Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tudela Joins U.S. Mayors' Conference

By The Yapper
Editor In Chief

One month after hosting the 2nd Annual Pacific Mayors' Conference in the CNMI, Saipan Mayor Juan B. Tudela joined his counterparts on the mainland during the 77th U.S. Mayors' Conference held in Rhode Island.

Tudela attended the conference along with leaders from the all 50 states as well as the U.S. territories of American Samoa and Guam. When asked about his reasons for making the trek to the conference, Tudela said that he was proud to represent the people of the Marianas and that he was eager to compare the major issues facing the Pacific islanders with those of his counterparts on the mainland.

During his press conference at the Saipan International Airport last week, Tudela explained his main reasons for attending the U.S. Mayor’s Conference on the mainland.

"When I heard that there was a conference for us mayors, I knew I had to go. If us mayors don't attend this conference, then who will? All of us mayors have to work together to benefit all of us,” he said.

Tudela further explained that he was on a diplomatic mission to improve the relationship between the Commonwealth and the other insular areas.

"I didn’t realize that there was an island state other than Hawaii. Now I feel bad that we didn't invite our fellow islanders to our conference last month. I'll make it my mission to make sure our brothers and sisters from Rhode Island are included in next year's Pacific Mayors Conference. I believe they’re called Metronesians," said Tudela.

Tudela made an about face two days into the conference after meeting his fellow attendees face-to-face. In an email sent to staffers back home in the CNMI, Tudela relayed that he had learned quite a bit on his trip, including an important geography lesson.

“When I heard that the conference was going to be held in Rhode Island, I was expecting to be greeted by fellow islanders. All I saw when I got off the plane were haoles. And you know what? Rhode Island isn’t even an island! How they can get away with that?”

A number of federal agencies were also well represented at the conference to help the mayors make use of the over $1.2 billion available to them through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Among the conference highlights was the changing of the guard as Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels replaced Miami Mayor Manny Diaz as the conference president. Nickles was sworn in as the 67th president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors after he and vice president Timothy Dyme ran a highly effective campaign on a platform of reform among the conference leaders.

When the results were announced, crowds chanting “Nickles and Dyme in 2009” paraded through the streets of Quahog throughout the night led by campaign chairman Peter Griffin.