Friday, May 29, 2009

Blue Print for the CNMI

Ed Propst's recent post at Marianas Pride includes this bit:

Beautiful beaches. Pristine waters (no red flags please). Friendly locals. Clean buildings. Friendly, consistent laws for investors. Promotion of eco-tourism ...Why can't our leaders understand the basic building blocks of tourism???

I want to add my own thoughts to this excellent start.

Beautiful beaches.
No litter. Sufficient trash bins that are emptied regularly. Bike/walking paths that link all of the beaches and that are kept in good repair, with working lights at night. Bike patrolling police officers. Pala palas, concrete picnic tables and benches, and occasionaly restrooms that are maintained in good working order. (Personally, I don't actually mind graffiti, so long as it isn't racist, pornographic, ugly or vulgar, so I don't add that to my short list.)

Pristine waters, and I would add, teeming with healthy marine life in a balanced eco-system.
Strong enforcement by sufficient numbers of well-qualified, educated and trained marine protection officers. An end to tour guides who encourage our tourists to buy little hot dogs and other food to feed the fishies. Balance of our tourist interests in diving and "seeing" marine life with our local interests in fishing derbies and personal consumption. (I think we're doing this now, but accidentally, not intentionally.)

Friendly locals.
Bring back cultural Fridays. Put an end to price-gouging--allow competition in the taxi industry, for example. Encourage a return to the small stands selling leis and mwar-mwars; promote more local crafts.

Clean buildings, clean roads.
Zoning that simply requires clean frontage on the roads, trimmed grass, a neat look. And then also no more road kill! Let's require licenses for ALL animals (yes, even chickens and pigs, etc.). The license fee can be very low, but the purpose is to make people accountable. We'd need more enforcement officers (dog catchers!) and an animal control shelter (dog pound) for strays, but better this than more painful death on the highways. And on the subject of roads, let's make sure we have a sewer system, and drainage system that works. AND SIDEWALKS. We need sidewalks everywhere. And then we'll see more pedestrian traffic, and more tourists.

Friendly, consistent laws for investors.
Well, for everyone! One of the least friendly kinds of law is the one that is built on corruption and graft. We need more prosecution of fraudulent procurement practices. We need fewer sole source deals. We need open government. (And you'll notice I don't say we need an end to Article XII. Right now, investors of non-NMI descent can get 55 year leases. If we start promoting small businesses--as Ed mentions, the backbone of healthy local economies--we can feel confident that 55 years is not an unreasonable length of time for a business life, and sufficient to encourage investment at the level we need.)

Promotion of eco-tourism.
We've been handed a golden opportunity with the declaration of the Marianas Trench Marine Monument. Now we need to be pushing the federal government to make good on this potential. (Imho, that also means we need to go for what would be best in the LONG run, and that means NOAA Sanctuaries as the lead agency for the monument.) We also need to protect and promote our cultural sites--our latte stones and caves. And we could take a note from Hawaii, where the PUBLIC LIBRARY is an agency that promotes their tourism industry, with short-term library cards for tourists, with tons of informational brochures on the cultures and history of the islands, and more.

There is a lot more we could be doing, but if we did even some of this, we'd be heading in the right direction. It's also about not going off on irrelevant and harmful tangents.

It's all about where we start. But since we could be/should be getting some of the Recovery Act money, let's push for expenditures for these kinds of programs.


The Saipan Blogger said...

My stepmother once told me that sidewalks would be a waste of money because the Chinese are too stupid to know how to use them.

Anonymous said...

There may be some truth in that. When they built sidewalks in Tinian down the side of Broadway going to Dynasty.
After the installation of side walks there were more Chinese walking in the middle of the road at night time (wearing dark clothes, until today)

The amount of Filipino's walking down the middle of the road was noticeable also.(all wear dark clothes night time and light clothes day time.)
This was very good as the Mayor had turned off the few street lights and Dynasty had turned it roadside lights off prior as part of their effort to save on the power bill.

Saipan Writer said...

Ai adai. What kind of argument is that?! People will say anything to get out doing what's needed and right.

Assuming only the Chinese walk... no wonder we have a diabetes problem.

We need sidewalks because they will help US. We can then walk on them. Our kids can walk more and drive/ride less. We can stop and chat with our neighbors. We can heart-healthy. We can keep an eye out for crime. We can pollute less because of our decrease in gasoline-engine use.

I suppose, Angelo, you could tell your step-mother that the garment factories are gone, along with many of those Chinese workers. Without visa-free travel, perhaps we'll see fewer Chinese tourists, too. So she needs a different argument against sidewalks, now.

Anonymous said...

My stepmother once told me that Angelo was so insecure that the only way he figured he could try and boost his ego was by putting other people down.

The Saipan Blogger said...

When I was a kid, the lack of sidewalks made no sense to me. Then a few years ago when they built the "Park to Port Pathway," I didn't see what the big deal was. It was a sidewalk that should have been put in when the the road was built in the first place.

Middle Road still doesn't have sidewalks, which it should, considering that the majority of the people that live here do not own cars.

The Saipan Blogger said...

I may do a post on my blog on the things I learned from my parents and my step-parents.

Anonymous said...

if anyone else had said this

"because the Chinese are too stupid to know how to use them."

even if just as a hearsay reference i think you would have jumped all over them.

enough with the coddling. all you are doing is encouraging him to continue which int he end is not helping anyone at all.

so he furthers the above statement to say that middle road dwellers don't have cars? the guy is just plain dumb.

Anonymous said...

[start sarcasm]

Damn these Chinese. Just like that stupid Chinese guy named Jerry Tan that gives your organizations tons of money that you use to pay your rent and buy your meals?

[end sarcasm]

The Saipan Blogger said...

Nobody "jumped all over me" because I was pointing out that a lesson I was taught as a child was ridiculous and racist.

I think we were all taught lessons in our youth that have in time proven themselves not to be true.

Stop being so hypersensitive.

And the majority of the people on this island do not own cars. Most Chamorros and Americans do, but they are not the majority.

The Saipan Blogger said...

For example, when I lived in England the basketball coach got really excited when he found out I was American...because ALL Americans are excellent basketball players.

My humanities teacher that year also told my mother, "I always thought Americans were loud and stupid. Your son is shy and smart."

She didn't mean it as an insult, she just had a perception of Americans that turned out not to be true.

Saipan Writer said...

Interesting, anon. My first reaction was to "jump all over" the comment by Angelo and the next anon, and I had a comment half written when I was interrupted by someone else. I let off a little steam to her, and got some perspective, and then re-read Angelo's post. I figured out that he was repeating something he heard so we could discuss the difficulties we encounter when we propose things--and some of those difficulties are ridiculous stereo-typing opinions.

But hey--I like having a commenter tell me to get back onto the rant. It's something I think I do too much, but okay...someone else agrees it needs to be done.

Anonymous said...


You need some serious help.


Please do what you can to correct this poor individual.


Forgive him for he knows not what he does.

Anonymous said...

Ed, you are the one that needs prayer.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Edz does need our prayers.