Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Guam Struggles to Find Its Roots From Beneath Growing Piles of Spam

March 28, 2000

Guam Struggles to Find Its Roots Beneath Growing Piles of Spam

HAGATNA, Guam -- The brochures for this breezy Pacific outpost boast of a "small island containing a world of cultures." On the main drag in downtown Hagatna, Japanese noodle shops thrive amid Dairy Queens, cha-cha clubs, Spanish-style Catholic churches and American strip clubs. There's even a Wild West-style shooting gallery that doubles as a wedding chapel for visiting South Koreans.

And what about the native culture of Guam? "Oh, gee. I'm not sure where to even look," says a Japanese concierge at the Guam Hyatt Regency. "Maybe the mall?"

Cold War Castaway
Forgive Guam its confusion. Officially, this small volcanic island in the middle of the Pacific, which has been colonized three times, is an "unincorporated territory of the U.S." Unofficially, it's a Cold War castaway looking for a purpose. For decades, it was supported by the Navy, and more recently, by Japanese tourists looking for a nearby beach and duty-free Chanel bags. Through it all, people here have patiently adopted the language, food, clothing and religion of their invaders in hopes of being accepted.

Yet now, with self-determination all the rage around the world, Guam is looking for its inner Guamanian. Local residents are scheduled to vote in July on whether to remain part of the U.S. or become independent, setting the stage for a new round of talks with Congress on the island's status. Guam's indigenous Chamorros are banding together to fight for Chamorro rights, Chamorro businesses and, most of all, Chamorro culture.

Leading the charge is the Chamorro Nation, a group of tattooed youths and tribal activists who seek to reclaim the country. Their methods are mild -- aside from staging the occasional sit-in, they give beach tours and fauna lessons.

The group has gained widespread popularity on an island searching for its precolonial roots. "We've had some tough times since Magellan landed" in 1521, says Eddie L.G. Benavente, leader of the Chamorro Nation, and a teacher at Guam's John F. Kennedy High School. "But now it's time to take control of our country and our culture."

Trouble is, after all those invasions, no one is quite sure what Chamorro culture is. On a steamy evening along the coast, the lights flicker on at Chamorro Village. A Spanish-style plaza of stalls and shops, Chamorro Village was born in the early 1990s to promote Chamorro arts and crafts and raise the profile of Chamorro culture. Tonight, only a few stalls are open -- and they're far from Chamorro.

Most sell kimonos and T-shirts. Carmen's Mexican Restaurant is dark, and the Jamaican Grille is empty. The only visitors are two Koreans sitting in the food court eating Szechuan food.

"You have to come on Wednesday nights," says Tien Bin Wu, a 67-year-old owner of a Cantonese food stall. "Wednesday night is Chamorro night."

At the far corner of the village, Jose Rosario proudly shows off his small collection of "genuine Chamorro artifacts." His store, called Che lu -- which means "brother" or "sister" in the rarely spoken language of Chamorro -- offers old-fashioned fishhooks and a collection of egg-shaped rocks that were once used in Chamorro slingshots. His biggest seller is the Che lu baseball hat.

Mr. Rosario concedes that four centuries of colonial rule have taken their toll on the Chamorro identity. Less than 40% of the island's 160,000 people are now considered "Chamorro," and most of them have Philippine or Mexican ancestors, dating from Guam's 18th- and 19th-century trading days. Most of the island's original settlers -- of Malay and Indonesian descent -- were wiped out by either disease or war with the various colonizers, which included the Spanish, Americans and Japanese. Filipinos, who are pouring into Guam for jobs, are expected to outnumber Chamorros in the next decade.

Still, Mr. Rosario says he sees a "renaissance" in Chamorro pride, based on legends and history passed down from generation to generation. A 1671 speech by a tribal chief named Hurao, who gored a Spanish missionary with a lance, has become a rallying cry for nationalists.

"Before [the Spaniards] arrived ... did we know rats, flies, mosquitoes and all the other little animals which constantly torment us?" Chief Hurao said, in a speech recounted by a French Jesuit. "These are the beautiful presents they have made us."

Spam Capital
Later came the gift of Spam. Guam's culinary past, buried under Spanish rice, Philippine noodles and American burgers, has been difficult to uncover. The island's two most celebrated dishes -- red rice, and pancit, a fried-noodle dish -- are both Filipino. Spam is the true national mainstay, thanks to the Americans. Guam consumes more Spam per capita than any country in the world, according to its maker, Hormel Foods Corp. Guam hosts a Spam Olympics to honor new Spam recipes.

Even the celebrated Chamorro Chip Cookie turns out to be tainted. At the small cookie factory, dozens of locals mix a secret blend of nuts, dough and chocolate chips to create one of the island's best-known delicacies. The labeling on the folksy-looking boxes, written in Chamorro, says "made exclusively on Guam." But Chamorro Chip is owned by a Bostonian, Bob McLaughlin, who also owns the Boston Pizza Co. on Guam.

Dozens of Chamorros interviewed struggled to name a food that is distinctly Chamorro.

"I've got one!" says Tony Lamorena, a local senator. "Barbecued fruit bat. My grandmother used to make it." The local fruit bat, however, is a threatened species and can't be eaten. The same is true of Mr. Lamorena's other suggestion, sea turtle. "I guess we'll stick to Spam," he says with a sigh.

Seen in the Ocean
High on Guam's tallest sea cliff, two bronze figures embrace in the sunset. The statues honor the legend of the Two Lovers, a key part of the Chamorro culture. During early Spanish rule, the story goes, a fair Chamorro maiden was ordered by her father to marry a Spanish army captain. She refused, having fallen in love with a handsome Chamorro warrior. After the two tried to escape, they were chased by the Spanish army to the edge of the cliff. Rather than surrender, the two tied their long black braids together and plunged into the dark waters. On a moonlit night, locals say they can see the spirits of the two lovers frolicking in the ocean below.

They're more likely to see ice-cream cups. At the top of the cliff, a tourist lookout is perched at the edge of the Lovers Point, flanked by a Haagen-Dazs stand and postcard booth. While it's billed as a sacred Chamorro site, few Chamorros ever visit. The only visitors these days are the occasional Japanese couple who use the site for weddings.

"Who's a Chamorro, and who's not?" asks 18-year-old Menchie Canlas, a Filipino ticket-taker at the cliff. "I don't think anybody knows anymore."

Monday, January 26, 2009

A major transition for the tiny island of Guam

Monday, 26 January 2009 22:15 Variety News Staff

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AP) - Sprawling toward the horizon, Andersen Air Force Base is surprisingly quiet

Long-range B-2 bombers have begun regularly deploying to Guam

During the next six years, nearly 25,000 U.S. Marines, soldiers, family members and civilian Defense Department employees are to descend on the tiny Pacific island of Guam, transforming the sleepy tropical outpost into a hub of America's military in the Pacific.

But the metamorphosis seems as fragile as it is ambitious.

Guam's transformation will cost at least $15 billion - with Japan footing more than $6 billion - and will put some of the U.S. military's highest-profile assets within the fences of a vastly improved network of bases.

The newcomers will find an island already peppered with strip malls, fast-food franchises and high-rise hotels serving Japanese tourists who want a closer-to-home version of Hawaii. The plans for the base are fueling a fresh construction and real estate boom, which Guam hopes will accelerate its prosperity.

Guam, however, is smaller than some Hawaiian islands, with a population of just 155,000, and many of its officials are worried the military influx could leave the island's infrastructure - water, highways and seaport - overwhelmed and underfunded.

Felix Camacho, the elected Republican governor of the U.S. territory, says he thinks the troop influx will be "tremendous" for Guam's economy in the long run, but it will be "a difficult and complex process."

"I remain hopeful," he said. "Our challenge is that we know that the Department of Defense and Japan will build a first-rate base," while Guam has "limited capacity" to develop its own infrastructure to absorb the influx, he said.


The whole plan could collapse, however, if Japan fails to build a replacement for a busy Marine Corps air base on its southern island of Okinawa - a festering issue that one senior U.S. military official acknowledged is fraught with difficulties.

The buildup in Guam is designed, in large part, to ease the long-standing over-concentration of forces on Okinawa, the U.S. military's key Pacific outpost since the 1950s, without pulling them back too far from such potential flash points as Taiwan and North Korea.

Although China and Russia, the U.S.'s main rivals in the Pacific, have been quiet, North Korea is characteristically wary. In an editorial, the state-run Minju Joson newspaper said the shift is meant to enable the Pentagon "to carry out its strategy for a surprise pre-emptive attack."

But keeping the Marines at their present levels on Okinawa has become unrealistic.

By treaty with Tokyo, more than 50,000 U.S. troops are stationed throughout Japan, which pays billions of dollars each year to support them, more than any other country with a U.S. base on its territory.

Okinawans have long complained their crowded island has to absorb too much of the presence - and of the crimes and other misbehavior - of U.S. personnel stationed there. More than half of the U.S. troops in Japan are on Okinawa, as is Kadena, the biggest U.S. air base in the region.


In U.S.-Japanese negotiations, Guam has emerged as the most practical alternative.

Okinawans have generally welcomed the move, and Tokyo has pledged to invest nearly $3 billion in building barracks, offices and other facilities for the troops on Guam, and to lend another $3.3 billion for developing supporting infrastructure.

Roughly 10,000 Marines are to stay on Okinawa, however, and Tokyo has run into serious opposition in trying to move the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to a less congested part of Okinawa. Many Okinawans want it off the island altogether.

Lt. Gen. Edward Rice, commander of the U.S. forces in Japan, says the whole move to Guam depends on Futenma getting new premises on Okinawa.

Historically known as a harbor for U.S. bases, Guam is a strategic stopping point for ships and aircraft. In addition to being the westernmost territory of the United States, it houses Apra Harbor, one of the largest protected deep water harbors between Hawaii and the Philippines.

Guam has served as an important U.S. military outpost since World War II, but is taking on increased importance with the relocation of Marine forces from Japan. The island is set to become a rapid-response platform for problems from pirates to terrorists to tsunamis, as well as a highly visible reminder to China that the United States is nearby and watching.

The buildup plan, to be carried out by 2014, represents a major realignment of U.S. forces in the Pacific:

* About 8,000 Marines are to be shifted 1,200 miles southeast, from Okinawa to Guam, making it the Corps' second-largest permanent overseas staging and training area.

* The Navy has already deployed three nuclear-powered submarines to Guam and is seeking improvements to accommodate the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington, which carries about 5,000 sailors and airmen.

* The Army wants to deploy a ballistic missile defense task force, which would bring roughly 630 soldiers and 1,000 dependents to Guam.

* Military planners are considering bringing in the new F-22 fighters as well - though details remain sketchy - along with Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft and a dozen tankers.

Pangelinan Calls for Improved Communication With JGPO

From Press Release
Monday, 26 January 2009

Guam - Senator Ben Pangelinan is calling on JGPO Director David Bice to improve communication with island residents over the impending draft Environmental Impact Study for the coming military buildup.

In a press release, Senator Pangelinan commends JGPO for their attempts to be transparent with the people of Guam by hosting village meetings, however he questions the format saying that it appears that the Military is here to “solicit” information rather than engage in a two-way collaboration on what the final draft of the EIS will consist of.

In the release Pangelinan is quoted as saying that ”What we need is for the office (JGPO) to make public the milestone reports on the progress and findings of the EIS. This will allow the people of Guam to be truly part of the process and be involved at the phases where our concerns can be addressed before the final outcome. How can our people ask the pertinent questions when it is unclear of what any of the findings are?”

US govt: NMI changing its arguments


By Kristi Eaton

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lawyers for the U.S. government have once again asked a federal court to dismiss the CNMI's lawsuit against federalization, saying the Commonwealth has changed its argument from one of economic harm to a breach of self-governance.

Lawyers for the federal government filed the motion to dismiss before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday.

The CNMI first filed the lawsuit in September, and the U.S. government filed a motion to dismiss in December. The CNMI then filed their opposition to the motion earlier this month, with the federal government now giving their final reply.

In the motion to dismiss, the lawyers stated that the Commonwealth's initial argument for the lawsuit was economical, but now it is saying that provisions of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act harms their right to self-governance.

“The CNMI attempts in its opposition to reframe all of its alleged injuries as injuries to the CNMI's right to self-governance,” the motion stated. “However, this characterization does not square with the complaint, which is replete with allegation after allegation that the challenged provisions of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act...will allegedly inflict economic harm-all of which are conjectural and do not confer standing under Article III of the Constitution. The court should not accept the CNMI's last-minute recasting of the harms alleged as injuries to self-governance.”

Secondly, the lawyers wrote, the governor does not have authority to bring this action because CNMI law specifically states that the CNMI Attorney General is responsible for bringing any suit. In the earlier opposition, the CNMI stated that the Commonwealth-not the governor-is the plaintiff in the case.

However, the U.S. government said, the action was initiated, pursued and paid for by the Office of the Governor. Although the Office of the Attorney General was consulted before outside counsel Jenner & Block LLC was retained, as acting Attorney General Gregory Baka has publicly stated and was written in the opposition, “the Commonwealth is not a person or entity that can have 'consultations' with public officials on its own. The CNMI is a political entity, and the Commonwealth acts only when a public official having the authority to act on its behalf does so. The question is: Who acted on behalf of the CNMI in bringing this lawsuit?” the motion states.

Moreover, Howard Willens appears as special counsel to the governor, not as Assistant Attorney General as he has appeared in other cases, the U.S. government wrote. On Friday, the motion notes, Willens entered his appearance as special counsel to the Office of the Governor, not as an Attorney General for the case.

The provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act that the CNMI takes offense at are actually meant to soften the potential hard effects of the sudden application of the law, the motion said.

“If the CNRA simply applied the immigration laws without a transition period-as it lawfully could have done, as even the CNMI appears to concede by agreeing that there is authority to apply Title 8 to the CNMI-then on the transition date, every alien in the CNMI (other than U.S. lawful permanent residents) would be unauthorized to work and immediately removable, because they would all simply be unauthorized aliens present without inspection and work authorization,” the motion stated. “The drafters recognized that such an effect would be unwanted and damaging, and took this into account.”

Lastly, the lawyers for the U.S. wrote, the court should dismiss the case because the CNMI cannot allege any facts supporting the relief claimed.

“The CRNA was an appropriate act of Congress because it is consistent with the Covenant,” according to the motion.

'No plans to remove preposition ships from NMI-for now'

By Haidee V. Eugenio

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The U.S. military does not have plans right now to remove preposition ships from Saipan because of factors within the CNMI government's control, according to the Saipan Chamber of Commerce after meeting with military officials.

The meeting followed speculations and unconfirmed reports that preposition ships are departing the Northern Marianas permanently, and that the departure is based on factors within the control of the CNMI government.

Douglas Brennan and Judge David Wiseman, co-chairs of the Chamber's Armed Forces Committee, met last week with military officials overseeing preposition ships frequently anchored off the western coast of Saipan.

“It was explained to us that there are no plans right now to remove the preposition ships from Saipan because of any perceived government slight,” the committee said yesterday in response to a Saipan Tribune inquiry.

The Chamber committee, however, said they were reminded that the ships are not homeported on Saipan but are forward-deployed anywhere in the Western Pacific region and can be underway to anywhere in the world on 12- to 24-hours notice.

Factors that contribute to determining where those ships are located when they are not underway include a regular stateside maintenance cycle, decommissioning, rebalancing of squadrons around the world, and cost avoidance.

“We were reminded during our meeting that, although the ships anchored off the coast of Saipan continue to enjoy close relationships with the Commonwealth and Guam, a preposition squadron is operated similar to a business and takes into consideration flexibility, security, logistics, and fiscal efficiency,” the committee said.

The CNMI is in competition with a number of other ports. The Chamber said the government and companies doing business with these ships need to understand that although options may be limited on Saipan, options are not limited in the very large Pacific region, and the squadron, like any business, will seek out places that offer the most convenient logistical options at the lowest cost.

“While we do not expect in the near future to experience the departure of all preposition ships on a permanent basis, we may see a decreased presence because of factors such as decommissioning and rebalancing, which are outside of our control,” the Chamber said.

The business group asked officials responsible for the preposition ships to alert the Chamber in the event that factors within the control of the CNMI government or business community become considerations in any determination to decrease the presence of the ships off the Commonwealth's shores.

Military spending in the CNMI benefits the local economy. Members of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, for example, offer discounts to military personnel who choose the islands as their liberty destination.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Insular Empire: America in the Marianas

The Insular Empire: America in the Marianas is a documentary film about America at its westernmost limits - the Mariana Islands of the western Pacific Ocean. 6000 miles from the U.S. mainland, the Marianas - which include the U.S. Territory of Guam and the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (or CNMI) - have played a crucial role in American history, and national security, over the past century. Yet most Americans know nothing about them, or about the indigenous communities who call them home.

The Insular Empire will change this. The Insular Empire will let a broad American and Pacific audience know that U.S. citizenship for the Chamorro and Carolinian communities of the Marianas is not complete citizenship. That U.S. citizens on Guam may have their citizenship revoked by an Act of Congress. That both "insular areas" lack voting representation in the U.S. Congress, and that the CNMI lacks any representation at all. That despite this, the federal government maintains a remarkable degree of control over the islands' laws and economic resources.

By many standards, the Marianas are colonies. The Chamorro people of Guam, after 100 years under the American flag, have still not achieved self-determination. Today, although they are not allowed to vote for their Commander-in-Chief, young people from the Mariana Islands are fighting, and dying, for the United States military – in numbers far exceeding those of any state in the union.

These are indigenous rights issues. They are civil rights issues. They are human rights issues. But they must be made visible before they can be addressed.

Since 2002, Horse Opera Productions has been working with the indigenous communities of Guam and the CNMI to produce The Insular Empire: America's Pacific Frontier. The film is now in post-production. We will partner with Pacific Islanders in Communications, our major production funder, to obtain a wide public television broadcast. But our vision extends beyond broadcast to include the following outreach goals:

* To inspire the indigenous communities of Guam and the CNMI to think critically about both their history and their relationship with the United States, and to think creatively about their political and cultural future; and

* To influence political decision-makers - particularly US congresspersons - to authentically democratize relations with Guam and the CNMI, so that islanders and mainlanders can become true partners in working towards a just and sustainable future.

Please take the time to browse our site to learn more about The Insular Empire: America’s Pacific Frontier .The Insular Empire is a non-profit project supported by tax-deductible contributions. Give now to support this important work - and help build a more authentic American democracy.

Si Yu'us Maase and Olomwaaay (thank you) for your curiosity and support!

The Insular Empire: America in the Marianas Trailer

The Insular Empire: America in the Marianas

A PBS Documentary Work-in-Progress About America’s Pacific Territories

Location TBD, Seattle, WA

January 31, 7:30pm

Please join filmmakers Vanessa Warheit and Laurie MacMillan for a special rough-cut screening of The Insular Empire: America in the Marianas. The screening will take place next weekend in Seattle – more details on location will follow shortly.

Seven years in the making, The Insular Empire is a PBS documentary about America’s Mariana Islands, by Vancouver- based Horse Opera Productions. The filmmakers are now in the final stretch, and they're looking for feedback – specifically from Americans, and from Pacific Islanders. Please come and be a part of the creative process!

Six thousand miles west of California, the Marianas are home to over 200,000 US citizens who do not share the same rights as their fellow Americans in the States. What is it like to be a colonial subject of the ‘greatest democracy on Earth’? From the beaches of Guam to the White House, from the CIA to the Peace Corps, from beauty pageants to the UN, The Insular Empire takes us on a journey to discover what it really means to belong to America’s ‘insular empire’ in the Pacific. Ultimately, it is a story of loyalty and betrayal, about a patriotic indigenous people struggling to find their place within the American political family.

The film is supported in part by Pacific Islanders in Communications (part of the PBS/CPB Minority Consortium), the Guam Humanities Council, the Pacific Pioneer Fund, and the Northern Marianas Council for the Humanities.

Film’s total run time is 65 minutes. There will be a discussion with the filmmakers after the screening.

For more information and photos please contact:

Vanessa Warheit

Friday, January 16, 2009

Senators Hit $1 Million Payout Plan

Senators hit $1M payout plan
Thursday, 15 January 2009
by Therese Hart
Marianas Variety News Staff

In a remarkable show of bipartisan unity, senators from both parties yesterday condemned the $1 million weekly payout plan for the landfill being proposed by the federal receiver.

Gershman, Brickner & Bratton informed the U.S. District Court last Wednesday that it wants GovGuam to pay out $1 million a week in cash beginning March 1 to finance various landfill-related projects.

The recommendation was made by GBB special principal associate David Manning during the landfill quarterly status hearing in District Court.

Sen. Eddie Calvo, responding to the proposal, said the payout plan is simply too heavy a burden for GovGuam to bear.

"That amounts to approximately $4 million a month, averaging 10 percent of what is taken in on a monthly basis which is about $30 to $50 million a month. If that were to occur, there would have to be a substantial realignment of expenditures within the government. That would have a very detrimental impact on the critical services the government provides," the senator said.

Calvo added that critical areas such as education, health and public safety will be adversely affected.

Sen. Frank Aguon Jr. chimed in, saying that although he respects any decision that Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood may make on the matter, all the parties really need to sit down and recognize that the government of Guam is not a cash cow.

"We need to work out financial arrangements that would be acceptable to all parties and recognize that the residents need a government to run, inclusive of addressing education, public safety and healthcare requirements," said Aguon.

Sen. Judi Guthertz has also criticized the payout plan, saying: "I don't think it's achievable, given the cash flow problems of the government. I think it's unconscionable that the federal government is mandating this on this territory and not considering its fair share for the closure of the Ordot Dump and the construction of the new landfill."

Last Wednesday, Gov. Felix Camacho said one million dollars out of the government's operating fund will destroy GovGuam's ability to provide services.

In light of this latest demand from GBB, Camacho said the legislature should now give him policy approval to proceed with the revenue bond, although he told the court that given the current global financial crisis, it would be difficult for the government to secure a bond at this point in time.

The governor said that even if the government were to secure financing in the bond market, because of the high rates, it's simply not affordable.

"It's going to be very difficult to receive that right now and this will only exacerbate our already growing deficit," Camacho said.

Manning had defended the $1 million weekly payout plan, saying that the continuous replenishment of the funds on a weekly basis in which $20 million has been deposited into a bank account is necessary because it provides a "clear reassurance to the contractors employed to do the Consent Decree project work that they will be paid in a timely way." Without such assurance, Manning said it is unlikely that quality contractors will be willing to undertake the work needed to bring Guam into compliance with the Consent Decree.

Manning added that given the weak cash position of the government, a fixed weekly cash contribution may be more manageable than monthly cash amounts.

Landfill Updates

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mangilao JGPO Meeting

JGPO updates residents on status of military buildup
Thursday, 15 January 2009
by Zita Y. Taitano
Marianas Variety News Staff

RESIDENTS who live in the central part of Guam got a chance to voice their concerns on the impending military buildup last night at the Mangilao Senior Citizens Center.

John Jackson, director of the Joint Guam Program Office, provided an update on the plans to move 8,000 Marines in addition to their families and other military personnel from Okinawa to Guam by 2014.

"This is program is not just a Marine Corps program but it's a program that involves all the services and all of the services are looking at adding additional people, service members and dependents, to the numbers that are already on the island," Jackson said.

He said there are areas that are already being assessed as possible sites for the transfer such as firing ranges in a section of NCTAMS.

He said the military wanted to look at those places with a clean slate and what they learned is that areas on Andersen Air Force Base are being used by the Air Force whereas down south, projects have already begun for the Navy. Other obstacles they came across included the wildlife refuge.

"This planning has been continuing more and more over the past year and is getting more and more detailed," he said. "And as we begin to get more and more details, that's where we start getting to points where decisions have to be made and some of those decisions will be made possible in the 60 days or so. Once decisions are made in the form of a draft environmental impact statement, for instance, then the public, by law, will have 110 days to come up with questions and we would answer those questions."

Jackson also said that the military is not planning within a vacuum, so to speak.

"We're planning with the government of Guam," he said, adding that they are conducting land surveys with the assistance and permission of the Chamorro Land trust Commission.

"The end result of all of this is that we anticipate the citizens of Guam being happy. We're not looking at condemning land. That was something that was done in the past. We're not looking at doing that. And if we should lease lands, then that's a steady income of money for the CLTC that will go into the pockets of the people of Guam."

Jackson also addressed the matter of the preliminary draft of the EIS, which is expected to be released to the public around April or May, which is also when the 110 days of questions will go into effect. The final draft of the EIS should be done by January of 2010.

Meanwhile, Henry Simpson, president of the Guam Raceway Federation, went up to a map of the proposed area on the east side of Guam and pointed out to the site the raceway track is located.

Simpson asked Jackson that if the military were to lease the properties, how would it replace the opportunities available to the race track and the plans to build a municipal airport based on a study done in 1989?

Jackson informed him that they haven't made any decisions as of yet because they are still looking at properties.

But he did say that the military has already looked at the impact of a firing range if it is situated in Andy South, which is near the raceway park and the municipal airport project.

"We have to look at what is not only on the ground today but may also be planned on the ground in the future and we look at that. We also have to look at what we're planning on DOD property such as Andy South," Jackson said. "We looked at some of the federal rules and we discovered there's an FAA rule that we cannot have a firing range within three nautical miles of a municipal airport," he added.

Concerns about the military buildup on Guam were also brought forth to Jackson by Trini Torres, Maga Haga of the Taotaomona Native Rights Group.

Torres told Jackson there is no need for the Marines because there is already enough military, adding that she is not happy with the thought of leasing Chamorro land.

"This island is so small and we keep bringing in so many people. This place is for a Chamorro person. Every outsider that comes to our island displaces a Chamorro," she lamented.

Meanwhile, Eric Untalan of Barrigada held a different perspective from Torres, assuring Jackson that there are others like himself who share a different point of view. Untalan did want to know, however, the chronology of hurdles that JGPO has to clear.

Jackson said the first hurdle is the financing, the program being a $10 billion project that has 60 percent being covered by the Japanese Diet and the remaining amount coming from the U.S. government.

The second hurdle, he said, is that the two governments have two different fiscal years. Japan starts on April 1 while the U.S. is on Oct. 1. Jackson did point out that the Japanese Diet is currently debating the first installment payment of about $335 million.

"They are debating that as we speak. We have monthly discussions with the government of Japan and all indications are that the Japanese Diet will approve that $335 million," he said, with the money going to coffers for next year's construction.

The final hurdle is the EIS document when it's officially finalized.

"And when that's finalized, that also has to go through the different regulators such as Fish and Wildlife, NOAA, all the other environmental agencies here on Guam and the federal level. When those pieces and parts all come together, the draft will be finalized and signed," he said.

Then there's the master plan that will contain where utilities will go and where roads and buildings will be built.

"Those are the kind of hurdles we're looking at prior to 2010," he said.

The JGPO meetings will continue on Jan. 20 at the Yigo Gymnasium.

On the next day, Jan. 21, the meeting is at the Dededo Senior Citizen Center, and on Jan. 22 at the Agat Community Center. All the meetings start from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

GovGuam Can't Afford $1,000,000 a Week for New Landfill

Cruz: We can't trim:
Camacho weighs cuts to pay for landfill
By Agnes Donato
Pacific Daily News
January 16, 2009

Acting Speaker Benjamin J. Cruz yesterday rejected a suggestion for the government to rein in spending so it can raise money for the dump closure and a new landfill.

According to Cruz, a cost-cutting plan isn't an option because the government of Guam is insufficiently funded as it is.

"Where do you want to start making the cuts? The police department? The last budget we passed is not even enough to run the government. We have not paid tax refunds in 15 years," said Cruz.

The administration of Gov. Felix Camacho said it is looking into the possibility of cuts.

"Austerity measures have always been important, and key members of our fiscal team are working to identify different options and their respective impacts," governor's spokesman Shawn Gumataotao said.

Time running out
Time is running out for GovGuam to close Ordot dump and open a new landfill. The solid waste receiver in a report Wednesday said the dump will be full in two and a half years, barely five months after the new landfill is scheduled to open. The receiver said GovGuam must pay $1 million a week, beginning in March, to finance the project.

Cruz said it would be impossible to come up with $52 million a year. The amount represents about 10 percent of GovGuam's budget for fiscal 2009.

"We're not like the federal government that has plenty of money. They can print money anytime they want to because they have credit to back it up. The government of Guam does not have that ability. GBB has to understand that," said Cruz, referring to solid waste receiver Gershman, Brickner & Bratton.

Cruz said he is glad the court recognizes the government's financial problems and is now willing to entertain alternative means of funding the landfill.

District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood has given the administration a week to respond to the receiver's demand and to present an alternative funding plan that GovGuam could afford.

Court order
But Cruz lashed out at the receiver for insisting that the government pay $993,700 a week, beginning in March, to replenish the initial $20 million deposit Gov. Felix Camacho made under court order earlier this month. Cruz said the demand is "unreasonable."

The acting speaker also said lawmakers shouldn't be blamed because they failed to pass the $160 million bond bill that Camacho submitted to the last Legislature. Even if the bill went through, he said, GovGuam would not be able to float the bond because of the global economic crisis.

"Even if we wanted to, we couldn't float the bond today. Almost nobody can float bonds. GBB has to understand that," he said.

Cruz added that the terms of the government's existing loans prohibit GovGuam from floating any further bonds.

GovGuam has three outstanding loans with Bank of Guam: a 2002 loan with an outstanding balance of $5 million, a 2008 loan with a balance of $13 million, and the $20 million entered on Jan. 2, 2009, to pay for the landfill deposit. Under the terms of the 2009 loan, the government cannot float a similar bond until these loans are paid.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

DoD May Have to Compete With Developers

DoD may have to compete with developers
Thursday, 15 January 2009
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff

THE Department of Defense might have to compete with private developers and the Guam International Airport Authority for the acquisition of Yigo lands, which are being considered by the military as a potential site for a new firing range.

Rolenda Faasuamalie, public information officer for GIAA, said the airport authority is eyeing a portion of the target property as the site of the $16 million municipal airport project to be funded by the Federal Aviation Authority.

GIAA was among the three bidders that responded last year to the Guam Economic Development and Commerce Authority's solicitation for lease and development of the 395-acre property owned by the Chamorro Land Trust Commission and Ancestral Lands Commission.

"We received a notification that we ranked third, but we're not aware of the current status of the bidding selection," Faasuamalie said.

She added that FAA-funded studies have already identified the ancestral lands on Route 15 as the most ideal site for the municipal airport project, which is part of the government's aviation enhancement initiative.

Faasuamalie said the proposed municipal airport will be designated for private small aircrafts so that don't they mix with commercial planes as they do now at the existing airport.

"We're being optimistic about the future, and trying to meet our space and capacity," she said. "It would require that the government give us authority to use the land."

Faasuamalie said GIAA has not identified an alternative site for the municipal airport.

Mike Cruz, manager of GEDCA's Real Property Division, said the selection committee has evaluated the bidding proposals and ranked the bidders, accordingly, but no final decision has been made.

"We have to go into negotiation with the first ranked bidder, but we haven't started yet. We have to get together with the negotiating team which will include the Ancestral Lands Commission," Cruz said.

He confirmed that GIAA was among the bidders but declined to identify the two other bidders.

"We will negotiate with the No. 1 bidder first, and if it didn't work out, we would proceed with the ones next in line," Cruz said.

He said the developer that will eventually be awarded the lease would be allowed to use the property however it wants.

"We don't limit how private developers want to use the property. We believe the private sector knows the market," Cruz said.

The Land Trust property and the roughly 250 acres of land being occupied by the Guam International Raceway are currently being surveyed by military contractors.

The Joint Guam Program Office has confirmed that DoD is considering those properties for the construction of non-live fire training facilities.

"We have authorized (the military) to access the property and take a look at these areas. They told us that they're looking at these properties as part of the (environmental impact assessment)," Cruz said. "But they never said they will acquire or use it."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Think tank proposes Guam as Iraqi refugee center

TUESDAY, 13 JANUARY 2009 22:31

An American think tank specializing in national security has released a study naming Guam as a possible relocation site for tens of thousands of Iraqis serving with the U.S. military and other U.S.-affiliated organizations.

The Center for American Progress or CAP, is a think tank headed by John D. Podesta, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and professor at the Georgetown University Center of Law.

Its study, entitled "Operation Safe Haven Iraq 2009: An Action Plan for Airlifting Endangered Iraqis Linked to the United States," warned that extremists and militia groups are now targeting the estimated 30,000 to 100,000 U.S.-affiliated Iraqis, describing them as traitors for working with Americans.

"In many cases, the lives of these Iraqis and their families are in imminent danger and many have become refugees or internally displaced persons within Iraq," CAP said.

The study concluded that these Iraqis urgently need and deserve America's help, and the Obama administration should act quickly to remove them from harm's way.


CAP said one possible location for processing these Iraqis is Guam, which already possesses pre-existing infrastructure and has status as a U.S. territory.

The study also pointed out that Guam already has experience in housing refugees during the aftermath of the Vietnam war as well as Operation Pacific Haven.

In 1996, the U.S. military set up a safe haven area in the Kurdish area of Iraq to protect civilians during the First Gulf War in 1991. The United States worked quickly to repatriate 6,600 Iraqi Kurds who first crossed the border into Turkey and were held briefly before being transported to Guam, with security screenings taking place prior to the airlift.

The Turkish government did not want this large number of Kurds in their territory, prompting the rapid U.S. airlift response. Operation Pacific Haven ran from September 16, 1996 to April 16, 1997.


The study recalled that the military flew three groups of refugees to Guam in successive waves. Once in Guam, Iraqis lived on an annex of Andersen Air Force Base.

The United States provided food, housing, clothing, medical care, and assimilation classes. The asylum processing took place in Guam in an expedited fashion and involved lawyers, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the State Department, and the Department of Health and Human Services. Screening consisted of background checks, medical examinations, and the designation of sponsors.

According to the study, the whole process took an average of 90 to 120 days and the cost of the Guam portion of the operation was approximately $10 million.

"A small caseload of approximately 80-90 Iraqis were problematic and thought to be double-agents. They were the last to be airlifted from Turkey and were stuck in Guam and/or kept in detention for a lengthy period of time before their cases were resolved," CAP said.


For the current proposed refugee operation, CAP proposes the following six-step course of action for 2009 as modeled after current airlifts by coalition partners and best practices from past airlifts:

Step 1: Appoint a White House coordinator for Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons. President-elect Obama should appoint a White House coordinator for Iraqi refugees and IDPs as outlined in the Kennedy-Biden-Durbin-Hagel-Smith legislation—a bill to develop a policy to address the critical needs of Iraqi refugees. The coordinator's responsibilities would include overseeing the airlift;

Step 2: Conduct an audit and review of current efforts. Full-time, dedicated embassy staff throughout the region from various U.S. government agencies must conduct a thorough audit and create a comprehensive list of U.S.-affiliated Iraqis through the SIV and traditional refugee assistance programs;

Step 3: Finalize security background checks. U.S. agencies should increase resources and personnel to conduct in-country security background checks of U.S.-affiliated Iraqis in Iraq and throughout the region;

Step 4: Order the commencement of the airlift. Once Iraqis are identified, the military should fly Iraqis in small, staggered groups to a third location;

Step 5: Implement and follow up on third-country expedited processing for Iraqi refugees. The White House coordinator should convene agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, and the Department of Health and Human Services, which would be engaged in the expedited processing of U.S.-affiliated Iraqis and oversee smooth coordination between U.S. government agencies and the military; and

Step 6: Facilitate relocation and placement in the United States. U.S.-affiliated Iraqis should be flown to the United States, where some can be funneled into Arabic language-critical jobs. Once the situation in Iraq has improved and U.S.-affiliated Iraqis feel confident about their safety, the expectation is that some of them will return to Iraq.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Violations of property rights subvert freedom


First, we must realize that our ancestors have endured unbelievable suffering, bloodshed, and virtually total destruction, all for America, but all for naught.

Second, the problem today lies with the present population. We are infected with the entitlement mentality, which has bred like cancerous germs forced upon us by the government for over 60 years.

The people of Guam have been paying for the American freedom since 1898, which promises equality in human rights and justice. But the people of Guam were ultimately denied even "living the dream" after World War II. That condition remains today.

The change that everyone on Guam should strive for is change in the way we are governed. Guam cannot afford this politics as usual any more.

Life on Guam before was more peaceful, with pride and contentment. The way we are governed these days created all this hate and discontent, and crimes of all sorts continue to increase. We must realize that complacency is lethal to our families and the whole community.

We have been lied to about "this is the way forward." Granted, freedom isn't free, but if we are going to pay for it, we want to get our money's worth.

If we have to sacrifice everything dear to us, then we must change direction.

The blatant violations of private property rights by local and federal government officials have extinguished economic freedoms. They made the promise of freedom, equality and justice a sham.

People are forced to be poor and to depend on a corrupted and self-serving government. Justice is denied to this day and democracy is a figment of the imagination.

We must still stand up for our rights. It is clear politicians won't deliver them. This is because the politicians lack sincerity and honesty and they know they lied on their oath of office.

Taxation without representation is one thing, but taxation without economic freedoms and justice while defending America is worse than communism. America's policies in Guam are failures on economic freedoms, justice and equality in human rights. Guam is America's epitome of absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The situation on Guam is an example of America having completed the circle from where it started.

We must realize that there is no "messiah" to wave his magic wand and make all our problems go away. More military and more tourism without righting the wrong will only make matters worse.

It is vital that we practice democracy. It is imperative we allow freedom to ring from Yigo to Merizo. Justice must be rendered, for without justice, there can be no peace.

Where do we go from here? We must change our ways and stand up for our rights. It is indicative that no one will deliver them to us, much less on a silver platter.

Demand for democracy, economic freedoms, and justice fought for and won, but denied by the not-so-"honorable" politicians, which made Guam America's biggest dirty little secret.

Tony Artero is a retired Navy submariner and a resident of Agana Heights.


I know Iraqi refugees are somewhere around 87th on anyone’s agenda. I know I should be writing about Gaza or economic stimulus—another day. But today, let me call your attention away from those pressing matters to a new report, scheduled for release on Monday, by Natalie Ondiak and Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress (soon to be the Obama Administration’s Heritage or A.E.I.). It’s called “Operation Safe Haven Iraq 2009,” and it’s a detailed proposal for an airlift of the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have worked with Americans there and whose lives are in danger, in perpetuum, as a result.

The report establishes the rationale for such an operation, familiar to readers of this blog (where the “Guam option” was first proposed over a year ago). It also lays out, in the careful manner of Washington think-tank papers, the steps that the new President would need to take, to wit:

1. Appoint a White House coordinator
2. Review current efforts
3. Finish background checks of qualified Iraqis
4. Begin a four-to-eight-week airlift, probably to Guam
5. Make sure all government agencies—State, Homeland Security, the military—work together
6. Resettle eligible Iraqis here after they’ve been “processed” outside the country

This idea might not hold much appeal for President Obama, for obvious reasons: security risks, cost (CAP roughly estimates a hundred million dollars to resettle forty thousand Iraqis), bad publicity. Iraq wasn’t Obama’s war; he’ll be sorely tempted to want to put it behind him. He could easily point to the current half-measures, such as the Special Immigrant Visa program set up by Congress, and say that, with recent security improvements in Iraq, there’s no pressing need for anything more drastic.

The truth, though, is that present efforts remain sluggish and inadequate. According to CAP, only six hundred Iraqis made it here in 2008, under the Special Immigrant Visa program, which permits five thousand a year. And even a political-military miracle in Iraq won’t protect those Iraqis who identified themselves with the American project and in doing so marked themselves as traitors in the eyes of extremists. Their emergency continues. An airlift would cut through all the obstacles to ending it, all at once.

There are, as the report points out, strategic benefits to protecting our Iraqi allies. It would raise our standing in the region; it would save a remnant of liberal-minded Iraqis who might one day return to rebuild their country. But mainly, it’s the right thing to do. For that reason, the CAP proposal will be an early test of Obama’s willingness to take political risks on behalf of important principles without powerful constituencies behind them.

A footnote: Betrayed, the play that grew out of my New Yorker article on this theme, will be performed next Monday night, at the Kennedy Center, in Washington, as a fund-raiser for the very worthy organization Refugees International. And two of the Iraqis who inspired the play’s lead roles, and who appear in the article as Firas and Laith, will be arriving, after years of effort, on these shores any day now. Al-hamdulillah.

Military's move creates challenges for Guam

U.S. wants to make it a new hub for Pacific forces

Associated Press

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, GUAM — Sprawling toward the horizon in every direction, Andersen Air Force Base is surprisingly quiet, leaving the impression of a big, empty parking lot.

For now, anyway.

Over the next six years, nearly 25,000 U.S. Marines, soldiers, family members and civilian Defense Department employees are to descend on the tiny Pacific island of Guam, transforming the sleepy tropical outpost into a hub of America's military in the Pacific.

But the metamorphosis seems as fragile as it is ambitious.

Guam's transformation will cost at least $15 billion — with Japan footing more than $6 billion of the bill — and put some of the U.S. military's highest-profile assets within the fences of a vastly improved network of bases.

The newcomers will find an island already peppered with strip malls, fast-food franchises and high-rise hotels serving Japanese tourists who want a closer-to-home version of Hawaii. The plans for the base are fueling a fresh construction and real estate boom that Guam hopes will accelerate its prosperity.

But Guam is smaller than some Hawaiian islands, with a population of just 155,000, and many of its officials are worried that the military influx could leave the island's infrastructure — water, highways and seaport — overwhelmed and underfunded.

Impact on infrastructure

Felix Camacho, the elected Republican governor of the U.S. territory, says he believes in the long run the troop influx will be "tremendous" for Guam's economy, but it will be "a difficult and complex process."

"I remain hopeful," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Our challenge is that we know that the Department of Defense and Japan will build a first-rate base." But Guam has "limited capacity" to develop its own infrastructure to absorb the influx, he said.

Joe Murphy, in a recent editorial in the Pacific Daily News, Guam's main newspaper, focused on the upside.

"The shift of Marines may cause problems," he wrote, but "transportation should get better. Our nightclubs should get better. So should our restaurants and movie theaters. It all should trigger an advancement in the social scene on Guam. This is a new era, and we've got to move forward."

Japan's responsibilities

The whole plan could collapse, however, if Japan fails to build a replacement for a busy Marine Corps air base on its southern island of Okinawa — a festering issue that one senior U.S. military official acknowledged is fraught with difficulties.

The buildup is designed in large part to ease the long-standing over-concentration of forces on Okinawa, the U.S. military's key Pacific outpost since the 1950s, without pulling them back too far from such potential flash points as Taiwan and North Korea.
Although China and Russia, the United States' main rivals in the Pacific, have been quiet, North Korea is characteristically wary. In an editorial, the state-run Minju Joson newspaper said it was meant to enable the Pentagon "to carry out its strategy for a surprise pre-emptive attack."

But keeping the Marines at their present levels on Okinawa has become unrealistic.
By treaty with Tokyo, more than 50,000 U.S. troops are stationed throughout Japan, which pays billions of dollars each year to support them, more than any other country with a U.S. base on its territory.

Okinawa's complaints

Okinawans have long complained that their crowded island has to absorb too much of the presence, and of the crimes and other misbehavior, of U.S. personnel stationed there. More than half of the U.S. troops in Japan are on Okinawa, as is Kadena, the biggest U.S. air base in the region.

In U.S.-Japanese negotiations, Guam has emerged as the most practical alternative.
Okinawans have generally welcomed the move, and Tokyo has pledged to invest nearly $3 billion in building barracks, offices and other facilities for the troops on Guam, and to lend an additional $3.3 billion for developing supporting infrastructure.

Roughly 10,000 Marines are to stay on Okinawa, however, and Tokyo has run into serious opposition in trying to move the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to a less congested part of Okinawa. Many Okinawans want it off the island altogether.
Lt. Gen. Edward Rice, commander of the U.S. forces in Japan, says the whole move to Guam depends on Futenma getting new premises on Okinawa.

"There are serious and significant challenges that remain for us to facilitate the transfer," he said in Tokyo.

Guam should be wary

"US PLANS for military buildup leave Guam wary" (Page A9, Jan. 4) reminded me why the Chamorro people are increasingly fearful of the destruction of their environment and culture, and why many are doing all they can to prevent the massive US military expansion in their occupied land.

Guam remains the colony designed to reinforce US dominance in Asia that William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt envisioned when they seized it from Spain in 1898. Twenty-five years ago, members of the Guam Land Owners' Association worked with two maps. One depicted Guam's best fresh water supply, agricultural land, and fishing grounds. The other showed the US military bases in their homeland. The maps were nearly identical.

Now, with many Okinawans and other Japanese saying that they've had enough of US nuclear-powered ships based in their cities, and that they are fed up with the terrifying noise of night-landing and low-altitude flights and the seizure of their lands, the idea is to transfer some of this nightmare to Guam. Guam's isolated 155,000 people are a frail force to resist the imperium.

As a nation, we feel shame when we recall the genocide and cultural destruction of our country's first peoples. We should not repeat it with the military corruption and destruction of Guam.

Joseph Gerson
Director of programs
American Friends Service Committee
New England Region

Fitial: Federalization law is illegal

MONDAY, 12 JANUARY 2009 00:00

The Fitial administration told the federal court in Washington, D.C. the federalization law is illegal because it breaches the commonwealth’s Covenant with the U.S. regarding the islands’ right to self-government.

The U.S Department of Justice’s motion to dismiss the islands’ lawsuit against the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Labor should be denied, the governor’s lawyers stated.

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Paul Friedman is hearing the case.

In related news, Variety learned that Homeland Security and Immigration officials from California and Washington, D.C. are arriving this week on Saipan for another fact-finding mission.

The group will hold closed-door talks with Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, other administration officials, lawmakers, the business community and other members of the community.

Last month, U.S. DOJ attorneys led by Theodore Atkinsons asked the federal court to dismiss the CNMI’s lawsuit because it lacks standing as the case was not brought by the commonwealth’s attorney general.

They also argued that under the Covenant, the U.S. Congress can extend federal immigration law to the islands and that the CNMI’s economic disaster scenario is hypothetical and speculative.

Howard P. Willens, the governor’s special legal counsel, and David W. DeBruin, William M. Hohengarten and Sharmila Sohoni of the Jenner & Block law firm, said the U.S. DOJ attorneys have “mischaracterized the commonwealth’s claims.”

They said the lawsuit “alleges specific violations of the [Covenant] between the commonwealth and the united states — claims based essentially on breach of contract, for which the harm is (and need only be) a violation of established contractual rights.”

According to the CNMI attorneys’ 30-page reply, the Covenant “guarantees the Northern Marianas the right to local self-government and control over internal affairs. This is a critical right for a small, isolated island community. In multiple ways, however, the act violates that established right, and its implementation should be enjoined.”

They said a preliminary injunction at the most would just delay the implementation of the federalization law, as embodied in U.S P.L. 110-229 or the U.S. Consolidated and Natural Resources Act, to Dec. 1, 2009.

During this period, they said the CNMI would be able to negotiate with federal authorities on how to administer its foreign worker program, which administration officials fear would end by 2014.

The federalization law, the CNMI lawyers said, “ultimately requires that all foreign workers lawfully admitted to the commonwealth must be removed unless they qualify for a federal visa — and most indisputably cannot — meaning that the act compels the removal of two-thirds of the private sector workforce and one-third of the population of the CNMI. The act strips critical revenues from the CNMI. In each of these respects, the commonwealth contends that the act violates enforceable promises made by the United States in the Covenant as a matter of law.”

The CNMI attorneys argued that the economic impact of the federalization law is imminent once it takes effect this June 1.

Camacho: ‘The enemy is us, not feds’

MONDAY, 12 JANUARY 2009 00:00

Former Gov. Carlos S. Camacho says CNMI leaders should stop blaming the federal government for the problems they themselves created.

The CNMI’s first governor, Carlos S. Camacho, and first lt. governor, Francisco C. Ada, pose with the members of the commonwealth’s first cabinet during a historic gathering on Friday.

“They blame everything on the federal government but the enemy is us…not the feds,” he said during the gathering on Friday of the members of the first commonwealth administration for a special luncheon that marked the 31st anniversary of the CNMI government.

The CNMI’s first governor, Camacho, and first lt. governor, Francisco C. Ada, reminisced over lunch at the Hafa Adai Hotel with 10 members of their administration.

Camacho, a medical doctor, and former NMI District Administrator Ada beat the Territorial — which later became known as the Republican — ticket of businessman Jose C. “Joeten” Tenorio and then-NMI District Legislature Vice Speaker Olympio T. Borja in the first CNMI election in Nov. 1977.

Camacho-Ada garnered 2,986 votes while Tenorio-Borja received 2,864.

On Jan. 9, 1978, Camacho and the rest of the CNMI leadership were sworn into office.

He failed to get re-elected in 1981 and lost to Republican Pedro P. Tenorio. In 1985, Camacho teamed up with now Saipan Mayor Juan B. Tudela but they lost to Tenorio and then-Lt. Gov. Pete A. Tenorio.

Camacho, in an interview on Friday, said he was disappointed that the first CNMI inauguration day had been “neglected.”

Asked what he considers his administration’s legacy, he said: “Government discipline. I am so proud to have worked with the best group that demonstrated the values of perseverance and hard work.”

He said he and Ada organized Friday’s gathering to show their appreciation for their cabinet officials.

“We’re getting old and some of us have already died,” said the 71-year-old Camacho. “After 31 long years, this is the first time and probably…the last for the group. We just wanted to see everybody.”

Camacho said their group has already lost five of their members, including the resident representatives for Rota and Tinian, as well as the directors for public safety and the CNMI hospital.

Executive department heads back then were headed by directors.


Camacho and Ada said they are saddened by the CNMI’s dismal conditions.

“Discipline is very important…and that’s what they’ve lost,” Camacho said.

“Problems cannot solely be blamed on others…. Now, they blame everything on the federal government,” he added.

Ada described the CNMI’s relation with the federal government during their time as “strong and excellent.”

The two former leaders welcome the federalization of local labor and immigration, saying “this is long overdue for the CNMI.”

They believed that the federalization lawsuit was filed because of “outside influence,” the current leadership’s inability to govern, greed and self-interest.

Ada said not a lot of their vetoes were overridden by the Legislature.

“There was cooperation and understanding between the executive and the lawmakers in our time,” he added.

Camacho said even though the CNMI had concerns with its relationship with Washington, D.C. “we didn’t fight the feds.

“There was a specific instance about food stamps that we we’re concerned about…but we didn’t quarrel with the feds,” the former governor recalled.

Camacho was governor from Jan. 1978 to Jan. 1982.

“We wanted to be known as the administration that laid the foundation for the CNMI,” he said. “We wanted the people to realize that we wanted to help them. We wanted to maintain our good relationship with the U.S. Congress and the rest of the federal government.”

Under his administration, he said telecommunications were privatized, the hospital and the international airport were built, the food stamp program was implemented, the Retirement Fund and Northern Marianas College were established.

Small government

The CNMI’s first director of finance and accounting, now Sen. Maria T. Pangelinan, D-Saipan, said the first CNMI budget amounted to $5 million.

“We had a small government,” she said.

“Everyone was very cooperative and there was discipline,” she added. “That was why we had a centralized channel of all information and it was very easy to work on the total financial picture of the government. Compared to what we’re experiencing at the present when it’s very hard to get actual data and financial information to make the best budget decision in setting goals for the government and making sure that taxpayers are being served properly.”

Back then, she said, there were fewer government employees and businesses.

“Fiscal management and government discipline” were the norm, she added.

“We underwent training during the transition period and there was a plan which we all followed,” she said. “But now, don’t have a plan which is very critical. The CNMI needs to have a plan — we have to have a roadmap to lead us where we’re going or we’ll get lost.”

Pangelinan believes that the CNMI should “reflect and start doing things right.”

800 employees

The CNMI’s first director of personnel, Felicitas Tee Abraham, said the government had 800 personnel at the time — compared to the over 4,000 it now employs.

She noted that the government is now “too loaded and too much.”

She said the administration then was focused on capacity-building of personnel.

Manuel A. Sablan, the CNMI’s first director of programs and budget, said Camacho worked closely with the federal government.

“We met constantly with the feds to see to it that we’re on the right track,” he said.

Sablan said the islands’ Covenant with the U.S. provided the tools to promote the islands’ economy.

Also attending the gathering were Isamu Abraham, the first director of public health; Vicente N. Santos, the director of political and public affairs; Jose C. Ayuyu, director of commerce and labor; Joaquin Q. DL. Guerrero, chief of administration; Francisco M. Diaz, the then-mayor of Saipan; Francisco Castro, director of immigration; Felix Sasamoto, director of the Emergency Management Office; and Soledad B. Sasamoto, the secretary of the lt. governor.

Also present were the CNMI’s former first lady Winnie P. Camacho, and Ines S. Ada, the wife of the former lt. governor.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Amend Antiquities Act-Wespac

By Jayvee L. Vallejera
Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Honolulu-based Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is urging the U.S. Congress to amend the Antiquities Act to require congressional approval of proposed monuments.

This comes in the wake of President George W. Bush's declaration Tuesday of three vast swaths in the Pacific as national marine monuments, using his executive powers under the hundred-year-old Act.

In a statement issued Thursday, Wespac voiced concern that Bush's use of the Antiquities Act to create the new marine monuments bypasses the National Environmental Policy Act, which mandates an environmental review and prior consultation with indigenous people and other members of the public.

“The Antiquities Act should be amended to require congressional approval of proposed monuments as it has been done for Wyoming and Alaska and to require compliance to NEPA,” Wespac executive director Kitty Simonds said.

Wespac was one of those who had initially opposed the designation of the marine monuments.

The new marine monuments are composed of the three northernmost islands of the Northern Mariana Islands-Uracas, Asuncion, and Maug-and the Marianas Trench, the Rose Atoll in American Samoa, and a string of islands in the Pacific called the Line Islands, which include the Johnston Atoll and Wake Island. Bush's Tuesday proclamation bans commercial fishing in these areas but allows for recreational, sustenance and traditional indigenous fishing.

The Hawaii longline fishery currently fishes around Palmyra, Kingman and Johnston Atolls. The American purse seine fishery also operate within the U.S. Pacific remote island areas, and CNMI fishermen have harvested in the three northern islands of their island chain.

With commercial fishing now prohibited in these areas, Wespac believes this could put more pressure on other fishing grounds.

“The significant loss of fishing areas available to commercial fishermen in Hawaii and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands can be counterproductive to sustainable fishery goals,” Simonds said. “Reduction of available fishing areas often leads to increased fishing pressure in other areas.”

Despite misgivings, Wespac chair Sean Martin said, “The Council looks forward to continuing its work under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the presidential proclamations to protect everyone's interest in these areas,” said Wespac.

Wespac develops and amends fishery management plans for the U.S. Pacific Islands under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. These plans and amendments are transmitted to the Secretary of Commerce for approval and implemented by the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service.

With the new marine monuments, nearly a quarter of the U.S. exclusive economic zone waters surrounding the Pacific islands are now designated as marine protected areas, and the U.S. Pacific Islands account for half of the MPAs in the entire United States.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Bordallo: Monument designation hurts 'local sovereignty'

WEDNESDAY, 07 JANUARY 2009 22:53

Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo vowed yesterday to work with her colleagues in the Committee on Natural Resources to ensure that all stakeholders are consulted on the development of a management plan for the three new national marine monuments that President Bush officially designated on Tuesday.

Bush proclaimed the Marianas Trench and the waters and corals surrounding three uninhabited islands in the CNMI, Rose Atoll in American Samoa and seven islands strung along the equator in the central Pacific Ocean as sanctuaries protected under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

"While the portion of the new monument in the waters near Guam is confined to submerged features and is less restrictive than originally proposed, I remain concerned about the effect of this monument designation on local sovereignty," Bordallo said in a press statement.

The president's directive allows the government to immediately phase out waste dumping, as well as commercial fishing and other extractive uses.

However, recreational fishing, tourism and scientific research with a federal permit could still be allowed within the marine sanctuaries that Bush described as "three beautiful and biologically diverse areas of the Pacific Ocean."

Prohibited activities would not apply to military activities and exercises.


Bordallo expressed disappointment that Bush made the decision without acknowledging the input from local communities.

"I recognize that his intent is to protect our natural resources and our ocean ecosystem while also attempting to address the concerns of our fishermen on Guam, but I do not believe that this process was as inclusive and consultative as we would have preferred," she said.

"The Mariana Trench is an extraordinarily geologically rich resource and a special area of our ocean for undersea life that can best be protected going forward with increased consultation and cooperation between federal and local authorities," the congresswoman added.

Bordallo said she looks forward to "increased consultation" on the development of a management plan under the administration of President-elect Barack Obama who will officially take the helm of the White House on Jan 20.

Bush directs the secretaries of the Interior and Commerce to prepare management plans within their respective authorities and "promulgate implementing regulations that address any further specific actions necessary for the proper care and management of the objects identified" in the proclamation.

Blue legacy

The national monuments capped off an eight-year comprehensive ocean conservation strategy, which is touted to be Bush's "Blue Legacy."

According to the proclamation, the monument management plans would include programs to address "traditional access by indigenous persons….for culturally significant subsistence, cultural and religious uses within the monument."

It will also include a program to assess and promote monument-related scientific exploration and research, tourism, as well as recreational and economic activities and opportunities in the CNMI.

Marine monuments will support military’s needs


President Bush says the newly declared marine sanctuaries in the Pacific, which include the CNMI’s Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, will be used to help the U.S. armed forces fulfill its need to get adequate training, readiness and global mobility in and around the region to keep peace and security around the world.

Under the authority granted by the U.S. 1906 Antiquities Act, Bush signed three declarations on Jan. 6 placing the Marianas Trench, the waters around the three uninhabited northernmost islands of the CNMI and 21 undersea volcanoes, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the central Pacific Ocean and the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument in American Samoa under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government.

“On this occasion of the establishment of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, and the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument, I confirm that the policy of the United States shall be to continue measures established in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument to protect the training, readiness, and global mobility of U.S. armed forces, and ensure protection of navigation rights and high seas freedoms under the law of the sea, which are essential to the peace and prosperity of civilized nations,” the president said.

“The security of America, the prosperity of its citizens, and the protection of the ocean environment are complementary and reinforcing priorities. As the United States takes measures to conserve and protect the living and non-living resources of the ocean, it shall ensure preservation of the navigation rights and high seas freedoms enjoyed by all nations under the law of the sea,” he added.

The three new Pacific monuments measure about 195,000 square miles and are the biggest marine sanctuaries in the world.

James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the Bush administration welcomes the presence of the military in and around the Marianas monument “because they will be some of our best eyes and ears as to what’s going on with the resource.”

Connaughton said the military buildup on Guam in the coming years will need the protected areas to do scientific research and other projects.

“The military will be flying their missions, and sailing their ships, and running their submarines in and around these areas. But I want to observe the active military activity will be taking place south of the Northern Islands, and so we have set this up in a way where it’s going to be fully compatible with those activities,” he added.

Under the nine-page declaration for the CNMI, the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument will be managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Commerce, the Department of the Interior, in consultation with the Department of Defense.

Within three months after Jan. 6, an advisory council will be created.

The monument declaration essentially allows “the right of innocent passage in territorial seas, without requirement for prior notification to or permission from a coastal state.

It also grants the following rights to the U.S:

•The right of transit passage for ships, submarines, and aircraft in straits used for international navigation; a right that may not be suspended, denied, hampered, or impaired.

•The right of archipelagic sea lanes passage in designated sea lanes and air routes, and passage routes normally used for international navigation in archipelagic nations.

• The exercise of high seas freedoms in exclusive economic zones, including the conduct of military activities, exercises, and surveys.

Marianas Trench declared marine national monument

By John Davis
Published Jan 7, 2009

Using a law enacted more than a century ago, President George W. Bush declared the Marianas Trench and two other areas in the Central Pacific marine national monuments. As one of his last major acts as commander in chief, Bush gave close to 200,000 square miles the special designation, which includes the Marianas Trench - the deepest point on earth.

Said the president, "This decision came after a lot of consultation, consultation with local officials, consultation with prominent scientists, consultation with environmental advocates, consultation with the United States military and the fishing community."

Evidently not included however in the consultations, at least as much as she would have hoped, was Guam congressional delegate Madeleine Bordallo. She told KUAM News via phone, "We were a little disappointed with the manner in which the president signed this into law and that was through the Antiquities Act and rather than going through a process going through Congress."

The president in making the declaration of the marine national monuments said it was the capstone of his eight-year commitment to strong environmental protection and conservation, adding the monuments are receiving our nation's highest level of environmental recognition and conservation. The declaration prohibits resource destruction, or extraction, waste dumping, and commercial fishing.

"They will allow for research, free passage and recreation," said Bush, "including the possibility of recreational fishing one day."

According to the president's executive order, the departments of the Interior and Commerce, as well as the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, have been tasked to come up with rules and regulations to manage and monitor the Marianas monument. Those rules and regs will include the authorization for traditional access by indigenous people for culturally significant subsidence, cultural and religious uses within the monument.

CNMI delegate Gregorio Sablan said of the decision, "Regrettably the president has used his executive powers under Antiquities Act, he's done this so now we'll have to do work closely with White House, the people of Guam and the CNMI have a say in the development of policies that will manage the program. The monument per se isn't a bad thing, the devil is in the details. So we need to be careful on how we write-up those details."

The CNMI government and the federal agencies have been given two years to prepare the management plans, which will perpetuate this blue legacy that President Bush has left behind. "As further research is conducted in these depths, we will learn more about life at the bottom of the sea and about the history of our planet."

Concerns Raised Over Fairness of Chamorro Land Trust Commission

Written by Josh Tyquiengco, Pacific News Center - Guam, Saipan, CNMI, Asia-Pacific Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Guam-Concerns are being raised as to how the Chamorro Land Trust is approving commercial leases and not protecting the rights of those native to the island.

The commission met today at the legislature to approve a number of leases...but local farmer Ernie Wusstig believes the CLTC shouldn't be competition with private property owners to make money. He's also upset officials are leasing property to people not native to Guam. Senator Ben Pangelinan also is concerned the commission is rushing to approve leases when they should wait to adopt their new rules.

As the new incoming chairman, Pangelinan says hard questions will be asked about the fairness of the CLTC.

JGPO To Host Informational Meetings On Military Buildup

Written by Josh Tyquiengco, Pacific News Center - Guam, Saipan, CNMI, Asia-Pacific Wednesday, 07 January 2009

Guam-The Joint Guam Program Office will be holding more informational meetings on the military buildup in the villages of Yigo, Dededo, Mangilao and Agat. Captain Neil Ruggiero says JGPO will be conducting an overview of where they are at in the planning process and encourage island residents to show up and ask questions on the following dates:

January 15 - Mangilao Senior Center
January 20 - Yigo Gymnasium
January 21- Dededo Senior Center
January 22- Agat Community Center

All meetings are expected to run from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

The military buildup involves the move of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa, Japan to Guam. The buildup is expected to begin in 2010 and to be completed by 2014.

'A landmark day in CNMI history'

Thursday, January 08, 2009
By Kristi Eaton

Delegate Gregorio “Kilili” C. Sablan became the CNMI's first-ever member of Congress on Jan. 6, 2009, setting out an agenda that prioritizes President-elect Barack Obama's proposed stimulus package and participation in crafting rules for the impending federalization of local immigration.

Sablan took his oath of office at 2:20pm Tuesday in Washington D.C. (5:20am Wednesday Saipan time), standing on the floor of the House of Representatives with other members of the 111th Congress. Before then, the CNMI was the only part of the United States that did not have representation in the national legislature.

“Today is a landmark day in Commonwealth history,” said Sablan. “Today our islands become full-fledged members of the American political family.”

Sablan's wife, Andrea, and their children, Patricia and Jesse, witnessed the historic swearing-in in Washington, D.C. Other key figures in Marianas history witnessed the swearing-in as well. These included Edward Dlg. Pangelinan, the chief negotiator for the Marianas Political Status Commission and the first Resident Representative for NMI, and Pete A. Tenorio, a member of the Political Status Commission and the CNMI's last Resident Representative.

Tenorio donated the Commonwealth's seal to the new congressional office; it now hangs in the office's foyer.

Allen Stayman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Jay Livingstone, Angie Borja, and Medced Aldan-Ada also attended Delegate-elect Sablan's swearing-in and the open house held at the NMI's new congressional office, in room 423 of the Canon Building.

“The people of the Northern Mariana Islands have waited over 30 years for the full participation of our citizens in Congress,” said Pangelinan. “To a large measure this fulfills the Covenant commitment that we will be participating fully as a self-governing Commonwealth within the American family.”

“It is amazing,” said Sablan's daughter Patricia. “This is history.”

Sablan's son, Jesse, took a break from moving furniture to the new congressional office to contemplate his father's new job. “I'm just really nervous and hoping that he does well.”


Sablan said his first day at the CNMI's first congressman was a humbling experience.

“The fact that I took my oath and am now a member of Congress representing the people of the Northern Mariana Islands, that was a humbling experience,” Sablan said a few hours after being sworn in.

It has been years in the making, he said. “First we were a Trust Territory. Then the Covenant was approved and we were a Commonwealth. And now we have a seat in Congress. The Covenant gave us autonomy, but up until now the Feds could pass laws affecting the Marianas without us having a say. Now we have a role in making those laws,” he said.

The day's events also showed how small the world can be, he said.

Phillip Burton, who preceded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a member of California's 5th (later changed to 8th) district, was responsible for the passage of the Covenant, Sablan told Pelosi when he spoke with her during his swearing in ceremony.

“That's a complete circle,” he said.

Sablan then learned that the pastor of Pelosi's church is a friend of Bishop Tomas Camacho. Camacho provided the Bible for Sablan to use in the ceremony.

“So you know it's a small world,” he said.


One of the first things Sablan is going to be working on with his staff is the stimulus package, he said. Not only will infrastructure affect the CNMI, but also other policies can affect the people of the Northern Marianas, he added.

“We need to remain mindful that some economic policies that will apply in the nation will not make such an impact in the Marianas and other territories,” he said.

Sablan said he is looking at some tax issues.

“Not everyone in the Marianas pays taxes. Some of the people who need the greatest help will be left out of any tax credit policy that they could put in the package. So we need to make sure those people are taken care of,” he said, adding that he and his staff will work with other members of Congress on the issue.

As for Bush's announcement of the Marianas Trench National Monument, the new congressman said he would have preferred it be done with a sanctuary, but is happy with the compromise.

“It's done. They made that declaration,” he said, adding that it's time to move on and think about the long term.


Sablan also will be meeting with officials from the Department of Homeland Security on the issue of federalization. He first met with them in November.

“I am talking with other members about having another meeting with the Department of Homeland Security to see what the plans are,” he said. “I am cognizant of the fact that there are certain situations going on with the federalization of immigration that may limit the amount of information they can share. As of today, I am a part of the federal government. We have discussed some of the issues that are of concern to the Northern Marianas Islands.”

Sablan's wife and children will be heading back to the CNMI soon, he said. Although he will reside in Washington, the Commonwealth will always be his home and he will visit as often as possible.

“I will be traveling as much as I can. It's just a little difficult because we're so far away,” he said. “But when necessary I will come to the Northern Marianas. I will be coming often enough to know what it going on.”

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Guam Tourist Numbers Fall in 2008

Tourist numbers fall in 2008: GVB blames fuel prices, market crash
By Brett Kelman
Pacific Daily News
January 7, 2009

Edwin Cruz believes that the familiar faces who used to visit him in Tumon during the holidays may have belonged to some of the 44,044 tourists who decided not to fly to Guam last fiscal year.

Cruz, 50, owns two beachside businesses that rent snorkels, fins, kayaks and paddleboats outside of major hotels on the sandy strip of Tumon Bay. Rental gear from Isa Aqua Sports and Isa Sports Club sprinkle the coast with pink, orange, yellow and white.

Every December -- during the busy season -- Cruz would recognize the same Japanese and Korean families who returned to Guam each winter to relax on the beach, play in the shallows and put money in his pockets.

This December, they didn't show up. All told, lots of tourists didn't show up, he said.

"This same time last year, it would have been busier. Absolutely busier, ... I wouldn't have time to talk right now." Cruz said, laughing.

Yesterday, Guam Visitors Bureau President Gerry Perez said that the high cost of fuel and the global market crash kept tourists, like many of Cruz's customers, away in 2008. Many airlines in Asia added fuel surcharges to their ticket prices, driving travel costs up while the economy was down.

According to the Guam Visitors Bureau fiscal 2008 annual report presented at the bureau's quarterly meeting yesterday, tourist arrivals dropped by about 3.6 percent last year. Tourism numbers were lagging only slightly behind for most of the year, but when the economy went sour during the fall, arrivals plummeted by 14 percent.

According to the report, 1,223,290 tourists arrived in fiscal 2007. In fiscal 2008, only 1,179,246 arrived. Since the average Japanese tourist spends about $635 during a stay on Guam, the local economy missed out on about $28 million of local spending.

Arrivals from Japan and Korea, Guam's largest markets, both dropped more than 5 percent, the report stated.

Cruz said he could feel the difference. If it were January of 2007, he wouldn't have a moment of peace. Ten tourists would be waiting to rent equipment the moment his businesses opened each morning.

Like owners of many struggling businesses that rely on tourists, Cruz said he started cutting the hours of his 11 employees last month to lessen his losses. He fights to keep morale high, but his workers have started dropping "hints" that their lives are rewritten by smaller paychecks, he said.

"This is not the end of the hardship, but we've got to just be prepared, you know? Start adjusting our lifestyles," he said. "Right now it's a day-by-day thing. You cannot predict a slow economy and you cannot predict how deep your pocket is. You've got to look at doing everything possible to survive."

But Perez can predict that the light at the end of the tunnel is still a year away.

He said yesterday that although airline fuel surcharges were slowly disappearing and the Japanese yen had regained much of its value, tourism numbers may not improve until 2010.

"Because the Japan economy is in such dire straits, it's negating the benefits of a stronger yen and lower fuel surcharge environment. In the case of Korea, the Korean won has deteriorated about 26-30 percent in terms of its value, ... that means that Guam, in won terms, is a much more expensive destination," he said.

Perez said the Guam Visitors Bureau hoped that four initiatives that will begin this year would "soften the blow."

"We believe that there are structural conditions in the market -- they are mega-trends -- we can't stop them. But we can at least tactically address some opportunities to lessen the impact," Perez said.

Perez said the initiatives were:

The "Visit Guam" campaign, which will attract tourists through the Internet and connect them with travel agents;

Weekly sales promotions in shopping malls and department stores in Japan;

A campaign to entice large groups of tourists, such as businesses that want to reward their employees; and

Advertising using renowned Japanese celebrities, including recently retired Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Masumi Kuwata.

Tourism could receive a big boost with the approval of a China visa waiver for Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

GVB announced yesterday that a delegation from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will visit Guam and the CNMI next week to explain new regulations for visitors to the island.

The new regulations, which are set to take effect in July, will outline specific requirements under which visitors from any country will be allowed into Guam and the CNMI, the release said, without giving details about what the new regulations entail.

"This is good news because it means we should be able to attract new markets, such as China, and the Philippines for that matter, so long as certain requirements are met," GVB Chairman Tydingco said in a news release yesterday.

A waiver would make it easier for Chinese tourists to visit Guam and the CNMI than anyplace else in the United States, where they still are required to obtain non-immigrant visas.

Cruz thought the solution was simpler -- if you keep prices low, tourists will come back, he said.

Dededo Town Hall Meeting on Military Move Planned

Dededo town hall meeting on military moved planned
By John Davis
Published Jan 6, 2009

KUAM News has learned the Joint Guam Program Office will be holding a town hall meeting later this month to provide an update on planning efforts relative to the buildup of troops. Dededo mayor Melissa Savares says JGPO will also provide an update on government land in the village the feds have been looking at for their use.

"They're looking at expanding a little bit more than what hey have in the village and it's not that they want to take Chamorro Land Trust Property, but they want to lease Chamorro Land Trust property," the mayor explained.

According to Savares, the town hall meeting is scheduled for January 21 at 6:30pm at the Dededo Senior Center. KUAM has been unable to confirm with JGPO whether similar town hall meetings are planned for other villages.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Speaker Won Pat Calls for Unity

Speaker calls for unity with tough times ahead
By Sabrina Salas Matanane
Published Jan 5, 2009

Monday was Inauguration Day on Guam, as several of the island's recently-elected leaders took their oath of office this morning at the Antonio R. Unpingco Session Hall. The head of the Democrat supermajority, Speaker Judi Won Pat placed the 30th Guam Legislature in Condition 1 - to batten down the hatches and prepare for the worst typhoon.

Using the analogy of a storm, Won Pat warned that Guam is in the proverbial calm before the storm when the wind blows in slow motion and the ocean has a quiet anger. "There are troubling times ahead of us, challenging times," she described.

The speaker added that the community should make no mistake: a typhoon is brewing, packing a punch that will devastate Guam like it's never seen before, delivering a blow to Guam's already fragile state. Won Pat said, "The global economic crisis has reached our shores, we have seen foreclosures on our neighbor's homes, families pushed into poverty and unable to make ends meet. There are many ill members of our community unable to afford adequate healthcare.

"The hospital is busting at the seams, our educational system is failing our children, and we have a loss of confidence in our elected leaders. The Ordot Landfill is overflowing as we speak and over 40,000 people are migrating to our island. This typhoon has the strength to decimate our island life as we know it."

Preparedness for adversity is key to weather this storm, she surmised. Guam's leaders, she says, must resolve to stop the party politics and instead work together and for the entire island community. The blame games and senseless bickering, Won Pat said, must come to an end in order for Guam to survive.

"During times of crisis we need leadership and people willing to be selfless leaders - that embodies the true spirit of family. Leadership that will take act on behalf of special interest entire community and not interest of special groups," she continued. "The challenges we are facing have placed us in the survival of the fittest, and we must have leaders fit to lead. Party differences must be put aside, self-interest must be shelved, and integrity must be restored."