Monday, December 31, 2007

Chamorro Self-Determination Summitt

Chamorro self-determination discussed in summit
by Jason Salas, KUAM News
Saturday, December 29, 2007

The criticality of the need for self-determination for Guam's indigenous people was the topic of much discussion today at a summit at the University of Guam. "Protecting Our Way of Life and Ensuring Our Survival" sought to unite and educate Chamorros cross-generationally, and strengthen their awareness with the military forces to be transferred from Okinawa.

Dr. Richard Wyttenbach-Santos teaches a graduate class in such studies and sat in on the talks. He told KUAM News, "The island's become so diffused and so multicultural - is Chamorro self-determination a lost cause? And how do we get non-Chamorros to understand that this is the homeland of the Chamorro? Under international law they have the right to vote on their self-determination." And former senator Hope Cristobal said, "We foresee a rapid acceleration of our peoples assimilation and we also anticipate that it's going to greatly impact the Chamorro people, especially our right to self-determination."

One of the major themes touched upon was the importance of language and the preservation of spoken Chamoru by locals. Guest speakers included former congressman Robert Underwood, former Supreme Court chief justice B.J. Cruz, Senator Ben Pangelinan, Attorney Mike Phillips, and political strategist Josh Tenorio.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ancient Chamorro Remains to Be Shipped Offisland

Ancient remains to be shipped off-island
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff

THE ancient remains excavated from a development site in a Tumon beach property will be sent off-island for analysis, according to the Guam State Historic Preservation Office’s draft plan, which is being protested by cultural activist and former senator Hope Cristobal.

Cristobal also questioned the propriety of reaching a plan with the possible involvement of a preservation official who is also the representative architect of the project developer, Gun Beach Development.

According to the plan, the remains will be packaged in cardboard shipping containers or plastic containers that will be marked “fragile.”

The tentative method of transport is to escort the remains by an individual approved by HPO.

“When it is deemed acceptable to transport through other means than escorting, the remains will be sent via registered mail through the U.S. Postal Service,” the plan stated.

At least 280 remains were dug up from an ancient burial site in a privately owned beach property in Tumon, the site of Okura Hotel’s $30 million development project.

PHRI Western Pacific Division, the archeological company commissioned by Okura Hotel, originally planned to ship the remains for off-island study in August. PHRI, however, quickly dropped the plan following protest by Cristobal’s group.

HPO revived the plan during the Historic Preservation Review Board’s meeting on Dec. 17.

The skeletal fragments will be shipped out in batches consisting of 25 remains per shipment. Subsequent shipments will follow when the previous batch returns to Guam following completion of analysis.

“A waiver to exceed this number will be considered if the total amount is extremely high or the analytical process is projected to exceed five years,” according to the draft plan, which HPO manager Patrick Lujan sent out via e-mail to board members.

“The contracted archaeological firm sending the remains off-island shall take full financial and legal responsibility for the safe return of the remains,” the plan stated.

The preservation board determined that sending fragmentary remains off-island could shorten the research timeframe and expedite the reburial process or gain information by specialized studies.

Results of the skeletal remains analysis will be forwarded to a qualified osteologist according to the standards and guidelines set by the Department of the Interior.

Cristobal, meanwhile, lambasted the Historic Preservation Review Board for drafting a policy that she said will benefit Mike Makio, Gun Beach Development’s architect who is also the chairman of the board.

“Obviously, a conflict of interest is being set up before the actual voting happens at the board meeting where Mr. Makio will publicly recuse himself, making it appear that he is not in conflict,” Cristobal said.

“Policies are paving the way for Gun Beach Development and its representatives to complete the final assault on our Chamorro ancestors in Tumon,” she added.

Cristobal also lambasted the board for allegedly shutting off the public from the policymaking decision.

“I believe the Historic Preservation Review Board should announce their board meetings so the public can be allowed to attend and inform themselves of policies being created for the public’s good,” Cristobal said.

She said the board’s plan will pave the way for other developers to “destroy whole cemeteries by digging them out; rather than redesign the encroaching hotel on the ancestral cemeteries.”

Cristobal also criticized territorial archaeologist Vic April for putting property rights over preservation of Guam’s historical treasures.

“Preservation must go beyond Vic April’s interpretation of ‘preservation.’ It must extend whose traditional rights and common law rights. They practiced their sacred burial rituals hundreds of years ago,” she added.

Preservation officials could not be reached for comment at press time.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Ocean's Alarming Acidity

Published on Sunday, December 16, 2007 by McClatchy Newspapers
Oceans’ Growing Acidity Alarms Scientists
by Les Blumenthal

WASHINGTON - Seven hundred miles west of Seattle in the Pacific at Ocean Station Papa, a first-of-its-kind buoy is anchored to monitor a looming environmental catastrophe.

Forget about sea levels rising as glaciers and polar ice melt, and increasing water temperatures affecting global weather patterns. As the oceans absorb more and more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, they’re gradually becoming more acidic.

And some scientists fear that the change may be irreversible.

At risk are sea creatures up and down the food chain, from the tiniest phytoplankton and zooplankton to whales, from squid to salmon to crabs, coral, oysters and clams.

The oceans are already 30 percent more acidic than they were at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, as they absorb 22 tons of carbon dioxide a day. By the end of the century, they could be 150 percent more acidic.

“Everything points to dramatic effects,” said Richard Feely, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle. “There are suggestions the entire ecosystem could change over time.”

Originally, scientists thought the oceans could be one of the solutions to the buildup of greenhouse gases, as they absorb about one-third of the carbon dioxide that’s emitted worldwide. But they now know that the fundamental chemistry of the oceans has changed, and the possible impacts seem to grow more nightmarish as research accelerates.

“It seems like it is a one-way street, and that is alarming,” said Steven Emerson, a professor of oceanography at the University of Washington. “The pH of the oceans could be lowered permanently.”

Emerson was the lead scientist on the team that built the buoy at Ocean Station Papa, where weather measurements have been taken since the 1940s. The 10-foot-diameter buoy is equipped with an array of sensors that, among other things, measure the amount of carbon dioxide that’s being absorbed by the North Pacific and the pH, or acid levels, of the ocean. Anchored in water 5,000 feet deep, the buoy relays its information to onshore scientists via satellite.

Of all the oceans in the world, the North Pacific could be the most vulnerable to acidification.

As the oceans’ deepest waters circulate around the globe, they eventually arrive in the North Pacific, where they rise near the surface before plunging deep again to continue their global journey. When the water arrives in the North Pacific, it’s already acidic from the carbon produced by decaying organic material during its 1,000-year journey from the North Atlantic through the Indian Ocean and across the Pacific, Feely said.

As it surfaces, or upwells, in the North Pacific, the water absorbs even more carbon dioxide from the air. Cold water absorbs more carbon dioxide than warm water does.

“The older water is in the Pacific, the newer water is in the Atlantic,” Feely said. “There’s 10 percent more carbon dioxide in the Pacific than in the Atlantic.”

Corrosive water 600 to 700 feet deep already has been detected off the continental shelf of Washington state, Oregon and Alaska, Feely said.

“It’s butting right up against the coast,” he said. “The concern is when it gets to the continental shelf, what it will do to the fisheries.”

The increasing acidity can eat away at the shells of crabs, oysters, clams and nearly microscopic organisms known as krill and pteropods. It also inhibits calcification, the process in which these animals rebuild their shells. Without shells, most of the animals probably would die.

Krill and pteropods are a major food source for juvenile salmon, herring, pollock, cod, mackerel and other fish.

“When you start messing with the lower end of the food chain, it can dramatically affect the higher end of the food chain,” Feely said.

Squid also are sensitive to higher acidity, which affects their blood circulation and respiration. Colonies of coral, including those in tropical waters and those found deep off the Northwest coast, could disappear.

Feely said that 500 million to 1 billion people worldwide depended on fish for survival. Sharp declines in fish populations would affect their lives.

Eventually, the acidification will reach into inland waters, affecting oyster beds and clamming areas.

Earlier this month, the Senate Commerce Committee passed a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., that would create a comprehensive ocean-acidification research and monitoring program. A similar measure has been introduced in the House of Representatives.

Cantwell said she expected her Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard subcommittee of the Commerce Committee to hold hearings in the Northwest on ocean acidification early next year.

“It’s a little-known fact, not widely understood, but it is clear our oceans are suffering,” Cantwell said.

A San Francisco environmental group, the Center for Biodiversity, has asked 10 states - Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Maine and Delaware - to declare their coastal waters “impaired” under the Clean Water Act because of rising acidity. Such a move could clear the way for the states to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions.

“Though we believe the science is there, the political will may not be there,” said Miyoko Sakashita, a lawyer for the Center for Biodiversity. “At least this will raise awareness among policymakers.”

Though cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas emissions might slow or reverse global warming, scientist say it could take thousands of years or longer to reverse the increased acidity of the oceans.

“For all practical purposes this is permanent,” Emerson said. “That’s not true of temperature. But with ocean acidification the time scales are long.”

McClatchy Newspapers 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Despair of the Indigenous People

Letter to the Editor: The despair of the indigenous people
December 14, 2007
The Saipan Tribune

MR. John Kapileo’s recent letter to you will resonate in the minds and hearts of the indigenous people of the CNMI and I am very happy that people like him are beginning to participate in the discussion on the issue of immigration and migrants in the CNMI.

Mr. Kapileo recognized the despair of the indigenous people when their homeland is being bastardized by the most powerful nation in the world and people are flocking to these islands in search of the American Dream at the cost of the people that were here first.

If democracy is at work, Mr. Kapileo is right — Rep.-elect Tina Sablan is heading in the direction that will perpetuate more poison to the despair of the indigenous people of the CNMI.

Democracy is at work and being a trashcan after an election is a normative political behavior in the eyes of the freshman representative who is supposedly under moral obligation to give and divide equal attention of her official time to the problems of the land.

The bad news to Mr. Kapileo, however, is that you and scores of other voters like you in Precinct 1 have forfeited your votes even before the games are played to the freshman representative who is now a foreigner and careless about your need for representation in the Legislature.

You see how ironic democracy is, turning the tides against the people who voted you to office is perfectly acceptable. We asked those caring elected representatives in the new Legislature to hold the fort of the indigenous people because we are counting on your true and genuine concern in advancing the cause and aspirations for those people who have struggled and lived the lives of their ancestors and witnessed every human turmoil of war, and Godgiven hardship so that we value and give meaning to a permanent homeland for future generations of our kind.

The islands in the CNMI are not for auction to anybody — these islands are meant for the indigenous people. This is a cause that will divide people who are new to these islands and people who came to these islands first, but once you see the despair of the indigenous people, you cannot unsee it.

We all know that Saipan, in particular, is over populated. The island could not forever sustain the current level of population. Hence, elected officials like Rep. Cinta Kaipat said that overpopulation and the potential of permanent migration of people to the CNMI is a serious threat to the life and livelihood of the indigenous people. This is not a congenital defect in our particular brand of democracy! The CNMI is not the place where the American Dreams could be found as gold that lies at the end of the rainbow.

For those that have given false hope to desperate migrants in the CNMI, giving encouragement that it is moral and democratic to desecrate the indigenous people of the CNMI in launching their platforms for the American Dream — the indigenous people will view this as bad to their well-being, and consequently, a new democracy will come.

At the end of day this matter will be too overbearing and the masses will be awakened and chaos will emanate across every heart and mind of the indigenous people to fight and recover what was once their own homeland.

Scores of Pacific island people in modern times are being pushed aside by foreigners in their own homelands. Guam and Hawaii are examples where the indigenous people are being outnumbered because of U.S. immigration policy. Fiji is a prime example where migrants from India are overtaking the survival of the indigenous people in their own homeland and chaos in this region of the world is a sad story and this is imminent in the CNMI if the U.S. plants its own immigration policy here.

As indigenous people in the CNMI, are we to stop and wait for the worst? We need to act in a proactive manner and have a voice and a unified force to protect our existence as a people and let everyone know that the CNMI belongs to the Chamorrosand Carolinians wo are attached to these islands as their homeland. We welcome visitors, but you are only a visitor and one day we expect that you will leave us and these lands.

Ms. Tina Sablan’s position will ignite further division of the people that she thinks she is representing and those that she has publicly abandoned. Perhaps the people that voted and supported her in the election did so in haste, but are now regurgitating their decision.

Language was used to pacify and fool the people. The words of Ms. Tina Sablan were misunderstood. We hope that as she plays her politics of justice she would give some special attention to the indigenous people’s despair and promote their desire to be left alone and to flourish as a people in their homeland. She should search and find the balance as she is introduced and welcomed to the world of politics of immigration, migration, education, health care, resistance, morality, governance, opposition, accountability, the environment, the indigenous people, and the sickening uncertainty for future generations like my grandchildren and those that follow my foot steps.

I hope Ms. Tina Sablan would find in her heart that the indigenous people of the CNMI are a people that have only their land to have and the language and tradition to be identified with. We hope that as the church teaches us to give respect to others, those that come to our house should respect us as well. But if that is not the case, we ought to ask that you leave us.

Ms. Tina Sablan should realize that when those who are advising her have achieved their aims, they will leave the commonwealth and the world will start collapsing and she will be viewed as one who helped desecrate her own people.

Idealism is good, but people fight for idealism because it is the right thing to do in their minds. We need to connect thoughts and language in the same way that we integrate idealism to realism. We know our language and our thoughts as indigenous people of the CNMI, and once you see how we feel and value our life, you cannot unsee it.


Chalan Kanoa, Saipan

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sharing Guam's History With Our Children

Letter to the editor: Sharing Guam’s history with our children
The Marianas Variety

A FEW months ago, I had the pleasure of taking my then four-month-old daughter Sumåhi around the island, and photographed her at different historic sites. I took photos of her atop a canon at Fort Soledad, in front of the Protestant Church her great great grandfather helped build in Inarajan, and helped find the names of her relatives on the memorial wall at the Asan overlook. Each site was accompanied by a boring but informative lecture on the importance of this location, and what lessons Chamorros today can gather from each site. Oftentimes the lessons would be difficult, especially around issues of Spanish violence, Japanese imperial brutality and American colonial racism.

People told me that it was silly to be dragging her around the island and teaching her the island’s history when she’s too young to remember any of it. But the value of this first trip as I see it, isn’t in what is happening now, but rather the way this “silly” trip would hopefully help start a dialogue between my daughter and me, about the history of her island and people, which will last the rest of our lives.

My hope is that she will grow up to be well informed and clear eyed about the world around her, and therefore be willing to make difficult decisions about its future. Our island is in such difficult times right now because so many of us refuse to pay close attention to our island’s history over the past 100 years.

This is most noticeable with regards to the proposed military increases on Guam, and the reactions of most people on Guam. These increases are celebrated with almost frightening optimism, hope and trust.

Whatever the military says must be true, what they are doing must be good for Guam. And the only way in which this could be bad is if we do not take advantage of the tidal wave of opportunities which are already flooding Guam. This dangerous optimism and trust is made possible because of how a lack of knowledge of Guam history supports a number of prevailing fictions.

The American return in 1944 was a liberation. The military downsizing in the 1990’s happened because we hurt the military’s feelings and scared them away. More military means more security. The military does not damage people’s health or the environment. The military as an institution, cares about Guam and is our partner.

A clear-eyed view of our history complicates or proves false all of these points and demands that we approach the proposed military buildup with caution and be prepared to make very serious and substantive demands of the United States military and federal government. I see a tremendous everyday fear however in investigating the past because of the ways such inquiries might complicate the Americaness of Guam, by revealing the ways its regularly just Guam and not Guam U.S.A. and how those who live on Guam are oftentimes formally and informally second class citizens.

I see fear in taking our historical relationship with the United States seriously, because once we do, degrading phrases such as “the tip of America’s spear” won’t be celebrations of how useful we are to the United States, but rather traumatic sobering revelations of how we have been and continue to be used by them.

It is imperative that our children today, who will inherit both our successes and failures, perceive their history, their present and then plan for their future with clear eyes, no matter how difficult or critical of the United States, such a vision may be.

To not do this will just continue the cycle of dependency, where we will hate ourselves for our hopeless dependency, yet whenever anything can be done to change it, we scream that without the United States we will starve, we will die, without them we are nothing. The history of our island teaches something different however, if we are brave enough to learn it, to learn from it, and then pass on its lessons to our children.


Chumalamlam, Guam

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Expansion Planes Outlined for Military on Guam

Official outlines Guam expansion plans
By Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Navy communications base at the northern end of Guam will be the new headquarters for 8,000 U.S. Marines headed for the island in coming years, according to the retired general in charge of directing the military expansion.

The base — Naval and Communications Station Guam — will eventually be home for much of the housing, administration and operations buildings for the III Marine Expeditionary Force, scheduled to move from Okinawa starting in 2012, according to retired Marine Maj. Gen. David Bice.

“We would expect the first elements could arrive in 2012,” said Bice, the executive director of the Joint Project Office. “The goal is to have the full operational ability in 2014.”

Bice was on the island last week to meet with local leaders and to narrow down a list of “preferred alternative” sites for the future homes, schools, training areas and other facilities needed for the nearly 40,000 new military personnel and family members planned for Guam.

The overall plan, still awaiting budget approval from Congress, includes the Marines from Okinawa as well as expanded Army and Navy units on the island.

Army officials also were on Guam last week to look for a future home for an air defense station, Bice said during a telephone interview.

It’s still uncertain whether the military can complete the total expansion within its existing footprint on the island, Bice said. The Marines’ training ground will likely be on “Anderson South” a part of Andersen Air Force Base on the northern end of Guam.

But other needs could fall outside current fence lines, he said.

“We’re still evaluating what, if any, additional functions that might not necessarily fit on DOD properties,” Bice said. “It’s kind of like a puzzle.”

For example, the military may need additional land to create more ranges, which require a buffer zone between the firing area and civilian property.

Military officials are also working to determine larger training sites throughout the Marianas, Bice said. Training areas on the nearby islands will support the Marines on Guam, but will also be training sites for troops from Okinawa, Alaska, Hawaii and other countries, Bice said.

Bice’s office will offer a draft master plan in March, followed by a working-level plan next summer.

The goal is to have engineering plans firm by February 2009, the beginning of budget planning for fiscal year 2010, he said.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Clearing to Start at Guatali

Plans apparently underway to start clearing at Guatali
by Mindy Aguon, KUAM News
Monday, December 10, 2007

The company behind the construction of a local waste-to-energy facility, Guam Resource Recovery Partners, is moving forward with plans to construct a landfill at Guatali. Keep in mind the controversial contract signed under the Carl Gutierrez Administration would not only allow for the construction of an incinerator, but also a landfill at Guatali, and that both go hand-in-hand as the landfill would be needed to accept the ash from the facility.

With that said, the government is feeling the pressure from the feds because the Ordot Dump is filled to capacity, and fines are climbing by the day, to the tune of already $2 million. And despite the Ordot consent decree designating the site of the new landfill to be constructed in Layon or Dandan, GRRP seems to be moving forward with plans to break ground at Guatali, much to the dismay of residents.

With the Ordot Dump reaching maximum capacity and no place for the island's trash, GRRP seems to putting aside plans to construct a waste-to-energy facility for the moment and move forward with actually building a landfill at Guatali. GRRP attorney Arthur Clark maintains his client's efforts could be positive news for the Government of Guam, which has consistently failed in complying with a consent decree to close the Ordot Dump and open a new landfill.

It is this same consent decree that approved the construction of Guam's new municipal solid waste landfill to be constructed in Dandan. Said Clark, "Again, because the consent decree recognizes that if a private developer puts a landfill up at any point and time, or obviously if there's any basis to speed up the Ordot Dump closure because either a new landfill opens up or the waste-to-energy facility we can now start diverting our trash in that direction, that's going to speed up the closure of the Ordot Dump."

Back in 1996 GRRP entered into an exclusive contact with GovGuam to build a waste-to-energy facility on Guam. For the last decade though that contract and its provisions have been embattled in litigation. Now awaiting one last decision from the Guam Supreme Court that is on appeal, GRRP is moving forward with plans to build a landfill at Guatali - an area where the company entered into a land license agreement with the Chamorro Land Trust Commission, which owns the property. That agreement expires next year with a renewal clause for an additional fifteen years. It was also signed on the last day of the Gutierrez Administration.

Attorney Clark, however, admits even though a landfill might be built in Guatali, the incinerator may not. "Not necessarily," he confirmed, "I haven't discussed...that with my client, so I don't know if the incinerator site itself will be at Guatali. So it could be, but not necessarily."

Attorney Clark says the landfill was initially intended to hold the ash from the waste-to-energy facility, but because of necessity GRRP may need to collect solid waste until the incinerator is built or the government builds another incinerator.

Either way, it's bad news for Guatali residents like Daryl Diras, who told KUAM News, "Let's not be hasty where we build something that we know we're going to regret later. They should give this place a second thought. It's really right behind residences." Diras is frustrated with Guam Resource Recovery Partners' efforts to build a landfill in his backyard. What is now a quiet neighborhood with a backyard view of Apra Harbor and a valley complete with several rivers could soon be dramatically transformed into cells and piles of trash or ash.

Diras maintains residents here were given no opportunity to give any input about a landfill or for that matter an incinerator in their backyard. "Who knows? Down the road it's going to effect us later, if not me, my children? My children's children? Especially the residents down in Agat, they're going to be smelling all that garbage," said the Santa Rita resident.

"It's such a beautiful area, it's such a shame what they're going to do to it."

On Thursday the company intends to hold a groundbreaking ceremony, despite not receiving approval from the Guam Environmental Protection Agency on a clearing-and-grading application to clear 3,500 feet for a future landfill.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

$1.9 million suit filed against US Navy

$1.9M suit filed against US Navy
By Gina Tabonares
Variety News Staff

A SENIOR ranking officer of the U.S. Navy filed a $1.9 million lawsuit against the federal government for an alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy.

David G. Matthews, a GS14 COMNAVMAR member, filed the claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act in the District Court of Guam after the U.S. Navy denied the claim he filed on May 18, 2007 against the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Navy, and COMNAVMAR Guam.

According to Matthews, the defendants’ reckless and unlawful conduct irreparably damaged his good name and reputation, and compelled him to seek early retirement from federal employment that resulted in significant personal, professional and financial implications.

His case stemmed from an incident on June 14, 2005 when his wife Debora was apprehended by COMNAVMAR security for alleged child abuse involving their daughter.

On the same day, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service concluded Debora Matthews did not abuse her daughter and the COMNAVMAR executive officer and attorneys stated there was no criminal investigation by the Navy or referral to the Guam Police Department.

Two days later, the Matthews couple received telephone calls from Vince Pereda, a Family Advocacy Program case manager for the COMNAVMAR Fleet and Family Support Center Guam. They briefly discussed the incident involving Debora Matthews and her daughter.

A review of the FFSC case records reveals Pereda “maintained” case notes as of June 16, 2005. Pereda discussed the case with a Guam Child Protective Services worker after initiating records and without the approval of the plaintiff and his wife.

The case manager and a Guam Child Protective Services worker told the couple that they didn’t need an attorney and that there was no criminal case, but they were never apprised of the potential consequences of their discussions which is the purpose of the PA and FAP program description document.

On June 17, 2005, Pereda asked Debora Matthews to sign two documents which he stated were required to allow FFSC/CPS to interview their daughter.

David Matthews, however, learned that the two documents were the Privacy Act statement and the FFSC Program Description.

He said neither document was explained to them nor Pereda asked his wife to read the documents prior to signing, describing the act as a trick to have Debora Matthews to sign the forms.

The plaintiff asked a criminal investigation concerning the falsified document but they felt that the defendant attempted to conceal the crime.

In September 2005, the Navy placed the plaintiff and his wife in a military tribunal for alleged child abuse. As a result, the Matthews were placed in a federal registry as child abusers.

The information that was illegally and unlawfully obtained from the plaintiff and his wife was used against them in the tribunal.

The Matthews were concerned with the personal and professional ramification of a military tribunal and, on Sept. 1, 2005, they asked the U.S. Navy if they were eligible for Navy legal service support in regard to the military tribunal but a Department of Defense employee said it was a local call denying their eligibility.

The plaintiff said they were put in the child abuser registry and labeled without due process.

Matthew said that placing his name under central registry will have negative impact on his current and future employment and security clearance.

The couple wrote a letter to COMNAVMAR and the DOD asking to remove their names from the federal registry as child abusers and asked additional information, but they were disregarded and provided no response.

They asked the court for compensatory damages of $1.951.894, the removal of their names from the federal registry as child abusers, to provide them all information requested via the Freedom of Information Act, and provide answers to all questions they asked in his original claim.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Cohen: High Cost of Living in Islands Caused by Limited Private Sector

Cohen says cost of living on islands high due to limited private sector participation
By Gemma Q. Casas
Variety News Staff

THE federal official in charge of overseeing assistance and programs for American insular areas says the cost of living in island communities is high due to limited private sector participation.

David Cohen, the U.S. Interior Department’s deputy assistant secretary for insular affairs, was the keynote speaker at the Annual Conference of the Island Government Finance Officers’ Association held on Tuesday in Honolulu, Hawaii.

He said “in most of the insular area economies, there is an unsustainable imbalance between the public and private sectors.”

A strong private sector propels a healthy economy, he said. This way “jobs are created and taxes are collected to fund essential services for the public.”

But many islands do not have economies dominated by the private sector. “In many island economies, this model is turned on its head: The economy is dominated by the public sector. Since the public sector generally is a consumer and not a producer of wealth, this type of economy can only be sustained with outside subsidies. I have referred to these island economies as being “upside down in the middle of the ocean.” They will have to get right-side up in order to get their heads above water,” said Cohen.

However, the odds are against the island communities because of their remote locations and susceptibility to extreme weather conditions. “These communities tend to have small populations, few resources and remote locations. That means they are heavily dependent upon transportation systems to bring people and goods to and from their islands, and that transportation is likely to be significantly more expensive than it is in more populated areas. This, in turn, tends to make everything else on the island more expensive. The cost of doing business is therefore high.”

Ordot Still Full, Will Continue to Take Trash

Dump full, still taking trash: DPW won't push public to reduce its waste stream
By Brett Kelman
Pacific Daily News

Trash collection will not be interrupted even though the Ordot dump is full, and Guam will be forced to face the financial, environmental and safety repercussions of the bloated dump until an alternative site is opened, Public Works Solid Waste Division Superintendent Dominic Muna said yesterday.

Public Works has two options for stretching the dump's capacity -- filling a staging area where cover material is kept, on Ordot's east edge, or continuing to stack garbage higher.

Neither solution is perfect, Muna said.

If garbage is dumped in the staging area, Muna said it threatens to contaminate the Lonfit River because it would be lower and closer to the water than the rest of the dump. If Ordot continues to expand upward, it will increase the risk of fires, landslides and cave-ins from poorly compacted garbage.

"Every additional day (Ordot dump) stays open, it is having a negative impact in some way," Muna said.

Still, he added, continuing to fill the Ordot dump was a better choice than giving residents no outlet for their garbage.

Muna said Public Works has no choice but to leave Ordot open until a new landfill is complete and ready to receive trash. Without a dumpsite, trash could pile up illegally in residential areas and on roadsides, becoming an eyesore and a danger to public health.

According to the speediest estimates, construction of a second landfill will take at least six to nine months, Muna said.

"If they break ground tomorrow, we'll close our gates in eight months and 29 days," he said.

Solid Waste Law Review Commission Chairman Sen. James Espaldon said that when construction will begin depends on where the new landfill will be built -- at the Guatali site or the Dandan site.

Until then, concessions will have to be made. Trash has already begun to creep onto Ordot dumps' access roads and garbage on the west side is encroaching onto private property.

Which to choose
Muna said private engineering company Duenas, Bordallo & Associates estimated that the staging area could expand the dump's life span by four months if the Guam EPA approves it as a trash site.

"If there are steps in place to control the runoff, ... and that would help minimize the damage to the environment, that is something we would be prone to approve," EPA spokeswoman Tammy Anderson said about the staging area plan.

Muna said members of the Solid Waste Law Review Commission had resisted the plan to use the staging area because of its environmental risks.

Espaldon said he is disappointed that Public Works waited until the dump reached capacity to choose an expansion plan, even though the warning signs were many and frequent.

"The bottom line is this fix should have been in the works a long time ago," he said, referencing Public Works' 200-day warning on Sept. 13. The dump has reached capacity well before the warning predicted, but Muna said it had just been an estimate.

If Public Works instead decides to expand upward, Muna said there was no way of knowing how many days the dump could continue before the safety risks of narrow roads and loose garbage bite back.

"It's a ticking time bomb," he said.

Anderson said dump runoff may be an environmental concern if the dump grows beyond its capacity and that the risk of trash fires burning plastics and releasing toxic fumes might increase.

Although a temporary dumpsite in another location has been proposed as a third option to tide Guam over until a new landfill opens, Anderson said Guam EPA would never approve it.

Proper waste containment for any dumpsite larger than a short-term staging area requires years of engineering surveys and scientific research, she said.

"A truly temporary site could never be good enough," she said.

In too deep
No matter which solution is chosen, the dump has already exceeded the capacity projected in Duenas, Bordallo & Associates' closure plan, voiding the design and forcing the government to pay for a new one, Muna said.

"When they prepared the design for the closure of the landfill, it was designed for a certain amount of waste and at a certain level. The more we exceed that, the more the design has to be mended, ... and the more it's going to cost," he said.

A methane ventilation system and a moat for contaminated runoff must be built to cap the dump, but cannot be designed until the dump stops growing, Muna said. Until a completion date for a new landfill is set, a new design can't begin.

Even though the landfill is being stretched beyond its limitations, Muna said Public Works did not plan to restrict the number of bags of garbage residents could dump.

He said he encourages residents to recycle and to lessen the trash load, but Public Works would not force them to do so because he didn't feel the process was fair or economically feasible for the disadvantaged.

Espaldon said public efforts to minimize garbage would be necessary and that he believed the public would rise to the occasion, but did not write off the possibility of legislation that would promote, or perhaps even mandate, recycling.

Northern Residents Discuss Troop Increase

Northern residents sound off on troop movement
by Sabrina Salas Matanane, KUAM News
Friday, December 07, 2007

The Civilian/Military Task Force held its last town meeting at the Dededo Mayor's Office. The series of meetings, held over the last three days, provided the latest information on the military plans to beef up its presence on Guam. It also allowed the community to provide their input on the matter.

Resident Anthony Santos told KUAM News, "As far as the meetings go, everyone did their homework to say a little bit to make it seem the meetings going along, but I really think that what these people turn their eyes to is a different purpose instead of cushioning the military here and making them feel free to come more about letting them know we have rights. We're people and they have to respect us before they come to our place."

Rose Taitano, from Yigo, also said, "I feel that our needs are not met fifty years ago [sic] and I don't think its going to be met this time around when the Marines are filling up our island. I don't think they're going get help. We're all hoping there will be no increase in the military, I believe it [the population is] going to be about 180,000 in another ten to fifteen years and the island can't hold that kind of population. It's such a small island."

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Feds on Island to Evaluate Military Infrastructure

Feds on island to evaluate future military infrastructure
By Steve Limtiaco
Pacific Daily News

Federal officials coordinating the military buildup on Guam are meeting this week to discuss various options for the location of barracks and other new military buildings on the island.

Marine Maj. Gen. David F. Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office, is on island to meet with engineers as part of the military's master planning process.

The military has announced plans to transfer 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam and to expand Air Force and Navy operations here, resulting in about $15 billion in projects.

The NCTAMS area of Dededo has been identified as the site of a new Marine Corps base.
"We're doing our preferred alternatives/footprint analysis," Bice said yesterday. "This is basically, 'Where do certain buildings go? Where do functional areas go within the locations here on Guam?'"

Bice said the master planning process started during the summer, and master planning engineers have received information from scoping sessions and ongoing environmental studies. They are deciding where to place military housing, training areas and aircraft, among other things.

Bice said several alternative sites were being considered, and have been narrowed to "preferred alternatives."

"Now, we will be doing site-specific analysis of those preferred alternatives," Bice said. "Where do you put the hangar? Where do you put administrative buildings? Where do you put barracks?"

A draft master plan will be complete by next March, and a working-level master plan will be complete by July, Bice said. He said all of the plans will remain "working level" until the environmental studies are completed.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

More High Priced Condos for Guam

Condos OK'd in Tamuning: GLUC approves $100M project for 260 units, 20 villas
By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno
Pacific Daily News

Four condominium towers and 20 villa-style luxury homes will rise on a cliff-line property in Tamuning as part of a $100 million project that the Guam Land Use Commission approved at a recent special meeting, the developer announced yesterday -- and the development will benefit the area via infrastructure improvements.

The proposed Emerald Ocean View Park will add 260 condo units to Guam's housing market, developer Younex International stated.

Two towers will rise 15 stories and the other two towers will be 18 stories, according to the developer's plan.

Younex International bought more than 10 acres of Tamuning oceanview land from Guam businessman Kenneth Jones' company earlier this year for $12 million, according to Pacific Daily News files.

Younex President and Chief Executive Officer Kil Koo Yoon is a 22-year Guam resident, and his construction business has performed contracts or subcontracts for such major projects as the LeoPalace Resort expansion, the Onward Beach Resort's tower and the Villa Kanton Tasi luxury residential development.

Yoon's construction company also recently completed about $7 million in renovations to the Japan Plaza hotel.

The Emerald's units will be available starting around the second quarter of 2010, said David Tydingco, senior vice president of Younex International.

The Emerald will be one of the first luxury condominium developments that would be available around the time Guam would see increased housing demand from defense contractors who will be drawn here by U.S. military buildup-related opportunities, Tydingco said. Major construction activities related to the military buildup could start around July 2010, according to a military "notional" plan.

The starting price for a condo unit at the Emerald will be around $500,000, Tydingco said.

The luxury housing project also will appeal to certain local buyers as well as people from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and other places in Asia who are looking for tropical vacation homes or real estate investments, Tydingco said.

The project also comes at a time when South Korean and Taiwanese visitors to any U.S. location, including Guam, will be able to stay for up to 90 days per visit starting in July 2008, Tydingco said. Currently, South Korean and Taiwanese tourists can stay for up to two weeks each time they visit Guam, Tydingco said. Japanese visitors already are allowed a 90-day visit to Guam.

The Tumon Bay and Tamuning areas are seeing a resurgence of proposed major condominium projects reminiscent of Guam's early 1980s boom.

But sewer and water capacity is strained in the area. The Guam Waterworks Authority has acknowledged that Tumon Bay's existing sewer infrastructure has reached maximum capacity and could no longer take a new major development. Parts of Tamuning also are at or near capacity, according to GWA.

The Emerald's developer is offering a solution to meet not just its water and wastewater capacity, but also to neighboring areas in Tamuning, as well. "The residents of Jonestown, Perezville and the (Guam Memorial Hospital) have been plagued with a history of low to no water pressure during peak (usage), and several residents in the Jonestown complex are still on septic tanks and leaching fields," Younex said in a news release.

Working with GWA, Younex engineers have completed plans for the installation of a water line from the water tank at the Nissan dealership in Upper Tumon, according to the developer. GMH and its surrounding areas in Tamuning currently have only one water source -- from the Agana Heights water tank, according to Younex. "By connecting the two sources, residents in the area should see improved ... water pressure as well as uninterrupted water flow during peak demand periods," the developer stated.

The project also includes plans to install sewer lines that will be used not only for the Emerald project, but which can increase capacity for existing customers and future developments in the area, Younex announced.

Another developer, which has received GLUC approval for a $250 million high-rise condo and hotel development in the Gun Beach area, also has had to work out a solution to utility challenges. The proposed Gun Beach developer -- Kyung Maek C&D LLC -- has made initial discussions with GWA for the development's wastewater line to be routed away from Tumon and toward the GWA wastewater treatment plant in Dededo, according to Pacific Daily News files.

Task Force Touts Military Buildup

Task force touts military buildup
By Lacee A.C. Martinez
Pacific Daily News

Residents last night were able to meet face-to-face with the officials who will be developing a master plan for the island in preparation for the military buildup.

Dozens last night crowded the Agana Heights Mayor's Office for one of the first in a series of three Civilian Military Task Force meetings. Residents also have the opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions to members of the committees tonight and tomorrow night in other villages.

Questions..Click here!
The priority of the task force is to focus on the delivery of services and to ensure the military buildup is benefiting the local community, committee member Tony Lamorena said.

"These committees are here to ensure that this buildup is not just good for the military, but good for the community, as well," Lamorena said.

Nimitz Hill resident D. Smith waited his turn to talk about jobs with Labor committee Chairwoman Maria Connelly.

"As we move forward, there are going to be a lot of jobs with billions to be spent, and my concern is whether Guam will be getting those jobs or whether they're going to go to these outside foreign contractors," he said. "Who's going to benefit from the employment? Guam should make sure that it gets its share."

The Department of Labor continues to compile job openings for construction firms and other employment vacancies throughout the island, Connelly said, adding that the Navy also is sending lists of available jobs they have.

"It is a priority to try to fill these positions locally," she said. "Most employers would want to employ people here rather than have to bring people in."

Agana Heights resident Frank D. Cruz showed up early to speak with housing committee members about the effect the military move will have on the cost of housing on Guam.

Cruz, who also owns a duplex in Agana Heights, said he expects the cost of apartment rentals to jump because many business owners will want to charge more for military tenants.

"I know that many people would rather rent out to the military, and I want to know whether the government is going to absorb that cost," Cruz said. "But what's going to happen to the rest of the residents?

Cruz said members of the housing committee were able to give him some feedback on their progress to address potential housing problems, but said he still worries about residents being displaced because of the buildup.

"I haven't heard anything yet from the government of how they're going to control this," he said.

John Torres, also from Agana Heights, said his main concern was the quality of life, the cost of living and safety issues.

"What's going to happen to us? Are we going to be listening to gunshots all night or hearing bombs?" he asked. "We don't need that stuff here, and we're a target already with other countries. We'll be even more of a target with the buildup."

Torres said he looks forward to business opportunities the buildup will bring for the community, but questions the need for the increase in military presence.

"Safety is a very big issue, and we already have the Air Force, the Navy and the National Guard," he said. "We're already good with what we have now."

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Iyo-ta Tasi

Our ocean, our life
Marianas Variety

FISHERIES in the central and western Pacific region are not in good shape. The commercially important fish populations may not yet be “fully fished” at this point but they are in danger of heading toward that direction. Even the fishing industry cannot much longer ignore the obvious.

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s Scientific Committee reported that the yellowfin stock is “fully exploited” with “a minimum 47 percent probability” that overfishing is occurring within the regulated zone. The stock of bigeye tuna, according to the committee, is “not in an overfished state” but overfishing of this specie has been observed.

Tuna fishing is a major industry for islands that export to Japan, which consumes a quarter of the world’s tuna supply.

The FSM’s own tuna stock is assessed at 130,000 tons valued at $3 billion. That’s the amount that the Micronesia region would lose if overfishing is not kept in check and would result in the depletion of the tuna stock.

What we need is a system of regional — or global — discipline.

With that in mind, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, an international commission representing 33 fishing nations and islands, is now in session to revisit its agreement to reduce the catch of yellowfin and bigeye tuna.

The efforts to reduce tuna catches and enforce fishing regulations, however, are hampered by lack of resources, such as fleets with adequate monitoring systems to detect illegal fishers. This is definitely one area that the regional commission must immediately address.

Another factor that pointlessly contributes to the destruction of marine ecology is “bycatching.” This is a process by which fish are inadvertently caught and thrown back, usually dead, because they are not the target fish to be sold in the market.

According to fishery experts, about 20 million tons of fish are wasted in this way.
The commission’s member-nations and islands must therefore see to it that only acceptable fishing methods and gadgets are allowed in their areas of responsibility. One of the most destructive fishing methods is the use of large drift nets, which was banned by the United Nations in 1991.

Enforcing tough restrictions on fishing is a logical step, so is imposing a quota on tuna catch. Along with these measures, developing restoration plans would not be a bad idea even though the region may not have yet reached the “overfished state.”

Why wait ‘till that happens?