What is this?

Just some random musings .

Sunday, October 28, 2007

"Yes, I passed that terrible bill. Why? Well, why not?"

“I really didn't have too much time to review the bill and submit my comments because I was told that it would be calendared one day before. It was a crammed review. .I'm sure if I had more time I would've come up with more but there were pressure-internal and external pressure-to try and get that bill out,” he said.

Are you kidding me? Should this be a satisfactory explanation for pumping out crap legislation. If more time is needed then demand more time. What the hell is going on up there.

“I don't feel very comfortable with the bill. But with my amendments, I feel a lot better. I'm still not satisfied that it's the product that we need to put out, simply because there are so many contradictions on the bill, so many flaws, so many things that I do not subscribe to,” he said.

But he will give it the thumbs up and send it to the House and hope that they review and ask to sit down and discuss it. If they decide to just go with it and pass it then to the Gov's office it goes. We will never learn.

Read the whole story here: AND WE PUT THESE PEOPLE UP THERE?!

33 comments:

lil_hammerhead said...
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glend558 said...

It's called knee jerk legislation.
And its sorry to say he least.

lil_hammerhead said...
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lil_hammerhead said...
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glend558 said...

PP a reply for you post #710

Pragmatic Plato said...

Hey Lil,

No. I am not Greg. I knew him well while I was growing up here, therefore I am sure he will not mind me using his name to illustrate a point (I did your name justice Greg :-)).

I was illustrating a point when posting a "real name". I wanted to show other bloggers that your real name does not mean anything if people don't know you anyhow.

I don't think Mr. Turbitt understands what I am trying to say.

I read Glen D's blog often. I have no f'ing clue who he is in person. I have never met him. For all I know he could be Greg Marshall and be using a fake name. I don't really care. It makes no difference to me whther he is Glen or Fred or James or Peter. I read his blog. If it interests me I at times comment on it.

BigSox and Randy S also had issues with my use of a nom de guerre. I don't know either of these two people personally even though they claim that the put their "real names" to what they post. Who cares.

Here is the logic that Twain gave to his use of a pen name:

"Captain Isaiah Sellers was not of literary turn or capacity, but he used to jot down brief paragraphs of plain practical information about the river, and sign them "MARK TWAIN," and give them to the New Orleans Picayune. They related to the stage and condition of the river, and were accurate and valuable; ... At the time that the telegraph brought the news of his death, I was on the Pacific coast. I was a fresh new journalist, and needed a nom de guerre; so I confiscated the ancient mariner's discarded one, and have done my best to make it remain what it was in his hands—a sign and symbol and warrant that whatever is found in its company may be gambled on as being the petrified truth; how I have succeeded, it would not be modest in me to say."

I am Plato.

CNMI Blogger said...

For the Record, HB 15-38 is a good bill. The bill sat in the Senate for MONTHS after the House passed it. Reyes' comments had NOTHING to do with the bill itself, which Senator Frica and her colleagues took their time to study and make appropriate amendments. Reyes told the Senate Legal Counsel to go through the bill the night before and come up with ANYTHING because he is being vindictive towards me. Believe me, it's not the bill. It's about my having the audacity to do my job as an elected lawmaker to question his special-interest bills that led to my incurring his wrath. It is why most of my bills have been stuck in the Senate for over a year. But I have no regrets about speaking up and standing up for what I believe is right, even if I am the lone person doing so.

And, by the way, Glen, I've seen all the things you've written about the Pagan Pozzolan, and I invite you to do your homework on this issue. Go to my blog at www.cnmiblog.com and begin from there.

One more thing, I gave up a much more lucrative job to take this job because I believed I could make a difference. My integrity is EVERYTHING to me. I was offered $100,000 on inauguration night by the chairman of Bridgecreek (the company that JG Sablan hooked up with to get around the bidding process) for "charity," but I flatly turned it down for an honest bid on the most qualified mining company that would not cheat the people of the Commonwealth. For this, I understand large and powerful families who are pro-JG Sablan have aligned themselves against me to get me out of office. I am not scared. I am willing to accept whatever the voters decide.

Keep this in mind: When people say to me, "I'm sorry that you're in office now when things are so bad." I tell them, "No, don't feel sorry for me; be glad because I am one less crook you have to worry about."

Though you don't know this, Glen, it was I who spoke to Galvin Guerrero's class when I first came back home to the Commonwealth in 1998 and informed the kids that we need to clean up the corruption in this place. I urged them to get off this island and get their education and come back and help me clean up this place. I didn't know her then, but Tina Sablan was one of those students sitting in that classroom when I spoke to them. I later recruited her to join me and PaganWatch in our fight against government corruption and their mishandling of the Pagan Pozzolan and public land in general. She wrote a letter and was severely chastised by Thomas Arkle (of nuclear power fame) and I vigorously defended her. She was the first person I recruited when I formed Beautify CNMI.

So you see, Glen, there are those of us in this commmunity who have been standing up and speaking out against corruption since way before it became fashionable.

I will continue to do that whether I am in office or not. Why? Because this is my home and I give a hoot. Long after everyone else who calls this place home decides to give up and leave, I will still remain here to clean up the trash.

Representative Cinta Kaipat

Pragmatic Plato said...

Cinta,

I have not thoroughly reviewed this particular bill. The title of my post is a hypothetical quote from Reyes. He was quoted as saying the bill was unsatisfactory and fraught with flaws. If that is truly HIS belief then why should he rush to get it out of the Senate. He is the Vice Speaker could he not let the Senate have more discussion on it?

Boycott Porky's!

PP

CNMI Blogger said...

PP,

I knew that the title of your post was based on what Reyes said.

He had every chance to review this bill, but chose not to. Contrary to what he's saying now, he and the Senate legal counsel came to some of the Task Force meetings.

I gave a slide presentation to both House and Senate members before this bill was debated on the floor and passed by the House. He was there.

The Senate members were given another private slide presentation to explain the bill WITH Senate amendments prior to this bill being put on the Senate floor for debate and Reyes was there.

The idea that he didn't know about this bill defies reality. If he doesn't know anything about this bill, it's because he chose not to educate himself about this bill despite efforts to get everyone to understand the bill prior to voting on it.

As they say, "You can lead the horse to water, but you can't make the horse drink the water if it doesn't want to."

Pragmatic Plato said...

I see. I was pretty disappointed at the Reyes' quotes in this article.

Boycott Porky's

PP

CNMI Blogger said...

You should be. It's unbecoming of a public servant. The public deserves to know what is really happening behind the scenes.

As you know, Senator Reyes plans to have this bill rejected by the House (that's why he made 44 amendments) so we would be forced to go to a Conference Committee on this. Once there, he plans to raise many, many more questions to stall and let the 15th Legislature's term expire so I would be forced to throw all the hard work we did for well over a year on this bill and start over from scratch. THAT is the Reyes plan.

CNMI Blogger said...

P.S. Another Task Force member who worked on this Labor bill who has betrayed me is Jim Benadetto, the Federal Ombudsman. He will have a letter to the Legislators and the people of the CNMI tomorrow. Watch how he will praise me for working with him. Then he went behind my back to convince the Senate to kill the bill because he didn't get everything he wanted.

Ask yourselves this -- what country in the world allows its TOURISTS to enter their country and work?! Yet he wants the CNMI to be the first stupid country to do so by insisting that I allow the Labor Department to entertain tourist complaints if they entered as tourists, worked illegally, and now must burden the Labor Department to fix their problems. As I repeatedly told Mr. Benadetto, tourists are NOT denied due process. They may NOT go to Labor as regular workers who entered through an approved contract, but they still have the Superior Court to bring their complaints of unpaid wages to. Then following the court's adjudication of unpaid wages, they should then follow it up with deportation proceedings for working in the CNMI illegally, without an approved employment contract.

That's what's happening behind the scenes that the public is not aware of. UGH!

Pragmatic Plato said...

I will be sure to read up on all of this. I have had my hands full as of late with my obsession with the Saipan Casino Act.

Any updates on what happens with this labor bill would be very helpful for those of us on the outside trying to pry in.

Boycott Porky's!

PP

CNMI Blogger said...

Be sure to get tomorrow's paper(s) and the day after that.

lil_hammerhead said...
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CNMI Blogger said...

Lil & PP,

Benedetto's letter has been published in the Opinion piece in both papers. My letter was not published. The Tribune might publish it tomorrow (Thursday), but I doubt the Variety will. No suprise there, as they hate the bill and have been boycotting me for months now. They refused to print anything I send them, including educational pieces aimed at educating the public on HB 15-38.

Notice that the reporter can't even keep her own bias out of the story? I bring your attention to her strategic use of quotation marks around the words "reform" and her reference to the bill being amended "everytime there's a threat of federalization." This is extremely misleading. Oh? Just how many times has this federalization issue actually come up before this time around?

I began working on this bill 18 months ago. Go back and see the newspaper archives as to when talks of federalizing the CNMI's Labor and Immigration first surfaced. It wasn't until way, way, way later -- way after I'd already begun working on overhauling this old and archaic Act that was first enacted in 1983! No one was talking about federalization then! Yet this Variety reporter would have everyone believe that the "reform" was a reaction to the federalization talk of today.

True, the Nonresident Workers Act has been amended PIECEMEAL several times by lawmakers who never worked at Labor and who never really saw what was truly happening "on the ground," thus, they virtually created an enforcement nightmare for the Department. As a former Labor Hearing Officer, and the only person to have worked at Labor who is a lawmaker, it was easier for me to make a COMPREHENSIVE amendment of the ENTIRE ACT and defend these much-needed amendments from the likes of Benedetto and business community who want to retain status quo.

For one thing, HB 15-38 REINSTATES all the enforcement provisions struck down by Judge Munson as being unconstitutional! If we expect the Department of Labor's Enforcement Officers to go out and enforce the law, then we'd better give them the tools to do it! Benedetto drafted these statutes and did a fine job of it. Why would he lobby the Senate to kill this comprehensive reform and just go back to passing piecemeal legislation instead that would not have rehabilitated these enforcement provisions?

Benedetto should not expect the Commonwealth to put strange and self-defeating Labor laws on its books that he is not prepared to have the U.S. adopt as well. Of course, the more ridiculous we look, the easier it is to justify federalizing us. Hmmm....

Incidentally, the "original bill" that Benedetto referred to in his letter to the lawmakers and to the public is Yumul's bill which he tried to pass in the 14th Legislature. I introduced that exact bill when I first got into office in the 15th Legislature because there was no need to re-invent the wheel by creating the bill from scratch. I next formed a Labor Task Force and slowly but surely began re-shaping and molding the bill into what it is today, which Benedetto referred to as the much-improved version than the original bill introduced two years ago. On that, we can agree on.

If the Tribune or Variety decides not to post my response to Benedetto, then I will post it on my blog on Thursday (www.cnmiblog.com).

Another thing, Benedetto stopped coming to our Task Force meetings when he got too busy drafting the federal takeover legislation with Cohen in DC. He then went behind my back and told the Senate (as he was trying to convince them to accept the amendments he presented to the Task Force but were rejected) that I kept him out of the loop. Yeah, right! I openly challenge him on this.

lil_hammerhead said...
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bradinthesand said...

...btw, hate to point this out, but the CNMI is not a country. love you though, cinta!

CNMI Blogger said...

My Dear Brad,

Of course, I know we're a Commonwealth. But the fact that we control our own Labor and Immigration puts us on par with "countries." Don't let that distract you, though. The point I'm making is that no country on this planet that I know of allows tourists to enter and work. Period!

An important distinction needs to be drawn here. When you enter as a tourist, you fall under a different status than someone who entered the Commonwealth as a foreign national worker. Enter as a "tourist" and you fall under the jurisdiction of Immigration officials.

Enter as a "foreign national worker" with an approved employment contract and entry permit, and you fall under the jurisdiction of Labor officials.

I didn't appreciate Benedetto mixing apples and oranges. He's trying to confuse the public by equating the status of people who arrived here as approved foreign national workers (who would not be turned away from adjudication through the Hearing Office) with TOURISTS, who are PROHIBITED from working in the CNMI at all! All that stuff he threw in there about people being out of status is just a smoke screen to confuse the situation.

That's the only point I'm trying to make about this.

Thanks.

Pragmatic Plato said...

Wow I wish all legislation had thorough write ups to accompany them.

Thank you for your breakdown of this bill.

I like that both you and Jim are attempting to explain all of the legalese contained within this bill. Makes it much more palatable for the commoners like me.

Man, couple your letter with Tina's and I will not be able to get anything done today reading both of them. :-)

Any idea where I can get a copy of the bill. I would love the amended senate version that they passed but will be happy with either one. Preferably a digital copy.

Thanks again for expanding on this topic.

Boycott Porky's

PP

Pragmatic Plato said...

Cinta:

Any chance the House could hold a public hearing on this Labor bill in the near future? Preferably after the public has had a chance to get a hold of the bill you are given from the Senate.

CNMI Blogger said...

PP,
I'll be more than happy to e-mail you a copy of the bill with all the Senate amendments as soon as it is officially transmitted to the House from the Senate. E-mail me at cnmiservant@cintakaipat.com so I'll have your e-mail address to send an electronic version of the bill to you.

The public is welcome to copies of this bill, but those of us who have toiled over this bill for 18 months are ready to have this bill passed. We've had numerous public hearings on this bill and the changes we need to make to compensate for Reyes vindictive changes will be dealt with in the regulations. Incidentally, I learned that Benedetto was in cohoots wiht Reyes to kill the bill and interesting that Reyes took out some of the protections for foreign national workers that I put in this bill.

I will urge the House to pass this bill as soon as we can convene a session. What I did with this bill has NEVER been done before. This is not a typical way that the Legislature works on hills, especially bills of this large proportion. Why? Because I give a spam! I care about the work I attach my name to.

I hope the fresh crop of lawmakers that everyone wants to put in office will do the same thing I did with this Labor bill that took me 18 months to get to the floor. Most bills are introduced the same day and get voted on the very same day, especially in the Senate. Reyes' special-interest bills are like that. That's why he had fits when a particular bill raises some red flags with me and I ask that it be sent to Committee for review and further research.

I noticed when I was a Labor Hearing Officer that the Legislature had a habit of passing legislation without bothering to come down to Labor to talk to the people in the front line who actally enforce such laws. I vowed that I would never repeat such costly mistakes. I am no expert on a lot of things, but I know Labor and I know what works and doesn't work. Even so, I consulted a list of people on and off-island a mile long to make sure that this is a solid bill. Trust me on this.

When I was still at Labor, I was the hearing officer that people either sought out or avoided, depending on which side of the law you were on. Nonresident workers and their representatives typically sought my help because they knew I was a fair person. Others who came across me (and I dealt with several powerful and prominent members of the local families) were outraged when I refused to roll out the red-carpet treatment for them. Some even complained to the Director of Labor (now Secretary of Labor) about me, but I didn't care.

I keep coming back to this. This is my home and I will always care about what garbage comes in and is dumped here. My critics call me "Congresswoman Trash" and that's fine with me. It's better than being called "Congresswoman embezzler."

CNMI Blogger said...

More smoke screens from Mark Hanson and Zaldy Dandan.

As to Zaldy, is he saying that we should just do nothing our second year in office because it's an election year and anything we do or any bill we pass will be construed as pandering to voters? How pathetic is this? So I should have tried to rush the Labor reform bill through and try to pass it the first year I was in office regardless of whether it was ready or not so I wouldn't be accused of pandering to the voters?

James said...

Dear Cinta:

You should not consider it a "betrayal" that I continue to push for protection of due process rights for alien workers. Consider this: If you took out the four or five punitive, unconstitutional provisions in the Bill that I outlined in my letter (and which we discussed thoroughly in Task Force sessions), I would have no argument with this Bill (in fact, I would have vigorously supported it), and thus, there would have been no "pro-Federalization" ammunition for anyone in D.C. or the news media. I don't know where you ever got the idea I agreed to drop those issues just because we discussed them and you included them in the Bill at the insistence of the governor over my objection. If you remember, I offered to do two things for your committee: first, to identify "red flags" in the Bill that might be perceived by Washington as a rollback of hard-fought protections we earned for workers over the past 10 years; two, to give you my perspective, as someone who has been involved in workers' issues, on how the Bill might affect the rights of workers, particularly the complaint process. I did both faithfully. I did not betray you, or anyone else. For the record, I respect you, and like you. And if I was shilling for Federalization, as you suggest, I would have kept my mouth shut until the governor signed the Bill, and then released my criticisms. The parts of the Bill I am complaining about do nothing to increase enforcement; all they do is hurt the Bill and the credibility of the CNMI. I am sorry you can't see that.

James said...

Oh, and one more thing: I did not approach the Senate, THEY approached ME. They said they thought a "piecemeal" approach was the way to go because of business opposition to the Bill. I told them if they were going to do a piecemeal Bill, to make sure to include the five or six parts (identified in my open letter) that were definite improvements over existing law. Then, when they passed the Bill, I heard someone attribute the "piecemeal" Bill to me, as if it were my idea. That is not true; instead, it sounds like someone is trying to blame me for their failed plans to parcel out the Bill.

CNMI Blogger said...

Jim,

What makes you think that you're the only one who cares about the foreign national workers? It's all about trust. Remember, it was I who invited you on the Task Force. I didn't have to do that, but I genuinely wanted to work with everyone to have a good bill. There were comments from everyone that I considered. Some I took, some I disregarded. I told House legal counsel Ian Catlett that our job was to walk down the middle of the road as I knew that we would be getting comments from both extremes. I don't know where you got the impression that the Governor was sitting on that Task Force forcing anything, but his comments were not giving more weight than anyone else's. What I didn't appreciate was the fact that you went behind my back and had the House legal counsel, who is a close friend of yours and someone who is supposed to be working closely with me, sneek things into the bill without my authorization. You seem very obsessed with the notion that TOURISTS ought to be allowed to burden our Administrative Hearing Office by entering the CNMI and working ILLEGALLY. Why is that? Show me which provision in the U.S. INS law or otherwise that has a similar provision that authorizes tourists to work and then go to the Labor Department to get their labor claims resolved.

Moreover, when I learned that you had sent a bunch of comments to the Senate to lobby for your changes, including the tourist provision, I asked Ian to ask you to share those comments with me as I was concerned about what you might try to get through the Senate that you didn't succeed in getting through me. You refused to share those comments with me, so, once again, that raised more suspicions with me.

As I understand it, you worked very closely with Senator Reyes, the lone Senator who took out some of the protections I put in there for the foreign national workers. Congratulations! Whether you sought the Senate out or they sought you ought, your requests were considered and discarded just as the House Task Force did.

Didn't you say to me in your private e-mail that you considered the things you are complaining about in this bill to be "unimportant policy calls"? If so, then is the CNMI not entitled to make its own IMPORTANT policy calls? What gives?

You may call it whatever you want, but when word came back to me from the Senate that you told them that I left you out of the loop (when you voluntarily chose to be absent while you were drafting the pro-federalization bill with Cohen in DC), I call that BETRAYAL! You betrayed me, you betrayed the Task Force, you betrayed the people of the CNMI who paid your paycheck for many years, and you ultimately betrayed the foreign national workers.

Pilgrim said...

Cinta- no matter how many thousands of words that you write about your hard work, it doesn't change the fact that the bill is simply a bad bill. If I had to pick only one provision which would illustrate how bad it is, just consider the need to send workers home after a period of time on the job. If the worker is a janitor or garment sewer, it's easy to have a replacement. If the worker is a college educated key person who has been on the job for 15 years and is critical to the companies operations, then what?

Yes there are exemptions.. to a point, but not enough. Consider a company that has 20 employees, and 10 of those employees are critical to company operations and need a training time of 2-3 years to be able to perform the task. How would you deal with that if you owned the business? Hire twice as many people as needed?

You keep saying that you have done your duty in writing this bill because you have consulted with private industry in the CNMI. Well, tell me what the private sector has told you about this bill. Did you listen? Did you understand that virtually all of private industry are telling you that this is a bad bill and that this bill will hurt the private sector? Just listening to them and not caring about it enough to do something about it hardly gives you the right to say you "consulted" with the private sector as if they helped you write this bill. They did not.

Pilgrim said...

And my final paragraphs which somehow didnt' make it in the post.....

Your bill is the primary reason why I and other legitimate businessmen that I know are praying for the speedy passage of the federalization bill. Why? So that this bill of yours will be superceded before it can do it's damage to our businesses.

We don't have issues with fair pay and minimum wage and things like that. Our issues are being able to keep our key people so our businesses can continue to operate. Our issues are about being forced to hire someone unqualified to do a job and send our long time qualified worker home, only to find out that the worker that was forced upon us quits or otherwise fails to measure up. Yes it happens over and over again right now.

Our issues are having the right to hire the most qualified people for the job and be able to keep them if they want to stay. Therefore it's your bill that is the single-most reason many people are for the Federalization. Perhaps that is the hidden agenda in the first place?

CNMI Blogger said...

Pilgrim,

It doesn't sound to me like you bothered to read the bill before you launched your uninformed assault. I consulted heavily with the private sector, among others, and I made plenty concessions in the bill. There is a specific provision that I included in the bill for "key employees," the type of employees you are talking about who are valuable to the businesses. You get to choose who you're key employees are, which could include the general manager or the diesel guy who makes the buses run. It doesn't matter. You decide. The point is, these employees will be exempted so your business is not negatively affected. This was a negotiated compromise between the Task Force and the business sector. Did you bother to sit in on these discussions?

Say what you want to say, and continue your campaign to misinform, but I gave the tourism industry the widest latitude where moritorium is concerned. I gave you all a huge gift and you don't even appreciate it.

The exit provision? Do you think the CNMI invented this? The United States exit provision is twice as long -- it's one year to our six months. This is not new. It was part of the original Act when it was enacted in 1983.

And the transfer? Do you think there is such a thing as a transfer under United States law? You work for one employer and at the end of your contract, out you go.

The problem with you critics is that there is no compromise with you. The business sector wants 10 things on their list and if they get only 8 out of the 10, that's not good enough. It has to be all or nothing. Well, it doesn't work that way. Ever heard of a compromise? There are many competing interests that must be balanced.

So when you say that my bill is the single-most reason many people are for the Federalization, is this based on some scientific poll or are you psychic? You must be because you know everything there is to know about the labor bill. Okay. You're the expert. Congratulations.

And that attitude that you and your cohorts have against employing our citizens? Whether you like it or not, the law is the law. Quit being so cynical. I have been working with numerous government agencies and the Chamber and HANMI folks for the past several weeks to overhaul our education and training of our citizens so that they successfully integrate into the private sector. Unlike that stereotype that you're so quick to spew out, many of us do not believe in forcing unqualified persons to be hired. How does that help anyone?

But rather than condemn our citizens, why don't you do something constructive instead and become part of the solution? Given the chance, I bet most of us are capable of being trained to fill these positions that folks like you don't want to give to our U.S. citizens.

James said...

Dear Cinta:

I understand your being upset with me a little better after reading your post. For the record:

1. I did not attempt to get anything put into the Bill behind your back, and would never ask a friend of mine to jeopardize his job by doing so.

2. I know you care about workers' rights. We disagree on some of the specifics, but that doesn't mean it's an all-or-nothing situation. I do not question your motives, and have not done so in the past. I think you are sincere in wanting to create a good Bill, and as you previously said, one that would "protect workers' rights without creating entitlements." My opposition to the Bill is based on the issues, it's not personal. And I appreciate that your response to my letter was about issues, and not personal. It's been a positive experience working with you on these issues, and I would welcome the opportunity to do so again.

3. I did not 'work closely' with Sen. Reyes. I agreed to provide him comments at the request of another Senator.

4. If you recall, I did not insist on tourists being included in the Bill. I said it was more important that you allow workers who may have expired contracts or unapproved contracts to file complaints, because we have so many victimized by the lies of their employers. Tourists are a very, very small segment of the worker population, and I see why you might wish to treat them differently from the other workers (e.g., they can be told they are not allowed to work when they enter).

5. It's true that I did not let you know of my decision not to support the Bill, and I should have. When all was said and done, I weighed the many good things the Bill would do against the things I believe would weaken worker protections, and came to a decision. I honestly thought I would have the time to come and talk to you about it.

CNMI Blogger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CNMI Blogger said...

Jim,

Let me respond to your points one by one -- for the record:

You said:

1. I did not attempt to get anything put into the Bill behind your back, and would never ask a friend of mine to jeopardize his job by doing so.

My response:

1. Deny, deny, deny, but I stand by my statement. I do not believe Ian was being dishonest with me when he told me on more than one occasion when I caught something that was put into the bill without my authorization and questioned him about it and his response was: "Oh, it's something Jim wanted me to put in there." A classic example is the tourist provision you seem so darn obsessed with.

Bottom line: I stand by my statement.
********

You said:

2. I know you care about workers' rights. We disagree on some of the specifics, but that doesn't mean it's an all-or-nothing situation. I do not question your motives, and have not done so in the past. I think you are sincere in wanting to create a good Bill, and as you previously said, one that would "protect workers' rights without creating entitlements." My opposition to the Bill is based on the issues, it's not personal. And I appreciate that your response to my letter was about issues, and not personal. It's been a positive experience working with you on these issues, and I would welcome the opportunity to do so again.

My response:

I'm not asking for praises, Jim. Just the truth. Don't try to say something nice in private and then publicly villify me and those who genuinely worked long and hard on reforming this complex bill.

Again, I refer you to your private e-mail message to me in which you refer to your 4 or 5 points of contention as "UNIMPORTANT policy calls." Yet, publicly, you go so far as to say these provisions are "punitive" and "unconstitutional." So, which is it?

*********************
You said:

3. I did not 'work closely' with Sen. Reyes. I agreed to provide him comments at the request of another Senator.

My response:

Deny all you want, but there is no denying the fact that you were quite willing to help Reyes throw out the ENTIRE bill so long as he included your 4 or 5 "unimportant policy call provisions" in his ill-informed peacemeal attempts. I find it incredulous that you, of all people, were willing to just throw away all that 18 months of good hard work on weekdays and weekends rather than lobby to pass the full and complete bill. Was it because half-way through, your motivations changed when you were asked to help draft the federalization bill? Just think about this.

Even Reyes, who was hard-pressed to justify why he voted to pass the bill which he claimed was so bad, blessed this bill with his "generous" pronounciation that the bill is 60% good! We know Reyes was just spewing vindictive nonesense but you, Jim, sold us down the Marianas Trench!

**************

You said:

4. If you recall, I did not insist on tourists being included in the Bill. I said it was more important that you allow workers who may have expired contracts or unapproved contracts to file complaints, because we have so many victimized by the lies of their employers. Tourists are a very, very small segment of the worker population, and I see why you might wish to treat them differently from the other workers (e.g., they can be told they are not allowed to work when they enter).

My response:

Incredible! How could you continue to deny that you insisted on tourists being included in the bill?! Let's revisit this, shall we?

First, you try to get the folks at Labor to go along with you on this silly idea. This upset Alfred Pangelinan, the Deputy Secretary of Labor, who, in turn, contacted me about this. I listened and agreed with Alfred that the CNMI has no business giving tourists IMPLIED CONSENT to enter and work illegally in the CNMI by inviting them to avail themselves of the Administrative Hearing Office to adjudicate their work-related claims. Just what type of double message are we going to be giving tourists with this type of nonsense law?

I then immediately instructed Ian to put in a provision in this new Labor Reform Bill SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITING the very thing you're trying to foist on the CNMI. When you read it, of course, you INSISTED that it be taken out and that your version be adopted instead. We went back and forth on this in the Committee meeting in the Speaker's Conference Room, though none of your justifications persuaded me or the Committee to adopt your view. You finally dropped the matter when I told you, "This is a policy call and I'm putting my foot down on this."

Afterwards, as I read through subsequent redrafts of the bill, I was increasingly annoyed when there were at least two more attempts to get you what you wanted simply by rewording the provision a different way! That is what I call sneeky. Ian will recall that I was annoyed with this.

As to your points about expired contracts and unapproved contracts, I've already explained this in my Open Letter to you. No need to repeat myself.

Bottom line: I stand by my statements.
***************
You said:

5. It's true that I did not let you know of my decision not to support the Bill, and I should have. When all was said and done, I weighed the many good things the Bill would do against the things I believe would weaken worker protections, and came to a decision. I honestly thought I would have the time to come and talk to you about it.

My response:

And after you carefully weighed the bill, you still concluded that it's far better to throw out the entire bill that has been so carefully scrutinized by so many for four provisions! How sad.

But then, this is the second time I've been stung by you, Jim. Once at Labor, when you first became a federal ombudsman and I swallowed that, and now this. To borrow an old analogy, "Sting me once, shame on you. Sting me twice, Shame on me."

After giving my all-out good-faith effort and being treated this way, you'll pardon me if I don't quite share your enthusiasm.

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