He wasn't here to deliver a proposal, he was looking to gather data to be used in drawing together a proposal.

From The Saipan Blog - Saipan's most popular blog since ever since
The entire room was split up into 11 groups and comments were taken.  As far as the federal government's participation, they did not debate and they did not argue.  That was left up to the good people of Saipan.  While my group was generally civil, I noticed some heated disagreement from the other groups, well actually, just one group

Just a side note: That match up pitted Friends of the Monument Cinta Kaipat, Chuck Sayon and Agnes McPhetres against DFW Director Sylvan Igisomar.  Sylvan never had a chance.

And we're back.

I joined a group that had five of the protestors. They were carrying signs not in support of the monument. After I sat down I was joined by Chailang Palacios, Herman Villagomez, Ed Propst, Daisy Propst, Ayako Matsumoto, Alexie Zotomayor, Emelaine Fejeran, Ike Cabrera and a few of my cousin Cindy's boys. We were joined by Jim Davies and PacificaDave, the longliner "consultant" who has been leaving nasty comments about retards on the blogs (he is in the brown shirt, second from the right, in the first photo above).

I'm not convinced that Jim is really against the monument. He seems to want what the monument supporters want, increased education and such, but doesn't seem to like the monument process. Dave, on the other hand, is dead set against a monument. He wants a National Marine Sanctuary, which he of course knows would lead to a WESPAC-led deadlock.

Even so, our supporters just plugged away with our comments. We want educational opportunities. We want comanagement. We want a visitors center. I'd go on with all of our comments, but it is just easier for you to read the Friends of the Monument vision statement.

The whole process was very democratic and reminded me of the island way of resolving disagreement. The only thing missing was food. The detractors can say what they want to say, but everyone, meaning all 400 people in that room, had the opportunity to say what they wanted to say and to have it read into the record. Not only were there notetakers at each of the 11 groups, but there were also roving comment takers. There were also separate Carolinian and Chamorro translators, so no one was left out.

John Gourley was visibly frustrated with the outcome. When he saw the number of people in orange shirts, his final act of desperation was to hang his little banners on every wall. You can see them in a lot of the pictures.

I have to say thank you to the literally hundreds of people that came out in support of the monument. The showing at the meeting, along with the now 5600 signatures on the Friends of the Monument petition, 500 letters from public school students and 50 letters from businesses, organizations and associations, shows that there is overwhelming support for the monument in the CNMI.

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Walk It Don't Drive It II

The CNMI Energy Office dropped off our Walk It Don't Drive It goodies this morning. Walk It Don't Drive It is a day where government offices and businesses use alternative forms of transportation to get to work. I walked. Others carpooled.

Anyway...

oreo kenobi villagomezOne of the goodies is a "Conserve Energy" tote back, or as I prefer to call it, Oreo's new mode of transportation!

oreo kenobi villagomezIt also makes for a good naughty dog basket.

Vision Statement: Open Letter to President Bush


President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Bush:

The Friends of the Monument was formed in the spring of 2008 to express the voice of the local community and consists of a cross-section of indigenous and resident people of the CNMI who are dedicated to the conservation, preservation and protection of marine flora, fauna and geological features of the oceans; and the creation and proper management of a Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

We, the Friends of the Marinas Trench Marine Monument, thank you and support your interest in declaring the marine ecosystems surrounding the three northernmost islands of Uracus, Maug, and Asuncion as a marine national monument, in accordance with the Antiquities Act of 1906. Declaring the waters as a monument under the Act would expedite the process of bringing protection to the precious resources found in the waters there, while establishing specific federal responsibilities toward governance of the monument, and enhancing our ocean legacy.

Additionally, we ask that you specifically include in the language of the Executive Order under the Antiquities Act that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, through its National Marine Sanctuaries Program, be the federal agency that administers, co-manages, and enforces the monument, along with the CNMI.

Furthermore, any co-management agreement must anticipate unknowns and allow for responsible change. The management arrangement, goals, and objectives of the monument should be reviewed on a regular 10-year basis.

The health of the world’s oceans has declined drastically over the past several hundred years, and we believe the most effective means of restoring their wellbeing is through the setting aside of large no-take zones or sanctuaries, such as the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. This would offer marine life a safe haven.

We believe that the creation of a monument in our northern waters would generate many benefits for the CNMI. The monument will enhance the stature of the CNMI on the world stage as a contributor toward the revitalization of the world’s oceans, and as a contributor to the Micronesia Challenge to set aside and effectively conserve 30 percent of the region’s near-shore resources by 2020. The monument would also provide countless benefits to the people of the CNMI.

We have taken the liberty of spelling out a number of the benefits, in the form of a vision that we believe would accrue from the monument. These fall into six categories: management and enforcement, culture and tradition, conservation, education, research, and economic development, which we address, in turn, below.

Management and Enforcement, by which we mean not only management of the monument once it is declared, but also the process of defining how the monument would function once it is established.

The Friends envision that the federal and local government officials will co-manage the monument. We would like the Friends to be involve in this co-management; we are sure that there are innovative means for our members’ support and contribution. For example, we hope that the initial Advisory Committee for the Monument includes members of the Friends and other conservation-minded people who actively supported the creation of the monument.

Additionally, critical to see these efforts are the necessary resources to enforce any protections established by a special designations. With this regard, we would request your assistance with the necessary equipment, training and support to properly enforce the designated area. We envision having planes and boats for enforcement and patrol. In order to better manage and enforce the protections of the monument, we suggest that all vessels entering the monument area should be required to carry a VMS tracking system and adopt strict invasive marine and terrestrial species prevention measures.

Culture and Tradition, by which we mean the lifestyle, practices and beliefs of the Chamorro and Carolinian peoples that have been handed down from generation to generation.

The Friends believe, first of all, that the Chamorro and Carolinian cultures and tradition must be treated with respect, and taken into full account in decisions that are made about the management and use of the monument. We should take into consideration the precepts of our indigenous culture and tradition when deciding issues like, for example, sustenance fishing, canoe travel and other similar matters.

Conservation, by which we mean the protection and preservation of the marine ecosystems and their interrelationship with land ecosystems; and their continued presence and existence in the future.

The proposed monument contains some of the world’s most unique habitats and unusual features, such as chemosynthetic and photosynthetic organisms living side-by-side, mud volcanoes, vent communities and other natural wonders. One of these is volcanic coral reefs, which occur nowhere else in Micronesia. The coral reefs that exist there are flourishing and vibrant, and need protection to help guard our planet from the threat of global warming and potentially act as a source of corals for other marine areas.

The Friends acknowledge that people of the CNMI and the world have historically relied on the oceans for food and other resources. We believe that the need for continued availability of our precious, limited marine resources does not conflict with conservation. We believe that creating the monument will help increase the oceans’ abundance by contributing to the survival and recovery of depleted marine resources and biodiversity.

Education, by which we mean both formal and informal education, for students as well as the public, for residents as well as the rest of the world, in all relevant media formats, produced both commercially and non-commercially.

The Friends believe that funding should be made available to enable oceanography to be taught in schools, at the college and through lectures and programs for the public, and to ensure that pertinent education materials will be readily available, that careers in the marine and geological science will be encouraged, that opportunities for field trips for students, teachers, the general public and tourist should be made available.

We envision a Visitors’ Center, including a centrally-located facility funded under the auspices of the NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries Program that would be open to everyone that would contain not only displays of various sorts, but would also offer related items for sale.

The Friends believe that the Visitors’ Center would bring benefits not only to the local economy by attracting tourist, but to the people of the CNMI as it would showcase information about marine geology in general, about the monument in particular, about the CNMI, and about its indigenous history and culture to all who visit it; it would present, in a variety of formats, the results of marine research done in the area and relevant research done elsewhere; it would regularly present programs open to the public on matters related to marine life in general as well as marine life specific to the area, thus allowing the people of the CNMI, tourists, and other visitors to benefit from the establishment of the monument.

It is our dream that this monument will inspire and contribute to the first indigenous students receiving their Ph.D. in marine biology, deep-sea geology, or other related sciences.

Research, by which we mean the process of studying marine life, geology and other sciences, and of data generation, as well as the products of such activity generated by scientists, teachers, or students.

The Friends believe the researchers and scientists who base their work on the marine monument and its environs should be asked to obtain permission prior to undertaking research in the area and should share the information they garner with the local community through presentations at the Visitors’ Center or in other forms and forums. They should make accommodations to take along local students and teachers on research trips, so that local students are encouraged to become scientist and researchers.

Economic Development, by which we mean assistance in improving the economy toward enabling the CNMI to become self-sufficient. The CNMI, being a small island with limited assets, will always be dependent to some extent on outside forces and influences, but certainly more is needed and can be done to increase independence.

There are many great economic benefits that we anticipate from the monument. We envision a surge in the media attention from your designation of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, which will attract more visitors to the CNMI. The CNMI relies heavily on tourism as its number one industry, and help to this sector of economy—whether from traditional or high-end visitors—will have a significant beneficial impact. The monument will likely attract scientists and other researchers, who will contribute financially while visiting or living here. The operation of the Visitors’ Center and administration of the monument will create jobs, both directly and indirectly.

The contribution that a monument would make to the CNMI economy is in stark contrast to the present situation, where the only economic benefit that presently occurs from this significant resource is limited to illegal foreign fishing activities, such as shark finning. Obviously, this current economic activity has little benefit to the CNMI.

The Friends believe that the anticipated economic activities from the monument are much more suited to the CNMI’s image in the world and more productive of tangible benefits. The increased flow of traffic from Saipan, Tinian, and Rota to the monument would also benefit the people of the CNMI in that it would make more feasible resettlement of the Northern Islands and provide transportation and communication with the “lower” Northern Islands.

We envision the northern island of Pagan being used as a staging area for research, fuel storage facility, and other needs. Of particular benefit would be the expansion of the landing strip for easier and faster access. The provision of the floating dock could preserve its unique black and beach.

Greater protection of our monument resources from illegal fishing, exploitation, or harvesting will also help our fishermen who follow the law to stay competitive.

In conclusion, the Friends of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument hope that you make the designation of this monument soon and expressly give it the highest possible protections available by law.

Ignacio V. Cabrera
Chair, Friends of the Monument

Agnes McPhetres
Vice Chair, Friends of the Monument

Andrew Salas
Vice Chair, Friends of the Monument

Belinda Norita
MarjaLee Taitano
Ken Kramer
Chailang Palacios
Karl T. Reyes
Jane Mack
Cinta M. Kaipat
Emelain D. Fejeran
Wes Bogdan
Lynn Knight
David M. Sablan
Ruth L. Tighe

Vote YES to wearing orange

The Saipan Tribune currently has an online poll asking the question, "Do you plan to wear an orange shirt anytime this week?"

Please visit the Saipan Tribune website and vote YES. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the poll. The current tally is 31 YES and 28 NO.

******
It would have been nice if the Saipan Tribune explained why people are wearing orange this week.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Connaughton gets another mwaar

Cinta gave James Conaughton another "mwaar" at the Friends of the Monument meeting yesterday.

I noticed that it was orange.

Connaughton asked if he was allowed to put a cloth over his head when he wore it back in Washington, DC. Cinta said it would be alright to wear it on top of a baseball cap.

Photos of Friends

There were over 300 people in support of the monument at the White House Public Workshop. Cinta Kaipat was there along with many of her family members.

Former RC&D Coordinator Ken Kramer (he quit after his boss told him he couldn't work on the monument issue anymore) and Representative Andrew Salas support the monument.

We all know that Jane Mack is a big supporter, but did you know that Senator Tom "Kiyu" Villagomez likes the monument idea? At least I think he does, I sent him a bunch of information and he said it looked good.

The award winning environmental non-profit group Friends of the Mariana Islands was there with many members. They all support the monument and have written letters in support to President Bush.

The Cabrera family supports the monument. Their members composed an entire focus group.

Greg Cruz, the President of Taotao Tano, was there with his wife and daughter. Greg supports the monument.

Students from Hopwood Junior High School were there. They all support the monument and had an entire focus group to themselves. I noticed that Ranger Nancy was their moderator. Go Ranger Nancy!

Members of the local dive club, Marianas Dive, were there to show support. I don't think the club has taken an official position...yet...but these members were all in support of the monument.

******
I'll get around to posting my thoughts on the meeting. Today was a busy day. Maybe I'll get to it tonight.

Monday, October 20, 2008

First Pictures and Reactions

Group Hug: Cinta Kaipat, Big Herms Villagomez, Angelo Villagomez, John Joyner, Laurie Peterka, and Sylvan Igisomar after the White House Workshop. More photos in the next post.
Aya Matsomoto from Pacific Eagle was the first person to post pictures from the White House Public Workshop last night. I'm still at home so it will be a few hours before I get my photos up.

Lil Hammerhead had posts on the 5502 signatures gathered from the Friends of the Monument and on the meeting with the Legislature yesterday afternoon.

Jane Mack also wrote about her experiences at the public meeting on her blog.

360 on 10/20

More to come tomorrow with all types of pictures and such.

About 360 people showed up for the White House public workshop on the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. About 2/3 to 3/4 of the people were wearing orange t-shirts. Those 300 t-shirts were quite a sight.

Thank you to everyone who came out in support tonight.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Chillin' at the Legislature

The meeting of James Connaughton and the other federal officials with the Commowealth House and Senate is well into its second hour. The meeting started at 11 AM and the federal officials don't have another meeting until 2 PM. I think they're going to be here right up until that next meeting.

Connaughton started the meeting off by explaining the reason for his visit, then he talked a bit about the geology and biology of the area, and then opened up the floor for questions and comments.

I think I'd get in trouble if I repeated some of the things that were said by the elected officials.

I'll just leave it at that.

Edit:

At 12:15 the federal group was going to leave, but Senate President Pete P. Reyes promised Mr. Connaughton that he'd get him a sandwich if he'd stay longer.

It is now 12:35.

No sandwich yet.

Another Edit:

It is now 12:52.

No sandwich.

Edit:

It is now 1:27.

Taya sandwich. I'm starving.

Edit:

1:45 PM. Still no sandwich. I feel for those federal guys.

sea of orangeI just got comments from Mike Tripp and Jane Mack asking for more details. Yes, we had a room full of orange. Yes, John Gourley was there. Yes, John Joyner was there...and got scolded like a school child by one of the federal representatives for not informing them of a schedule change.

The comments from the Legislature were all over the map. They still do not understand that we are talking about the waters, not the islands. Connaughton said at least 15 times that navigation would not be restricted, but the issue of the islands kept coming up time and time again.

Joe Guerrero expressed his dislike for the Antiquities Act. Ray Tebuteb had concerns with the timeline. David Apatang accused every single person supporting the monument of being bought off and Joe Camacho called Pew Environment Group an oil company disguised as a conservation group. Justo Quitugua thinks that the signers of the petition were nine year olds and Pete P Reyes thinks that the people who signed the petition have no long term interest in the Commonwealth.

So the Mayor of Saipan has no interest in the long term interest of the Commonwealth?

Students write to Bush

hopwood students at american memorial parkIn the last few weeks I have led a discussion with over 1000 high school and junior high school students on the islands of Saipan and Tinian. The discussion is on the pros and cons of the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. I try to get the kids to identify the good and the bad and then I urge them to talk to their friends, family and teachers before forming their own opinion. At every presentation I told the kids that their homework was to write a letter to President Bush commenting on the proposed monument.

Over 500 of them turned in letters. They have all been turned over to the staff at American Memorial Park as official comment on the proposed monument.

on top of the world in saipanKimberley Vaillancourt, a science teacher at Hopwood Junior High School, took some of her students to American Memorial Park last Friday afternoon to turn over their letters.

They watched Ranger Nancy individually stamp in each letter as an official comment submitted to the federal government. It was a neat little lesson in civics for the kids.

W.O.W. - Wear Orange Week

sexy girl wearing orangeThis is it, folks, time to don those orange t-shirts and hit the streets. Please wear orange all week, especially today.

marine monument signaturesIf you've read a hard copy of either the local newspaper, then you've seen the Friends of the Monument signature advertisement with over 2500 names of people who signed their petition. At two O'clock today the Friends will announce just how many signatures they've collected. Here is a picture I took of the pile of papers back on October 12...only thing is they've collected 1200 signatures since this photo was taken. The current pile is even bigger than this.

Welcome to Saipan

Scores of supporters of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument descended upon the Hyatt Regency to welcome James Connaughton, Lyle Laverty and Sean Morton to Saipan. Led by Ike Cabrera, Cinta Kaipat, Ed Salas, Dave Sablan, Chailang Palacios, Agnes McPhetres, and many others, over 65 supporters stood on the curb to welcome the federal officials to our island home.

As the Department of Public Safety neared the group of orange clad supporters, it slowed to a stop and James Connaughton stepped out and shook hands with every single person out there to greet him.

When I shook his hand he said, "Hello, I'm Jim Connaughton and I work with President Bush."

I simply replied, "Welcome to Saipan."

Friends of the MonumentIt took a lot of hard work from a lot of hard working individuals to get to where we are today. Thank you, everybody.

...and don't forget to wear orange all week!

...especially today!