Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Casino Act Stinks and here are the candidates I like

I've watched this rigorous debate on the casino with some fascination. The passion springing out of this is something I've not seen much of in Saipan. No one seems to give a damn in an effective way that our school facilities are dilapidated with students stuffed in like sardines, our hospital short staffed and without basic supplies, CUC a mismanaged disgrace, hardened criminals get meager sentences usually suspended, the lagoon is polluted, we have a bloated, expensive, horrible government and have for years. I can go on all day, but don't want to depress myself further.

With all those issues, I find it peculiar that every day in the papers is another back and forth on the casino. This place essentially exists for the connected few to squeeze every last drop of money they can out of the public tit. This is an art George Bush and the Republicans have mastered on a much higher scale than could be previously imagined over the last several years. I'm surprised, and I suppose encouraged, that people still care about that type of thing. I'm astonished at the resistance to this casino given the seeming indifference to the more pressing problems mentioned above. I thought this casino act would pass in a landslide. For one of the few times in my life, I think I wasn't cynical enough because this act was crafted so poorly that people as economically desperate as they are here can't even vote for it. The greed and arrogance in how this was written up surprises even me. The votes aren't cast, but it sure doesn't look like it will pass now.

I strongly think there should be a casino in Saipan, and I said so here. I still hold to all of those reasons without any retreat. I find the "keep Saipan family friendly" signs laughable. This place is a gambling den with the worst type of seedy poker rooms. The early arguments about crime, prostitution and other things I still find absurd and not convincing. Ricky Delgado has the same take on this as I do.

Since those days, a lot of people have shed a lot of light on this particular act. One of them is a bonafide a**hole in that Plato person, who now says he is someone named Greg Marshall and is trying to start a boycott of Bruce Bateman's bar because Bruce argued for the casino. Regardless, this cartoon character's arguments tend to be good on this issue. I'm not going to go into all the reasons why this initiative is bad because I think others such as Lil Hammerhead hit it spot on here. Jane Mack, also not my favorite person in the world, gave a lot of good reasons here. Dr. David Khorram, someone I like and have great respect for, wrote a great piece on the reasons this act is bad here. The supporters haven't rebutted the criticisms because there is no rebuttal for some of the public theft and intrusion written into this act.

So, to reiterate, I disagree with people against a casino, but this particular casino is indeed a poorly crafted proposal. Check the above links for the specifics on why.
Zaldy Dandan has a great op-ed on why people should vote for Tina Sablan. I mentioned on her forum that I think her "animals" letter probably hurts her chances. She's being exceedingly open and honest with her views. She stands for something, which is more than you can say for 99 percent of the candidates. Her candidacy is pretty much a referendum on whether people want change here, or do they want to stay on the disastrous path they're on. My column next week is a Q and A with her on various issues.

There are four candidates in this election I enthusiastically, unabashedly support. Tina, Galvin Guerrero for Board of Education, Cinta Kaipat and Clyde Norita for Senate. Galvin is also exceedingly bright and progressive, and he knows education, as he is the Mt. Carmel principal. Cinta is also exceedingly bright and should be re-elected for her work with PAWS and Beautify CNMI alone. She is also smart, open minded, cares, is a born leader and listens. I'm not crazy about her labor bill, but I don't think that will matter in the end. Clyde isn't as formally educated as the other three, but he is also very bright. His part time legislature idea makes obvious sense. Someone needs to be arguing to reduce the size of this government and amazingly only Clyde is doing so. I listened to him at the education forum and there wasn't anything he said that didn't make sense. He also seems to have legitimately broken from the current administration, so he won't rubber stamp lousy ideas like the new austerity holiday.

From what I saw moderating the education forums, Diego Benavente is the most polished politician. You can tell he has been in the room for important meetings. He has baggage from the Babauta Administration that might be a problem. Rep. Joseph Deleon Guerrero made a positive impression in that he is proposing a rebate reduction, and he suggested it be used for the schools. I've known Roman Benavente for a while on the Board of Education, and I like him also. I'd love to see Fred Deleon Guerrero win because it would be nice to have an educator and someone who understands education on the hill. I met with Absalom Waki with a bunch of folks at Bruce Bateman's bar and he seems like a straight up, fiscally sane man.

Ray Dela Cruz lost my vote by supporting the new austerity holiday proposal. He wants to violate teachers' contracts by not paying them on holidays even though they have 190 day contracts when those holidays don't apply. I can't get over how he feels a threat, endorsed by the governor's press secretary, about not paying teachers for work already done isn't a big deal and seemingly not a public issue. There is a lot I like about Greg Cruz, but that Dekada go home protest was a colossal mistake that is hard to overlook. It goes without saying that the most divisive candidate is Danny Aquino, who writes openly racist letters to the papers with great frequency. Aquino winning would be an embarrassment.


lil_hammerhead said...

As you know, I feel quite similarly. Good post.

saipanboonieman said...

i certainly dont agree with boycotting bruce's bar. he's at least engaged in trying to make things better here, which is a lot more than can be said of many "locals" on this island. and besides, his is one of very few businesses on island that is actually listening to us non-smokers and trying to accomodate us!

anyway, im glad that there are those concerned enough about the fact that this act only serves to propogate the racism on this island to stand up against this. its encouraging, to say the least.

lil_hammerhead said...

Bruce is a local. I'm not for any boycott. But having read everything I have so far regarding this, I see no racism involved in the suggestion.. at all.

Galvin Deleon Guerrero said...

On another note, I appreciate the endorsement and agree with Jeff's observations on Zaldy's column. I remember talking with her at length before she launched her manifesto. I admit I had my doubts. But, she's proven that Margaret Mead's words: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

It is totally true that how Tina does this election will be a referendum on whether or not people want change. It will also provide a barometer of how much the political landscape is changing--or not.

If she were in my precinct, I would definitely vote for her. Go Tina!

Then again, I should offer this disclaimer: I like Ron Paul.

SteeleOnSaipan said...

Hey Jeff, long time no chat. I'm curious as to why you don't have Waki on your list...anything negative that popped up or a no-show at the ed. forum? He and Frica are the only two who opposed the overrides of the governor's vetoes and the only two that I remember to be vocally against closed-door government sessions and docket engineering.

Also, with due respect for Cinta Kaipat, besides the volunteer work that you mentioned and the fact that she's a blogger, what has she done on the Hill to earn your endorsement? I don't remember her fighting against the closed-door legislative sessions and unless I'm mistaken, she participated in the vote-pandering overrides of the governor's vetoes for CUC rates, early retirement withdrawal, etc., leaving Waki hanging by himself in the House in vocal argument against the vetoes.

Unfortunately, I've missed all of the live forums and even most of the televised replays so I'm commenting from an uninformed perspective, so please enlighten me.

Jeff said...

I like Waki. He was sick and didn't make the education forum at SVES, so it was mostly those people who were there that made the biggest impression on me. I'd probably give Waki the thumbs up. I know he was legitimately ill.

I don't like Cinta because she's a blogger, though her openness with helps. I don't agree with her on everything, but I think her work with Beautify and PAWS, the latter which no politician gives a damn about, and the fact like you know Waki, I know her well, gives her the nod with me.

bradinthesand said...

Aquino is the WORST of all and Crisostimo is not far behind. I even wrote a song about it! I should have it on my blog within the week...