GPA’s fuel surcharge rates could go down

Tuesday, 31 Mar 2015 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Guam Power Authority’s three-year extension of its residual fuel oil contract with Hyundai Corp., which has been estimated to provide a total savings of approximately $46 million during its term, could reduce the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause, or LEAC, several months from now if conditions remain unchanged.

The Public Utilities Commission approved the contract extension last week. According to PUC legal counsel Frederick Horecky, the price of fuel and fuel handling charges both determine the LEAC factor.

“The fuel price, of course, is floating. It changes. Recently, it has gone down substantially,” he said. “If everything else stays the same, we will only have the fuel price to look at. Then that could result in a reduction.”

The PUC reviews the power authority's fuel surcharge every six months. GPA adjusts the surcharge based on world oil prices. Worldwide, the price of crude oil has been falling significantly since last year, resulting in lower fuel costs for GPA.

It will take several months before GPA is able to determine if the savings would result in a decreased monthly bill for ratepayers. “The end of July is the next review,” Horecky said. “We will see at that point whether the LEAC would go up or down.”

GPA requested the approval of the PUC to amend the existing contract with Hyundai. The extension period will commence Sept. 1 and expire after about three years on Aug. 31, 2018.

The existing two-year base period for the residual fuel oil No. 6 supply contract between GPA and Hyundai will expire on Aug. 31 this year. This current contract, which commenced on Sept. 1, 2013, was worth approximately $360 million annually.

Horecky said GPA was able to negotiate a three-year extension with Hyundai when the company agreed to reduce the amount of premium charges. The premium charges include fees for delivery, handling and other costs related to shipping the fuel to Guam.

LEAC adjustment

In January the PUC released an order authorizing a reduction in residential customers' fuel surcharge rate,  with customers  utilizing an average of 1,000 kilowatt hours per month seeing an 18.2 percent decrease in their total bill or savings of around $45 per month.

According to GPA, the worldwide cost of fuel had been volatile in recent years and more noticeably so in recent months.

Moreover, the spot market price for fuel has seen a reduction in recent months that compelled GPA to file a petition for the reduction in January.



OPA profiles GEDA's financials


Posted: Mar 31, 2015  By Ken Quintanilla  KUAM


 


 The Guam Office of Public Accountability issues an unmodified opinion for the Guam Economic Development Authority's finances in Fiscal Year 2014.  Although the OPA said GEDA should be commended for its 11th year of having no instances of non-compliance with their financial statements, it did note that there were a couple of deficiencies which were brought to management's attention.

Those being that fixed assets totaling $71,000 could not be found and secondly that $14,000 of unidentified accounts payable were long outstanding obligations dating back from 2006 to 2012.

Go to opaguam.org to read the report.




Won Pat discusses trademark law with visiting NZ FestPac officials

Friday, 27 Mar 2015 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

SPEAKER Judith Won Pat met with visiting representatives from the New Zealand delegation to the Festival of the Pacific Arts to discuss the protection of the intellectual property rights of indigenous artists and traditional cultural practitioners.

Darrin Haimona, chairman of the Maori Community Arts Council; Muriwai Ihakara, manager of the Maori Engagement at Creative New Zealand; and Tanea Heke, New Zealand’s Festival of the Pacific Arts 2016 project manager, were on Guam to meet with local leaders and FestPac coordinating committee members in preparation for the festival, which will take place on Guam next summer.

Won Pat and the New Zealand representatives discussed the efforts of the Guam Trademark Commission to draft the Guam Trademark and Intellectual Property Rights Act and the Guam Cultural Trademark Act.

Won Pat, who authored P.L. 32-80 which created the commission, convened the meeting with the New Zealand representatives during which she emphasized that one of the biggest threats to culture and traditional arts is the mass production of souvenirs claiming to be authentic.

According to Won Pat, the commission will be tasked with developing a cultural trademark and an intellectual property rights statute for the protection and preservation of Chamorro culture and arts.

Model

Won Pat, who is the chairwoman of the Guam Trademark Commission, met with the visiting delegation to discuss New Zealand’s trademark program, which the commission is looking at as one of the models they are considering for a cultural trademark program on Guam.

According to the speaker, the New Zealand representatives shared some of their experiences and challenges in implementing their trademark program, which was helpful in informing the Guam commission’s efforts moving forward.

The 12th Festival of Pacific Arts will bring together artists and cultural practitioners from around the Pacific region for two weeks of festivities.

The festival is recognized as a major regional cultural event and is considered the largest gathering in which the people of the Pacific unite to enhance their respect and appreciation of one another.

Won Pat said FestPac meetings in the past have stressed that prior to the festival on Guam, a local statute must be in place for the protection of local intellectual property rights as well as the cultural trademarks of Guam and other participating countries.

The Guam Trademark Commission is to meet this Friday, at 1:30 p.m. in the Guam Legislature’s public hearing room.

Members of Guam’s arts and culture community are encouraged to attend. Included in the agenda are updates to Guam's Cultural Trademark Program, a report from the FestPac coordinating committee, and the criteria festival participants have set for cultural arts and

GPA petition to extend Hyundai fuel contract approved

Friday, 27 Mar 2015 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

LAST night, the Public Utilities Commission approved a petition filed by the Guam Power Authority for a three-year extension of its residual fuel oil contract with Hyundai Corp., which will provide an estimated total savings of approximately $46 million during its term.

GPA requested the approval of PUC to amend the existing contract with Hyundai. The extended period will commence Sept. 1 and expire after about three years on Aug. 31, 2018.

The existing two-year base period for the residual fuel oil No. 6 supply contract between the GPA and Hyundai will expire on Aug. 31 this year.

According to PUC legal counsel Frederick Horecky, GPA was able to negotiate a three-year extension with Hyundai when the company agreed to reduce the amount of premium charges. The premium charges include fees for delivery, handling, and other costs related to shipping the fuel to Guam.

“That is a fixed rate. The savings over the three-year period will be about $46 million,” Horecky said.

GPA currently has a two-year contract with Hyundai which would end in August. Hyundai’s current contract, which commenced on Sept. 1, 2013, was worth approximately $360 million annually.

GPA negotiated with Hyundai for a reduction in the contract fee for the first year extension option and the contractor agreed to lower the contract fees and submitted its proposal under different scenarios with lower prices guaranteed for two or three year contract extensions.

GPA evaluated the proposal and determined that the premium fee reduction for a guaranteed three-year contract extension will provide the best benefit to GPA customers.

Hyundai also agreed to improve the quality specification for its vanadium alloy without additional expense to GPA and such reduction is expected to help improve the efficiency of the power authority’s equipment.

John Benavente, interim general manager of GPA, said the extension is a win-win situation since it provides the stability of a three-year contract for Hyundai while GPA and its customers reap the savings.

Hyundai is based in Korea with a global business network presence in more than 40 countries and is traded on major stock exchanges around the world. Hyundai has been in the energy industry for more than 30 years.

exhibitions.


Guam First Commission holds meeting, amends objectives


Friday, 27 Mar 2015 03:00am


BY ROBERT Q. TUPAZ | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


THE Guam First Commission met yesterday and amended its goals and objectives pursuant to Gov. Eddie Calvo’s executive order 2015-06.


The Guam First Commission advisory council is now tasked with advising the governor on federal issues so that the island speaks with one voice in discussions with the federal government.

According to Oyaol Ngirairikl, director of communication for the governor’s office, the council will be more inclusive instead of dealing specifically with the military buildup. The council will now have committees or task forces that will deal with the Guam buildup, Compact-impact, and the regulatory requirements that lead to consent decrees or threaten federal receivership, among other responsibilities.

The committees or task forces will in turn seek to create a collaborative approach at addressing federal and local concerns.

In the executive order, Calvo stated: “I have determined that it is imperative that the island’s leaders speak with ‘One Voice’ when expressing concerns relating (to) the expansion of United States military forces on the island to the Congress and the executive branch; and this ‘One Voice’ will be the sound of a community united in a singular purpose – to ensure that the residents’ current and future political, social, economic, environmental and infrastructural concerns are satisfactorily addressed on an ongoing basis.”

The governor added, “In addition to the military buildup, there are a host of other federal issues that are having adverse socio-economic impacts on the island’s residents, including unfunded and disproportionately funded mandates and several longstanding unresolved issues.”

The council will schedule its next meeting for May. An announcement with details of the schedule will be made prior to its convening, said Ngirairikl.



Calvo, Bordallo want feds to address Guam’s political status


Friday, 27 Mar 2015 03:00am


BY ROBERT Q. TUPAZ | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


GOV. Eddie Calvo in February asked the Department of Interior for $250,000 to jumpstart the educational campaign for the process to determine the island’s political status.


Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo last week said the federal government had money available for the education campaign regarding Guam’s political status and all island leaders needed to do was ask. The governor in his State of the Island address said he did just that.

”We continue to wait for the Department of Interior to make good on the funding promised to us,” Calvo said during his State of the Island Address in February. “I’ve written a letter to Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina asking for her help – at the very least to match the money we’re putting into the education program.”

The governor told DOI that his administration wanted to hold the plebiscite vote by the year 2017. Calvo asked Kia’aina to provide $250,000 which he said will match what will be included in the proposed fiscal year 2016 government of Guam budget.

Calvo noted that the Interior Department provided federal funds for Puerto Rico to aid in its education outreach program and asked for the same consideration for Guam. “We are requesting your office consider matching the $250,000 in local funds set aside for this project,” wrote the governor.

Calvo told Kia’aina, “Before the plebiscite can be held, the community must be given the information they need to make an educated and well-thought out decision.”

Better than status quo

During his State of the Island address, the governor said: “Any status is better than the status quo – an unincorporated territory. Whether it’s statehood, free association or independence, I believe that a change will put us in control of our destiny.”

According to Edward Alvarez, chairman of the Commission on Decolonization, the commission had $90,000 to kick-start the educational campaign. He said he has been targeting school groups and island youths as he prepares to launch an all-out comprehensive outreach program which would include video spots and social media apps.

Alvarez also stated that the Calvo administration had asked for DOI funds in the past. In fact, the administration asked no less than twice. A budget proposal was presented to DOI early on at the onset of the administration in 2011 and a draft grant proposal was submitted in 2012 to the University of Guam at the direction of then-DOI Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta.

Alvarez said DOI informed the commission that funds were not available at that time.

Bordallo said a single consolidated grant application was necessary to move the process forward. Alvarez said he would work with Bordallo to secure the funds in tandem with the efforts that Calvo had already initiated.

Island residents have the possibility of hosting a self-determination plebiscite to determine the island’s political status option. The choices include independence, free association with the United States or statehood.

Pursuant to law, persons eligible to vote shall include those designated as native inhabitants of Guam defined as persons who became U.S. citizens by virtue of the authority and enactment of the 1950 Organic Act of Guam and descendants of those persons who are 18 years of age or older on the date of the political status plebiscite and are registered Guam voters.

70 percent

As well, the plebiscite is to be held on the date of a general election at which 70 percent of eligible voters have been registered as determined by the Guam Election Commission.

Calvo and Bordallo both addressed the need to tackle the requirement for 70 percent of voters necessary for the plebiscite to occur.

“The law requires us to register 70 percent of eligible voters for the plebiscite to occur. GEC only has 7,192 registered voters in the Decolonization Registry. That falls short of the necessary voter numbers,” said the governor. “There are some questions on the language of the law that we need to settle in order to give us a clearer understanding of the actions we need to pursue. This may require us to go to the attorney general, or even the court, for interpretation.”

Bordallo stated, “I would also suggest that we remove the requirement to have a certain percentage of eligible voters registered before the vote can be set. I urge the legislature to set the vote and let those who are eligible register by a certain deadline. Achieving decolonization will be a multi-step process that will take time but we must begin to set the stage for this to completely play out.”


Guam's suicide rate is 50% higher than US mainland


Posted: Mar 26, 2015 By Jolene Toves  KUAM


 


Suicide remains prevalent on Guam with statistics showing that suicide rates are 50% higher here than in the United States mainland, and more than three times higher than Asians and Pacific Islanders living in the mainland.


Dr. Annette David told KUAM News, "One of the important thing about this training is we need to extend the ability and the skills to intervene early recognize the danger signs and act quickly to prevent suicide not just amongst the health professionals but the families and community members."


During a conference held Thursday community members were engaged so that together they could look at existing data, and resources to be able to come up with a relevant action plan tailored to Guam.


Guam's suicide rate is 50% higher than US mainland


Posted: Mar 26, 2015 By Jolene Toves  KUAM


 


Suicide remains prevalent on Guam with statistics showing that suicide rates are 50% higher here than in the United States mainland, and more than three times higher than Asians and Pacific Islanders living in the mainland.


Dr. Annette David told KUAM News, "One of the important thing about this training is we need to extend the ability and the skills to intervene early recognize the danger signs and act quickly to prevent suicide not just amongst the health professionals but the families and community members."


During a conference held Thursday community members were engaged so that together they could look at existing data, and resources to be able to come up with a relevant action plan tailored to Guam.


Report: average annual wage on Guam is $33,280

Posted: Mar 27, 2015

 


 The US Department of Labor has released its latest occupational employment and wage statistics for the US, which includes Guam.

The mean or average hourly wage rate for all occupations, private and public on Guam in May 2014 was $16, an average annual wage of $33,280 which is a 1.8% increase from the previous year. So how does this compare to the US mainland?

The average hourly wage in 2014 was $22.71, which annually translates to $47,230.


New menu at Hagåtña Port of Mocha

Thursday, 26 Mar 2015 03:00am

BY MALORIE PAINE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

Alcohol, new locations coming

PORT of Mocha Coffee House this week launched a new menu at its Hagåtña location across from the Academy of Our Lady of Guam, and has additions in store for other locations.

The Hagåtña location has added more than 30 new menu items ranging from red velvet pancakes to eggs Benedict for breakfast and hamburgers to pasta for lunch. Breakfast will be served from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m., and lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Owner Sanjay Dewan said he wanted to bring something new to the Hagåtña area.

The establishment may eventually serve dinner, but most people leave Hagåtña pretty early, so for now only breakfast and lunch will be available, Dewan said.

“I’ve gone to other restaurants in Hagåtña, and they all seem to serve the same types of things,” Dewan said. “We just want to offer creative things on our menu.”

The food is made fresh every day, and nothing will be pre-packaged like some of the chain restaurants, Dewan said.

“We hired some really topnotch chefs that worked with us to develop the menu,” he said.

In addition to the new items, Dewan said customers may now sit down and order at their table rather than just at the counter. Customers will still be able to purchase coffee or food to go at the counter.

Alcohol to be served

In addition to the new menu items, Dewan said the location is also waiting for its license to serve beer and wine. The store features a wine tap that will allow for seven bottles to be on tap at a time.

The wine and beer selections should be available by the end of next month, he said.

The location will also include a juice bar like other Port of Mocha locations.

Dewan said there are changes coming to the other Port of Mocha locations as well, but he’s not ready to announce them yet.

In addition to the new projects, Dewan said he will be adding locations as well.

“We’re looking at a location in the northern region and southern region of the island,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of people down south asking why we aren’t down there.”

There are currently Port of Mocha Coffee House locations in Tumon, Micronesia Mall, Tamuning, Agana Shopping Center and two in Hagåtña.



UOG international business conference opens, continues today


Tuesday, 24 Mar 2015 03:00am


BY MALORIE PAINE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


GUAM this week is home to the 2015 International Conference on Business, Economics and Information Technology.


The University of Guam School of Business and Public Administration hosted the conference, and Maria Claret Ruane, UOG professor of economics, is chairwoman and organized the event.

The conference began in 2007 in Guam, and has traveled to other countries including South Korea, Japan, Australia and Vietnam since its inception.

“We’re very proud to bring this back to Guam,” Ruane said. “I started planning this when I was still teaching in New York. When I moved to UOG, it just kind of came with me.”

The reason for hosting the event is to put Guam on the map, Ruane said. “This is largely an academic conference, which also helps to put Guam on the map,” she said.

Ruane said that before moving to Guam, she heard from some friends that the caliber of academic and analytical work wasn’t as high as in other places. However, she said she disagrees and thinks Guam has an even higher caliber than other places, and she wanted to highlight that.

“We’re very proud to bring this back to Guam,” Ruane said.

The 2015 conference kicked off yesterday morning and will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Westin Resort Guam.

Collaborate

The conference brings together professionals and students from different universities around the world to collaborate with different ideas on economics, accounting and information technology, said Justin Castro, a UOG student who helped plan this year’s event.

There are 80 total participants with 70 people who are expected to present research during the conference from the U.S. mainland, Japan, China, the Philippines and Guam, he said.

“It’s really a collaboration of different universities,” Castro said.

In addition to professionals, students from UOG were also invited to present their research.

About 60 percent of the attendees have participated in the conference at least once before, and most attend every year, Ruane said.

The conference is a way to celebrate scholarship, said Annette Taijeron Santos, interim dean of the School of Business and Public Administration.

Graduate and undergraduate students are invited to participate in the conference, which gives them an opportunity to see integration and practice in its truest form, Santos said.

“We have conferences like this not just for our academic faculty, but for our students,” she said. “It’s coming up with new conceptual models, perspectives and new ways of thinking that we can apply in real-world situations.”

Presenters yesterday included Barbara Wiens-Tuers, associate professor of economics at Penn State Altoona; Akihiro Noguchi, professor of accounting at Nagoya University; and Kevin Ho of the UOG.

Today’s topics include Hospital Accreditation And Financial Condition Of Public Hospitals presented by Toshiki Kodera, of Aomori Public University and  Koji Yoneda Of Nagoya University In Japan; An Empirical Perspective of Sustainable Entrepreneurship Across Countries, presented by Maria Victoria P. Tibon of De La Salle University-Manila in the Philippines; and Making Global Connections: Restructuring Programs To Address The Present Needs of Today's Students in a Global Business Environment, presented by five University of Guam professors: Richard Colfax, Wai K. Law, Karri Perez, John Rivera and Fred Schumann.



Jerry Calvo: Altruistic visionary dead at 74


Tuesday, 24 Mar 2015 03:00am


BY ROBERT Q. TUPAZ | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


LOCAL businessman Jerry Calvo died yesterday. He was 74.


Thomas “Jerry” Jerome M. Calvo is the youngest of the trio of brothers who helped expand the Calvo Enterprise group of companies to one of the island’s largest family-owned enterprises. Jerry Calvo most recently served as the vice president of Calvo Enterprises Inc. and chairman of Market Wholesale along with a host of directorships of Calvo businesses.

Gov. Eddie Calvo said his Uncle Jerry was down to earth. “He was a man whose youthful exuberance, and love for his family and his island were apparent in everything he did,” Calvo said in a statement. “As I made the decision to go into politics, it was my parents’ and Uncle Jerry’s advice, guidance, love and support that helped me make a successful transition. I remember he was there from the first, to this last election.”

Jerry Calvo, along with elder brothers former Gov. Paul M. Calvo and the late Edward M. Calvo who passed away in 2004, inherited the Calvo business from their father, Eduardo Torres “Jake” Calvo. Jake Calvo started the family business offering fire and typhoon insurance in 1938.

Today, the Calvo name is involved in almost all aspects of island business. The family has a stake in retail, insurance, banking and finance, entertainment and media, real estate, construction and wholesale in Guam, Saipan Palau, the Marshall Islands, the Philippines and the United States mainland.

Greatly missed

Dave Leddy, president of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, said Jerry Calvo had a positive impact on the community and will be greatly missed.

“The Guam Chamber of Commerce joins our island and business community and many other organizations and associations locally and regionally in mourning the passing of Jerry Calvo,” Leddy said. “Throughout Calvo Enterprises Inc.’s more than six decades of chamber membership, Jerry, along with his brothers Gov. Paul Calvo, the late Edward Calvo and various family members have been very active supporters and continue to contribute tremendously to the success of the chamber.”

Jerry Calvo served as a member of the Guam Election Commission for 20 years, was a board member of the Guam Visitors Bureau and a longtime board member of the University of Guam Endowment Foundation.

In October, Jerry Calvo helped to ensure the University of Guam Calvo Field House continued to serve the island community for years to come. He led a Calvo family commitment to provide $3 million for the upkeep of the university landmark.

”He was altruistic,” said UOG President Robert Underwood. “He was always full of ideas and engineered ideas to ensure the university had funds, and he never suggested how we spend the money. (He was) truly altruistic and just there to make sure the university’s capital campaign was growing and that we would be able to get the facilities that we envisioned in our 21st-century campus.”

Jerry Calvo is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, relatives and friends.

Rosary for Jerry Calvo is being prayed at 5:30 p.m. at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagåtña. Last respects will be paid Monday, March 30 at the cathedral-basilica beginning at 9 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 2 p.m. Interment will follow at the Pigo Catholic Cemetery in Anigua.


$6M in tax refunds to be mailed today


Tuesday, 24 Mar 2015 03:00am


BY ROBERT Q. TUPAZ | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


THE Office of the Governor announced yesterday that $6 million in income tax refunds will be mailed today.


“The payment of tax refunds when cash is available is a policy of the administration that has achieved – and even exceeded – the requirements of laws and court decisions meant to ensure tax refunds are paid out,” a release from Adelup states.

A court order issued by the District Court of Guam requires that tax refunds are to be paid no later than six months after the April 15 deadline or the filing date, if filed after the deadline. As well, Guam’s budget laws specify the amount of the provision for the tax refund payments; and the Income Tax Refund Efficient Payment Trust Fund Act requires money to be deposited for payment to taxpayers.

Oya Ngirairikl, spokeswoman for the governor, said the filing dates of returns for which refunds are being paid weren’t immediately available nor was the number of people expected to receive a check in today’s mailing. However, she said the Department of Revenue and Taxation estimated the average check to be $7,000 to $8,000.

The governor’s office said yesterday that in fiscal 2014, the legislature budgeted $121 million but the governor was still able to pay $154 million in tax refunds, some $33 million more than the amount required by law, but as expected by virtue of the court order.

During last week’s legislative session, Sen. Michael San Nicolas withheld the nomination of Tony Blaz to head the Department of Administration after finding the trust fund had less than what he said it should have.

Testimony on Blaz’s nomination was supportive. However, San Nicolas said until money was deposited into the fund and tax refunds paid, his legislative committee would not move Blaz’s confirmation to the legislative floor for a vote.

According to San Nicolas, compared to the last fiscal year, the revenue during the first quarter of FY 2015 increased by 12.7 percent; however, the amount deposited into the trust fund declined by 34 percent.

“The disparity in deposits suggests that the government has not been depositing the statutorily mandated 26 percent of income tax revenues into the Income Tax Refund Efficient Payment Trust Fund for the current fiscal year,” San Nicolas said at the time.

Blaz and the administration maintain that tax refunds are being paid in a timely manner despite San Nicolas’ contention.


Lawmaker proposes revamping island’s mass transit system


Tuesday, 24 Mar 2015 03:00am


BY MALORIE PAINE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


SEN. Tom Ada yesterday was a speaker at a transportation forum yesterday and told attendees he wants to see the island’s mass transit authority take an unbeaten-path approach with the system’s revamping.


The forum was held yesterday at the Hyatt Regency Guam and mass transit stakeholders were invited to discuss current issues and the future of Guam’s mass transit system.

Ada quoted Socrates during his presentation, saying: “If you always do what you’ve always done, then you will always get what you always got.”

Ada told those in attendance that he believes the face of mass transit has to change, and he has a plan to help achieve that goal.

Lourdes Bascon Mendiola, a resident who has family members who utilize the paratransit system, said there are many issues that need to be addressed with the new transit plan.

“Even to access the system is a challenge,” Mendiola said. “When you don’t try and change the system, it is going to be status quo. ... Transportation is a very important domain in our lives. Even if we can drive, we like to access the system because we want the system to work.”

The times of service also need to be addressed, she said.

“Our lives (have to) stop at noon and must not resume until 2:30 p.m. when the system begins again,” she said. “That is very inconvenient.”

Specifics of Ada’s plan

Ada said that by the end of next quarter, he hopes to introduce a bill in the Guam Legislature that will address the needs of the mass transit system and will improve it.

In order to meet GRTA’s needs, an additional 40 buses are required, Ada said.

Each bus costs about $200,000, Ada said.

“We need to increase public funding,” Ada said. “Hopefully with the increase of tourism and military we will get more Section 30 and other funds to come in and be able to fund some of the requirements for our public transportation system.”

Ada said bus fares will likely need to be increased, not to make a profit, but to recover some of the costs.

The goal of the first stage of the plan is to increase services in the morning and evening to make it possible for mass transit users to get to and from work, he said.

“We have to service where the mass of residences and jobs are,” Ada said. “The mass of residences and jobs are connected by a 21-mile corridor that provides access to all of them.”

Taking the unbeaten path

GRTA is already in a public-private partnership, Ada said. However, Ada wants to see that go further.

“The private investor we are looking at is somebody who can provide the financing to go out and procure the (needed) buses,” Ada said. “In addition to that, the private investor will operate and maintain the vehicle fleet.”

The unbeaten path of this plan is that the investor will plan, manage and operate the transit operations, Ada said.

“It will be a lot more than making sure you have five buses with five drivers that run at these times,” he said. “It’s going to be ‘You manage it. You plan it. You schedule it.’ They take on more of a responsibility.”

Smooth transition

The Department of Public Works, GRTA, the Guam Legislature and others will be working together to ensure a smooth transition in the facelift of mass transit on Guam.

Ada said he would also like to see new transfer stations with comfortable waiting areas for residents as opposed to outdoor bus stops. Ada also proposed having a location in Dededo with a parking garage so residents who live in the northern region of the island could drive to the station and then utilize the bus services to go to Hagåtña or the southern portions of the island.

For an investor to want to do this, it would have to be profitable, so the investor should be able to retain a percentage of the fares and parking fees, Ada said.

One piece of the proposal was to include parking meters in Hagåtña once the revitalization is complete.

“Now, the unbeaten path is that GRTA still has a job, but now a different role,” Ada said. “The responsibility of GRTA becomes one of contract administration, but most importantly, one of quality control.”

Long-term proposal

Ada’s plan suggests changing from a three- to five-year contract to a 10-year or 15-year contact with a provider that would finance additional vehicles and new bus stop facilities.

The first step is to hold an oversight hearing that will solidify the need to change the mass transit system, Ada said.

“That will be followed by a bill that I will introduce seeking to enter into a long-term public-private partnership,” Ada said. “That will start the conversation. ... This is the only way we are going to unfold this thing.”

Currently, Guam Regional Transit Authority has to go out to bid for services every five years.

“This business of putting out to five years at a time is just not going to cut it,” Ada said.



Master Blacksmith Lujan dies

Monday, 23 Mar 2015 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

JOAQUIN Flores Lujan, master blacksmith, died Friday at the age of 94.

Lujan, often called Tun Jack, was born on March 20, 1920 and learned the blacksmith trade at about the age of 30.

Lujan started in the blacksmith trade at a young age, according to a Guampedia article about the master blacksmith and artisan. At the age of 9, Lujan entered into the trade with his father Mariano Leon Guerrero Lujan who taught him the craft of high-quality toolmaking.

The Lujan family has kept the craft alive for decades. In a 2011 column he wrote for the Variety, grandson Michael Lujan Bevacqua wrote that the Lujan clan had a legacy of blacksmiths in the family for more than 150 years.

As a blacksmith who lived through the evolution of technology, Lujan saw traditional blacksmith work go up against cheaper factory-made goods. Guampedia cited these factory-made goods as one the challenges Lujan faced. “Despite the challenges of the counterfeit products, Lujan is selfless in his desire to preserve the art of blacksmithing, and is willing to train those who want to learn,” the article said. “Lujan’s skills as a traditional blacksmith reflect a strong attention to detail and quality. He puts his name on every piece he makes, inscribing his initials to ensure authenticity.”

Lujan was recognized for his craftsmanship numerous times and was featured in several international publications for his work. According to Bevacqua’s article the late blacksmith was awarded the Governor’s Lifetime Cultural Achievement Award in 1996, the National heritage Fellowship Award in 1995 and the Governor’s Art Award on several occasions. His work was also included in the Consortium of Pacific Arts and Cultures American-Pacific crafts exhibit “Living Traditions.”

In 2010, Lujan was part of a panel of World War II survivors who spoke about life during the Japanese occupation during World War II at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica’s museum on the 69th anniversary of the start of the Japanese occupation.

Flores was one of the Chamorros who were befriended by some kindhearted Japanese.

Lujan said they were never ever ordered to go to the rice fields or to Tiyan, but instead his family was befriended by a Japanese general and they were not bothered.

Their family was then residing in Anigua but later traveled north to Mogfog, Dededo.

He felt bad though whenever hearing how much others suffered at the hands of the Japanese.

After World War II, according to Guampedia, Lujan was the lone Chamorro with knowledge of the traditional blacksmith trade. The trade lived with him and he was able to keep the trade alive and teach what he knew of blacksmithing to others.

In 2012, one of Lujan’s apprentices, Francisco Lizama, was honored with the title Sainan Hereru (Master Blacksmith) from the Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency and the Department of Chamorro Affairs.

Guam gets $1.5M aid for priority projects

Saturday, 21 Mar 2015 03:00am

VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Office of Insular Affairs’ Technical and Maintenance Assistance Program has awarded a $1.5 million grant to the government of Guam to support a number of priority needs identified by the governor, Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina announced yesterday.

“While we are not able to support all of Guam’s identified needs, I am pleased to provide this initial support to the governor’s office in these high-priority areas,” Kia’aina said.

One of the projects to be funded by the DOI grant is the Guam Seal historical park, where the scene depicted in the Seal of Guam will be recreated as a three-dimensional, interactive and interpretive display and transformed into the historical, cultural and educational site.

The amount of $273,054 has been earmarked for this project called Great Seal of Guam Park.

Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio, who chairs the Islandwide Beautification Task Force, said the funding will be used to upgrade the park with landscaping, bronze sculptures, benches and lighting, enhancing this landmark for residents and visitors.

Tenorio, who met with Kia’aina, was in Washington, D.C. attending the National Lieutenant Governors Association meetings.

Funds will also go to improving customs data management, training public auditors and violent crime prosecution investigators, and building capacity in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The University of Guam’s Center for Island Sustainability, founded in 2009 to conduct research and recommend policies for building community resilience against the effects of climate change, will also receive a portion of the funds.

According to DOI, $626,000 will be given to the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency for a new customs management system, critical to enhancing services, capturing vital data and increasing the level of security at Guam’s ports of entry. The information captured by this new system will be used by government agencies for strategic planning in the fields of education, health, social services, public safety and infrastructure.

The sum of $335,156 will support the University of Guam’s Center for Island Sustainability.

The Office of Public Accountability will receive $76,000 to train and provide internship opportunities for existing audit staff.

The Guam Office of the Attorney General will receive $51,050 for Sexual Assault Investigation Training for Law Enforcement. The project will train officers in the methods and technological strategies for dealing with violent crime perpetrators and their victims.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will get $71,808 for the acquisition of a reliable, specialized vehicle to transport deceased persons from crime scenes; procurement of surgical tools for the chief medical examiner to perform efficient autopsies; and purchase of office computer equipment and furniture.



Guam energy task force to unveil updated energy action plan


Friday, 20 Mar 2015 03:00am


BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


THE Guam Energy Task Force (GETF) will be unveiling an updated energy action plan in the coming months, incorporating initiatives for alternate transportation planning, demand-side reduction and expanding renewable energy via a power purchase agreement (PPA) for the University of Guam’s Mangilao campus.


John Peterson, UOG assistant vice president, spoke of the task force’s plans during a meeting of the Rotary Club of Guam at the Pacific Star Resort & Spa yesterday.

In his presentation, “Positive Renewable Energy: GETF for Guam,” Peterson, who also heads the university’s Center for Island Sustainability, said the power purchase agreement would benefit the university in terms of energy savings for the duration of the proposed agreement.

He said UOG released a request for information for the renewable energy power purchase agreement which could potentially last up to 20 years. However, Peterson said legislation still has to be put in place allowing the university to pursue an agreement for 20 years.

Peterson said that should it implement the agreement, the university will be able to reduce its annual power bill of $3 million-plus by half.

The idea for the agreement came from talks with the University of the Virgin Islands which also embarked on a renewable energy agreement for its campus. UVI signed an agreement in 2013 for a 3-megawatt photovoltaic system, according to a release.

Peterson said timing is critical for the project. “If we don’t get this going by December 2016, federal tax credits will go away, then this will not be economically feasible. So it is a race against time. We are working on it,” he said.

Alternate transportation

Alternate transportation is another component of the updated energy action plan.

Peterson said 50 percent of all the oil burned on Guam is consumed in cars, buses and trucks. “Any way of reducing that cost would save us from importing huge amounts of oil,” Peterson said.

He also outlined potential initiatives such as getting electric vehicles for the government as well as installing charging stations – a plan that was proposed by the Guam Energy Office.

Aside from the three areas, the updated plan will focus on promoting a greener campus via rooftop gardens, waste-to-energy planning and exploring waves or current tidal power generation, among others.

According to Peterson, energy is a critical element in transferring the locus of control over Guam’s future to the island.

The tasks force’s energy plan seeks to secure the island’s energy future and increase autonomy by diversifying fuel sources and reducing fossil energy consumption by 20 percent by the year 2020.

It outlines initiatives for investing in green technology, energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, efficient transportation, green building design and smart-grid technologies.

The task force, which was created via Executive Order 2010-15, consists of the Guam Energy Office, UOG, and the Guam Power Authority, supported by federal agencies such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

UOG President Robert Underwood is co-chairman of the task force with Peter Calvo, Guam Energy Office director.

Its vision is to secure a sustainable and economically prosperous future for Guam. Aside from the reduction of reliance and expenditures on fossil fuels, its mission includes the development of indigenous and renewable energy sources as well as resource preservation, restoration and enhancement.



Pacific International buys Mariana Express


Friday, 20 Mar 2015 03:00am


BY ROBERT Q. TUPAZ | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


PACIFIC International Lines (PIL) recently completed its purchase of Mariana Express Lines. According to its website, Singapore-based Pacific International is the world’s 16th largest container ship operator.


A Mariana Express Lines company circular sent to customers noted that effective March 10, Pacific International Lines and the Luen Thai Group will be the new majority owners of Mariana Express Lines (MELL).

The acquisition could mean reduced shipping costs for its customers and the end consumer, the company said.

According to the circular, MELL will continue to operate under its own brand, and regular business operations will not be affected by the change in ownership.

MELL was founded in 1997. It is a container liner operator also headquartered in Singapore which focuses on niche routes in the Asia-Pacific region, including Guam. MELL has provided regular sailing schedules and boasts quick transit times. MELL currently carries containers between China, Southeast Asia, Japan, Australia and islands in the Pacific, according to the circular.

PIL, described as a family-owned business, was established in 1967, and is recognized as the largest private shipping line in Southeast Asia.

PIL owns and operates more than 200 vessels and its service area encompasses more than 500 locations in over 100 countries with a solid network in Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Oceania, America, Africa and the Middle East.

PIL also owns Pacific Direct Lines and Advanced Container Lines operating containerized cargo services in the southern Pacific Islands and feeder services in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

“We actively explore for business opportunities and have successfully expanded into other businesses including logistics services, ship recycling, marine services, depot/terminal operations and container manufacturing,” according to the circular. “This PIL/MELL partnership complements PIL's liner business and global network, enabling both companies to synergize their current activities whilst opening up new opportunities for all customers and stakeholders simultaneously.”



Legislation to incentivize certified professionals scrutinized

Friday, 20 Mar 2015 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

ALTHOUGH senators voted to move Bill 46 – a measure seeking to incentivize specific certified financial and auditing positions in government – into the third reading file, concerns were raised regarding the necessity of the measure.

Amended and substituted Bill 46, introduced by Sen. Dennis Rodriguez, seeks to provide incentives to public sector personnel who have obtained certification pursuant to national standards, in particular, certified public accountants, government financial managers, fraud examiners and internal auditors working in government of Guam line agencies, including the Office of Public Accountability, University of Guam and the Guam Department of Education.

Rodriguez said the intent is to preserve the government’s ability to recruit and retain such professionals.

According to Rodriguez, the legislation sets policy in place that would provide 10 to 15 percent one-time incentive pay to public-sector employees who have obtained these types of certifications.

He said the financial impact to the agencies is minimal. For the OPA, the impact would be about $41,000; UOG about $50,000; GDOE about $16,000; and DOA another $14,000.

But Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz raised questions about what the actual financial impact of the measure would be for the government. “We don’t know how much this is going to cost us. This is not necessary, I ask my colleagues to vote it down,” he said.

Cruz also questioned where the figures were derived from, noting that the bill lacks a fiscal note with the requirement waived.

Rodriguez said the figures were derived based on coordination with the agencies and DOA.

“There was no fiscal note provided. We have no confirmation of the cost of this. These may be for the agencies that he talked about, but what about the rest of the agencies?” Cruz said.

He also asked how the determination was made to incentivize just four positions and exclude others.

Best and brightest

“GovGuam has the best and the brightest but when it comes to compensating and providing incentives to these personnel, it tells another story,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of our professionals are recruited from the private sector or even recruited in the government by an autonomous agency. We know that an autonomous agency can provide additional incentives and that is why we see at times that professionals move over to them for better compensation.”

Should the bill become law, current and existing employees would be incentivized to seek certification. “We know that some of our employees do not have the incentive to seek any further certification. This elevates the value of the work that our professionals do,” he said.

Sen. Michael San Nicolas, who was added as a co-sponsor of the bill, said Guam will be much better served with certified professionals in these specific positions.


 



Bordallo: Funds available for plebiscite, Guam just has to ask

Friday, 20 Mar 2015 03:00am

BY ROBERT Q. TUPAZ | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

MONEY to help determine the preferred political status of island residents is available for the taking – island leaders just need to ask, according to federal officials.

Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, in Washington yesterday, received confirmation and a commitment from the Department of Interior that a provision she placed in legislation in 2010, which allows the department to provide technical assistance funding for Guam’s quest for self-determination, remains available. However, the department told Bordallo it is up to island leaders to agree on a single grant application to move the process forward.

Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina responded to Bordallo during a hearing by the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs regarding the president’s budget proposal for Interior for fiscal 2016.

Kia’aina said the provision to provide technical assistance funding to Guam for political status education is waiting on a consolidated grant application from local leaders.

In 2010, Bordallo sponsored a provision in the Consolidated Natural Resources Act that authorized the Interior to provide technical assistance for political status education.

“Resolving Guam’s political status is critical to addressing long-term challenges facing our island, and I believe that (the Office of Insular Affairs) should provide technical assistance for political status education campaigns,” Bordallo said. “I appreciate that Assistant Secretary Kia’aina has committed to providing these funds should Guam’s grant application be consistent with federal equal protection laws. I encourage our local policymakers and stakeholders to submit this grant application so that we can move this process forward.”

Political status

Last week, during her annual address to the Guam Legislature, Bordallo delved right into the issue of the island’s political status. “Resolving our political status with the United States through a legitimate act of self-determination is the most important step that we can take to address many longstanding legacy issues that we have with the federal government,” Bordallo said. “I have witnessed every major effort to resolve our political status.”

Bordallo said the island’s leadership was unable to move forward in the process and challenged them to begin the process and make the self-determination vote a reality. She urged lawmakers and the governor to focus on the issue, set the vote, remove a percentage provision and hold the vote.

“Whether it’s been a lack of political will, or our quest to obtain the perfect process for the political status vote – we have been unable to move off of square one.”

Bordallo told the island leadership as she confirmed yesterday, that they needed to submit a single grant proposal to begin the process. “The ball is in our court,” Bordallo said.

Report details GovGuam Use Tax Exemptions

Posted: Mar 17, 2015 Ken Q., KUAM

 The findings of a performance audit into the Government of Guam's Use Tax Exemptions and Collections reveal some serious problems with how it's being managed. A report from released by the Guam Office of Public Accountability show based on an assessment of incoming cargo documentation and internal controls, they found that valuable sources of economic data need to be better maintained.

For example, the OPA notes that Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency does not have a complete record of cargoes coming in from Guam ports of entry as they are not logged. The report also revealed that oversight and guidance is needed to ensure use tax exemptions are made in accordance with law.

During the two days that were tested, the OPA found that $3,700 alone in use tax revenues was not collected due to improper exemptions. 

 



Chinese descend on remote Palau as wanderlust deepens

By Sebastien Blanc 9 hours ago

 

Koror (Palau) (AFP) - Chinese tourists are flocking to the remote Palau islands as China's growing number of rich seek new frontiers abroad, but not everyone in the Micronesian paradise is happy about it.

Strapped into life-jackets and screaming with excitement, groups of boisterous Chinese thrill-seekers tear around Palau's "Milky Way" lagoon on a flotilla of speedboats -- a spectacle unfamiliar to locals just a few months ago.

Residents of the archipelago, part of the larger island group of Micronesia, are baffled as to why Chinese travellers represented almost 62 percent of all visitors in February -- up from 16 percent in January 2014.

For businessman Du Chuang from Chengdu in China's Sichuan province, it is because his increasingly wealthy countrymen are becoming more adventurous, smashing the stereotype of the herded package tour.

Du first started to travel by visiting Hainan, the Chinese island in the South China Sea currently witnessing a massive development of hotel resorts. He then ventured to Thailand before branching out to the Maldives.

"The corals here are more beautiful than Sanya (on Hainan)," the 46-year-old told AFP, scrolling through photos on his phone of a $1,400 helicopter trip over Palau's Seventy Islands that he took his family on.

Cruise ship 'Xian Ni', previously operated in China's famous Yangtze River, now seen in  …

"Palau is small and magnificent," added the owner of a successful IT company.

Hoteliers are catching on, with some establishments focusing on Chinese clientele booked out months in advance. At "Sea Passion Hotel" in Koror, 74 of their 75 rooms were occupied by Chinese visitors when AFP visited.

On a beach Chinese women wearing full body suits to protect themselves from the sun pose for selfies with husbands and boyfriends in sleeveless vests, which they send to their friends back home in China's grey megacities.

- 'It's like paradise' -

Jia Yixin, a 30-year-old from Shanghai, didn't think twice about paying $1,133 (1,000 euros) for a six-day trip to Palau that she found online.

 

Palau welcomed just shy of 141,000 visitors last year, up 34 percent on 2013, largely on the back of …

"It is like paradise here," she beamed. "In Shanghai the air is polluted but here people respect the environment," Jia added.

Ironically it is the potential environmental impact of the Chinese invasion that is at the forefront of the minds of many of the islands' 18,000 population.

Palau welcomed just shy of 141,000 visitors last year, up 34 percent on 2013, largely on the back of the Chinese visitors. But in February this year, mainland Chinese visitors leaped more than 500 percent year-on-year to 10,955 –- more than half Palau's total population.

Tourism accounts for close to 85 percent of Palau's gross domestic product (GDP), and while profits are up, some are worried the long-term damage may be too great.

"This is a very sudden influx, so we are trying to understand the situation" said Nanae Singeo, managing director of the Palau Visitors Authority, the local tourist board.

Palau has long catered for a particular type of visitor, with up to 70% of tourists coming for world …

"We have never experienced this much tourism before and the magnitude is really giving us a lot of pressure. We are a very tiny country with scarce resources so this sudden increase is an unknown challenge for us," she added.

Palau has long catered for a particular type of visitor, with up to 70 percent of tourists coming for world-famous diving in stunning blue waters with pristine corals.

Japanese were traditionally the largest contingent, followed by Taiwanese and Korean visitors. But the majority of the new wave of Chinese tourists seem more interested -- for now at least -- in lounging on the beach.

"We are not seeing a growth rate to match the number of visitors," said Singeo. "Tourists are up 34 percent so technically we should see economic benefits at the rate of 30 percent or more, but that's not the case."

- 'They wreck corals' -

Palau government is exploring ways to try to stem the tide of Chinese tourists to the western Pacifi …

On the streets of Koror, some accused Chinese people of being noisy and disrespectful towards the environment.

"They wreck corals and throw their rubbish in the sea," chided Norman, a taxi driver.

In another recent example, a Chinese tour operator named "Yellow Skin Tour" caused outrage in Palau with leaflets including photos of grinning Chinese tourists holding up turtles they had removed from the water -– in one case by its flippers.

Residents have also accused Chinese tourists of being responsible for the deaths of some jellyfish at the natural wonder "Jellyfish Lake".

Visitors are encouraged to marvel at the harmless creatures by floating on the surface, but some locals complain that many Chinese lack swimming skills and thrash around, disturbing the wildlife.

The Palau government is exploring ways to try to stem the tide of Chinese tourists to the western Pacific Ocean archipelago and this week said the number of charter flights from China would be halved next month.

President Tommy Remengesau said the move was not intended to discriminate against any nationality but was to prevent tourism from becoming too reliant on one market.

"Do we want to control growth or do we want growth to control us?" he asked reporters. "It will be irresponsible for me as a leader if this trend continues. I am not only looking at the present but, as a leader, I am looking after tomorrow."

But the number of hotels, restaurants and guides in Palau now catering for a Chinese market would suggest that citizens of the world's second-largest economy are likely to keep coming.


Airlines cancel, delay Guam flights due to Bavi


Monday, 16 Mar 2015 03:00am


BY MALORIE PAINE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


DOZENS of inbound and outbound flights were canceled yesterday and several were delayed for today because of Tropical Storm Bavi.

Airlines began canceling flights yesterday after a typhoon watch, which was later downgraded to a tropical storm watch, was issued for the island.

United Airlines canceled more than 20 flights scheduled yesterday scheduled from Shanghai, Saipan, Nagoya, Narita, Manila, Rota and Honolulu as well as outbound flight to Manila, Cairns, Narita, Chuuk and Saipan, according to the Joint Information Center.

Jin Air and China Airlines flights that were scheduled for yesterday have been delayed until this afternoon. Jeju Air also canceled all flights yesterday and will resume normal operations today.

All Cape Air flights operated by United Express scheduled for yesterday or this morning were also canceled. Cape Air flies between Guam and Saipan and Rota in the Northern Mariana Islands.

Delta Air Lines, FedEx and Japan Airlines also delayed cargo flights, which are expected to resume normal operations today, according to a JIC release.

For a complete list of rescheduled flights, visit www.guamairport.com.



HBO satire prompts revisit of Guam's political status


Saturday, 14 Mar 2015 03:00am


BY MAR-VIC CAGURANGAN | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


PROMPTED by a biting humor that highlighted the “second-class citizen” status of residents living in U.S. territories, the Guam Office of Decolonization is poised to rekindle public discussion on Guam’s political status, according to the Office of the Governor.


“I’ve long since held that any status is better than the status quo,” Gov. Eddie Calvo said. “I agree with others who have spoken about Guam’s efforts, whether it is on voting rights or political status, that our distance from the U.S. mainland has meant fewer people understand our predicament.”

According to a press release from Adelup, the Office of Decolonization is preparing an educational outreach to help move the discussion of political status forward.

Public discussions on the long-delayed self-rule plebiscite occasionally emerge, but almost always, the fervor fizzles out. A hindrance related to the voter eligibility blocks the completion of the decolonization registry.

The law requires the Guam Election Commission to register 70 percent of eligible voters for the plebiscite to occur, but so far only 7,192 have signed up for the Guam Decolonization Registry, falling short of the necessary number of voters.

During her address Thursday night, Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo proposed the removal of the percentage requirement. “I urge the legislature to set the vote and let those who are eligible register by a certain deadline,” she said. “Achieving decolonization will be a multistep process that will take time, but we must begin to set the stage for this to completely play out.”

In his HBO late-night talk show “Last Week Tonight,” political satirist John Oliver mocked the Supreme Court’s century-old ruling, which held that individuals born in U.S. territories should not have the same constitutional rights – like voting for the president – as those born in the U.S.

“Mr. Oliver clearly and simply laid out the inequality of the U.S. territories to a global audience,” Calvo said. “With such a large viewership, I hope his commentary will help spark interest in our efforts to improve our political status and general rights as American citizens.”

Bordallo noted that resolving Guam’s political status with the United States “through a legitimate act of self-determination is the most important step that we can take to address many longstanding legacy issues we have with the federal government, and it would provide us with a stronger foundation to ensure that policies enacted serve the best interests of our people.”

“Over the years, we have worked to move this issue forward, but whether it has been a lack of political will or our quest to obtain the perfect process for the political status vote, we have been unable to move off of square one,” Bordallo said. “I believe that we must get on with this process, and I am urging the governor and the legislature to work with the Commission on Decolonization to begin the process so that we can make the self-determination vote a reality.”


Pizza, gelatos coming to new Tamuning location


Monday, 16 Mar 2015 03:00am


BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


BOSTON Pizza Co. and Dolce Frutti Gelateria will open new locations in Tamuning sometime this year, according project manager Joseph Camacho.

Camacho said the building, under construction on Chalan San Antonio next to Applebee’s, will be turned over to owners of Boston Pizza and Dolce Frutti Gelateria by the middle of next month and they will have 45 to 60 days to outfit the space before their grand opening.

The building is being developed by E&I Camacho Investments LLC, which is headed by Edward Camacho.

The two-story space is about 3,800 square feet. Camacho said plans for the second floor include setting it up as a function room for private parties. The second floor will also include an outdoor seating area for Dolce Frutti customers.

Bob McLaughlin, owner of Boston Pizza Co. also owns Chamorro Chip cookies and Eagle Asphalt Paving Co.

The island’s first International House of Pancakes (IHOP) restaurant is also under construction near Applebee’s. The 4,300-square-foot IHOP is being built on the lot between the Applebee’s parking lot and Cost-U-Less. It is being developed by Cam Properties LLC, which comprises of former Gov. Felix P. Camacho, his five brothers and his sister. The IHOP franchise is owned and will be operated by Apple Pacific LLC, which is also the local Applebee’s franchisee.


$1.7M in funds released for electronic prison locks


Monday, 16 Mar 2015 03:00am


BY GINA TABONARES-REILLY | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


THE first step in replacing the locks at the Department of Corrections facility will be completed soon with the release of $1.7 million from the Public Safety Vacancy Pool for the jail units’ electronic locking system.

It has been 22 years since the federal and local governments signed an agreement to improve DOC services, including the replacement of deteriorating locks and the installation of an electronic locking system. The system would cost at least $2 million.

Because DOC has a limited budget of $300,000 from a federal grant, Bureau of Budget and Management Research Director Jose Calvo moved to transfer $1.7 million as approved by Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson.

The transfer of funds was realized through P.L. 33-01, introduced by Sen. Benjamin Cruz, for the purpose of funding the electronic locking system. The legislation was signed into law Feb. 25.

The locking system was one of the requirements mandated by the U.S. District Court of Guam based on the settlement agreement signed by the federal and local government on May 29, 1991.

DOC earlier reported to the court that several sites, such as the Delta and F unit locking systems, were built in the 1970s, while the prison’s Charlie unit was built in 1990. These were never replaced.

Under Senior District Judge Alex Munson’s Jan. 16 order, the electronic locking system for Units 5, 6, 7 and 17 must be completed by Sept. 30.

Bid revision

According to DOC Director Jose San Agustin, the bid specifications for the project will be revised to ensure the project includes the necessary fire code and engineering standards as well as the National Institute of Corrections standards. The decision to revise the bid specification was made after the engineer and construction supervisor recommended it after a survey of the facility.

Construction is expected to begin in early summer 2015 and will require DOC to relocate inmates and detainees from the affected units for the duration of site work.

San Agustin stated the subgroup overseeing the lock system project, including the warden and safety officers, will develop a plan that maintains the safety of the community, correctional officers, inmates and detainees during the construction movement.




Medical symposium slated for September


Monday, 16 Mar 2015 03:00am


PRESS RELEASE


 (GMS) – The Guam Medical Society will again host the Micronesian Medical Symposium, which is the premier continuing medical education event on Guam on Sept. 12 and 13.

The tentative theme is “Heart to Heart: Update in Cardiology” and will be sponsored jointly by the Guam Medical Society and the Los Angeles Good Samaritan Hospital. It will be offering Category 1 American Medical Association credits for the two-day weekend event.

Dr. Yoichi Inaba, Guam Regional Medical City cardiologist; Dr. Marian Holland, Sagan Managu cardiologist; Dr. B. Kim; and Dr. Juan Quiros, Los Angeles Good Samaritan Hospital cardiologist, will all be speaking at the event.

Cardiologists from Pacific Cardiology Associates will also be present.

On March 12, GMS provided continuing medical education credits for physicians and allied health professionals during their March 12 meeting at the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort.

Dr. Paul Cody, a medical oncologist from Guam Regional Medical City, spoke on “Update on Colon Cancer” and participants earned an hour of AAFP prescribed credit required for maintaining Guam licensure.

The next Guam Medical Society meeting will be held on May 14 at the Sheraton and Dr. Anna Ursales, a specialist on infectious diseases from the Guam SDA Clinic, will be speaking on “Skin and Soft Tissue Infections” at 7:30 p.m. The cost is $33 for non-members and the business meeting starts at 7 p.m.

For inquiries, call Dr. John Ray Taitano at drtaitano[at]gmail.com or 647-2552 or 300-0843.


 



Mainland comedian promotes Guam voting rights in show

  • THE march on Selma may have led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act half a century ago, but full voting rights continue to be denied to residents of Guam and the other U.S. territories – a fact pointed out by “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver in a segment aired Sunday.

The Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 were part of a wider movement, which consequently led to the passage of the landmark federal legislation.

Oliver pointed out, “More than 4.1 million people live in the U.S territories. More than 98 percent of them are racial or ethnic minorities,” adding, “American citizens living in island territories do not get to vote for president. That’s the kind of unsettling fact that probably, deep down you knew but chose not to think about.”

Oliver also referred to a Supreme Court ruling in Downes v. Bidwell in 1901 that the Constitution did not necessarily apply to the territories, airing footage of an interview with University of Guam professor and historian Anne Perez Hattori, who explained the provisions of the 114-year old decision.

“Basically the judgment of the court was that the new territories were inhabited by ‘alien races’ and they may not be able to understand ‘Anglo-Saxon laws’ therefore the Constitution does not have to apply,” Hattori said.

“Wow, I find that condescending and I am British – we basically invented patronizing bigotry,” Oliver, quipped in response.

Temporary

He noted that the original author of the decision – Justice Henry Billings Brown – had intended for the exceptions to be a temporary arrangement. But since then, the decision has not been overturned.

“It’s like for over a century, America’s computer has been saying an update to your country is available, and we have been clicking ‘Remind me later’ again and again and again,” Oliver said.

The show also ran footage from the “America By The Numbers” series, highlighting statistics which revealed that at least 1 in 8 adult Guamanians are U.S. military veterans – among the highest percentages in states and territories. However, in 2012, Guam ranked last in per capita medical care spending for veterans.

The show also showed a clip of a Guam veteran seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder who was told to travel to Hawaii, the nearest location of a facility offering such services.

“That is disgusting,” says Oliver. “The only person who should have to travel 3,800 miles for treatment should be a Beverly Hills housewife flying to Colombia for unapproved lip injections derived from cobra venom.”

Apart from the lack of voting rights, Oliver said at one point, “Those veterans are shamefully underserved.”

Massachusetts company lands AAFB contract

Posted: Mar 09, By Jason Salas  KUAM

Massachusetts company, P&S Construction, Inc., has been awarded more than $14 million in military contracts for projects that will be conducted in Guam. The first project is $7.1 million to upgrade energy efficient lighting at 45 buildings at Andersen Air Force Base. The work is to be completed in two years. The second project is for $7 million. The company will be constructing the Red Horse Airfield Operations Facility at Andersen Air Force Base. The project is expected to be completed in July 2016.

GovGuam payroll data sought


Tuesday, 10 Mar 2015 03:00am


BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


SEN. Frank Aguon Jr. has sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Department of Administration asking for government of Guam payroll data.


In a letter sent to Anthony Blaz, director of DOA, Aguon specifically requested a detailed report on payroll data and information relative to the unpaid balance of the retroactive payments as it pertains to the 40 percent pay raise for law enforcement officers.

Aguon had previously urged Gov. Eddie Calvo to release the information.

The senator wrote to the governor on Feb. 16 stating that while the governor said the delay in paying the remaining retroactive payments was due to “reconciliation between the agencies and the Department of Administration,” Guam's law enforcement officers and their families need the payments.

"They loudly demand the most fervent exertions of every person of weight and authority, to ensure these complications are rectified in a timely manner,” Aguon said. “Although you may not be able to personally contribute to the process, you can perhaps do something toward it, and any assistance, however trifling in itself, will be of great significance,” the senator said.

He added that the payments should be given out as soon as possible.

“During the February 25th oversight hearing with the Guam Police Department, Chief Fred Bordallo provided before the committee a timeframe of April 30th of this year for the balance of retro payments to be paid to our law enforcement officers.  However, the very next day my office received numerous phone calls from law enforcement personnel and their families expressing their frustration with previous timeframes provided to them which resulted in empty promises – this is concerning to me,” Aguon stated in his letter to the DOA.

Promised compensation

In his letter to Blaz, Aguon also asked for data on promised compensation payments for civilian employees and employees who were not compensated for Meritorious Performance in accordance with the provisions contained in Guam law.

He said if the administration is facing challenges in paying these liabilities in full due to financial obligations and governmental operations, then Adelup should advise the community accordingly so as not to raise false hopes.

"In the same breath, if these liabilities need to be broken down into payment installments, then the administration should advise accordingly. Hopefully, these FOIA requests will be forthcoming as to when our law enforcement officers, civilian employees of the promised compensation payments and employees who were not compensated for their meritorious performance in fiscal year 2002 will be paid,” Aguon said.





Noni leaves contain dangerous levels of aluminum

Saturday, 07 Mar 2015 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

RESEARCHERS at the University of Guam found that the local noni trees grown in Akina soil in the southern part of Guam have a higher amount of aluminum in their leaves.

The report, prepared by Drs. Thomas Marler and Jian Yang who collaborated on the study, was recently republished in UOG’s Western Pacific Tropical Research Center’s Impact Report.

Marler took leaf samples from trees on Guam, Rota, Tinian and Saipan between February and March 2012. Marler collected both old and new leaves from trees growing in different soils. He analyzed them with Yang and discovered aluminum concentrations in old leaves growing in Akina soil were much greater.

The noni trees growing in Guam’s southern acidic soil have elevated levels of aluminum, the impact report said. Inadvertent ingestion of excessive aluminum may occur if leaves from affected trees in the south are used for medicinal teas and the like, according to Yang.


Avoid ingestion

Yang warned consumers to be aware of noni trees with high aluminum content and to avoid ingesting old leaves.

The noni tree, also called lada on Guam, is most known for its medicinal properties. The noni fruit, which can be consumed as tea or juice, is known to heal a medley of illnesses.

Yang said the fruit of the tree contains high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C.

The leaves of the noni fruit are not used as much for medicine, according to James Stith, owner of JC noni, a local business that produces noni products including juice. Stith said he read Marler and Yang’s research.

Based on his reading of the research and other supporting material, Stith said, the elevated levels of aluminum in leaves are not sufficient to cause alarm.

“There are people who use the leaves for tea but we have never done that due to the superior nature of the nutrients found in the fruit,” Stith said. “It is a self- defeating practice; as you strip the trees of their leaves, they will stop growing.”

Stith said he believes the fruit is more potent than the leaves for healing purposes.

Yang, who also studied noni preparation in previous years, discovered how the fruit affects the levels of antioxidants and minerals in the noni juice.
Yang said some residents store the fruit in a jar outdoors and let it ferment, but that method proved to be the least conducive to preserving antioxidants and minerals for noni juice. He said people who drink noni juice to improve health and prevent illness should “freeze juice.”

The university used to teach this method during noni workshops, Yang said.

‘Freeze juicing’

According to a brochure on the subject, "freeze juicing" involves freezing and thawing the noni fruit. After about six to 12 hours of freezing, thaw the fruit and store the juice in the refrigerator. It should be consumed within two weeks.

The best types of fruit to use are the white-hard noni fruit, not the green ones, the brochure indicated.

According to the study, researchers sought out the potential for aluminum exposure resulting from consuming noni for health and medicinal purposes. The old leaves in trees grown in Akina soil contained four times as much aluminum than other trees’ leaves. When researchers infused 1 gram of these leaves in 240 milliliters of hot water, they measured about 0.83 milligrams per liter.

According to a 2003 paper from the World Health Organization, “It has been hypothesized that aluminum exposure is a risk factor for the development or acceleration of onset of Alzheimer disease in humans.”

The WHO concluded that drinking water with 0.1 milligrams per liter of aluminum did not cause Alzheimer's in humans.

Conflicting studies

However, conflicting studies have reported different results when they studied cognitive dysfunction in the elderly related to levels of aluminum drinking water. One study of 800 male 80-year-olds showed no evidence of cognitive dysfunction when they consumed aluminum concentrations of up to 98 milligrams per liter.

A second study showed some relation of mental impairment when 250 elderly men were observed consuming water with aluminum levels of 85 milligrams per liter.

The WHO said such data is not sufficient enough to show aluminum can cause cognitive impairment in the elderly.

 

Luxury hotel pushes back soft opening

Monday, 09 Mar 2015 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

DUSIT Thani Guam Resort has scheduled a soft opening in May, according to Mindy Aguon, public relations manager for the hotel. The new schedule is a change from last month when Dusit Thani officials said they planned the soft opening for April.

A year ago, Dean Huntsman, general manager, said the hotel would open in the third quarter of 2014. As of last week, hotel officials did not have confirmed opening date. 

Aguon said the soft opening in May will mean 200 rooms will be available for guests, which is about half of the total rooms in the hotel. Aguon said Dusit Thani staff will begin accepting reservations for the soft opening once they have a confirmed opening date from the hotel’s construction company.

About 90 percent of the construction is finished and efforts are focused on installations, furnishings and outfitting the hotel floors to get ready for the soft opening. At least 10 floors have been furnished, Aguon said.

In the meantime, the hotel is conducting job interviews on a daily basis for the 350 positions they hope to fill for the opening, according to Aguon. “Our (human resources) department has been reviewing more than 3,500 applications that we received from the job fair as well as hundreds of others who have come in since then,” she said. 

So far, 20 people have been hired, Aguon said.

In total, Dusit Thani Resort Guam will have 419 luxury guest rooms in the 30-story beachside facility overlooking Tumon Bay. In addition to six dining establishments and a spa, the hotel will have 29 one-bedroom suites, five premium suites, a presidential suite and a 10,000-square-foot entertainment suite.

Also part of the facility are large-scale meeting and banquet facilities, the largest of which has a banquet capacity of 980 people, a cocktail capacity of 1,350 people and a theater capacity of 890 people.

The facility was originally estimated to cost $60 million, according to Variety files.

Aguon said in February that the delay in the opening was due mostly to getting construction material.

O.A. Coloma is architect of the resort. The Dusit Thani is one of four Guam hotels owned by Tanota Partners LLP. The others are Oceanview Hotel and Residences, Bayview Hotel Guam and Outrigger Guam Resort.

The Dusit Thani Guam Resort is part of Dusit International, a resort-development company based in Thailand. Huntsman said the resort will include touches of Thailand.

 

Luxury hotel pushes back soft opening

Monday, 09 Mar 2015 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

DUSIT Thani Guam Resort has scheduled a soft opening in May, according to Mindy Aguon, public relations manager for the hotel. The new schedule is a change from last month when Dusit Thani officials said they planned the soft opening for April.

A year ago, Dean Huntsman, general manager, said the hotel would open in the third quarter of 2014. As of last week, hotel officials did not have confirmed opening date. 

Aguon said the soft opening in May will mean 200 rooms will be available for guests, which is about half of the total rooms in the hotel. Aguon said Dusit Thani staff will begin accepting reservations for the soft opening once they have a confirmed opening date from the hotel’s construction company.

About 90 percent of the construction is finished and efforts are focused on installations, furnishings and outfitting the hotel floors to get ready for the soft opening. At least 10 floors have been furnished, Aguon said.

In the meantime, the hotel is conducting job interviews on a daily basis for the 350 positions they hope to fill for the opening, according to Aguon. “Our (human resources) department has been reviewing more than 3,500 applications that we received from the job fair as well as hundreds of others who have come in since then,” she said. 

So far, 20 people have been hired, Aguon said.

In total, Dusit Thani Resort Guam will have 419 luxury guest rooms in the 30-story beachside facility overlooking Tumon Bay. In addition to six dining establishments and a spa, the hotel will have 29 one-bedroom suites, five premium suites, a presidential suite and a 10,000-square-foot entertainment suite.

Also part of the facility are large-scale meeting and banquet facilities, the largest of which has a banquet capacity of 980 people, a cocktail capacity of 1,350 people and a theater capacity of 890 people.

The facility was originally estimated to cost $60 million, according to Variety files.

Aguon said in February that the delay in the opening was due mostly to getting construction material.

O.A. Coloma is architect of the resort. The Dusit Thani is one of four Guam hotels owned by Tanota Partners LLP. The others are Oceanview Hotel and Residences, Bayview Hotel Guam and Outrigger Guam Resort.

The Dusit Thani Guam Resort is part of Dusit International, a resort-development company based in Thailand. Huntsman said the resort will include touches of Thailand.

 

Senior development holds open house

Monday, 09 Mar 2015 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

DOZENS of the island’s man’åmko visited the newest housing development in Dededo on Saturday, hoping to learn more about the affordable homes which are exclusively for the qualified elderly.

The Summer Town Estates housing development will comprise about 240 one- and two-bedroom rental units that are to rented to senior citizens at least 55 years old, who also meet the income requirements.

A 750-square-foot one-bedroom unit rents for $518 a month, while a 1,000-square-foot two bedroom unit will rent for $627 a month.

Each unit is furnished with a refrigerator, stove, air-conditioning, solar-powered water heaters, energy-efficient lighting, typhoon shutters and washer-dryer hookups.

Each unit also has hardwood cabinets, solid surface countertops and garden planters. The gardens are part of a partnership between the developer, Core Tech Development LLC and Guam Community College.

“Guam Community College is planting flowers and vegetables and herbs with the residents,” said Jason Ralston, executive director of Guam Facilities Foundation Inc., the nonprofit organization that has partnered with Core Tech for this and other housing projects

For 88-year-old Ciraco Sanchez, the garden planters behind each unit were a nice surprise. Sanchez was one of the dozens of senior citizens who went to Saturday’s open house to find out more information about Summer Town Estates.

“I saw the bedroom and it’s nice,” Sanchez said. “I think it’s good to have security. Not just at night but 24 hours. They should do it for safety. Nowadays you need those things, you never know.”

Ralston said the area is gated and will have continuous CCTV monitoring and a security guard to patrol the area.

Two phases

Summer Town Estates will be opening in two phases. The first phase includes 60 buildings with 240 units that will be built for senior citizens. Ralston said 48 units are already available for lease and construction on another 122 units will start this month. “That’s the first phase of multiple phases for the whole property,” Ralston said. “The first 240 are for seniors only.”

Eventually, Core Tech Development plans to erect about 399 homes in the area.

The first person to move in will do so sometime this week and there are more people who have applied and are already on the waiting list.

Summer Town Estates homes are built for accessibility and many homes are compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards. At Saturday’s open house, interested residents were shown a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom unit, both of which have open hallways and wide doors. Some units also have roll-in showers.

“Every unit is adaptable,” Ralston said. “One out of four is accessible, which means it is already designed for someone with disabilities.”

A community center with a bingo hall and exercise facility has been built and furnished. A swimming pool, laundry center, retail store and restaurant are also planned and will be built in the same area.

For more information, call Guam Facilities Foundation at 646-5880.

 

Presentation details traditional ocean navigation techniques

Posted: Mar 09, 2015 By Sabrina Salas Matanane

 

As part of the Guam Humanities Council's ongoing Journey Stories and Sindalu exhibits, over the weekend they partnered with TASI to host a presentation on traditional navigation. TASI stands for Traditions About Seafaring Islands. It's a non-profit organization that plays a critical role in the public education and revitalization of traditional seafaring for our local community. The event is one in a series of exhibitions scheduled for the month. The next one is this Thursday at 6:00PM at the Agana Shopping Center featuring a viewing and discussion of the PBS documentary: America By the Numbers, Island Warriors.


Pay raise money needed elsewhere

Friday, 27 Feb 2015 03:00am

VARIETY NEWS STAFF

WHILE a majority of the members of the 33rd Guam Legislature have voted to keep the hefty, retroactive raises they voted themselves shortly after the election, last November, we are continually reminded of other, more urgent purposes for which that money could have gone. We understand there is essentially no chance that enough legislators will side with the five – Sens. Michael San Nicolas, Nerissa Underwood, Tom Ada, Frank Aguon and Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz – who voted to roll back the unconscionable retroactive raises. But we find it difficult to forget the disregard for the will of the people demonstrated by the island’s elected officials when they helped themselves to the increased salaries and, unbelievably, made them retroactive.

Over the past few days, Variety has reported on several areas in which the government could clearly use additional funds. These are areas that should have been funded and resolved before the legislators made themselves the second highest paid state or territorial legislators in the nation and the governor gave himself a raise of more than 40 percent.

The poor conditions at the police crime lab have been known for some time, but on Tuesday, that facility and the evidence building in Tiyan were shut down because of concerns about the health and safety of employees. During a legislative oversight hearing Wednesday, legislators were presented a list of problems with the facility and told by police officials that the six-year-old building had never been problem free.

We are also reminded that police department personnel have yet to receive the full amount of pay raises promised to them – they are awaiting payments retroactive from the date they were promised. The retroactive payments for elected and unclassified government officials that were implemented Nov. 21, 2014 were paid in less than a month.

During an informational briefing on Monday about the Guam museum, officials indicated that significant additional funds will be needed to furnish, properly staff and begin operations, and possibly to complete construction.

This week, Gov. Calvo was in Washington describing the financial burdens the federal government’s policies and mandates are placing on Guam. We support this effort; efforts to make the federal government aware of its impact on Guam are fully warranted and must be persistent in order for the feds to address them. In the meantime, however, the funds that are being used to fund officials’ pay raises would be better used to support the agencies challenged by federal policies.

Students in Guam schools are in need of teachers, books, support staff and facilities upgrades. The community needs more police officers on the street. The prison is in need of guards, health care personnel and a facilities renovation. The roads are in need of repair. The public hospital, the mass transit system and Guam Housing Corp. are all in need of financial support.

As unlikely as a rollback of the raises is, it is still the right thing to do.



Class action Tiyan land suit moves through federal court


Posted: Feb 26, 2015  by Krystal Paco  kuam

Guam - A class action case filed against the governor, Guam Ancestral Lands Commission, and Guam International Airport is moving through the District Court. A scheduling conference has been set for April 16th. On behalf of all other Tiyan ancestral landowners, Benny Crawford in January filed a class action complaint seeking compensation for the airport's continued use of their land which he says they were never compensated for.



Calvo: Federal funds available for clean water, clean air


Friday, 27 Feb 2015 03:00am


BY ROBERT Q. TUPAZ | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


WITH the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency breathing down the government of Guam’s neck regarding compliance on a host of issues, Gov. Eddie Calvo told Variety that the U.S. Department of Agriculture may be a godsend.


Earlier in the week, Calvo was in Washington attending the annual meeting of the Interagency Group on Insular Affairs (IGIA) where he had the opportunity to sit with USEPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Calvo said he spoke with McCarthy and Vilsack about the looming debt of an estimated $1.4 billion to $1.5 billion, which the government of Guam will have to absorb in the coming years to come into compliance with USEPA regulations relative to the Clean Air and Clean Water Communities Act and other requirements.

Vilsack informed the governor that the Department of Agriculture might be able to assist with funding of sorts. “He (Vilsack) did make mention that there were some types of loans, and loan guarantee, particularly with water and wastewater,” Calvo said. “We are going to try and do a little more research with this.”

He said that upon his return to Guam, he looked forward to meeting with the Consolidated Commission on Utilities to explore this possibility further, instead of floating another bond.

The governor said he had asked McCarthy in her capacity as the USEPA administrator to pay particular attention to the host of mandates USEPA is requiring the government of Guam to address almost all at once.

“I advised her of some of the concerns that we had, obviously with the Clean Water and Clean Air Act, with the $1.4 billion to $1.5 billion financial burden that the people of Guam have to bear in regard to compliance of clean water and clean air communities,” Calvo said.

The governor said he urged McCarthy to instead take into account the aggregate of compliance.

“I did advise the administrator to look at the aggregate – the dump, because for example our judge is focusing only on Ordot and Layon, and nothing else, and she wants to complete that case, and it costs a lot of money,” he said. “The same way EPA wants us to comply with the Clean Water Act for the wastewater facility and some folks are looking at just that. ... And there are other folks at EPA looking at the Guam Power Authority for the Clean Air Act, and the emissions coming out of our smokestacks and that’s their focus.”

He said the message he wanted to hit home with McCarthy was that with all the mandates required of the island community which is home to more than 170,000 people, the community cannot afford the estimated $10,000 to $11,000 per person to pay for collective mandates.

“We are working toward seeing how they can be more understanding in terms of how we work these agreements with compliance so that the people of Guam can be able to afford the necessary rehabilitation, construction or capital improvement projects to come in compliance,” Calvo said.

“I want them to be fully aware that they have to look at everything and what it means to the consumer on Guam, and they have to make sure that in getting to full compliance, they don’t price this island and our people out of existence,” he said.


CCU: Renewable energy supplements power grid


Friday, 27 Feb 2015 03:00am


BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


  • THE days of Guam Power Authority having a monopoly of the energy market on the island are over, said Simon Sanchez, Consolidated Commission on Utilities member.

    Sanchez said plans to provide energy to the public in the future will have to include a combination of renewable resources and burning clean fuel. Sanchez addressed members of the Rotary Club of Guam at the club’s weekly luncheon at the Pacific Star Resort & Spa Guam.

    “The days when GPA was the monopoly provider, where we’re the only ones providing energy, are over,” Sanchez said. “We are going into the phase where we are a co-generator of power with renewable energy providers.”

    Sanchez said 200 people on Guam are already creating their own energy through private resources. By 2020, Sanchez estimated 120 megawatts would be generated by renewable energy.

    “Even with 120 megawatts of renewable energy, we need 250 megawatts of energy a day. We need it 24/7. Renewable energy can’t give 24-hour energy yet,” he said.

    It takes 150 acres of land to generate 25 megawatts of renewable energy, Sanchez said. Guam doesn’t have the space for those specifications.

    “You still have to burn something,” Sanchez said.

    In order to comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency clean air standards, territories and states are required to pursue clean fuel for energy resources, Sanchez said. Like Hawaii, Guam utility experts are eyeing liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an alternative fuel source to oil. Guam burns oil as a fuel source now and since oil prices have gone up, so have electricity rates.

    LNG

    Sanchez said electricity prices on island have risen 140 percent in the last 12 years and it is because of the increased oil prices.

    LNG is less expensive, Sanchez said. It would take a $600 million investment, but over 30 years, experts estimate LNG would save Guam $1 billion, he said. He compared power bills for ratepayers and said the average residential bill is about $300 with GPA burning oil, but if the power authority burned LNG, the average residential power bill would be about $288.

    Sanchez also said Guam has the option of purchasing LNG from Asia or the U.S.

    Solar-powered renewable energy seems to have more potential for growth for Guam. The potential for Guam is pointing in that direction over other renewable resources like geothermal resources and wind-powered energy, Sanchez said.

    Additionally, Sanchez said that in May, NRG Solar will open its plant on Guam, providing 25 megawatts of electricity from solar panels.

    According to the NRG website, the company acquired the project from Quantum Guam Power Holdings LLC last year. The plant is in Inarajan and was originally anticipated to open in the first quarter of this year.


Calvo meets with other governors

Wednesday, 25 Feb 2015 03:00am

PRESS RELEASE

ADELUP) – The governors of U.S. territories and commonwealths convened in Washington, D.C. to discuss federal policies and mandates that impact their communities and other concerns specific to their islands.

Gov. Eddie Calvo invited Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, American Samoa Gov. Lolo Moliga and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Lt. Gov. Ralph Torres to join the meeting.

The governors, who are in the nation’s capital attending the National Governors Association annual meeting, took advantage of the opportunity to participate in the first meeting of its kind in more than 12 years.

The governors discussed some of the federal regulations affecting the five U.S. territories and commonwealths, including the Jones Act, Cabotage Laws, the Affordable Care Act and the impact of unfunded federal mandates in their respective jurisdictions.

“As U.S. jurisdictions without voting representation in Congress, we have a great opportunity now to join the governors of the other territories and commonwealths on issues unique to our islands,” Calvo said.

“We are going to strengthen the alliance we have with the other territories and commonwealths and create this caucus to push for better federal consideration,” he added.

There are 55 states, territories and commonwealths in the United States. The governors of the island territories and commonwealths make up close to 10 percent of U.S. governors.

“This caucus has the potential of being a very powerful voting bloc in one of the most influential governmental associations in Washington,” Calvo said. “Together with the other governors of the territories and commonwealths, we will have a stronger voice and greater input into

federal policymaking.”

Renee Jasmin sentenced for embezzling from UOG

Posted: Feb 24, 2015 by Krystal Paco  KUAM

Guam - A woman caught embezzling thousands of dollars from the University of Guam Endowment Foundation is sentenced in District Court.

Renee Jasmin worked at the Foundation as an account manager where she fraudulently obtained close to $107,000 from November 2012 to June 2014.

Along with fifteen months behind bars, she must pay back all the funds and write an apology letter to the Foundation.

 

Calvo, Bordallo attend IGIA meeting

Posted: Feb 25, 2015 by Sabrina Salas Matanane  kuam

Guam - Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia'aina joined Governors and Congressional representatives from each of the U.S. Insular Areas at their annual meeting of the Interagency Group on Insular Affairs (IGIA) at the U.S. Department of the Interior today in the nation's capitol. Governor Eddie Calvo and Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo were in attendance. Discussions focused on major issues of importance to the territories, including climate change adaptation, workforce development, tourism, and compact impact aid.  More than 100 participants, including policy-level representatives from federal agencies with program responsibilities in the U.S. Insular Areas, discussed issues and considered interagency collaboration to address these concerns. This was the fifth meeting of the IGIA since President Obama reestablished the group in 2010 with the White House as Co-Chair to address policies for the U.S. insular territories. 



US Dept of Labor investigating Verona Resort & Spa


Posted: Feb 24, 2015  by Jolene Toves  KUAM

Guam - Guam Department of Labor Administrator for wage and hour Roman Quinata says the US Department of Labor is conducting an investigation with Verona Resort & Spa.

Imagine reporting for work on time regularly then comes pay day and you don't get paid. Well, that is the issue reportedly being faced by employees at the Verona. This has prompted an investigation by the federal government over the issue of employees not getting paid on a timely manner. "With Verona," said Quinata, "the main issue with them is not paying the employees on time you know get calls from them and every time we start the process of doing something they suddenly come up with paying the employees. So the main thing is them just being behind on the payments and it's been a habit with them and we see most of the time when employees do call here its late payment or lack of funds in the account when they do go cash their check."

He says Guam DOL has received calls from Verona employees in the past about not getting a paycheck. "That trend has been going on for a while its mostly employees that are not being paid on time most of the employees if they do give them their checks they are told to cash it at a certain time because there is no funding in the account," he added.

In response, the Guam office has made attempts to call management but Quinata says because USDOL is now handling the matter, the Guam office cannot interfere, instead only provide any assistance needed. Messages were left with USDOL assistant district director on Guam Patrick Candoleta. KUAM News has learned that Verona Resort & Spa president David Su left off-island this morning. Messages were left for general manager Dennis Regnier as well.

According to an employee from Verona, not getting paid timely has been an ongoing issue. For instance, payday was on Friday, but staff did not get their paychecks until this morning; however they were advised by management that they were not allowed to cash it until given the "go ahead". The employee, who wished to remain anonymous, notes that this has been ongoing for at least a year, with staff, sometime, only getting half of their payroll. The employee added when staff are actually allowed to cash their check, they have a hard time finding a place to do so, as Verona checks have been "banned at certain places because too many have bounced before or they get turned away from some banks."

The employee notes banks have indicated insufficient funds in the company's accounts. The employee added that some people have quit or in some cases have been terminated because they have reported the matter to the Department of Labor.


Organization seeks to create official bike path


Posted: Feb 23, 2015  by Isa Baza  KUAM

Guam - Not only has running taken off in recent years, but cycling has, as well.  In fact, both sports face the same problems of a lack in suitable infrastructure. iBike is a grassroots cycling organization that has taken this issue into its own hands.

Chairman Tom Renfro told KUAM News, "We have this big project called the Central Bike Route 58 and the central bike route basically goes from Dededo, past Micro Mall, all the way down Tumon, to the hospital circle, over to Marine Drive and then down all the way to Adelup." Last year iBike implemented over 85 sharrows - or shared bike and car lanes - along this route. It did all of this independent of government support, relying on volunteers and contributions from the community.

Although Guam has a law mandating the implementation of bike lanes with all new road construction, the Department of Public Works struggles to actually implement this because of the increased costs associated with implementing the lanes. However Renfro says iBike will continue to work towards creating a usable central bike route, and currently has plans for what he calls the route's crowning jewel.

"The crowning jewel of the entire central bike route would be this three mile stretch along the ocean, which would be a standalone bike path, similar to what Saipan has had for over, I believe over a decade," he explained.

The standalone bike path would span from East Agana all the way to adelup. Renfro says he has spoken to both Lieutenant Governor Ray Tenorio and several senators regarding the issue. While all seemed sympathetic to the cause, some concerns included pedestrians as well as funding. "The government as far as I know already owns most 90% of that land," Renfro said. "It would take quite a big grant to do it right, and that would of course take some grant money, but there is that money available."

In fact, iBike has identified several grants which could be used to fund the project, including a safe pathways to school grant and scenic byways grant. However, Renfro said to get the momentum for this project going, it needs greater community and government support, noting, "We would need to sit down with the L.T. and maybe some of these senators and maybe have a roundtable."

Expertise and collaboration from Government of Guam grantwriters and decisionmakers could be all that is needed to bring this project to fruition. 


Medical breakthroughs aide treatment of lung cancer


Posted: Feb 24, 2015  by Jolene Toves  KUAM

Guam - More people in the United Sates die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. Likewise on Guam, lung cancer accounts for the highest amount of death amongst men and women, therefore it is important to detect lung cancer early so that it may be cured with surgery and treated through personalized treatment.

Cedar Sinai Medical oncologist Ronald Natale told KUAM News, "You have to understand that cancer is a disease of mutations in which carcinogens in the environment or in the case of smokers that get lung cancer the carcinogen is in cigarette smoke." Natale says that cancer damages the DNA of normal cells in the body converting them to cancer cells. Those mutations are often the driving force of the cancer. But hope is not lost as over the last few years there have been breakthroughs and increasing success in finding the specific mutations that are responsible for each individual's cancer.

"And developing medicines that target those mutations they are much more effective and much less toxic than standard chemotherapy," said Natale.

Another breakthrough has also been made in trying to get the immune system to fight the cancer. This has been an effort that has been over 30 years in the making, as he added, "In the past we try to vaccinate the body what we didn't know until recently is that the body is already vaccinated against many cancers but the cancers have a way of evading the immune system by blocking the ability of the immune system to fight the cancer."

But now they understand how the process works and have developed new medicines that can block the process of evading the immune system allowing the immune system to attack the cancer more effectively. Natale says that when someone develops signs and symptoms of lung cancer - that's when it unfortunately too late as 90 percent of those who have symptoms of lung cancer won't survive the key in fighting lung cancer is prevention and early detection. If cancer is caught early the cure rate through surgery and medicine is greater than 50 percent. 





Do museum right


Wednesday, 25 Feb 2015 03:00am


VARIETY NEWS STAFF


WE ARE encouraged to hear that construction of the Guam and Chamorro Educational Facility – the Guam museum – is progressing. The museum has the potential to serve as the prime source of information about Chamorro culture and about the history of Guam and the region. It can also be a major attraction for tourists and for residents in Hagåtña, particularly as an integral, and perhaps most high-profile, part of the efforts to revitalize Hagåtña.

But to meet its potential as a community resource, it must be done correctly, and that means a long-term commitment of resources. Based on the informational briefing held Monday at the Guam Legislature, there is reason to be concerned that funding may be inadequate to get the facility operating as planned.

Of $27 million appropriated for the facility, all but $791,000 has been either spent or committed. Officials said on Monday that construction is 46 percent complete and they anticipate change orders beyond the $1.1 million set aside for such expenses. The $26 million that has been, or will be, spent does not include the cost of media production services or the procurement of equipment for the interior of the museum.

The educational facility is also expected to be the repository of the island’s historical and cultural artifacts, which are currently stored in a number of locations on and off island. We understand storage of the complete collection will require substantial space, which will need to be appropriately secure and climate controlled.

Completing the main museum building will just be the first step, and it appears the funds appropriated for that will be barely enough. We are concerned that enough funds be appropriated for long-term upkeep and operation of the facility. One need look only as far as the Manuel Guerrero Administration Building a block away from the new museum to see the consequences of facilities neglect. Similarly, failure to pay attention to the conditions of the island’s public schools has resulted in a $100 million bill to remedy problems resulting from “deferred” maintenance. The police crime lab is suffering from neglect with implications for the protection of evidence in criminal prosecutions.

If the museum is similarly neglected, Guam risks losing or damaging artifacts, and depriving future generations the opportunity to study and share a significant portion of the island’s history.

In addition, sufficient numbers of competent personnel trained in museum operations will need to be on staff for the edification of visitors as well as the protection of the museum and its contents.

We commend Speaker Won Pat for holding the informational briefing on the museum. We hope she will continue to call such meetings as needed to stay abreast of the progress and the needs of the museum. The island has committed to building the museum; officials must consider funding its operational and long-term needs.



Sports, cultural tourism benefit locals


Tuesday, 24 Feb 2015 03:00am


VARIETY NEWS STAFF


AMONG the advantages of living in a tourist destination is that residents have access to attractions and facilities that would not exist if it were not for the patronage of visitors. Guam residents, for example, can choose to eat at any of a multitude of restaurants of all types, from American fast food, to Korean barbecue, to Chinese fine dining.

Of course, restaurants exist in locations without a vibrant tourist industry, but the number and variety of Guam restaurants is supported by the million-plus visitors the island welcomes every year. The same is true of shopping opportunities, night clubs, golf courses and even telecommunications providers. This is in addition to the employment tourism provides and the revenue that makes its way into government tax coffers and flows throughout the economy.

Similarly, among the benefits of sports tourism is the opportunity for local athletes to compete against those from elsewhere. Among the challenges of sports programs in developing top-level athletes on Guam, especially in smaller programs, is finding competition with a range of ability levels against whom to develop skills. In terms of sports development, that is the value of traveling off island for competition – to test athletic mettle against the unfamiliar.

While off-island travel is one way to increase athletic exposure, it is expensive. It is much more economical to attract athletes from elsewhere to Guam. In terms of visitor arrivals, few sporting events, outside of road races, actually attract – or can accommodate – large numbers of competitors. But local athletes benefit from the opportunity to challenge the visiting competition, or as sometimes happens, just being able to observe or interact with top-level athletes and coaches.

And to the extent that sports generates media attention, the island’s tourism industry benefits from the type of publicity that might otherwise cost millions.

Local athletes also benefit as facilities are built, maintained and improved in order to promote events and attract visitors.

Similarly, local cultural programs benefit from visitors to Guam attracted by the island’s culture. Those engaged in dance, visual arts, music and the culinary arts are more able to capitalize on their art. Cultural dancers and musicians, for example, are a staple of many Tumon hotels, some of whom actually employ performers.

So we see merit in Bill 39-33, introduced by Sen. Tommy Morrison to create a sports and cultural ambassadorship program fund. To the extent that travel by sports and cultural “ambassadors” generates publicity about Guam’s culture and the sports opportunities on Guam, it will attract visitors and benefit both the tourism industry and the local sports and cultural communities. We hope, however, that guidelines will be in place to ensure such funds are used judiciously for travel that will actually benefit the island.


Police crime lab closed


Wednesday, 25 Feb 2015 03:00am


BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


http://www.mvguam.com/images/resized/images/stories/localnews/022515/top_200_200.jpgEMPLOYEES at the Guam Police Crime Laboratory in Mangilao were instructed to vacate the building at noon yesterday because conditions at the building posed health problems for workers.


According to a statement from police, personnel were “given the option to leave at noon if it was too hot.” Experts from International Hygiene Professionals Inc. will be testing air quality today for possible mold growth as a result of the broken air-conditioning system.

Guam Police Department Capt. Kim Santos said discussion with International Hygiene Professionals after an initial walkthrough indicated no airborne mold and no visible mold growth. Police said employees interviewed did not complain of musty odors that are related to mold growth.

The air-conditioning system at the laboratory has been inoperable for two months and employees were forced to use standing mechanical fans to keep the environment cool enough for them to work.

A.J. Balajadia, GPD spokesman, said the AC system at the crime lab was not functioning and the building was too hot for workers to be productive.

Balajadia also confirmed that the department will test for asbestos at the evidence lab building in Tiyan. Balajadia said before GPD can begin repairing and addressing issues at that building, they have to make sure it is safe by testing for asbestos and checking the air quality.

Tests

Yesterday, Santos, who is assigned to address concerns raised at the crime lab and evidence control section, was at the Tiyan evidence control section at 2 p.m. A police officer assigned to that section told Santos he was worried about asbestos, according to a statement from Balajadia. Santos decided to call Industrial Hygiene Professionals and made arrangements for environment testing, the statement said.

Tests for possible airborne asbestos will be done today.

Two chillers at the Mangilao facility are not working and the air ducts that connect to individual rooms at the crime lab are not of adequate quality, according to a source. A short-term fix would be to install split-unit air-conditioning systems in the administrative area of the lab, but more assessment is needed to repair the chillers and air ducts on the laboratory side.

Police department officials are scheduled to meet with lawmakers today for an oversight hearing at the public hearing room in Hagåtña. Legislative public safety chairman, Sen. Frank Aguon scheduled the hearing for today in order to receive testimony from GPD Chief Fred Bordallo, Col. Maurice Sayama, Santos and other personnel on an administrative plan of action for the crime lab.

Aguon oversees the Committee on Guam U.S. Military Relocation, Public Safety and Judiciary.

At 4 p.m. yesterday, the crime lab was vacant except for a few vehicles and personnel parked inside the security gate at the Mangilao facility. The main doors were open and mechanical fans were seen facing employees’ cubicles.

Also on the agenda for today’s hearing is the status of the remaining balance of the law enforcement retroactive payments, payment of overtime for 13 GPD personnel and other concerns.

Over the past five years, $100,000 from the Judiciary has been set aside annually for the upkeep of the crime lab, but only $17,996 worth of reimbursement for maintenance had been paid by the Judiciary to GPD since 2009.

According to Joshua Tenorio, Judiciary director of policy, planning and community relations, the Judiciary was directed to fund the construction of the crime lab pursuant to law.

Each year, the Judiciary sets aside $100,000 in its budget specifically for the crime lab, Tenorio said.

“Each year we set aside this $100,000 (in the Judicial Building Fund budget) to help GPD’s crime lab. ... Sometimes they draw down these monies, sometimes they don’t,” Tenorio said.

If the money is not used to reimburse GPD for the crime lab, the remaining balance cannot be rolled over to the following budget year unless the funds are encumbered, Tenorio said.



Senators concerned about unanticipated Guam museum costs

Tuesday, 24 Feb 2015 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

  • DURING yesterday’s informational briefing conducted at the legislature on the status of the Guam and Chamorro Educational Facility (Guam museum) project, senators expressed concerns about the unanticipated costs related to the project which could exceed the $27 million cap imposed by law.

    The museum is funded with proceeds from hotel occupancy tax (HOT) bond revenues.

    The committee on cultural affairs conducted the informational briefing on the Guam museum during which Speaker Judith Won Pat sought updates on the status of all costs associated with the acquisition, construction and procurement of equipment for the facility.

    According to John Rios, Guam Economic Development Authority general manager, the fund balance after encumbrances and actual expenditures is approximately $791,000. More than $26 million has already been encumbered or spent for construction and consulting costs, among others. This amount still does not include the cost for media production services as well as the procurement of equipment for the museum.

    GEDA just released a request for proposal for media production services, and proposals are due March 17.

    Larry Toves, GEDA real property division manager, said approximately $15 million was allocated for the construction of the main building; $2.1 million for professional design services; and $1.9 million for construction management.

    Change orders

    Moreover, around $1.1 million has been set aside for project change orders.

    “The change orders noted were the ones that we agreed to,” Toves said. He added they had rejected seven change orders submitted after careful review. However, the division anticipates additional change orders as the project progresses.

    Won Pat questioned GEDA on how it will address the additional change orders, given the statute restricts spending to $27 million.

    In response, Rios said, “We will not allow it because the law prohibits us from going beyond the $27 million.” He said GEDA had wanted to include language in a recently introduced bill that would allow the use of savings from other projects for the museum.

    “The law is very clear that we cannot exceed $27 million,” he said.

    There are 23 projects funded by HOT bond revenues, including the Guam museum.

    Unanticipated costs

    According to Toves, most of the change orders were submitted halfway through the project, noting these orders address unforeseen issues related to construction.

    One of these issues involved the damaged piles which delayed contractors from pouring the foundation in June.

    According to Toves, project completion is at 46 percent.

    Construction on the museum broke ground in February 2013 at the Skinner Plaza in Hagåtña, signaling the start of construction of the three-story facility. It will take up 27 percent of the Hagåtña park.

    Originally, Fort Santa Agueda was suggested for the museum's location; however, the area is protected by the Guam Historical Preservation Trust. Officials also said the foundation will be saving $7 million by building the museum in Hagåtña.

    The museum will feature a café, bookstore, theater, a changing exhibits gallery, an atrium, and outdoor activity spaces.



  • Governor informing Capitol Hill about Guam's issues


    Posted: Feb 23, 2015 by Ken Quintanilla  KUAM

    Guam - Governor Eddie Calvo is in our nation's capitol this week taking a more aggressive approach with informing federal officials on the issues affecting our island. And he's not alone. 

    It's been a busy week for the island's chief executive in chilly Washington, DC. In just the past few days, he had the chance to meet with governors from Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the CNMI. "We had our initial discussions with each other and we all agreed that we put together a formalized association and there's so much areas of common ground in particular to areas where we believe the federal government through a lot of regulatory action is causing some major problems with the territories and the commonwealth and other areas where we believe where we can work collaboratively in regards to economic development as well," Calvo told KUAM News.

    Governor Calvo not only is in town for the National Governors Association Meeting but the senior plenary session of the Interagency Group on Insular Areas. And while Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell is co-hosting the IGIA meeting later this week, Governor Calvo got to meet her beforehand. He said, "I discussed issues in this meeting first and foremost the Compact impact and of course we common ground with the state of Hawaii on this where we do believe that we've reached a critical point where the impacts are placing such a heavy burden on our General Fund and this community that it endangers the viability of many critical services here on Guam."

    Along with Compact impact, other areas regarding federal regulations that have affected Guam and the other US territories and commonwealths include the Jones Act, cabotage laws, the Affordable Care Act and of course the visa waiver program for China. In fact, Governor Calvo relayed the concern to new homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson during a dinner at the White House hosted by President Barack Obama and the First Lady.

    "He's fully aware of it, too, and he is working on it because he was aware of it when he was the lead counsel of the Defense Department when we were working on the programmatic agreement," he said.

    And with these issues going on for years, some even decades, Governor Calvo says the best approach is being more aggressive. "They may even mean legal action, so this is what's important - coming out here to Washington, DC, looking for those folks and representatives that can be either friends or allies with like-mind in focusing on like issues," he shared.

    And if it wasn't at the top of the feds priority list, he hopes it is now. "But when the governor of Guam and meets them face-to-face, eye-to-eye, then it raises the awareness and hopefully it brings up those priorities even higher on their list of other priorities so some action could occur," added Calvo.

    The governor is set to attend the IGIA session on Tuesday along with the Office of Economic Adjustment. He's also trying to secure a meeting with Senator John McCain's office. 


    GEDA continuing to enforce Guam Product Seal compliance

Posted: Feb 202015  by Ken Quintanilla  KUAM

Guam - It's been more than a year and a half since the Guam Economic Development Authority implemented new mandates and rules for the Guam Product Seal program. While this enforcement is aimed at ensuring quality control, just how compliant have businesses been?

While the Guam Product Seal has been in existence for more than 28 years, GEDA since 2013 has been the enforcement arm of ensuring products that carry the "Made In Guam" label are in fact made here on island. "It's to protect the local manufacturers, there are goods and products out there that are not made on Guam and visitors are out there buying things they believe is made on Guam and they're not," explained GEDA compliance supervisor John San Nicolas. He says there are nearly 60 permit holders of the Guam Product Seal, some of which have run across some compliance issues. "There are some out there that we found but we work with them to get into compliance and there was a time when we issued violation letters and they came into compliance," he said.

Within the first year that GEDA took over the program, San Nicolas says there were 44 letters sent out to GPS permit holders - that number however has decreased to just five most recently. "The minimal fees starts around $2,500 and it ranges between $2,500 and $5,000 per product," he said.

And while there are close to five dozen Guam Product Seal permit holders, there are probably even more products on the shelves that bear the Guam name. "I think one of the biggest confusions out there is that the usage of Guam or Chamorro on the packaging," said San Nicolas, "because it's not illegal to use Guam or Chamorro but if you do use it on your packaging then you comply with the labeling law and that you state the country of origin if the product is not made on Guam."

He says GEDA continues to field calls from residents over concerns about certain products including alcoholic beverages bearing the Guam name. "We became aware of that a little while ago, but that was for alcohol and spirits, and the law only pertains to nonperishable commodities and our interpretation is alcohol is not a perishable commodity as it does not have a limited shelf-life," he said.

GEDA in the meantime encourages businesses who have products made on Guam yet do not bear the Guam Product Seal to join the program as it holds several benefits including linking the products to off-island buyers to expand it's market share. For more information on the Guam Product Seal program or to report any products you believe are in violation, visit investguam.com or call 647-4332. 



Guam International Marathon is more interactive than ever


Posted: Feb 20, 2015  by Jolene Toves  KUAM

Guam - Are you getting ready for the Guam International Marathon? If you are, here are a few important things you need to know.

Taking the lead as the largest international sporting event with over 29,000 participants last year, you may think that in order to participate you have stand in line to register which can be daunting - but in reality registering is easier than ever. Just visit guaminternationalmarathon.com. "You can register online," said Jacob Leon Guerrero, event manager. "It's a fairly easy process accepts all credit cards you get to select your race where you are from and then it gets everything set up for you."

Fees for entry vary according to race. For the marathon, Guam residents, CNMI and military is $90 the half-marathon is $80 and the 10K and 5K fee is $35. The fee schedule in its entirety is available on the website, with Leon Guerrero adding, "By doing so registering online you will receive a link to our virtual diddy bag which is an added benefit for registering for the marathon so you are getting more than just entry into the event."

By registering online you are not only saving yourself a road trip but you'll be getting special offers from marathon sponsors and partners. "Anyone can register online as long as you've got Internet or WiFi access, just go to our website and you are set for that," said Leon Guerrero. While everyone can register for the race there are age restrictions for the half-marathon and full-marathon. "The only age restrictions will be for the marathon and the half-marathon you have to be at least 14 years old to register for those events 14 years old race day but the 5K and 10K is open to all ages whether you are 2 riding in a stroller or 99 just trying to make it to the end," he added.

And once you are registered GIM reminds participants to share photos of your road to GIM pre-race training regimen.  "We are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, so we have weekly contests weekly promotions our hydration station promotion come visit us take picture anything about your training and progress with #gimtraining or #gim2015 and you are automatically entered to win," Leon Guerrero added.

There is no limit on entries and participants can enter their pictures into all three media sites for a chance to win a 2015 GIM t-shirt. So don't forget to register online and let everyone know you are participating in the 2015 Guam International Marathon by tagging/sharing your pictures on social media. 



Employment down slightly, wages up at end of 2014


Monday, 23 Feb 2015 03:00am


BY FRANK WHITMAN | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


THE number of employed people on Guam decreased slightly between September 2014 and December 2014. In September of last year, a total of 62,550 people were employed; that number dropped to 62,480 in December, according to the December 2014 Current Employment Report published Feb. 16 by the Guam Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The decrease in total workers was 70, which is about a tenth of a percent.

Average hourly earnings for production workers, however, increased from $12.81 in September 2014 to $13.20 in December. Production workers, on average, were paid for working 36.9 hours in December, decrease from 37.2 hours three months earlier. With the increase in hourly wages, the average weekly earnings for production workers in December were $486.82, up 2.2 percent from $476.25 in September.

The number of workers in the private sector decreased by 380 from 47,110 in September to 46,730 in December, also a slight decline of about eight tenths of a percent. Government of Guam employment, though, increased by 310 from 11,310 in September to 11,620 in December, an increase of 2.7 percent.

Employment in hotels and other service industries increased by 130 from 17,030 in September to 17,160 in December. Other industries that increased in the three months from September to December were finance, insurance and real estate which was up by 30 workers, retail which was also up by 30 employees and agriculture up by 10.

The industry with the largest decrease was construction which was down by 520 workers from 7,060 to 6,540. Also seeing a drop in employees was manufacturing which decreased from 1,420 to 1,380 a drop of 40 workers.

Compared to the previous December, the total number of employees was up about .9 percent from 61,910. In December 2013, there were 46,320 workers in the private sector and 15,590 employees in the public sector – both of which increased by the final month of 2014.


Lotte to add brands to airport location


Monday, 23 Feb 2015 03:00am


PRESS RELEASE


GIAA) – A global contemporary brand will make its debut at the A.B. Won Pat International Airport, Guam. Lotte Guam will be opening its first Victoria’s Secret boutique in an airport location at the Guam International Air Terminal. The boutique is offering its popular, high-appeal, line of products that include chain signature products of lingerie, cosmetics, body products, fragrances, leather goods and bags. The Victoria’s Secret boutique will be an in-line store within the concourse at the Guam International Airport, and will be opening in March.

Adjacent to this storefront, a Marc by Marc Jacobs airport boutique will also open March. This luxury brand is known for high fashion men and women’s watches, shoes, clothing, accessories and more. The airport boutique will feature the latest collection pieces for purchase by departing passengers.

“Airport shopping is one of the last activities our visitors get to enjoy. We congratulate Lotte Guam for bringing these brands and providing duty-free value for our customers. These goods are world- class, and to offer them for purchase to take home right before departure enhances our passengers’ experience and leaves a positive impression of the island and what it has to offer, ” said Charles Ada, executive manager of the airport





Second unexploded ordnance found

Wednesday, 18 Feb 2015 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

FIVE days after a construction worker uncovered a 5-inch naval ordnance round at the Songsong housing development in Yigo, another 5-inch naval round was found in another part of the construction site not too far from where the first one was found.

Firefighter Kevin Reilly, Guam Fire Department public information officer, said GFD fire engine 10 responded to the housing development at 1:27 p.m. yesterday after they were notified of the unexploded ordnance.

Guam Homeland Security public information officer Jenna Gaminde said the ordnance was found at the same construction site. The Yigo Mayor’s Office was also notified of the ordnance.

By 2:44 p.m., Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 arrived on scene and was able to safely transport the ordnance to Naval Base Guam at 2:51 p.m., according to Gaminde. The site was then given the all-clear and workers were able to continue working on the lot.

As with the ordnance found at the site on Feb. 11, no injuries or equipment damage was reported related to the ordnance's discovery.

Big bullet

Last week, Senior Chief Brian Fitzgerald, of Navy EOD Mobile Unit 5 Detachment Marianas, said the 5-inch navy round, in layman’s terms, is a big bullet.

Construction company Giant Construction Co. is working on the site in preparation for a housing development. According to the sign outside the entrance to the lot, 72 new homes are planned for the area and it is being developed in partnership with Macks Realty.

Yesterday’s unexploded ordnance is the second ordnance discovery reported by Guam Homeland Security this year.

Previously, Fitzgerald said Navy EOD typically fields about 150 calls a year from people finding ordnance around the island and most were from World War II.



Amendment guts pay raise rollback bill


Wednesday, 18 Feb 2015 03:00am


BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


AN AMENDED version of Bill 4-33, which seeks to restore salaries for elected officials and Cabinet members to levels established prior to the enactment of P.L. 32-208, was moved to the third reading file during yesterday's session, but not before legislators passed an amendment removing Section 1 of the measure which contains the provision rescinding the pay raises.


The measure, introduced by Sen. Michael San Nicolas, not only seeks to rescind the raises, but also prohibits the waiving of the public hearing requirement for any legislation that would raise the salaries of elected officials.

According to San Nicolas, the removal of Section 1 “essentially killed the attempt to repeal the pay raises, despite overwhelming public testimony in favor of the repeal.”

Sen. Tommy Morrison proffered the amendment removing Section 1, which he said "discriminates" against elected officials.

The Morrison amendment passed on a vote of 9 to 5.

Aside from San Nicolas, Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz, Sens. Tom Ada, Frank Aguon and Nerissa Underwood voted against removing the section. Sen. Brant McCreadie was absent from session.

According to Morrison, despite previous efforts of the legislature to allow the Competitive Wage Act of 2014 to include all employees of the government of Guam, Bill 4-33 seeks to divide the government as was the case with P.L. 32-136 in February 2014.

P.L. 32-136 allowed pay adjustments for rank-and-file employees, and for mayors and vice mayors. However, it rolled back the pay raises of the other elected officials and the agency heads to the level that was in effect Oct. 1, 2013.

Disregards

“Bill 4-33 disregards the compensation recommendation of the Hay Group and DOA for elected and appointed positions,’” Morrison said, adding the measure disregards the tremendous work that went into developing the Competitive Wage Act of 2014, which modernizes the government’s unified pay scale.

“Bill 4-33 accepts a policy that supports a group of employees while discriminating against a group of elected and appointed officials,” Morrison said.

In response, San Nicolas, in a statement released to the media, said: "What Sen. Morrison calls discrimination against elected officials is just the opposite. Can teachers vote themselves a raise? Can nurses? Where in the private sector do you see someone being able to give themselves a raise besides owners of businesses? The owners of this government are not senators or the governor, it is the people and the people have spoken loud and clear that they want these raises repealed. The question to my colleagues is this: How can you willfully ignore the voice of the people?

“The work of the legislature moves on, but there are other avenues to achieve change. The people will have their say.”

Prioritize

As the 33rd Guam Legislature was inaugurated on Jan. 5, San Nicolas introduced the measure which mirrors legislation written and passed by the Guam Youth Congress on Dec. 27, 2014.

In January, a public hearing was held on the measure in which dozens of people packed the legislature’s public hearing room and entrance hall to listen and provide testimony on the bill.

“We have an overwhelming amount of testimony from the community with respect to how the raises were given out on Nov. 21. A lot of them don’t necessarily object to anybody entertaining the question of raises. But they do have a problem with the way those raises were given out. And they do have a problem with the idea that we were prioritizing pay raises over all of the issues that we have to deal with in our community,” San Nicolas said.

“With all the testimony, it behooves us to understand that if we pass this amendment and we take out the repeal of the raises, we are basically going to be ignoring every single testimony that was provided during the public hearing of this bill, which says they want us to repeal these raises, they want us to go back to the drawing board and start over,” he said.



Tax settlement final


Wednesday, 18 Feb 2015 03:00am


BY GINA TABONARES-REILLY | FOR VARIETY


  • http://mvguam.com/images/resized/images/stories/localnews/021815/tax_200_200.jpgTHE six-year-old tax case between the government of Guam and Asuncion and Dennis Rodriguez Sr. is over after a stipulated agreement to end the court battle was filed Monday for both parties.

    The one-page document, signed by attorneys Rawlen Mantanona and G.Patrick Civille, ended the series of filings for the complaint and counterclaims that started in 2009.

    A stipulation for dismissal with prejudice did not elaborate the settlement agreement information including the amount that was accepted.

    The amount of the settlement was not disclosed in the filing, and according to attorney Arthur Clark, chief policy advisor of the governor, such information is not privileged.

    He said there are existing rules that allow the nondisclosure of the amount in tax cases, describing the amount as evidence that is not privileged information in an offer in compromise.

    Those who are interested to know the exact amount can still get the information through a FOIA request to the Department of Revenue and Taxation, Clark said.

    With the stipulation by the parties before the court, Clark said the settlement is final and does not require any further action from the court.

    The amount became a topic of conversation in the community after an initial offer of $40,000 was made by the Rodriguez couple to settle $2.7 million in unpaid tax obligations from 1996 to 2001.

    Challenged

    The couple challenged the Department of Revenue and Taxation through a counter lawsuit in 2009, arguing they filed a compromise offer in October 2006 based on doubt as to the amount of the liability as they disagreed with the assessed amount and said they did not believe they owed as much as the tax department claimed they did.

    The case stemmed from Rev and Tax’s request for a summary judgment to authorize the government to foreclose on the property of the couple, who owed GovGuam unpaid taxes plus $950,903 in accrued interests and penalties.

    Between court hearings, the parties tried to settle the case. At one point, the case became a conversation topic again when Clark became a part of the negotiations, creating some dispute with lawyers from the Office of the Attorney General representing the government.

    Every bogged down negotiation led the parties back to the federal court until the first week of February when Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood checked the status of the case.

    The lawyers of both parties hurriedly complied to file a stipulation ending the complaint and the counter-complaint.

    Respicio endorses governor's State of the Island address

    Wednesday, 18 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    SEN. Rory Respicio, usually a strong and vocal critic of Adelup, has this time endorsed many of the points made in Gov. Eddie Calvo’s State of the Island address, including the governor's announced goal of reducing Guam's unemployment rate.

    The governor, in his State of the Island address Monday night, said his administration will work hard to bring down unemployment to 6 percent by the end of the year and 4.5 percent by the end of his term.

    "We haven’t seen numbers that low since 1993. Getting them back there is going to take a lot of work," the governor said.

    Describing this goal as "ambitious," Respicio nonetheless said it is attainable.

    “The progress we’ve seen, driven by gains in tourism and the speed-up of the military buildup, make this much less of a dream and something we can expect to see achieved,” Respicio said in response to the governor's address.

    Respicio said he was also pleased by the governor’s support of efforts to revitalize Guam’s traditional capital of Hagåtña, which he said are proceeding with bipartisan support, including the ongoing construction of the Guam Museum of Culture, Art and History, the Fishermen’s Co-op Fishing Platform and the soon-to-begin renovation of the Guam Congress Building.

    “I am glad the governor highlighted the work we are doing to revitalize Hagåtña because these projects are important not only for revitalizing the capitol city but also boosting our economic growth and therefore job opportunities for our people,” Respicio said.

    Guam First

    Respicio, whose legislative committee responsibilities include relations with the federal government, also praised Calvo’s announcement of a new executive order expanding the Guam First Advisory Commission’s authority to advise him on federal issues.

    “Convening the Guam First Commission is important for strengthening Guam’s voice on federal issues by bringing the community together so we speak with one voice. By working together we can achieve more progress on Compact-impact, the military buildup, tourist visa waivers, war reparations and a host of other federal issues important to all of us,” Respicio said.

    “We are always stronger when we are united. The governor’s address is certainly evidence of the commitment he made to leave the divisions of the past election behind and move forward to unite our people and build real progress,” he added.

    Respicio said he was also "gratified" that the governor was “taking decisive action” on a number of other issues relating to the Guam-federal government relationship including the long controversial Jones Act, the military buildup, Compact-impact and the Ordot Dump cleanup.

    “I certainly will be doing what I can to support him in standing up for our rights as a community within the American family,” Respicio said, adding he also supports the governor’s strong commitment to moving forward with resolving Guam's political status.










  • Governor to take on feds

    Tuesday, 17 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    Hints anew at lawsuit in State of the Island address

    GOV. Eddie Calvo, in his State of the Island address yesterday, promised to be more aggressive in ironing out issues with the federal government, hinting once more that he is not averse to taking legal action against the feds if necessary.

    In an almost hour-long speech punctuated by numerous applause, Calvo touched on a number of topics ranging from the island's economy, education, military buildup and a promise to further lower the island’s unemployment rate.

    But one of the most applauded parts of his speech came toward the end of the address when the governor touched on Guam’s relationship with the federal government, stressing that Guam’s political status needs to be answered now.

    “Any status is better than the status quo – an unincorporated territory. Whether it’s statehood, free association or independence, I believe that a change will put us in control of our destiny,” Calvo said.

    Describing the current situation as “colonialism in the 21st century,” Calvo said the federal government is forcing its will on the people of Guam through unfunded mandates enforced by the federal courts.

    The governor then announced Adelup will be re-introducing a bill originally submitted to the legislature last year that will authorize the administration to hire lawyers, possibly through the Office of the Attorney General, to represent Guam in a lawsuit against the federal government and hold the feds responsible for dumping toxic waste and other contaminated material into Ordot Dump for years.

    Jones Act

    The governor said he will also focus on federal policies that restrict Guam's economy and impede the island's efforts to become more self-sustaining.

    "Policies like the Jones Act weren’t meant to have a negative impact on the economy, but it has. And despite many requests for this to be repealed, the federal government hesitates. And in its hesitation, our people are made to pay higher costs for goods that have to be shipped in a jagged line from Asia to the West Coast of the United States, to Hawaii, to Guam and the Micronesian region," the governor said.

    Calvo said he plans to marshal Guam's friends and supporters in Congress and the executive branch to help address this cause.

    "I’m meeting with federal officials in a trip that I’ll be taking to Washington, D.C. soon. Among the things I’ll be discussing is this decades-old act that has increased not only the cost of doing business on Guam, but the cost of everything, from rice to furniture. It’s also created a monopoly," Calvo said.

    The governor cited President Obama, who said during his State of the Union address last month that he’d like to ease laws and policies that hinder growth of the nation’s economy.

    "I believe this may be the opportune moment to free our island and our region from this policy," Calvo said.

    Compact-impact

    The governor said one mandate that has been the topic of disagreement for decades is Compact-impact reimbursement. For several years, Calvo said Guam received $16 million a year for providing health, education and safety services to migrants from the freely associated states.

    But in fiscal 2015, that amount decreased to $14 million and remains the same in fiscal 2016, Calvo lamented.

    "Let me make it clear – this debate is with the federal government, which forged an agreement with the FAS governments without any input from us or other states and territories that host our Micronesian neighbors,” Calvo said. “The disagreement on Compact-impact costs is based on the federal government’s inability to live up to its promise to help us provide services to the increased population."

    Calvo said that for last year alone, $144 million is owed to Guam, 10 times what GovGuam is actually receiving. Calvo said the federal government says the disparity in numbers is due to a faulty formula but despite repeated requests, the feds have yet to provide an acceptable formula.

    "I don’t know if discussion is something we can continue to do on this front,” Calvo said. “We need to be more aggressive. We need to push the federal government to recognize that their failure impacts the lives of everyone on Guam. If necessary, and if legally sound, we’ll be working with our attorney general to take this matter to court – to force the hand that signed this policy to live up to its side of the agreement."

    The governor also announced an executive order, amending an earlier executive order establishing the Guam First Advisory Commission, to expand that commission’s authority to advise Adelup on federal issues.

    "I will send a letter to convene the commission in March. I am asking the commission to establish separate committees or task forces to initially deal with the Guam buildup and with Compact-impact," Calvo said.

    Finally, the governor said he will also work to have Guamanians attain the same rights that have been granted to the different states, including the right to vote for offices in the mainland U.S.

     

    Calvo urged to release law enforcement retro payments

    Tuesday, 17 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    SEN. Frank Aguon Jr. has urged the governor to release the remaining balance of the law enforcement retroactive payments as it pertains to the 40 percent raise for law-enforcement officers.

    In a letter to Gov. Eddie Calvo, Aguon said that while the governor mentioned the delay of the remaining law enforcement retro payments was due to the “reconciliation between the agencies and the Department of Administration,” Guam's law enforcement officers and their families need the retro payments.

    "They loudly demand the most fervent exertions of every person of weight and authority, to ensure these complications are rectified in a timely manner,” Aguon said. “Although you may not be able to personally contribute to the process, you can perhaps do something towards it, and any assistance, however trifling in itself, will be of great significance,” the senator said. He added that the payments should be given out as early as the upcoming government of Guam pay period.

    Earlier, Aguon introduced Bill 27, which seeks to unfreeze 2002 merit bonuses, allowing public employees with superior performance evaluations during that fiscal year to finally receive the payments promised to them.

    The measure has a provision which authorizes the governor, via transfer authority, to identify funds necessary to support the merit bonus payments.

    P.L. 23-45 and 26-35 froze merit bonuses for employees during fiscal 1996 and 2002, resulting in a large number of government employees not receiving merit bonus payments.

    According to Aguon, the two fiscal years were directly impacted because of the financial condition of the government of Guam at the time. Aguon’s proposed legislation seeks to authorize the merit bonus payments to be released to public employees who received superior performance evaluations in FY 2002.

     



    Shutdown at West Coast ports announced


    Friday, 13 Feb 2015 03:00am


    BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


    Matson exempt; wholesaler says shipments timely

    YESTERDAY, the Pacific Maritime Association announced it would suspend vessel operations at West Coast ports for four days and suspend weekend and holiday pay for port workers, according to a statement from the association.


    PMA spokesman Steve Getzug said domestic carriers, including Matson Navigation Co. Inc. (the only Jones Act carrier serving Guam) military vessels and cruise ships are exempt from the operations suspension.

    “But they may be impacted or delayed by congestion at ports of origin because of the ongoing (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) slowdowns,” Getzug told Variety. “The negotiations are set to continue to tomorrow but there’s still work to do on a couple of very important issues.”

    Bernadette Valencia, Matson general manager for Guam and Micronesia, said yesterday that the action from PMA will not apply to Matson and other domestic carriers. “As with last weekend’s West Cost suspension of operations, which did not impact Matson’s operations in Long Beach or Seattle, Matson plans to continue to work this weekend,” Valencia said.

    Matson is continuing to watch the issue closely, Valencia added.

    Christine Baleto, general manager of Market Wholesale Distributors Inc. on Guam, said the company was notified of the possibility of a West Coast port shutdown and that it was good news that Matson operations will continue.

    Baleto said Market Wholesale will likely get an update from U.S. suppliers tomorrow. “The load shipping from Long Beach this Saturday is definitely a concern,” she said. “Hopefully, it will sail before any action is taken.”

    Fortunate

    Other than Saturday’s shipment, Baleto said MWD has been fortunate in that they have not experienced delays in shipping due to the West Coast slowdown.

    Baleto said Matson has kept MWD updated regarding negotiations and about potential fallout and that she is confident that should any impact to shipping schedules occur because of disputes on the West Coast, MWD would be notified quickly.

    Yesterday, Joanne Brown, Port Authority of Guam general manager, said there has not been any noticeable slowdown in activity at the Guam port. “No major concerns yet at this point for us,” Brown said.

    PMA member companies said it would suspend pay for Thursday, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, which is President’s Day.

    “PMA members have concluded that they will not conduct vessel operations on those dates, paying full shifts of ILWU workers such high rates for severely diminished productivity while the backlog of cargo at West Coast ports grows,” the association said in its statement yesterday.

    The union posted a video message on its website hours after PMA’s announcement yesterday. ILWU President Robert McEllrath encouraged union workers to stick together. McEllrath said PMA is seeking to divide the union with lies and tactics.

    “We want to go to work and they’re blaming us,” he said. The PMA’s suspension of operations for the four days later this week is another tactic to divide the union, McEllrath said.

    The union and PMA have been negotiating a labor contract for about nine months.



    Community shows support for Sgro's nomination to airport board


    Posted: Feb 12, 2015  by Ken Quintanilla  KUAM

    Guam - Kathy Calvo Sgro went up before the Guam Legislature for her appointment as a member of the Guam International Airport Authority. Sgro, who is the executive vice president of Pay-Less Markets Inc, says she can bring energy of teamwork, leadership and progressive foresight to the GIAA board.

    "Not unlike the aviation industry, the grocery business is a dynamic industry with no room for stagnation and strict adherence to public law and regulations are paramount," she said. "I am confident that my ability as a businesswoman with over 30 years in the retail industry will be an asset to the Guam International Airport Authority."

    Sgro previously served on the University of Guam's board of regents from 2006 to 2013.


    Preliminary count for island homeless population is in


    Posted: Feb 13, 2015  by Jolene Toves  KUAM

    Guam - The preliminary count for our island's homeless population is in and according to Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority director Michael Duenas the detailed analysis is expected to be released in about two months.

    "Preliminary count is showing that we have 347 households out there with a total of 1,195 individuals there are a total 165 families with children and of course that would be in the areas of priorities to give in terms of trying to develop programs and to help families," he said.

    Duenas says the results show that improvements in several areas are needed such as enhancing the ability of homeless individuals to work with mainstream service providers to help obtain medical care, and employment. 


    Port gets new high-tech gear to inspect containers


    Posted: Feb 12, 2015  by Ken Quintanilla  KUAM

    Guam - Every year the Port Authority of Guam moves an average of 100,000 containers a year. And today, new state of the art equipment was unveiled that will help officials detect and inspect what arrives in those containers.

    "Those who break the law be aware: we will ultimately catch the drugs you bring in, or the illegal contraband that you bring in and we will find it with this device," warned Lieutenant Governor Ray Tenorio.   That device is the AS&E ZBV Backscatter van delivered just yesterday and unveiled today at the Port Authority of Guam. The state of the art mobile cargo container vehicle screening system is set to bring the Port of Guam into compliance and to the same level as other strategic ports in the US.

    Port general manager Joanne Brown said, "So in terms of our security, in terms of our protection for not just national security, contraband and other weapons, the kind of things we don't want coming into Guam, to have this additional capability really enhances that." So along with inspecting, detecting and preventing any illegal contraband coming in and out of the Port, what else does the screening system do? The Port's security grant program manager Joe Javellana explained, saying, "The one good thing about this is because its mobile, if homeland security requires the resource to be taken to Tumon because of a suspicious package or any suspected vehicle that needs to be inspected, anywhere around the island or even a the airport, this can be deployed and go that site."

    Javellana helped secure the $759,000 federal grant for the equipment. Guam Customs and Quarantine director Pedro Leon Guerrero says the vehicle will help fill another gap in ensuring security of our island, saying, "In a couple of years, we'll be taking over servicing the equipment we do have our own team that is going to be in charge of all our x-ray machines so that we make sure it's working right, trained right, maintained right and we have some accountability for overseas so they so we look forward to it."

    Management note it took four years to see the screening system to fruition as it went through some procurement challenges. Training will be conducted on the screening system later this month. Brown hopes they'll start operating soon thereafter. 


    Bill that would demolish building taken off agenda

    Thursday, 12 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    AT A public hearing yesterday at the Guam Legislature, Sen. Rory Respicio announced that Bill 32-33, a measure which would authorize the demolition of the Manuel F.L. Guerrero Administration Building in Hagåtña, will be taken off the committee on rules’ agenda to allow for more discussion on the  environmental, mechanical, safety and structural issues affecting the building.

    The committee on rules convened the public hearing for several bills yesterday morning and Bill 32-33 was included in the agenda.

    The measure amends statutes to add the demolition of the Administration Building to a list of projects funded under the Guam hotel occupancy tax bond law, which are intended to revitalize the historic capital of Hagåtña.

    Respicio, the committee chairman, authored the measure and said the decision was made to allow further discussion on the issues affecting the building and also to determine what other use could be made of the building and its site.

    During the public hearing, Respicio said the bill authorizing the demolition of the building was introduced at the request of the Guam Economic Development Authority, which described the building as having “serious structural, mechanical, electrical and environmental issues that create serious safety hazards and render the building unfit for further occupancy.”

    He said that in light of the need to confirm the structural integrity of the building, “the most prudent thing to do” is to take the bill off the agenda.

    Following the decision, Respicio announced that a series of roundtable meetings with GEDA, the administration, the Hagåtña Restoration and Redevelopment Authority, the legislature, and members of the community will be held to determine the best route is to go regarding the building.

    Significance

    “We have the utmost respect for the history that has unfolded in this well-utilized building and for the legacy of Gov. Manuel F.L. Guerrero and other governors who have served there, and we want the final decision on the disposition of the building to reflect this historical significance,” Respicio said in a release.

    The building, which was named for Guam’s governor from 1963 to 1969, once housed the Office of the Governor, the Department of Administration, the Department of Education, and many other executive branch offices.

    In that building, driver’s licenses were also issued, payments made to the government of Guam, and policies were set for the Department of Education, as well as for the Departments of Labor, and Land Management.

    Last year, GDOE relocated its operations from the Hagåtña building to Tiyan. Meanwhile, DOA relocated its offices to the ITC building in Tamuning in 2013.

    According to the proponents of the bill, the cost of rehabilitation to bring the building to current uniform code standards does not warrant the significant investment of public funds necessary to extend the useful life of the facility.



    'Total analysis' reduces power consumption by half


    Posted: Feb 11, 2015  by Jolene Toves  KUAM

    Guam - The average family on Guam living in a three-bedroom home can pay up to $400 a month in power assuming they consume about 8,876 watts of electricity. But Pacific Renewable Energy Solutions president Tommy Tanaka says that can be reduced almost in half by taking the "total analysis approach" before investing in solar paneling.   

    "You can look at your savings in lights solar water heater and efficient air conditioners," he explained. "If you go and look at savings you can get from lights water heater and efficient air conditioners you can reduce the total consumption to about $4,600 and that's a 48% savings."

    Tanaka says it's as simple as switching from a 20-watt compact florescent light bulb to a 7-watt LED lightbulb, changing out older air conditioning units to energy efficient A/Cs like inverters or solar assisted units and getting rid of your electric or tankless water heaters and invest in a solar water heater. He says a solar water heater will save anywhere between $50 and $100 a month. Tanaka says this is the first step all residents should consider before purchasing solar panels, adding, "And the reason why this is important is because if you base it on your original wattage now without replacing the lights or solar or air conditioners you will be needing a 5-kilowatt system and that costs you around $32,000."

    However if utilize the total analysis approach and focus on these three energy eaters you will see savings. Tanaka said, "You'll be using 48% less so then the cost of solar panels can be reduced to about $16,000."



    Central village resident gets creative to deal with feral pigs

    Posted: Feb 09, 2015 by Isa Baza  KUAM

    Guam - One village resident has come up with quite the creative solution to address a continuing pig problem in Ordot-Chalan Pago. Although closed since 2011, residents of the central villages are still facing ramifications from the Ordot Dump. One in particular is the ongoing feral pig problem.

    Ordot-Chalan Pago mayor Jessy Gogue told KUAM News, "When the dump was open we had wild pigs coming through the village actually making home in the village because there was just an unending supply of food for these pigs. When the Ordot Dump closed they kind of said, okay, I have to look for a new supply source."

    So they began moving into the village area to look for food. While on the surface this problem may not seem serious, it has had tragic consequences. "We've had pigs coming into yards, ripping up yards, I've gotten some reports where pigs have gotten into fights with domestic pets at people's homes. You know, the accident that occurred New Year's Eve, or New Year's Day, involving a pig. I mean, it is a problem," the mayor said.

    Chalan Pago resident Camella Ramirez said, "Every now and then you see them crossing the street, you have to stop immediately because they just jet out not me, but I know neighbors have had problems with them going through trash even their vegetable and fruit plants, that's a problem, too."

    In an effort to combat this problem, one village resident has stepped up and volunteered his time and effort. Edward Cruz makes pig traps for village residents interested in doing their part to address the pig issue: "When the mayor came up with that situation prior to the Camacho situation, I said, 'Hey, sure, I'll volunteer!' You know, help the community," he recalled.  He said this provides a dual solution, adding, "People are reaping the benefits from it, not necessarily me but my children, they're learning how to do things, with their hands and people are getting free meat."

    At the same time he said it's also reducing the amount of pigs roaming free through the village. If you are interested in putting a pig trap on your property, you can contact the Chalan Pago Mayor's Office 477-1333. 

    MOU signed to improve healthcare for vets

    Posted: Feb 10, 2015  by Ken Quintanilla  KUAM

    Guam - In the next few months, veterans will be able to avail themselves of health services at all ends of the island.   Today a memorandum of understanding was signed kicking into gear an initiative considered a "bold new concept in healthcare" for those who served our country.  

    The gaps in health services for veterans across the United States has made national headlines and some would say here at home, it's even more challenging. "Being in Guam a territory, far away from the 48 contiguous states, that those gaps are even wider just because of our geography and distance from the high population centers," said Governor Eddie Calvo.

    However a memorandum of understanding between the Department of Public Health and the Veterans Affairs Pacific Island Health Care System may help bridge those gaps in healthcare for our veterans. Calvo signed the MOU Tuesday afternoon, saying, "I want to thank everyone here for their cooperation, working collaboratively toward improving the quality of services for our veterans this is very monumental."

    The only primary care veterans currently receive is at the Agana Heights Community Based Outpatient Clinic. The veterans clinic is considered too small and at times, cannot accommodate all the VA patients on island. Guam VA clinic nurse manager Bernadette Santos said, "The purpose of this project is open up access to care to veterans who live in more rural areas as you know, people who live in the central area is already covered with the CBOC which is in Agana Heights so for them to be able to access care in the northern and southern area will be great we will have VA employees who will be providing this primary care and not only primary care, but mental health services as well, we are looking to getting a psychiatrist on board so we will have a medical doctor for primary care, supported by a registered nurse, and a medical support assistance and also a psychiatrist."

    A security guard will also be a part of the team.

    Under the agreement, Public Health will let the PIHCS use two of its examining rooms and a bathroom at both the Northern and Southern Health Community Centers for four days each week free of charge to render medical care to veterans. PIHCS will in return, furnish a rural health extension care team to provide primary and mental health care services to veterans at no cost to the PIHCS. Public Health director James Gillan said, "We owe these veterans a debt that sometimes our veterans' administration forgets about and we're going to do it somehow for our community health center."

    This effort is funded through federal money estimated around half a million dollars. The rural health extension care team expects modest numbers at first around 30 within the first quarter. However, that number could climb as a recent uniformed data system report shows that at least 70 veterans are currently being serviced by Public Health. Most of the team has already been hired with operations set to start at the end of April. 

    First batch of tax refunds going out on Wednesday

    Posted: Feb 10, 2015  by Ken Quintanilla  KUAM

    Guam - Have you filed your tax return yet? The Department of Revenue & Taxation announces the first batch of tax refunds of the year will be mailed out Wednesday. The refunds total $1.8 million accounting for about 500 people. The refunds are for those who filed up to January 15 together with a mix of filers from the previous tax years. The deadline meanwhile to file your taxes is on April 15.

    Matson assures cargo will flow to Guam

    Wednesday, 11 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    Despite West Coast shipping delay

    MATSON General Manager for Guam and the Micronesia Region Bernadette Valencia said the shipping carrier has been impacted by the shipping slowdown resulting from the labor disputes between West Coast port owners and port employees, but the impact is less than on international carriers.

    “We may be delayed because of labor allocations in the West Coast and weather delays, but not to the extent of several days,” Valencia said. “The domestic carriers have been exempted by the (Pacific Maritime Association) to ensure goods continue to flow to Guam and Hawaii.”

    According to the PMA website, Matson Navigation Company Inc., the only Jones Act carrier that ships to Guam, is one of the 72 company members of the PMA.

    What the exemption will mean in practice has yet to be seen, said Hawaii Shippers Council President Michael Hansen. “Just because employers’ organization exempts the domestic noncontiguous U.S. flag carriers, doesn’t mean the union – the (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) – will work the ships,” he said.

    The union and PMA have been working on negotiating a labor contract for employees at the 29 West Coast ports along the U.S. for about nine months.

    This past weekend, the PMA suspended loading and unloading operations.

    “In light of ongoing union slowdowns up and down the coast which have brought the ports almost to a standstill, PMA member companies finally have concluded that they will no longer continue to pay workers premium pay for diminished productivity,” the association said in a statement dated Feb. 6.

    Settlement

    Vessel operations were scheduled to resume on Monday. The union said in a statement on Monday that it remains focused on reaching a settlement as quickly as possible with the PMA and talks to resolve remaining issues are ongoing.

    Last week, PMA President Jim McKenna said a full lockout at the West Coast ports was possible if contract negotiations did not conclude soon.

    This lockout, Hansen said last week, could mean no ships discharging or loading cargo at U.S. West Coast ports and carriers bound for Guam and Hawaii could not deliver any cargo.

    According to Hawaii news agency KHON2, Hawaii port workers did not show up to work last Sunday to unload ships, which is an option the local labor contract allows.

    Hansen said another issue that domestic carriers, including Matson, may face if there is a lockout is the congestion at West Coast terminals. “Is the congestion in the West Coast terminals so great that the exemption will be essentially meaningless? We just don’t know the answers to these questions,” Hansen said.

    In a statement released Friday, the PMA said the union continues to limit operations by withholding crane operators or operating slowly.

    On Feb. 5, the union president, Robert McEllrath, said port owners and employers are “worsening the existing congestion crisis to gain the upper hand at the bargaining table.”

    McEllrath also said in the statement that the association is leaving ships at sea and claiming no space on the docks but there are acres of asphalt for containers that are on the ships at sea.

     

    US attorney initiative to address challenges faced by Micronesians

    Wednesday, 11 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY MONETH G. DEPOSA-ELECO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    IN LIGHT of the challenges faced by migrant communities on Guam, an initiative has been launched to create a “balance” – aimed not only to highlight the positive faces of the migrants, but to assist them in becoming contributing members of society.

    In a stakeholders’ meeting yesterday, U.S. Attorney Alicia Limtiaco unveiled her office’s diverse communities outreach projects, which aim to improve the relationship between law enforcement personnel and the community.

    Among the attendees at yesterday’s meeting were representatives of the island’s faith-based sector, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and members of the island media – all providing input and ideas to achieve the project’s goals and objectives.

    According to Limtiaco, forming a community-based group that would discuss issues affecting and impacting the lives of the migrant communities on Guam is a way to address the stigmatization of the Micronesian community.

    "We can find ways to maybe balance the scales a little bit to find projects or programs so that we can talk about the positive contributions that all of us as a community make,” said Limtiaco, citing such concerns as tension between groups, discrimination and potential violence.

    Limtiaco pointed out that one of the goals in creating a community-based group is to highlight the positive acts and contributions of the Micronesian community on island.

    But the U.S. attorney admitted that the task is not that easy because it would require a unified effort from stakeholders.

    Key

    Monty McDowell, owner of Advance Management Inc., one of the largest employers of migrants from the freely associate states, said education and training are key in accomplishing the goal.

    McDowell told members how he helped transform many of his employees – through educating them. He said almost 100 percent of the FAS migrants failed in their employment in the past years.

    McDowell said to better understand the reason behind these failures, he asked the Chuuk government for help. And from then on, the Center for Micronesian Empowerment and the Chuuk government have been collaborating on many efforts to best serve and help its citizens on Guam.

    McDowell said from 100 percent failures years ago, his company is now recording 0 percent failure on its FAS migrant workers.

    The businessman, citing his firsthand experiences with migrant-community workers, said the failures of these individuals were mainly the result of their lack of knowledge about Guam’s culture, norms and other aspects of Guam life. The living conditions in their own island were without amenities such as power, which is also a factor.

    McDowell told members that if the objective is to create balance and provide help to the Micronesian community on island, he said there’s a need for Guam itself to make an effort to better know about these migrants – where they are, what they need, and how they can avail of the offered help.

    "One thing was, we on Guam, for those of us who have been here most of our lives, we're somewhat ignorant of the people in the region. ... Guamanians know more about people from California than their own island neighbors,” said McDowell.

    A large portion of the inmates at the Department of Corrections is reportedly comprised of Chuuk nationals.

    One component of the project is the workforce development re-entry which targets these individuals as they rejoin the community after incarceration.

    Partnership

    Limtiaco said partnership is in the works with not only the government but the private sector as well in providing training and conferences to achieve the goal of helping these individuals to succeed after incarceration.

    Louis Torres, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Guam Micronesian Mission, said providing education at the frontline will help Micronesian migrant groups to become more productive citizens in Guam. He lauded the goals behind the creation of the group and committed his support to its mission. He also cited the need to reach out to citizens in their own lands.

    • Mathew 3 hours ago

      Well said, Monty. But it is not just being ignorant about outer islanders. It is also being ignorant about Filipinos and Koreans, two of the larger ethnic minorities. The difference is that the latter communities take care of their own, for the better and for the worse. The better would be the integration part into the community (the dos and the donts), the worse would be protecting or shielding illegal immigrants.



    NOAA awards $878,000 for GovGuam


    Tuesday, 10 Feb 2015 03:00am


    PRESS RELEASE


    OMZB) – Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo announced recently that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has awarded the government of Guam $878,000 in federal grant assistance.


    The grant will be used to support Guam’s Coastal Management Program, which is a voluntary federal-state partnership that protects, restores and responsibly develops our nation’s coastal communities and resources.

    The funds will support jobs and provide continued assistance to the Guam Coastal Management Program to address many important coastal issues, including coastal hazards, water quality and habitat protection.

    The funding also supports outreach and education, responsible coastal development and programs to involve the public in resource management.

    Additionally, the grant will provide training opportunities for the local construction industry to promote best management practices for stormwater management.

    “Guam’s coasts are an important resource to our culture and daily lives, and educating the public and local industries is crucial to ensuring that our coastal resources are protected,” Bordallo said. “Each year, I work diligently with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that federal resources are appropriated for coastal management programs, and I am pleased that NOAA continues to prioritize these initiatives. These funds will help ensure that the Guam Coastal Management Program has the resources it needs to continue its important work, and I look forward to these programs benefitting our community,” Bordallo said.



    Navy issues letter on increasing water rate

    Posted: Feb 09, 2015  by Jolene Toves  KUAM

    Guam - An issue that's dominated utility headlines and captivated local ratepayers has been the U.S. Navy's 40% rate hike to the Guam Waterworks Authority. Now, we hear Uncle Sam's take on the matter.

    Over the weekend the Navy issued an open letter to the people of Guam explaining the reasons behind its implementation of a rate hike - one that apparently has been in effect since October 1.

    It was on Saturday Joint Region Marianas regional engineer and commanding officer of Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas Captain Glenn Shepherd issued an open letter to the people of Guam explaining the Navy's 40% rate hike. GWA purchases water from the Navy from Fena, which supplies water to customers in Santa Rita, Agat and parts of Piti. According to Shepherd, although the Navy is subject to the same USEPA and Guam EPA regulations as GWA, the Navy is different from most municipal utility companies as the Navy cannot sell bonds to raise money for major repair and modernization projects.

    Shepherd wrote that the Navy must break even in cost and revenue and as a result recover money it needs for operating costs and repairs through its rate structure.

    Consolidated Commission on Utilities chairperson Joseph Duenas says the explanation was what he expected, saying, "It points out several things - one of the things it points out is that the Navy does not run a municipal water utility like the traditional municipal water utility. They don't access the bond market, so therefore they for what is called capital assets: long-term assets with short-term money. They pay for it with cash."

    And that cash apparently will come from the Navy's customers such as GWA. As we reported however the Guam Waterworks Authority has begun lessening its reliance on water from the Navy by diverting water from the northern aquifer to these southern customers.  "200 gallons a minute or less okay I think we were as high as a 1,000 a minute so we have cut back significantly I think we have cut back to the point that even with their rate increase which is in the neighborhood of 40% if I remember the numbers correctly I don't think we are going to pay the Navy any more than we paid them last year," he explained.

    GWA admits however because the lines are antiquated the water agency has experienced some problems which has resulted in low to no water pressure for some southern villages. Spokesperson Heidi Ballendorf is hoping those problems should be resolved by 7pm.

    In the meantime Captain Shepherd wrote that implementing the rate increase for GWA was not an easy decision, and that the Navy plans to work closely with GWA and the CCU to look for ways to minimize impact while delivering safe and reliable drinking water to our island community.  "Like Captain Shepherd mentions we are going to continue to work closely with GWA and CCU and that's what our intention is the CCU; I am sure is going to want to work closely the Navy and see how we might set a plan to get to one water and one wastewater system," he stated. 



    Transasia Airways crash may stall launch of Guam service


    Posted: Feb 10, 2015  by Sabrina Salas Matanane  KUAM

    Guam - Last week's crash of a Transasia Airways aircraft in Taipei reportedly has cast uncertainty over its plans to launch services to the territory.  Taipei media report that the airlines was looking at launching flights to Guam as soon as the second quarter of 2015, but the Civil Aeronautics Administration said that might not happen as a result of the crash which killed at least 40 of the 58 people onboard. The CAA also reported the carrier had not yet applied for flights to Guam yet.  Last week's Transasia airways crash was the second within a year.


    GVB rolls out events calendar


    Posted: Feb 10, 2015  by Jolene Toves  KUAM

    Guam - An air of excitement pulsed through The Sheraton this afternoon with the release of the Guam Visitors Bureau's 2015 events calendar. GVB general manager Nathan Denight told KUAM News, "I think Guam is getting better and better at hosting these events and delivering a great experience, and then the next step is to go ahead and let the world know about the events so we can get the visitors coming here."

    GVB is marketing to countries including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, and Russia through a diverse pool of cultural, music, art, and sporting events. Some notable events this year include the second annual Guam live concert and the new Koko Race in December.



    GHURA gets $1.3M from HUD


    Posted: Feb 10, 2015  by Ken Quintanilla  KUAM

    Guam - The Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority is in receipt of over $1.3 million in multiple grants from HUD. The grants were awarded through HUD's Continuum of Care Program, which promotes communitywide commitment to ending homelessness. The program provides funding for nonprofit providers and local governments to quickly rehouse homeless individuals and families while minimizing trauma while promoting access to programs that assist the homeless. Additionally, the COC program seeks to optimize self-sufficiency among families and individuals experiencing homelessness. 



    Hotel opening welcome

    Tuesday, 10 Feb 2015 03:00am

    VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    • THE upcoming, much anticipated opening of the Dusit Thani Guam Resort is indeed good news for Guam. It promises to be a true luxury hotel with the requisite food and beverage outlets, and the island’s first convention center. As such, it has the potential to advance the island’s visitor industry’s goals of attracting tourists with a higher spending profile and of developing the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) segment of the tourism markets.

      The island obviously has the climate, beaches and natural beauty to develop a million-plus-visitors per year tourist industry. The new facilities will help the island boost both the revenue per visitor that comes into Guam and the number of visitors during the parts of the year that generally have fewer arrivals.

      We also remain hopeful that the increase in the number of jobs in tourism will mean workers see an increase in pay.

      At first glance, having more than 3,000 job seekers show up to apply for 350 jobs would, and does, bode well for the hotel but less so for potential employees – based on supply and demand. But the Dusit Thani, will no doubt want the best employees – the most experienced, the most competent, the most reliable, the most hospitable. These, of course, are the employees the other hotels would most like to keep. By the rules of the market, salaries will rise and employees will work where they are best paid. The island economy will benefit, as will the individual staff members and their families.

      Individuals intent on building their careers in the visitor industry will identify a field they enjoy and become proficient in it so that they can meet the needs of their employer. And good employers will recognize their value and compensate them accordingly.

      And increased, high-spending visitor arrivals will mean more business for retail stores, eateries, day tours, golf courses and a host of other tourism-related businesses.

      As island residents know too well, success is never guaranteed and there are any number of events that can negatively impact the best laid plans. But the new hotel is opening at a time when the island is welcoming record numbers of visitors and is looking at the development of the Chinese and Russian markets. With fingers crossed, we see the opening of Dusit Thani as a harbinger of continued economic growth.



    • Tire shredder facility opens


      Tuesday, 10 Feb 2015 03:00am


      BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


      A LOCAL recycling company has introduced a solution to Guam’s growing stockpile of end-of-life tires, processing the rubber into landfill material and other purposes.


      In December, Guahan Waste Control, which does business as Mr. Rubbishman, received its permit to operate its tire shredding facility in Harmon.

      For the facility, the company purchased a Columbus McKinnon Corp. dual-speed shredder. According to Robert “Bob” Perron, president and general manager, at a slow speed the equipment can shred passenger tires at a rate of about 1,200 tires per hour, and truck tires at a rate of 300 per hour. The machine reduces the tires to 2-inch rubber chips.

      About $1 million was invested in the entire facility, which went into the procurement of the tire shredding equipment and the construction of shelter, with proper plumbing, filtering and drainage infrastructure.

      The shredder was manufactured for Guahan Waste Control by CM Tire Recycling Equipment Solutions of Sarasota, Florida.

      Although Guahan Waste Control is looking at the possibility of baling and shipping the chips off-island, at present they are providing the materials to Black Construction Corp. to be used as filling material for the Ordot dump.

      Black has been awarded the contract for the construction of the environmental closure of the Ordot Dump.

      First of its kind

      “On Guam, this is the first of its kind on island. Right now, we are delivering (the chips) to Ordot dump for their closure project. They are using them to fill in some trenches that are there for pipes,” Perron said.

      Federal solid waste receiver Gershman, Brickner & Bratton Inc. has been exploring the use of the rubber chips as an alternative cover material for the Layon landfill.

      In fact, the receiver has sent a letter to Guam Environmental Protection Agency to begin discussion on this option, Perron said.

      Although most of the material goes to the dump, he said, the company is setting up a deal with a waste-to-energy plant in Japan to take the materials.

      “We will always have a market for it, either locally or off-island, to Japan or Korea, as a fuel source,” he said.

      According to Perron, by shredding the tires down to 2-inch chips, the material can be turned into a commodity and sold off-island as a replacement for coal to be used in waste-to-energy facilities or for cement kilns.

      Perron said they are still waiting for the approval of the government of Japan to ship the shredded tire material.

      Thousands of tires

      “Guam has a tremendous problem disposing of used tires,” according to a statement from Guahan Waste Control. “The primary reason is tires are now sent whole off-island and there is a limited market for whole tires. Witness the piles of tires at the major (tire) outlets in Guam.”

      Perron said Guahan Waste has been coordinating with most of the tire outlets on island. “We are talking to most of them,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting to all of them because there are so many tires backed up right now. We are going around and telling people that we can take them. A couple of thousand tires are being processed every day.”

      The tire shredding operation has been integrated into Guahan Waste’s ongoing municipal solid waste transfer station and recycling center.

      Residents wishing to dispose of tires can take them to the Guahan Waste Control facility on Rojas Street in Harmon. There is a $4 per tire disposal fee for passenger tires.



    DFS: Airport needs independent monitor to supervise RFP

    Monday, 09 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY MAR-VIC CAGURANGAN | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    THE A.B. Won Pat Guam International Airport Authority needs an independent monitor to supervise the airport’s future bidding process, DFS Guam L.P. said in the latest of its series of protests against the award of the concessionaire contract to Lotte Duty Free Guam LLP.

    “The GIAA's conduct throughout the course of the current (request for proposal) process, including its response to DFS's proposal protest, has been characterized by bad faith, prejudice against DFS, and a clear bias in favor of Lotte,” DFS said in an appeal filed Jan. 21 with the Office of Public Accountability.

    “The appropriate remedy to ensure that future proceedings in connection with a new RFP process are conducted fairly and transparently is to appoint a truly independent monitor, selected by an independent administrative or judicial officer, and to empower that monitor to supervise and oversee the GIAA in relation to this matter,” DFS said.

    Lotte Duty Free has been operating at the airport terminal since the airport authority awarded the contract in June 2013, following a court decision upholding the contract award. The retail company has since completed $55-million worth of renovations and construction of facilities it promised under its agreement with the airport.

    In its latest filing with the OPA, however, DFS asked that the airport contract with Lotte be declared void and a new request for proposal be instituted.

    “Because all of the foregoing facts establish that, as it now stands, this RFP process has been irrevocably tarnished by a litany of fatal flaws, DFS requests that the OPA hereby mandate that the results that were obtained through this flawed process be voided in their entirety, and that a new RFP process be pursued in a timely fashion,” DFS said.

    DFS also is urging the OPA to bar Lotte from participating in any future bidding, saying it “is a non-responsible proposer and the source of many of these fatal flaws.”

    “The contract effectuating the RFP that GIAA and Lotte purportedly entered on June 12, 2013 is void under Guam law because the contract was entered into in contravention of the mandatory automatic stay provided for by statute,” DFS said.

    DFS brought the appeal to the OPA six days after the airport management denied its latest appeal.

    Bright prospects for airport in fiscal 2015

    Monday, 09 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    THE global airline industry will continue to record substantial profits going into 2015 and the prospects for the Guam airport are bright as well, according to an independent audit report prepared for the A.B. Won Pat Guam International Airport Authority.

    Ernst & Young LLP prepared the report, which covered the airport authority’s financial statements and supplementary information for fiscal years 2014 and 2013.

    According to the report, “utilization of fuel-efficient aircraft, downsized seat capacity and ancillary fees all were factors for the airlines' resurgence.” In addition, the report also noted the downward slide of oil prices, which, if sustained, could result in the Guam airport achieving fuel savings.

    The report noted that the Guam airport's passenger projection of 1,788,116 enplanements reflects a more aggressive outlook year-over-year, with a 7 percent growth for fiscal 2015.

    However, Japan’s share of Guam’s visitor market is expected to diminish further due to a consumption tax that has reduced disposable income as well as the continued devaluation of the Japanese yen, the report stated.

    The outlook on direct charters from eastern Russia being resumed in the near term is also not too bright following international sanctions and declining oil prices which have weakened Russian currency.

    Most positive

    The airport authority expects the South Korean market “to have the most positive and immediate impact" in fiscal 2015. According to the report, the number of airlines servicing the South Korean market is expected to increase from three to five and potentially six during the course of the year.

    The report also noted the reinstatement of daily service to Seoul by a U.S. carrier, new and expanded air services from Pusan, and numerous charters and extra sections from all operators.

    In addition, a new carrier is expected to inaugurate service from the Philippines in the second quarter of this year.

    The airport also forecasts positive developments with the Chinese market, following the U.S. government’s decision to extend the validity period of a U.S. visa from one to 10 years.

    China

    Meanwhile, the Guam airport expects to continue receiving frequent charters from China and it is currently engaged in "discussions" with three Chinese airlines.

    The airport plans to continue consulting and planning more effectively with its airline partners to reduce operational cost through efficiencies gained from various capital improvement projects.

    The airport also intends to sustain the budgeted $15.80 as the cost per enplaned passenger for fiscal 2015 as compared to the fiscal 2014 cost per enplaned passenger of $16.11 representing a 2 percent decrease.

    Fort Bliss THAAD unit to deploy to Guam

    Monday, 09 Feb 2015 03:00am

    VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    ABOUT 20 soldiers from Delta Battery, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment (THAAD), 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, are on their way to Guam as an the advance party to help with the air defense transition, the El Paso Times reported Friday.


    El Paso Times said an additional 80 soldiers from the battery, nicknamed the Dragons, will arrive in Guam sometime this spring, battery commander Capt. Candace Hill said.

    “They will replace sister unit, Alpha-2, which has been in Guam for the past year. This will be the third year of THAAD unit deployments from Fort Bliss to Guam,” the paper reported.

    A THAAD battery at Fort Bliss has been training for more than a year and is ready to be the next unit for Guam deployment,” the El Paso Times said.

    Delta-2 stood up as a unit in October 2012 and this will be the first time it is deploying, Hill said. It will be gone about a year.

    "Our personnel are extremely excited," El Paso Times quoted Hill as saying. "Hopefully, nothing happens where they have to actually engage (with an enemy) but obviously they are ready for it and prepared for it."

    He said this will be a new experience for many of the soldiers in the unit who are new to the Army or previously had served in Patriot units.

    According to El Paso Times, the Dragon Battery started training more than a year ago with classroom instruction on the THAAD equipment.

    Hill told the paper the Dragon Battery has regularly been out in the field since June 2014, culminating with a two-week Mission Rehearsal Exercise at McGregor Range last November.

    Since then, the unit's soldiers have been doing additional training in the battery motor pool area to keep sharp.

    "If you don't practice it and continuously go through it, it is easy to forget," Hill said.

    Hill is the first woman to command a THAAD battery, but said she is just focusing on making sure the mission is a success.

    THAAD units have been sent to Guam since April 2013 after North Korea started making threats toward the United States and its allies.

    Forever 21 to open next month

    Monday, 09 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    New shop to open 65 jobs

    AMERICAN fashion retailer Forever 21 will open its first store on Guam sometime in March, according to Rimma Kronfeld, supervisor of international new store openings and public relations and marketing for the company.

    Kronfeld said the Tamuning store at Guam Premier Outlets will offer a large selection of merchandise including Forever 21 Contemporary, 21 Men, Forever 21 Girls, shoes, lingerie, basics and denim along with the Forever 21 line apparel and accessories.

    “We are very excited about our first store in Guam,” Kronfeld said.

    With an upcoming grand opening, the retail company is looking to hire about 65 employees to work at the store. Open interviews will be held this Wednesday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the GPO food court next to the Froots outlet. After an hour break, open interviews will resume from 2 to 6 p.m.

    The interviews will take place for four days, from Feb. 11 to 15.

    Kronfeld said candidates should make sure they have applied online before going to the open interviews at GPO this week and they should also bring along copies of their resume.

    Two Forever 21 employees will be conducting interviews in the space.

    The GPO location is 20,835 square feet and has been under construction since November. According to the building permit from the Department of Public Works, the space was estimated to cost about $975,000 at the time the permit was issued last year.

    Kronfeld said Forever 21 does not release financial information.

    Forever 21 originally opened in 1984 as Fashion 21 store. Since then it has expanded to become the fifth largest specialty retailer in America, according to its website.



    First generation trust fund bill public hearing today


    Monday, 09 Feb 2015 03:00am


    BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


    THE committee on public education will conduct a public hearing today at 4 p.m. for Bill 35-33, relative to creating the “First Generation Trust Fund Initiative,” in support of public high school graduates wanting to obtain a post-secondary education.

    Sen. Nerissa Underwood introduced the measure, which involves establishing a trust fund account for each eligible ninth grade student in Guam’s public schools to be used upon high school graduation for attendance at the University of Guam or the Guam Community College.

    The $500 account is designed to jump-start enrollment and provide a personal incentive for students to plan and envision their future.

    Speaker Judith Won Pat and Sen. Rory Respicio co-sponsored the measure, which is supported by a combined effort of the Guam Department of Education, Foundation for Public Education Inc., the University of Guam and Guam Community College.

    As proposed by the measure, the foundation is to have custody of the funds, including the development and manage the fund’s portfolio. GDOE, UOG and GCC are to commit investments which will be carved out of their annual appropriations starting in fiscal 2016.

    Should the bill become law, GDOE will appropriate $75,000 annually from its budget beginning in fiscal 2016. UOG will appropriate $250,000 and GCC will appropriate $150,000.

    Financial contributions may also be made to the fund by participating businesses and organizations on behalf of students that perform community service. Additionally, individual family members may also deposit into the student’s fund.

    Any amount not used for registration and enrollment fees for college is to be returned to the fund. If the student’s fund is not used within one year of graduation from high school, the student’s account will be closed and the money reserved for the next group of eligible ninth grade students.

    Sunset provision

    The measure also has a sunset provision – the initiative shall come to an end by the eighth year of its existence unless new legislation is passed authorizing its continuation.

    During a press conference for the bill, Underwood said that with the cooperation of GDOE and its foundation board, UOG, GCC and the general public, the initiative would enhance the chances of the next generation to pursue higher education.

    GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said the investment is worth it, adding that the students would end up in the island’s institutions of higher learning, and eventually, back in the community, with a degree and ready to be productive.



    Andersen personnel strengthen Korea bonds with capstone visit


    Monday, 09 Feb 2015 03:00am


    PRESS RELEASE


    •  (AAFB) – More than 100 Republic of Korea senior military leaders received a first-hand look at Andersen Air Force Base and other military installations on Guam during a Korean National Defense University capstone event.

      The visit, supported by the U.S. Pacific Command, is designed to educate newly selected generals and admirals on key issues and capabilities as well as strengthen the U.S.-ROK alliance.

      Split between two days on Jan. 23 and Jan. 30, the visit provided ROK flag officers a chance to view B-52 Stratofortress bombers and ask maintainers and pilots questions in order to gain a better understanding of the role Andersen airmen play in maintaining stability in the region.

      "(It was great to have the opportunity for the ROK military leaders) to see the strategic mission that is enabled by the airpower stationed at Andersen and the Naval base ... which directly affects and improves the ROK and U.S. alliance and also our combined defense readiness posture," said Lt. Gen. Seung Ho Wee of Korea.

      Korean flag officers also met with Andersen leadership.

      "It's an honor to have our ROK partners here," said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Andrew Toth, 36th Wing commander. "Hosting this capstone tour offers military members from both our nations the opportunity to meet face-to-face, build relationships and learn more about our partners' capabilities."

      The ROK leaders later noted the unique capabilities Andersen brings to the Pacific theater.

      "I think (the tour) will have a great impact on the ROK and U.S. alliance," Wee said. "Our future leaders of Korean military, the 41 flag-level officers and the officers selected to be flag-level officers are here to directly witness and see for themselves the assets of the Air Force and Navy stationed on Guam."

      ROK leaders also visited various sites in Hawaii before they arrived in Guam. While in Hawaii, they visited the Punchbowl National Cemetery, Pacific Warfighter Center, Pacific Aviation Museum and the Navy's USS Missouri, as well as tour Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. (By Staff Sgt. Robert Hicks, 36th Wing Public Affairs)



    • Thousands attend Dusit Thani job fair


      Monday, 09 Feb 2015 03:00am


      PRESS RELEASE


      •  (DTGR) – The Dusit Thani Guam Resort hosted a recruitment job fair Saturday as it looks to fill positions in all departments of the resort as well as the six food and entertainment outlets and Devarana Spa. More than 3,000 people filled the University of Guam Calvo Field House. Applicants applied and were screened for the 350 open positions at the island’s newest five-star luxury resort and first convention center.

        “We had an incredible showing at today’s job fair. We are excited to begin bringing the people and talent on board who will be part of our world-class team, dedicated to bringing a new level of service to the island, ” said Dean Huntsman, general manager.

        Applications will be reviewed over the next few weeks with candidates to be contacted for additional interviews.

        Those who missed Saturday’s job fair are still welcome to apply. Applications can be picked up and turned in at the resort’s pre-opening office on the second floor of The Plaza in Tumon.

        Applicants can also find a list of open positions and applications at www.dusitguamresort.com.

        The Dusit Thani Guam Resort is slated to have a soft opening in April that will include the opening of the main areas, one or two restaurants and more than 200 hotel rooms. Additional rooms, banquet facilities and convention center will open up in a phased approach through June.




    Modifying the Jones Act

    Thursday, 29 Jan 2015 03:00am

    BY SEN. MARY CAMACHO TORRES

    FOR more than 20 years, island leaders and national politicians have advocated for an exemption from the Jones Act’s application to Guam, with little success. Most recently, Sen. John McCain proposed an amendment to the Keystone XL Pipeline Act which would essentially repeal the domestic build requirement of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (commonly known as the Jones Act). Inasmuch as many are encouraged by the resurgence of this topic in the U.S. Senate, immediate opposition by 32 members of Congress plus the poor track record of prior attempts suggests passage of a repeal is far from certain. The Jones Act is a politically charged national issue that has been vigorously debated by the U.S. House and Senate members for many decades and the arguments for and against repeal continue.

    Many have expressed that repeal of the Jones Act or granting an exemption from the Act’s application for insular areas of the U.S. will open the market to foreign competition and result in lower shipping costs. Subsequently there will be the realization of lower cost of consumer commodities for residents of Guam, Puerto Rico and Hawaii. Others, however, submit that Guam is already serviced by three foreign vessels that transport cargo from points in Asia and Australia to Guam and not all commodities that originate from non-U.S. export countries are exceptionally lower priced than U.S. exported goods. This, they argue suggests that prices are determined to a significant degree by economies of scale and market demand and not solely by (higher) shipping costs.

    Guam will see continued growth in tourist arrivals and construction projects, so an affordable, reliable and adequate shipping service to our island is vital to sustain our local economy and ensure delivery of critical supplies to our citizens. Many believe that the Jones Act provides these assurances for Guam and should not be repealed or amended. Meanwhile proponents emphasize that exempting Guam from the Jones Act will provide immediate relief from high shipping costs and open the market to added shipping providers. A 2013 U.S. General Accountability Office Report which evaluated the characteristics of island maritime trade and potential effects of modifying the Jones Act, highlighted that the consequences of modification are uncertain.

    During my tenure as general manager of the Port Authority of Guam, it was apparent that the volume of cargo that passes through our island on the sole U.S. flagged vessel servicing Guam is limited. About 30,000 TEUs (20-foot containers) are shipped through Guam annually, which pales in comparison to the more than 13 million TEUs shipped throughout the Pacific. A modification to the Jones Act may not necessarily translate into lower shipping costs if the supply and demand is insufficient to support additional carriers or if foreign shippers become bound by laws and regulations imposed by the Department of Transportation. Of course, the present landscape of carriers to Guam may change altogether with an amendment or repeal of the Jones Act. Because certainties still exist, we must carefully examine, monitor and contribute to the ongoing discussion to better anticipate the consequences that flow from any modification of this almost century-old law.

    Past history and expenditure of hundreds of thousands of GovGuam taxpayer dollars on legal fees combating application of the Jones Act teaches us that modifying the Act transcends Guam and suggests that we should not bank on a solution that may be beyond our national political clout. While the national and local debate over the Jones Act continues, we must not lose sight of what relief can be implemented locally. Sound policy making warrants that we continue to explore tax and other incentives to help lower the consumer costs on Guam, increase competition and create new industries. As vice chairwoman of the Committee on Finance and Taxation, General Government Operations and Youth Development, I look forward to working with committee Chairman Michael San Nicolas in exploring incentives, tax policies and reforms that promote true savings to our consumers. Increased consumer demand and improved economies of scale are also in the foreseeable future with continued tourism and organic and military growth on Guam which may provide further relief.

    Guam’s water supply: A human right for all?

    Thursday, 15 Jan 2015 03:00am

    BY SEN. MARY CAMACHO TORRES

    THE right to water is a human right under international law yet it is estimated that nearly one in every six people globally does not have access to clean water. Many international organizations work to mitigate injustices in the control and profit of water systems, prevent skewed consumption and ensure fair distribution to vulnerable communities. Although Guam is blessed with an annual rainfall of 85 to 115 inches and an abundant supply of ground water in our northern aquifers, the heated topic of water rights and unreasonable rates often surfaces in our small community over management of the Fena Reservoir.

    The Navy controls the Fena Reservoir located in the Naval Munitions Site and restricts access to the general public. The Guam Waterworks Authority purchases water supplied by the Navy from Fena to service civilian consumers in the southern villages of Agat and Santa Rita. Previously, GWA purchased close to 73 million gallons a month from the Navy but reduced the quantity to 41 million gallons as a cost savings measure following a 40 percent rate hike by the Navy. The existing supplier/customer relationship between the Navy and GovGuam over the commodity of water is a recurring point of contention by members in our community.

    Use-based rights to water normally rely on whether the user has legal access to the water source. Generally, use-based rights are fully transferable, but this scenario may not easily apply to the Navy and GovGuam because of the restricted access to the Fena Reservoir. Nonetheless, one could argue that despite its control of the production and distribution of water from Fena, the Navy should have provisions that are reasonable and beneficial to the entire community. Fundamentally, access to water should not be so restrictive (or cost prohibitive) that it becomes unattainable to the civilian distribution system and the common citizen.

    Over the past few decades, we’ve realized the transfer of management and assets from the Department of Navy to GovGuam, and some have suggested that the operation of the Fena Reservoir and treatment facility should similarly be transferred. The GWA is, after all, operating the vast majority of water wells on Guam already, and at a cost per production well below the rates being assessed by the Navy for Fena water. But is it merely a matter of price and distribution of this precious natural resource, or should we instead by asking ourselves why we are still in this unusual commercial relationship, given the history of transfer of Naval Air Station, the airport and Guam Power Authority?

    As a community that looks forward to continued growth in our population, whether through natural organic growth, the military buildup or transient population swells in tourism, we must set our sights not only on expanding access to more water sources but equally as well to conservation measures. The sustainability of our small island imprint requires that we as individuals begin to look at conservation of our natural resources. We should focus on reduced utility consumption as zealously as we pursue cost reduction. Now that we’re coming to grips with compliant waste water disposal, we should turn our attention to green energy alternatives and gray water technologies to recycle usable waste water.

    The water retail business is a world entirely on its own and separate from the basic human right to water. I am not suggesting that there exists grave injustices in the treatment and distribution of water on Guam, or that people in our community are denied the fundamental human right to access this precious natural commodity. I do believe, however, there exists a debatable practice that allows for a military entity to sell a natural commodity to a civilian population at a price many consider unreasonable and cost prohibitive for the underprivileged consumer. I look forward to any discussions about future transfer of assets and management, but in the interim remain optimistic with the utility commission’s objective to wean itself from the Fena Reservoir water source.

    Shipping shortage possible

    Friday, 06 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    • http://mvguam.com/images/resized/images/stories/localnews/020615/top_200_200.jpgIf West Coast ports proceed with lockout

      MONTHS-LONG negotiations between port owners and port employees over employment conditions at ports along the U.S. West Coast caused a slowdown in operations last October and it is possible a full lockout could happen soon with a sizable impact on Guam and Hawaii.

      According to Michael Hansen, president of the Hawaii Shippers’ Council, disagreements between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU)  “appear to be coming to a head and may lead to a lockout in the next five to 10 days.”

      PMA President and CEO Jim McKenna told mainland media at a press conference yesterday at 8 a.m. Guam time that the low productivity and congestion at the ports could translate into a lockout in less than two weeks. McKenna said it is the last thing the association wants.

      PMA represents the port owners and ocean shipping companies, while ILWU represent employees. The lockout would mean an end to cargo movements through 29 U.S. West Coast ports and since both Hawaii and Guam depend largely on cargo that come through those ports, a lockout could mean both places will experience a shortage of supplies.

      While international carriers would still be able to carry cargo to both Hawaii and Guam, Hansen said the two islands are highly dependent on U.S. cargo and without shipments, there will likely be shortages.

      Effects

      American Samoa is already feeling the effects of the slowdown, Hansen said. Last week, Radio New Zealand International reported that ships to American Samoa were delayed, causing a shortage in eggs and milk on the island and fresh produce prices were jumping in light of the shipping delay.

      Hansen said the union agreed to continue to work domestic U.S. shipping to Alaska and that agreement might be extended to Hawaii and Guam. “However, if the West Coast container terminals and ports are fully congested, it may not be possible to continue working the cargo unimpeded,” Hansen said.

      Hansen estimated it would take about a week for Hawaii and two weeks for Guam to register the lockdown’s effect on delivering merchandise. However, that timeline is dependent on which ships were able to load and pull out of the West Coast ports before the lockdown, if it happens.

      Even before the Coast Contract between port employers and employees expired in July 2014, PMA and the union began negotiating a contract and after it expired, port workers continued working without the contract, Hansen said.

      “The employers have conceded to most union demands with their last offer, and according to the reporting, the union raised a half dozen new demands and bringing the PMA to the point where they are seriously considering a lockout,” Hansen said.

      The union seems to be unwilling to wrap up negotiations and created congestion at the port, Hansen said. Port employees are withholding labor and bringing up more issues late in the negotiation talks, which could be a tactic to generate support among the rank-and-file employees to reinforce the union’s ability to exercise control over the work they consider their jurisdiction, Hansen said.

      Hansen added that the lockout could cost the U.S. $1 billion to $2 billion a day. The best solution would be for the parties to agree on terms so port operations can continue or President Barack Obama may be forced to invoke the provisions of the Taft Hartley Act of 1947, Hansen said.

      Then-President George W. Bush invoked the act in 2001 in response to a lockout between PMA and ILWU. The act, also called the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, is a federal law which provides an 80-day injunction against strikes that endanger public health and safety. It bans closed shops, boycotts and certain other union practices.

     

    Defense officials include Guam in budget media briefings

    Friday, 06 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY FRANK WHITMAN | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    THE $126 million live-fire training range planned for the Northwest Field area of Andersen Air Force Base is considered part of the infrastructure for the military’s “rebalance” to the Pacific, according to Rear Adm. William Lescher, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget.

    Lescher spoke Wednesday to the media at the Pentagon in Washington about the proposed fiscal year 2016 Navy budget that was part of President Barack Obama’s budget proposal submitted to Congress on Monday.

    “A live-fire range on Guam is funded to support the training of 4,700 Marines planned for relocation at Guam by FY 2021,” Lescher told reporters as he presented the Navy’s proposed military construction projects.

    The goal of the rebalance is to have 60 percent of the Navy’s aircraft and 60 percent of its ships into the Pacific region by 2020, Lescher said. That will include an increase from 52 ships in the Asia-Pacific region to 65 ships in five years. “From an infrastructure perspective, so with investments in Guam and Iwakuni, et cetera, are all again focused and consistent with that strategic direction on the transition to the Pacific,” he said.

    In a separate Department of Defense media briefing also about the proposed fiscal 2016 budget, Vice Adm. James Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency, said his agency would “continue the support for the TPY-2 radar as part of our forward deployed THAAD battery in Guam.”

    The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery was deployed to Andersen Air Force Base in April 2013 in response to North Korean threats directed at Guam. The TPY-2 radar “provides surveillance, track, discrimination and fire control support for the (THAAD) weapon system,” according to the MDA website.

    Commitment

    In a third Pentagon media briefing on the proposed budget, Under Secretary Of Defense (comptroller) Mike McCord, in response to a question assured reporters that the budget reflected a continued commitment to the rebalance.

    “Shifting the assets we have, say the naval assets, from being 50/50 Atlantic Pacific toward the 60/40, that continues,” he said. “Some of the major construction and modernization footprint moves that we've had anywhere – anywhere in the world the last couple of years – have been at Camp Humphreys ... and then the movement with the government of Japan that in concert from Okinawa to Guam, those continue.  And we certainly, as you know, have some progress to report on that front, and since Mr. Hale presented this budget last year with General Ramsay, in terms of landfill permit and other political progress, as well as environmental studies being completed.”



    Doctor estimates more than 30,000 residents have diabetes


    Thursday, 05 Feb 2015 03:00am


    BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


    ENDOCRINOLOGIST  Dr. Tim Arakawa said Guam data show a high prevalence of diagnosed diabetes cases but considering how many cases go undiagnosed, that number may be higher.


    At Tuesday’s luncheon meeting of the Rotary Club of Tumon Bay held at the Pacific Star Resort & Spa, Arakawa and Dr. Ana Leigh Ursales, spoke to Rotarians about diabetes and infectious diseases on Guam.

    Ursales and Arakawa are physicians with the Seventh-day Adventist Guam Clinic.

    Arakawa said based on the annual Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Survey, there is a 12 percent incidence of diabetes in America, which includes the number of people who might have diabetes but do not know it.

    In Guam, Arakawa said the latest available data shows the diabetes rate is about 14 percent. This number does not include how many people have not been diagnosed by a doctor and also have the disease.

    “If you extrapolate how many cases of diabetes there might be of people both diagnosed and undiagnosed, we’re talking about a rate of about 20 percent,” Arakawa said. “And a lot of people actually think that’s a very conservative number.”

    There are a lot of potential diabetes cases in Guam as well, the doctor said. “Based on the current population of 160,000, we’re looking at about 30,000 (people) who have diabetes,” he said. With less than a handful of endocrinologists on island, that amounts to a few thousand patients for each endocrinologist Arakawa said.

    Study

    Arakawa said he read about a medical study that examined the effects of medication and lifestyle change on decreasing a person’s risk of developing diabetes. The study revealed that while medication did help, changing eating habits and regular exercise was a much better prevention method to reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

    The study involved more than 3,000 people who were overweight and determined to be “pre-diabetic,” Arakawa said. Doctors use the term “pre-diabetes” to describe people who are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and for heart disease and stroke.

    “When we address the diabetic population in Guam, we want to use the most effective means and ones that will address the root cause,” Arakawa said.

    Chronic diabetes occurs at a high rate on Guam, Arakawa said. People who are obese have a higher chance of developing the disease and in Guam about 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 children are considered obese.

    Arakawa said this does not include people who are considered overweight.

    Early detection is key to preventing more individuals from developing the disease, said Ursales.

    In addition to Arakawa’s presentation on diabetes, Ursales presented on infectious diseases common on Guam.

    Ursales said tuberculosis, whooping cough, HIV, leprosy and staph infections are common on the island. Most of the leprosy cases are from migrants who come to Guam from neighboring islands, she said.

    Since the 1980s, there have been about 200 cases of HIV reported on Guam, but some health providers question if there is enough screening done for the disease, Ursales said. She also said some people prefer to be tested for the disease off-island and that there is not a dedicated HIV clinic in Guam.



    Students speak out on issues


    Thursday, 05 Feb 2015 03:00am


    BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


    • Importance of civic engagement stressed

      AT LEAST 200 students from the different public high schools let the public and island leaders know what matters to them as they converged yesterday afternoon in Hagåtña, urging action on issues such as the recent pay raises, better education, and improvements in public safety.

      Motorists traversing Marine Corps Drive honked their horns while students – mostly seniors from Simon Sanchez, John F. Kennedy, Tiyan, and Southern High Schools – held up signs which read: “Less Talk, More Action,” “Why Raise? What Have You Done for Us?”

      Another student took inspiration from Martin Luther King, carrying a placard that read: “I have a dream ... Sharks will have a better home!”

      According to SSHS teacher Andri Baynum, the objective of the outreach was to promote Black History month and also, more importantly, civic engagement.

      “Civic engagement was used by our civil rights leaders. They engaged their leaders and they engaged the public into the issues that were important to them. So we need to start doing the same thing,” Baynum said.

      “The issues represented here today run the gamut – everything from rebuilding our schools, roads, to streetlights, safety, and the raises. All of these issues are a part of the civic engagement movement that we are trying to do,” he added.

      Shared thoughts

      Several SSHS seniors shared their thoughts on the outreach, in particular, issues which they believe should be prioritized by island leaders.

      For Shaina Dado, the conditions of most roads on Guam need to be addressed as well as the need for more cops ensuring public safety.

      Meanwhile, Luke Fernandez said better education and addressing crimes rank high on his list. “We really want to make the issues known in our community,” he said. “We see it in the news but there seems to be no push to make things better, or for the quality of living to be better.”

      Chelsea Nauta said, “We are just really looking for a safer community.”

      Speak up

      According to “Civic Responsibility and Higher Education,” edited by Thomas Ehrlich, “civic engagement is "working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes."

      For Kat Valencia and the other students, it is important for the youth to speak up and get involved. “If you get the youth to speak up, we can get the adults and other people to speak up, too,” she said.

      “The more people that are involved, the more chances there will be change in the community,” Dado said.

      “Because this is our island and we are trying to make a better place for our future and everybody else,” Nauta said.

      For Baynum, the outreach served as a platform for students taking ownership of their future.

      “This is their island. We need to do the best for them and make sure that they understand that in order for the government to work, they need to take ownership of their island. Their leaders don’t own this island, the governor doesn’t own it. The senators do not own this place. The future belongs to these kids. We need to teach them to engage the people who are in power,” he said.

      NOAA grants Guam more than $870,000

      Posted: Feb 05, 2015  by Ken Quintanilla  KUAM

      Guam - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has awarded the Government of Guam $878,000 worth of federal grant assistance.

      Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo announced the grant which will go to support guam's coastal management program. The funds will specifically support jobs and provide continued assistance to the program along with providing outreach and education, responsible coastal development and training opportunities for the local construction industry to promote best practices for stormwater management.

       


    Completion of runway project eyed

    Thursday, 05 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY MONETH G. DEPOSA-ELECO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    A THREE-PART project at the A.B. Won Pat International Airport is expected to be fully completed within the year.

    Included in the project is the runway rehabilitation that was granted an additional federal grant of $800,000 as announced by the airport on Monday.

    According to Elfrieda Koshiba, Guam International Airport Authority program coordinator, the runway rehabilitation project is one component of the three-part project that includes the runway rehabilitation work, the closure of Central Avenue (which currently serves as entrance to, and exit from, Tiyan at Route 8) and the installation of precision approach path indicator (PAPI) system for runway 24L/6R.

    “Currently, we are working with the (Federal Aviation Administration) to secure additional funding to complete these three projects. We are anticipating another grant award in the summer months, to finish everything off,” she told Variety.

    Koshiba said the bulk of the funding received for the projects was sourced from the FAA. The federal agency shoulders the 90 percent of the cost while GIAA is assigned to cover the remaining 10 percent as its co-share.

    Work on the three projects, Variety was told, began in 2013 and all should be completed by the latter part of this year.

    The recent $800,000 award was a reimbursement for the work completed on the primary runway which has been extended.

    The Runway 6L/24 previously measured 10,000 linear feet. It was extended by 1,000 linear feet on both ends – extending the entire runway to 12,000 linear feet in length.

    According to GIAA, funding utilized for the runway rehab project was sourced from multiple FAA grants.

    Closer

    Chuck Ada, executive manager of the airport, said that the latest grant will bring the agency closer to the opening of the runway for full operation.

    “Guam has been given a unique opportunity not only to extend our runway for increased capacity and loads, but also to strengthen and rehabilitate our primary runway for the safe operations of long-range, fully loaded aircraft and even newer aircraft models,” said Ada.

    Ada said the runway is expected to be operational during the summer of this year.

    “This brings us one step closer to open the full runway for operations, key to our ability to meet the demands of the future and attract new business that will economically benefit the whole island. We appreciate the FAA’s full support for the airport’s improvement efforts and projects,” he said.

    In July 2014, GIAA received $4.55 million from FAA’s airport improvement program grants for the continuation of the runway project.

    During that time, it was announced that nearly $12 million in federal funds has been received for the runway rehabilitation works and final funding is expected this fiscal year.



    Telo tapped as GVB deputy GM


    Thursday, 05 Feb 2015 03:00am


    BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


    http://mvguam.com/images/resized/images/stories/localnews/020515/telo_200_200.jpgTelo Taitague


    GUAM Visitors Bureau General Manager Jon Nathan Denight announced yesterday he has chosen former Sen. Telo Taitague to serve as his deputy general manager.


    Denight took on the general manager role on Feb. 1 after working under former GM Karl Pangelinan for four years. Pangelinan announced his resignation Dec. 15, 2014; it was effective Jan. 31.

    Taitague previously worked as the governor’s special assistant for external affairs.

    The bureau announced Taitague’s new position in a news release. Taitague will help manage the Destination Development Department at GVB, said Josh Tyquiencgo, GVB public information officer. The division oversees sports and events tourism, tourism industry relations and cultural heritage efforts.

    Denight said Taitague is a welcome addition to the bureau. “With her years of experience as a former lawmaker and a private business owner, she has the skills needed to help us continue to diversify arrivals and enhance our visitor experience,” Denight said in a statement.

    Taitague most recently worked as the governor’s liaison to the Guam Legislature, Judiciary of Guam, Mayors’ Council of Guam and foreign affairs.

    Taitague is a graduate of George Washington High School and attended the University of Guam and North Carolina Fayetteville Technical Community College.

    The new deputy general manager said she is looking forward to working with Denight, the staff of GVB, the governor and the legislature to propel the tourism industry forward.

    “Tourism is the lifeblood of our economy and GVB continues to play a vital role in promoting everything that makes our island a great place to live, work and visit,” she said in a statement.



    AG supports in-house counsel bill with some modifications


    Thursday, 05 Feb 2015 03:00am


    BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


    • DURING a public hearing for Bill 31-33, which was introduced by Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz pertaining to the hiring of in-house attorneys, Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson testified that she wants the process of hiring in-house counsel to be placed under the Office of the Attorney General to ensure consistency in legal opinion.

      Cruz re-introduced the legislation to end what he described as “exorbitant” legal billing for government agencies. The bill provides a 10 percent differential pay for full-time classified in-house attorneys, with maximum additional credit for seniority and experience.

      The measure also has a provision facilitating accessibility of tax records.

      Barrett-Anderson said she supports the legislation’s intent to cut cost. “I agree with the vice speaker wholeheartedly. You can get a very experienced attorney for about $120,000 or a little less. That is good money nowadays for an in-house counsel. No problem that it is classified,” she said.

      However, her one concern with the measure is its extra 10 percent provision.

      “I do know that if this bill does pass, line agencies who are authorized to hire their own lawyers like GDOE will turn to the ranks of the assistant generals in my office who have the experience in the areas of personnel, procurement, etc, and offer them that 10 percent and I will lose them,” she said.

      System

      The attorney general recommended putting a system in place, especially for the line agencies, wherein the attorney general’s office provides the in-house counsel through a service agreement.

      The in-house counsel will be under the purview of the OAG for consistency and will also conform to the attorney general’s requirement for cognizance over all legal matters.

      “This is needed so we will have consistency in opinions, interpretations, procurement and personnel laws,” Barrett-Anderson said, noting that the attorney general’s office has expertise on these legal areas.

      “With regard to autonomous agencies, we can still do the same thing, as we do with line agencies,” she said. “I would like to see any opinion issued by an in-house counsel that is not under the charge of the AG. I want to be able to review any opinion issued, not daily things, just opinions in the event I disagree with the opinion of a totally independent in-house counsel.”

      Barrett-Anderson said retainer agreements can be limited to areas and fields of law that the OAG has no expertise in.

      Solicitor’s division

      The attorney general also said she is in the process of rebuilding the solicitor’s division, which functions as GovGuam’s legal department and provides legal assistance to the various executive branch agencies, boards and commissions.

      During the current budget submission and review cycle, the OAG will be submitting a request to bring up the number of attorneys to 12.

      “The solicitor’s division is the core of daily legal operations,” she said. By rebuilding the division, Barrett-Anderson said complaints regarding the lengthy wait time for legal requests would be addressed.

      “I have walked back to that office after 20 years and I have heard every government agency complain that it takes so long to get anything out of the AG’s office. I recognize that and I intend to correct it. By rebuilding the solicitor’s division, contracts should have a return time of an average of 10 days, if there are a little bit more issues, maybe 30 days. An opinion, maybe 60 days, or even less than that,” she said.

      Necessary

      According to Cruz, who convened the public hearing, the legislation is necessary in light of the “outrageous” legal fees racked up by the Port Authority of Guam.

      “Good legal counsel is essential but taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars when a more cost-effective option exists. Under this bill, taxpayers save money and agencies still receive sound legal advice,” Cruz said.

      Currently, GovGuam agencies are permitted to retain counsel other than the attorney general and they have no limitations on the amount paid for outside legal services.

      The new bill will require the Office of the Attorney General to certify the need for outside counsel in writing to the speaker of the Guam Legislature and the governor.

      In addition, the outside counsel must have at least five years’ experience in the relevant subject matter or specialized area under litigation.

      Cruz said he has been a staunch opponent of excessive legal billing within the government of Guam. In response to mounting legal fees of more than $800,000 for the Guam International Airport Authority for fiscal 2008, Cruz introduced legislation in 2009 relative to designating the airport’s staff attorney to represent the agency during litigation.



    GovGuam estimates $144M impact from Compact agreement

    Wednesday, 04 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    THE Office of the Governor released its annual Impact of the Compacts of Free Association report for the island, outlining how health, education and public safety departments were affected as a result of providing services for migrants from the freely associated states.

    In the latest annual report, the government estimated that various government agencies spent $144.3 million in fiscal 2014 for services related to FAS citizens and the Compact of Free Association.

    The Guam Department of Education is the single most “impacted” agency, based on the government’s cost estimates. In fiscal 2014, the education department estimated it spent $47.9 million for 6,818 students from the freely associated states. The FAS include the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau.

    “The Guam Department of Education continues to be the largest single agency on impact cost,” the report said. However, compared to data from fiscal year 2013, the government requested $6.5 million less money for Compact-impact reimbursements this year for the education department for the same number of students.

    In addition to the $47.9 million reportedly expended by GDOE, the government calculated that bus operations, Guam Community College and the University of Guam also incurred costs as a result of the Compacts of Free Association. In total, education reimbursements amount to $53 million for last fiscal year.

    Second largest

    The Department of Public Health and Social Services reported it spent $44 million in fiscal 2014, the second largest reimbursement amount requested from a government of Guam agency.

    “For FY 2014, the Department of Public Health and Social Services expended a total of $44,441,798 for services to FAS citizens,” the report stated.  This is about $1 million more requested over fiscal 2013.

    The breakdown provided by DPHSS did not include how many FAS citizens were served in fiscal 2014.

    The government also requested $3 million more in Compact-impact reimbursement for Guam Memorial Hospital for fiscal 2014, estimating about $17 million was spent to service 9,329 FAS citizens the entire fiscal year.

    FAS citizens make up 20 percent of all the patients admitted to the hospital in fiscal 2014.

    “The emergency room reported 5,406 FAS admissions at a cost of $5,830,173. In-patient costs were reported at $22,197,709 for 2,836 FAS admissions,” the report said. “Out-patient cost was $715,235 for 1,087 FAS admissions.”

    Overall, GMH reported $28.7 million in gross charges were billed to FAS citizens and about 60 percent, $17.6 million, remained unpaid.

    Combined, GovGuam estimated the impact to DPHSS and GMH to cost $61 million, $8 million more than was estimated for education Compact-impact expenses for FY 2014.

    Like health and welfare costs, the government reported more costly impacts to the public safety agencies last fiscal year compared to fiscal 2013. The police, fire and correctional departments reported more than $1 million in extra expenses related to the Compacts of Free Association in fiscal 2014.

    OAG

    Also, despite not reporting Compact-impact costs since fiscal 2008, the Office of the Attorney General submitted a report for last year, citing $2 million in expenses related to servicing FAS citizens.

    “In FY 2014, the cost for cases involving FAS clients totaled $2.6 million. The Prosecution Division reported the largest expense of the attorney general’s office for cases involving 934 FAS caseload participants at $1.2 million,” the report said. “No reports were submitted by the Office of the Attorney General between FY 2008 and FY 2013.”

    Additionally, last fiscal year, the Superior Court of Guam spent $5.6 million on 1,261 cases involving FAS citizens out of a total of 7,827 cases.

    The Department of Interior said in a statement yesterday that the federal government will grant $31 million for Compact-impact reimbursements to be shared among Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands and Hawaii. Last year, the federal government appropriated $30 million to be divided among the four entities.

    Guam received $16 million of that $30 million in Compact-impact reimbursements. The money was divided among 12 government agencies.

    In 2013, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report suggesting that the estimated costs of supporting migrants from the freely associated states in Guam, Hawaii and the CNMI are unreliable.

    Former Senator Telo Taitague Chosen as GVB Deputy General Manager



    (February 4, 2015 – Tumon, Guam) The Guam Visitors Bureau has announced today that former senator and Governor Calvo’s special assistant for external affairs Telo Taitague has been officially selected as its next Deputy General Manager.

    As a seasoned policy maker and government expert, General Manager Nathan Denight chose Taitague to help him lead the Bureau as the public and private sectors work together to achieve the goals of the Tourism 2020 plan.

    “Telo is a welcome addition to our GVB family. With her years of experience as a former lawmaker and a private business owner, she has the skills needed to help us continue to diversify arrivals and enhance our visitor experience,” said GVB General Manager Nathan Denight.

    Taitague most recently served as the governor’s liaison to the Guam Legislature, Judicial Branch, Mayors Council and Foreign Affairs. She was elected to the 30th Guam Legislature and recognized by the U.S. Congress for passing legislation mandating the use of ultra low sulfur diesel fuel.  Additionally, the George Washington High School graduate was the director of the Women’s Bureau where she advocated for young women incarcerated for a better life. She also attended the University of Guam and North Carolina Fayetteville Technical Community College in the paralegal program. Taitague has been a professional musician and vocalist for over 23 years and is the owner of Telophoto, Inc.

    “Tourism is the lifeblood of our economy and GVB continues to play a vital role in promoting everything that makes our island a great place to live, work and visit. It’s important for us to maintain our cultural identity to promote what sets us apart from the rest of the world,” said Taitague. “I look forward to working with General Manager Nathan Denight, the staff of GVB, Governor Calvo and the legislature to propel the tourism industry forward.”

     

    Obama requests $267M in military construction for Guam

    Wednesday, 04 Feb 2015 03:00am

    PRESS RELEASE

    OMZB) – Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo yesterday issued a statement following the release of preliminary details of the president’s budget proposal for fiscal 2016.

    The president’s budget requests $266.97 million for military construction projects in Guam to support the Marine realignment and bolster Guam’s strategic importance in the Asia-Pacific region. The president’s budget includes $34.4 million in appropriations for a Corrosion Control Repair Facility at Andersen Air Force Base that was authorized last year in the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.

    The president’s budget has also requested $99.66 million to support Guam and the other territories through the Office of Insular Affairs, including $24.24 million in technical assistance, $3 million for brown tree snake control, and $1 million for coral reef initiatives.

    The president’s budget also anticipates $71 million for Section 30 remittances to Guam for fiscal 2016. However, the budget requests a decrease to discretionary Compact-impact funding from $3 million in FY 2015 to $1.34 million.

    Bordallo successfully fought this decrease last year and will again work with her colleagues to maintain level funding for discretionary Compact-impact at $3 million; the $30 million in mandatory Compact-impact funding remains intact.

    “I am pleased that the president’s budget eliminates the harmful cuts of sequestration and makes significant investments in education, infrastructure, national defense and job creation,” Bordallo said.

    “I am also pleased that the president has requested $267 million in military construction projects for Guam. The president’s budget builds on the progress that we have made in past years to move forward with the realignment of Marines from Okinawa to Guam, and it reinforces Guam’s strategic importance in the Asia-Pacific region,” she added.

    Bordallo said she also appreciates that the president continues to support funding to the territories through the Office of Insular Affairs. The president’s budget requests $24.2 million for technical assistance to the insular areas and anticipates $71 million in Section 30 remittances to the government of Guam.

    “I also applaud the president’s emphasis on climate change and commend the administration for requesting $7 million for a new Resilient Insular Areas program to help plan and prepare for the impacts of climate change. However I am disappointed that the administration has again requested to decrease funding for discretionary Compact-impact assistance to the territories. While the $30 million in mandatory spending for Compact-impact remains intact, the department has requested a $1.7 million decrease from FY 2015 levels. We should not decrease federal funding for Compact-impact, which is already significantly underfunded. I continue to believe that the administration must make this issue a higher priority, and will work with my colleagues in Congress to again maintain level funding for this account,” Bordallo said.

     

    Variety has new ownership

    Wednesday, 04 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY FRANK WHITMAN | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    Guam Times LLC to enhance newspaper’s operations

    MARIANAS Variety-Guam has been purchased from Younis Art Studio Inc. of Saipan by Guam Times LLC. The companies announced the purchase yesterday.

    Guam Times said it is excited about the newspaper’s growth potential under the continuing leadership of its publisher, Amier Younis, and his team.

    “Guam has seen the growth of the Variety over the past 10 years,” Younis said. “We’re excited Guam Times LLC wants to help the Variety do what it takes to grow even more. Our readership and advertiser base has been growing because our readers know we are committed to journalism, the truth and community development. Variety’s growth will mean the growth of journalism and accountability on Guam.”

    Guam Times is owned by Ho S. Eun. Eun also is the founder and owner of Core Tech International Corp.

    “The publisher, the newsroom and the staff all are committed to a higher standard of journalism,” Eun said. “What makes the Variety so successful is the independence of their newsroom. It’s a great operation. We see the potential and the value of investing in this market. We are a local company that wants to engage residents with great journalism backed up by local ownership. We’re excited to give it the local support it needs to flourish.”

    Previous owner Younis Art Studio is a Saipan-based corporation that publishes Marianas Variety News & Views. The company has been publishing in the CNMI for more than 40 years. Younis Art Studio entered the Guam market about 15 years ago as Guam Variety before relaunching the Marianas Variety-Guam Edition in 2004.

    Balance

    “Our Guam operation grew into a newspaper of general circulation and a member of mainstream media that gave balance to the field of print journalism on Guam,” said Laila Younis-Boyer, president of Younis Art Studio. “The CNMI is entering a new economic era, and our company wants to focus where we started, on our core. We are happy with the direction Guam Times LLC wants to take the Guam operation, and we look forward to the newspaper’s success.”

    Guam Times officials assured subscribers and vendors there will be a seamless transition in ownership. They need not worry about making any changes to their relationship with Marianas Variety-Guam. Operations will continue as normal without interruption. Guam Times and the Variety staff are handling all transition matters.

    Core Tech was founded by Eun in 1991 as Sun Woo Corp., a Guam construction company focused on commercial, office, retail and residential projects. In 1999, Sun Woo was reorganized into Core Tech International to specialize in civil and infrastructural works.

    • Mathew 4 hours ago

      Core Tech got that sweetheart deal with the Calvo administration for the Tiyan facility. Does that mean that Marianas Variety will be gun shy in critiquing Core Tech from here on out? Real journalism involves spending lots of man hours conducting investigative work, and not being a water carrier for the powers-that-be. (Right, Travis?)

    Administration appoints new top officials

    Wednesday, 04 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    THE Office of the Governor announced eight new Cabinet members to serve as directors and deputy directors of six government agencies in a press release sent yesterday.

    As of Monday, Feb. 2, Felix Benavente was designated deputy director of the Department of Public Works, under recently appointed Director Glenn Leon Guerrero.

    At the Department of Youth Affairs, Peter Alexcis Ada will be deputy director under Director Adonis Mendiola. William Reyes was assigned to work as deputy director at the Department of Parks and Recreation under Director Raymond Blas.

    Starting next Monday, Anthony Blaz will serve as director of the Department of Administration and Alfred Duenas will be his deputy director.

    Jose Calvo was assigned to head the Bureau of Budget and Management Research as director with Lester Carlson Jr. to be deputy director.

    At the Department of Corrections, Gov. Eddie Calvo assigned Carleen Borja as deputy director under Director Jose San Agustin.

    Borja, according to a statement from the governor’s office, was most recently the chief of staff for Sen. Brant McCreadie.

    Borja has a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Chaminade University and also served as a probation officer with the Judiciary of Guam and the U.S. District Court.

    Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio said a lot of work will be done in the coming weeks and months at the prison. Officials said they expect Borja will play an important role in the recently formed working group to help the prison address its serious problems.

    Best people

    Calvo said in a statement that as he and Tenorio start their second term, they want to ensure they are placing the best people where they are needed to fulfill an aggressive agenda set for the next four years.

    “Some of these names you’ve probably heard before, others you may not be so familiar with. They all bring years of experience and knowledge into these positions,” Tenorio said.

    Benavente and Leon Guerrero ran unsuccessfully as candidates during the November 2014 election for senator in the 33rd Guam Legislature.


    Forever 21, Dusit Thani hosting upcoming job fairs

    Wednesday, 04 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    • AS CONSTRUCTION work on the much-anticipated Forever 21 Tamuning location continues, efforts to recruit employees have ramped up.

      Guam Premier Outlets announced the retail store will host open interviews at the GPO food court next to the Froots outlet.

      The open interviews will take place next week from Wednesday, Feb. 11 through Sunday, Feb. 15, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m.

      Forever 21 encouraged interested applicants to apply for jobs on its website. As of yesterday afternoon, nine positions were open to applicants for the Guam location.

      The Dusit Thani Guam Resort is also still under construction but is seeking to hire employees this month. On Monday, the resort announced in a news release that it would be hosting a job fair at the University of Guam Field House this Saturday, Feb. 7 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

      Dusit Thani is looking to hire 350 people for 100 positions in various departments including the kitchen, purchasing, information technology, sales and marketing, human resources/training, housekeeping, laundry, engineering, front office, recreation and spa, and food and beverage.

      Mindy Aguon, Dusit Thani Guam Resort public relations manager, said 20 positions at the resort have already been filled and the company “absolutely” anticipates that there are enough individuals on Guam to meet its employment needs.

      Soft opening

      Aguon said the resort will likely hold a soft opening in April with about 250 hotel rooms, the main areas and one or two restaurants open. Eventually, more guest rooms, banquet rooms and function rooms will be open for a grand opening anticipated in June.

      The 30-story resort will have 417 hotel rooms including 381 standard rooms, 29 one-bedroom suites, five premium suites, a presidential suite and a 10,000-square-foot entertainment suite. O.A. Coloma is the architect behind the resort’s design.

      Aguon said construction material delays were the primary cause of the delayed hotel opening and said the resort is on track for its opening and is on budget.

      Guam Premier Outlets officials confirmed last year that Forever 21 would open a location in the space that used to house California Mart.

      In November, contractor Isagani Baluyut Construction was granted a building permit from the Department of Public Works allowing interior alteration of the 20,292-square-foot space. According to the building permit, the cost is about $975,000.

    Cruz asks Adelup to help lobby for COFA money

    Wednesday, 04 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    To help fund water systems integration

    VICE Speaker Benjamin Cruz has asked the governor to help lobby for Compact-impact funds to help fund the integration of the island's water system.

    According to Cruz, the U.S. government continues to be "mum" about the $300 million in Compact-impact obligation to Guam already acknowledged by federal law.

    In a letter to Gov. Eddie Calvo, Cruz said the Compact-impact funding can be used for the cash purchase of the Fena Reservoir, which the Navy currently owns and from which the Guam Waterworks Authority continues to buy water for the southern villages.

    In his letter, Cruz particularly decried the lack of federal response to the 40 percent hike to the water rate the U.S. Navy charges GWA.

    “While this glaring disparity seeded significant concern throughout our community, no federal entity has concretely agreed to roll back the rate increases to a more reasonable figure or adopt an adequate phase-in period,” said Cruz, who stressed the inordinate difference between the current GWA rate of $2.91 per 1,000 gallons versus the Navy’s rate of $7.59 per 1,000 gallons.

    Having previously appealed to Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther P. Kia’aina in December 2014, Cruz reiterated that the reimbursement of the impacts of the Compact of Free Association – a federal obligation – is aligned with a congressional provision signed into law as the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011, which allows for the offset of unreimbursed Compact costs owed to Guam.

    ‘Admitted liability’

    “I believe that the federal government, by acknowledging that its $300 million debt to the people of Guam can be offset by the return of Fena, has admitted liability for this longstanding obligation and, in so doing, left itself vulnerable to court action – an action I am willing to authorize and fund with the support of my colleagues in the legislature,” said Cruz.

    He added that there has been little in the way of real commitment from the federal government despite having written to Kia’aina and the U.S. Department of the Interior more than a month ago.

    “In simple terms, governor, the federal government’s reticence on this matter is deafening,” the vice speaker said in his letter.

    Cruz has also requested the administration to prioritize the security of fresh water resources in the south as the center of its federal agenda for the upcoming State of the Island address.

    “If the federal government is truly committed to a ‘One Guam’ approach, surely we can agree to operate one water system for the benefit of all concerned,” said Cruz.

    “In the absence of such an agreement, I humbly request your public support of a legislative proposal authorizing litigation to obtain $300 million in unreimbursed Compact costs already acknowledged under federal law,” he said.

     

    Bill seeks to track and set aside buildup-related revenue

    Wednesday, 04 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    SEN. Michael San Nicolas has introduced Bill 36-33 which seeks to identify, track and set aside nonrecurring buildup-related revenue to ensure the government of Guam's budget is not artificially inflated.

    According to San Nicolas, the bill is needed and timely because the U.S. Congress is now finally providing authorization to move forward with the Guam military buildup.

    The senator said his Responsible Guam Build-Up Fund Act will protect Guam from overspending and ensure military buildup money is spent wisely. If passed into law, San Nicolas said his bill will ensure nonrecurring buildup money will be separated from recurring money so it does not artificially inflate the government's budget projections.

    If this separation does not occur, San Nicolas said the projected budget of the government will incorrectly assume the same amounts in future fiscal years, resulting in future appropriations that would not have the money to support them.

    “During the 1980s, we saw a tourism buildup boom that eventually cooled off and our budgeting did not anticipate such a rise and fall in revenue. As a result, our people had to endure a painful period of sharply lower revenues.

    “With the military buildup, we know that there will be a similar revenue rise and fall, and we need to make sure that the temporary and substantial increase in revenue during this period is spent to provide long-term benefits to the community without increasing our long-term liabilities,” San Nicolas said in a statement about the bill.

    Separated

    If the bill is enacted, nonrecurring buildup money will be separated and authorized for expenditure on limited areas, including:  court-ordered mandates of the government of Guam, unpaid wages and benefits of government of Guam employees, vendor payments outstanding and payable, the repair of island roads, medical supplies for the Guam’s health care system, education expenses for the Adequate Education Act, advance payments to retire government debt and capital investments in long-term assets strictly for education, health, public safety and services for individuals with disabilities.

    The military's supplemental environmental impact statement projects Guam’s tax revenue to increase by at least $40 million annually, peaking as high as $86 million. San Nicolas said this $46 million variance is temporary, and needs to be budgeted in a way that does not result in permanent liabilities.

    "Without this special fund, nonrecurring military buildup related revenues would be spent on the general operations of the government of Guam. If this type of money is not disentangled from the general fund, the government of Guam may be spending these additional revenues on permanent personnel or projects whose funding may not be available in subsequent years," San Nicolas said.

    He added that his legislation is intended to spend buildup money wisely with long-term investments in schools, health care systems, roads, public safety agencies and paying down financial obligations.

    "The Responsible Guam Build-Up Fund is a necessary step to ensuring that the people of Guam sustainably benefit from the military buildup,” San Nicolas said.

    Discussions continue on Navy's proposed water rate increase

    Posted: Jan 30, 2015  by Jolene Toves  KUAM

    Guam - As the Navy does not seem to be giving Waterworks a break, talks about options are on the table.    

    According to Senator Frank Blas, Jr. a 40% rate increase is "ridiculous" but that is exactly what the navy intends to charge GovGuam for water purchased from Fena.

    "I think anybody in wanting to think that we can afford a 40% increase automatically in that fashion is ludicrous," he said.

    As we reported, GovGuam purchases water from Fena to service residents in Santa Rita and Agat and since word was received by the Consolidated Commission on Utilities that the Navy proposes to charge an additional 40% on top of the 260% increase which has occurred over the last seven years. They have been looking at their options. "First of all the Department of Defense should not be in the business and should never be in the business to create or make water or power for that matter," the senator said.

    The CCU along with Blas question why the increase is necessary and whether the Navy is having challenges controlling it costs of water since they are charging far more than what GWA charges. According to CCU chairperson Joseph Duenas his talks with the Navy have led him to believe that the Navy will not give waterworks a break, this has opened discussions of a possible merger of the systems it is an idea that Blas appreciates.

    "So let's go back to this whole idea of merging the systems I would appreciate a merged system but I don't think that we need to pay as much maybe there are costs but I don't think it warrants the 40% and I don't think it warrants that we are going to use all the monies owed to us for compact costs to pay for this," he said.

    Also on the table is the idea of purchasing Fena. Congresswoman Madeline Boradallo had authored legislation passed by Congress to have the navy turn over Fena, but Congress requires GovGuam to pay the fair market value for that asset. "The federal government in the law basically acknowledged we believe they acknowledged that there was money that was owed to us for our Compact costs and there was a suggestion that we use that money that was owed to us a as a means for us to pay for the purchase of Fena," he explained.

    However Duenas does not believe that Compact impact funds should be used for the purchase of Fena and while Blas agrees he says the admittance of the federal government that they owe money to GovGuam for its Compact costs could warrant a law suit. A suit that GovGuam can successfully win as to this day money is still owed by the feds. He said, "It never was its still something that's still in the books it's a discussion that I think we still need to have with the department of interior and the Obama Administration based on this admittance and so I am still looking at this at being able to further this discussion."

    He says that he would like to have conversations to avoid the law suit. Meanwhile the CCU continues to find ways reduce the amount of water consumed from the navy and entertains the idea of jointly operating Fena.  

    SDA physicians profile prevalent island diseases

    Posted: Feb 03, 2015  by Jolene Toves KUAM

    Guam - Guam Seventh-Day Adventist doctors presented to Rotarians this afternoon regarding diseases prevalent in Guam and steps you can take to prevent them. Several illnesses are more prevalent in Guam than other parts of the world.

    Seventh-Day Adventist doctors Tim Arawkawa and Anna Ursales detailed ways we can treat or even prevent these diseases through simple lifestyle changes. Dr. Ursales said about tuberculosis, "I found an article where the rates of TB here are actually six times higher than that of Hawaii and twelve times higher than that of the US mainland."

    She says higher rates in Guam may be due to limited land space and closer contact between individuals, hence the importance for screening, not only for TB, but for sexually transmitted diseases as well as human immunodeficiency virus.

    Dr. Arawkawa, on the other hand, is an endocrinology specialist, and says one major disease facing Guamanians is diabetes. SDA has many programs to help combat this issue, as he said, "We have some lifestyle programs that help people with diet, help them with exercise, give them the tools that they need in order to take better care of their diabetes. And in fact, if they start early enough, they can prevent diabetes from even occurring."

    Lorraine Aguon was a participant in the last detox program, and said, "I lost nine pounds and then the following day I lost another pound. My clothes started to fit me and then I realized that my joints, my pains are gone."

    Aguon had been suffering from weight gain and arthritis and because of her positive results, decided to continue following the program. To learn more about disease prevention, screening or wellness programs, you can contact the SDA Clinic at 646-8881. 

    Appropriations chairman concerned about budget

    Posted: Feb 04, 2015  by Ken Quintanilla  KUAM

    Guam - The chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz is, raising concern over the recently-submitted budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016. The projected gross revenues for the next fiscal year for the General Fund is pegged at $851.7 million - about 8.6% more than the previous fiscal year.

    "In what he transmitted on Saturday night, I note of the $67 million increase in the overall budget, about $53 million of that is going to increase the budgets for executive agencies; $12 million is going to go to paying down the debt service and most of that probably will go to paying for the new Tiyan lease. The balance of $364 million is to be split between DOE, UOG, GCC, the mayors, the Legislature, the Judiciary, the Attorney General, Public Defender. That's hardly enough to be able to take care of anything. If, as he says in his letter, that education is the vehicle by which we can address all the social wills in the society, the $364 million isn't going to be able to cut it," Cruz said.

    The vice speaker says he is still waiting for reports from the Department of Administration of the revenue collections for 2014 in order to fully digest the budget.

    Calvo signing MOU between Guam and Japan

    Posted: Feb 04, 2015  by Ken Quintanilla  KUAM

    Guam - Governor Eddie Calvo is in Sapporo, Japan to witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Guam Visitors Bureau and the Sapporo Tourist Association. The MOU reflects the bond between the two organizations and their efforts to increase the flow of visitor arrivals between Sapporo and Guam. While on the trip, Governor Calvo will address tourism industry professionals at a ceremony hosted by Sapporo Tourist Association.  


    Cruz calls for special revenue fund reports

    Tuesday, 03 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    VICE Speaker Benjamin Cruz has given the Bureau of Budget and Management Research until Feb. 4 to produce the Special Revenue Fund (SRF) tracking reports that detail the actual collections for specific special funds.

    A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was filed by Cruz, who has called on BBMR Director Anthony Blaz to produce the tracking reports for each month following the BBMR’s last submission to the Guam Legislature in September 2014.

    “I don't want to believe this administration is hiding something from us, but when directors repeatedly refuse to comply with the law, I am forced to ask why,” said Cruz, whose latest FOIA request joins several others filed this year in what he calls a "protracted" effort to pursue required reports currently withheld from the legislature.

    “Regardless of the administration’s rationale for nonreporting, the means to which this Committee must resort to gather information is highly disruptive to the budget process; the stonewalling has to stop,” he said.

    Cruz’s FOIA request notes that the law requires the BBMR director to report, no later than 20 days after the end of each month, the revenue tracking for the Tourist Attraction Fund, the Solid Waste Operations Fund (tipping fees), the Territorial Educational Facilities Fund, the Guam Highway Fund, the Healthy Futures Fund, and the Customs, Agriculture & Quarantine Inspection Services Fund.

    Cruz, in his letter, also reminded Blaz that failure to submit the fund tracking report carries a $250 fine per missed deadline. The deadline for the submission of the special reports should have been no later than 20 days after the end of each month of the fiscal year.

    To date, Cruz said the director has missed four such deadlines: September, October, November and December 2014.

    Earlier, Cruz issued Freedom of Information Act requests for Department of Administration reports which he said are vital to the legislative budget process.

    Specifically, Cruz asked for information on revenues, expenditures and changes in the general fund balance, as well as financial statements provided to independent auditors for fiscal year 2014.

    According to Cruz, who is chairman of the legislature's finance committee, DOA missed its deadline for submitting these reports.

    “Although it is unfortunate that agencies are unable to comply with a reporting requirement meant to uphold fiscal transparency and accountability, the committee is determined to keep government’s finances open and subject to review by not only the committee, but also the people of Guam,” Cruz said.


    Bill seeks to unfreeze 2002 merit bonus payments

    Tuesday, 03 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    AS HE promised a couple of weeks ago, Sen. Frank Aguon has introduced Bill 27-32, legislation that would unfreeze 2002 merit bonuses, allowing public employees with superior performance evaluations during that fiscal year to finally receive the payments promised to them.

    The measure has a provision which authorizes the governor, via transfer authority, to identify funds necessary to support the merit bonus payments.

    Should the governor be unable to identify a funding source and implement the provision contained in the measure by July 1, he is to present to the speaker and the chairman of the committee on appropriations a written plan highlighting a course of action and/or recommendation for addressing the intent of the legislation.

    P.L. 23-45 and 26-35 froze merit bonuses for employees during fiscal 1996 and 2002, resulting in a large number of government employees not receiving merit bonus payments despite Gov. Eddie Calvo’s 2013 executive order to pay outstanding merit bonuses from 1991 through 2013.

    According to Aguon, the two fiscal years were directly impacted because of the financial condition of the government of Guam at the time. Payments were restricted by statutes due to the implementation of cost containment measures.

    According to Aguon’s proposed legislation, more than 1,200 outstanding public employees may have been directly affected by the legal restriction outlined in the law.

    The intent of the bill is to authorize the merit bonus payments to be released to public employees who received superior performance evaluations in FY 2002.

    In mid-January, Aguon announced that his office was working on legislation to address the issue following concerns raised by affected personnel such as Percy Manley, a former police officer.

    Manley said he has approached Aguon and other legislators as well as administrators at the Department of Administration multiple times since 2013 regarding the issue.

    Aguon said his office was formulating legislation to rectify this inequity in pay in order to compensate public employees whose evaluations merited a bonus.


    GPA plans to change 2,000 streetlights soon

    Tuesday, 03 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    IN RESPONSE to concerns raised by the community, the Guam Power Authority has announced a three-year change-out plan for all 15,000 streetlights, starting with 2,000 non-functioning units on critical routes.

    The Consolidated Commission on Utilities unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the power authority to proceed with the plans which involved a change-out of high-pressure sodium (HPS) existing streetlights with more efficient light emitting diode or LEDs.

    According to Art Perez, GPA communications manager, although the power authority will address the first 2,000 units, it has a target of 5,000 change-outs per year until project completion.

    "We have a goal of changing 5,000 streetlights per year. That's going to cost us about $1.3 million to replace the lights, including labor," he said.

    But even with that cost, GPA expects to reap savings of about $400,000 in operating and maintenance costs, he said.

    "So those types of savings can be reinvested into additional lights. And we hope that at the end of the three-year period, with the savings reaped, and with the customer of record, in this case, the Department of Public Works, we will be able to relocate or add more lights to the existing inventory," he said.

    Perez said the power authority is not expecting to raise rates to finance the project. Instead, GPA will utilize existing funds from the streetlight fund. A portion of vehicle registration fees goes to this fund.

    John Benavente, Consolidated Utility Services general manager, said GPA recognizes that there are a significant number of lights throughout the island which are not currently working.

    Crews

    "We are tasking three crews to repair or replace these lights quickly and apologize for the delays. This program coupled with the LED streetlight conversion will ensure streetlights become more reliable for years to come," Benavente said.

    “GPA is currently replacing existing (sodium) lighting fixtures with the new LED lamps. Over the next three years, the change-out of existing (sodium) streetlights to more efficient LED streetlights is expected to save in significant energy costs and in operating costs because LED lights last longer,” Benavente said.

    In 2013, the CCU authorized the power authority to pursue a project to install 15,000 energy-efficient LED lights throughout the island.

    The CCU also authorized the power agency to develop legislation necessary for the authorization of financing and the creation of a special purpose entity, or SPE, through which streetlighting projects can be financed.

    Perez said they will not utilize the SPE for the three-year change-out since existing funding source can adequately support the project.

    GVB increased marketing activities

    Tuesday, 03 Feb 2015 03:00am

    BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    THE Guam Visitors Bureau closed fiscal year 2014 with a $735,000 net loss due to increased marketing and public relations activities needed in the China and Japan markets.

    According to the latest report released by the Office of Public Accountability, GVB’s operating expenditures increased by $2.4 million, from $15.4 million in FY 2013 to $17.8 million in FY 2014.

    The increase in GVB’s operating expenditures was made up mostly by the $2.2 million increase in professional services, up from $9.7 million in FY 2013 to $12 million in FY 2014.

    In addition, GVB had a $297,000 increase in personnel expenses (from $2.1 million to $2.4 million) and a $294,000 increase in travel costs (from $503,000 to $797,000), as well as a $291,000 decrease in grants (from $547,000 to $255,000) and a $232,000 decrease in pass-through appropriations (from $669,000 to $437,000).

    According to the OPA, professional services continue to be GVB’s largest line item expenditure, increasing by 23 percent to $12 million, compared to last year’s 24 percent increase to $9.7 million.

    The increase in professional services was attributed to an increase in GVB’s marketing activities in Guam’s source markets, aimed at steadying the declining Japan market, expanding the Korean market, and advancing opportunities in China.

    Adding to GVB's expenses were new marketing events, such as the second Shop Guam Festival campaign, Shop Guam/Taste Guam event, the #GuamLove campaign, 2nd Guam International Marathon, and Guam BBQ Block Party.

    GVB’s $297,000 increase in personnel costs to $2.4 million was primarily due to hiring four additional staff in its Guam and Japan offices and salary increments.

    Other Tourism Attraction Fund (TAF) expenditures administered by GVB totaled $1.4 million for items such as Tumon landscaping maintenance, Tumon Bay lighting improvements, Island beautification, beach cleaning and maintenance, and holiday illumination.

    Revenues

    GVB’s revenues are primarily appropriated from the TAF and in FY 2014, GVB received $18.1 million in appropriations, with $15.5 million allotted for operations, $2.1 million for special projects, and $437,000 as pass-through appropriations. This total appropriation represents an increase of $1.9 million from the $16.2 million in appropriations received during FY 2013.

    Other revenue sources, which included in-kind contributions and memberships, increased $252,000, going from $852,000 in FY 2013 to $1.1 million in FY 2014.

    Clean

    Independent auditors Deloitte & Touche LLP rendered an unmodified, clean opinion on GVB’s financial audit.

    According to the OPA, FY 2014 marks GVB’s fifth consecutive year that the auditors have not identified any material weaknesses and/or significant deficiencies in its Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting and Compliance.

    OPA also said this is the earliest that GVB has completed its financial audit and GVB is the second earliest agency to release its report. "GVB is to be commended for these accomplishments," the OPA stated.


    $851M budget proposed


    Monday, 02 Feb 2015 03:00am


    BY MONETH G. DEPOSA-ELECO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


    THE government of Guam wants a higher budget for fiscal year 2016 to the tune of $851.7 million – an 8.6 percent increase from the current fiscal year appropriation.

    The budget proposal was submitted to the Guam Legislature on the Jan. 31 deadline by the Bureau of Budget and Management Research.

    In the proposed budget, Adelup assigned $125 million for tax refunds.

    According to a statement from GovGuam, it proposed an increased budget for the Department of Public Health and Social Services amounting to $157 million which reflects a 10.4 percent hike from the current appropriation.

    Additionally, to assist the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority, the administration increased the percentage allocation to the Pharmaceuticals Fund from 4 percent to 6.9 percent.

    This increases the total appropriation to the hospital to $18.5 million, an increase of 87 percent over the fiscal 2015 level. The Pharmaceuticals Fund was created to provide a separate funding source for the hospital’s pharmaceutical, drug, medical supplies, medical equipment, blood and blood product needs. The business privilege tax is the funding source for the fund.

    The Guam Police Department was also recommended to receive bigger budget than the current fiscal year, with a $133.6 million proposal. The figure is a 13.3 percent increase from FY 2015 budget.

    The Department of Education and other education agencies, submit their proposed budgets directly to the legislature.

    Another balanced budget

    According to Gov. Eddie Calvo, what the administration submitted to the legislature is a balanced budget and the revenue levels reflect increased economic activity.

    “This is the fifth fiscal year we’ve submitted a balanced budget to the legislature. It’s not just balanced in terms of ensuring that our proposed spending equals the projected revenue. This budget reflects increased funding for services for the people of Guam. That’s why we work so hard to improve our economy and stabilize our finances. While we’ve seen improvements, our work isn’t done yet. We’re on the cusp of more growth and we must be diligent to harness that growth so we ensure our people continue to benefit,” said the governor in a statement yesterday.

    In his transmittal letter to Speaker Judith Won Pat, the governor noted how Guam’s economic growth of the last few years is expected to continue. He said he welcomes the members of the 33rd Guam Legislature to work with the administration to ensure Guamanians continue to benefit from that growth.

    “The collaborative efforts of this administration, the legislature and the government agencies have not gone unnoticed. Over the past few years, Guam’s credit ratings have steadily improved while other territories’ rankings have declined. Guam’s municipal bond ratings have increased to their highest levels in over a decade, with our business privilege tax credits rating a strong A and A- from Standard and Poor’s and Fitch Ratings, respectively. In fact, the global financial market has an overall positive outlook for Guam, mainly contributed to this government’s commitment and success at stabilizing its finances,” the governor stated.