They’re not dumb, they’re just corrupt

Our falcon-loving columnist Mabel Doge Luhan gave me a tongue lashing after she read my editorial The wealthy will never understand today’s struggle. Don’t worry. Saipan’s illustrious advocate for the poor and disadvantaged has not lost her zeal for defecating on the powerful and corrupt. She’s upset with me because what I wrote in that editorial seems to show I’ve lost mine.

Six presidents ago, when Ms. Luhan moved her business to Saipan, and having spent these decades roaming the Marianas, she has come to despise people who look at our governments and our corporate citizens and employ the same colonial mindset that Manifest Destiny used to excuse colonization: That the locals are just too ill-informed, incompetent, and ignorant to govern themselves properly.

“The politicians are not ignorant,” she screamed at me from her Kagman V falcon den as her butler scurried. “They’re corrupt! They know exactly what they’re doing.”

In case you missed it, that editorial I wrote was about the Guam Economic Development Authority board of directors illegally voting to advocate against legislation that advances affordable housing and instead support the continuation of the use of public property as a golf course.

They understand perfectly what they were doing, Ms. Luhan said to me. It’s a corruption that has been happening since the existence of feudal systems centuries ago. Essentially, the rich always will protect the interest of the wealthy landowners.

While I was getting the point across that wealthy people in positions of authority will sometimes make bad policy decisions because they do not understand what the rest of us struggle through daily, Ms. Luhan said they’re not ignorant to the plight at all. They simply don’t care. And it’s because other interests are at play.

Corruption, not ignorance.

And that got me to think. Not just about the undercurrents and the backroom deals surrounding the opposition to affordable housing legislation, but other policy matters that happened and didn’t happen but should have.

In the CNMI, no public policy has devastated tourism, the economy and government finances more than the legalization of gaming and casino gaming, yet not a single bill has been introduced to repeal its authorization.

In Guam, I remember how no senator at the time lifted a finger to dismantle the illegal game-room operations of Liberty machines. It took an entire expose about the illegal operations they darn well knew were happening in order to get those machines removed.

Simon Sanchez High School in Yigo? It doesn’t take 10 years to build a school, yet there hasn’t even been a groundbreaking 10 years after the first discussions started. That isn’t incompetence. That’s a salt and peppering of corruption by government officials on the take from potential developers wanting a piece of that multimillion dollar pie.

I can’t imagine what the excuses will be for delays in the construction of a new Guam Memorial Hospital because of the impasse between Adelup and senators about where to build it. But, hey, who cares about medical emergencies when our politicians need to weigh out how they can benefit most from a billion-dollar project?

Asiana Airlines just announced they will be pulling its Incheon-Saipan route, yet the Marianas Visitors Authority is busy spending money on vacations in Langkawi and Australia, where ZERO tourists from those places cared about how well MVA officials could use cutlery on their lobsters and steaks.

Guam has a medical malpractice problem, yet senators would rather not move the needle in the direction of (at least) greater transparency and accessibility to the legal system for the poor who almost always are the victims of malpractice.

Don’t even get me started about police corruption.

The irony in all of this is that it was our first colonizers – the Spaniards – who called our islands “Islas de Ladrones.”


  • They Call Me Joe

      06/07/2024 at 3:29 AM

    I’m hoping my centerfold dream “Mabel” will write another diatribe about Mr. MVA (aka; size 13 shit kicker boots) as it gives me an incentive to point out a few more things and contribute my own observations. By the way, I’m starting to enjoy watching the gradual meltdown of the CNMI (as I predicted would happen). I also see that my nemesis “CNMI Lawyer” is still offering his deep CNMI introspective comments in the local ragsheet about how the next Delegate should look into the cabotage laws now that an airline is bidding adieu or maybe I should say 안녕히 가세요 (too funny). And yet I was continually subjected to downvotes by a certain person who also tried to intimidate me (my opinion) by “archiving my comments” as if “building a case” (again my opinion) when I posted numerous comments over the years concerning “How many years in Washington Kilili” and various other unfavorable “comments” about the CNMI’s political hacks and “caste system” controllers?

    Fast forward, – I for one hope that the first people who suffer the most in the coming CNMI economic apocalypse are those local ragsheet commenters who have brown shoe polish on their noses and / or are prolific downvoters, or better yet, let all those “paid” local ragsheet slopaganda writers who were complicit in “drinking the koolaid” and censoring other peoples opinions, realize that the tables are now going to turn on them? (you hearing me local rag-sheeet?). Enjoy your soon to be “ghost island”.

  • Russ Mason

      06/08/2024 at 7:26 PM

    This is a really juicy topic: ignorance or corruption. In my view, it’s both – but there’s a caveat.

    I learned early-on that, in the Chamorro language, there is no word for “future.” Whether this is true or not doesn’t matter because the result is the same: none of our lawmakers plan for the future. Their only consideration for the future is, Where do we have lunch tomorrow?

    Kilili Sablan is an exception. He’s the reason we have good roads and the kids have laptops.

    Still, without planning, our government becomes reactive to unperceived change. Gov. Palacious acknowledged this when he said that the CNMI was in “desperation mode,” a sentiment shared by the Chamber of Commerce and the MVA. This means that our collective default position is one of fear: “Oh dear, what will happen to us next?”

    The lack of planning is a consequence of a lack of vision. It never seems to occur to anybody that the future can be planned, shaped and appropriate measures taken before more economic disasters occur.

    As well, there are many smart, insightful, people in the commonwealth who could make a positive difference, but they are in the private sector and have no plans to leave it.

    The net result is that the Old Way (Republican) still prevails and many “important” locals still run the show from the back room.

    As we know, these Fat Cats are not especially bright. Their primary motivation is greed: get the money, all of it, as quick as you can. The monstrous building in Garapan is a testament to this worldview; and it’s easier to blame IPI for the diaster when it was our lawmakers and their henchment who were actually responsible.

    In a more perfect world, people with brains, guts, and integrity would be clammoring for a more Conscious approach to the CNMI’s future. But that can only happen with vision and credible plans for the future.

    This would also require a Sea Change in the way our government operates, and that is unlikely to occur any time soon.

    So it appears we’re stuck: there are no plans for the future because there is no vision of what it could be. And, without vision, there is no leadership.

  • Sadog Tasi Resident

      06/09/2024 at 6:31 PM

    DFS in Garapan in closing down. Perhaps we can convert it into a bunch of Mews for Ms Mabel to house her Falcons in.

    • Sorry to learn about DPS. As some Christians say, when one door closes, God open another.

      Although I haven’t been in DPS/T-Galleria for – what? – three years? – I remember it being a fantastic space with amazing potential.

      Local Artists who paint pictures, local photographers (Del Benson!) and those who make Island Crafts – such as jewelry and knick-knacks for the home could find a permanent home.

      Local food vendors could have a permanent set-up, such as Cafe d’Elegance, or ANYONE who makes fantastic pizza (America’s preferred fast food).

      Also, local dance troups could have a spacious place to rehearse, or even put on dance recitals.

      There is ample room for other performing Arts. The CNMI has a lot of musical talent, individual musicians, bands, amateur singing groups. (I would exclude the pudgy native hula dancers and guys who dance with fire: we’ve all seen it, thank you).

      As well different nearby countries (notably China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines) could each have their own “store.” They could either sell merchandise, or encourage the CNMI people to visit their homelands.

      The possibilities are mind-boggling.

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