Friday, November 30, 2007

Japan Seeks Cooperation from Micronesia on Global Warming

Fukuda seeks cooperation from Micronesia in tackling global warming
Nov 30 08:19 AM US/Eastern

TOKYO, Nov. 30 (AP) - (Kyodo) — Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on Friday sought the cooperation of visiting Micronesian President Emanuel Mori in promoting Japan's proposal to launch a post-Kyoto Protocol framework for negotiations to tackle global warming in which all major greenhouse gas emitters will take part.

In their 20-minute meeting at the prime minister's office, Mori thanked Japan for its leadership on the climate change issue and expressed hope that it will take the initiative as a country that shares the same Pacific climate as island nations that are easily affected by weather conditions, Japanese officials said.

Fukuda told Mori he is fully aware that global warming is a "serious issue" for island nations such as the Federated States of Micronesia and said that Japan is proposing the negotiating framework while taking the situation of island states into account, the officials said.

Japan is proposing a forum in which all major emitters will take part in negotiations with a view to building an effective future framework for addressing climate change after the expiration in 2012 of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol for curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

The move is part of the international community's efforts to build a new regime to fight global warming. Japan earlier announced an initiative to halve greenhouse gas emissions from current levels by 2050.

At a press opportunity at the outset of their meeting, the prime minister said Japan has decided to post a full-time ambassador to Micronesia as part of efforts to further strengthen the relationship between the two countries.

"Japan and Micronesia have a historically long relationship and there are many people in your country who are of Japanese ancestry, including yourself, Mr. President," Fukuda said. "We have a particular affinity and affection for your country."

Fukuda said Japan is planning to decide shortly on the provision of grant aid to Micronesia for improvements to Pohnpei international airport and will also consider further assistance measures for the country, the officials said.

Mori expressed hope that the upgrading of Japan's diplomatic mission in Micronesia to an embassy will help to enhance bilateral ties and thanked Japan for its continued economic cooperation, they said.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Invasion of Guam

Minagahet Zine
Vol. 5 Iss. 5
"The Invasion of Guam"

Hafa Adai, yan welcome to i mina'trenta kuatro na Minagahet.

Last week I decided to try a different format for Minagahet, which would feature lists of articles grouped around issues relevant to things such as the military build up, the environment, federalization, and so on. The response I received was very positive and thankful. People know things are happening, and these things may or may not be something they can control or prevent. But, rarely for a variety of reasons, do they feel they have the time or the abilities to find out exactly what is happening, or what they can do about it. Bula na infotmasion manliliko' giya Guahan put i mamtan i militat, hayi mismo gaitiempo para u taitai yan komprende todu?

If for instance, you just read a single article on the economic re-energizing that Guam will be experiencing over the next few years, then you might think that the future will be incredible, sen ma'lak siempre! The business community is clearly working hard on this military increase. From just one article you'll get an image of business leaders meeting regularly at conferences and forums, where they are working on bringing in some of their business friends from around the world, all for the betterment of the people of Guam, so that everyone can benefit in fantastic ways from the military increases that are already being felt on the island. If, however, you read how many articles there are covering the business community's efforts to capitalize on the impending military increases, and how many business are moving into Guam to set up shop, you probably won't get an image of businesses working towards what's best for Guam, but rather an image of ferocious drunken vultures circling and swarming around the island, looking for any means to make some money. Members of the Chamber of Commerce, the US Congress and the Department of Interior have been traveling around the United States and the Pacific letting any and all know that "GUAM IS FOR SALE! and ready and willing to be plundered" To make this point very very clear, during one such conference in New Zealand, businesses there were encouraged to invade Guam.

As with the last issue, I am hoping again that if people find the things they read here disturbing or unsettling about the way Guam, Chamorros and others on Guam are being treated, they find productive ways to act upon their discomfort or anger. As you read this, Guam is being sold. It is first being sold as a place ideal for investors looking to make a quick buck or carpetbaggers looking for an eager and patriotic population to plunder. Second it is being sold off, the very future of the island is being handed over to people who are interested in making whatever money they can off the majority of Guam's population, and then fleeing one's the economic "excitement" is over. Third, Guam is being sold a complete pack of lies and half-truths as to how this military increase and the economic "boom" that is taking place now, will impact the island. Those in charge, elected or otherwise, of the island's economy, government and society, have decided for the most part to either celebrate these things in almost stupidly exuberant ways, or to simply go with the flow. It is up to those who see the future of our island in jeopardy, who see or can feel the numerous ways the island can be poisoned, the economy ruined, and our lives put at risk by these moves, to do something about it!

For more info, head over to these blogs, the JGPO Blog and the Decolonize Guam Blog. My other two blogs are still going strong. At No Rest for the Awake - Minagahet Chamorro, I posted recently about the relationship between "Guam, GITMO and Diego Garcia." And at Voicing Indigeneity, we recently uploaded a new podcast for the school year titled "The Indigenous View."

Sahuma Minagahet yan Na'suha Dinagi



Hanom: articles about the water on Guam

"Navy's Fuligni Supports Decision to Raise Water Rates," by John Davis, KUAM, 10/18/07"
"Bring Fena to the Table," From the Marianas Variety, 10/10/07
"Simon Says Stop to Navy," by John Davis, KUAM, 10/10/07
"Water Rights in Guam," from Senator Ben Pangelinan, Famoksaiyan, 10/06/07
"Navy: Rate Hike Had to Be Done," by John Davis, KUAM, 10/4/07
"Navy Water Rate Hike Irks Senators," by Mar-Vic Cagurangan, The Marianas Variety, 9/28/07
"GWA Plans to Reduce Dependency on Navy Water," by John Davis, KUAM, 9/28/07
"Navy Will Nearly Double Water Rates for Southern Guam," by Jennifer H. Svan, Stars and Stripes, 9/27/07
"Navy Raises Fena Water Rate," by Gerardo R. Partido, The Marianas Variety, 9/26/07
"Mounting Losses Brought About Need to Raise Rates," by Mindy Fothergill, KUAM, 9/26/07
"CCU Prepared to Fight Navy If Water Rate Increases," by John Davis, KUAM, 9/18/07
"US Military Buildup Brings Tensions to Guam," from AP, The Honolulu Advertiser, 8/16/07
"Unpingco Hits Navy Fena Plan," by Gerardo R. Partido, The Marianas Variety, 8/16/07
"Navy May Increase Price of Water to GWA," by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM, 8/15/07

Hambiento: articles about the selling of Guam

"US Ambassador Wants Islands to Cash in on Guam Military Buildup," by Giff Johnson, Pacific Magazine, 10/25/07
"Guam Business Conference Best Ever," by Gerardo R. Partido, The Marianas Variety, 10/15/07
"China Eyes Business Ventures on Guam," by Gemma Q. Casas, The Marianas Variety, 10/09/07
"Business Opportunities Conference Will Cover All Bases," by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM, 10/07/07
"Pacific Businesses Head to Guam to Check Out US Dollars," 10/05/07
"Unlocking the Value of Real Estate in Micronesia," by David B. Cohen, The Saipan Tribune, 9/30/07
"Invest in the Pacific, US Tells Philippine Businesses," by Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo, Philippine News, 9/19/07
"Businesses Encouraged to Invade Guam," by Martin Tiffany, Waikato Times, 9/10/07
"Cohen to Address Real Estate Conference," by Gerardo R. Partido, The Marianas Variety, 9/07/07
"Forum Focuses on Military Buildup," by Jesse Leon Guerrero, NAVFAC, 8/30/07
"Guam Industry Forum Unites Industry Innovation with DOD Opportunity," by Kyra Hawn, NAVFAC, 8/28/07
"Guam Industry Forum Passes Valuable Lessons" by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM, 8/24/07
"Japan May Control Military Money," by Gerardo R. Partido, The Marianas Variety, 8/24/07
"Camacho Address Industry Forum," by Gerardo R. Partido, The Marianas Variety, 8/24/07
"Business Leaders, Lawmakers Converge on Guam," from the Associated Press, NBC KHNL, 8/23/07
"Gun Beach to Undergo Multimillion Commercial Development," by Mindy Fothergill, KUAM, 6/05/07
"Report Paints Bleak Picture of Guam's Financial Situation," by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM, 12/21/06

Fino' Okinawa: articles about the island where the 8,000 Marines are coming from

"Governor Rejects Defense Agency Environmental Assessment," from, 10/25/07
"Japanese City Opposes New Runway," from United Press International, 9/8/07
"Okinawa Does Not Need New US Military Bases," by , Manabu Sato, Asahi Shimbun, 9/07/07
"Tensions Mount as Prefecture Rejects Military Assessment Letter" from, 8/9/07
"Guam Welcomes Okinawa Delegation," by Mar-Vic Cagurangan, Marianas Variety, 7/12/07
"Okinawa Airfield Returned After 61 Years,'" by Takuya Okamoto, The Japan Times, 6/24/07
"Three Rapes: The Status of Forces Agreement and Okinawa," by Chalmers Johnson, Minagahet, 4/29/07
"Okinawans Oppose Missile Deployment," by David Allen and Chiyomi Sumida, Stars and Stripes, 7/01/06
"US Military Retreats Over Japanese Base After Protests," by David Mcneill, The Independent, 10/27/05
"US Agrees to Relocate Marines on Okinawa," by Anthony Faiola, The Washington Post, 10/27/05
"Okinawans Outraged at Crimes by Troops of 'Rogue Superpower America,'" by Karl Grobe, Frankfurter Rundshau, 7/13/00

Fino' Militat: articles about what the military plans for Guam

"Senators Frustrated with Military," by Gerardo R. Partido, The Marianas Variety, 10/11/07
"Tankers Fuel Tip of Spear," from The Pacific News Center, 10/07/07
"Bice on the Buildup," by Michael Lujan Bevacqua, No Rest for the Awake - Minagahet Chamorro, 9/26/07
"How Will They All Fit on Guam?," by Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes, 9/25/07
"Guam Officials Need to Be Careful," by David Allen, Stars and Stripes, 7/15/07
"The Pentagon as Global Landlord," by Nick Turse,, 7/11/07
"Marianas as one Big Military Camp," by Gerardo R. Partido, The Marianas Variety, 6/18/07
"Military Mulls Infrastructure," by Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno, Pacific Daily News, 6/05/07
"From the Mouth of Fallon," by Michael Lujan Bevacqua, No Rest for the Awake - Minagahet Chamorro, 4/17/07
"Report Recommends US Military Buildup in the Pacific," by Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno, Pacific Daily News, 4/13/07
"Air Force to Proceed with Strike Plan," by Mar-Vic Cagurangan, The Marianas Variety, 1/28/07
"Navy May Outsource Civilian Jobs,'" by Gerardo R Partido, The Marianas Variety, 10/21/06
"Pace Visits Guam to Assess Infrastructure Growth Plans,'" by Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service, 6/2/06
"New Military Era Rises in the Pacific," by Edward Cody, Washington Post, 10/03/05

Fino' i Maladjusted: articles by the "activists" of Guam

"Lemlem," by Michael Lujan Bevacqua, No Rest for the Awake - Minagahet Chamorro, 10/01/07
"Women's Group Demands Impact Study on Troop Buildup," from Fuetsan Famalao'an, 8/15/07
"US Obligation Unfulfilled," by Patty Garrido, The Marianas Variety, 8/14/07
"Better Poor Than Dead," by Vicente Ulloa Garrido, The Marianas Variety, 8/10/07
"On Wars and Numbers," by Julian Aguon, The Voice Project, 4/23/07
"Letter to Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo," from the Hawai'i - Okinawa Alliance, 4/23/07
"Topics on Decolonization," by Victoria Leon Guerrero, KUAM Extra, 1/03/07
"Back to Guahan," by Erica Nalani Benton, Famoksaiyan, 11/30/06
"Okinawa Move Requires Strong Leadership, Not Meek Stewardship," by Senator Jesse Lujan, The Marianas Variety, 6/20/06
"From a Native Daughter: For Peace, Human Rights and the Environment ," by Fanai Cruz Castro, Minagahet, 10/23/05
"Thinking About the US Military in Guam," by Antonio Artero Sablan, Minagahet, 1/07/05
"If a Tree Falls; If Colonization Occurs..." by Senator Hope A. Cristobal, Minagahet, 9/1/04
"There are Things Other Than Marines and War that are Worth Celebrated!" by Rita Lujan Butler, Minagahet, 6/17/04
"Guam: Natives Chamorros Decry US Military Increase," by Rufo Lujan, Colonized Chamoru Coalition, 4/23/04
"Guam; A Self-Sustaining Nation," by Angel Leon Guerrero Santos, Nasion Chamoru, 9/17/91
"Is Guam for Sale?" by Governor Ricardo Bordallo and Congressman Robert Underwood, /91.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More Public Hearings

Public hearing on buildup next week
By Brett Kelman
Pacific Daily News

The Civilian Military Task Force will hold three meetings next week to update the community about the impending military buildup and give residents a chance to voice their concerns.

The meetings will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. in the following locations: Dec. 4 at the Agana Heights mayor's office; Dec. 5 at the Santa Rita mayor's office; and Dec. 6 at the Dededo mayor's office. Attendees are advised to arrive early to register.

The task force was created by the governor to develop a "master plan" for the expansion of Guam's military presence. It is comprised of government, military business and community representatives who will try to determine the effects of Guam's coming military buildup, which includes the relocation of 8,000 Marines and their 10,000 family members from Okinawa to Guam. As many as 15,000 foreign skilled laborers are also expected to arrive here for construction projects related to the buildup.

A billion-dollar road project linking Guam's northern and southern military bases has already been proposed and other islandwide changes are expected. There are two things the buildup will inevitably cause -- construction and questions.

Spokesman for the governor, Shawn Gumataotao, said the meetings will give residents some answers.

"It's kind of a where-they-are-currently update. Residents will be able to get some details into what (the Task Force members) are planning," he said, adding that representatives of the Task Forces' 12 subcommittees will present on topics such as education, labor and health.

"The Task Force has decided to bring the meeting out to the community and give them a chance to come and ask about whatever issues they think should be discussed," said Agana Heights Mayor Paul McDonald, who was thrilled to host one of the meetings.

"Its about time, I believe," he said.

McDonald said he knows Agana Heights residents are concerned that increased traffic to the Naval Hospital will endanger children walking to the nearby Guam High School. He hoped the meetings would give residents a chance to ask for funding for an expanded sidewalk.

Already, growing traffic by the Naval Hospital has turned a one-minute work commute into a five-minute crawl, he said.

"We want to know how much worse it's going to get," he said.

McDonald encouraged all interested residents to show up at the meetings and pose their questions to Task Force members. He said since the buildup will affect every aspect of life on Guam, mayors alone could never think of every question that should be asked.

McDonald's question is simple -- just who is paying for the buildup?

"If I am, then I say, let's stop it," he said. "If for any reason, the United States or the military does not support the infrastructure that is needed to support them when they get here, the government of Guam should not tax the people for it ... I do not want to see the people being burdened anymore."

Originally published November 27, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Guam Urged to Adopt Okinawa Tourism Model

Guam urged to adopt Okinawa tourism model
By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff 11/25/07

A HIGH-ranking official of a major luxury retailer on island has urged Guam leaders to learn from the experience of Okinawa, which managed to build a vibrant tourism industry despite hosting thousands of U.S. military personnel.

Jim Beighley, research and planning managing director of DFS and a board member of the Guam Visitors Bureau, said Guam officials should consult with Okinawa, which has years of experience in integrating tourism with the military.

“For years, Okinawa suffered from the perception of being just one big military base. Now, they have managed to change that and their tourism industry is making big strides,” Beighley said.

He added that Guam is at a crossroads today as it prepares to welcome thousands of additional military personnel.

“We must welcome the increased presence of the military. But not at the expense of tourism,” Beighley said.

GVB has pointed out that with all the attention being focused on the military buildup, the tourism industry must not be ignored as this important sector continues to be the number one revenue earner for the island, accounting for 20,000 jobs or about one third of the island’s employment.

Recent research commissioned by GVB indicated that the image of Guam in Japan and other markets would not be harmed by the military buildup.

In fact, GVB has been actively marketing Guam to the military market not just in the Asia-Pacific area but in the mainland as well.

In addition, GVB has been asking military veterans to visit Guam and other sites in the region connected with World War II.

The Guam Chamber of Commerce agrees that GovGuam must do everything possible to protect what Beighley described as a “fragile” industry, especially with an estimated 25,000 more people coming to Guam and enjoying the island’s beaches and other natural attractions.

With Guam basically doing Okinawa a favor by agreeing to host the relocated Marines, GVB said GovGuam should ask the Japanese government to help out in persuading more Japanese tourists to visit Guam.

Although the island of Okinawa may be losing some of its U.S. military units to Guam, it is gaining something just as important — Japanese tourists.

The prefecture has been hosting thousands of non-Okinawan couples. In contrast, there were only 200 such ceremonies conducted in Okinawa in 1999.

According to GVB, Okinawa has been very aggressive in its pursuit of the wedding market and has become a major competitor of Guam.

Beighley said Guam is losing many Japanese tourists to Okinawa and GVB must continue its efforts to diversify its markets.

“We are too dependent on Japan,” Beighley stressed.

Approximately 80 percent of Guam’s 1.2 million visitors come from Japan.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Postcolonial Futures in a Not Yet Postcolonial World


Locating the Intersections of Ethnic, Indigenous, and Postcolonial Studies

March 5-7, 2008
Ethnic Studies Department
University of California, San Diego

In September 2007, after twenty years of debate, the United Nations finally passed the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – a huge symbolic victory for indigenous peoples around the world who struggle under predatory and exploitative relationships with(in) existing nation-states. At the same moment, the UN was lumbering along in the 18th year of its impossible attempts to eradicate colonialism, with groups from around the world flocking to it to petition for the decolonization of their territories or to demand that their situations at least be recognized as "colonial."

Across all continents, indigenous and stateless peoples are struggling for and demanding various forms of sovereignty, as the recently decolonized world is sobering up from the learning of its limits and pratfalls. Postcolonial societies that were born of sometimes radical anti-colonial spirits, now appear to be taking on the role of the colonizer, often against the indigenous peoples that reside within their borders. In places such as Central and Latin America, a resurgence of Third World Leftist politics is being accompanied by a resurgence of indigenous populism. Meanwhile the recent arrests of sovereignty/environmental activists in New Zealand represents another instance where those from the 3rd and 4th worlds who dare to challenge the current make up of today's "postcolonial world" are branded as terrorists.

As scholars involved in critical ethnic studies engage with these ever more complex worlds, they are increasingly resorting to the lenses provided by postcolonial and indigenous studies. This engagement however is not without its limits or problems. As ethnic studies scholars seek to make their vision and scholarship more transnational and global, this push is nonetheless accompanied by gestures that, at the expense of indigenous and postcolonial frameworks, re-center the United States and reaffirm the solvency of its nation-state. In addition, despite their various commonalities, indigenous and postcolonial studies represent intellectual bodies of knowledge that are fundamentally divided over issues such as hybridity, sovereignty, nation, citizenship and subjectivity.

The purpose of this conference, then, is to create a space where scholars and activists engaged in these various projects, in various forms, can congregate to share ideas, hash out differences and move beyond caricatured understandings of each of these intellectual projects. It seeks to ask how, by putting ethnic, indigenous and postcolonial studies in conversation with each other, we may theorize new epistemologies that may better address the violences and injustices of the contemporary world.

To this end we solicit papers that address questions including, but in no way limited to, the following:

- What are the epistemological frameworks that inform postcolonial, ethnic and indigenous studies? What is their relationship to modernity and how do they challenge and/or complement each other?

- What constitutes the subject of postcolonial and ethnic studies? How does the construction of these subjectivities limit possible conversations with indigenous studies?

- What are the limitations and pitfalls of sovereignty as popularly envisioned? How do postcolonial and indigenous communities reaffirm or rearticulate sovereignty within their respective contexts?

- What are the different theories and strategies of decolonization as laid out by postcolonial and indigenous studies, and how do they inform each other?

- How does the political status of indigenous peoples complicate dominant discourses on immigration and citizenship? Moreover, with regards to settler nation-states such as the U.S., how does the "nations-within-nations" status of indigenous communities complicate the project of ethnic and transnational studies?

Abstracts must be submitted to:

250-word abstract, specifying if the proposal is for individual or roundtable presentations
Information including name, institutional affiliation, mailing address, telephone number, e-mail address

Deadline for Submission: January 7th, 2008

For more information please contact: Michael Lujan Bevacqua at or Rashné Limki at

Conference Website:

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

KPMG Report on the Military Buildup

KPMG’s military buildup study details challenges, recommendations
By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff

KPMG, the government of Guam’s consultant on the military buildup, has released the results of its study, detailing the challenges that GovGuam faces. It also recommends courses of action for the government to take.

The comprehensive 150-page study made preliminary assessments of the military buildup impact on Guam infrastructure, the economy and social issues facing the island.

The study, which GovGuam will use in its unified approach to the U.S. Congress and military buildup authorities, was presented by KPMG with a governance strategy and public information program for GovGuam.

KPMG was chosen in May this year to assist GovGuam in preparing a strategic plan for military growth and integration.

The governance plan outlines two recommendations for the implementation of Guam’s governance principles and strategies to address the military buildup.

The first involves executive action by the governor through a Directorate for the Transition of Military Expansion and Integration Activities.

In the second recommendation, KPMG drafted legislation for the creation of a Guam Central Commission for Military Expansion and Integration Activities.

KPMG suggested that the governor’s executive action could set the foundation for the legislative approach.

After analyzing information provided by GovGuam and private industry officials, KPMG concluded that it does “not appear that the military can succeed on its own, and that the military, federal agencies, and the people and government of Guam must succeed together.”

KPMG said the cornerstone challenges are physical infrastructure, health and human services, labor, environment, economic development, and master planning.
The consultancy firm also put together nine point papers identifying challenges, and recommends courses of action to make the military expansion work for the benefit of both the military and civilian communities.

Some of the highlights of the point papers are:
• Port — The commercial port may need to double its capacity to sustain the buildup. There may be over-capacity once the buildup is over. The expansion could cost as much as $100 million. KPMG recommends enhanced budgetary support, a government debt program and private sector participation;
• Power — Some $665 million would be needed to complete several projects aimed at improving power generation, transmission, distribution system reliability, investigating fuel diversification, and renewable energy. The Department of Defense is the Guam Power Authority’s largest customer. If DOD develops its own power system, power rates for the civilian community could increase. KPMG recommends an integrated DOD/GPA approach for power generation and distribution;
• Water and wastewater — The Guam Waterworks Authority has made significant capital improvements. The anticipated influx of new residents will place a tremendous strain on water and wastewater resources. KPMG recommends GWA evaluate impacts carefully, update its Master Plan and develop funding alternatives;
• Solid waste — Both civilian and military solid waste facilities are nearing end of use life. There are several inefficiencies in solid waste collection and disposal. KPMG recommends increased private sector involvement, recycling options and assessment of funding;
• Labor — Guam’s existing labor shortage may be exacerbated by the military expansion in as little as two years. The Guam Department of Labor is addressing workforce development issues. KPMG recommends determining more specific labor demands from the buildup and how the buildup can increase sustainable employment opportunities.
• Transport and housing — Guam’s roadway system, which was built after World War II and is difficult to maintain, is undergoing a series of repairs that began in 2006. A major highway between Apra Harbor and Andersen Air Force Base is proposed. The Department of Public Works has a three-point plan to address military expansion roadways requirements. Property values are increasing because of the anticipation of the military influx. Current housing construction rates will not keep pace with demand, while finite land resources will impact development and housing inventory. KPMG recommends a comprehensive housing needs analysis, a review of regulations to eliminate barriers to affordable housing, a land use plan, a review of possible approaches to rent control, the investigation of investment opportunities, and potential funding approaches;
* IT and telecommunications - Guam is the telecommunications hub of the Pacific. However, the physical infrastructure is outdated. There will be a substantial increase in demand for information and communications systems. Guam needs a sustainable technical skills base. KPMG recommends GovGuam play a leading role in encouraging development on the island of fourth generation technologies for convergence of wireless voice, video and data services;
* Economic development - Guam is going through a prolonged expansion due to increased tourism and construction activity. Military buildup presents unprecedented opportunity for long-term development. KPMG recommends GovGuam and private sector develop an Economic Development Master Plan;
* Environment - Guam faces serious environmental challenges including groundwater contamination, negative ecological impact and scarcity of regulatory agency resources. KPMG recommends sustainable development and appropriate environmental management practices to maintain Guam’s natural environment; and
* Health and social services - Healthcare and education in Guam are divided along military and civilian lines. Civilian healthcare infrastructure should be expanded and modernized, along with the workforce capacity. The influx of construction workers and off-island investors will cause healthcare concerns. There are crowding, under-funding, infrastructure and transportation issues in the civilian education system. Guam education system at all levels needs more information from the military in order to properly plan.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Projection for Military Expansion

Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Consultant gives projection for military expansion
by Sabrina Salas Matanane
Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Government of Guam's D.C.-based consultant on the military buildup, KPMG, presented its preliminary assessment the expansion would have on the island's infrastructure, economy and social issues. The document will be used by the local government in its unified approach to the Congress and the Department of Defense.

KPMG identified $3 billion in funding needs to address all the issues in the point papers, and noted that while GovGuam has identified $1.9 billion to cover this, it still leaves a funding gap of $1.16 billion.

View the executive summary by clicking here

Monday, November 19, 2007

Camacho Expects DOD to Underwrite Buildup Costs

Government of Guam
November 20, 2007

(Washington D.C.) The Interagency Group on Insular Areas Working Group on Military Expansion met today and focused on the federal government's master planning efforts with the military buildup. Governor Felix P. Camacho is leading the Guam Delegation at a critical meeting with federal agencies in the nation's Capitol. The presentation on master planning efforts was given by the Joint Guam Program Office.

Governor's Chief of Staff J. George Bamba also led a presentation, which released a timeline through 2014 on the military buildup in Guam.

The Guam team and federal agencies participating in the Interagency Group of Insular Areas Working Group on Military Expansion also received a briefing from the Office of Management and Budget on the processes for funding of the Guam program.

The presentation is attached, along with the Governor's address before federal agencies.

"As Governor, I acknowledge there are many challenges that are Guam's responsibility, challenges that are factors of our current program levels and the natural growth of our island community. We are already taking steps to address those issues," Governor Camacho said. "However, I do expect the Department of Defense and the federal government to help underwrite the costs to Guam's local community that are directly and indirectly associated with the defense department's requirements for the move of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force to Guam."

The Guam team also participated in five working group sessions to discuss plans of actions, milestones and costs for the needs and processes of the Guam buildup in Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010. Labor, the Port Authority of Guam, workforce and healthcare were among the priority issue sessions that elicited discussion among representatives of the Government of Guam and executive branch agencies.

"We cannot be expected to cover unfunded federal mandates or other substantial requirements of this military expansion," said Governor Camacho. "We have seen the effects of such mandates in other federal programs and if these are not addressed it will hinder our ability to deliver critical services."

Both David Cohen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Interior, and Major General David Bice, Executive Director of the Joint Guam Program Office, shared with the IGIA Working Group that the move of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force from Okinawa to Guam under the Consultative Agreement is not a U.S. Department of Defense project alone, but must be approached as a federal government responsibility.

"Success requires that all of us in this room work collaboratively and that we view each other as partners working toward a common good," Governor Camacho told federal agencies at the second meeting of the IGIA Working Group on Military Expansion.

The IGIA Working Group on Military Expansion was established in March 2007 following the request of Governor Camacho to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to direct executive branch agencies to address critical workforce needs and provide guidance in the completion of all expedited Capital Improvement Projects related to the military expansion in Guam. The working group would also help the Government of Guam and Guam's military partners in securing the necessary funding to make the upgrades necessary in anticipation of the increase in U.S. forces in Guam and improve the quality of life for both residents and military personnel.

Governor Felix P. Camacho attended the second meeting of the IGIA Working Group on Military Expansion. Governor Camacho led the Guam team at the quarterly meeting of the federal working group created to focus specifically on the challenges that the military buildup presents for the people of Guam. The purpose of this working group was to identify potential funding sources to meet near-term requirements to improve service levels as we prepare for the military's buildup efforts.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

US Base Building on Back Burner

Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007
U.S. base rejiggering on back burner
Staff writer

OSAKA — Two years ago, when George W. Bush met with then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Kyoto, the U.S. president was asked about a recently concluded preliminary agreement on reorganizing American military bases in Japan.

Bush replied that it was up to Japan to expedite the agreement, which centers on construction of an airstrip in northern Okinawa for relocating the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan.

Six months later, a final report said once the Futenma replacement facility became operational in 2014, the U.S. Marine Corps contingent at the base would be downsized by 8,000 marines and their dependents, who may number about the same. Their new home would be Guam.

As Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda heads to Washington Thursday to meet with Bush, however, the realignment agreement is stalled, and doubts on both sides are growing over when, or even if, the Futenma replacement facility will materialize.

The sticking point in the agreement is the construction of two 1,800-meter runways, in a V-pattern, adjacent to Camp Schwab on the northern part of the main island near Henoko. Current plans call for the runways to be built close to the shoreline, which the prefecture fears will create noise pollution problems.

Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, who was elected last November, announced his opposition to the current plan and demanded the facility be moved farther out on the peninsula and adjoining sea.

But the central government and the United States have refused to reconsider the plan. Last week, a meeting between Nakaima and central government officials in Tokyo failed to resolve the issue.

Over the past year, the central government has sent mixed signals to both Okinawa and the U.S. over whether it would compromise.

In January, then Defense Agency head Fumio Kyuma said he would be willing to scrap the runway configuration and build a single runway. However, both then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the U.S. said the V-configuration would move forward.

Last week, after a meeting between Okinawan officials and the central government, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura indicated to reporters that Tokyo might be more flexible.

But two days later, following a visit to Japan by U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Machimura told reporters it would be extremely difficult to meet Okinawa's demands.

Time is running out for both sides, though. Unless actual construction of the new facility begins within the next 18 months, it will be extremely difficult to meet the 2014 deadline.

In May, the central government began a preliminary environmental impact assessment off Camp Schwab. The work was carried out despite the presence of antibase protesters in the area who had prevented previous attempts to do a survey of the seabed.

But most observers of U.S.-Japan security relations agree ensuring the base reorganization takes place as scheduled by working with Okinawa is not a priority for either Fukuda or Bush.

With the U.S. presidential election next November and speculation mounting that Fukuda will dissolve the Lower House well before then, both leaders are expected to focus their attention this week on more immediate issues, including Japan's resumption of its refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.

According to the Okinawa Prefectural Government, there were about 43,000 U.S. service members and their dependents living in Okinawa as of the beginning of 2007. These included approximately 13,500 marines and 8,000 of their dependents at 16 bases and facilities. There were about 7,000 U.S. Air Force personnel and another 7,000 of their dependents at seven bases and facilities.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Home Depot Ready to Open on Guam

Home Depot ready to open doors to Guam
by John Davis, KUAM News
Monday, November 12, 2007

With more than 40,000 items in their inventory, island residents better prepare for a jaw-dropping experience as the second-largest Home Depot in the world prepares to open its doors. Home Depot is definitely in a league of its own - most mainland Home Depot locations average 105,000 square feet of store space, but the local superstore boasts a 156,000 square foot store with thousands of options to help create your own home look.

If you're looking to do renovations, the store offers over one a hundred different selections of tile to choose from, which store manager Brian Lay says is unique to the island. "We carry ceramic, porcelain, marble, granite, just to name a few and it's in stock every single day," he said. (Not to mention hundreds of different fixtures ranging from the antique rustic look to your modern day design for your bathroom, kitchen or even around the house, inside or out.)

For the kitchen, Home Depot has a selection of cabinets varying from low to high-end finishes, interior and exterior doors, bath tubs and bathroom sinks to ensure you get more for your money. Sales associate for appliances Jenius Ancaya says they even offer a wide selection of washers, dryers, stoves and refrigerators. "Starting with the L.G., Maytag, and Magic Chef. We have admiral, Adora mostly all the brand from the mainland is here on Guam," she said.

Aside from a huge selection of treated and untreated lumber, concrete blocks and other building equipment, Home Depot also offers a huge garden center with name brand topsoil and fertilizer, they offer three styles of paving and retaining wall stones, pots and planters and much more. Home Depot even plans to give local vendors a piece of the pie.

Said Lay, "The live goods that we'll be selling here on island are from the island...we have five different vendors here on the island that our supplying our goods, and that's what you can expect to see."

If you're the do-it-yourself type of person, but find yourself lacking the tools for the task. Home Depot even has a tool rental department; rental items range from a variety of tools to bushcutters, cement mixers, wet and dry vacuums, water blasters and generators ranging from 3,000-5,000 kilowatts. "A soft opening ceremony will be Wednesday at 5pm, followed by the opening to the general public Thursday.

Regular hours for Home Depot will be 6am-9pm, Monday through Saturday and 7am-7pm on Sundays.

Pago Bay Resort

Pago Bay Resort site was once ancient settlement
by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM News
Tuesday, November 13, 2007

If you've driven by a specific Pago Bay clearing right below the Yona Overlook, you've probably been wondering what's going on with all the clearing. The development work being done is the site of a future housing development that was once an ancient settlement.

All of the jungle was cleared by hand - the reason the owner of Sunny Wholesale, Fong Woo, purchased this property and is now looking to develop it as a single family housing subdivision. But before it's developed they've contracted the services of the Micronesian Area Research Center to conduct an archeological survey, and what they've found is rather interesting.

MARC director and archaeologist Dr. John Peterson explained, "We find a village here, which extends all the way along this ridge parallel to the sea; at least here on the top there's some pottery and burned rock and other remains showing that people where living here with some density. So far Peterson say he and his team thinks it was a rather dense settlement used for at least a thousand years before the Spaniards arrived. Peterson says this ancient Chamorro village probably goes back to the Pre-Latte Period.

"Just a few centimeters below the surface we're finding Marianas redware pottery, which is indication that people were living here maybe as long ago as 2,000-3,000 years ago," he added.

Dr. Mike Carson is another archeologist who's working the site. He pointed out an interesting cave that remains to be explored, noting, "This cave is a little unusual - it has two entrances to it. Inside we see evidence of quite a lot of sediment accumulation." The good thing about the dirt and sediment that has accumulated inside the cave is that it's actually preserved whatever maybe left underneath. Although they haven't found any cave art, it's possible that they could be hidden behind all this dirt and debris. "There's a chamber on the side and there's another chamber [in the] back...these are the prime places where people would go to take shelter to be most protected from the elements," said Carson.

Dr. Carson showed us some recently set coconut crab traps showing the fertility of the land here, saying, "And we may yet find evidence of how long that tradition has occurred here." Dr. Peterson believes the ancient Chamorros probably lived in the area before during and after the latte period when the Spaniards arrived. "This is really a good spot right next to the river great breeze here<' he said, "It's a good locality for settling."

Not only was it a good place to settle in the past it's evidently going to be a settlement of the future. Pago Bay Resort general operations manager John Tarantino, saying, "What we're trying to do is create a resort community, not just a place to live, you know, an environment." To accomplish this, they'll be putting in private roads underground power cable sewer and water for 88 lots to be sold to people interested in building high-end, single-family homes in a gated community. Added Tarantino, "What we're trying to achieve here is to maximize what Pago Bays potential is with regards to a natural environment to live in."

Tarantino says the idea was to impact the land as little as possible. This is why they've contracted marc for an archeological survey and also why Tarantino says they've going through all the necessary steps and getting all the necessary permits before developing. "When this lot is delivered to whomever buys it, it comes free and clear of any questions or archaeological environmental ownership. The whole idea here is peace of mind," he said.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Manengon Land for Sale

Manengon land for sale
Texas A&M to sell 1,146-acre property for $25 million
By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno
Pacific Daily News

One piece of Guam real estate, which constitutes about 1.7 percent of the entire island's civilian land inventory, is for sale.

The 1,146-acre property was a part of a much bigger property that the late businessman Harold Dwight Look owned on the hills and valleys of Manengon.

Look once owned almost 8,000 acres of land in Manengon, according to Guam court documents.

An Army veteran of World War II who served in the Pacific Theater, Look lived on Guam for about 40 years, according to his alma mater, Texas A&M University.

Look donated the 1,146-acre lot to the university in 1992, and at the time, it was the single largest gift to the university, according to Texas A&M.

The university's College of Engineering has since been named the Dwight Look College of Engineering, which today has an enrollment of close to 9,000 future engineers in a variety of fields -- from computer to oil drilling to space engineering, according to the university.

Look was 80 when he died in 2002 in his home state of Texas, according to the university.

Price tag: $25 million
The Texas A&M Foundation is selling the 1,146-acre property for a $25 million asking price, according to the seller's representatives.

The seller is being represented by CB Richard Ellis, a Los Angeles-based real estate services company, and Guam-based Captain Realty Advisors.

The property was valued at $52 million at the time Look donated it to the university, according to Texas A&M's Web site.

Guam's property values were priced much higher when Look made the donation to Texas A&M because of the island's real estate boom at the time, said Nick Captain, president of Captain Realty Advisors.

Between the 1980s and early 1990s, Japanese investors fueled a real estate boom on Guam with land purchases geared toward resort and hotel developments.

But when the Japanese economy soured, along with the Asian economic crisis in the late 1990s, Guam's real estate market took a nosedive.

Guam's real estate market in the past three years has shown new signs of another boom, but this time more conservative.

Experts at a recent regional real estate conference on Guam have said that recent commercial property deals on Guam were still priced about half of the going price during the 1980s to early 1990s peak.

The multibillion-dollar military buildup being planned on Guam starting in about two years has boosted the housing market on island.

During the past three years, the median price of single-family homes on Guam has increased 18.7 percent, on average, per year, according to CB Richard Ellis.

Mixed use
The 1,146-acre property "is the biggest property that's got near-term development potential" listed for sale on Guam in almost a decade, said Nick Captain, president of Captain Realty Advisors, who's been keeping track of real estate transactions locally for years.
The property is vast enough for a variety of uses, and its near-term potential includes residential subdivision developments, Captain said.

The property has access along both sides of the road to LeoPalace Resort.

Look once owned more than 7,900 acres of real property in the Manengon area, according to Guam Supreme Court documents concerning a smaller, 120-acre property Look owned.

Miyama Development, the company that developed the Manengon Hills area where LeoPalace now stands, had purchased about 5.5 million square meters of land that once belonged to Look, Captain said.

The government of Guam also is a beneficiary of a land donation from Look.
In 1998, Look donated to the local government more than 100,000 square meters of Manengon Hills land, which was a concentration camp for thousands of Chamorros during the Japanese occupation in World War II, according to Guam legislative records.

Look made the donation so that the site can be developed into a memorial for those who suffered and died in the concentration camp.

In 2001, GovGuam granted the nonprofit Manenggon Memorial Foundation a $1-a-year lease on the 100,000 square meters for the construction of the memorial, according to Guam law.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

No Water Rate Decrease for Military on Guam

Navy cuts water rates for civilians on Guam
By Jennifer H. Svan
Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Sunday, November 11, 2007

But last month’s price increase still in effect for its DOD customers

After nearly doubling the price of water for its southern Guam customers on Oct. 1 in a move that drew sharp criticism from island officials, the Navy has partially reversed course.

Navy officials said Friday that water rates would be reduced to $3.25 per 1,000 gallons, down from $4.05 per 1,000 gallons.

But the price break would extended only to its civilian customers: Guam Waterworks Authority and Guam Power Authority, said Navy Lt. Donnell Evans, U.S. Naval Forces Marianas spokesman, in a written response to Stars and Stripes.

The rate for its Defense Department customers — including Naval Base Guam and tenant commands — would remain at the current $4.05 per 1,000 gallons “to recover DOD share of past losses,” Evans wrote.

“The Navy will defer recovery of losses on water sale to GWA and GPA over the next five years.”

In a news release from her Washington, D.C., office, Guam’s Rep. Madeleine Bordallo welcomed the Navy’s announcement.

She said the price reduction was to go into effect immediately and was retroactive to Oct. 1.

“We appreciate the partial relief, and we will work to address the broader water issues on Guam in light of the planned military buildup,” Bordallo was quoted as saying.

Nearly 40,000 new military personnel and family members could move to Guam in coming years as part of the Pentagon’s overall plans to build up troop strength and operations on the island.

Some 8,000 Marines and their families and civilian support workers are to be relocated from Okinawa to Guam in the plan.

The Navy publicly announced in September that its rates for fiscal year 2008 would jump from $2.09 per 1,000 gallons to $4.05, and that rates would increase to $4.16 in fiscal 2009.

Some island officials then said the steep increase was too sudden and should have been phased in to be fair.

Simon Sanchez, chairman of the Consolidated Commission on Utilities, a governing board of elected officials for GWA and GPA, worried at the time that opponents of further military expansion might use the Navy’s decision as proof the Defense Department wasn’t a good partner with whom to do business.

Navy officials had said the increase was needed to cover ongoing operating and maintenance costs, and that the Navy had been running its Fena Reservoir water plant at a significant loss.

Evans said Friday that after a review of the cost components and discussions with the Navy and Office of Secretary of Defense comptrollers, it was determined that plant operations could break even at the new rate of $3.25.

“We’re taking this opportunity to foster better communication and coordination between Navy and the Government of Guam on utilities infrastructure, both now and in the future,” Evans wrote. “Navy will work more closely with local authorities during the planning stages in coordinating future planned rate adjustments.”

GWA spokeswoman Heidi Ballendorf said Friday the company is pleased with the Navy’s water rate decrease and is making progress in reducing its dependency on Navy water.

Sanchez could not be reached for comment Friday.

Stars and Stripes reporter Teri Weaver contributed to this report.

The Question of Guam 2007

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
Sixty-second General Assembly
Fourth Committee
3rd Meeting (PM)


As the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) continued its discussion of decolonization issues this afternoon, the questions of Guam and Western Sahara featured prominently, with the Committee hearing more than 20 petitioners on both those matters.
On the question of Guam, petitioners raised concerns about the steady United States military presence, and the expected rise in their number by 50,000, including military personnel, their dependents and contractors. They said militarization of Guam was an impediment to the right to self-determination of the Chamoru people -- Guam's native people. Though the Chamoru did not unanimously support the United States militarization on the island, it could not be stopped because that country was the administering Power.

"American military commanders beamed with pride at the incredible control they enjoyed over this tiny little island, which they regularly call 'Fortress Guam'," said the representative of Famoksaiyan, an organization that brings together Chamoru people from the Pacific and the United States, in support of Guam's decolonization. As the United States continued to "politely and impolitely" insist that the United Nations mind its own business, he felt it was necessary for the United Nations to engage in its own forms of "polite and impolite action".

A representative of the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice said that the militarization of the island had also sparked a capitalistic boom, with indigenous Chamoru families struggling economically, selling their land to American and foreign companies in the hope of profiting from the military boom. The United Nations should be more active in upholding the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples with respect to Guam, and more resources for educational campaigns about self-determination and decolonization should be disseminated.

A representative of the Guahan Indigenous Collective also spoke on the question of Guam.


The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon to continue its debate on all decolonization issues, and was also expected to hear petitioners from Non-Self-Governing Territories. (Reports before the Committee are summarized in yesterday's Press Release GA/SPD/371.)

Committee Chairman ABDALMAHMOOD ABDALHALEEM MOHAMAD ( Sudan) informed members that, while it had been decided that the Committee would hear petitioners on the questions of New Caledonia, Guam and Western Sahara today, the petitioner from New Caledonia was unable to come to New York as scheduled. Therefore, the Committee would begin by hearing from petitioners on the question of Guam.

Petitioners on Question of Guam

MICHAEL LUJAN BEVACQUA, representative of Famoksaiyan, an organization that brought together Chamoru people from the Pacific and the United States committed to the decolonization of Guam, noted that, in 1980, Chamorus made up 45 per cent of Guam's population, but that number had fallen to 37 per cent in 2000. Since 11 September 2001, America's military presence had risen steadily, and Guam faced a further increase of 50,000 civilian and military personnel due to the relocating of American Marines, Air Force and Army staff from Okinawa and the Republic of Korea. "American military commanders beamed with pride at the incredible control they enjoyed over this tiny little island, which they regularly call 'Fortress Guam', or the 'tip of America's spear'," he said.

The official position of the United States on its colonies today was that they were domestic concerns, he said. As such, the United Nations had no authority or mandate to encourage negotiations on their status, or to alter their relationship to the United States. The United States Government's resistance to resolution 1541 (1960) (Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples) was clear. As the United States continued to "politely and impolitely" insist that the United Nations mind its own business, he felt it was necessary for the United Nations to engage in its own forms of "polite and impolite action".

RIMA MILES, a Refaluwasch (or Carolinian), from the island of Saipan in Guam, said the Chamoru right to self-determination was being threatened by the United States' actions, which contradicted the terms of its obligation to the Chamoru people. Currently, the Territory was preparing for a population increase of 55,000 in military workers and dependents, which made up more than a quarter of the current population. The militarization of their homeland was a direct impediment to the Chamoru right to self-determination. In addition, live-fire sites would be available to the naval and air forces of other United Nations Member States, including Australia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. She urged the Committee to condemn that multinational disregard for the United Nations Charter and resolution 1541.

She said that, not only were they seeing international Governments interested in United States military schemes for Guam, but "corporate vultures" were circling and already touching down, and $10 billion in new investment by the United States Department of Defense could be expected. With one third of the island occupied, national integrity would be compromised. Where the land and sea used to be protected, now beachfront developments foreshadowed the future to come. The loss of land was coupled with environmental degradation.

The United Nations must look at non-self-governing situations on a case-by-case basis, especially when administering Powers were not cooperative, she said. She had come today with no monetary support from the United States or the local government. "We are students and parents who do not have […] money, but still we come […] in order for you to fulfil your mission", and so that "these voices cannot be forgotten". More than 160 United States atomic and hydrogen bomb tests had made women into vessels to pass death to the hope they carried in their wombs.

MARIE AUYONG, Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice, speaking on behalf of Victoria-Lola M. Leon Guerrero, said that an amplified militarization of Guam was a direct impediment to the native people's human right to self-determination and should spark concern in the international community about United States military presence in the Pacific. Guam was host to the largest United States military exercises in the Pacific since the Viet Nam War. The people of Guam did not unanimously support the United States militarization on the island, yet, because that country was the administering Power, they had no way of stopping it.

She said that the militarization of the island had also sparked a "capitalistic boom". The island seemed to be "for sale", and indigenous Chamoru families, struggling economically, had begun to sell their land to United States and foreign companies, which hoped to profit from the military boom. "It is tragic that more than 60 years after your inception, and the United Nations declaration to eradicate colonization, the people of Guam remain squashed under the thumb of the world's biggest super Power," she said.

The United Nations should be more active in upholding resolution 1541, ensuring that the native Chamoru people of Guam exercise their right to self-determination and decolonization. A fact-finding mission should be sent to Guam. The island also needed more resources for educational campaigns about self-determination and decolonization.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Navy to Reduce Rates

Navy indicates plans to reduce rate hike
by Sabrina Salas Matanane
Friday, November 09, 2007

Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo received the official word today that the Navy plans to reduce its rate increase to the Guam Waterworks Authority for water from Fena. The Navy announced that starting October 1 rates would jump from $2.07 per kilogallon to $4.05. The new increase is $3.25.

The announcement comes as a result of a meeting a meeting in Washington, D.C. today between Bordallo and assistant secretary of the Navy for installations and environment B.J. Penn and Joint Guam Program Office executive director David Bice. Guam's delegate says she appreciates the partial relief and will work to address the broader water issues on Guam in light of the planned military buildup.

Bordallo also pledge to continue to work with the federal officials. The rate reduction kicks in immediately.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

US House Committee Approves Federalization Bill

U.S. House Committee Approves Measure To Federalize Marianas Immigration
By Frank S. Rosario on Saipan
Thursday: November 08, 2007
Pacific Magazine

The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources today approved a bill that would federalize immigration of the Northern Marianas and also give the U.S. commonwealth a non-voting delegate seat in the House of Representatives. But it took out a controversial section that would give special immigration status to long-term foreign workers in the island group.

The bill will now goes to the full House for action. No date has been set for the House to consider the measure.

Northern Marianas Washington Representative Pete A. Tenorio praised the House committee action.

“I am extremely pleased with the successful approval by the full committee of not only the immigration federalization provisions, but also with the approval of the section calling for the establishment of a non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives, with election scheduled in November 2008,” Tenorio told Pacific Magazine.

But Northern Marianas Governor Benigno Fitial said he was disappointed that the committee acted hastily on what he said was faulty information.

”Even though the bill has been improved, I continue to oppose its enactment. It is not necessary. It will seriously injure our economy at a critical time in our history, and it is not based on accurate data. I can only hope that some members of Congress will withhold judgment on this legislation until they have an opportunity to consider the recommendations of GAO, the Department of Labor, and other economists currently evaluating the CNMI,” he said, referring to a Government Accountability Office study of the economic impact of federalization of the Northern Marianas’ labor and immigration.

The federalization bill is also strongly opposed by the Northern Marianas the Legislature and Saipan Chamber of Commerce. They say it would hinder economic recovery and create unnecessary bureaucracy.

The most controversial aspect of the federalization legislation is a provision that would grant U.S. non-immigrant status to some 8,000 non-resident workers who have been in the Northern Marianas for more than five years. Guam lawmakers oppose that section, saying it would result in influx of workers to that island in search of higher-paying jobs.

The House committee removed that provision from the legislation.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior for Insular Affairs David B. Cohen, who drafted the legislation at the request of the U.S. Congress, said he is disappointed by the removal of that that section.

“The administration has urged Congress to do right by the long-term guest workers and recognize how much they have contributed to the CNMI,” he said in a statement. “Their skills and hard work have certainly benefited the CNMI as they would benefit any community. Failing to economically empower the guest workers has destroyed private sector employment opportunities for an entire generation of Chamorros and Carolinians in the CNMI.”

Tenorio, for his part, said the bill does not close the door on possibly grandfathering guest workers in the future.

“There is simply insufficient relevant statistics at this point in time to justify action aimed at permanently granting unique and unprecedented legal residency status to long term presence of foreign nations who happen to be recruited as guest workers primarily,” he told Pacific Magazine.

Rep. Don Young, a ranking Republican member on the Natural Resources Committee, strongly supported the bill and thanked other committee members, including Chairman Nick J. Rahall and Delegate Donna Christensen (U.S. Virgin Islands), both authors of the bill, for their hard work. Christensen held public hearings on the measure in the CNMI and Guam in August of this year.

“This bill brings about a unified immigration, border control and national security policy to the Marianas region,” Young stated in a press release today. “I know some concerns remain, especially about the potential for excessive user fees to be charged on local businesses by the federal agencies implementing this bill. But I have been assured from members of the administration that this will not be the case and the costs imposed by this legislation will stay roughly at the current level imposed locally and no higher.”

Young said that while the controversial section to grandfather long-term guest workers was removed, the most important aspect of the legislation is U.S. national security. “Two congressional delegations have gone to the Marianas in the past six months. Those members and staff heard loud and clear from our armed forces personnel about the need to expand and protect existing and future forces deployed in both Guam and the CNMI,” Young said.

Cohen said he hopes the U.S. Senate, which is considering a similar bill, will continue to keep the plight of long-term workers in the CNMI, mostly from the Philippines, in mind when it considers the bill.

If the legislation passed without further amendments by both the House and Senate, and is then signed by President George W. Bush, the federal government would have a five-year grace period before taking over immigration of the Northern Marianas.

Historic Resources Planning for Troops' Arrival

Historic Resources Division planning for troops' arrival
by Michele Catahay
November 07, 2007

The Historic Resources Division at the Department of Parks & Recreation has a lot on its plate, with more projects in place for the upcoming military buildup. According to historic preservation officer Patrick Lujan, that agency's board of directors will meet this Friday to discuss the evolution of the office in the last year and what it holds in the next couple of years.

Said Lujan, "There's a lot of activity going on in the next year or two. The archeological community and our office, the University of Guam, the relationship with the military and the military buildup and all the activities they are going through. With the Historic Preservation Office being in the permitting process, it's been very busy here."

In addition, the board will receive a status report on the Okura Hotel excavations and the formation of a new internship program with UOG beginning in January.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Senators Seek Inclusion of Guam in Agent Orange Bill

Senators seek inclusion of Guam in Agent Orange bill
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff

Democratic senators are seeking the inclusion of civilian employees stationed in Guam during the Vietnam conflict in a congressional bill that provides compensation to those suffering from illnesses and disabilities as a result of their exposure to Agent Orange.

Resolution 95, introduced by Sens. Tina Muna Barnes, D-Mangilao, Judi Won Pat, D-Malojloj, and Ben Pangelinan, D-Barrigada, urges Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo to seek amendment to HR 972, also known as the “Civilian Agent Orange Act,” to include Guam in the compensation program.

HR 972 establishes the Agent Orange Illness Compensation Fund and fixes the compensation amount at $100,000, payable either to the employee or his or her eligible survivor.

Proponents of Resolution 95 cited at least two cases that acknowledged the presence of Agent Orange and other toxic defoliants on Guam.

They were referring to the cases filed by Air Force veteran Robert Burgett and another unidentified airman, whose claims for benefits were both granted by the Board of the Veterans’ Appeals after it was determined that their disabilities and illnesses resulted from their exposure to Agent Orange when they were stationed at Andersen Air Force Base.

“Existing federal legislation provides compensation for those in the military service who suffered disability or death because of exposure to Agent Orange, but the law does not cover civilian employees, some of who have also been exposed,” the resolution reads.

“Because it has already been determined that members of the armed forces during the Vietnam war era were exposed to Agent Orange while stationed in Guam and they are being compensated for their disability or death,” the resolution adds, “it is only fair and just that the civilian employees of the federal government physically present in Guam be included in HR 972 so that they can be compensated if there is service connection for illness or death due to herbicide exposure.”

Sunday, November 04, 2007

2007 CNMI Elections

Republicans Regain Control Of House
By Frank S. Rosario on Saipan
November 04, 2007
Pacific Magazine

Voters in the Northern Marianas yesterday returned the Republican Party to power in a mid-term election that had what Board of Election Executive Director Greg C. Sablan called “the lowest voter turnout in 10 years.”

While the Saipan casino gambling initiative was soundly rejected, voters on Rota overwhelmingly approved an initiative to allow gaming on their southern island.

The Covenant Party, which currently controls the Legislature and governorship, was soundly defeated in the House. Voters questioned what happened to the Covenant Party’s promise of “better times” during the 2005 general election. Many also blamed the high electricity rates and poor state of the economy on incumbents.

The Republicans, long the dominating party in the CNMI, regained the House after party officials elected new officers and reconciled differences that led to its worst defeat in recent memory in 2005.

Republicans now control the 20-member House of Representatives with 11 elected and may win additional seats once the absentees are counted. The remainder of the House members includes independents, Covenants and one Democrat.

Among the winners is Tina Sablan, a community organizer and advocate who came in sixth in the most crowded race of election precinct one, which had 15 candidates for six seats. Sablan ran as an independent and on her own platform.

Other winners are attorneys Rosemond Santos and Joseph N. Camacho, who bought sought office for the first time, and Ralph Dlg. Torres, who garnered the most votes in election district one.

Former speaker and lieutenant governor Diego T. Benavente and former speaker Heinz S. Hofschneider, both Republicans, also won handily.

In the Senate, incumbent Saipan Sen. Luis Crisostimo is leading by 44 votes over Republican Andrew S. Salas.

Rota voters returned incumbent Sen. Paul A. Manglona, the longest serving senator in the history of the commonwealth.

Incumbent Covenant Tinian Sen. Henry H. San Nicolas is comfortably ahead of the Republicans’ Trenton B. Conner.

Elections Director Greg Sablan said more than 1,500 absentee ballots were sent to residents staying overseas or those who were allowed to vote early due to traveling commitment.

The biggest issue that divided the Saipan community was the casino gambling initiative. A similar initiative was overwhelmingly rejected in a 1979 referendum throughout the commonwealth. Proponents argued that with the worst economic meltdown in recent memory fueled by the collapse of the garment industry and the contraction of tourism, gambling is the answer to an economic recovery.

Opponents, led by the powerful bishop of the Roman Catholic Church, responded that gambling would increase crime, prostitution and gambling addicts, which is currently affecting local residents who play poker.

Other opponents included Governor Benigno R. Fitial, who last week strongly opposed gambling saying some of the initiative’s provisions are unconstitutional.

Gambling opponents needed two-thirds of eligible voters, or more than 8,200 affirmative voters, to approve the casino initiative. It never got close, as a total of 8,213 voters from Saipan cast their ballots, or 4,721 against and 3,492 yes votes.

Rota approved its gambling initiative by an overwhelming 788 in favor and 144 against. Tinian is the only Northern Marianas Island where casino gambling is currently allowed.

While most U.S. states would be more than happy with a 60 percent voter turnout, Executive Director Sablan said yesterday’s 76 percent turnout was one of the lowest. Historically, though, general elections, or on gubernatorial elections, always resulted in the more than 90 percent turnout. A total of 10,605 voters out of the more than 15,000 registered voters cast their ballots yesterday, including 8,738 on Saipan, 980 on Rota and 887 on Tinian.

All four judges--one Supreme Court associate justice and three Superior Court judges—were returned to office, including husband-and-wife Associate Justice John A. Manglona and Associate Judge Ramona V. Manglona. Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert A. Naraja received the lowest number of affirmative votes, as compared to Associate Judges Manglona and Ken Govendo.

The legislative initiative (15-1) to amend the CNMI constitution to take away the authority of the Northern Marianas College to license post-secondary education and create Higher Education Commission was approved.

The other legislative initiative (15-16) approved by voters would amend the CNMI constitution to require a run-off election for governor and lieutenant governor if no candidate received a majority (50 percent plus 1) of votes cast in the general election.

The election results are unofficial pending approval of the Board of Election after counting of absentee ballots on November 17th. Sablan cautioned, however, that some races can still change when absentee ballots are counted on Nov. 17.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Guam to Ask for the Return of Fena

Guam to ask Congress for return of Fena
Thursday, November 1, 2007
By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff

THE Consolidated Commission on Utilities will formally ask the U.S. Congress for the return of the Fena reservoir to Guam to settle once and for all the water issues that have been one of the thorns in the Navy’s relationship with the civilian population.

According to CCU chairman Simon Sanchez, a letter has already been sent to Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo, asking her to formally introduce a bill in Congress that would return Fena to Guam.

“We need to do this on the federal level because the Fena issue is a federal issue,” Sanchez said.

He added that there is already a precedent for this when Guam asked Congress for control of the Guam Power Authority.
In its letter, the CCU is asking Bordallo to draft and submit legislation that would enable the Guam Waterworks Authority to take over the running of the Navy’s Fena water treatment plant, which has been selling Fena water to GWA’s southern customers.

The Navy had planned to increase the rate for the Fena water that it sells to GWA, raising the rate from $2.09 per one thousand gallons (kgal) to $4.05/kgal, effective Oct. 1, 2007.

But because of strong protests lodged by both CCU and GWA, the Navy has agreed to postpone the increase until “higher authorities” can study the matter further.

According to Sanchez, the Navy is doing an internal analysis of its own after CCU pointed out that it can run the Fena water reservoir cheaper and more effectively than the Navy.

During the CCU’s last meeting Tuesday night, it was disclosed that GWA can run the Fena system for just $7 million a year, which is half the $14 million cost that the Navy incurs in running Fena.

Although the Navy has agreed to temporarily postpone its water rate increase and conduct a study of its Fena rate structure, the CCU wants to go one step further and has asked the Navy to submit to an independent study to be conducted by the Public Utilities Commission.

“We are asking the Navy to submit to a non-binding review by the PUC to have an independent evaluation of the Fena issue. It’s more fair that way because if the Navy conducts the study, we’ll be solely dependent on what the Navy states as fact. All the information will be coming from the Navy,” Sanchez said.

In addition, the CCU has also fired off a letter to the Attorney General’s Office, asking AG Alicia Limtiaco to revisit the Fena agreement signed by then AG Douglas Moylan.

In 2003, Sanchez said Moylan agreed to a provision that GovGuam can no longer sue the federal government over the Fena issue in return for lower rates charged to local residents using Fena water.

Before that, Sanchez said there were three other suits, all of which failed, that tried to reclaim Fena back to the government of Guam.

The Navy originally took over Fena as part of the provisions of the Organic Act and other agreements signed after World War II that gave large tracks of land, including Fena, to the military.

Sanchez said it is now time to revisit this and he has asked Limtiaco to determine whether GovGuam can continue to be bound by the agreement signed by Moylan in 2003.

Palau President Does Not Want Permanent Military Presence

Remengesau not advocating permanent US presence
Thursday, November 1, 2007
By Bernadette H. Carreon
Horizon news staff

President Remengesau said that it is not advocating a permanent United States military presence in Palau.

He said however that although that there has not been a formal agreement, he said Palau can be used for military training.

Remengesau said that the United States is still involved with the logistics on the planned relocation of the bases in Guam from Okinawa.

The president said the US considering training in Palau will be good for the region.

“We welcome them, but I am not advocating for the permanent presence of the military in Palau,” the president said.

Under the Compact of Free Association, Palau is obligated to cooperate with the US on military issues.

He said a small scale exercise will help boost tourism of Palau and at the same time improve security matters.

He said inviting the US to hold field training will not mean he is supporting a US base in the country.

Earlier Remengesau said that he hopes that Palau reap economic benefits from the US military buildup.