Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Guthertz: DEIS fails to address social problems

Guthertz: DEIS fails to address social problems

Thursday, 04 February 2010 02:41
MVG Reporter

(LEGISLATURE)--Senator Judith P. Guthertz said the draft environmental impact statement contains no mechanism to deal with the inevitable social problems that will arise with the arrival of 10,000 or more Marines and their dependents.

“As a former Director of Public Safety and acting chief of police, I am well aware of the situation we will be facing. Like all young men of their age, Marines will be trying to attract young civilian women,” Guthertz stated in a comment paper directed to Major General David Bice, USMC, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office.

“Combine that with drinking around a pool table with cue sticks and hard billiard balls readily available, and the situation can become very volatile,” she added.

Guthertz is looking to the CNMI for a potential solution. A provision of the CNMI’s Covenant with Washington provides for a council to address the military-civilian relationship.

“The [CNMI‟s] Civil-Military Advisory Council has been a regular mechanism over several of the years for consultation and coordination between the military and the CNMI Government, meeting with an agenda, action items assigned, and joint deadlines established,” Guthertz said.

Guthertz says the right organization on Guam to handle this would be the Guam First Commission, which was created by law in 2008 over Gov. Felix Camacho’s veto.

The governor has since refused to implement the law. Earlier, the governor created a Civilian-Military Task Force Council to deal with buildup problems, but that body’s last meeting was in October 2008.

Potential problems that such an organization would deal with are already being discussed on island, such as the 18-year-old drinking age in the Guam civilian community as opposed to the 21-year-old age on base.

“Issues are certain to arise regarding DUIs, as the young servicemen attempt to get back to their base safely after having fun downtown. The DEIS does not address this disparity between drinking ages,” Guthertz said.

The sex industry is also an issue, with reports that these businesses are already planning to set up shop on Route 3, just across from the main Marine cantonment.

“The Marine Corps, of course, is opposed to this and does not want local zoning to permit it just outside the family-oriented base. This would be an issue for discussion and coordination between the military and civilian leadership in Guam,” Guthertz said.

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