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United States Department of the Interior Office of the Secretary Washington, D. C. 20240

December 11, 1998

The Honorable Pedro P. Tenorio Governor Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Capitol Hill Saipan, MP 96950

Dear Governor Tenorio:

I worry that you have been misquoted in the CNMI media. The quotation that leads me to say this is from the web site: CNMI News On-Line, dated December 7, 1998; it reads:

"I hope Mr. Stayman will try to understand the situation we face here. We have not received anything, specially from the Office of Insular affairs, not even an offer of assistance."

As you will recall a few days earlier, when you and I had a long meeting in connection with President Clinton's visit to Guam, I handed you a U.S. Department of the Interior grant for $11,000,000 for capital improvement projects (CIPs).

Your staff members and mine are working cooperatively to bring a series of projects to completion which will be helpful to all of the residents of the CNMI. This cooperation is in sharp contrast to some of the difficulties we experienced with the prior CNMI administration.

Similarly, my staff and yours have recently worked out a series of agreements, worth about half a million dollars, for operations and maintenance improvement programs, which will strengthen the CNMI's hospital, ports and utilities programs.

In the last few years we have worked with the CNMI government on the $14 million dollar joint Federal-CNMI Initiative program which is helping cope with some of the immigration, labor, and law enforcement problems that face the Commonwealth.

As you know, we have been providing a series of technical assistance programs to the Commonwealth. The Agriculture Department Graduate School, with OIA funding, has been providing specialized training, often in fiscal management, as requested by various units of the CNMI government. We have been partially supporting the educational programs of both Junior Statesmen and the Close-Up Foundation which regularly bring CNMI-selected youngsters to the mainland of the United States on educating-enhancing trips.

Further, and importantly, we are working closely with your Administration and the College of the Northern Marianas to pull together a major conference, in March, on the economic future of the Marianas. The conference will bring to bear the combined expertise of local business people and academic experts, as they work on the subject: how can the CNMI redesign and rebuild its economy so that it does as much as possible for the citizens of the islands. As you know, the conference will be made possible, in part, by $275,000 in technical assistance grants from OIA.

It is important to recognize the enormous contribution the Department of the Interior and the U.S. taxpayers have made to the economic development of the CNMI, including about one half billion dollars in finance assistance under the Covenant and another half billion in assistance from other Federal departments.

While CNMI News On-Line used the quotation cited earlier, your letter to me of November 23 stated:

"Your office has demonstrated its support for strengthening our economy and has been helpful in giving technical assistance to explore means to strengthen and diversify our economy."

I trust this letter more accurately reflects your view of what many of us in Washington have been trying to do with and for the CNMI.

Sincerely, Allen P. Stayman, Director Office of Insular Affairs.

cc: CNMI News On-Line


By Nick Legaspi

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (December 7, 1998 - CNMI News On-Line)---It is easy for Insular Affairs Director Allen Stayman and other federal officials to criticize the Commonwealth government than to offer help in coping with the current economic crisis.

While the local government was getting desperate in looking for ways to reduce spending because of the drastic decline in revenues, Stayman was hailing the election of five Democrats to the U.S. Congress as a boost to his proposal to take away the CNMI's control over immigration and the minimum wage.

In an interview last Friday, Governor Pedro P. Tenorio lamented Stayman's latest statements against the CNMI.

"I hope Mr. Stayman will try to understand the situation that we face here; I wish he was here so he could see for himself some of the things the administration and the Legislature are doing now because we are really in an economic crisis at this time," he said. "We have not received anything, specially from the Office of Insular Affairs, not even an offer of assistance."

The Covenant between the CNMI and the United States required the federal government to assist the Commonwealth in developing its economy and raising the standard of living of its people.

In 1992 the CNMI gave up the privilege of using federal funds to pay the salaries of its employees and to match with local funds whatever it receives for capital improvement projects.

Because of the economic crisis local leaders asked for a temporary waiver of the matching requirement but to date the federal government has continued to ignore the request.

©1998 CNMI News On-Line, Northern Mariana Islands For more information call Nick Legaspi or Lewy Tenorio at TEL: (670) 234-7239

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