Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Citizen participation needed

After years of poor planning and mismanagement, this community is facing some drastic decisions that will have enormous implications for many CNMI citizens. The more the community participates in these decisions, the wiser I believe these decisions will be. The less the community participates in these decisions, the more likely the usual factors of nepotism, re-election interests or just "bending over" for whatever the garment factories want will influence these decisions. I hope it is not the latter.

There are several community groups sprouting up, growing or reforming that will assist in this democratic process. These five groups and entities are all operating with different focuses and in different ways, but all of them are doing work that will benefit the CNMI and lead to more citizen participation and better decisions. I do not speak for any of them, but have participated in each in some small way, very small actually, but I would like to support them all.

After Tina Sablan’s manifesto was published, she followed through and has had open forums at various locations to solicit and organize ordinary citizen input into fixing the many problems with our government. This group is currently putting together voter’s guides for November that hopefully will lead to educated voters making decisions on issues, not on lawn signs and waving. This group is actively soliciting signatures to establish a run off election so the next governor will be elected by a clear majority and will have a clear mandate. Beyond that, this group is trying to make sure the Open Government Act applies to the legislature. Right now, the legislature is exempted. I can't imagine that anyone could read the minutes of the past meetings, on the website, and not come away convinced that ninety percent of the positions and suggestions by the public are infinitely better than anything that ever came out of Capitol Hill. There is a lot more information available at

Next, there is a rise in the number of bloggers here in the CNMI. There are at least twenty different people writing about the CNMI from many different perspectives such as school principal, environmentalist, legislator, scuba instructor, lawyer, teacher and even student. There are many links to these blogs at or my own blog at

Third, Beautify CNMI continues to grow and has received many awards for their efforts to clean up the island. The next cleanup will be on Saturday May 26th at 8:00 am at the Okinawa War Memorial. People can find much more about this group at

Beautify CNMI is also working with PAWS, the Pet Assistance and Welfare Service. Improving the plight of suffering animals isn’t just a moral issue, it is an issue of health, safety and economics. My friend Katie Busenkell recently wrote an extremely sensible, well reasoned opinion article on why solving the issues of our animals is in our economic and health interests, as the current state of the dog population lowers property values and is a turn off to tourists. More can be read here at

Finally, after a long period of indifference and infighting, the Association of Commonwealth Teachers has a set of new officers paving the way for a greater voice in education for actual teachers. ACT is meeting on Thursdays at San Vicente Elementary School at 6:00 pm and a new website is currently under construction. Inquiries can be made at

All of these entities need and deserve more community involvement. The mechanisms are in place for more citizen involvement and more democracy. The people of this commonwealth need to get together to turn around and fix the many problems we face. Don't leave it just to our elected officials. They've had their turn and the reverse Midas Touch is evident.


The Saipan Blogger said...

Reverse Midas. Nice!

Thanks for indirect shout out.

Anonymous said...

Whatever, Mr. Turbitt.

Gus M. Kaipat said...

Jeff, you've been tagged. Check out my blog.

CNMI Blogger said...

Reverse Midas. A friend and I dubbed the opposite "the Minus Touch!"

Thanks for the endorsements!

Mike said...

"I took a left brain right brain test, and in things like writing and verbal ability, I was ridiculously strong in."

Of all the sentences to end with a (redundant)preposition...

Just sayin'

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

If you read all that, and all you came away with was annoyance with two letters, I don't know why you bother reading. "That is a rule up with which I shall not put." - Winston Churchill.

"Some of these rules are rules derived from Latin grammar that gramarians of yesteryear tried to force on English. One such rule is that you should never end a sentence with a preposition. Simon points out that once when told off for bracking this rule, Winston Churchill reputedly answered "Madame, that is a rule up with which I shall not put."