Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Well, it looks like the world-traveling Faleomavaega departed the PDU meeting in Taiwan in time to blow into Saipan for the immigration hearing although I understand he barely made it in time to catch the end of it. At least his hair was combed for a change in the one photo I saw and he wasn't nodding off to sleep. But there is not a little irony in two passages I found in Saipan news stories about the hearing:

from a Saipan Tribune story 8/16/07

For his part, American Samoa Rep. Eni Faleomavaega raised concern about the NMI immigration bill's potential impact on his jurisdiction, which is the only other U.S. territory that currently controls its own immigration. He cited as a case in point recent legislation applying federal minimum wage laws to the CNMI and American Samoa. Until recently, both U.S. jurisdictions determined their own minimum wage.

What he neglected to mention, of course, is that American Samoa got included in the minimum wage bill because his "close ally" Speaker Nancy Pelosi threw him under a bus. When a Republican congressman complained that American Samoa was getting special treatment because the territory's largest private employer was based in her district, she decided to lump American Samoa in with Northern Marianas. Why didn't Eni step right in before Nancy made that commitment to treat both AS and CNMI the same? Because he was traveling, of course!

Can you imagine? The Democrats announced they would take major actions in the first 100 hours after coming into power in January. You would think it would have been a no brainer for every Democrat to be in his seat to make sure he got a piece of the action (and supported his leadership) and that every Republican also would be in his seat to protect his interests from the expected onslaught. But, oh, no, not Faleomavaega. For him, it was business as usual and that means travel, travel, travel--despite the fact that the Democrats now have restored a vote to the territorial delegates on the floor when in the committee of the whole. This time, his travel cost the territory dearly, very dearly. (BTW, when the energy bill was being considered in the Natural Resources Committee--where Eni has an unconditional vote--Nancy had to order him to stay in town--he was going to go off to a funeral--to cast his vote; (the Dem. majority is not all that great).

From a Marianas Variety story 8/16/07

“This is one historic occasion and it’s about a congressional committee reaching out to the jurisdiction rather than just making all the decisions in Washington. In doing it here, we get a better idea of what’s really happening here in the CNMI,” he told Variety.

This is truly ironic, since Eni is the major proponent of Washington decisionmaking over his own territory. Not only did he rig election law to get himself perpetually re-elected without a majority vote (which he has rarely achieved since 1996), he now wants Washington to impose that on local elections. Moreover, he plans to earmark Interior construction funds for projects of his choosing, and wants to force the islands to vote on changing citizenship law, election of senators and establishment of a federal court.

I haven't heard him propose a field hearing on any of these measures. Of course, he could have scheduled such a hearing himself had he taken the Insular Affairs subcommittee chairmanship he was offered instead of one on foreign affairs, which allows him to roam half the world on his own timetable (except for when Nancy says no).

How could Eni really get a better picture of what is happening in CNMI by being on the ground? The chairman and Congresswoman Bordallo already have been on the ground in the Marianas several days, with one hearing on Guam already under their belts. I guess Eni doesn't think he needs any new information under his ample belt. Why bother to come for the closing minutes of the hearing, after which I am sure he'll be on the first plane out--unless he has a golf game scheduled? After all, he could have stayed at his PDU meeting in Taiwan and watched the hearing on TV or read the transcript when he got back to Washington (or save it to read on his next long plane trip--if it can be printed that fast).

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