Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I'm back, the Chamber and the real Holani Smith

I'm back. My Monday vanished into a time warp. I left Sunday at noon, and all of a sudden it is Tuesday morning. This flight went smoother than last year's flight, and it is good, albeit humid, to be back home. Gas prices are up yet again, and the hideous political signs are out en masse. Lots of fired up rhetoric in the CNMI. I've never seen things this animated. There were lots of ridiculous arguments thrown about in Washington, DC. I loved this line from our governor regarding Jack Abramoff: “He did what he was paid to do — which was to prevent a federal takeover of immigration in the CNMI." At least Fitial was honest. The government hired Abramoff to rig the game with government money and the mission was accomplished.

I also love how the Chamber is on both sides of this immigration imbroglio. First, the workers are going to leave and deprive businesses of their God given right to cheap labor, but not if they stay and bring their IR's, which harms the CNMI.

“They could simply move to the continental United States in search of
higher-paying job opportunities, thereby depriving the vast majority of [CNMI]
employers of the qualified and experienced labor pool that they have, for years,
paid and treated fairly in accordance with CNMI law under the provisions of the
Covenant,” the Chamber official said.

Why would they leave if you paid and treated them fairly? Is it perhaps because you are lying? And what makes you think you own these people, that you're entitled to their labor? Pay them a globally competitive rate and they'd stay. What audacity is in that sentence.

"Besides, nonresident workers are treated fairly in general in the Commonwealth and that their work here is only temporary."

If it's temporary, then why are you concerned they'll leave. This should be expected. Beyond that, maybe the workers want something more than to be your "temporary" solution.

He said allowing almost 8,000 individuals “to remain-and to immigrate immediate
relatives to join them, for the long-term-are profoundly negative for the

Do you want them to stay or go? You're all over the map. First you're worried they'll leave, now that they'll stay and bring workers you so desperately need it's "profoundly negative."

“These tens of thousands of lawful non immigrants would be given the same
preference for local jobs that this Senate has repeatedly claimed to be
attempting to protect for United States citizens. These lawful non immigrants and
their families would prove an immense burden on the local infrastructure in a
way, and to a degree, that was never contemplated by-nor allowed-under the
Commonwealth's existing guest worker program,” he said.

First off, we all know with the "who you know" policies of this island, no Filipino is getting the do nothing government job, they'll get the jobs that require actual work. Secondly, first you say they'll leave, and now you are worried they'll stay. Your real worry is that they, like the locals, won't be interested in working for a mere $3.55 with a blue passport.

"The Chamber wants U.S. Congress to do a comprehensive impact study before it
legislates federal control over the islands."

In English, put this off a couple years until we come up with some other excuse. By the way, not everyone in the Chamber feels that way. Read what Ron Hodges wrote. According to him, the Chamber never even voted on this issue, and he's not for oppression of contract workers. More from Juan Guerrero:

"These workers have, for the most part, elected to remain in the Commonwealth
and work for wages, and under conditions superior to other alternatives they

And here you are actively trying to limit their options to work elsewhere for better wages. If you paid one of those starving kids you see on tv from some third world slum 50 cents an hour, they'd take it, it would be their choice and it would be even better than their other options, but it would still be exploitation. So everyone please stop with the "they want to stay here, it's their choice" for people who come from a seriously messed up, corrupt country and have no real choice by virtue of where they were born. Yes, $3.05 is better than some of these other places, but it still sucks. Stop rationalizing that point. Beyond that, the system is so bad that the locals not in the bureaucracy are left without an option of a living wage. Half the people here live in poverty, but the government wants cheap labor for businesses to pay taxes to create make work, inefficient government jobs for the politically connected. It is a model that is immoral, unsustainable and inefficient.
This isn't a question debated intently as who was Deep Throat and all, but I've been told by a very good source that the fictitious Holani Smith is actually someone named Lou Piliwale, a Hawaiian and longtime CNMI resident. If someone named Lou Piliwale gets a contract for $4,000 per month to "consult" like Jesus Camacho, you'll know why. Lou Piliwale, aka, Holani Smith, writes letter after letter suggesting Governor Fitial practically walks on water. Why the Tribune lets this happen is a good question. Angelo wrote a good post on these letters a few weeks ago.


Envelop Ideas said...

WB Jeff!. I have respect to these people really but reading Ron Hodges letter, perhaps we should turn the table and ask the chamber's officers and BOD on how they "unanimously" voted on the issue. Accordng to Saipan Chamber of Commerce website, these are:-

Juan T. Guerrero, President
Business Represented: Herman’s Modern Bakery, Western Union, Amex, MITA Travel

Alex Sablan, VP
Business Represented: Marketing Manager for Saipan Shipping Company

Michael S. Johnson, Treasurer
Business Represented: Managing Partner, Deloitte & Touche

Jay B. Jones, Secretary
Business Represented: General Manager for Triple J Saipan (auto dealer for Kia, Mitsubishi, Hyundai)

Jim Arenovski, Director
Business Represented: President of Delta Mgt. Corp. & Prime Group Inc. (operates Susupe, Middle Road and Tanapag Shell Gasoline Stations)

Katryn Barry, Director
Business Represented: Sales & Marketing Director, Pacific Telecoms Inc.

Mr. Harry Blalock, Director
Business Represented: General Manager, KZMI/KCNM

Becky Castro, Director
Business Represented: Triple J Wholesale, distributor for Dreyer’s Ice Cream, Oscar Mayer, Pauls Milk, Kraft, Hereford

Steve Jang, Director
Business Represented: Cartridge World Saipan

David M. Sablan Sr., Director
Business Represented: Century Insurance Company, Ltd., property and casualty insurer

With over 160 business members (per website) I don't want to think that the chamber is being dictated only by the powerful few.

glend558 said...

Hello Jeff: Check my post #414 I'm as confused as you are with these two sided comments.
Question about the Tribune?
owned by Willie Tan.

Pilgrim said...

Why not say it like it is. From what I can read between the lines, if the Chamber put out a point paper on their position, it would read something like this:

We, the Chamber of SOME Commerce, do hereby declare that we want to keep the status quo as long as possible, but if we cannot, then we want to keep potential non-indigineous voters from our shores. We also do not want wives, husbands and children of these foreighers to come to our island, polluting our schools and other infrastructure. If the foreign workers cannot remain here and work as they have in the past, then we would be better off without them at all instead of becoming a pathway for migration to the USA.

bradinthesand said...

...sounds about right