I would like to apologize to Governor Fitial and Delegate Sablan. I am the source of a great misunderstanding between our highest-ranking federal official and our highest-ranking local official and I ask both men to please accept my sincere apology.
In a recent speech at the Saipan Rotary Club, Delegate Sablan accused Governor Fitial of skipping his 2009 swearing-in ceremony – the swearing-in of the first delegate in CNMI history – because the governor had, and I quote, “a meeting to go to.”
I take full responsibility for Governor Fitial missing Delegate Kilili’s swearing-in and I hope that both leaders can forgive me. It was my fault that the governor was not there for Kilili’s historic day and I would like to clear the record.
You see, for the better part of 2008, I, along with many others, tried to convince President George W. Bush to use his presidential authority to invoke the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate a Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. The Saipan Chamber of Commerce, the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands, divers, environmentalists, fishermen, indigenous leaders, a majority of businesses on island, and over 6000 local residents urged the governor and other local leaders to support the monument, which after some initial hesitation, history will show, they ultimately did.
President George W. Bush very inconveniently chose to designate the monument on the exact same day and at the exact same time that Delegate Kilili was being sworn into Congress. Governor Fitial was forced to miss Kilili’s swearing in ceremony because he was with Ike Cabrera, Agnes McPhetres, and me at the White House watching President Bush protect more of the Earth’s surface than any other man who had ever lived.
The reason Governor Fitial missed Kilili’s swearing-in is because he was with the Friends of the Mariana Trench Monument and President Bush. That is the meeting he “had to go to.”
If someone is to blame for Governor Fitial missing Delegate Kilili’s ceremony, it is me. I take full responsibility and apologize to both the governor and the delegate.