Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Camacho: we will finish strong

Camacho: we will finish strong

Posted: Feb 15, 2010 2:13 PM
Updated: Feb 15, 2010 4:51 PM

by Sabrina Salas Matanane

* - 2010 State of the Island Address

Guam - With his term expiring at the end of the year, Governor Felix Camacho delivered his last State of the Island Address this morning. The island's chief executive detailed his administration's list of achievements, his legacy, and the future of Guam. And the governor says his administration has fought the good fight and plans to finish strong.

Governor Camacho began his final Address by first asking for a moment of silence for the island's 17 fallen heroes who died while serving in the Middle East. From there, Camacho began listing off his many projects he and his administration completed in the last seven years while in office, detailing milestones made in building new schools, new police and fire precincts, improvements to the island's infrastructure, climbing tourism numbers, and the Guam Memorial Hospital being closer than ever to accreditation.

The governor said he's come along way since being sworn in by candlelight in the wake of 2002's Supertyphoon Pongsona. "This is not jus a list of accomplishments," he noted, "It is the fulfillment of our commitment to serve our people."

There were other issues that however remain unresolved like mental health on the verge of a possible federal takeover. "While some have eyes set on taking over mental health services, we are determined to maintain ownership, not receivership," he maintained.

And the longstanding problems surrounding the Department of Education and the construction of a new John F. Kennedy High School were touched upon, with the governor saying the problems with education are chronic and systemic, adding that progress has been slow because of a politically charged environment.

Although the governor says he's worked with DOE to solve its problems, the true power lies within the agency itself. "There is an elected policy board, a super and multiple administrative positions but when trouble arises the governor is blamed, all authority for education rests within DOE," Camacho said.

The governor in the meantime went on to discuss the importance his administration has placed on building and maintaining relationships not just with the federal government but with regional leaders, even going so far as saying Guam and the CNMI should once again seek reunification. "With one Marianas," Camacho noted, "with greater representation and inclusion as Americans citizens, we will only strengthen our people in our communities."

Saying the island is in a state of anticipation, Governor Camacho says he has heard the voices of the people and has listened to their concerns and that he is determined to ensure that the military buildup is good for Guam. Camacho pledged to ensure the island's environment is protected and, its culture preserved.

In terms of funding, the governor maintained the feds should pay their fair share, saying, "Make no mistake: the people of Guam are not asking for free handouts, the people of Guam are not asking for special treatment, the people of Guam are simply asking what every good American should ask for - that the buildup ahead benefits both the American patriot inside the fence and the American patriot outside the fence: the people of Guam."

The governor requested the feds to extend the buildup implementation past the 2014 timeframe, and also made it clear that he was against the condemnation of ancestral land and Chamorro Land Trust Commission properties.

When it came to talking about his legacy the governor proceeded to provide a brief history of Guam lesson, and said there has been a revival of our island's identity and sense of place in this world, saying, "Today I will submit legislation; I've also signed an executive order and I'm calling on our Legislature, and our congresswoman, Madeleine Bordallo, and you the people of Guam to join me in taking all necessary legal action to formally change the name of our island from Guam to 'Guahan'".

The governor ended his speech by saying his father, the late governor Carlos Camacho, would be proud, and said it was his family, friends and faith that helped him through his two terms in office. "Even though I'm out of office, we all continue to serve. Let's stick together, let's remember that Guam is a great place and no matter what the critics say, no matter what you read in the newspaper or hear on the radio, we are good people - all of us. So let's continue to serve and thank God for all that we have," said Camacho.

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