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May 3, 2015 @ 6:45 pm

Ep. 138 “The Military Buildup and Strategies for Development in Tinian, CNMI”

Ep. 138 “The Military Buildup and Strategies for Development in Tinian, CNMI” (hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames and co-produced by Daisy Demapan and Joy White) first aired 12/28/12 and re-broadcast 5/1/15 (with assistance of Alan Grossman). 

Tinian is the second most populated of the three main islands which constitute the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI).  It has a population of about 3,200 and a land area of 39 square miles, two thirds of which is controlled by the US military. When this episode first aired in 2012, company and battalion level non-live fire training areas already existed and the island was anticipating details of US Department of Defense (DoD) plans for live fire ranges and greater aviation support training.  These plans were laid out in the CNMI Joint Military Training Draft Environmental Impact Study (CJMT DEIS) released on April 4, 2015.  

As reported in the Marianas Variety (April 18, 2015), the elected leadership of Tinian has stated their unified opposition to these plans for their island.  Last week, Beyond the Fence featured an interview with the Tinian mayor who discussed his concerns [Ep. 212 (4/24/15) “Tinian Mayor Concerned About US Military Plans for His Island”].  A series of three public comment hearings on this DEIS were conducted this week in Tinian and Saipan. Today, the Marianas Variety reported that the people of Saipan turned out in droves to the first public comment hearing to express a resounding “No” to these plans.  The public comment period ends June 3rd, unless a request from CNMI leaders for an extension is approved. 

Even before the release of this DEIS, some Tinian residents were already questioning the economic and environmental impacts that increased military activity would have on their island.  This episode features interviews with two Chamorros with deep ties to Tinian, a long record of public service, and a commitment to cultural preservation and sustainability.  Each is pursuing different strategies for development, one focused on economic development and the for-profit sector; the other, focused on human development and the non-profit sector:  


Phillip Mendiola-Long is a a native son of Tinian. His mother is Chamorro and his father is Caucasian and a US Air Force retiree.  After completing college, Mendiola-Long returned to Tinian and served in various government roles such as the Chief Policy Advisor for the Mayor of Tinian, Chairman of the Marianas Public Land Trust, Board Member of the CNMI Free Trade Zone and member of the Governor’s and Mayor’s Military Task Force. He is the owner of Sherman Consulting, LLC, an administrative and management consulting firm that specializes in assisting US domestic and foreign firms set up business in Micronesia and assisting the US federal government (Joint Region Marianas and NAVFAC) with meeting coordination and ground logistics. He has served as president of the Tinian Chamber of Commerce since 1996 and was appointed by the US Secretary of Commerce to represent the CNMI in the Hawaii Pacific Export Council which is mandated to increase US Pacific Exports.  This interview was conducted December 11, 2012 when Mr. Mendiola-Long was on Guam attending the Micronesia Council of Chambers of Commerce meeting.  

Florine M. Hofschneider was born in Rota and grew up in Tinian.  She has 35 years of public service experience in the Northern Marianas as a teacher, social worker, special assistant to the Tinian mayor, director of admissions and records at Northern Marianas College, and principal of Tinian Junior-Senior High School.  She also had brief stints as the personnel manager for the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino and helping out with a family pizza franchise in Texas. She is a member of the CNMI Women’s Association and the project director for a federally funded anti-poverty program that provides pre-employment training and job placement of US citizens in Saipan through the NMI Department of Community & Cultural Affairs. She is also a volunteer with Gineftao I ManMo’na (“gifts of the Early Ones”,  in Chamorro), a non-profit organization focusing on youth development, Chamorro language and culture preservation, and sustainable development. This interview was conducted on November 20, 2012  while Ms. Hofschneider was on Guam attending the Payu’ta  3rd Micronesian Non-Profit Congress.  

Music selection is “Tinian” by Julian Hofschneider. 

To read the CNMI Joint Military Training DEIS and the procedures for submitting comments go to:

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