Sunday, January 18, 2009

Anti-monument leaders appointed to monument council

Governor Fitial has recommended that Benigno Sablan, Jack Villagomez and Sylvan Igisomar be named to the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument Advisory Council. I've got some thoughts on that.

First of all, Governor Fitial does not get to choose who goes on this council. He gets to make "recommendations."  There is a very strong likelihood that the Secretaries of Interior and Commerce, the two individuals charged with creating the council, will accept the governor's recommendations, but until they do so these three individuals are just that, recommendations. The Marianas Variety article is headlined, "Fitial names monument advisory panel members." That is imprecise reporting, but again, there is a very strong likelihood that these guys will ultimately be nominated.


The appointment of Villagomez and Sablan are questionable. The proclamation reads, "The Advisory Council shall consist of three officials of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and one representative each from the Department of Defense and the United States Coast Guard." Sablan and Villagomez are not officials of our government. They are stand up citizens, but not government officials. Sablan is retired and Villagomez works for a congressman.

Finally, I don't imagine Sablan and Villagomez will want this appointment when they find out that the proclamation reads, "Each participating agency shall be responsible for the expenses of its representative." This is no WESPAC Council. There will be no free vacations every three months, no free hotel rooms, and no steak dinners. This will have to come out of their respective agency's budget. Jack works for Representative Ralph Torres. That means the participating agency of Rep. Ralph Torres will be responsible for his travel. As far as I know Mr. Sablan is retired. Sounds like he'll have to pay his own way.

My read on the intent behind the proclamation is that the advisory council was meant to be made up of people like the Secretary of Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Mayor of the Northern Islands, and the Chair of either the House or Senate Committee on Natural Resources (or whatever they call it). Sylvan, although he is anti-monument, as Director of Division of Fish & Wildlife is a logical choice, but wouldn't have been my first choice. No disrespect to Sylvan, but I would like the people on this council to have a little more grey hair and a lot more experience (Jack and Mr. Sablan have enough experience, they just aren't government officials).

Other than the top three I recommended above, other logical choices for the advisory council could be Fran Castro, the point of contact for the Coral Reef Taskforce and the non-point source manager at Division of Environmental Quality, Dr. Peter Houk or Dr John Starmer, both marine biologists (read: not political appointments), the director of Historic Preservation Office (or one of the archaeologists), or the director of Carolinian Affairs.


Saipan is for Lovers said...

You should be one of the three I say.

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

I guess I'll have to apply for the superintendent job.

bigsoxfan said...

Anyone we can write to with disdain for the choices mentioned by the ... looking for the correct word.. (worthless lame duck?) no, not precise enough, they would be confused. A..hole doesn;t work, too rude. anyway, give it your best.

Saipan Writer said...

This is a good post, Angelo. Respectful, yet critical (in a good sense).

I'd just change one thing. You wrote: "That is imprecise reporting, but again, there is a very strong likelihood that these guys will ultimately be nominated." I'd delete "nominated" and choose "appointed."


Jack Villagomez said...


It is important to get your facts straight. I am not working for Congressman Ralph Torres.

Joaquin P. Villagomez (Jack)