It is pretty well known that PEW is willing to spend a lot of money to promote their proposed Bush Legacy Monument encompassing the northernmost three islands of the CNMI and 115,000 square miles of the surrounding ocean. They are willing to spend tens of thousands via renting office space, hiring employees locally, paying a Guam resident to prepare an economic study favorable to their cause, and paying several local folks directly and indirectly for other “projects.” More tens of thousands have been spent paying large sums for sales literature and even buying out issues of local magazines if they print favorable articles. They are willing to up the ante to spending hundreds of thousands to sell this idea by providing free ocean-going boat rides to some connected folks to “tour” the affected areas. Who knows who else is being paid in other ways locally and in far off Washington, D.C.Ken Phillips responds on his blog:
The latest spending spree involves paying a Guam-based company, Q Market Research, to conduct a sales job thinly disguised as a “phone survey” with Saipan residents as the target. By using leading questions, ambiguous questions, and questions skillfully designed to hype their proposal they want to infiltrate every home on Saipan and try to sell their fairytale version of what this Bush Monument will mean to the children of the Marianas.
We are supposed to believe an economic “study” bought and paid for by the PEW group when it makes outrageous claims of economic benefit. We are supposed to look the other way while they pay off local persons and groups to support the idea of ceding the northernmost islands of the Commonwealth and surrounding waters to the USA for all time. We are supposed to ignore the promises of luxurious free trips to these islands for influential persons willing to support them. I am sure the “results” of this latest “scientific” phony phone study paid for by PEW will be skewed to magically show how nearly every person on the planet is sold on the idea of the federal government taking control of one third of the Marianas forever. Have the Guam salesmen called your house yet?
We are supposed to believe that Pew is willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars “just for the satisfaction” of knowing they were able to influence the President of the United States to force the Marianas to give them a third of our 2,000 year heritage. Something makes me doubt that. There are favors being traded at very high levels and huge sums are at stake in this takeover bid. All for “the satisfaction”? How dumb do they think we are?
“Saving the Environment” is a clever ploy, and nothing more. These folks claim they want to preserve an area they say is already pristine. That cover story is not just doubtful, it is ridiculous. The truth is they want federal control over those areas and they are willing to pay out big bucks to get it. They want control to be taken from the legitimate owners of those lands and waters, the indigenous citizens of the CNMI with no chance for us to ever regain it.
The pot is beginning to boil. You can count on PEW and their paid minions to try and push public opinion their way by any means possible. There is an almost 100 percent split right now. The indigenous peoples who rightfully own those lands and waters oppose the Bush Monument proposal overwhelmingly. Foreign nationals and many mainland-based U.S. citizens are in favor of taking this area from those indigenous who have been guaranteed control of it. Our freely elected pepresentatives, our senators, our governor, all of our mayors oppose this idea and our village elders almost to a man oppose it as well.
How dumb do they think we are? They hope we are very dumb; but they are wrong. We can stop them if we stand up and fight. If you do not fight this absurd theft of our heritage now and they succeed in taking our islands and waters, what will you tell you children and grandchildren? It will be too late then to tell them you are sorry. All will be gone.
Rep. Stanley McGinnis Torres
I've been mildly supportive of the proposed Marine Monument surrounding the northern Northern Mariana Islands; thinking it was more appropriate for people like David Sablan, Ike Cabrera, Agnes McPhetres and Karl Reyes to comment. I don't want opponents like Gourley and Joyner to muddy the waters by twisting it into 'outsiders telling us what to do'. After all, I've only been here for 25 years.
Still, I was surprised when I was polled about my opinion. It was obviously a survey of attitudes toward the monument-- and toward the military's presence in the Marianas-- but in no way was it a "sales job thinly disguised as a “phone survey” with Saipan residents as the target." I don't know whether Stanley Torres actually participated in the telephone survey, but I totally disagree with his assertion that "By using leading questions, ambiguous questions, and questions skillfully designed to hype their proposal they want to infiltrate every home on Saipan and try to sell their fairytale version of what this Bush Monument will mean to the children of the Marianas."
His letter sounds like a pre-emptive strike to discount the results if they don't favor his side. Not satisfied, he quickly slips into active paranoia: "There are favors being traded at very high levels and huge sums are at stake in this takeover bid." Whew, take a deep breath. Who is going to gain huge sums from a marine monument?
For myself, the questions clarified how important the issue is to me: not a deal-breaker, but certainly something I'll consider when I vote. Then again, I guess he was talking about me when he earlier wrote that "It’s not their ‘public land’ that would be given away should this [marine monument] be enforced by [President] Bush." Oh, wait, the 'public land' is the islands that are already protected by the CNMI Constitution. I guess the monument would be in the surrounding waters so that nasty federal government will be grabbing control... from themselves.
"How dumb do they think we are?" he asks. Let me rephrase that: how dumb do you think we are?
No worry, Representative Torres, I supported you for years because you were opposed, albeit ineffectively, to a lot of the CNMI government's mis-steps. That stopped a couple of years ago because of your increasingly vitriolic personal attacks on people you disagree with. I take it very personally that you are continually setting up 'statesiders' and 'mainlanders' as bogeymen.