On the drive over I notice the ghost town we are becoming -- a bevy of places where businesses used to exist. The survivors and the brave newbies sit in darkness this morning. The traffic lights are out creating a public safety hazard on the roadways. That fact led to a close call for me a few days ago. After I arrive, I chat with a friend on the cell phone -- a right wing businessman. Strangely, a proud liberal like me has mostly right wingers as friends. Some of my fellow lefties are a bit uptight and dull I've found through recent experience. He relates that the power at his place on the island's north side was out four times yesterday.
I order a coffee and pick up Monday morning's edition of this paper. The lead headline reads: "Governor exploring 'options' to fight federalization." I sit here and wish I still had hair so I would have something to pull out. I contemplate whether the leader of a place that can't keep the power on and may not be able to keep the schools open is seriously planning on taking on the federal government after the 91-4 stomping he just took in the United States Senate. If Governor Fitial can take on the U.S. Congress, maybe I can take my flabby tail and try for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In both cases I imagine the result will be painful, expensive and bloody. No one disputes that the Covenant clearly states that the federal government can take over immigration, and Congress strongly feels the time is now and the president agrees. This might be the first time in almost eight years President Numbnuts gets it right, though in his case it will be for the wrong reason. The right sees federalization as a national security issue.
A friend of mine, another longtime businessman on island, idles by my booth and we chat. He relates intelligence he's heard that the lobbyist we hired is so inept that he is one colorful set of clown shoes away from signing on with the circus. Speaking of clowns, I note today's letter from circus ring leader Greg Cruz, who is once again enraged that the foreigners he despises won't be entering the islands with such free abandon, and the local people he so adores will have more job options and better pay as the labor supply is set to be reduced. The fact that this bill includes the CNMI congressional delegate everyone has been screaming for apparently is of little comfort. Cruz insists the local government that I wouldn't trust to make ice correctly remain in control of steering these islands into that iceberg dead ahead. Further comment on this guy is pointless. I just wonder if when Cruz breaks Ambrose Bennett's all-time letters to the editor record, will the record book show an asterisk and will it be tainted like Barry Bonds' home run record. Cruz clearly has a team of ghost writers decoding his thoughts -- that is unless the ghost writers are the ones pulling his puppet strings. I wonder when KSPN is going to do an ESPN style "Behind the Lines" show on this issue. I say put in the asterisk. It's "common sense."
Like George Bush who attacked the wrong country, the one that had nothing to do with 9/11, and who is the driving force behind this $3 trillion dollar folly in Iraq that could have been used for good such as reducing the deficit, fixing the broken down education system or helping the 46 million Americans without health insurance, I wonder how much better things would be here if our governor put as much passion into fixing the power plant as he does in keeping the poorest people poor through this absurd federalization and minimum wage fight. Last week's news was that CUC could only come up with two weeks of gas to fuel one month of power, yet we hear barely a peep from leadership on this issue. That's kind of like heading to the emergency room with your arm falling off and the doctors decide it's time to change careers and become mimes. Where are even the empty promises about fixing the power plant? The resident representative recently said there was federal money that could be used to do this. Where is the follow up? Where is the sense of responsibility to be a leader? Where does the buck stop? The governor seems like a nice guy, but I expect he will be completely trounced if he follows through on his recent promise to run for re-election. He has certainly been more fiscally responsible than his predecessor, but he over promised in the campaign and has under delivered in office, and his lack of focus on the power plant is unforgivable. The only thing our leaders seem to manage around here is the blame.
Wouldn't it be nice if the governor could focus on something everyone wants: a stable power system! The fact that power is expensive is an unfortunate result of global factors and an economy of scale issue that is not in our favor -- plus we didn't maintain the plant so it's inefficient. But unreliable as well as expensive is just not acceptable, and even more irritating is that he doesn't seem concerned. Federalization and minimum wage seem to be all he cares about. Even if he were able to win a reprieve on federalization, the issue would still be out there and it's not going away. Business hates uncertainty and uncertainty is what could be accomplished at best.
Part of me wants to add a few more paragraphs blasting the leadership, but that absolves others culpable in our demise: the voters. An enormous number of voters fell for that election season gambit of lowering the power rates to take that issue off the table -- the one issue that had people really angry. Angry people tend to "throw the bums out." Now that the election season is over, the rate reduction no one planned to pay for is soon to be no more, and that rate reduction was a prime factor in why CUC can't buy enough gas this month. You, the voter, returned the same people to office, and some of the people you kicked out last time. Did you expect them to magically change their ways? People need to be more cynical.
The most cynical view says "we get the government we deserve," and sometimes that view is right. For the last several years most people sat silent or indifferent to the daily mismanagement. The attitude seemed to be as long as it didn't impact me personally, it doesn’t much matter. Now there is a huge problem with this power plant. It depresses people's spirits, it kills business, it wastes money and no one has a hint of a solution. The perks of office are so great that no one, other than Tina Sablan it seems, cares to take the risk to propose anything bold or take a principled stand.
Too much fixation on this government is bad for the spirit. I decide to leave and grab the lunch special at the new 360 Restaurant, go for a snorkel in the Grotto and bask in the sun at the Mandi Spa. There are some things about this island the politicians can't screw up, and those are the things that keep me and a lot of people here.