What About Me?

Hafa Adai. I can’t read your mind. Or wait, maybe I can? lol. Let’s try this.

You’re reading this because you just completed reading my more recent post, about wanting to help the Caribbean islands, territories, and nations after catastrophic damage from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. How’d I do? Amirite? : )

What more is there to know about me. First, you won’t find out much about me by searching social media. That’s a long story, but I’m not active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or other services. Why not just contact me? Ask me anything yourself. Engage in discussion here through the comments.

I need to move. I’m hoping to find a community where I can contribute.

Where I am of value. Where I can help.

I’ve lived through some unbelievable experiences. Both great and not great, to say the least. Once I lost everything I owned, I learned a lot about social prejudices. The hard way. Anybody living in poverty is treated differently, by just about everybody. I know I’ve had a lot of conversations that would’ve never taken place when I was highly successful. The condescension, the embitterment, the judgement. Just awful. I even created a term for it: “The assumption of the negative.”

I’d like to believe there is value in what I do. Unique value. Pretty much it’s all that I have left to drive me. The conundrum is that I cannot easily present this value to others. For the exact reason I’m different. Most cannot understand. See, this is where I start to ‘sound’ defensive or as though I’m wearing a pointy tin foil hat. That’s just the beginning of the social prejudices I mentioned.

I spend hours each day learning up, researching. Anything and everything. I try to prepare myself each day for what may come. A time when I have the ability to work. Doing what I am determined to do. To help save the world.

Okaaaaaaaaaaaaay. Again, with that tin foil hat. Welp. The leaders we entrust haven’t exactly been doing a splendid job of maintaining our progress. This is the social justice for all part. Income disparity has grown in many parts of America over the past three decades. More than half of all households living on welfare have at least one member working full-time. Obesity among impoverished children is significantly higher than in children from higher income families. Which leads to more health issues like onset type-2 diabetes and more.


I moved to one of America’s most impoverished cities to try to help do impactful work – Fresno, CA. I chose to move there. Spent my own money. Didn’t know anybody, no family, had never even visited.

But I’d done hundreds of hours of research. I believed that if given a chance, I could help. After more than a year, I realized why the city remains among the poorest and most impoverished in the country. Leadership is corrupt and inept. And unconcerned. It’s a mess and won’t improve anytime soon. In fact, I project it will only worsen. They’ll likely have a lot of new residents that have been priced out of the Bay Area and Los Angeles area. The poorest among those regions. Which will only exacerbate the city’s problems.

I moved to Saipan, in the U.S. Commonwealth State of the Northern Mariana Islands. It’s by Guam. Much closer to Japan and the Philippines than Hawai’i. You may know of the Marianas Trench, deepest place on the sea floor on earth. Might’ve heard of the role the Tinian airport played in World War II. For a spell, the world’s busiest airfield. But I digress.

Saipan is poor like most wouldn’t believe. Municipal water so highly chlorinated you cannot drink it or cook with it. Landlords commonly charge upwards of $0.42 per kWh for electricity. Since there isn’t natural gas, and many don’t have kitchens, portable butane stoves are the norm. No public transit system. None. For a capital (and island) with over 50,000 population.

Words like corruption and nepotism are easily the most common when describing government here. More than 70% of local households receive some form of government subsidy: Section 8 housing vouchers, social security, disability, veterans benefits, food stamps, Medi-Care, or other.

I’ve met with most leaders here in the CNMI. Probably over 150 of them if I did a full count. Not one sees a real problem. Sure, they’ll all complain and project like they’re disgruntled with the state of things. But I don’t think even one of them cares. It’s as though I’m speaking a different language when I try to suggest solutions to them.

They’ve never sought private funding – like philanthropic organizations, foundations, or corporate grants. Basically, everything here is federally funded. That’s it. Never mind that we’re on sovereign U.S. soil and could be eligible for alternative funding sources. The top-5 philanthropies in America hold $100 billion in endowments. The top-25 hold $200 billion in endowments combined. Never you mind all that. The Office of Grants Management actually has a legal mandate to ONLY seek federal funds. Legally, they aren’t permitted to apply for private foundation monies. Yeah, go figure. I’ve tried to appeal to the governor, mayor, OGM, congresspersons, and legal counsel to congress. Their jobs are perfectly secure. They. really. don’t. care.

Since I’ve lived in Saipan… I’ve had all my possessions stolen. My previous landlord literally padlocked my door, with everything I owned inside. Police here said there was nothing they could do, “It’s a civil matter.” My landlord threw a cell phone at my face. Police wouldn’t make an arrest for assault. I’ve been extorted. I’ve been robbed. Nothing.

I’ve had work agreements rescinded. I’ve furnished uncompensated work for half of the government. On every topic from blight reduction, to a think tank formation, to national parks, to oyster farming, to a national uniform for formal attire. Yeah, seriously.

I’ve had so many appointments and meetings cancelled I’ve lost count.

Wah, wah wah, yada yada, woof woof. I know.

I can’t help Saipan. The system is flawed, governance is inept. And residents here don’t even care. Fact is, they’re pretty much all related by blood, so they are all pretty much complicit in the corruption. No wonder the CNMI is in such bad financial shape.


So, what next? I hope I can find a place where I can contribute.

 

If you’d care for the [really] long version of my story, please feel free to read My Open Letter.

 

This was written and emailed to many of the CNMI leaders whom I’d already met with, who have dismissively concluded I am to simply be ignored. I hope it explains what I stand for, what I’m about, and what my ambitions are.

Again, thank you for your time. Please feel free to comment or contact me directly.

david Saipan