Monday, February 25, 2008

Dandan Moves Forward With Paid Contractor

Dandan moves forward with paid contractor
Guam News
Monday February 25, 2008
By Gina Tabonares, Variety News Staff

AFTER halting the project for almost a year due to non-payment for an engineering study, the private engineering company contracted by the Department of Public Works for the new landfill at Dandan is confident that it will now meet the schedule presented in the court after receiving payment from the government of Guam.

Tor Gudmundsen, president of TG Engineers, reported to the District Court of Guam that the nine-month schedule to complete the design of the Dandan landfill matches the schedule approved by the court in January.

With the payment received on Thursday, the pre-final design submittal is now expected to move forward. This will be followed by review and approval from Guam Environmental Protection Agency and US EPA.

Gudmundsen said the US EPA, GEPA, DPW and the TGE team agreed to have a monthly conference call to review the progress and discuss the design issues.

The engineering firm was halted from the project last year after the Legislature approved a budget law that prohibits further expenditure on any proposed landfill land that is not acquired yet by the local government.

However, Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood invalidated the budget law provision to allow the payment of the engineering study and further construction works for the next municipal landfill.

TG Engineers proposed that DPW start the final design and preparation of bid documents for a design/build/finance option for the construction and operation of the Dandan landfill.

Gudmundsen stated that with the completion of the access road design, DPW can package the landfill project and issue a bid.

The schedule presented by GovGuam stated that bid documents will be prepared and the project issued for bid by the end of March 2008. The bid document set will include the existing design project documents and information that the next pre-final design submittal will be issued at the end of June 2008.

Once the bids are submitted at the end of July, a contractor can be selected and notified of award by the end of August 2008.

Gudmundsen suggested to DPW that it provide a performance incentive to the contractor to expedite the construction of the long overdue municipal landfill.

* Status hearing *

Meanwhile, the court issued an order over the weekend scheduling a status hearing on March 6, at 8 a.m.

The status hearing originally scheduled for Feb. 27 was moved because of the ongoing medical malpractice bench trial.

The site visit to the Department of Public Works solid waste management transfer stations in Dededo, Malojloj and Agat is on schedule for Feb. 27 at 8:30 a.m.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

B-2 Stealth Bomber crashes on Guam

B-2 stealth bomber crashes on Guam
Two pilots eject safely in first crash for bomber, Air Force says

updated 1 hour, 54 minutes ago
HAGATNA, Guam - A B-2 stealth bomber plunged to the ground shortly after taking off from an air base in Guam on Saturday, the first time one has crashed, but both pilots ejected safely, Air Force officials said.

The aircraft was taking off with three others on their last flight out of Guam after a four-month deployment, part of a continuous U.S. bomber presence in the western Pacific. After the crash, the other three bombers were being kept on Guam, said Maj. Eric Hilliard at Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii.

At least one B-2 bomber had taken off safely from Andersen Air Force Base but was brought back when another aircraft plunged to the ground.

There were no injuries on the ground or damage to buildings, and no munitions were on board. Each B-2 bomber costs about $1.2 billion to build.

Crowds gathered
Thick, black smoke could be seen billowing from the wreckage at Andersen, said Jeanne Ward, a resident in the northern village of Yigo who was on the base visiting her husband.

Ward said she didn't witness the crash but noticed a rising plume of smoke behind the base's air control tower.

She said crowds began to gather as emergency vehicles arrived. "Everybody was on their cell phones, and the first thing everyone wanted to know was did the pilots make it out in time," she said.

The Air Force, without identifying the pilots, said one was medically evaluated and released, and the other was in stable condition at Guam Naval Hospital.

A board of officers will investigate what caused the bat-like aircraft to crash at 10:30 a.m., shortly after taking off from a runway. It was the first crash of a B-2 bomber, said Capt. Sheila Johnston, a spokeswoman for Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

All 21 stealth bombers are based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, but the Air Force has been rotating several of them through Guam since 2004, along with B-1 and B-52 bombers.

The rotations are designed to boost the U.S. security presence in the Asia-Pacific region while other U.S. forces diverted to fight in the Middle East.

'Multi-role bomber'
The B-2 was first publicly displayed in 1988 and took its first flight a year later. The first bomber was delivered to Whiteman in 1993.

The bombers on Guam were scheduled to return to Missouri now that six B-52s from the 96th Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., have arrived to replace them.

The distinctive B-2 is described as a "multi-role bomber" that blends stealth technology with a highly efficient aerodynamic design. It is able to deliver large payloads at great range and has been used in combat over Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The accident occurred 11 days after a Navy plane crashed into the ocean about 20 miles northeast of Guam's Ritidian Point. Four aircrew members ejected from the EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft and were rescued by helicopter.

Guam is a U.S. territory 3,700 miles southwest of Hawaii.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Request to Stymie Dandan Development Denied

Request to stymie Dandan development denied
by Mindy Aguon
Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Supreme Court of Guam declined a request to stop the government from spending money to develop a landfill at Dandan. Former Ordot-Chalan Pago mayor Rosanna San Miguel and several other residents made the request believing the landfill should be built at either Guatali or Malaa. Justices determined that the Government of Guam - specifically the Department of Public Works and the Guam Environmental Protection Agency - was authorized to exclude the two sites.

The high court also found that the Guam Legislature had granted the government the authority to select alternative sites for a landfill, which includes Dandan and upheld the validity of Public Law 24-272.

The court's opinion reads as such:

The Supreme Court of Guam today issued an Opinion in the case San Miguel v. Department of Public Works, 2008 Guam 3, which declined Plaintiffs-Appellants’ request to order the government not to continue expending funds on the development of the new landfill at Dandan until alternative sites at Guatali and Malaa were further considered as potential landfill sites.

Plaintiffs-Appellants in the case were taxpaying citizens of Guam who sought to have the landfill built at either Guatali or Malaa, and not Dandan. In Public Law 23-95, the Legislature named Guatali and Malaa as the primary and secondary sites for the new landfill, but stated that those sites could be excluded “for any legitimate reason.” The Defendants – including the Department of Public Works, the Guam Environmental Protection Agency, and others – excluded Guatali based on slope and geological exclusionary criterion, and excluded Malaa based on slope exclusionary criteria and existing land use incompatibility.

The trial court granted summary judgment for the Defendants with respect to the Guatali site, finding that it was lawfully excluded because it was owned by the federal government. Plaintiffs asked the trial court to reconsider that ruling, but the trial court declined that request. The trial court heard a motion for preliminary injunction with respect to Malaa, which it denied because the court found that the Defendants had “appropriately considered and rejected [it] as a proposed landfill site.”

On appeal, Plaintiffs-Appellants sought a reversal of the lower court’s denial of the motion for reconsideration and the motion for preliminary injunction. The Guam Supreme Court declined on jurisdictional grounds to consider the appeal of the lower court’s motion for reconsideration. The court reviewed the denial of the preliminary injunction, and found that the Defendants had acted within the authority granted to them by the Legislature in excluding Malaa as a potential landfill site. Specifically, the court found that excessive slope was a “legitimate reason” to exclude a site from consideration. The court also found that the Legislature had granted Defendants the authority to select alternative sites for landfills, including Dandan, through Public Law 24-272, which the court found was valid law.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Wrong Questions on the Military Buildup

Guam: Asking The Wrong Questions On The Build-up
Friday, 15 February 2008, 2:48 pm
Press Release: Hope A Cristobal

Asking the wrong questions on the build-up

The military officials' Joint Guam Program Office and its contractor for the military build-up Overseas Environmental Impact Statement have sent out a set of questions that indicate just what they are looking for in fulfilling their responsibilities under the National Environmental Protection Agency.

While a number of their inquiries will yield some information on what people think the impact will be, and while they are looking for existing data (i.e. things the Government of Guam already knows), they show no evidence of having a sociological or social imagination or framing of the problem.

Here are just a few of the problems.

A great number of the questions are framed as if the goal, at best, were to understand how to get more money into the pockets of Guam businesses and get more labor access with the least conflict for military construction.

In other words, the questions are not "how will military spending, military construction, and military operations help or hurt each of the different kinds of people on Guam (different demographically and different in terms of vulnerability to impacts or likelihood of losing or making money or health or confidence in the future and the self)?"

Instead, the underlying questions and concerns are mostly those of the military itself and some of the more powerful business people. They include underlying questions like "how can we get enough people to do the building and who would cause the build-up the least trouble?" not, "how much will inequality grow during the build-up?"

Or, "how can we reduce 'racial conflict'? as we go about the military build-up?" not, "how bad is existing racism against people of Guam within the US military and the groups who will be brought in as labor, and is it likely to get worse or better?" The difference between "racial conflict" and "racism" of course, is the difference between acknowledging or denying that racism exists.

Section II includes a military frame or a "military definition of the situation" by focusing on military spending, not costs like road wear, use of local recreational facilities, and tax revenue, not tax losses.

The focus on high-paying, high profit construction jobs rather than low-paying retail or service jobs―the real long term jobs that would stay in Guam―also matches the military myopia and bias that Tec Inc. has taken on in this study.

There is no explicit attention to population growth as a problem in and of itself, or the many other social and health and environmental issues that last year's public meetings made them well aware of.

The final sign that this is not a social impact assessment is Item IX which says as much. Their goal is not to understand actual impacts but just list "Chamorro interests and concerns." This is flat out insulting.

The general question we should be asking then is: What is your falsifiable hypothesis about the social impact of the build-up?

And the final question is how much this for-profit corporation will make for this work; what kind of expertise do the people who come to do the work have in the required full range of social sciences; and, who pays their wage?

Can we rely on the military's JGPO to find out real answers for Guam and its people? How do we get this military contractor to make meaningful sense of their social-economic impact assessment as a part of this EIS/OEIS? As it is currently designed, it is quite outrageous.

Hope A. Cristobal
Former Senator, Guam Legislature

Thursday, February 14, 2008

More on Gun Beach

Former senator Nelson wants contractor off 'his' land at Gun Beach
by Michele Catahay, KUAM News
Monday, February 11, 2008

While contractor CoreTech International is working to move its Gun Beach twin tower project in Tumon forward, it looks like more road blocks are standing in the way. At around 6 this morning, right around sunup, former senator Ted Nelson protested in front of the Gun Beach property, prompting officers from the Guam Police Department to step in.

Nelson told the contractor that they were not allowed to set foot on the property, which he says belongs to his family. "This is really something I'm going to fight all the way," said Nelson, formerly legislative speaker. "The cops are here and I want my family here on Guam and in the States [to know] that we are still fighting [for] this land. It's our property."

According to Nelson, his family owns portions of the Gun Beach lot, as well as adjacent land near the Nikko Hotel. He says the two cases are currently being heard in court.

While Nelson claims the land is his, Michael Ysrael from Tanota Partners says Nelson started his attacks back in 2002 and continues to challenge the ownership of the property through this day, even after the cases have already been dismissed. Ysrael currently owns a lot in that same area, saying, "To date, we've had three different lawsuits involving different types of issues. All three judges have ruled effectively that the land is owned by what the Government of Guam says the land owns: the Nikko owns their land, we own our land, and Mr. Ho owns his land."

Added Ysrael, "Mr. Nelson, he doesn't file any lawsuits. What he does, is he causes a problem and forces us to go to court to put out the fire essentially."

Meanwhile, CoreTech CEO Ho Eun says this incident creates another setback for the project. This comes at a time when the contractor has recently obtained a clearing permit from the Department of Land Management in order for the Department of Agriculture and archeological firm PHRI to get involved. "He can stop us, as long as he has court order or proper documents that show that this is his property then we'll respect his opinion. At this point I really hope that he can stop doing these things so we can really start working on it, please," Eun said.

And it seems like there's more to the story as CoreTech had discovered that over the weekend that vandalism had occurred at the site. Tires on a backhoe had been slashed and likewise tampered with was the site where archeologists have found ancient remains, including human bone and pottery.

According to field archeologist for PHRI Dee Cruz, vandals ripped off the tarp and desecrated the area. She shared, "It's very hard to come back. It makes me sad. All the history that has been here, has been destroyed and we have to go back and re-salvage everything and see what's missing from here...we're talking about human beings - they're coming here and trampling, looking for information, that's not how you go about it. I'm here to collect the information."

Federalization an Impediment to Human Rights

US federalization: A direct impediment to the human right to self-determination:

I love our national anthem of the CNMI. Until last year, I learned this song from some of my Chamoru and Carolinian sisters and brothers from the CNMI who live here in the continental United States. I am arduously trying to learn this song in Carolinian and look forward to the day when I can sing this song without the help of pen and paper. Permit me to rekindle a sense of pride in our homeland of the Marianas, the islands of my origins, by sharing with you the words that mean so much to us who have called these islands homeland for more than 5,000 years.

Gi talo gi halom tåsi Na gaige tano-ho, Ayo nai siempre hu saga Malago’ ho

Ya un dia bai hu hanåo, Bai fåtto ha’ ta’lo, Ti sina håo hu dingo, O tano-ho

Mit beses yan mås, Hu saluda håo, Gatbo na islas Mariånas, Hu tuna håo

Mit beses yan mås, Hu saluda håo, Gatbo na islas Mariånas, Hu tuna håo

Mit beses yan mås, Hu saluda håo, Gatbo na islas Mariånas, Hu tuna håo

My father was born on Saipan. My great grandmothers and grandfathers were at one time well known by Europeans because my family helped bring supplies to many parts of Micronesia and Oceania. My mother was born on Guam. After World War II, we were considered outcasts because my grandfather was a pure Japanese who happened to marry a Chamoru woman before the war ever started. Like many Chamoru families after the war, many moved to Guahan to seek better opportunities. My family was one of them. With this in mind, I am writing on behalf of the many people before me who have tried to seek a better life and who continue to struggle to live freely as peace-loving indigenous people of these islands.

I write briefly about my personal background to give context and authority to my work. For a very long time on our islands, we have remained divided as a Chamoru and Carolinian people over issues of the past. Whether these issues were grudges of war time or political relationship with the United States, we cannot let these memories surpass the good work that is beginning to happen in our homelands and in places where we have migrated. This great divide, like the abyss of the Marianas Trench, has been used by our colonizers to divide us as a people. Likewise, this colonial mentality has brought a racist tendency to all who call the Marianas home. Let us remember that racism is taught and if we do nothing to bring out the truth then we will remain in isolation, never allowing the truth to come forward. As a young Chamoru activist and theologian, it is now time to begin the process of healing so that we can work together as ONE people.

With the recent passage of H.R. 3079 in the House of Representatives, a group of young Chamoru and Carolinian activists (from Guahan and the CNMI) in the continental United States drafted letters to Senate committee members and were e-mailed to everyone who oppose H.R. 3079. For some reason, an editor from the local newspaper has attempted to cast a negative light on these efforts calling it “the administration's attempt to recruit young NMI students.” It is with this kind of viciousness in biased media coverage that we seek to clarify positions that all must be aware of whether you are here in the continental United States or there on Guahan and the NMI. We cannot let these kinds of interpretations and judgments steer us in the wrong direction. I would like to personally challenge those who are in favor of federalization, including Tina Sablan, to study the contents of the bill verbatim to see if the CNMI and her people truly benefit from federalization. If one were to juxtapose the current labor and immigration laws of the CNMI with that of federalization, CNMI labor and immigration laws are stronger in protecting the human rights of its citizens and those who are contracted to come to our islands. The abuses of the past were a direct result of large U.S. owned corporations that used the CNMI for its profit. Today, at a time when the CNMI desperately needs an alternative economy, these corporations could care less because they came, they saw, and they plundered, forever casting a negative light on the CNMI.

We are Famoksaiyan, which translates to either "the place or time of nurturing" or "the time to paddle forward and move ahead." It finds its origins in the word Poksai, which means “to raise up.” We are a grassroots network of activists, scholars, students, community and religious leaders/practitioners and artists who seek to push a progressive political, economic and social agenda for Chamorus and their communities at the local, national and international levels. Much of the work of Famoksaiyan has been to educate and inform the public communities at the local, national and international circles from around the world about the plight of our Oceanic communities in the Pacific. As our world shifts into “protecting the security of homeland,” I ask you simply, “which homeland-the continent or the Marianas?” If federalization were to pass, we will succumb into being slaves of federal grants and monies system, which is already being siphoned from the poor into the military budget. The tragedy here is that not only will our lands be taken away, but also our sons and daughters who are “taught” to join the military. Let me be clear that I have utmost respect for all of the military service men and women, especially Chamorus and Carolinians, who step forward to serve this country to protect our freedoms. However, what we need to pay close attention to are the policies that dictate this mentality and the unfounded reasons for federalization and the military buildup in the Marianas.

As a member of Famoksaiyan and a Chamoru from both Guahan and Saipan, I have faxed letters, made phone calls, e-mailed, and visited the senators in their district offices and have always said “No to federalization.” I have not been recruited or paid for these services as I have always served the people from these islands from the deepest core of my being for it was the people from the Marianas who donated their money for my seminary education. I have never forgotten my place in serving my people.

Some may say that it is not good to mix religion and politics. Believe me, I have had my fair share of the lecturing game. However, as someone who has a degree in theology, let us not forget that it was through politics that we have a Catholic religion in our islands. From the Old Testament to the Gospels of Jesus Christ, we have always been taught the struggle for freedom and liberation. Thus, we must work harder for the sake of protecting the very spirituality that we have come to own. This issue of federalization is not an “us versus them” mentality. It is about all of us working together as one Marianas to say no to federalization and no to the military buildup. These two issues work hand in hand. It is now time to bring an end to these wishes of the federal government who have consistently failed to live up to their promises with regards to the human right to a self-determined government. It is now time to act. Will you join me in a faxing party? Let us not rest until our voices are heard in the Senate.

If you would like to obtain copies of these letters, you may simply access this information online at or you may contact me at for more information. Please continue to fax these letters to the Senate and spread the word to all you meet. May Guahan and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas continue to work together for the good of all of her people.

Jonathan Blas Diaz
Redwood City, Calif.

Military Plane Goes Down North of Guam

Military plane goes down north of AAFB
by Mindy Aguon, KUAM News
Tuesday, February 12, 2008


A military aircraft went down just 20 miles northeast of Andersen Air Force Base. Federal Aviation Administration air traffic manager Tim Cornelison says a mayday call came in around 4pm this afternoon, notifying officials that the four crewm embers aboard the aircraft were ejecting from the plane.

U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Marcus Hirschberg says a second plane was monitoring the crewmembers who were in the water away from the wreckage.

Three Navy helicopters arrived on the scene within thirty minutes, with two of those picking up the four crewmembers and bringing them to safety at the Naval Hospital in Agana Heights. Their condition is unknown at this hour, but officials confirm all four were located and rescued.

Cornelison says because the crash involves a military aircraft, the FAA is not involved in the investigation, instead only providing support with radio data. Information on why the military plane went down and forcing the crewmembers to eject will be part of an investigation led by the U.S.Navy.

KUAM News has confirmed with the FAA that the military aircraft is a Navy EA-6b Prowler. This type of aircraft is designed for carrier and advance base operations, being a fully integrated electronic warfare system combining long-range, all-weather capabilities with advanced electronic countermeasures. It is typically classified as the U.S. Navy's primary aircraft.

Navy spokesman Lieutenant Donnell Evans confirmed that the plane is attached to the U.S.S. Kittyhawk Strike Group, which is currently conducting training locally. He also noted that none of the injuries sustained by the crew members are life-threatening.

There has been no word at this time about the possible cause(s) of the crash.

Copyright © 2000-2008 by Pacific Telestations, Inc.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

DoDEA Donates Computers to GPSS

DoDEA donates more than 400 PCs to GPSS
by Michele Catahay, KUAM News
Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Thanks to DoDEA, the Guam Public School System was able to obtain 414 computers. According to superintendent Michael Diekmann, DoDEA continues to work closely to help the students on Guam keep up to date with the latest technology. "One of our strategic goals is to form partnerships that are beneficial to both organizations and the kids of Guam benefit when we donate computers and our folks benefit too on our sides," he said.

A total of 763 computers have already been donated by. GPSS personnel are expected to effectuate the transfer of these units into the schools over the next two days. Distributions will take place after inspection and proper procedures are completed.

Protests Spreading in Okinawa

Protests spreading in Okinawa over alleged rape by U.S. Marine+
Feb 12 09:10 PM US/Eastern
NAHA, Japan, Feb. 13 (AP) - (Kyodo)

Protests continued to spread Wednesday in Okinawa Prefecture in the wake of the alleged rape by a U.S. Marine of a 14-year-old girl over the weekend.

Two local assemblies adopted a joint protest resolution, while Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, an influential civic group that played a key role in a massive rally in 1995, sent a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush.

Senior Vice Foreign Minister Itsunori Onodera, meanwhile, is slated to meet later in the day with Marine Lt. Gen. Richard Zilmer, who heads the U.S. military in Okinawa, at the Foreign Ministry's office in the prefecture to call for disciplinary and preventive measures.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer will visit the Okinawa prefectural government for talks with Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima in the afternoon to convey regret over the incident, according to prefectural government officials.

In the joint resolution, the assemblies of the town of Chatan, where the alleged rape occurred Sunday night, and the city of Okinawa, where the Marine allegedly met the girl, called for preventive measures, an apology and compensation for the victim.

The women's civic group also called for an apology and compensation in the letter to the U.S. president, while stressing the need to provide mental care to children who have been victims of violence by U.S. military personnel or who have been traumatized by such incidents.

The group also called in the letter for strict punishment of the suspect and for overseeing U.S. military personnel living outside bases.

In 1995, when a 12-year-old girl was raped by three U.S. servicemen in Okinawa, the group called for protest activities at a press conference held three days after the incident came to light.

The group and two other organizations of women successively held protest rallies which eventually coalesced into a single massive demonstration. The protest moves led Japan and the United States to agree the following year to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station and to vacate some other U.S. military facilities in Okinawa.

Uncertainties remain over whether the latest incident will head in the same direction as in 1995.
Suzuyo Takazato, a former Naha assembly member who belongs to the women's group, said, "Things were not planned from the beginning to move that way in 1995."

In the latest case, a 38-year-old staff sergeant at Camp Courtney is suspected of raping the girl inside a car parked on a street by a park in Chatan on Sunday night.

The suspect, identified as Tyrone Hadnott, was arrested Monday by local police and sent to prosecutors on Tuesday. He denies raping the girl, but has admitted to touching her in the vehicle, the police said.

Letter to Bush from the Women of Okinawa

February 13, 2008

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
Consul General Kevin Maher
United States Consulate General in Naha, Okinawa
Lt. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer
US Military’s Okinawa Area Coordinator

We protest the sexual violence against an Okinawan girl by a U.S. Marine
We demand withdrawal of the U.S. military from Okinawa

We, people of Okinawa, particularly women, are outraged at another heinous crime committed by a U.S. serviceman on February 10th, 2008.

We have been imposed the burden of hosting U.S. military and bases. For long 62 years, the lives of women and children in Okinawa have been made insecure by the presence of the U.S. military and bases.

The fact that the perpetrator took the victim from city center where local residents spend their leisure time on holidays and weekends, demonstrates the close proximity between our daily life and the violence and danger caused by the U.S. military. The perpetrator, a Marine who belongs to Camp Courtney lives outside of the base in a local residential area. Why should U.S. soldiers be allowed to freely enter a residential area at any time? Why is a safe environment for children and women not assured in Okinawa? The fear of the victim, the anger of her family, the shock and anxiety of the local residents are all immeasurable.

The U.S. military has promised over and over “the requirement for the highest standards of conduct,” every time a crime was committed. It is evident that these promises resulted in nothing. It needs to be reminded that in the past, during long weekends such as Independence Day weekend, many girls were revealed to the violence of U.S. soldiers. Behind the crimes that have been made public are many more women and children who could not speak out about the violence they were exposed to.

We call for withdrawal of the U.S. military in order to abolish such violence. We argue that the military is a violence-intrinsic institution. And true security cannot be realized by the military in our community nor between nations.

We demand:
careful and adequate psychological care of the victim,
apology and compensation to the victim,
strict punishment of the perpetrator,
tighter discipline and control over soldiers living in off-base housings.

The realignment and transformation of the US-Japan military alliance will only intensify the functions of the U.S. bases in Okinawa. We demand withdrawal of the U.S. military from Okinawa and closure of the U.S. bases in Okinawa.

Co-chairs, (Ms.) TAKAZATO Suzuyo, (Ms.) ITOKAZU Keiko,
Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence
3-29-41-102 Kumoji, Naha, Okinawa, 900-0015
Ph. Fax. 098-864-1539

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Clarification on Federal Takeover Bill

Letter to the Editor: Clarification on federal takeover bill
CNMI Editorials
The Marianas Variety

Tuesday February 12, 2008

MR. Howard Willens asked me to respond to the letter from the communications director of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee published in the Variety on Feb. 8, 2008. Mr. Willens is still waiting for a written response from a committee lawyer to his detailed analysis of the plain meaning of H.R. 3079.

It is clear that Mr. Wicker does not understand H.R. 3079. It establishes a permit system under which each employer in the commonwealth must have a permit in order to hire a nonimmigrant foreign worker. It does not matter whether the foreign worker is presently in the CNMI or enters under the H visa program. He or she cannot get a job unless the employer has a permit to hire a foreign worker for the particular job. Under the current bill, these permits must be reduced to zero by Dec. 31, 2013. If there is no extension of the transition period, the law would require the departure of more than 19,000 foreign workers currently working here.

Mr. Wicker’s lack of familiarity with the legislation is also made clear by his suggestion that, after the termination of the transition period, “the nonimmigrant worker program under the INA will continue indefinitely, along with all of the provisions of the U.S. immigration laws.” He seems to forget that by that time the CNMI will be subject to the national caps on H-1B and H-2B visas. If they are allocated proportionally to population, that will entitled the commonwealth to ten or fewer workers in each category, which would clearly fall far short of CNMI’s labor needs.

Mr. Wicker’s letter, however, did provide some new information. The Senate committee has finally decided to write a committee report regarding its recommendation that the Senate pass H.R. 3079. When the committee decided last December to bundle this “non-controversial” bill with 50 or more other bills from the House of Representatives, there was no suggestion that the committee would file a report explaining its action. Why is the committee asking the full Senate to vote on a bill any day now without any explanation from the committee as to what the bill means and what will be its impact on the commonwealth’s economy, citizens, and foreign workers?

Why should we be surprised? This is the same committee that endorsed a bill based on the facts of 10 years ago, when Allen Stayman was in the Clinton administration, rather than the situation existing today in the commonwealth. This is the same committee that requested a report from the Government Accountability Office and then refused to defer action until the GAO completed its work — now only a few months away. This is the same committee that endorsed a House bill that is substantially different from the version considered by the committee at its hearings in July 2007, without pausing to evaluate the changes made by the House of Representatives or asking for comments from the commonwealth.


Gualo Rai, Saipan

A Failure to Communicate?

ben's Pen: A failure to communicate?
Guam Editorials
Tuesday February 12, 2008
By Ben Pangelinan, For Variety

In the movie Cool Hand Luke, one of the most popular lines in the movie was when the Captain of the chain gang says to Paul Newman's character, "What we have here is a failure to communicate."

I am getting the same feeling with regards to the parties involved in the planning of the military build-up. The planning is beginning to intensify and increase in its scope. As we know or been told they will follow all of the required laws and rules and regulations related to the contemplated activities. I have heard the statement "even if we even think about doing it, we have to study and justify it according to the law" as the baseline comprehensiveness of the planning process.

The whole process will be governed by Title I of the National Environmental Policy Act which requires the federal government "to use all practicable means to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony." Section 102 requires federal agencies to incorporate environmental considerations in their planning and decision-making through a systematic interdisciplinary approach.

Specifically, all federal agencies are to prepare detailed statements assessing the environmental impact of and alternatives to major federal actions significantly affecting the environment. These statements are commonly referred to as environmental impact statements (EIS). Section 102 also requires federal agencies to lend appropriate support to initiatives and programs designed to anticipate and prevent a decline in the quality of mankind's world environment.

The NEPA process is a three-step process and this week will kick off the third step in the process with the beginning of the data collection phase of the environmental impact statement portion that will study the socio-economic impact of the relocation of the Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

There is very little communication with the local people on this phase of the study. It was only last week that the local government was notified by JGPO that the "expert consultants" would be on Guam this week for meetings. This short notice illustrates my point on the failure to communicate.

The JGPO must put out a schedule for the beginning of each phase and each component of the EIS study. They must give adequate notice to the public. One or two day notices is just not acceptable and in my mind not what real communication should be. This was my point at the beginning of this process. We must be kept in the loop during the entire process, so that we can voice our concerns along the way, rather than to be expected to comment after the completion of the EIS.

Even the consultants admit that they are scrambling to plan this trip and to schedule the meetings.

What and how the study will include and the process for the data gathering also demonstrates this failure to communicate. We have General Bice, executive director of the JGPO, being quoted on the socioeconomic impacts assessments saying "Analysis of socioeconomic impacts is essential to understanding the effects the relocation will have on Guam." Presumably, such understanding will lead to an action plan on mitigation programs. Yet, the JGPO documents outlining the work to be done clearly states "Because the EIS will probably summarize Chamorro interests and concerns rather than attempt to make specific predictions about the actual impacts…..we simply wish to obtain an articulate enumeration of those issues.


Oh and by the way, if we don't get to assess the socio-economic impact on Chamorro interests by the military build-up on this trip, we may "set the stage for communication by e-mail or phone."

I believe Chamorro interests deserve more attention than assessment by e-mail.

ben pangelinan is a Senator in the 29th Guam Legislature and a former Speaker now serving his seventh term in the Guam Legislature. E-mail comments or suggestions to or

Hawai'i Settlement is Unlawful

Settlement is unlawful sell-out
By J. Kehaulani Kauanui ⋅ February 12, 2008

Although the Honolulu dailies have been touting the recent settlement agreement between Governor Linda Lingle and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs as a “land and cash deal worth over $200 million dollars,” let’s be clear: this is no victory for the Hawaiian people. Because the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) and state had been in dispute over what the payments should be, and over which lands and what revenues are covered, OHA filed a lawsuit against the state that reached the Hawai’i Supreme Court. The state court instructed the state government to negotiate with the state agency of OHA. If the state legislation passes, the state government would continue to pay OHA about $15.1 million annually and transfer some lands from one arm of state to the other.

The whole thing is a charade! This recent maneuvering within the state is simply an attempt by OHA to collect as much from the state legislature in anticipation of the Akaka bill passing, so that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs portfolio will be worth more when transferred to the proposed Native Hawaiian Governing Entity. This is the sell-out deal that would follow in the immediate wake of the passage of the Akaka bill, if it makes it out of the US Senate. OHA is working in unison with the federal representatives; they have sold us out time and time again, and now reps are trying to work their way into becoming US recognized leaders of a Native Hawaiian Governing Entity under US domestic law. Or worse, it also works as a “plan B” scheme for OHA to work their way towards a global settlement with the state in case the federal bill fails again. OHA says it wants the “return” of the lands or compensation for the loss of the lands as a result of the overthrow and annexation. Unlawful sell-out!

Given that former Governor Ben Cayetano refused to allot the revenues according to the court ordered formula in the past, we have to ask why Governor Lingle is so willing now. Don’t forget that Lingle’s State Attorney General relentlessly continues to get the Hawai`i courts to affirm that the state has the right to sell our national lands. The Hawai`i Supreme Court’s order for an injunction to bar the sale of the land until claims are resolved has people focused on the stalled Akaka bill in Congress, which could create “a third party” to resolve claims on the ceded lands—but we already know who would constitute this so-called third party: the trustees of OHA.

Whenever any state government supports federal recognition of the indigenous peoples residing without the boundaries asserted by the state, we must ask why. What will the state government of Hawaii gain from passage of the Akaka bill? And why does the state support federal recognition in this case, when states almost always oppose the federal acknowledgement of Native Nations? It’s simple: because the state has a lot to gain—the 1.8 million acres of land to which the Hawaiian people and other descendants of citizens of the Hawaiian Kingdom still hold collective title. Even the US Apology Resolution passed by Congress in 1993 affirms that these are our national lands: “the indigenous Hawaiian people never directly relinquished their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people or over their national lands to the United States, either through their monarchy or through a plebiscite or referendum.”

As everyone knows, and yet so many still want to deny, the Hawaiian Kingdom never ceded these lands to the provisional government, nor the so-called Republic of Hawai`i, nor to the US government. The new Republic seized these lands then ceded them to the US in 1898. The Hawaii Admission Act transferred them from federal to state control, then the Hawaii State Constitution asserted that the lands shall be: “held by the State as a public trust for native Hawaiians and the general public” (Article 7, Section 4). Different branches of the state can swap, scheme, and swindle, but those of us who hold true to our history of resistance to the US “annexation,” and our unabiding claim to nationhood under international law will hold fast and hold firm; we will not settle.

Monday, February 11, 2008

States Consider Recalling National Guard Troops

Published on Saturday, February 2, 2008 by OneWorld
States Consider Calling Back Nat’l Guards from Iraq
by Aaron Glantz

SAN FRANCISCO — State legislators in Vermont introduced legislation Wednesday demanding the state’s National Guard troops return from Iraq. Lawmakers in Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania are poised to push similar legislation.

At the heart of the matter is a contention that President George W. Bush’s legal authority to deploy the National Guard to Iraq has expired.

“Congress laid out a pretty specific mission for the Guard in 2002,” Vermont State Representative Michael Fisher (D-Lincoln) told OneWorld. “That mission was two things: it was to defend the national security of the United States [against] the threat posed by Iraq, and, two, to enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. I don’t believe there are any credible arguments that the state of Iraq poses a risk to the Untied States or that there may still be weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

“If the president believes there’s still a need to have our National Guard in Iraq to stabilize that country or whatever, it’s his job to go back to Congress and ask for that authorization,” Fisher added. “The president doesn’t have the authority to permanently federalize our Guards.”

The legislation comes amid increasing antiwar sentiment in the Green Mountain state. In 2005, voters in 48 Vermont towns approved resolutions calling on the State Legislature to study the effect on Vermont of numerous deployments to Iraq and asked Vermont’s congressional delegation ”to work to restore a proper balance between the powers of the states and that of the federal government over state National Guard units.”

The Vermont State Legislature also asked the president and the Congress to withdraw the U.S. military from Iraq.

Vermont, like other rural parts of the country, has suffered disproportionately from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, say analysts. A November 2006 report by the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire found soldiers from rural Vermont had the highest death rate in the nation.

A June 2007 survey sponsored by the nonpartisan Center for Rural Strategies found rural support for the war slipping: some 45 percent of rural Americans said then that the United States should “stay the course” in Iraq, down from 51 percent in 2004.

And 60 percent of respondents said they knew someone serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Despite popular sentiment and rising casualties, Vermont’s Republican Gov. Jim Douglas reacted coldly to Fisher’s legislation.

“This is a federal issue,” spokesman Jason Gibbs told the Burlington Free Press. “Gov. Douglas would like to see Washington develop a strategy to bring the troops home.”

The Free Press reported that, according to Gibbs, the Vermont governor’s legal staff looked into the authority over the National Guard when the issue was under public scrutiny several years ago. They found that states had no legal basis for refusing to deploy National Guard units, Gibbs said. “To change that, Congress would have to act.”

This is not the first time states have looked into recalling their National Guards from an unpopular foreign conflict.

In the 1986, several governors opposed to President Ronald Reagan’s covert military operations in Central America refused to allow their National Guard units to participate in exercises there.

That fall, Congress, led by Mississippi Congressmen and longtime National Guard ally G. V. “Sonny” Montgomery, passed an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act that prevented governors from withholding units from federal training in the future.

Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich took the lead in challenging the new law, but after losing several appeals, the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the law’s constitutionality in 1990.

Many constitutional authorities argue that the Montgomery Amendment essentially ended any power a governor might have to veto deployment of National Guard units.

But the bill’s backers say the war in Iraq is different than the 1980s conflict in Central America.

“In the 1980s, President Reagan said he wanted to send the National Guard to Central America for ‘training,’” said Benson Scotch, a former chief staff attorney to Vermont’s Supreme Court, who helped write the bill. “There is no such thing as a limited authorization by Congress for a permanent ongoing call-up.”

Copyright © 2008

US Marine Charged Over Japan Rape

US marine charged over Japan rape
Al Jazeera English

A US marine has been arrested and charged with raping a schoolgirl on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, in an incident that could strain ties between the two allies.

The 38-year-old marine staff sergeant who was stationed at Camp Courtney in Okinawa, denies that he raped the 14-year-old on Sunday, although he has admitted he forced the girl down and kissed her.

Japan's Kyodo news agency said he decided to drive the girl home when she started crying, and that the girl had telephoned her friends for help.

Hirokazu Nakaima, the governor of Okinawa, said he felt "great anger" over the alleged assault.

"I can never forgive such a crime, especially when the victim is a junior high school student."

A similar incident involving the rape of a 12-year-old Japanese schoolgirl by three US servicemen in Okinawa sparked huge protests in 1995.

The three marines convicted of rape were each jailed between six-and-a-half to seven years.

News of the latest alleged rape comes as the Japanese government tries to persuade residents to accept a plan to relocate a US air base from a densely-populated city in central Okinawa to the coastal city of Nago.

The US Marine Corps in Japan, in an e-mailed statement, said it took the allegation "very seriously" and was fully cooperating with the Okinawa police.

Japan is home to some 50,000 US troops, the bulk of them based in Okinawa, under a mutual security pact.

But residents have long resented bearing what they see as an unfair burden for maintaining the US-Japan security alliance and complain about US military bases causing crime, noise and accidents.

In 2006, Japan and the US agreed to realign US troops in the country including relocating air stations and moving some 8,000 marines from Okinawa to the US Pacific territory of Guam.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Guam Meetings on the Military Buildup

Meetings on Guam move set
Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Joint Guam Program Office will begin meetings this month to collect data needed to create an environmental impact statement involving the planned move of 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

The meetings were planned with the help of the governors of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, local chambers of commerce and other community members, according to the program office’s spokeswoman, Annette Donner. The meeting will not be open to the public, she said.

Participants will discuss how the increased military presence could affect education, health-care services, employment, property values, crime, cost-of-living issues and other socioeconomic issues, according to a news release from the project office.

The data gathered will be included in a draft version of the environmental impact statement, which will be available in early 2009. Public hearings will be held for community input before the final report is released in 2010.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Stolen Generation Apology

Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: Incorrect
CNMI Editorials
Friday February 8, 2008

I AM writing on behalf of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to correct the conclusion in Howard Willen’s article “The Plain Meaning of H.R. 3079,” that appeared in the Marianas Variety on Feb. 5.

Mr. Willens incorrectly states, “There is nothing in either the language of H.R. 3079 or its legislative history that refers to two separate guest worker programs during the transition period.” In fact, the language of proposed Section 6(d)(2) of the Covenant included in Section 103(a) of H.R. 3079, states that the Secretary of Homeland Security shall establish a new Commonwealth Only Transitional Worker program for nonimmigrant workers, “who would not otherwise be eligible for admission under the Immigration and Nationality Act…” In other words, there will be a second, separate program to provide for the entry of nonimmigrant workers who will not be eligible to enter the CNMI under the existing federal nonimmigrant worker program, the so-called “H-visa” programs.

Mr. Willens is also incorrect that the legislative history does not refer to two programs because, in fact, the legislative history is not complete. The committee has not yet filed a report on its recommendation that the Senate pass H.R. 3079. That report will further clarify the existence of these two nonimmigrant guest worker programs, and that while the Commonwealth Only Transitional program will eventually be phased-out, the nonimmigrant worker program under the INA will continue indefinitely, along with all of the provisions of the U.S. immigration laws.

It is important to emphasize that the goal of H.R. 3079 is to extend U.S. immigration laws, but do so in a way that is sensitive to the special conditions in the CNMI. In general, this means that the CNMI can take advantage of all of the provisions in the U.S. immigration laws, but that the CNMI can also take advantage of the several CNMI-only provisions included in H.R. 3079.

It is unfortunate that instead of working with the U.S. government to extend U.S. immigration laws as agreed to over 30 years ago, there are those who misrepresent and misinterpret the U.S. government position in an effort to further delay reforms that are vital to the CNMI’s future.


Communications Director
U.S. Senate Energy
& Natural Resources

Fitial Will Testify in DC

Fitial ready to testify in DC vs federalization, wage hike
Friday February 8, 2008
By Moneth G. Deposa, Variety News Staff

GOVERNOR Benigno R. Fitial is “ready, willing and able” to go to Washington, D.C. if the U.S. Congress wants him to testify regarding legislation concerning the CNMI.

Press Secretary Charles P. Reyes Jr. said after the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee reported out the federalization bill, the governor immediately sent a letter to the U.S. senators reiterating his opposition against the legislation’s passage.

“The governor has always expressed his willingness to go to D.C. to tell our side of the story and file our position,” Reyes told Variety. “He wants to explain our situation here, educate members of the U.S. Congress about our current economic situation. He is very much ready, willing and able to go and provide testimony anytime the U.S. members want him to.”

The administration has yet to receive any invitation from the U.S. Congress, but Reyes said Fitial already has a “well-equipped” testimony.

He said the administration supports the creation of a CNMI congressional delegate seat, but it should not be included in the federalization bill.

“(The delegate seat) should come first — a seat at the table before our fate is decided,” he said. “It’s not really reasonable to do it after the fact. For us, we prefer a seat at the table first and later on deliberate on the federalization bill after we’ve given our position in the process.”

Reyes said Fitial is also willing to testify in favor of H.R. 5154, which was introduced by American Samoa Congressman Eni Faleomavaega.

Faleomavaega wants the U.S. Department of Labor to determine if further increases in the minimum wage of the CNMI and American Samoa will have an adverse impact on their economies.

“We will continue to appeal to U.S. Congress for the sake of our economy,” Reyes said. “We look forward to an opportunity to testify in any hearings regarding the CNMI.”

Although the administration has an existing consultancy contract in the U.S., Reyes said “they are not there to block the federalization legislation but to bring more awareness about the commonwealth.”

He added, “It is still very important that the governor is given the chance to provide the information as needed and not rely only on the Washington representative. We need a broad consensus on this issue and, ideally, stakeholders should be consulted in a democratic process.”

CNMI officials testified regarding the federalization bill before the U.S. Senate committee in Washington, D.C. early last year, and again before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, which held a field hearing here in August.

Federal Takeover Inevitable

Federal takeover inevitable
Guam Variety
Friday February 8, 2008

During the last two weeks, several historic milestones have evolved.

First, we witnessed the failed attempts of the Democratic eight majorities to wrest the Legislature's control by the six minorities.

Secondly, our delegate from Washington delivers her message on the "need for partnership with the federal government."

Thirdly, today's Variety Article (Feb. 7, 2008) "Guam left out of the loop on military buildup planning."

Perhaps, the three items appear unrelated to each other. The relevancy, however, is the matter of "timing." The clock is ticking loud, and no solution appears to be resolved.

The Legislative leadership's resolution does not appear on the horizon, and our delegate from Washington urged local-federal partnership, while the Feds work on the basis of the "need to know" --- negating the need for real partnership with the military buildup.

Having worked for the military as a civilian planner for several years, I learned that the military's mission function on Guam rest on the island's geographic location to serve our nation's defense interest.

This mission would be accomplished with or without the consent of the local population. And if, by circumstance, this benefits the locals, all is well, but not necessarily a contingent requirement.

Our delegate has repeatedly demonstrated this fact, through the several visitations of congressional delegations to Guam to primarily evaluate the capacity of the local military establishment, including the "scrapping of the CNMI Covenant with the U.S. Government" by the passage of the federalization law in CNMI, as part of the total military planning within our Asia-Pacific region.

The next apparent federal "targets" would be the FSM, Republic of Palau and Marshals. The eventual federal takeover is a matter of timing - it may not be in our time, but it will happen.

Joe T. San Agustin
Dededo, Guam

NMI College May Shut Down

College may have to shut down in 6 months
The Saipan Tribune
By Agnes Donato

Northern Marianas College president Carmen Fernandez and members of the NMC Board of Regents gather inside the BOR conference room during yesterday's committee meeting. (Jacqueline Hernandez) Northern Marianas College is close to losing its accreditation and may have to shut down in six months, it was disclosed yesterday.

Photo: Northern Marianas College president Carmen Fernandez and members of the NMC Board of Regents gather inside the BOR conference room during yesterday's committee meeting.

The college has been ordered to show cause why its accreditation should not be withdrawn, according to the website of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

The commission's Western Association of Schools and Colleges, or WASC, took the action against NMC because the college still has not addressed concerns previously raised by the commission.

NMC has been on probation since February 2007.

College officials reportedly received the show-cause order on Wednesday. NMC college president Carmen Fernandez declined to make any comments yesterday. She said that few people at the college have been informed about the news.

The NMC Board of Regents was scheduled to meet Wednesday evening to discuss WASC's order. A meeting with NMC personnel is also expected to occur today.

A source said that NMC is given six months to comply with the commission's order. If the college fails to do this, WASC may terminate its accreditation.

Accreditation is important because it proves to the public that a college meets standards of quality, and allows students to access financial aid programs. In addition, many institutions look at accreditation when deciding whether to allow transfer of credits.

The source said that, in NMC's case, loss of accreditation could lead to closure of the college. NMC has reportedly been ordered to make preparations for closure during the six-month show cause period.

WASC officials are expected to visit the college in the next months.

NMC had been on “warning” status several times before. Last year, WASC elevated the sanction and placed the college on probation. Then acting college president Danny Wyatt said the probation sanction was handed down because of an accumulation of organizational problems dating back from 1990.

At the time, WASC said that the college has not made enough progress with regard to conducting regular program reviews. The commission also raised concern about the quick turnover of presidents and deans, which has been occurring since 2000.

The commission said the college should implement its employee evaluation program, and ensure a qualified board of regents that undergoes sufficient and ongoing training about their roles and responsibilities, especially with regard to the accreditation requirements.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Guam Left Out of the Loop on Military Planning

'Guam left out of the loop on military buildup planning'
Thursday February 7, 2008
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff

GUAM is groping for detailed information about the military buildup. Coordination between the civilian and the military communities doesn't exist and a two-way communication doesn't occur. The source of funding for infrastructure developments is unknown.

These are among the several complaints that Sen. Judith Guthertz, D-Mangilao, relayed to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, in a response to a set of questions provided by GAO analyst Jamilah Moon.

Guthertz said the senators' meetings with Navy officials in the past had been "a one-way communication event."

"Since then, there have been absolutely no meetings between the senators and the military installation commander," Guthertz said.

Guthertz complains about the limited role of the civilian components of the Civilian-Military Committee.

"The military has its own planning committees and it is developing its master plan but there is no government of Guam representation on those committees," Guthertz said.

"The civilians are operating in the dark and in a planning mode only," she added.

Guthertz is also protesting the military's refusal to coordinate infrastructure needs with the civilian community.

"The military is supposedly developing, without civilian participation or observation, its next iteration of the master plan. When they did brief the civilians on the state of their master plan, it was all labeled as 'pre-decisional' and not suitable for any planning by the civilian community of government," she said.

The senator said she was frustrated by the military's refusal to provide Guam with pertinent data related to the military expansion plan.

But what frustrates her more, she added, is the "lack of assertiveness" on the part of the local government to demand these data and to acquire federal funding.

The senator said due to the limitations of the information that the military provides to the civilian population, Guam can't finalize its plans.

"Various plans have been developed but they are all tentative, awaiting data from the military," Guthertz said.

Guam Industry Forum II

Master plan, Guam Industry Forum II on track
by Clynt Ridgell
Thursday, February 07, 2008

Joint Guam Program Office director David Bice is back on island. And part of his itinerary being a trip here to our Harmon studios, during which time he gave an update on the Guam Military Master Plan, the Guam Industry Forum, and the potential affects of the U.S. courts decision on the Futenma Replacement Facility in Okinawa.

Bice says the draft military master plan for Guam, one of the most eagerly anticipated documents in recent history, should be completed by next month. "We expect the draft master plan to be completed and released in March timeframe," he confirmed. Coincidentally at that time will be the second Guam Industry Forum. The retired Marine Corps major general says there are already 800 people registered for this forum that takes place on the 6th, 7th and 8th of March.

Last year's forum lasted only two days, but this year there will be an extra day to allow businesses to have one on one time with members of the Naval Engineering Facilities Command. "[The] last time a lot of businesses asked if they could have a chance to have one-on-one's with contracting agencies, and NAVFAC, and they've asked also to be able to meet with me and my staff," he continued.

Bice expects this year's forum to be even bigger and better than the previous event, saying, "Last year we had two hotels and we have a third hotel on standby that we can bring that into."

He's currently meeting with Government of Guam planners and utility officials to figure out ways to address ways the island can increase the capacity of it's infrastructure to meet the demands of the military buildup. JGPO is also currently narrowing their preferred alternatives for land use, Bice adding, "We want to start sitting down with Tony Lamorena at the planning department and talk about compatible land use so that the military activities don't spill onto the civilian community and vice-versa."

Bice also spoke about the status of the Futenma Replacement Facility in Japan. A federal judge ordered the Department of Defense to submit within three months documents describing its plans to assess the project's effects on the dugong and develop ways to lessen its impact. Bice says that both the DOD legal team and Japanese officials are working on complying with the court, adding that the land of the riding [sic] sun is conducting its own environmental impact assessment that may satisfy the U.S. court.

Although he admits that there is a direct connection between the construction of the Futenma facility and the movement of U.S. Marines to Guam, Bice doesn't believe that this will slow the movement of troops locally. Said Bice, "I know that the government of Japan is committed to ensuring that the FRF is constructed in a timeline that is agreed to so that the movement of marines from Okinawa to Guam can continue without delay or disruption."

The U.S. General Accountability Office describes the Futenma facility as a "critical component", one which could delay the troop relocation.

Environmental Survey in Okinawa

Okinawa leans toward allowing environment survey on Futemma relocation
Feb 7 08:22 AM US/Eastern

(AP) - TOKYO, Feb. 7 (Kyodo) — Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima showed a positive stance Thursday over a plan to start an environmental assessment later this month as part of procedures prior to the planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station within the prefecture during a meeting with central government officials, participants said.

It came after the Defense Ministry resubmitted a report to the Okinawa prefectural government Tuesday containing concrete methods on how to conduct the environmental assessment, meeting a set of requests by Nakaima, who had complained the old report lacked details.

The participants, including Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura and Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, got together for the first time since December. But they mainly compared notes on the relocation issue Thursday and only agreed to meet again possibly by the end of March, the participants said.

Nakaima told reporters the latest report dealt with "most" of the requests he made.

The governor said the process of the environmental assessment will "proceed easily" if the prefectural government's panel on the issue recognizes the report as satisfactory, but declined to elaborate.

Nakaima also said the central government's side showed "more flexible" positions Thursday on other contentious issues such as redesigning of the current plan to build a relocation site.

The central and Okinawa governments have remained apart over a call by Okinawa to move offshore two runways in a V-shaped formation on the envisioned relocation site in Nago using the coastline at the Marine Corps' Camp Schwab and a new landfill.

Ishiba told reporters that he told the meeting the central government "cannot move the position of the runways without any good reasons." But he added the government will deal with the issue "fully recognizing there is such a call in the local community."

The planned relocation of the Futemma base in the densely populated central Okinawa city of Ginowan to Nago is a pillar of the overall plan for the realignment of the U.S. military presence in Japan in line with a 2006 bilateral accord.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Federal Court Ruling May Affect Buildup

Federal Court Ruling May Affect In Military Buildup
Pacific News Center Staff Reporter

7:33 p.m. Guam - Although the U.S. military is going ahead with plans to move 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam by 2015, a recent U.S. District Court ruling may throw a wrench into those plans. Retired Maj. Gen. David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office, said as much in an interview with Ray Gibson on The Breakfast Show this morning.

At issue of this possible scenario is the dugong, a large marine mammal whose only habitat in Japan is close to a nearby reef in Okinawa. According to Bice, the agreement between the U.S. and Japan calls for an alternate air base to be built close to that reef in order for the Marines to be able to move to Guam.

But in January, Bice said, American and Japanese conservation groups won a lawsuit favoring the preservation of the dugong. A federal district court judge in San Francisco ruled that the U.S. military must ensure the endangered mammal would not be harmed before it builds the air base. He also ordered the military to do an environmental study on the impact of the construction on the dugong, saying the military violated the National Historic Preservation Act, which requires U.S. agencies to consider impacts in other nations when undertaking activities outside the Untied States.

General Bice said Japan is already doing an environmental impact assessment on the air base construction that is expected to be completed in 2009. In the meantime, Bice said, the military would show the judge what the Japanese are doing in their own territorial waters to protect the dugong. If only for this, Bice said, he does not yet see the ruling as having any critical impact on the move of the Marines to Guam. But, he added, this may changed if the air base is not allowed to be built.

Here is the interview aired on Newstalk K57.
Click here to download the podcast

- Pacific News Center - Guam, Saipan, CNMI, Asia-Pacific

Monday, February 04, 2008

Feds Wants Dandan Work to Start Now

Feds want Dandan work to start now
by Mindy Aguon,
KUAM NewsMonday, February 04, 2008

Start work on the Dandan landfill immediately - that's the latest message from the feds to the local government. Urging the expediting of construction of the first cell at the Dandan site, the feds also expressed the need for the Department of Public Works to acquire a project engineer to finalize the designs for construction of the landfill and closure of the dump which they maintain could be completed within three months.The feds are also pushing for the construction of access roads at Dandan as well as the start of the procurement for the design/build/finance agreement with a contractor to have selection by July 1. The Government of Guam will file a reply by February 21.

Read the court filings for this story by clicking here