Thursday, June 7, 2007

Dirk Kempthorne in the morning, my son's ferrets in the afternoon.

I realize the title for today's blog may seem a little strange, and most of you are probably wondering what the connection is. The connection is me, and since this is a blog about me, it seemed only appropriate. Now I'm not trying to make any kind of political statement about Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne whatsoever, so don't go jumping to any conclusions before I have a chance to explain everything.

I had the honor and priviledge of being able to attend a meeting that U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne had with the Governor, some of his cabinet members and various leaders of the business community at the Governor's conference room yesterday morning. I was there as a board member of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, just in case you were wondering. Secretary Kempthorne was here on his first visit to the CNMI, to get an idea of some of the issues we're facing and a better understanding of our challenges and problems. Many people out here are familiar with David Cohen, well this is David Cohen's boss, a very powerful man in Washington. He is a member of President Bush's cabinet. Secretary Kempthorne was previously a mayor of Boise, Idaho, he then became a U.S. Senator, then Governor of Idaho, and was plucked away from that job by President Bush to become his Secretary of the Interior. A very, very impressive resume, and yet he seemed to be a very down to earth, genuinely concerned person. He stated that he wanted to make a difference to us and to do what he could to help us, and I believed him. He has deep and important roots with this island as his father, who is still alive at 91, was here during World War II. I believe that he will do whatever he can to be an advocate for us, and will take our voices and concerns back to Washington with him. It's not every day that you get the opportunity to meet and shake hands with a member of the United States President's cabinet, so this is one that will certainly go down in my memory as a gold star day.

As good as I felt about what Secretary Kempthorne had to say, I have to admit I felt quite badly about some things that were said by some of our various government officials about the lack of help and support given to us by the Department of the Interior. I felt these things were a direct slap in the face of David Cohen, the Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Interior, who is in charge of Insular Areas. I believe that David Cohen has been a very good friend to the CNMI in the past, and genuinely has our interests and concerns at heart. I could see his face drop as some of these accusations were made, he took them personally, and it looked like it hurt. I felt it was in poor taste to make those accusations in front of all those people, and more importantly in front of his boss. We still badly need David Cohen's help and support, I just hope we didn't do anything yesterday that will cost us that help or support in the future.

Then in the afternoon, I got back to my office, and my son and his wife were online with their webcam, showing off the newest additions to their family, a pair of ferrets - Ricky and Lucy. Josh & Regis already have a couple of dogs they have adopted from the Humane Society, and now they have added two inquisitive ferrets to their life as well. I have always thought ferrets were cool and have wanted one for a pet, but I have Kelli, the voice of reason in my life, therefore I have never had ferrets. So it was kind of exciting for me to see my son living out the dream of having ferrets. I'm hoping that Regis is as excited about it as Josh is.

So yesterday was one of those days where my emotions were on a rollercoaster ride. I was thrilled and honored to meet Secretary Kempthrone, I was saddened by some of the comments made that I believe hurt David Cohen, I was humbled and a bit overwhelmed as I had the opportunity to present a Saipan Chamber of Commerce scholarship check to Tikla Brown, and then I was genuinely tickled as I watched my son and his new wife play with their new ferrets halfway around the world. Just another day in the life of this crazy Saipan dive bum!