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sunny and breezy
When I drew this cartoon, I had no idea that Governor Fitial would resign. I was inspired to create this because of the tradition during Lent to "give up" some pleasure or activity as a means of self-sacrifice. I thought it would be funny to think of Governor Fitial "giving up" reading the Variety. It has, after all, called for his impeachment or his resignation for years now.
I also submitted several other cartoons, now untimely--the Governor sending Valentines to the Senators (as a means of wooing them to vote against impeachment), the Governor on-stage in an opera scene handing a bouquet with extra dollar bills stuffed into it to the Gotterdamerung maiden representing the 18th Senate, and a comparison of the new year of the snake with our new year to impeach--lots of fireworks and a chance for a new beginning.
With the resignation, Benigno Repeki Fitial is no longer Governor. I am hopeful that the need for the stress relief of political cartooning will abate.
Things already seem better with Governor Eloy Inos--he has at least renewed the contract of Alan Fletcher at CUC. Fitial was so intent on monkeying around at CUC that we lost an able director (Abe Utu Malae) and were on the verge of losing Fletcher, also educated and experienced in utilities management. Fitial was obviously upset with Fletcher who refused to back the very-hinky contract with Saipan Development LLC. Inos understands that CUC must have SOMEONE in charge who knows something, and if Fletcher leaves, the vacancy will be horrible.
There there is the arrest finally of Joseph Crisostimo for the murder of Emy Romero is reassuring. Although the DPS and AG assure us that the long delay (more than a year since her murder) had nothing to do with Governor Fitial or his political pressure, you still have to wonder why it took so long when we were told last October or November by Joey San Nicolas that the lab reports were back and there would be an announcement imminently--and yet it took 3+ months to make that arrest! And coincidentally it happened only after Fitial left office.
I am so relieved that Fitial is no longer our Governor. Fitial at least got it right in his letter of resignation-his stepping down is good for our community.
Hazy and bright.
Governor Benigno R. Fitial resigned this morning. Starting at 1:30 PM, our new Governor Eloy Inos and new Lieutenant Governor Jude Hofschneider were sworn in.
Eloy Inos prepares for his oath of office with Chief Justice Alexandro Castro.
Jude Hofschneider is sworn in by Presiding Judge Robert Naraja.
The news is rocking the CNMI. Few among us expected Fitial to quit without a fight in the Senate, and some of us thought he might actually "win" in the Senate and hold on to his governorship. For Fitial to resign after his impeachment brings a "new tomorrow."
Inos, from Rota, and Hofschneider, from Tinian, also make history. For the first time in CNMI history (and possibly a feat not to be repeated), we have an executive team which does not include a person from Saipan. Given that the vast majority of the Commonwealth's population resides on Saipan, having our two top executives come from very small minority communities significantly changes the dynamics in the political arena.
Each man, in his brief remarks after the swearing in, spoke of the need to work together. They both sounded sincere.
There is no question that the feeling in the jam-packed Multi-Purpose Center was hopeful.
I sinceerly wish them both good luck.
Another editorial cartoons from last week.
This was another flight of fancy considering what would happen if the NMIRF actually foreclosed the Guma Hustitia. Court in session with judge sitting under a young coconut tree at the beach.
These were published by the Variety on the dates mentioned, but not in the order in which I prepared them. And of course, there is always a lag of time between an event, my art, and then submission and publication.
In a surprise move, the Fitial supporters (now the House minority) resigned from the impeachment committee. This was principally Teresita Santos and Felicidad Ogumoro. This cartoon was inspired by wondering why they would do that. Well, really, it had to be because they are loyal guard for the governor and he told them to. So I show them as junkyard dogs and Governor Fitial reining them in. In my original, I had labeled their names on the dog collars, but MV eliminated those. They did leave the dog tags showing both 17th and 18th House membership.
The little people simply state the obvious--why would they resign? No wonder, though, really. They resigned because they were told to.
This is possibly bad news. Instead of trying to obfuscate or gain time or drag things out or any other tactic to fight in the House, the Governor now seems in a hurry to get to the senate. That can only mean he thinks he's got the senators in his pocket already.
I'm a little behind on my blogging--a week without my laptop, and then just a lot to do. But now I have a chance to catch up.
The newspapers reported that the CNMI government owes a huge amount to the NMI Retirement Fund on the loan for the Guma Hustitia (the house of justice, namely our court house). NMIRF issued a notice of default and warning that they would foreclose on their mortgage.
This cartoon is a quick sketch of that possible future, with the little guys wondering just who exactly would buy a foreclosed court house!
My original had some color on it, which I think made it nicer, but the Variety published in b&w, even online, so this is the e-version I have.
I loved Larissa Larsen's comment about the NMIRF's notice of default and warning of possible foreclosure on the Guma Hustitia. She said "We don't have a recommendation at this point." Translated--we don't have a clue what we should do! OMG!
Eventually, the CNMI government suddenly came up with a million dollars to hand over to the NMIRF. Just where does it get this money when it keeps saying it can't pay? This has happened over and over again under Fitial. It's like the money is a game... But of course, we're not having any fun.
I don't really like this cartoon. I think it lacks finesse and that special quality (conciseness, visual appeal) that is the hallmark of effective political cartooning. But I'm glad I commemorate and preserve the inanity of the Fitial administration's responses to some of the issues that have occurred.
As the little people say--just what point are we waiting for before we make some suggestion? But then, since the responses have been so bad, maybe doing nothing would be an improvement!
misty with rainbows in late afternoon; still unseasonably cool
This was a fun exercise to commemorate the discovery that Senator Ayuyu had been caught in jail with a smuggled cell phone. These ringtones could be heard on his phone, or they could be used as the ringtone on his friends' phones to alert them that he is calling!
It's worth listening to the music again...That's better than pondering that we are STILL paying the salary of "senator" Ayuyu. Even while he's in jail! only in Saipan...
Bright and sunny day, but uncomfortably cool night.
The CNMI has been sinking for the entire six years of the Fitial administration, but it has never been in as bad shape as in 2012. Fitial continues to issue "emergency" declarations to bludgeon autonomous agencies into his control and to hide his wheeling and dealing from the public bidding, open procurement process required by law. In 2013, one month into the year, we already have had two emergency declarations "renewed"--as if there is really any emergency! These are nothing but declarations that say I'm incompetent and these agencies are completely dysfunctional. We continue to sink and the emergency declarations are doing nothing to plug the leaks or repair our vessel.
Overcast, cool and misty.
I submitted this political cartoon with colors, but the Variety only posted the b&w version, which somewhat diminishes the effect. The ocean is bllue, but the iceberg is tan. I wanted to comment on recent events where Willy Tan has shown up on island and his minions have begun their chants as if well-coached. After a two-hour meeting on a holiday (!), Fitial has started the mantra about tourism, the need to clean up our island, tourism, the importance to emphasize Saipan as a destination, tourism, tourism, tourism. While this is the economic engine that drives our economy and certainly deserves considerable attention, the mantra is a wall of empty words. We have a very serious problem with crime. We have a government that is sucking up all the resources for the governor and his political hires. We have a hospital that is unsustainable. We have a retirement fund with a half-life of months. And none of the empty words will help with tourism, the economy, or any of the real problems.
Also on the iceberg is Steve Pixley, who withdrew as counsel for Senator Ayuyu after Willy Tan's visit. Steve's comments reported in the newspaper are a cloud of fluff (close personal friend, pro bono, etc.) around a hard-core fact that he has decided he has a conflict of interest because he is in-house counsel for Tan Holdings. Exactly how Tan Holdings could have a conflict with Senator Ayuyu, either in his (alleged) importation of fruit bats or his (alleged) ice use, is not stated or clear. Why this conflict was not discovered at the start of representation (Steve was Tan Holdings counsel then, too) is not apparent. Perhaps it relates to the manner in which Ayuyu obtained his telephone while in jail (a violation of federal detention conditions).
I could have used a smoke screen of words, as I think a lot of this talk is put out there to divert attention from other matters. But I wanted to emphasize what I think is possibly behind these actions, and that is Willy Tan, who was behind the garment factories that ruined our island (while providing some economic crumbs that desperate people licked up and still miss), who supported the poker industry here which has left a blight of small dens of iniquity, who pours money into the Tribune, which applauds every little action of Fitial as if he is a real leader and turns a blind eye to his mistreatment of their journalistic brothers at the Variety. Willy Tan comes on island, meets personally with the governor and we have a barrage of new spin. Willy Tan comes on island and his company's lawyer reverses course and blathers excuses. What is really going on? How much more political pressure and string-pulling is hidden from view?
Unseasonably cold. Windy, rainy, and just down-right chilly.
This political cartoon was inspired by a recent report in the Marianas Variety about how the Governor slipped out after a session with Willie Tan and the Governor's cabinet and other important government officials. Instead of meeting with waiting reporters and answering basic questions, the Governor sent word that he was still in meetings. The reporters waited until they were eventually told the Governor had left the building by another exit.
His response was hilarious. He said he hadn't run away from the reporters, they had failed to catch him! Then he said that certain reporters should consider why they had such difficulty getting information from the government when the others didn't--basically admitting that he plays favorites, gives stories only to the Tribune (a Willy Tan mouthpiece), and has no intention whatever of being subjected to questions from any but the sycophantic.
Just two weeks ago he promised greater transparency. Well, we see clearly what exactly this Governor is and how very undemocratic he is.
Bright and sunny with a strong breeze continuing to bring cool relief.
This cartoon was inspired by the Governor's actions in the week following his SOCA (State of the Commonwealth Address) where he said he had made mistakes but learned from them, and that he would not repeat them.
Of course, in the SOCA he blamed the Federal government for failing to help enough. Since then he has made no progress on paying the contributions owed to NMIRF. He has abandoned his former plan pushing for pension obligation bonds (reported after I drew this cartoon), with his new mantra being we need "new" investment (and his latest deal with E-land for the purchase of Aqua Resort Club). He has said that he must continue with strong government employment practices and indicated he wants to hire more, despite our bloated government payroll. He has already issued an RFP for a new power plant, despite the questionable need for such an expensive purchase at this time. He has shelved the request for extradition of Ed Buckingham and there appears no likelihood he will do so. And of course, he is gearing up to defend himself in the Senate, recognizing he will lose in the House on the impeachment.
He obviously has not learned anything.
Coincidentally, the Governor's photo in today's Variety with the Mount Carmel School (celebrating 40 years of Catholic education) shows him wearing a yellow tie. :-)
Since I drew this cartoon, the Governor has also avoided the MV news reporters, despite his promise of greater transparency.
perfect weather--sunny and breezy; bananas, tangerines; cadena de amor and popcorn plant in bloom
I tried to illustrate that the majority Republican-controlled 17th Legislature has truly ended. Their party's over (think of that song from an old musical). Only 4 Republicans in the 18th House, Felicidad Ogumoro, Teresita Santos, George N. Camacho return and Richard B. Seman is newly elected. The new majority are sure to impeach Governor Fitial. The impeachment resolution has already been filed and signed by 16 members now--and only 14 votes are needed for impeachment.
The little guys comment on the obvious--the majority is now the minority. What did they do with the party hats?!
While the House is now securely in the control of independents and new Covenant members, the Senate remains ambiguous. With Ayuyu on trial in federal court (and evidence of his methamphetamine use), he seems unlikely to have much voting power. With Rota having elected a Fitial hack, and others in the Senate still enthrall to Fitial, it remains uncertain how the impeachment trial will go.
January sun and tropical heat
Governor Fitial decided to give his State of the Commonwealth Address to the House of Representatives on the last day of the 17th Legislature. He is a lame duck (can't run for governor again) and he gave his SOCA to the lamest of lame ducks on their very last day in office. Included in the group were his supporters who lost their re-election in the last election--going from a CNMI Republican party majority to a mere 4 house members, one of whom is new.
His SOCA was ridiculous, but it did contain his admission of making mistakes. A mild statement for the corruption and complete ruination of the CNMI he has caused.
In this cartoon, I have crime clouds and corruption lighting, CUC in the oil-slicked pond (a reference to the CUC fiascos we've seen-from the ridlyme scandal to the current PPA sole source give-away). One lame duck is smeared with mud from the NMIRF quagmire, caused by the governor paying roughly 41% of employee contributions into the Fund, making is obviously underfunded and on its deathbed. There is also the health jungle, a reference to horrible state of the CHC, caused when the governor decided to create a new governing board and then change funding from about $31 million a year to $5 million a year. Three immediate jeopardy declarations, the threat of losing our medicare/medicaid certification and now fortunately some federal help still means the jungle of healthcare is a very real threat.
The first little guy mentions the obvious-that one lame duck is talking to the other lame ducks. The second one says "enough already," which is the sentiment that all the voters who voted out those 17th legislature lame ducks embraced.
beautiful day, cool, breezy evening
This cartoon was inspired by recent events involving the Saipan Development LLC agreement with Governor Fitial to build a power plant for Saipan at the cost of $190 million dollars. The PPA (power plant agreement) has come under a tremendous amount of scrutiny and criticism, with CUC officials saying it is a terrible deal, that it lacks the assurances and contract terms to protect the CNMI in even the most basic way as a party to a contract, that it is exorbitant in cost, and that there is no need for a new power plant. There has also been concern that the PPA was tied to SDLLC having a side deal about the port development, but that does not appear in the contract. The PPA was signed for the CNMI by Governor Fitial and then-AG Ed Buckingham. Of course, this contract was done as a sole-source deal without compliance with procurement regulations. When it became known, the Governor took the position that he had the power under an emergency declaration that suspended procurement regs--a declaration he made for the purported reason that CUC wasn't making quick enough progress on green energy.
The most recent developments saw the new Attorney General, Joey P. San Nicolas, issuing a "legal" opinion in which he says the Governor did not have authority to enter into the deal because it did not comply with procurement regulations, and specifically that the emergency declaration under which the Governor was "running" CUC only extended to green energy matters and that the PPA, which is for a traditional diesel plant, was insufficient to authorize the governor to have such power.
The same opinion that discredits the PPA as a valid contract also absolves the governor of all liability for the PPA and instead blames former AG Ed Buckingham. Joey says the governor "relied" on Ed's opinion about the legality of the contract and poor guy, he didn't know that Ed was wrong.
The "opinion" is both brilliant and obscene. It is brilliant because it forces the governor to admit he exceeded his power in entering into the PPA. I suspect the governor wanted some way out of the deal so that he could argue against his impeachment based on the PPA. But even if the governor wanted out of the deal, having to swallow the bit about not having authority must be hard. Fitial has acted as if he has authority to do anything he wants.
But the decision is also obscene because it employs a lie and scapegoats an unpopular guy who, for all his faults, is not responsible for this deal. It is simply incredible to say the governor relied on Ed's advice. The implication is that the governor would not have signed the PPA if Ed said it was illegal. But the governor eliminated CUC's participation in the negotiations as soon as they started raising concerns about the deal; the governor ignored the dozens of issues raised in e-mails by his attorneys as shown during the impeachment hearings last September; and the governor actually negotiated for the PPA before he had even issued any emergency declaration or got any legal advice. There is simply nothing to suggest that he was motivated by Ed. Furthermore, nothing in his history shows that he would have listened to Ed's advice. Ed was a tool--the governor told him what he wanted Ed to do, and Ed did it.
And that is what appears to be happening with Joey. The governor wants out of the PPA for his own political survival, but he will never take responsibility. He will always find a scapegoats. And now he has Joey doing just what Ed did--giving "legal" opinions to justify whatever the governor wants to do.
The wolf in sheep's clothing may not be the best metaphor for Joey, but it is what came to mind.
Hot and muggy today, and still more rain.
This cartoon was inspired by the recent report that Judge Manglona in federal court refused motions by Senator Ayuyu in his illegal fruit bat case, and part of the reason was that there was reason to believe he is using illegal drugs. No one says what drugs, but I extrapolate to methamphetamine because that is the problem drug here, the look of Senator Ayuyu includes that fallen jaw face associated with ice use, and his episodes of (alleged) violence and threatening also fit ice use. I include Representative Ray Palacios in the stinky mess because of the charges against him for using and distributing ice (and his comments confirming use!). It makes you wonder how many other elected officials are using ice!
The only thing I wish I'd done differently is added "17th" before the tag of CNMI Legislature, to make it clear it relates to the group just going out now, rather than the newly elected.
We have such a drug problem here that even the men (and women?) charged with the job of creating laws, the "lawmakers" themselves, are using illegal drugs, perhaps even addicted to them. How can we have any faith in this corrupted and rotten system?
This cartoon is inspired by Sandy Hook, also. Our gun laws allow easy access to high powered weapons that are being used to kill innocent children.
In general, I tend to think that America's role as a leader in the world is waning; we are morally corrupt (and no where more than in Saipan) and it's just a matter of time before our country completely collapses. And there is no real reason to be too upset because this is the nature of history and empires.
I realize that lead pots didn't cause the end of the Roman empire--but their fondness for cooking with lead pots and using lead pipes for their water couldn't help. Lead poisoning causes deterioration of mental function. The Romans succumbed to invasion by the Goths, Visigoths, Vandals and other tribes, and perhaps they were in fact weakened, or their leaders were weakened, by lead poisoning.
American society will not be done in by the single issue of lax laws that permit gun ownership, just as the Roman empire wasn't sunk by lead pots alone. But it can't help our society that we allow weapons of great mass destruction, like semi-automatic bushmasters, to be purchased on a daily basis and owned and used by just anybody. These weapons should be limited to the military and police--law enforcement. And individuals should not be taking the law into their own hands.
Lead--as in the lead bullets and ammunition (and yes, I realize that not all ammo is now made of lead), is certainly a type of poison in our society, just as lead pots caused lead poisoning in Ancient Rome.
hazy and humid
This cartoon is one of my thoughts about the effect of our second amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court. They have held that it isn't just a right for ensuring state militia power against the federal government, but provides an individual right to gun ownership. Our legislators are so cowed by NRA lobbyists that they have failed to legislate meaningful limits on gun ownership. And so the combination of the 2nd amendment right and the lack of other countervailing restrictions has made our other rights the target of abuse. The very life of citizens is at issue, as so terribly demonstrated by the murder of 20 innocent 6 and 7 year old school children at Sandy Hook. Who can exercise liberty rights when it isn't safe to even attend school or go to a mall or otherwise live in America. What pursuit of happiness exists, other than the happiness of a warm gun? For those of us who do not enjoy gun ownership, we are left without the same freedoms.
The very suggestion that everyone needs to own a gun, that schools should have armed guards, that more guns are the solution to the unacceptable gun violence is total insanity. This opinion
by Fareed Zakaria does a good job of explaining.
20 little children killed in one morning, along with the 6 adults at the school, the very disturbed young man who was the shooter and his mother--so many senseless deaths. We can only have them make sense if we now use this to fuel real debate and change.
Night--pitch black. A container ship in the harbor with lots of lights. Bobbi Grizzard and Richard Pierce playing Scrabble at Coffee Care.
I just crossed the 50,000 word "finish" line for my 2012 novel. It's not finished. But considering I had zero words on November 1, I feel completely successful!
Hot, hot, hot. And humid.
This cartoon was inspired by the pie chart graph of the CNMI budget that appeared last week in the newspaper (the Tribune, I think). In that real chart, the governor's office and "administration costs" took a disproportionately large chunk of the budget--bigger than CHC! This humorous version exaggerates the reality to make a point. The CNMI budget does not serve the interests of the people!
December offers perfect weather--a hint of coolness in sunny, bright days.
This political cartoon relates to the report last week that the CNMI had engaged in negotiations with people in Alaska about the purchase of an $80 million ice cutter named the Susitna. Apparently Ambrose Bennett was looking for a paid gig and thought the federal transportation money might provide an avenue for him. The Alaska owners were trying to get rid of the Susitna because they couldn't afford its maintenance. It was commissioned and specifically built for them, to carry automobiles as a ferry between villages in the north, with ice-cutting capabilities due to the area in which is was set to operate. Although they had the Susitna built with federal money and also got a new ferry terminal, the villages failed to get the necessary docking and ramps built for loading the cars on and off. They are now paying huge storage bills.
And so they are trying to sell the Susitna. Enter the CNMI...also without any docking and ramp facilities to load and unload cars onto such a ferry; minus the terminal; and certainly without purchase money...and obviously without ice in the ocean so that all of the heavy equipment for cutting through ice is completely unnecessary (and probably would add to the operational costs and fuel costs).
Fortunately, the news is that the CNMI is not going to go through with purchase. But that we would have sent serious investigations into this particular ferry, and continue to pursue it after initial information came out that makes it so clearly inappropriate for us...
Well, it just seemed like a shopaholic moment...
The little guys--one comments on one of the basic types of shopaholic thinking. The other brings us back to the reality here. It's time to impeach the governor.
Overcast but perfect temperature!
This cartoon was inspired by the attempts to shore up the Governor's waning political power. Ken Mahmood and ? Osborne are in the CNMI promoting their "done deal" for a $190 million dollar power plant. As part of that, they continue to insist that everything is just hunky dory. Last week, they were saying how impeachment would be bad for the CNMI because it would send a message to investors that the CNMI is unstable.
HAHA! No, impeachment would send a message to investors that we oppose corruption and it is safe to invest here.
This week they are screaming that they are not corrupt; that they are honest; that there is no evidence of anything amiss in their contract with Fitial for the power plant purchase.
Well, that's for another cartoon. Seriously, so many things are wrong with the deal. Mahmood and Osborne's opinions are nothing but their wish to get rich off the backs of our children, grand-children and great grandchildren. They are scum. That's my opinion.
Very breezy and cool. Pomellos and bananas.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! My Christmas tree this year is beautiful. The photos hardly capture it.
|Christmas tree from Joeten--Noble fir, 6 feet|
|Met Museum Pharaoh, crocheted angel, red ball, cranberry beads|
|Anna Rose's girl in origami kimono with ribbon obi, St. Joseph glass ornament|
|Mary and baby Jesus glass ornament, sheep, crocheted angel, red sequin ball, Anna's yellow kimono angel|
|As above, with straw angel decorated by my sister Judy, a needlepoint & bead flower, a Victorian boot, candy cane, green bell|
|The north wall --button stocking by Judy, others by me, Xmas pillows, Xmas tree|
| || || || || || || |
|Merry Christmas |
This tree was inspired by the tradition here in Saipan where they put up wishing trees at the Paseo de Marianas and kids add their wishes. When I first came to Saipan, there was a special on the radio where they asked school kids their wish for Christmas. I was shocked to hear that most of the kids here at that time didn't ask or wish for gifts like dolls and trucks and stuff, but wished for things like daddy to stop drinking and their older brother to get out of jail and for chicken for dinner. This year the wishes again were similar, with kids wanting peace and safety and family unity.
My tree wishes remember the two little girls who have now been missing for more than a year and a half--Faloma and Maleina Luhk. Justice for Emi refers to the unsolved murder of Emi Romero who was murdered in February after going home from work at Godfather's Bar. The last ribbon hopes for comfort for the now orphaned six-year old boy whose parents were found murdered in their home in San Vicente.
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It's the start of 2013 and of course, my New Year's resolutions include dieting. I lost about 24 pounds in 2012 (although my target was 40), but I have a long way to go to a healthy body weight. I drew these women to help me and then thought--heck, I'm not the only woman making this resolution. So here it is--Milk diet aid. FWIW.