Marianas Variety

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    Monday, July 22, 2019-7:47:42A.M.






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Editorials 2018-December-07


THE Department of Public Lands should be commended for carefully reviewing proposed land lease agreements or extensions.

DPL says it is complying with the Constitution and applicable laws, and is seeking the best possible outcome for the collective owners of the NMI’s public lands — the people of NMI descent.

In the case of the Hyatt and Fiesta Resort, we hope that there would be no repeat of the Mariana Resort fiasco. For it was a fiasco however you look at it. A solid, taxpaying long-time investor, a good corporate citizen, an employer of local residents, one of the island’s few remaining links to what was once the NMI’s major tourism market — Mariana Resort had to shut down. How exactly did the local people benefit from its closure?

By issuing what the hotel owner said was an RFP with “impossible” conditions, the CNMI government ended up letting go of the bird in the hand in return for two nonexistent birds in a bush.

Of course the Constitution should be followed, and DPL must seek proposals from investors interested in the Hyatt and Fiesta properties. But the RFP must be realistic. An investor’s track record, reliability and ties with the local community should count.

It is not in the local people’s best interest to lose yet another actual investor in return for a new investor with a grandiose plan that exists only on paper — a plan, moreover, that does not usually take into consideration unforeseen events such as two super typhoons hitting Saipan in three years, or two super typhoons hitting the three major islands in a span of one month. Not to mention the whims of faraway politicians in the U.S. capital who can shut down the CNMI economy if they so desire.

The state of the islands’ only industry, tourism, depends on the presence of legitimate investors who are here for the long term. They help generate the revenue that funds many of the CNMI government’s obligations to the local people, including the retirees’ pension benefits and critical public services such as public health and utilities.

The ability to pay for them is the entire point of having a viable economy.

NMI is deeply grateful to FEMA and Red Cross

IMAGINE the ongoing recovery period and CUC’s restoration programs without FEMA. The horror.

Of course, we would like assistance delivered and/or provided instantly, right away, as quickly as possible. We just got hit by one of the strongest storms in U.S. history. But we may have also confused FEMA — or the Red Cross for that matter — with Santa Claus and his flying reindeer. FEMA and the Red Cross are accountable for the assistance they provide. They have rules to follow. But help is being provided and will continue to be provided to those who need it.

Can FEMA and the Red Cross do better? Of course. We can all do better. But considering the extent of the disaster and the other challenges that FEMA and the Red Cross volunteers face in these remote islands, recovery is actually much faster compared to Soudelor even though Yutu was a far more devastating typhoon.

As the FEMA region 9 administrator has said, CNMI officials who are here have nothing but praise for the work that FEMA has done and continues to do for the people of the Commonwealth.

Thank you FEMA and Red Cross. The people of the NMI and their leaders deeply and truly appreciate what you are doing for them.