Governor Benigno R. Fitial's campaign slogan didn't quite work out, but would there be “better times” if someone else had won the 2005 CNMI election?
I don't think so That's been on my mind for a couple of years now, and Brad Ruszala brought it up in some comments over on Middle Road. He took a lot of flak, but it's a strong argument.
Saipan has always been the engine of the Commonwealth economy, and the collapse of the garment and tourism industries has been devastating. The tradewinds of change are an outside force that no Governor can stand against.
This mess has been coming for a long time. When Juan N. Babauta took office I was telling anyone who would listen he needed to start a Reduction in Force in his first six months. The obvious answer was that he didn't want to be a one-term Governor. He didn't, and he was anyway.
Fitial was the House Speaker, of course. If Babauta had said 'green', his answer would be 'yellow'. Now he's the Governor, and it's time to bite the bullet. He's only going to have one term anyway.
That's not even criticism. This all peaked on his watch, and he gets the blame. For a year or two, I heard from a lot of folks who said Lt. Gov. Tim Villagomez was working on getting them a job. They don't say much now. Something had to give, and there are only so many supporters of the previous administration who can be shunted aside.
They didn't hire enough, and they didn't fire enough. So it goes.
The problem, of course, is that there is no safety net. Rather, the government is the safety net. There's no unemployment insurance and very few private sector jobs pay a living wage. That's a structural problem that won't be fixed anytime soon.
You heard it here first: the next Governor will only serve one term.