Marianas Variety

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    Monday, June 17, 2019-8:46:22P.M.






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Editorials 2018-October-12

Eternal hope

INDEPENDENT House candidate Tina Sablan of Precinct 2 has released her campaign finance report and statement of financial interest ahead of the Nov. 6 elections.

She has also expressed support for independent Rep. Ed Propst’s bills that “would reform campaign finance and financial interest laws, and improve transparency in our elections and government.”

 H.B. 20-138 proposes to enhance campaign financial reporting requirements while H.B. 20-166 is also known as the Public Official Disclosure Act.

Introduced by a minority bloc member, the bills, not surprisingly, remain pending in the House. And there is no guarantee that a new Legislature will act on them. Happily, the CNMI Constitution allows voters to enact laws through the initiative process. The Open Government Act, for example, applies to the Legislature because concerned citizens placed the issue on the ballot, and voters overwhelmingly approved it in the 2009 general elections.

If they become law, would these election reform bills “work”? What a question. If, in the past, someone doubted the effectiveness of legislative work then the anti-littering, stray-dog-control, code of ethics and several other measures that are as useful as a solar-powered flashlight would have never been introduced at all.

Down the road

SUPPOSEDLY, the Commonwealth has until Dec. 2029 to “replace” workers on CW-1 permits. Hence, the need for more training, especially of the voc-ed kind.

Once again, it seems that there is a mismatch between our preferred “solution” and the actual “problem.”

According to the May 2017 GAO report, 12,784 CWs filled 80 percent of hospitality and construction jobs.

The first question then is: do we have close to 13,000 local resident and/or other qualified U.S. workers willing to take hospitality and construction jobs? We’re talking about 13,000 U.S. workers who, instead of going to college, working for the government, moving to Guam, other territories or states where the pay is much higher, would say no to all that and gladly become hotel/restaurant or construction workers in the CNMI.

We say: CNMI employers should pay wage rates much higher than the federal rate! But how many employers in a still recovering island economy can afford to pay such wages? And if they shut down, how does that help local residents who include retirees, government employees, local businesspersons, landowners, students, scholarship recipients, medical referral patients, etc.?

Here’s another question: How can we be certain that the labor/immigration/economic issues we face today will remain the same 10 years down the road? The CNMI of 1998 was way different from the CNMI of 2008 which is also way different than the Commonwealth today when automation and/or outsourcing certain jobs are becoming increasingly feasible and more attractive options than begging federal politicians not to mess up the local economy, again.

It is, however, politically potent to talk about replacing CWs through more training as if all such talk and initiatives in the past actually produced the number of hotel/restaurant, construction and healthcare workers that the CNMI, like the U.S. itself and other economically advanced nations, needed and continues to need.