Thursday, November 19, 2009

Under the Pala Pala I

It has been nearly two weeks since I lost my bid to become the next mayor of Saipan. I came in ahead of 6 respected, well-known candidates, but unfortunately in order to win I needed to come in ahead of 8.

My congratulations go out to our next mayor, Donald Pangelinan Flores, and I hope you’ll join me in helping him to make Saipan a better place to live and visit.

I am forever grateful to the 1612 voters who entrusted me with their vote. We may not have won this round, but our team is now more experienced, better organized and larger than ever before.

I am going to continue that momentum with my work in the community. I still lead Beautify CNMI, I am still a board member of the Friends of the Marianas Trench Monument, and I am still a director of the Rotary Club. I am also still kind of chubby, which tells me I should probably renew my involvement with Soccer! To carry on with that momentum I am going to continue on with this email list, too. However, instead of Angelo for Mayor, I am going to call it “Under the Pala Pala.”

I will post “Under the Pala Pala” to the Saipan Blog and will email it out to the subscribers of my email list every Friday. Visit to subscribe.

Back to the Polls

The people of the Commonwealth head back to the polls on Monday. We will decide whether we want Benigno R. Fitial or Heinz S. Hofschneider to serve as our governor for the next five years.

On Wednesday, after much consideration and contemplation, I endorsed Heinz Hofschneider for Governor.

Living in a small community like ours and getting involved in politics is a lot like being a soccer referee. Half the people think you’re call was brilliant; the other half want you dead.

I did not take this endorsement lightly. Should Heinz win, some of my very good friends and family will lose their jobs. Should Ben Fitial win, I will be unemployable by the CNMI government for the next five years. I have friends and family on both sides of this election, and much like refereeing a close game in the men’s soccer league on Sundays, half the crowd is pleased with my decision, while the other side is helping me research flights back to Florida.

In the end it was my personal experiences with both men over the last four years that influenced my decision. Fitial smiles when he sees me and says, “How are you, my nephew?” Heinz generally just nods and says, “Hi, Angelo.”

If I could sum up Fitial’s philosophy of governing, it’s that he’s in charge, he knows what’s best, and he’s going to do what he thinks needs to be done, no matter what it is. And since he’s in charge, he doesn’t need to explain anything to you or ask your opinion on anything.

Fitial’s worldview comes from a conservative, traditional frame of thinking. George Lakoff explains in “Don’t Think of an Elephant,” how and why many conservative (mainland) Republicans think this way. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it. It is available on Amazon.

To put it bluntly, Fitial thinks like George W. Bush. That’s how we ended up with a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against the federal government, a bulldozed Marpi without public hearings or environmental permits, no net improvement at CUC, and a health care system on the verge of collapse.

In my experience Heinz is open to a more participatory form of government. The two times I asked to meet with him, he did. Like most men his age, he had a lot to say, but at least he met with me. And more importantly, he listened. And Heinz is an environmentalist. He created our local marine protected areas and supported the version of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument that would have brought international acclaim and a visitors center to our shores.

I encourage you to go out and vote for Heinz. For those of you not planning on voting, please reconsider. A missed vote is a vote for Fitial. There are many highly paid Covenant supporters desperate to keep their jobs. I guarantee you they will be voting.

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