Thursday, January 31, 2013

Milk-the Willy Tan iceberg

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?


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