August 2, 2007
The Honorable Donna M. Christensen
Member of Congress
Subcommittee on Insular Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives
1337 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Congresswoman Christensen:
Hafa adai from Guam. I am writing to express my shock and extreme displeasure at learning from Mr. Tony Babauta, staff director of your Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, that you have no intention of opening your doors to testimony from the general public at the Oversight Field Hearing on the U.S. Military Buildup on Guam and Challenges Facing the Community, scheduled to be held in Guam on Monday, August 13, 2007.
Madam Congresswoman, why is the Subcommittee even traveling to Guam if it does not want to hear from the people of our island? You certainly don't need to travel so many hours to get the military or federal perspective, because those positions are determined in Washington. The same can be said of the opinions of representatives from our local government's Administration: Lieutenant Governor Michael Cruz and a delegation from Guam are in Washington right now regarding the buildup.
In order to get the perspective of the 170,000 residents of Guam, you have to hear from the real people of our island. That is what we thought the Subcommittee was doing. I appreciate Mr. Babauta's call, but I didn't like hearing that there is a protocol list of about a dozen people who will be allowed to testify, and everyone else is excluded. Even though I submitted my testimony by the July 31 deadline, I won't be allowed to speak. I've attached my newspaper column so you can better understand my perspective.
Like the Virgin Islands, Guam is an often-ignored territory that frequently gets short shrift from our federal government. In spite of this, Chamorros and Guamanians are among the most loyal of American citizens. With all respect, I believe that our people deserve better from the Congress and your Subcommittee on Insular Affairs. I urge you to reconsider your decision and open your Field Hearing doors to the general public. The comments you are likely to hear will not all be positive or negative. There will be good points made and some that are not so good. But at the end of the day the people will have had their say, and you will have a better sense of Guam's position. We're only asking for a few hours of your time.
I look forward to your positive response to my request.
Judith P. Guthertz, Senator
Minority Member, Civilian-Military Task Force
c: The Honorable Madeleine Z. Bordallo