Chamber, DOL support minimum wage economic impact bill

Tuesday, 16 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Guam Chamber of Commerce and the Guam Department of Labor expressed support for Bill 376, a measure introduced by Sen. Aline Yamashita that would require the completion of an independent economic impact statement relative to the minimum wage on Guam.

Yesterday, the Guam Legislature's committee on rules scheduled a public hearing for Bill 376, where both the chamber and labor department presented their testimony.

Although the chamber and DOL both support the bill, they are proposing that an amendment be made which states that a full economic impact study be conducted to determine the impact of the minimum wage increase.

Manny Cruz, DOL director, said that as a regulatory agency of the government of Guam, the labor department initially had concerns that the increase in the minimum wage set in law would be artificially implemented without the benefit of an economic impact study. However, he said Bill 376 addresses this concern.

As currently stated in the proposed legislation, the labor director is required to issue a request for proposal to conduct a one-year independent economic impact statement, relative to the minimum wage on Guam no later than Jan. 1, 2016.

According to Yamashita's office, the statement should, at a minimum, detail the impact of the minimum wage increase on small businesses, their employees and their budgets.

Moreover, it should detail the impact on wage earners – their buying power, job security and job retention.

Compromise version

Bill 316, a compromise version of the minimum wage increase legislation, was passed and signed into law July 10. The legislation mandates a minimum wage increase from the current $7.25 to $8.25 an hour by Jan. 1, 2015.

Bobby A. Shringi, chairman of the legislative review committee and a board member of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, read a statement supporting the measure.

Shringi noted that nothing precludes a future legislature from amending the recently passed minimum wage increase bill.

Thus he said the chamber is suggesting that language be inserted that would prevent any minimum wage increase proposal from being introduced without an independent economic study.

In his testimony, Shringi also noted that the chamber as well as other business organizations have shared their concerns about the adverse impacts that could be created through the passing of any minimum wage legislation. "We were more concerned on the direct impact this would have on the small businesses as well as the rising costs of goods and services on island," he said.

"We commend the efforts of the author in her efforts to raise the concerns of the business community by the introduction of the measure. However, we would like to offer some recommendations for this legislation to assure that it actually meets its intention," he said.

Shringi said the chamber recommends that the term "'independent" as stated in Bill 376 be further defined to ensure the statement be free from a perspective of a political or business conflict of interest.

Secondly, they also recommend amending the term "economic statement" to the term "economic study" since it is important that the results of the recent minimum wage increase be reviewed both comprehensively and objectively, and a study should be able to accomplish this intent versus a statement.

"We have had great community conversations on the minimum wage with the private sector,” Yamashita said. “This is the result of our private partners requesting that an independent economic study be done."


Emerald picks up application for condo project reconstruction

Tuesday, 16 Sep 2014 03:00am  BY MONETH G. DEPOSA | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Department of Public Works said yesterday that the new developer of the Emerald Oceanview Park Condominium has picked up its application for the project reconstruction.

Based on the initial information from the agency, there are modifications indicated in the planning design which it anticipates may scale down the cost of the construction.

Carl Dominguez, Department of Public Works director, yesterday told Variety that the new owner – Core Tech International – has submitted the drawings which DPW is currently assessing.

“They picked up the application, they filled it out, and they gave us a set of drawings. Now, their representatives are going around to the different agencies and presenting the application for their review and clearance,” Dominguez said.

DPW is the agency that issues building permits for all government and private sector construction. Once the other agencies clear the applicant, DPW will grant the permit which requires construction to commence in 90 days.

“They started at DPW and they will end at DPW (as far as the building permit is concerned),” Dominguez said.

When asked about the modification in the new drawings, Dominguez said he was provided initial information that the towers would be reduced in its design.

“I was told verbally that (the towers) won’t go any higher,” he said, adding that the towers will remain at the current height as the developer plans to finish as it is.

Plan

Under the Emerald Oceanview Park Condominium plan in 2010, it wants to build four condominium towers and 20 villa-type luxury homes.

Under the original planning and design, two towers were to rise to 15 stories while the other two towers would be 18 stories.

Dominguez said he does not yet know the full extent of the modification including the estimated construction cost for the project.

“I haven’t seen yet the declaration and if declared, my guys have to review it to know if that is a reasonable declaration,” said the director.

Meantime, when asked about the project update yesterday, Core Tech CEO Chit Bathan told Variety that the company has no finalized plan for the project.

“We have not finalized our plan yet for the project,” she said in an email yesterday.

In 2007, DPW issued the building permit for the Emerald Oceanview Park Condominium project. However, when the project stopped its construction in June 2010, it didn’t ask for an extension of its building permit. The agency provides 90-day permit extensions.

By Guam law, if an applicant discontinues a project for 90 days and doesn’t  get an extension from DPW, the permit becomes void.

The original target date for completion of the Emerald Oceanview Park was set for the end of 2010. But the project was suspended in June 2010 after banks financing the main contractor, Korea’s Hanil Corp., were ordered by the Korean government to suspend any further loans.

Core Tech acquired the mortgage to the property several months ago.

Calvo says Gutierrez camp creating ‘climate of fear’

Tuesday, 16 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY MONETH G. DEPOSA | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


THE Republican Party of Guam, led by its gubernatorial standard-bearer incumbent Gov. Eddie Calvo, appeared before the media yesterday and said he was troubled by what he described as misinformation that is creating a climate of fear among community members.


Mike Benito, Republican Party chairman, said that at rallies and meetings in the villages, people say they are getting information from the Democratic Party candidates about pending massive layoffs in the government and the eventual collapse of the Guam economy come January 2015.

In a press conference yesterday, the Calvo-Tenorio team lambasted Gutierrez’s camp for spreading what they called misinformation in an effort to discredit the Calvo administration.

Calvo said it’s just interesting to hear his opponents talk about the impending massive layoffs and the anticipated collapse of the economy when in fact the budgeting process for the new fiscal year ended smoothly.

This means the Democratic Party lawmakers who hold the majority in the legislature and the minority legislators from the GOP agreed on the appropriations bill which was recently signed into law by the governor.

“So obviously, there’s a disconnect on what has been stated in the budget sessions. They have looked at the numbers and details of the finances ... and where we’re going,” Calvo said. He described the government finances as solid and said his opponent is taking advantage of social media in “discrediting” his administration.

Calvo said yesterday that he is ready for a debate.

When Calvo assumed office four years ago, he said, the government had a $330 million deficit, negative $12 million cash in the bank, and there was a 13.3 percent unemployment rate on Guam.

‘Disappointed’

During yesterday’s press conference, the governor also admitted that he was disappointed upon learning of the endorsement made by former first lady Joann Camacho of the Democratic Party gubernatorial candidates.

He said the former first lady, who was a longtime Republican Party member, had a good friendship with his family.

Calvo said Camacho had her reasons for leaving the GOP and he respects her decision.



US flexes military muscle


Tuesday, 16 Sep 2014 03:00am


BY MAR-VIC CAGURANGAN | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


Exercise Valiant Shield 2014 kicks off

AMID growing regional tension involving China, U.S. military forces yesterday began flexing their muscles as they kicked off Exercise Valiant Shield 2014 off Guam to sharpen their abilities to overcome anti-access air denial challenges.


“Valiant Shield 2014 focuses on joint training among U.S. forces, and provides operational experience which enables real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces through detecting, locating, tracking and engaging units of sea, and the air and on land and in cyberspace,” said Rear Adm. Russell Allen, U.S. Navy 7th Fleet deputy commander and exercise director. “When you think of the U.S. military in the Pacific, you want credible combat power.”

This year’s exercise involves two aircraft carriers – the Yokosuka-based USS George Washington and the San Diego-based USS Carl Vinson – along with 19 surface ships, three submarines, more than 200 aircraft and an estimated 18,000 personnel from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

This year’s Valiant Shield, which continues until Sept. 23, does not include a land component as activities will be confined to the east of Guam “and nothing outside of that,” said Cmdr. Michael Huff, chief exercise controller.

Designed for a non-specific scenario involving “no particular country,” Valiant Shield – which is conducted every two years – focuses on unified training among all U.S. forces, Navy officials said.

Invaluable

“Training like this is absolutely invaluable. It provides deterrence and stabilizing effects as an integrated force that is ready at the outset of a contingency without delays for buildups or extensive mission rehearsals,” Allen said. The integrated training is aimed at enhancing the U.S. forces’ ability to deal with emerging anti-access area denial challenges “so that our forces will have the necessary freedom of action to conduct effective operations and to deter, and if necessary, defeat an adversary.”

Valiant Shield, Allen said, “refines the military’s ability to respond to crises across the spectrum of operations, from humanitarian response to disaster to armed conflicts. Simply stated, the experience we gain from working together helps us to provide the best possible support for our allies, partners and friends in the region for a wide variety of missions, where and when we are needed most.”

Emerging threats

China has reportedly been investing in land-based ballistic and cruise missiles that may pose a serious threat to the United States’ ability to operate in the Western Pacific.

China’s territorial disputes with the Philippines over the Spratly Islands and with Japan over the Senkaku Islands threaten to build short- and long-term tensions in the South China Sea.

Several days preceding Valiant Shield, reports began circulating online about China’s supposedly inadvertent revelation of its possession of a DF-26C medium-range intercontinental ballistic missile, informally known as the "Guam killer," designed to allow China to attack U.S. military facilities in the Pacific.

According to a Sept. 8 article on Strategy Page, a Washington-based website covering global military developments, the DF-26C missile appears to have a range of 3,500 kilometers, capable of hitting U.S. military facilities in Guam.

Navy officials, however, said they could not confirm the report.

Aware

Nevertheless, Allen said the United States is aware of China’s emerging capabilities.

“We are also very aware of the regional partners, allies and other interested ASEAN nations that are asking for the U.S. to provide a stabilizing force for the region, and that is our goal at this point. And the purpose of Valiant Shield allows us to work as a joint force so that we have a more capable force to intervene wherever, whether it's humanitarian assistance or full-range military operations,” Allen said.



GPA to sell $77M worth of bonds


Thursday, 11 Sep 2014 03:00am


BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


THE Guam Power Authority plans to sell $77 million worth of bonds as soon as next week, the financial news agency Bloomberg reported.


According to Bloomberg, GPA's bonds are expected to be popular with investors because of an economy that grew 24 percent in the five years through 2012. That contrasts with other municipal bonds from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, which have faced persistent deficits.

"Compared with the Virgin Islands, we recognize Guam as the stronger of the two credits,” Bloomberg quoted a report by UBS Wealth Management analysts led by Thomas McLoughlin.

Proceeds from Guam’s power-bond deal will be used to pay for improvements to generating facilities.

When the power authority asked the Guam Legislature for authority to issue the bonds, GPA General Manager Joaquin Flores said bond proceeds would be used for projects that were categorized as "once-in-a-lifetime" major maintenance projects.

"When we were doing our budget, I found out that major maintenance projects would have a significant revenue requirement. As an example, some of the projects that we were considering were the postponed overhaul for the Cabras 1 and 2 boiler turbines, which were postponed because Cabras 3 was down for repairs. That was $5.6 million in itself – a single project for major rework of the components of the boiler,” Flores said.

The GPA head said these costs “spike up” the agency’s budget.

“I asked if there was any way that we could levelize that and incorporate them in our budget process; in other words, by capitalizing it. So we did research and found out that if the costs can be associated with some form of financing and can be capitalized over the short term, we can levelize the spikes,” Flores said.

He added that these maintenance “spike costs” are very different from routine maintenance costs.

“Routine maintenance, we can predict in a year. But some of the spiked costs, like the Cabras repairs for instance, cost millions of dollars on top of the routine requirements. So we need to levelize the costs and stretch them out,” Flores said.

The GPA bond sale will be Guam’s second this year as earlier, the Guam Waterworks Authority issued about $86 million in bonds last July.

The GPA bonds will be secured by a first lien on net revenues of GPA.



Valiant Shield starts today

Monday, 15 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE fifth Valiant Shield exercise will begin as scheduled today. The biennial field training exercise will include 18,000 troops from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps who will train with two aircraft carriers, 20 other naval vessels and more than 200 aircraft, focused on integrating military forces.

The joint training will take place in and around Guam. “This training will enable real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces through detecting, locating tracking and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land and in cyberspace in response to a range of mission areas,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kim Dixon, public affairs officer of the Joint Information Bureau.

The Valiant Shield series began in 2006 and is aimed at developing a pre-integrated joint force built from regular relationships, a statement from the U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs office said.  Lessons learned from exercises like Valiant Shield help the country develop regional and global power projection capabilities to succeed in defense of the nation’s interest, its allies and its partners worldwide.

The exercise is scheduled to take place for eight days, ending Tuesday, Sept. 23.

The last Valiant Shield exercise took place Sept. 11 through Sept. 19, 2012.

The 18,000 troops will exercise a wide range of capabilities, the Pacific Fleet Public Affairs office said in a release. “These capabilities range from maritime security operations to anti-submarine, air defense exercises and complex warfighting,” according to the statement.

Practice

Servicemen and women will practice searching for submarines, stopping suspect vessels at sea and using a new missile defense system recently set up on Guam. They'll work through issues like how Navy F-18 pilots might talk to Air Force F-16 or F-15 pilots.

Only U.S. forces will participate, unlike many other large-scale exercises that involve multiple partners and allies. This will provide the different services a rare opportunity to work on high-end tactics with each other and smooth out any issues.

"We want to have worked out those pieces early on. We don't want to be working those pieces out in front of our partners, to say, kind of showing dirty laundry," Cmdr. Mike Huff, the U.S. Pacific Fleet's lead planner for the exercise, said in an interview.

Altogether 19 ships, more than 200 aircraft and about 18,000 personnel will participate in the drills that start Monday and are scheduled to last a week.

Most personnel will be from the Navy and the Air Force. Marines and Army soldiers will also join the drills, which are called Valiant Shield.

The Army will use its new missile defense system – which has a truck-mounted launcher, tracking radar, interceptor missiles and an integrated fire control system – in the exercises for the first time.

THAAD

The Pentagon sent the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, which is designed to intercept missiles during their final stage of flight, to Guam last year as North Korea was vowing to increase production of nuclear weapons materials and threatening a pre-emptive strike against the U.S.

Huff said it's gotten harder to do this kind of training because the services have fewer ships, submarines and aircraft. The ones they do have are also often on deployments or are preparing for deployment.

Budget cuts forced the military to cancel a major exercise in Alaska called Northern Edge last year, making this month's drills in Guam all the more important.

Valiant Shield provides realistic training that helps the services plan and communicate, U.S. Pacific Air Forces spokeswoman Capt. Susan Harrington said.

"High-level, joint training among U.S. military forces ensures the U.S. military remains the pre-eminent military power in the region, capable of honoring its security commitments to allies, partners, and friends," she said in a statement. (With reports by Audrey McAvoy | The Associated Press)

Islandwide neighborhood watch proposed

Monday, 15 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE governor’s office is planning to implement a neighborhood watch program in the coming months which will be coordinated with the Guam Police Department and the Mayors’ Council of Guam.

MCOG Executive Director Angel Sablan informed mayors at the council’s regular meeting earlier this month about GPD and Adelup’s plan. Sablan said GPD authorities will contact the mayors' offices with helpful guidelines to assist the villages with setting up a neighborhood watch program. “They want to start slow,” Sablan said.

The plan is to start with villages like Dededo, Barrigada and Yoña, which already have neighborhood watch programs in place, and then eventually include other villages in the program.

Sablan said the plan is also for GPD precinct commanders to remain assigned to their precincts for at least two years so the officers understand the makeup of the community they serve. “They get to know you, they get to know your villagers and they get to know where your crime areas are at,” he said to mayors. “They’re also going to do a crime mapping program for each village to show what areas in each of the villages have the highest rate of crime.”

Greater emphasis will be placed on neighborhood watches in those areas of the village with more crimes.

“This is a new program being set up by GPD, through the governor’s office,” Sablan said. The program is separate from the Atkins Kroll Cars for Community initiative, he said.

The AK initiative was announced in May, and is part of its 100-year business anniversary celebration. The company supplied 25 Toyota vehicles worth $25,000 each for a neighborhood watch project.

T

GMH open to dispensing medical marijuana

Saturday, 13 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

  • GUAM Memorial Hospital is in need of additional revenue for its operations, and if dispensing medical marijuana would bring in more cash, then the hospital might just seize that opportunity, said June Perez, GMH public information officer.

    “If it helps GMH and can guarantee additional revenue, we will gladly (be) a dispensary, if that’s the will of the people,” she said.

    GMH Administrator Joseph Verga is reserving comment until details of the plan are worked out, Perez said.

    The proposal to designate GMH as the sole dispensary for medicinal marijuana was brought up by the Democratic Party of Guam in a recent statement detailing the party’s campaign platforms.

    Sen. Rory Respicio, party chair, said the Democrats would work with federal law enforcement agencies to ensure all regulatory mandates are complied with, in respect to medical marijuana. Respicio also said the party would “explore the prospect” of having GMH serve as the sole dispensary for medicinal marijuana.

    Voters will have the opportunity to vote on the proposed legalization of medicinal marijuana on Guam during the general election this November.

    The Guam Election Commission has begun circulating notices in the form of pamphlets available for voters at the GEC office and through mail.

    This period is also a time for public comments and arguments about the initiative to be sent to GEC. Arguments are not to exceed 500 words.

    Current local and federal law prohibit the use of marijuana in any capacity as it is a Schedule I illicit substance.

    As of this year, 23 states have legalized medical marijuana. Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Washington and Colorado.

he cars are leased to the GPD CAPE volunteers unit for two years, including maintenance and insurance costs.



DZSP-21 wins new BOS contract


Monday, 15 Sep 2014 03:00am


BY FRANK WHITMAN | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


  • THE Department of Defense announced Saturday that it has awarded the base operating support services contract at Joint Region Marianas to DZSP-21 LLC of Hagåtña. DZSP has operated the BOS contract for the Navy on Guam since October 2005. The current contract expires in December. The new contract is cost-plus-award-fee with award options, similar to the current contract.

    The maximum dollar value including the base period, four option periods, three award option periods, and a six-month services extension is $532.3 million.

    "We are pleased with the team's tremendous track record of success in partnering with private industry to support mission-essential work in our far-reaching Navy and Air Force installations on Guam," said Rear Adm. Bret Muilenburg, commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Pacific. "This was an enormous and complex endeavor, and I thank those that were a significant part of the acquisition process for their service and commitment from start to finish."

    The much sought-after award is a reflection of DZSP’s performance for the past nine years, company officials said. “We believe that our exceptional past performance on the current contract, supported by six consecutive exceptional – in all five categories – (Contractor Performance Assessment Reports), was a huge factor in the award of the follow-on contract,” said Wayne Cornell, CEO of DZSP-21.

    The work to be performed provides for facility support and base operations support for the following services: management and administration, port operations, ordnance, material management, facility management, facility investment, electrical, wastewater, steam, water, base support vehicles and equipment, and environmental.

    The new contract will, however, be somewhat smaller in scope than the previous award. “Four annexes were removed (public affairs, Naval Hospital food services, solid waste management, and Navy safety and health programs management) from the (contract) to become small business set aside contracts to be performed by others,” Cornell said.

    According to the DoD award announcement, $42.09 million is obligated at the time of the award, of which $17.85 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year and $24.24 million will expire at the end of fiscal 2015. Work is expected to be completed by February 2023.

    This contract was competitively procured and eight proposals were received.

    DZSP has about 825 employees with another 125 embedded subcontractor employees, Cornell said.

    Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific is the contracting unit.



Guam declared disaster area


Saturday, 13 Sep 2014 03:00am


BY MONETH G. DEPOSA | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


Federal aid made available for typhoon recovery efforts

PRESIDENT Barrack Obama yesterday signed a disaster declaration for Guam, making funding assistance available to fix the damage caused by Typhoon Halong.


The federal disaster aid will be utilized to supplement the territorial government’s recovery efforts in the area affected by the tropical storm which hardly hit the island on July 28 through 31.

The amount of funding assistance has yet to be assessed pending a visit by a team from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Damage

Halong dumped torrential rains that caused floods in low-lying areas including the tourist hub of Tumon. A road in Mangilao has been washed out and the flooding drove three families away from their homes in Barrigada.

Downed trees and power lines were also reported in several villages, including Sinajaña, Piti, Mangilao, Dededo, Asan-Maina, Agat and Agana Heights.

About 20 homes in a Yigo subdivision lost water service due to a power outage. Power went out in the areas surrounding Guam Memorial Hospital.

Cost-sharing

The federal funding will also be made available to eligible private and nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work, repair and replacement of facilities damaged by the tropical storm.

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the presidential disaster declaration was provided upon Gov. Eddie Calvo’s request for support after the island suffered damages during the typhoon.

Kenneth K. Susio has been named the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. His team will arrive on Guam next week.

Upon Susio’s arrival, a specified amount will be provided as this is still being assessed.

The funding assistance package may include:


  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for debris removal and emergency protective measures taken to save lives and protect property and public health;

  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for repair or replacement of damaged public facilities such as roads, bridges, utilities, buildings, schools, and similarly publicly owned property; and

  • Payment of not more than 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by territory and local governments to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural or technological disasters.

    The approved public repair projects are paid through the territory from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies.



Village entrance signs reflect ‘authentic’ Chamorro spelling


Saturday, 13 Sep 2014 03:00am


BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


MOTORISTS may have noticed new concrete village entry signs with unfamiliar spelling, but officials say the signs are not misspelled – rather, they reflect the villages’ indigenous names.


Sinajaña Mayor Robert Hofmann said the spelling of each village name was confirmed during the design stages of the project. “These are all actually based on the actual Chamorro names of the village,” Hofmann said.

The entry sign for his village is located along Route 4 on the right-hand side of the southbound lane. Instead of the familiar “Sinajåña,” the sign reads “Sinahånña,” complete with a tilde over the third "n" and a ring above the second "a."

Mayors of the 19 municipalities worked with Architects Laguana & Cristobal, consulting firm RW Armstrong and experts from the University of Guam early on in the project to ensure the names of each village were represented authentically according to the Chamorro language.

Official letterhead

Hofmann said so far there is no government mandate to change how village names are currently spelled, but he might change his official letterhead to reflect the modification in spelling. “We’re trying to keep the identity of the island,” he said. 

Other modified spellings of village names that will be printed on the entry signs include that of Barrigada, which reads as “Barigåda” on its entry sign, and Mongmong-Toto-Maite, which reads “Mongmong-To’to-Maite’.”

Barrigada Mayor June Blas said the authentic spelling of the village names is a good thing. “It would be great if we could follow and standardize everything, because what we’re trying to do is stay within our culture,” she said. “It’s going to take a lot to be changing. We’re all open to changing it. We all want to go with the correct pronunciation as well as correct spelling.”

HOT bond

The replacements of village signs are among the HOT bond projects, a collection of capital improvement initiatives that uses proceeds from the hotel occupancy tax bonds for the Guam and Chamorro Educational Facility under construction in Hagåtña and other community projects.

The Guam Visitors Bureau, which is funded by hotel occupancy taxes, was part of the village sign review process, said Josh Tyquiengco, GVB public information officer.

According to the HOT bond website, the signs that are now being put up throughout the 19 municipalities are intended to be resistant to typhoon weather conditions, moisture and UV lights.

Each sign is to be installed at all major intersections along a 50-mile scenic drive and at 2-mile increments between major intersections, according to the scope of work listed on the HOT bond Web page.



Artists and vendors sought for arts fair, holiday bazaar


Saturday, 13 Sep 2014 03:00am


PRESS RELEASE


CAHA is also inviting cultural dance groups or individual performers who might be interested in participating in the event.

For more information, contact CAHA at 300-1206.

Meanwhile, the Guam Naval Officers’ Spouses’ Connection and the Guam USO are inviting vendors to the Annual Holiday Art and Craft Fair to be held Nov. 15 and 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Top O’ the Mar in Asan.

The Holiday Art and Craft Fair is a popular island tradition that is open to the public.

Almost 1,000 vendors and shoppers showed at last year’s event.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Guam USO and Guam’s local charities.

Deadline for registration is Oct. 31.

For more information contact, Dawn Ellis or Edmund Lebita via email at contactgnosc[at]gmail.com and Elebita[at]uso.org.



Ribbon-cutting held for Paradise Meadows

Friday, 12 Sep 2014 03:00am

ceremony yesterday, marking the opening of the first phase of the development. Photo by Matt Weiss / Variety

(TRI) – The developer of Paradise Meadows held a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday for its new residential housing development. Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio, other dignitaries and some of the new homeowners were on hand to cut the ribbon to open the development. TRI Inc., the developer of Paradise Meadows, a new residential single-family-home subdivision, has completed construction of the first of five stages in the 128-unit project in Yigo. According to TRI, stage one, consisting of 17 homes, is complete and ready for occupancy by new owners and tenants.

Paradise Meadows is the follow-up project to the recently completed 383-unit single-family community known as Paradise Estates in Dededo. The goal of the development team is to create a community that caters to local first-time buyers and investors.

Paradise Meadows will consist of 128 single-family homes, each home containing three-bedrooms, two baths and approximately 1,450 square feet of gross living area. Each home will be situated on approximately 500 square meters of fee-simple property. Homes will have a range of standard features, including appliances, an electric garage door opener and a perimeter fence.

The subdivision will have underground utilities, curbs, gutters, sidewalks, a cluster mailbox system, solar streetlights and access to a community park. The community will be governed by a Homeowners Association and will be subject to covenants, conditions, and restrictions to enhance the value and desirability of the community.

The first stage, consisting of 17 homes priced at $280,700, is sold out. Stage two, consisting of 21 homes priced at $289,700 will commence construction immediately.

Airport OKs new budget, $70M revenue projected for 2015

Friday, 12 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY MONETH G. DEPOSA | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE A.B. Won Pat Guam International Airport Authority board of directors has approved a new operating budget for fiscal year 2015 which indicated that the authority is anticipating it will generate $70.05 million total revenue in the next 12-month period.

The authority’s forecast for fiscal 2015, which starts Oct. 1, is inclusive of all airport revenue including passenger facility charges and interest on investments.

The revenue projection shows an increase from what the authority is projecting for the current fiscal year 2014 which is $67.81 million.

Based on the budget documents from the agency, from signatory airline rentals and fees, GIAA projects $28.25 million for the new fiscal year. This forecast is based on the anticipated 1.79 million enplaned passengers at the cost of $15.80 per passenger.

According to Carlos Bordallo, the agency’s comptroller, GIAA will implement a slight increase in the cost of per enplaned passenger – from fiscal 2014’s $15.61 to fiscal 2015’s $15.80 – after consultation with signatory airlines whom he said were receptive to the new amount.

For the revenue from other sources, including the concession revenue at the terminal building, GIAA is projecting $18.85 million in fiscal 2015; from rentals and other charges, $3.76 million; from public parking and ground transportation at the terminal area, $5.4 million; revenue from the airfield area which include the lease of non-signatory airlines and community airline landing fees, $300,005; and revenue from the apron area, $249,052.

From miscellaneous revenue, GIAA projects $405,811 in revenue while from interest income, $528,048.

From the passenger facility charges, the authority’s revenue forecast is $6.93 million over the next 12-month period.

244 FTEs for 2015

During the board’s last meeting, the GIAA management reported that for the new fiscal year, the agency is budgeted to have 244 full-time employee positions (FTE).

At present, of these FTEs, the board was told 32 are vacant primarily in the engineering and electrical areas.

For operation and maintenance expenses for the new fiscal year, GIAA projects to incur $43 million in expenditures. The following are expenditure projections by the agency: personnel services, $19.31 million; contractual services, $21.32 million; materials and supplies, $1.78 million; equipment, $146,000; and retirement supplemental, $500,000.

For personnel services, the new budget shows an increase from the current budget as a result of the additional 15 personnel hired for the aircraft rescue and firefighting facility this year.

Debt service coverage

According to GIAA management, the agency’s debt service ratio for 2014 is 1.38. For the next fiscal year, the ratio is projected at 1.31 percent. The actual debt service ratio for the agency in 2013 was 2.06, based on its records.

Edward Untalan, GIAA board chairman, said he was pleased to know from management that compared to the previous years, GIAA now has more cash in banks, totaling $320 million as of Aug. 28.

The chairman said this is a significant indicator that the authority is making progress in its financial system and management. He described the amount in the bank as exceeding the required reserve for the agency.

 

Medical marijuana initiative notices issued; arguments sought

Friday, 12 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY MONETH G. DEPOSA | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

  • PrintTHE Guam Election Commission has started issuing notices about the legislative initiative on medical marijuana that will be on the ballot in the Nov. 4 general election.

    GEC Executive Director Maria Pangelinan told Variety that since Sept. 5, the agency has notified the public about the inclusion of this controversial proposal on this year’s ballot. The first notice, she explained, indicated only the “ballot summary title” that basically informs voters about the inclusion of the referendum on this year’s ballot and encourages voters to participate in the November poll.

    Pangelinan said GEC is scheduled to issue three notices: on Sept. 5, Sept. 12 and Sept. 16.

    The decision as to whether Guam will legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes will be in the hands of island voters after the Supreme Court of Guam ruled on Aug. 5 that it is legal for the Guam Legislature to put the question to a referendum. Two days later, the commission, which had contended it could not legally put the initiative on the ballot, unanimously voted to do so. The proposal to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes is also known as the Joaquin KC Concepcion II Compassionate Cannabis Use Act of 2013.

    Pangelinan said the notices are to inform voters about the proposal and obtain comments and arguments about the initiative to be considered for use in the education process. By Sept. 19, she said, the commission will stop accepting arguments on the proposal. Based on the notice sent by GEC, the argument must not exceed 500 words.

    Mandated

    Pangelinan said the sending out of notices as well as seeking comments or arguments on the proposal are mandated by the election law.

    “We are mandated by law to inform voters of any proposal (referendum) and invite the public to comment for or against it,” she told Variety. The GEC will decide which among the arguments it receives will be placed in the pamphlet as “pros” and “cons” to the proposal.

    Pangelinan said after Sept. 19, GEC will start mailing the pamphlets to all registered voters. She encouraged voters to update their mailing addresses to ensure that they receive the pamphlets on time. The pamphlets will serve as informational materials to further help the public understand the legislative initiative.

    She said the commission, besides sending out pamphlets, will not do any other campaign relating to the pot initiative. Pangelinan said that prior to the approval of the referendum, a series of public hearings was held for the proposal.

    In the publication of notices bearing the ballot summary title, Pangelinan said the commission plainly writes the title of the legislative initiative and invites the voters to take part in the election.

    “In doing that process (of issuing notices), we hope to entice voters to participate in the election,” Pangelinan said.

    Pangelinan added she is counting on the recently-approved budget act for fiscal year 2015 which includes a $60,000 appropriation for the GEC. Pangelinan said she will review the specifics of the law.

    That amount, she said, if received within fiscal 2014, should be enough to produce the needed pamphlets for the marijuana initiative.

    “I am kind of worried whether it’s going to be available this fiscal 2014,” she said. Sending pamphlets to all registered voters is a major task for the commission, she said.

    As to the number of pamphlets to be produced for the initiative, Pangelinan said a final number is not definite yet as registration is ongoing for the general election. During the primary election, GEC recorded a total of 49,110 registered voters – a figure she’s hoping will grow for the general election.

    When asked if GEC believes the marijuana initiative will entice young voters to participate in this general election, Pangelinan said she didn’t want to speculate.

    Department of Agriculture seeks regulation to punish thieves

    Friday, 12 Sep 2014 03:00am

    BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

    DEPARTMENT of Agriculture officials are hoping to see established in Guam law a statute to punish people caught stealing crops, slaughtering livestock for animal parts and even people who purchase stolen harvest or livestock.

    “The thing we’re working on is maybe we’ll propose a law or create some kind of protective measure for anybody caught in violation of theft of property from farms and …(they) will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said John Borja, chief of agriculture development.

    The Department of Agriculture is working with its oversight chairman, Sen. Rory Respicio, to implement such a statute, Borja said. One option is to have thieves pay back the damage done to farmers done through community service on the farms.

    Although details are still being worked out, Borja said the idea is to provide a statute to help farmers who have been hit by vandals or thieves.

    The public is also encouraged to refrain from buying items they think may have been stolen from a farmer. “We’d like to make an awareness known that those buying from certain individuals that seem suspicious, to question them and report it to authorities,” he said. “If you know this person doesn’t look like a farmer and whatnot, most of the time (the goods) are stolen.”

    Borja said there have been reported incidents of people stealing crops from farmers, and in February, he said someone stole 12 cows and three carabaos. Because a cow is so large, it is easier for rustlers to lead the cow to an inconspicuous area and slaughter it. Borja said the main parts thieves go for are the animal’s hind legs.

    Carted away

    Smaller livestock, like goats, are usually carted away. Borja said they are sold for their meat, priced anywhere from $200 to $400, depending on the size of the goat.

    All kinds of crops are targeted as well, he said. Recently, he recalled an incident involving a dragon fruit farmer who reported damage to his crop. “His farm was hit by vandals and he indicated it was possibly three groups of people actually robbing him. They seem to know when he’s not there and they seem to know when it’s a good time to steal his harvest,” Borja said. In this case, police caught one of the thieves, but that is not usually the outcome farmers expect.

    Most of the time, robbers sell the items for as much as they can get out of them, he said. Watermelons, for instance, bring back a greater return if sold to a buyer, compared to crops that don’t weigh as much.

    Many times farmers are unable to watch over their farms 24 hours a day, which makes them vulnerable to thieves. Borja said farmers should report stolen goods to police. He said the department often advises farmers to keep an eye out for suspicious vehicles or suspicious people and strengthen their areas with barricades to deter criminals.

    Sometimes, Borja said, farmers brand their animals which helps authorities identify it, and some farmers install microchips to track them.

     

    • RCGuam 8 hours ago

      Ridiculous, as if a new law will fix this problem. There are laws that exist that make trespassing, stealing and handling and selling stolen goods illegal. Those laws are not being enforced. How are new laws going to solve the problem? Why not make it illegal to have brown tree snakes and rhino beetles on your property if making laws fixes things.


     

‘Limit number of FAS citizens allowed into Guam’

Friday, 12 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

  • MARGARET Metcalfe, the Republican candidate for Guam delegate to Congress, said Guam has become an underpaid caretaker as a result of the Compacts of Free Association and is proposing to limit the number of people allowed to migrate to Guam, in order to balance the strain on the island’s resources.

    Metcalfe said Guam’s borders are open and there is no regulation in the COFA that limits how many people are allowed to migrate to the island. “There needs to be some control or everyone suffers,” Metcalfe said.

    Control, she suggested, comes in the form of deportation enforcement from the federal government and having a quota for the number of people from Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and the Marshall Islands that migrate to Guam.

    “I think we need to find some way to put some quotas in place, just like any other state in the nation – like every other country in the world – just to make sure that we can bring people in, in a way that we can best care for our people, care for these other folks but not at the risk of losing our own benefits here for our people,” Metcalfe said.

    According to the delegate-hopeful, there are about 20,000 FAS migrants in Guam and 82 percent of them are not employed but still live on island. This alone is enough cause for deportation, but Metcalfe said the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has not enforced deportation.

    “They’re supposed to be deportable but no one does it. The local police, the local authorities cannot do it. It has to be done by immigration, but immigration has been told by (U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder) not to enforce it,” she said.

    Contrast

    In contrast, Metcalfe said there are only 12,000 FAS migrants in Hawaii and 82 percent of them are employed.

    Metcalfe said it is provisions like these that could have been changed when the COFA was up for review in 2003 and 2011. “None of these are bullet trains. They didn’t just come and slam us. These are things that have been known for years. Why hasn’t our representative been making this information available to us before we are overwhelmed and cannot recuperate from it?” Metcalfe said.

    Representatives from Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, Saipan and American Samoa were included in the review of the agreement, but there was no representation from Guam, Metcalfe said. Every eight years, the agreement is assessed and the assessment makes for an opportunity to change things.

    “In 2003 and 2011 it was reviewed and renewed. Both times we’ve had over 30 senators in attendance, people from Saipan, from American Samoa, people from the Virgin Islands, people from Hawaii ... zero from Guam,” Metcalfe said. “What good is it for us ... to have a seat at the table if we’re not there when it counts?”

    For those FAS citizens who are currently on Guam and have become part of the extended families of local people, Metcalfe suggested to work with them so they can be productive and the overall quality of life can be improved. But in the future, she said possibly implementing a quota or a limit to the number of migrants allowed into Guam is a solution to the strain on Guam resources.

    8,000 Marines vs. 20,000 migrants

    Metcalfe noted that the federal government’s attitude toward Guam residents is hypocritical, when comparing the military buildup and the Compact of Free Association. “They tell us we cannot afford 8,000 military Marines because of the infrastructure,” she said. “And yet we’re allowing over 20,000 over the borders – with no limit. There are no quotas. It’s unlimited, open borders. Do you see the injustice and just the hypocrisy that’s going on here?”

    If any of the 50 states were told they had open borders, Metcalfe said the state would not stand for it. She said Guam needs to put its foot down, draw a line in the sand and start making some noise. “What we’re turning into is an underpaid care-giving nation. We’re care-giving for other island nations at our own expense. That is not appropriate,” she said.

Home Depot customers urged to monitor financial activities

Thursday, 11 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY MONETH G. DEPOSA | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

CUSTOMERS of The Home Depot were urged yesterday to closely monitor their financial transactions after the company acknowledged that the customers’ payment data systems of the company were breached.

On Monday, the chain said its payment systems had been hacked in a data breach that could affect millions of customers who used credit and debit cards at its more than 2,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada since April.

Guam Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas, in a statement yesterday, encouraged residents who are also patrons of The Home Depot to report any possible identity theft to local law enforcement.

“I encourage all consumers to closely monitor their credit and debit card accounts to ensure that there are no unauthorized charges. If anyone suspects that their personal information has been compromised, immediately contact their financial institution and report the possible identity theft to local law enforcement,” said Rapadas. The law enforcement agencies include the Guam Police Department, the FBI and the Secret Service.

Late last month, Rapadas and the Office of the Attorney General hosted a Law Enforcement Summit on Identity Theft Training which brought out the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association Lifelock training team to educate law enforcement authorities on aspects of identity theft, identity theft trends, relevant identity theft laws, investigative techniques, data bases to assist in identity theft investigations, identity theft awareness, and protection strategies.

The training included a live demonstration of “skimming” and “check washing.”

Task force

As a result of this training, Rapadas will be meeting with the relevant agencies to form an Identity Theft Task Force of Guam which held its first meeting yesterday.

“Identity theft wreaks havoc on individuals’ lives and can have long-lasting effects. Hopefully, with the tools provided to us through the training, and with the commencement of the identity theft task force, we will be better able to protect island consumers from falling victim to this type of crime,” Rapadas said.

Based on The Home Depot website, the company announced on Sept. 2 that it is investigating a possible breach of payment data systems.

“We want you to know that we have now confirmed that those systems have in fact been breached, which could potentially impact any customer that has used their payment card at our U.S. and Canadian stores, from April forward. We do not have any evidence that the breach has impacted stores in Mexico or customers who shopped online at HomeDepot.com,” according to the company’s message to customers.

In its message to customers, the company also emphasized that they will not be responsible for any fraudulent charges to customer accounts, and it is offering free identity protection services, including credit monitoring, to any customer who has shopped at a Home Depot from April on.

Home Depot customers can call Home Depot Customer Care at 1-800-466-3337
skypec2c://r/2041-800-466-3337 for more information.


Granite Construction Company Guam wins $75M DoD contract

Posted: Sep 09, 2014 

 by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - A $75 million military contract has been awarded to Granite Construction Company Guam. According a press release from the Department of Defense the company has been contracted to construct and repair roads, streets, parking areas, and sidewalks on US Government shore based facilities in the territory. The work is slated for completion in September 2019.  

Housing board OKs land exchange, procurement of housing equipment

Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY MONETH G. DEPOSA | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

  • THE Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority board of directors has approved a land exchange for one of its properties in As Tumbo and approved the procurement of several units of refrigerators and electric stoves for the needs of its housing clients.

    The board last Friday adopted a decision to exchange its 1,263-square meter land in As Tumbo to a 778-square meter parcel of private land, also within the area.

    According to GHURA Executive Director Michael J. Duenas, although the agency has given up more than what it will receive in return, the land exchange decision is in fact favorable to the agency.

    Duenas told the GHURA board that the property has been sitting idle for years. Because of its location and the lack of connections to infrastructure, Duenas said will be costly for GHURA to develop the property.

    The executive director said that prior to the management recommendation for a land exchange, GHURA had conducted an appraisal of the property.

    “Based on the appraisal of the lot, the exchange is in our favor,” he reported to the board last Friday, adding that the exchanged property has power, water, and sewer connections that would be advantageous to the agency.

    According to GHURA board chairman David Sablan Jr., this is not the first time that the board had approved a land exchange. He said the board has authority to do so based on its fiduciary duty.

    New equipment

    Besides the land exchange issue, the board also approved the procurement of new units of refrigerators, electric stoves, and water heaters to replace older ones in many of the housing units.

    Costing $33,887, the GHURA board approved the procurement of a total of 55 units of refrigerators of various sizes.

    Another $21,667 was approved to purchase 34 units of electric stoves, and four units of water heaters.

    Bids for both projects were opened last month after which two vendors were selected for the services.

    Also last Friday, the GHURA board approved a new contract for the existing vendor of the agency’s internet and telecom services.

    Pacific Data Systems, its current vendor, was selected for the service at a rate of $38,949 per annum.

    According to the management, when the bid was announced, six vendors picked up the bid package. However, PDS emerged as the winning bidder because it was chosen as the one that can most accommodate the needs of GHURA based on its specifications.

    The newly approved contract of $38,949 reflects only a slight increase from the existing contract of the company. The increase, the board was told, was due to the agency’s request to increase the byte capacity (for speed) and a back-up plan for the service.

    The management also said the PDS offer is significantly lower than what the top two proposers submitted which cost $61,000 and $51,000 per annum, respectively.

        

Naval base to change base access procedures starting Oct. 1

Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 03:00am

PRESS RELEASE

NBG) – U.S. Naval Base Guam will implement revised base access procedures effective Oct. 1.

The revised procedure, referred to by Department of Defense as “Trusted Traveler,” will authorize registered vehicle drivers/operators who present a valid Department of Defense Identification Card to vouch for all occupants of their vehicle when entering the base. Trusted Travelers will not be permitted to vouch for visitors in another vehicle, nor will Trusted Traveler apply to personnel entering the base by means other than a vehicle.

Trusted Travelers will no longer be required to proceed to the Visitor Control Center and obtain visitor passes for guest visits of 48 hours or less; however, Trusted Travelers will be held responsible for the actions and conduct of their guests. Trusted Travelers must remain within close physical proximity of their guests at all times.

The program is designed to ease traffic congestion at the Visitor Control Center and the gates. Sponsorship of guests is a privilege that can be revoked if abused; however NBG leadership is confident Trusted Travelers will take their responsibility seriously.

The following ID cardholders are authorized to be Trusted Travelers:

  • Uniformed service member or federal government employee with a valid Common Access Card (CAC);

  • Military retiree with a valid DoD identification credential; and

  • Dependent older than 16 years old with a valid DoD identification credential.

    Contractors and vendors may not act as Trusted Travelers.

    Hours

    Trusted Traveler will only be authorized between the hours of 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily for the main base (Big Navy), Polaris Point, U.S. Naval Hospital Guam and Navy Housing areas. 100 percent ID card checks will remain in effect for Main Base, Polaris Point, Naval Hospital Guam, and Navy Housing between the late evening hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and 24 hours a day at all other satellite locations to include U.S. Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Guam and Naval Munitions Annex.

    All visitors are reminded to have a valid photo ID with them at all times since 100 percent ID checks may be conducted at any time in accordance with random antiterrorism and force protection measures. The Trusted Traveler program may be suspended if force protection conditions change or at the discretion of the commanding officer.

    In concert with implementation of the Trusted Traveler program, visitor passes will no longer be issued at the gates. Effective Oct. 1, the Visitor Control Center will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and closed on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. Requirements for visitor passes, to include advanced arrival visitor passes, should be coordinated during these times. Individual visitor requests are required to be submitted five business days prior to the expected arrival/event to allow for proper background checks.

    Base access procedures for contractors, vendors and other personnel not authorized base access under the Trusted Traveler program remain unchanged.

    In addition, NBG will also begin use of the Navy Access Control Management System scanners as a means to verify the authenticity of ID cards of personnel entering the base. These scanners will determine validity of active-duty CACs, dependent family member ID cards, and RapidGate credentials. NBG will conduct trial use of the scanners during off-peak travel times over the next several weeks to enhance the efficiency of traffic flow once use of scanners is fully implemented on Oct. 1.

  

Poll shows Dems with supermajority

Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY FRANK WHITMAN | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

Ron McNinch

IF THE general election were held over this past weekend, the Democrats in the Guam Legislature would hold a veto-proof majority, according to the results of a poll conducted by Ron McNinch who is a political analyst, Variety columnist and University of Guam professor of public administration.

The pollsters surveyed 300 registered Guam voters on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 6 and 7. The makeup of the survey sample was controlled for age and gender with a sampling error of plus or minus 5 percent.

According to McNinch, the results show 10 Democrats in the 15 spots with the most votes. Ten, or two-thirds of the members of the legislature, is the number of votes needed in order to override the governor’s veto of any legislation.

The general election will be held eight weeks from today on Nov. 4.

The poll results appear to contradict those of the primary election which was held only 10 days ago on Aug. 30. In the primary, however, voters were only permitted to vote for candidates in one party. In the general election, that is not the case.

The most notable difference between the McNinch survey and the primary election is that in the primary, Speaker Judi Won Pat ranked eighth among Democrats. In the survey she was the top vote getter.

First-time candidates making the top 15 in the McNinch survey were Nerissa Underwood and Adonis Mendiola. Non-incumbent former senators in the survey top 15 were Judith Guthertz and Frank Blas Jr. Incumbents not in the top 15 in the survey were Sen. Brant McCreadie and Sen. Chris Duenas.

20 file candidacy for utilities commission, education board

Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY MONETH G. DEPOSA | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

Simon Sanchez, the current chairman of the Consolidated Commission on Utilities, is running for re-election. Variety file photo

A NUMBER of individuals have submitted their names to serve on both the Guam Education Board and the Consolidated Commission on Utilities, all hoping to deliver positive changes for schoolchildren and lower utility rates for the people of Guam.

For this year’s general election, a total of 20 individuals have filed candidacy for both the CCU and the education board. This is based on the official list of the Guam Election Commission as it closed the filing deadline last Friday. There are three vacant seats for both agencies in this general election.

According to the election commission, 11 candidates are seeking seats on the CCU. These include Joseph George Bamba, Earl Joseph Garrido, William H. Hagen, Eloy P. Hara, Andrew S. Leon Guerrero, Benigno M. Palomo, William A. Payne Jr., Simon A. Sanchez II, Francis E. Santos, Jose Santos Servino, and Frederick Phil Q. Tupaz.

Bamba, one of the candidates who filed on Friday, told Variety yesterday that his desire to help the people to better cope with the increasing cost of utilities on island is his main motivation for running for the CCU post.

The former senator said the continuous suffering of people in paying their increasing utility rates can be addressed by way of offering alternate energy for the public.

Bamba said there is a need at this time to expand relationships with independent power producers for a wider range of alternative energy options for Guam. This, for the first-time CCU contender, is among the areas he feels he can help if elected to the utility board.

When asked about his plans, in the meantime, incumbent Palomo said if elected he plans to continue to help the people. He said his years of serving the commission is testament that what he is offering is his vast experience and knowledge in serving the position at CCU – which he pointed out is not a political post.

School board

Meanwhile, GEC has posted nine candidates for the Guam Education Board. These are Peter Alecxis Ada, Ronald A. Ayuyu, Lourdes S. Benavente, Jose Q. Cruz, Maria A. Gutierrez, Albert T. San Agustin, Lourdes San Nicolas, Joseph Cruz Santos and Rosie Rivera Tainatongo.

Candidate San Agustin said serving the GEB requires dedication and commitment. In seeking his second term this year, San Agustin said he has a good vision for the public schools. He told Variety that it is his dedication to education as well as dedication to the children and the school system that truly motivated him to seek another term.

In particular, Agustin wants to see the system implement a more holistic approach with middle school students, or those children in their puberty years. This way, the educator said, they will be given great coping skills that will help them adjust to the high school environment.

              

Naval base to change base access procedures starting Oct. 1

Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 03:00am

PRESS RELEASE

NBG) – U.S. Naval Base Guam will implement revised base access procedures effective Oct. 1.

The revised procedure, referred to by Department of Defense as “Trusted Traveler,” will authorize registered vehicle drivers/operators who present a valid Department of Defense Identification Card to vouch for all occupants of their vehicle when entering the base. Trusted Travelers will not be permitted to vouch for visitors in another vehicle, nor will Trusted Traveler apply to personnel entering the base by means other than a vehicle.

Trusted Travelers will no longer be required to proceed to the Visitor Control Center and obtain visitor passes for guest visits of 48 hours or less; however, Trusted Travelers will be held responsible for the actions and conduct of their guests. Trusted Travelers must remain within close physical proximity of their guests at all times.

The program is designed to ease traffic congestion at the Visitor Control Center and the gates. Sponsorship of guests is a privilege that can be revoked if abused; however NBG leadership is confident Trusted Travelers will take their responsibility seriously.

The following ID cardholders are authorized to be Trusted Travelers:

  • Uniformed service member or federal government employee with a valid Common Access Card (CAC);

  • Military retiree with a valid DoD identification credential; and

  • Dependent older than 16 years old with a valid DoD identification credential.

    Contractors and vendors may not act as Trusted Travelers.

    Hours

    Trusted Traveler will only be authorized between the hours of 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily for the main base (Big Navy), Polaris Point, U.S. Naval Hospital Guam and Navy Housing areas. 100 percent ID card checks will remain in effect for Main Base, Polaris Point, Naval Hospital Guam, and Navy Housing between the late evening hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and 24 hours a day at all other satellite locations to include U.S. Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Guam and Naval Munitions Annex.

    All visitors are reminded to have a valid photo ID with them at all times since 100 percent ID checks may be conducted at any time in accordance with random antiterrorism and force protection measures. The Trusted Traveler program may be suspended if force protection conditions change or at the discretion of the commanding officer.

    In concert with implementation of the Trusted Traveler program, visitor passes will no longer be issued at the gates. Effective Oct. 1, the Visitor Control Center will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and closed on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. Requirements for visitor passes, to include advanced arrival visitor passes, should be coordinated during these times. Individual visitor requests are required to be submitted five business days prior to the expected arrival/event to allow for proper background checks.

    Base access procedures for contractors, vendors and other personnel not authorized base access under the Trusted Traveler program remain unchanged.

    In addition, NBG will also begin use of the Navy Access Control Management System scanners as a means to verify the authenticity of ID cards of personnel entering the base. These scanners will determine validity of active-duty CACs, dependent family member ID cards, and RapidGate credentials. NBG will conduct trial use of the scanners during off-peak travel times over the next several weeks to enhance the efficiency of traffic flow once use of scanners is fully implemented on Oct. 1.

 

GWA certification in jeopardy

Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

GEPA issues intent to revoke waterworks lab certification

THE Guam Environmental Protection Agency has issued a notice of intent to revoke Guam Waterworks Authority’s lab certification after the waterworks authority laboratory failed to identify a sample as positive for E. coli bacteria during a recent proficiency test.

  • GWA’s laboratory certification expired in July and has been under provisional status while GWA was working on its renewal process.

    According to Eric Palacios, GEPA administrator, GWA requested the environmental agency to conduct an audit in order to acquire recertification for another three years. Part of that process, he said, entailed taking the required proficiency tests as well as laboratory site visits by the agency.

    After issuing the notice, Palacios said the waterworks authority has 30 days starting Friday to retake and pass another third-party proficiency test to be administered by an off-island laboratory.

    The third-party laboratory has to be USEPA-approved and completely separate from Guam to ensure impartiality in the testing process.

    Meanwhile, GWA continues to be under provisional status while completing the requirements.

    Before issuing the notice last week, GEPA notified GWA that drinking water samples being tested for total coliform and E. coli must be processed by a certified laboratory.

    According to GEPA, laboratories that test drinking water are required to meet and maintain certification requirements enforced by the agency.

    This includes successfully completing standardized proficiency tests. These certifications are required to ensure any drinking water samples being tested for bacteria, total coliform and E. coli are correctly analyzed.

    According to GEPA, testing for coliform bacteria and E. coli is a critical component in the management of any drinking water system because this type of testing helps ensure water is safe for use. Ensuring water does not have bacteria or E. coli is also a requirement of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

    GWA earlier assured in a statement from acting General Manager Thomas Cruz that the quality of water that GWA delivers to the community is and always will be their top priority and that they will work with the environmental agency to ensure that the island’s water is not compromised.

    Palacios said GEPA will continue to provide assistance to the waterworks authority.

    “I want GWA to know that they have our full support. I do want my team to continue working with GWA to get them recertified because we do need GWA in the community,” Palacios said. “We just want to see them succeed.”

      

Rapadas: Reorganizing AG's office 'doesn’t make sense'

Monday, 08 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Office of the Attorney General is still in its infancy and its current structure is similar to that in a majority of states, so restructuring the office would not make sense, said Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas.

Rapadas’ remarks are in response to attorney general candidate Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson’s suggestion of possibly reverting to an appointed attorney general instead of an elected attorney general. Barrett-Anderson also suggested the possibility of establishing a position for solicitor general, who would be appointed by the governor.

Both candidates have said they are not opposed to an elected attorney general.

However, Barrett-Anderson said when an elected attorney general and an elected governor have differing opinions on policy issues, a conflict occurs. A solution to that conflict may be to elect a prosecutor and have the governor appoint the attorney general or appoint a solicitor general to handle policy decisions and continue having voters elect an independent attorney general.

Rapadas said Barrett-Anderson’s suggestions would split the OAG in a way that does not make sense and is not consistent with how a majority of OAGs are structured.

About 47 states and territories have elected attorneys general and the trend is moving toward consolidating legal services, according to Rapadas’ research. “We have the simple route now. To go and play around with the structure – this division goes here, this division goes there, this division becomes elected, this one stays appointed – it seems to me it doesn’t make sense, (it’s) not simple at all,” Rapadas said.

Further, an appointed attorney general can be switched out at the will of the governor. “For any appointed position – an appointed attorney general, an appointed solicitor, an appointed this or that – there’s always the danger of an immediate dismissal by the appointing authority, which is the administration, the governor,” he said.

The people of Guam wanted to elect an attorney general in the late 1990s so that there was an individual independent from the legislature and the governor who would be held accountable to the people, Rapadas said. Now that the office has been established for 12 years, it is still working out its role in the government as an independent body. “This office is only 12 years old. In any span of any attorney general’s office, 12 years old doesn’t even make it an infant, doesn’t even make it to toddler status,” Rapadas said. “There are many things that need to be worked out as far as the parameters of the attorney general’s powers.”

Five terms is not enough to “complete the picture” of an attorney general’s functions, Rapadas noted. Reshaping the responsibilities of each division or the entire office in 12 years will not allow the office to grow as a legal office. “That’s one thing you don’t want – is to stunt the growth of this legal office,” he said.

One function that Rapadas said an attorney general should not play is that of a rubber stamp.

Many times Rapadas said his office is in agreement with the practices of legislature and the governor, but it is when one or the other “steps off that line that (the Office of the Attorney General) will step in,” he said. He added that conflict alone should not call for reorganization of an office. There are some instances in other parts of the country when the attorney general, the governor and a majority of the legislature are from one political party and conflict still occurs, he said.

Nonetheless, each body must serve to balance each other. “This office serves as a check and balance against a rogue administration, a rogue legislature,” Rapadas said. “And if this office looks like it’s a rogue office, then the people have the choice to remove this person because it is an elected position accountable to the people.”

GWA to upgrade 80 water wells

Monday, 08 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Guam Waterworks Authority is now preparing to embark on another critical court-ordered project that would improve the island's water quality after getting the green light from the Consolidated Commission on Utilities.

GWA's Deep Well Chlorine Residual Analyzers project involves work at 80 water well sites to improve electrical safety and reliability as well as install 73 chlorine residual analyzers.

According to GWA, the electrical improvements are necessary for the safe and reliable operation of the analyzers as well as to effectively monitor chlorine residual levels, and to stop water production at the wells should the measurements indicate unacceptable levels.

Asanuma Corp. submitted the lowest and most responsive bid, Thomas Cruz, interim general manager of GWA, reported to the CCU.

“Part of the project is to provide electrical upgrades within the wells as part of the necessary measures to get the point analyzers to work but also to get the production wells at a state where the electrical system is robust,” he said. He added that having the analyzers in as well as getting the system functional are two important components of the project.

About $3 million has been earmarked for the project from GWA's 2010 and 2013 bond proceeds under the “Implement Ground Water Rule” and “Water Wells” components.

Also approved by the CCU was a construction management service contract worth around $302,000 which will also be funded by 2010 and 2013 bond funds. The recommendation was to award the contract to Stanley Consultants Inc.

Court order

P.L. 32-69 authorized GWA to borrow up to $450 million worth of bonds in three separate bond sales – one in 2013, another one in 2015, and the third in 2017. The bonds will be supported by rate increases and operational efficiencies implemented by GWA.

For the first bond cycle, approximately $140 million worth of capital improvement projects will be undertaken by the waterworks authority to comply with the requirements of the November 2011 amended stipulated order as well as to address the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Significant Findings for Water and Wastewater report.

Based on documents submitted to the Public Utilities Commission, GWA outlined the need for $95.13 million for potable water projects, which include tank replacements and repairs.

In addition, $33.3 million will be utilized for wastewater projects; $5.395 million for electrical engineering projects; and $5.5 million for engineering projects, which include laboratory modernization, land surveys and general plant improvements.



Budget bill signed into law


Saturday, 06 Sep 2014 03:00am


BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


·         Sen. Tommy Morrison, right, and Sen. Frank Aguon look on as Gov. Eddie Calvo signs the fiscal 2015 budget bill into law. Photo by Matt Weiss / Variety


$111M in Section 30 coming to Guam

THERE was no tug of war between the executive and legislative branches over the fiscal 2015 budget bill as Gov. Eddie Calvo signed the amended and substituted Bill 269 into P.L. 32-181 yesterday morning.


The government appropriations measure pegs the 2015 budget at $666.43 million.

As this developed, Calvo also acknowledged that Department of Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia'aina has approved a total of $111 million in Section 30 federal income tax transfer payments for Guam.

The prior budget cycle saw the version passed by the legislature vetoed several times before reaching a compromise version.

In fiscal 2014, a unanimous vote to pass the seventh version of the budget measure broke the budget impasse, just less than a month away from the onset of fiscal 2014.

Calvo himself acknowledged efforts put in by both Democrats and Republicans at the legislature by calling Bill 269 a bipartisan effort, a measure shaped by legislators from both sides of the political spectrum.

"As the process went along, it was not only provisions and amendments put in there by the Democratic majority but also the Republican minority, all in the spirit of bipartisanship," he said.

COLA

Calvo noted positive gains in the budget bill, especially the inclusion of an appropriation for the cost of living allowance, or COLA, to benefit 6,500 retirees – $2,000 to each retiree of the Government of Guam Retirement Fund who is retired as of Sept. 30 this year, or his survivor, no later than Nov. 1.

Priorities

According to the Office of the Governor, 33.9 percent of the budget will go to education operations; 18.8 percent to medical and health care services; 20.2 percent to public safety and emergency response services; and 27.1 percent for debt service.

In fiscal 2015, the Guam Department of Education will be receiving $11 million more than fiscal 2014 appropriation levels, while the University of Guam and the Guam Community College will be receiving an increase of $4 million and $2 million, respectively.

Meanwhile, public safety agencies will also see an increase in funding, with the Guam Police Department receiving a boosted $5.3 million from FY2014 appropriation levels, while the Department of Corrections, Department of Youth Affairs and the Guam Fire Department will see increases of $4.6 million, $1.3 million and $6.4 million, respectively.

Around $118 million was also allocated for FY2015 tax refunds.

After Calvo signed the budget bill, he announced that $15 million in tax refunds were being prepared for release.

Another $10 million, he assured, will be going out within the next couple of weeks as well.

Collaboration

Sen. Brant McCreadie called the collaboration a "caucus of common sense."

“This is something that we talked about in the last two years and we finally did it. We worked together as a team. We caucused together as one.”

Sen. Frank Aguon highlighted education, public safety, and health – areas which are critical to public services. The senator also noted how the measure incorporated much-needed funding to address mandates set in the Competitive Wage Act and to address law enforcement requirements.

Meanwhile, Sen. Tommy Morrison said he appreciates the inclusion of a provision in the bill that ensures programs and facilities at the village level as well as another provision which provides the Department of Public Works the flexibility to introduce and expand new programs.

Morrison also thanked his colleagues for prioritizing and putting in resources for the Office of Technology, a division within GovGuam which he said is key to advancing customer service in government.

Sen. Tony Ada said the FY2015 budget process goes to show what can happen when the legislative and executive branch work together hand-in-hand in moving government forward.

"I hope that future budget processes would be just like this," he said.

Sen. Tina Muña-Barnes said she is particularly pleased that the mayors will be receiving the resources they need to service their villages and that the Guam Visitors Bureau’s budget request was supported.

A number of cultural groups have also received funding through the Tourist Attraction Fund. Muña-Barnes said “it is important that we support these groups because they are preserving and promoting our Chamorro language, culture and practices. They provide the product that GVB markets and they ensure that Guam is more than just sun and sand, and that tourism is not just in Tumon.”

Withdrawal

Meanwhile, Sen. Chris Duenas has announced the withdrawal of Bill 390, a measure he introduced which seeks to authorize the appropriation and payment of $5 million from Section 30 funds to fund the remaining 50 percent salary adjustments to government of Guam employees pursuant to the Competitive Wage Act of 2014.

"I will be withdrawing Bill 390 because there is no need for it anymore. Our colleagues put that $5 million to ensure that our government employees are made whole with the additional 50 percent retroactive pay," he said.

The upcoming fiscal year’s budget also includes the full implementation of the Hay study pay plan for personnel under the general pay plan. The governor has already directed the Department of Administration to begin preparing the Hay increase.




Star Marianas eyes on-demand Guam-NMI flights

Friday, 05 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY MONETH G. DEPOSA | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

FLIGHTS to and from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands may soon increase since Star Marianas Air Inc. has recently submitted its application to the Guam International Airport Authority seeking authorization to operate commuter and on-demand services between Guam and the CNMI.

During the airport authority board meeting last week, Charles Ada, GIAA executive manager, said the company had submitted correspondence for its proposed operation in Guam.

Ada said Star Marianas is planning to commence operations this month as soon as approval is secured from GIAA and after satisfying all local and federal requirements. Ada said negotiations are ongoing between the authority and the company.

Shaun Christian, president of Star Marianas, yesterday confirmed to Variety the company’s interest to begin the scheduled and charter service between the NMI and Guam. He said the company is now awaiting the final word from GIAA.

He said that as soon as approval is secured, the company will work on satisfying all requirements as well as filling the staffing positions for the operation.

Christian said this is not the first time Star Marianas put in a request to GIAA. Two years ago, the company made an initial proposal which was not successful.

Proposal

Under the current Star Marianas proposal, daily operations will commence primarily for Guam-Rota service and Guam-Saipan service, according to Christian. It will utilize an eight-seat Piper Navajo Chieftain aircraft.

At present, Star Marianas operates a cargo service between the NMI and Guam.

Christian said the company is pursuing the Guam-NMI service because it believes there is a demand for the service and it wants to assist the people as well as the economy.

Until recently, there were two airlines serving the Guam-NMI route. However, when Freedom Air filed for bankruptcy last year, United Airlines became the sole service provider for the market. Passengers have recently expressed disappointment with frequent delays and rising air fares.

Star Marianas was incorporated in August 2006 under the name Star Aviation Inc. In 2008, the name was changed to Star Marianas Air Inc.

The Star Marianas fleet is comprised of seven Piper Cherokee Six aircraft and four Navajo Chieftain aircraft.

GIAA preparing area for commuter operations

Rolenda Faasuamalie, Guam airport marketing administrator, yesterday told Variety that GIAA is preparing a temporary area for commuter operations, such as that proposed by Star Marianas.

She said discussions have been ongoing with Star Marianas about its interest in offering scheduled commuter and on-demand services on the Guam-NMI route.

“Currently, planning is ongoing to make ready an interim area for a common-use facility to conduct commuter operations, without impact to current operators and existing tenants. The proposed area must meet layout requirements to address all safety and security concerns in line with airport operations, and is subject to the building permit process for renovation work,” she said.

According to Faasuamalie, this space will also be available for other interested carriers utilizing similar aircraft types and will become a common use facility.

It is important to note, she said, that another piece to making this facility possible lies with the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency which must approve of the operation and allocate resources to process arriving passengers and cargo.

Further, she said Star Marianas must meet security requirements mandated by TSA in its operations.

“Without specifically identifying the proposed area for operations, the facility is right next to the main terminal, and has public access and parking facilities to accommodate operations. We will be able to specify the area once all approvals, permits and safety/security concerns are addressed,” she said.

 

First economic symposium seeks to attract off-island investors

Friday, 05 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Guam Economic Development Authority’s first economic symposium will be next month with the goal of attracting investors and connecting them with possible economic opportunities on Guam, GEDA officials announced yesterday.

“We are America in Asia,” said Mana Silva, GEDA acting administrator. “This is a huge selling point to investors throughout Asia who are looking to do business in the United States and have U.S. protections and assurances that their investments are safe.”

Developers, contractors, service companies and transportation industry investors from Asia and the U.S. have been targeted by GEDA to attend next month’s three-day symposium, to be held at the Hyatt Regency Guam.

About 400 investors and policy makers are expected to attend, according to a statement from GEDA. The symposium is scheduled for Oct. 22 to 24. Invitations have been sent and Silva said that registration is now open for those interested in attending.

E.J. Calvo, GEDA board chairman, said the island is preparing for a period of sustainable economic growth. This symposium will allow investors to capitalize on the upcoming growth, he said.

Calvo said tourism demands, infrastructure, the military buildup, Guam’s financial ratings, development plans for Hagåtña and new investment programs will be discussed at the symposium.

Study

Other announcements will also be made during the event, including the results of a study done on the island’s hotel industry. “We had the world’s top hotel consultants do a study on Guam and look at our need for hotel rooms so we’ll be releasing that study,” said Nathan Denight, GVB general manager. Denight said the study would be a powerful tool to help attract investors to the island.

Featured speakers include Joshua Cooper Ramo, the vice chairman of Kissinger Associates. Ramo has been called one of China’s leading foreign-born scholars and will discuss the role of Guam in relation to China and the United States’ assertion of new roles of influence in Asia, Silva said.

Tom Weyl, director of a research company, and Frank Chin, a managing director at Citigroup, will also be featured guest speakers at the symposium. Additionally, Silva said Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina yesterday confirmed her attendance at the symposium.

Aqua Suites dedicates fitness course

Posted: Sep 03, 2014 2:10 PM <em class="wnDate">Wednesday, September 3, 2014 12:10 AM EDT</em>Updated: Sep 03, 2014 2:10 PM <em class="wnDate">Wednesday, September 3, 2014 12:10 AM EDT</em>

by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Aqua Suites Hotel in Tamuning today dedicated a new fitness course to honor the island's active duty and retired military personnel that live and visit Guam.

Mathew Martin, director of sales and marketing, told KUAM News, "Personally this is important to me because this is a veteran owned hotel I served two tours in the Marine Corps and I think that it's not only important that we recognize people who are currently serving but also people who have sacrificed a lot to have served and their families. We look across our island here in Guam and each individual family member whether it be a mom a father, brother , sister, a husband, wife or even a child that has a lose this time or hold up on their own when they're serving their country it's our way of saying thank you."

The hotel owners also presented a $1,000 check to the USO Fund. Also part of today's dedication, five recruits were sworn in to serve in the US Army. According to Martin today's dedication is just the beginning as the hotel plans to continue to reach out to military service members. Currently Aqua Suites provides all military free stateside phone calls as well as free WiFi in every room. The Tamuning hotel also has plans to expand the recreation area in the back of the hotel and construct permanent BBQ stations and pavilions.

The idea is to provide visitors a home away from home.

New sea of green at Cocos Island leaves officials seeing red

Posted: Sep 03, 2014 Joan Aguon Charfauros kuam

Guam - Testing begins to determine what has prompted a massive algae bloom at a popular tourist attraction south of Guam.

You'd expect white sandy beaches and clear blue waters but that wasn't the sight when officials visited Cocos Island last month. As we previously reported, officials discovered a massive algae bloom hundreds of feet thick. Guam Environmental Protection Agency administrator Eric Palacios told KUAM News, "It is causing instability to the marine environment in that particular area so we're concerned about that. We are aware of the negative impacts that it has on our fishing community as well so we want to make sure we can address the situation as is necessary quickly."

But is it a natural occurrence or something else? Palacios says testing is underway, noting, "We're going to run two separate testings based on samples that we've collected - one will be done here at our lab. We're going to check for nutrients and the type of nutrients that are in the water. And then the separate sample that will be tested will actually be of the algae itself. That one, we're going to send to an international lab to see or determine the composition of that particular type of algae."

Depending on the results of both samples, he says they'll decide how best to proceed. "When we are eventually armed with that information hopefully we'll be able to determine whether there's anything on land that we need to look at more closely, maybe regulate more heavily or whether it truly is a natural occurrence which some people are claiming it to be," he said.

Fingers crossed - Palacios says they hope they can turn the new bloom into a resource. "What we're hoping for is to realize some type of beneficial reuse of the algae because it will need to be cleaned up at some point," he explained, "I'm hoping personally that maybe it can be used as fertilizer and that we can supply local farming industry or some other beneficial reuse. That's where we're at with this process." 

GMH not getting the funding needed for budget

Posted: Sep 02, 2014 by Jolene Toves kuam

Guam - The Guam Memorial Hospital's flatlining finances continues  as for the second year in a row they are not receiving the budget they've been asking for. With Fiscal Year 2015 beginning on October 1 GMH is working tirelessly to try to get the necessary funding needed for hospital operations.

Administrator Joseph Verga told KUAM News, "The biggest thing not mentioned had to do with the $25 million that we asked for...for uncompensated trust fund and that had to do with the sustainable source of revenue that I had recommend where I had recommended a customs user fee to be used for that purpose that would be recurring."

But  Verga says that was not addressed at all in the budget bill. Also not addressed the reimbursement of their Medicare services at the actual GMH service cost. "Appropriately funding Medicare levels that was not really done in the bill that was mentioned by the Senate and we have some other things for example our pharmaceutical fund we had asked that 75 percent of the fund comes to GMH in the form of cash actual revenues not 75 percent of the fund going to Medicaid for matching fund," he said.

Verga says this means that the $9.8 million in pharmaceutical funds is misnumbered because the hospital does not receive that money. All that is received is 25 percent while the rest goes to Medicaid for matching funds. In addition GMH had asked for funding for prior year obligations and capital improvement funds. He says that too was not addressed, noting, "Those were some of the big ones $4.1 million for the hay study that I believe we were only funded $1.3 million, so again that not fully funded for prior obligations there you know when you put it all together again it is significant and so of course I am disappointed."

The Guam Memorial Hospital is receiving about $26 million less than what they requested for their Fiscal '15 budget this is the second year in a row where they have received less than what they had asked for and this has caused a strain on hospital operations.

Despite the disappointment Verga says he continues to move forward with their three-year plan to put GMH on stable ground. But it is not easy, as Verga said, "So we continue to move the hospital forward but it makes it difficult to hire adequate staff makes it difficult to pay vendors on a timely manner so it affects the hospital operations and as I said to you before patient won't feel it because we work very hard when somebody comes here sick we take care of everyone."

With only three weeks left in the fiscal year  Verga is working with the Governor's Office to identify funding to cover the FY14 shortfalls. 

GEDA close to completing draft of new QC program

Posted: Sep 02, 2014    by Ken Quintanilla   KUAM

Guam - What once made sense ten years ago, may no longer be the case especially when it comes to GEDA'S qualifying certificate program. And the agency is close to completing its set of recommendations as part of its plan to revamp the QC.

It was earlier this year, when the Guam Economic Development Authority voted to move forward with a "new look" for the qualifying certificate program. GEDA board vice chairman David John is overseeing the QC Committee, and told KUAM News, "We're trying to integrate, we want to make sure we don't go independently and have the QC come up with independent and then have the response come back from Horwath over at GVB and then the recommendations from them not tie in with what we're doing, so we're just making sure the recommendations that are going to come out of the report that GVB is working on is consistent with what we've been working on it, it looks like it is."

As we reported, this "new look" would add a special QC for specific and urgent investment incentives starting with hotel room development. GEDA is working with the Horwath HTL consulting group based out of Singapore for the study. "The whole idea behind the new process is to clear up what's been put together over the years the QC program has been instrumental to get the tourism industry going down in Tumon now we want to make sure it falls in line with the 20/20 project for GVB is all about," said John.

Revamping the QC program covers over a year since the Office of Public Accountability issued an audit of the QC program noting several deficiencies. John says that will be taken into consideration, noting, "Challenges is to take out the things that aren't helping and just stream line it there's certain things we should be monitoring to make sure the QC is beneficial to the community not just the developer."

He ultimately says certain aspects of the QC program that made sense at one point in time may no longer be the case today. "So each QC will be different based on what it brings to the island and it needs to be revisited - does the island want it? That's something I think should be revisited every certain number of years that's something we have to talk about with the Legislature," he said.

The committee will be meeting this Wednesday to finish a draft proposal that will be presented to the board later this month. 

3 airlines to expand flight services to Guam

Monday, 01 Sep 2014 03:00am

BY MONETH G. DEPOSA | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Guam International Airport Authority said at least three signatory airlines on Guam have confirmed the expansion of their Guam service routes beginning next month.

Charles Ada, executive manager of the airport authority, reported during Thursday night’s board meeting that United Airlines, Philippine Airlines and China Airlines have all made commitments to add routes to their current service commencing this year.

Effective Oct. 27, United Airlines will add two routes to its Guam service, namely Guam-Seoul and Guam-Shanghai, Ada said. The airline will fly daily between Guam and Seoul, and will utilize 155-seat capacity aircraft which is anticipated to increase the current capacity by 4,650 seats each month, or 25,800 additional air seats for the Seoul market over a year.

According to Ada, the Seoul route was last serviced by Continental Micronesia with a nonstop schedule that ended in February 1997.

The Shanghai flights will be twice weekly. Ada said this will be the airline’s first regular-schedule direct flight from Shanghai. The aircraft to be used on the route is B737-800 which will bring a monthly capacity of 1,240 passengers, or 14,880 passengers annually.

Ada said Philippine Airlines will also increase operations on its Manila-Guam route from five flights to seven flights weekly. It will commence on Oct. 26 and will use A320 aircraft. The new flights will result in an increase in seat capacity every week by 300. on an annual basis, this expansion will boost capacity annually from 39,000 per year to 54,000 per year.

Ada said an additional route for China Airlines will be seen this month. The airline will operate a charter flight on the Fukuoka-Guam route. By this expansion, seat capacity from the market will mean an additional 2,384 for September.

The airport authority said it believes the successive expansions in the signatory airlines’ services on Guam can be attributed both to the incentive the authority is currently providing for the airlines as well as the effective marketing for the markets and the promise of a booming tourism industry on Guam.

Variety earlier reported that Cebu Pacific had also sealed an agreement with the Guam airport authority for its plan to service the Guam-Manila market.

Ada confirmed this to the board at Thursday’s meeting, citing that a meeting with the Cebu Pacific officials took place Aug. 7 on Guam.

Cebu Pacific, he said, will start offering four times weekly flights with an 11:35 a.m. departure from Manila and 3 p.m. arrival on Guam which is outside of the airport authority’s peak operations period. The aircraft to be used is the A320 with 180-seat capacity. This, Ada said, will bring additional 2,886 seats monthly to the inventory.

Cebu Pacific, he said, will make an official announcement next month for the commencement of its news service in December.



New $120M hotel planned: Ken Corp. project to begin work next year


Next to Hotel Nikko: Ken Corp.'s next hotel investment on Guam is expected to be built next to the Hotel Nikko structure and the newly renovated, newly opened Lotte Hotel in Tumon Bay. The $120 million project will have 348 rooms. Rendering courtesy of PHR Ken Micronesia Inc.


Written by


Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno


Pacific Sunday News


 


KEN CORP. HOTELS


With the proposed hotel construction project by Japan-based Ken Corp., the investor will expand its position as the largest owner of Guam hotels. When its sixth Guam hotel is built, Ken Corp. will have more than 3,000 rooms, or about 36 percent of all hotel rooms on Guam. Here's the breakdown of Ken Corp.'s current and future Guam hotels:


 


• Still to be named $120 million hotel project next to Hotel Nikko and Lotte Hotel


 


Number of rooms: 348


 


• Hilton Guam Resort & Spa


 


Number of rooms: 646


 


• Hotel Nikko Guam


 


Number of rooms: 492


 


• Hyatt Regency Guam


 


Number of rooms: 455


 


• Pacific Islands Club Guam


 


Number of rooms: 777


 


• Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort


 


Number of rooms: 311


 


 


Sources: PHR Ken Micronesia, Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association, Pacific Daily News files


http://www.guampdn.com/odygci/p2/factboxfade.png


 


Japan-based Ken Corp. plans to begin its 348-room hotel construction project on Guam next year.


The hotel project doesn't have a brand yet, but when completed in 2018, it will have an amphitheater for local cultural performances and local vendor stalls for "Made on Guam" products, said Milton Morinaga, managing director of PHR Ken Micronesia Inc., a subsidiary of Japan-based Ken Corp.


The upcoming hotel project is expected to cost about $120 million, Morinaga said.


The project hits some of the goals the local visitor industry's new Tourism 2020 master plan hopes to accomplish over the next several years.


The goals include offering higher-end accommodations to attract more big spenders rather than tourists with tight budgets. It also puts focus on offering more attractions that are unique to Guam, specifically having to do with the island's culture.


"Previously, there were more bargain tour packages ... being sold for the Guam market," Morinaga said. "However, the Guam Visitors Bureau this year reinforced the Tourism 2020 plan in the market and launched a 'Premium Guam' campaign that focuses more on quality."


"Travel agents have responded very well to the campaign and are creating longer stay packages with higher-end amenities. ... Essentially, Guam is no longer competing with cheaper destinations since travel agents now are focused more on quality," Morinaga said.


The project expands Ken Corp.'s tourism investments on Guam. Through subsidiary PHR Ken Micronesia, Ken Corp. also owns the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa, Hotel Nikko Guam, Hyatt Regency Guam, Pacific Islands Club and Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort.


When its sixth Guam hotel is built, Ken Corp. will have more than 3,000 hotel rooms, or about 36 percent of all hotel rooms on Guam.


Ken Corp.'s next hotel investment on Guam is expected to rise on land it already owns next to the Hotel Nikko structure and the newly renovated, newly opened Lotte Hotel in Tumon Bay.


The latest Ken Corp. project, which will be its first Guam hotel to be built from scratch, is being planned as Guam's visitor industry faces a shortage of hotel rooms during peak vacation months for Asian tourists.


Industry officials have said some of the Guam-bound charter flights were canceled during recent peak seasons because there weren't enough hotel rooms.


"The need for additional hotel room inventory is definitely there -- if we are going to grow the market," said Mary Torre Rhodes, president of the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association.


"It will give us the additional rooms; it will give us capacity to grow, especially with airlines increasing frequency to Guam from our key markets," Rhodes said.


Expanding airline seat capacity is the other key component to support new hotels or hotel expansions, Rhodes said.


During off-peak vacation seasons, however, some of the Guam hotels still struggle to fill rooms, so some of the investors find it challenging to expand or put money into a new hotel, Rhodes said.


"With hotel rooms, it's seasonal, ... we are not 100 percent fully booked all year long," Rhodes said.


Another component of Tourism 2020 that Rhodes is advocating is to further develop Guam's existing hospitality workforce to improve the level of service that Guam offers to visitors. A higher quality of service results in more higher-yield visitors coming to Guam, Rhodes said.


Guam is expected to see another major hotel, the upscale Dusit Thani Guam, open during the last quarter of this year or first quarter of next year, the hotel's developer, Tanota Partners, has stated.


The two hotel projects alone would fill a more than decade-old void in new major hotel projects in Tumon Bay.


Before local developer Tanota Partners had the 30-story Dusit Thani built, the Outrigger Guam Resort was the last new major hotel to open in Tumon Bay, Pacific Daily News files show. The Outrigger opened in 1999, and is also owned by Tanota Partners.