Saturday, September 10, 2011

Major Image Change for Kilili

I wouldn't want Greg Sablan's job. Since leaving Saipan I've enjoyed a level of anonymity, and I have to say, I love it. I'm not sure if I ever want to return to the fishbowl living that is fame on Saipan. The delegate, however, can't fart without half (all?) of Saipan having an opinion on it.

I guess you can add me to the list of people with opinions on the delegate, because his latest public statement is a real fart. From his weekly email update:
Worker regulations fail to help U.S. citizens who want jobs – While I recognize the important role that nonresident workers have – and will continue to have – in our economy, I was disappointed with the Commonwealth-only worker regulations released by the Department of Homeland Security this week. The regulations allow an additional 6,159 foreign workers in the Northern Marianas at a time when many local workers can’t find jobs. It’s true that in order to get permission to hire foreign workers employers must certify that no U.S. citizen is available to do the work. I hope that the Department of Homeland Security makes a serious effort to enforce that local-hire requirement. But even if it does, simple economics tells us that an abundance of labor drives down wages. And the lack of a dignified wage has always been part of the reason that local workers stay out of the job market, or prefer government jobs over the private sector. The new regulations were delayed by two years, when the CNMI Government challenged them in court; and the resulting uncertainty over what the regs would say has slowed our already struggling economy. Both businesses and workers now know what the rules are going forward. But the implementation of federal immigration will continue to be complex, and protecting the best interests of individuals, families, and our economy during this transition will be part of my job for a long time to come.
Is it just me, or did this come out of left field?

In the last election Sablan received fewer than 5000 votes (but still had more votes than the second and third-place finishers combined). It is generally accepted that his core support comes from his family (nearly everyone has cousins with the last name Camacho and/or Sablan, including me), the educated class (expats and local kids educated in the mainland), and immigrants and their children. I have to imagine that this statement about foreign workers turns off his second and third main constituencies.

This is a big change for Kilili. He normally doesn't take sides on the controversial issues, and chooses instead to focus on bringing home the bacon, so to speak. This puts a dent is his very-likable, every-man image, in my opinion.

And I'm guessing he did it in response to recent (incessent) criticism from the Fitial Administration.

I expect better from my delegate; he usually has no problem dealing with undeserved criticism.

Come on, just get that dirt off your shoulder, Kilili.

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