Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Windmill Power Revolution

If the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation got some windmills up, maybe some of our leaders would stop attacking the federal government.

Hard on the heels of Oscar Rasa's impassioned (and shrill) appearance on the John Gonzales Show* Gov. Benigno R. Fitial paid for a special edition to announce he may sue the feds over the new labor law. The Saipan Tribune has the story; it must have been past the Marianas Variety's bedtime.

Acting Labor Secretary Cinta Kaipat and "Special" Legal Counsel Howard Willens rounded out the show, with a special guest appearance by Mel Gray of Immigration.

The Governor's not suing, mind you, just jetting off to ask a law firm if he should. I believe the stock answer is "Where's the check?" Gonzales, to his credit, did ask how much this was going to cost, but Willens didn't really answer. All of the 'panelists' sounded like they were lobbying against a proposed bill.

Suing to sue or suing to negotiate? Doesn't matter, does it? Just stop. The law has passed; deal with it. Have at amending it. Dig in when the regulations are being written.

(Cutting) In the same vein

Oh, we can't forget Rep. Stanley M. Torres and his resurrected proposal to "reexamine" the Covenant.

It's a good thing the Commonwealth is flush, otherwise it would be upsetting to see these gentlemen trying to flush money away.

* Two questions: Am I reading too much into the tone of his questions? It sounds like the Covenant Party has a Washington Delegate candidate after all; and, I haven't read the law in 20 years, but is it legal for Gonzales to hold down both jobs?


Saipan Writer said...

Skipping your questions about John Gonzalez...

I'm more intrigued by the news that the litigation is aimed at the "labor" aspects of the federal law. I've read the law, analyzed it, and just skimmed it again. The only "labor" aspects relate to 1) inclusion of the Secretary of Labor in the regulation-promulgation pool; 2) an express permission given to aliens admitted on the Commonwealth only permit to transfer between employers; and 3) the assessment of the labor needs of the CNMI as to the need for the continuation of the CNMI only permit program.

Is this what he's challenging? Why? These seem clearly connected to the immigration aspects and well within the scope of immigration.

And there's no prohibition on federal laws (that they can only deal with "one" subject) as some states have.

And the CNMI is named specifically in the bill.

The U.S. Labor laws already apply in the CNMI, by virtue of extension of minimum wage here (crippled as it is). Sec. 105 of the Covenant expressly permits the U.S. Congress to do this.

There's no Covenant protection to the "no transfer" rule.

It seems a muddle. It seems a dodge. All eyes on me-as a distraction to something else that may be going on.

And it seems so clearly designed to frustrate further investment in the CNMI, to delay investment-because investors will be far less interested in investing here-not because of labor shortages, but because of the unsettled nature of the law. (and the power outages...)

And then one more question I have is-where do they get their legal consultants? "Jenner & Block"...why them?

Lil' Hammerhead said...

Oscar Rasa is still alive? I thought that criminal had croaked a long time ago.

I like your hint at some conspiracy Jane.

Here's one.. investment is purposefully being spooked. If the current non-resident system as it is, is going to end, and the private-sector workplace will be dependent on a primarily local workforce.. as much as can be done to destroy the financial strength of the median resident must occur. Residents, who will generally not do hard labor for the current minimum wage, and who quiet likely will require much higher wages in order to be attracted in to the workplaces, must be brought to poverty. Keeping new investments out will help create this situation. Few low paying jobs, job losses, higher prices. Of course the Tan Companies will sit tidy and wait.

No non-resident cheap labor.. create your own resident cheap labor.

How's that for a theory? Shallow? Unbelievable?

KAP said...

The Covenant specifically mentions only the minimum wage provisions of the Labor law and generally mentions Immigration and Naturalization. To me, their argument is backwards.

BTW, What's the point in new investment if you don't have the workers for existing businesses?

There were a lot of locals working in the hotels when I came here. Contract labor replaced them.

I continue to wonder how the hotels in Waikiki can pay much higher wages and much higher taxes. Article XII is a strawman, they lease their property from the Bishop Estate.

cactus said...

"I like your hint at some conspiracy Jane."

Somehow, I thought you might.

Anonymous said...

As to the question of a Covenant candidate, John Gonzales works for the Department of Public Lands but spends most of the day at the Governor's Public Information Office in Capital Hill.

Go figure.