Friday, December 11, 2009

It's Official!

Dear Junior Yappers,

Like thousands of people before me, I am packing my bags and heading for the mainland. Life sometimes delivers opportunities and those opportunities rarely knock twice.

It wasn't an easy decision to trade paradise for a paycheck and I'm hardly the first to do so. Everyone has a reason for leaving and the bottom line was mine.

I consider myself lucky to have spent the past couple of years on this beautiful island and to have met the select group of people who dedicated themselves to change.

Talking shit is my thing, but much like that big new building in Garapan, I Love Saipan! The jobless rate in The States is not any better than here but the compensation sure is!

I am just as lucky for reaching the next step on the ladder of life as I am to have found Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. After applying to numerous companies, waiting, checking the mailbox (physical and electronic), and fielding offers, I've finally found my penguin.


I'm off to the mainland with a heavy heart, but I will keep an eye on the CNMI and keep an ear to the shells on the shores on the other side of the Pacific. Since making my decision four weeks ago, surprise has given way to excitement, which has given way to anxiety, which has given way to the unstoppable march of time.

And now that time is up.

See you in The States,

The Yapper

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Five More Years

It's over! Once again, Better Times beat Better Limes. The names of the LT's might have changed but the Green Machine downed the Half-Yapese Half-Pint by 370 votes to continue his rule over the serfs and vassals of Saipan, Tinian and Rota.

Defectors who sought change have already begun to lose their jobs but the action at the chopping block is far from over. Expect plenty of blood to be spilled in the coming days and weeks as the Executive Branch conducts summary executions across the board.

The CNMI is about to have a Legislature without a woman and the first governor with a nine-year rein. It was the Republicans who sounded the trumpets for a runoff that "a Carolinian could never win."

Ah, sweet irony.

Was it one of the biggest miscalculations in recent local political history? Maybe, but maybe not. Fitial was only the second governor to win a re-election bid, but he would have lost were it not for the runoff.

By eight votes!!!

So begins the grading season for those touting the benefits of "continued leadership" and stability...and the exodus. Studies at Yapper Central showed that people would have left the islands had the election had gone the other way, so the election results aren't the problem.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Today's The Day

All of the absentee ballots are here and today we're going to find out who will be in charge of the CNMI for the next five years. There shouldn't be too much of a change in the lead as the incumbent has a 501-vote lead over his chief rival.

Now it's just a waiting game, but it's a game that will end by the end of the day.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Another State of Emergency?

Should we even be surprised?

Wouldn't it be easier for everyone involved if the local media informs us when we're not in a State of Emergency?

Dear Saipan Tribune and Marianas Variety, You can save a lot of shitload of time, paper, and ink by passing on the emergency declarations and waiting for the all-clear from the apparent all-seer. In the meantime, would you mind filling the blank pages with a larger comics section? That's the only part I can read these days.


The Yapper

Has the Census Lost Its Senses?

Big money is available for one and all thanks to the return of the people counters. Yes, Census 2010 is offering up to $25 per hour to count people and interpret for the counters.

Not a bad deal at all.

While hundreds of eligible workers should rush out for one of the jobs, there will be a number of obstacles in their way.

Many fear losing their place in line at Nutrition Assistance but the most difficult barrier between job seekers and gainful employment is the urinalysis.

The "piss test" might piss a few people off, but more than 350 part-time and full-time positions need to get filled by drug-free U.S. Citizens. That wasn't a problem for the first NMI census in 1950, but there weren't all that many people to count back then.

So what's the big deal? The Census data will determine how more than $400 billion in federal funds is passed out to local, state and tribal governments each year (Are we tribal?). That means that we'll either get more food stamps or less food stamps and highway funds based on this report.

Just think of all the extra Rydlyme we could buy!

With headquarters in the U.S. Mainland, Census 2010 has a decent understanding of the island lifestyle. Rather than hurry people in for jobs that start now, officials employed the time honored local party planning technique by telling everyone to come an hour earlier than the start time. In this case, the actual census date will not start until April 1 (April Fool's Day).

So here's the pay broken down by position:

Office operations staff or clerks: $12.50 an hour
Enumerators: $15.94 an hour
Crew Leader Assistants: $15.94 an hour
Crew Leaders: $17.19 an hour
Field Operations Supervisors: $18.75 an hour.
Interpreters: $25 an hour.

Looks like there's a huge advantage to being a Crew Leaders over those lowly Crew Leader Assistants. Title has its privileges, but those privileges don't include extra pay. Another letdown is the guaranteed number of hours. Full-time and part-time workers will be required to work 10 to 40 hours per week.

Sounds great, maybe.

New jobs are good, but one of the downsides for the new moneymakers is that the duration of their employment will be limited to as little as a few weeks to as much as a few months.

So what's next for the people counters? Why their old spot in line, of course! At least there will be a lot of people who will benefit from the experience. A number of first time workers will be spoiled by the lack of work for high pay. That should get them lined up for cushy government jobs.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hafa Stay?

Much like thousands of Johns who visited the CNMI, "F-Day" came and went. So what happens next? We're still standing. Businesses haven't collapsed yet. Overstayers haven't been horded into 40' containers and shipped home.

So maybe federalization wasn't the worst case scenario that many predicted.


Local businesses won't seriously feel the pinch for at least a couple of years, but every month brings each minimum wage earner a step closer to a $.50/hr. pay hike. How long will that last? That's the $64,000 question.

With only highly qualified laborers being allowed to stick around Saipan's shores for the long haul, Congressman Kilili Salan and Governor Benigno Fitial managed to secure "parole" for four groups of non-residents.

So who gets a Get Out of Jail Free card? Not the so-called "overstayers." According to the Feds, there will not be an amnesty provision in the Consolidated Natural Resources Act or the federalization law for “overstayers” in the CNMI.

Glad I went Rihanna and got under my Umbrella-ella-ella-ey-ey-ey.

Ice Dealers Hard To Find?

We here at Yap Central are "plenty happy" that the local ice peddlers are being rounded up and prosecuted. So why it's so difficult to wrangle the ice traffickers?

We know where they are!

We know where they make it!

They've even become so bold as to sell it in stores and promote home delivery!

The Office of the Attorney General is chasing down Junding Qiu for the possession and delivery of ice in two separate incidents in October, but what about the Lower Base Mafia that's been producing pure ice for almost 35 years?

Munson Retiring

The man who won the west with nothing but his Winchester and his dog Ol' Blue is calling it a career, but is the judge really going to retire for good?

Let's face it, the guy has been a chief judge since the Reagan years. That means he's seen a lot of cases. So why retire now?

Do you think he was worn out by the Villagomez trial? Was it all of the gum chewing and jumbled seating arrangements? Maybe he decided to pack up and leave Saipan after we got our street signs and only now decided to act on it.

Munson and his wife have been on Saipan for almost three decades and it's clear that the local lifestyle rubbed off on him because, like many locals before him, he packed his belongings and moved to Idaho.

Good luck, Judge. Thanks for bagging one last big fish before you left.

New Quarters On The Way

But who can afford them?

According to an early report from the local branch of Census 2010, not about 60% of the workforce. The good news is that the CNMI will finally get some quality "press" for the first time in a long while. The bad news is that most of those quarters will be remitted back to the home countries of the Commonwealth's guest workforce via Western Union.

The United States Mint opted to commemorate the CNMI through the printing of hundreds of thousands of 25-cent pieces in the U.S. mainland and people across America reacted in much the same way throughout each of the fifty states.

"What the hell is the see-en-em-eye and why the hell is it on my money?"

U.S. Rep. Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan believes that “Every time someone pulls one of these shiny numbers out their pocket they will be reminded of the Northern Marianas..."

I suppose that's much the same way that thousands of tourists are reminded of the working women of Garapan each time they put their hand in their pocket and pull out an old condom wrapper.

The official Northern Mariana Islands quarter release event takes place at the American Memorial Park on Wednesday, Dec. 10, where the public may purchase the Northern Marianas coins or trade their old quarters for the new.

Unfortunately, the the new quarters may only be obtained through the exchange of legal tender as the U.S. Treasury Department does not accept Food Stamp.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Can of Worms?

Thanks to my new friend and new celebrity commenter, Melvin Faisao, I have a new interest in life that revolves around the campaign contributions of our local government officials. It's nothing that isn't easily found on Google so it shouldn't be a shock.

Second, I never knew that Melvin had such a passion for the politics of Indiana. Wow Melvin, you're so global! So what is it about Dan Burton that made you want to support his campaign?

For instance, did you know that Lt. Governor Eloy Inos contributed to a number of lobbying groups in the mainland U.S.? How many regular people in the Marianas are interested in furthering the Hoosier Political Action Committee? Indiana? Really? You're not done, Eloy. How about the thousands of dollars you contributed to lobbying groups like the Keep Our Mission PAC?

Well, that's not big deal. How about our Governor Benigno Fitial? He's kind of boring, but why would he be interested in Bob Schaffer's run for a Colorado Senate seat? Oh, and how about his other contributions to lobbying groups?

Don't worry, I'm not only into tracking down one party. How about Heinz Hofschneider? Hmm, interesting. Seems as thought he hasn't contributed. Wow, same goes for Arnold Palacios. Just for kicks, let's see what Google turns up on Juan Lizama.

Well that was about as expected as Tuesday morning after Monday night. All of his contributions were to himself. I knew he spent a lot of time with himself. I just didn't realize that he paid himself for all of that "extra time" spent in the bathroom.

More to come!