Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cinta Kaipat's loss is CNMI's loss, Marianas Variety 12

By Jeffrey C. Turbitt

A few years back when the idea for the austerity holiday came about, I was more aghast than usual by the latest government scheme. I did not know many of our elected leaders personally at that time, but I got the sense though her media statements that there was something different about then newly elected Congresswoman Cinta Kaipat, so I sent her an impassioned email about my concerns on the proposal. We ultimately did not agree, as she voted for the bill, but a friendship was forged. During her two year term, I sent her at least three or four more of those emails. Sometimes she agreed with me and brought my viewpoint out into the debate, sometimes she didn't, but she always tried to at least consider my and other people’s viewpoints. She just plain stood out to me as being more honest, more forthright and just plain caring more about doing the right thing than most of our elected leaders.

A few weeks back I was talking with some people who follow local politics closely, and they were skeptical of her chances for re-election. They turned out to be right. She didn’t campaign as well as she could have, and apparently she has been a thorn in the side of enough people eager to mine pozzolan on Pagan that it hurt her in this last election. But given the choice between backing a well financed, corporate interest, and the interest of the voiceless little guys from a poor, remote island, she chose the more difficult, less career enriching path of the little guy. That's what makes her different to me.

She also has taken a bit of a hit with the recently enacted labor bill that has become law and has her name on it. Business leaders have vehemently opposed it. Contract workers are opposed to it, and everyone else seems indifferent to it at best. One thing I do know about it is that Kaipat worked in the Department of Labor long enough to have some insight into those issues. The media reports I've read on the bill make me skeptical on it as well. My point is not to say that Kaipat was right about everything, or that everyone should agree with everything she did, but that she is great for this community, and it is sad and unfortunate that she is not returning to office.

With negative headlines and an absolutely depressed mindset island wide, she helped put this island on the right path by being one of the founders of Beautify CNMI, a group that has galvanized the community by cleaning up beaches, raising environmental awareness, our real bread and butter, and getting people to learn to take charge of our island without government assistance, which is a mindset that needed to be established. Those efforts were an influence on the creation of the We Love Saipan network, a CNMI website that offers a much more balanced view of these islands than was previously available online. Said website creator Walt F.J. Goodridge, “The We Love Saipan idea was firmly in the spirit and mood of activism that was kicked off by Beautify CNMI.”

Some of that influence could also be seen this weekend when the Marianas Dive group, a private organization trying to promote and improve the CNMI's underwater world as a tourist draw, had at least thirty members cleaning up Sugar Dock above and below water. Kaipat didn't do all these things of course, but she helped set the mood and change the mindset.

Those efforts weren't lost on PAWS President Katie Busenkell, who expressed heartfelt appreciation for Kaipat's role in animal welfare. "PAWS would like to thank her for lending a sympathetic ear and taking action to improve the quality of life for humans and animals alike. More specifically, we thank her for educating herself about animal-related problems and solutions, introducing the PAWS anti-cruelty bill and lobbying for its passage, for talking with us openly and honestly about building a shelter and available funding, and for helping us find a way to help others be more responsible pet owners. Perhaps most importantly, we thank her for acting in the best interest of the people of Saipan . She is a pillar in this community."

MINA Executive Director Angelo Villagomez was there with Kaipat from the beginning as one of the key figures in Beautify CNMI, and he had this reaction: "Cinta Kaipat IS Beautify CNMI. It was her vision, her idea, her name, and she's the one who recruited the first active members (everybody in the CNMI is a member, even if they don't know it yet). She's involved in every aspect of Beautify CNMI, from planning, to execution, and everywhere in between. She goes out every weekend and she participates. She picks up trash and she digs holes for trees. She's been a tremendous asset to the CNMI over the last two years. We've earned national recognition with the EPA and USDA under her leadership. I'm disappointed that she didn't win, but I'm sure it is just a bump in the road for her. She's still Cinta Kaipat. She was very successful when she was with labor, she was very successful in the legislature, and I'm sure she'll be successful with her next endeavor whatever it is. She'll continue to fight for the little guy, she'll continue to work with Beautify CNMI, and she'll continue to give back to the community in other ways."

Jeffrey C. Turbitt is the language arts department chairman at Saipan Southern High School, as well as an avid scuba diver and traveler. He offers more thoughts in his blog “Hypercritical Thoughts” at: www.turbittj.blogspot.com/ He welcomes feedback, tips and story ideas at turbittj@yahoo.com. His column appears regularly on Wednesdays.


SteeleOnSaipan said...

Nice write-up Jeff. I've been trying to ask folks who did not vote for Cinta, Waki or even Tina, why? Funny thing is, I haven't found anyone yet who's admitted to not voting for any of the three.
Have a good Xgiving. RS

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

I didn't vote for the three...they are not in my district.

Rick Jones said...

As I've said before, many local businessman were pissed off about the labor bill which Cinta worked on, so she lost a lot of votes there. I also heard complaints about the pozzolan thing.

Slightly shocking to me was a comment made by a prominent Chamorro businessman, who said the fact that she is Carolinian also hurt her. For the record, he voted for her.

Anonymous said...

Cinta for Mayor 2009!

Saipan Writer said...

I think Jacinta and Waki both lost because they are seen as close to the governor, his legislative allies. And the vote against these two was more a vote against the governor than them personally.


BTW, I'm not in 'Cinta's district, either.