The merged carriers will officially be known as Docomo Pacific, with Jay Shedd remaining as the company president and Craig Thompson serving temporarily as the chief strategic advisor for Docomo Pacific during the transition period.
Shedd will announce the new executive team’s composition today as he assured employees the merger will not entail staff downsizing. “We are not firing anybody,” he said.
As the transition begins today, Shedd and Thompson assured subscribers there will be no system or service interruptions.
“We are merging two very large companies and making them one, so it will take a little time to complete the transition process,” Shedd said.
“We are still offering the same services. Eventually, we will talk about some new services, pricing plans and bundle packages that we will start providing. There’s a lot of work in progress right now and a lot of headaches to go through before we can offer the services and bundles that we are currently developing.”
MCV currently offers cable TV, Internet and wireless, while Docomo Pacific provides mobile and wireless services.
Shedd said the merger will allow them to be able to offer subscribers “more choices, more plans and multiservice packages” that will result in savings for its consumers.
“There’s a lot of synergies between the two companies,” Shedd said. “With MCV’s fiber optic all over Guam, we can use that to help back all broadband data to our switches.”
James Hoffman, corporate counsel for Docomo Pacific, said the merged companies will get the advantage of receiving a great deal of technical support from the $50 billion parent company in Japan.
The Federal Communications Commission approved NTT Docomo’s acquisition of MCV on May 3 after getting clearance from the Department of Justice. Guam’s Public Utilities Commission approved the transaction in December.
“This is the final step,” Thompson said of the agreement signing.
The succeeding phase, he added, involves overcoming the hurdles to providing contemporary technologies to the CNMI market.
Docomo Pacific and MCV currently offer limited products and services to the CNMI due to the high cost of installing undersea fiber optic cable. Docomo is selling 2G phones because its system can’t support the data, while MCV can’t provide live video stream and fast Internet service.
“We are offering 1990's services in the CNMI,” Thompson said.
IT&E is currently the only carrier with a pipe that links Guam and the CNMI.
Thompson said it costs $145,000 a month to transmit channels from California to Guam, and more than $500,000 a month to transmit from Guam to Saipan.
“To go 100 miles from Guam to Saipan is a lot more expensive than the 600-mile shot from California to Guam,” Thompson said.
“We are trying to get government help to get a lower tariff rate so we can offer more services to the CNMI,” Shedd said.
THE Department of Public Works announced yesterday that Phase I of the Hagåtña Bridge Project is almost complete and contractor Core Tech International will begin Phase II by the end of the week.
The $16.4 million project funded by the Federal Highway Administration and the Department of Defense began in September 2011 and is expected to be completed by March next year.
The overall project goal is to strengthen the capacity of the bridges and the roads to meet anticipated growth in traffic flow.
The new phase will also entail a major lane shift for south-bound traffic on Route 1. Starting 5 a.m. on Saturday, the two most outermost lanes currently under construction will be opened up and the two center lanes of the roadway will be closed for refurbishment and reconstruction of that section of the bridge and roadway.
Click here to view a map of the expected lane shift.
The public is advised to proceed with caution through the area and observe all traffic signs and flagmen.
Phase I was the replacement of the section of the Hagåtña bridge closest to the ocean. It included the installation of Navy communications vaults and conduits, reconstruction of the roadway between Routes 4 and 8, new sidewalks, and new driveways to the commercial properties along the road.
Parts of the reconstruction of the Route 1 and Route 8 intersection, to add two new left-turn lanes from Route 8 onto Route 1, were also included in the first phase.
Contractors ran into various problems during Phase 1.
“The contractor ran into some weather delays, utility conflicts, unforeseen sub-surface conflicts during the sheet pile driving, the discovery of archaeological remains and artifacts, and equipment issues,” Dominguez said.
During Phase II, the center section of the Hagåtña bridge and the center section of the roadway between Routes 4 and 8 will be replaced.
There will also be more Route 1 and Route 8 intersection improvements.
According to Dominguez: “The contractor plans on completing this phase (bridge and Route 1 road improvements) by September before going on to Phase III. The contractor plans on completing the Routes 1 and 8 intersection improvements by November 2013.”
Overall the project makes improvements to the Route 1 and Route 8 intersection and replaces the Route 1 and Chalan Santo Papa bridges over the Agana River. The project includes pavement widening and strengthening, new curbs and gutters, improved drainage, driveways, signage, pavement markings, intersection lighting, and utility relocations, as well as traffic signal system improvements.
In addition, the old bridge was approximately 40 feet long and the new bridge will be approximately 100 feet long.
Other road projects
DPW will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to celebrate the recent completion of the Taleyfak bridges in Agat.
Projects still in the works are the Ylig Bridge replacement, Route 11 improvement and traffic enforcement screening station, Route 11 shore protection, and Route 4 (from Ylig Bridge to Pågo Bay) resurfacing and widening.
From Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012, $16.7 million was collected out of the $17.5 million billed, according to a report submitted by Gershman, Brickner & Bratton Inc. (GBB), the court-appointed receiver for Guam solid waste management.
The highest collection was from commercial customers at $10,305, followed by residential customers at $6,383.
The government was billed for $348,583 but only $52,801 was collected during the same period.
The Guam Waterworks Authority account balance on March 31 was more than $1 million but GWA only paid $125,000 for March and April.
Other government customers owed $90,458 as of March 31 and according to the receiver, it continues to work with the Department of Administration to address unpaid balances.
GBB also reported that large commercial accounts remain its highest priority in collection efforts and that one account, Lagu Sanitation, has requested modification of its settlement agreement which is now under the receiver’s review.
According to GBB, the other accounts of commercial customers are current and the delinquency rates among residential customers have been kept to a minimum level.
Because of the improved collection of garbage fees, the Guam Solid Waste Authority's cash position continues to improve.
From $3.424 million in March 2011, the GSWA fund is now $11.2 million.
The receiver also reported that GSWA expenditures was 20.2 percent below the approved budget.
The total budget of GSWA for fiscal year 2013 is $18.3 million with a surplus of $599,009.
GBB also mentioned in its quarterly report that residential trash collections is 99.72 percent on time.
Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez released his assignments of school administrators for School Year 2013-2014 with more than 20 of GDOE's 40 public schools having new school administrators.
Fernandez said the department took several factors into consideration, including choosing the right administrators to move each school forward.
GDOE, in particular, took note of each administrator's experience, the number of years spent at a particular site, strengths and weaknesses, teacher and parent feedback, school improvement progress, and school challenges.
Earlier this year, administrators were informed that reassignments were a possibility, especially for those administrators with five or more years at their school.
During the last 10 months, Fernandez had the opportunity to visit schools and gather feedback from parents, teachers and school officials, during which he got a good picture of what each school needs to move forward as well as the type of leadership that would benefit each school.
"I take a lot of factors into consideration and there are a number of them. What I wanted to do is choose administrators who can move the school forward. That really would involve administrators working with the teachers to implement the curriculum and see progress," Fernandez said in an interview with Variety.
Reassignments are usually announced in the week or two before the school year starts. But this early announcement, Fernandez stressed, would give administrators enough time to work together on a smooth transition that will help all schools prepare for the school year.
The new assignments will take effect July 1 to give the administrators enough time to move into their new schools. With the earlier announcement, the school administrators have six weeks to close out their work at their current school and six weeks to transition into their new assignments.
Before releasing the list, Fernandez also met one-on-one with the principals and assistant principals to explain the process and discuss GDOE’s priorities.
Although the assignments had been finalized, Fernandez stressed the department will continue to monitor and revisit the progress of the administrators at each school.
Erika Cruz, deputy superintendent of Educational Support and Community Learning, will manage the overall transition and has developed a transition checklist that will serve as a guide.
"This is the first time we have made assignments this far in advance of the school year and met with each principal and assistant principal to discuss their roles," Cruz said. "It's a process that our administrators appreciate and an opportunity for the superintendent to discuss his priorities for each school. We look forward to a smooth transition."
In addition, Fernandez said in the coming weeks he will be sitting down with the principals to look at priorities such as school accreditation and program timelines.
"I am confident in the school leaders that will be in place at each of our schools this coming school year," Fernandez said. "Instead of pulling names out of a hat to make assignments, I took time to reflect on my visits to schools and my conversations with administrators, teachers, parents and students before making any decision about the teams to help each school move forward. I want to make sure that every school is positioned to succeed next year."
"Change is hard," Fernandez added. "But change can be good if it helps us to refocus our energies, use our experiences to solve new problems, and remind us that we are responsible, as GDOE school leaders, to help all of our public school students on Guam and not just the ones at our current school. I know my administrators are up to the challenge."
He also lost his composure briefly while being asked to explain his use of the peerage title “Sir” in front of his name. Joseph said it was a knighthood from Prince Michael of the Principality of Sealand bestowed on him by Thomas Hanson and the people of the Federated States of Micronesia for the work he had done there. Under questioning from Ben Abrams, assistant attorney general, he became emotional as he explained that his use of the title was a death-bed request from Hanson. At that point, Perez called the attorneys into chambers and the line of questioning did not resume.
When Abrams asked Joseph about dispensing controlled substances, Joseph’s attorney, Mitch Thompson, objected and said that in light of what he said was Abrams’ effort to build a criminal case against Joseph that Joseph should not answer. Attorney David Lujan, who has joined Joseph’s legal team, also objected and said he would advise Joseph not to answer any questions about controlled drugs.
Allegations that Joseph was dispensing controlled substances without being properly certified were the cause of a search warrant executed at Joseph’s Wise Owl Animal Hospital on May 8. During the all-night raid, about two dozen Department of Public Health and Social Services personnel and Guam Police officers seized drugs, medical files and computers.
Abrams called his first witness, Mamie Balajadia, a clinical psychologist and chairwoman of the GBAHE. She refuted allegations by Joseph that she prescribed psychotropic, or mind-altering, drugs. She said that while a psychologist might become certified to do so, she was not certified and neither did nor could prescribe drugs.
Abrams then began questioning Balajadia about the Dec. 28, 2012 GBAHE meeting during which it made the decision not to renew Joseph’s license. Joseph contends he was not notified about alleged deficiencies in his license application nor given a chance to respond to other issues leading to the board’s decision. Balajadia noted several times that she posted notices of GBAHE meetings in the Marianas Variety five days and again two days prior to the meetings.
Balajadia’s testimony will continue when the hearing resumes this afternoon.
THE Ordot Dump closure, the final construction of the Layon Landfill, and the rest of the consent decree projects – including the timeline for the transfer of control from the receivership to Guam Solid Waster Authority board control – will only be on schedule if adequate capital funding will be available at all times and no delays result from any change in legal representation.
This was stressed yesterday by David L. Manning, representative of Gershman, Brickner & Bratton Inc. (GBB), the court-appointed solid waste receiver, during a status conference.
Unlike previous status reports, the latest report submitted by the receiver includes a transition period, with GSWA signifying the end of the receivership term.
The end of the receivership is contingent on the completion of the closure of Ordot Dump and the completion of all Layon Landfill projects. However, this can be delayed if funding is affected by the proposal to use the 2009 Section 30 bonds to pay $28 million as compensation for the land used in the Layon Landfill.
GBB stressed that although consent decree compliance is moving toward completion, the availability of funds and the issue of legal representation can affect the timetable.
GBB is projecting a shortfall in capital funding with the current estimates for the cost of all the receiver consent decree projects.
The receiver informed Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood that the estimated total cost of the projects remains under seal while negotiations for contracts on consent decree projects are underway.
According to Manning, the Ordot Dump post-closure cost is estimated at $14.3 million. The dump must be maintained for 30 years for a cost of $18.6 million. The anticipated construction bid date for final closure plan is scheduled for July 1.
As for the Layon Landfill-related projects, GBB reported it is working on all the required permits, performing all sampling of Inarajan marine waters, and monitoring the landfill flow impacts.
The receiver also reported that residential transfer stations in Agat, Dededo, Harmon and Malojloj are now under construction and procurement for the operation of the household hazardous waste program is ongoing.
Despite having a surplus of $1 million, the receiver said this is still not enough to cover additional costs, including the $14 million needed to fully close Ordot Dump, the contract completion of the Ordot Dump design, construction of the Harmon Residential Transfer Station, various transfer stations upgrades, Dero Road upgrades, contingency measures for the Inarajan transfer station upgrades, and the safety enhancements of Route 4 road curbs.
The high cost of closing Ordor Dump had prompted Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz to raise concerns and ask the receiver why the $14 million for the Ordot Dump closure, the $2 million for the enhancement of Route 4, and the $28 million payment for the Layon land compensation were never included when GovGuam negotiated the $200 million bond in 2009.
“I am very concerned because as I remember, during initial meetings, we had contractors who insisted that existing bridges are strong. Then, after two meetings, they started saying that the bridges need to be upgraded because the trucks are too heavy for the Ylig and Togcha bridges. Then, finally, they recognized that they need to replace them. I only hope that the enhancement of these 19 curbings will not turn out like the bridges,” Cruz said.
GBB, however, informed the Vice Speaker that during the negotiations for the bond, there were no estimates available and the post-closure costs could not be determined until all studies were completed.
‘GBB not responsible’
GBB also stated during yesterday’s status hearing that it is not responsible for payments demanded as compensation for the land used for the Layon Landfill.
GBB principal associate David L. Manning said the judgment on the Layon land compensation was made before GBB’s appointment as receiver and that there is no requirement that the 2009 Section 30 bonds be used to pay the former landowners.
“It is not a receiver responsibility. GovGuam has had more than enough time to have financed the payment to the former landowners but is instead attempting to divert the funds needed to close Ordot Dump. They should have set aside money but they did not,” Manning said.
Manning also reminded the parties that the court authorized the receiver to assist GovGuam in receiving more than $103 million in grants and loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture but that GovGuam, during the last administration, turned the money down.
The Camacho administration did not pursue the $103 million loan from USDA to avoid more GovGuam debts. Manning, however, suggested that GovGuam can still revive the loan that was previously rejected.
“Payment of the land judgment from the remaining funds would seriously impair the ability of the receiver to complete the closure of Ordot Dump. It is certain that the government of Guam will need to produce additional capital funds to both complete the consent decree projects and pay the judgment,” GBB stressed.
The Governor's Office attempted to replace its representation by the Attorney General’s Office but the court did not allow it, recognizing the significant knowledge of the government counsels in the 11-year-old litigation.
The court’s decision was supported by the receiver who noted the Attorney General has been an important part of the progress made to date.
“Significant additional cost will also result from the request of the Governor’s Office to change legal counsel. If the receiver has to retain private counsel, it will significantly increase expenses. A change in legal representation would likely delay the final closure of Ordot Dump,” GBB told the court.
The receiver also noted that the AG’s Office is doing good progress in clearing up the landownership issues on lands affected by the closure of Ordot Dump.
Addressing the Rotary Club of Northern Guam’s luncheon meeting at the Hyatt yesterday, Cruz said Ordot Dump’s post-closure costs – approximately $15 million – had not been factored in when the government negotiated a $200 million bond to fund Layon Landfill-related projects.
On top of that amount, Cruz said the dump must be maintained for 30 years for a cost of $18.6 million.
Another unanticipated cost is the $26 million for the land.
Currently, Cruz said, the unpaid expenditure is running interest payments of $110,000 a month.
During his talk, the Vice Speaker also detailed the cost of construction projects along Route 4 – the road that has to be navigated by big trash trucks to get to the landfill.
Road enhancements for the As-Alonso curve, one of the critical spots along the route, would probably cost at least $5 million, according to Gershman, Brickner & Bratton Inc., the solid waste receiver.
Cruz said the receiver mentioned three options for the completion of the road projects along Route 4, including the closure of both lanes for six months or the closure of one lane for six months to put up a retaining wall – which he said would cost at least $5 million by itself.
In total, Cruz said, approximately $60 million to $70 million has to be borrowed to complete these consent decree-related projects.
The keynote luncheon speaker was Jim Beighley, executive vice president of strategy and market development for DFS Group Ltd. He has been a lead proponent of the visa waiver for several years. He told symposium attendees that support in the U.S. Congress has increased as a number of states are also hoping to attract Chinese tourists. “There is a growing tourism caucus in Congress that has actually been made aware of the Guam issue and wants to get behind it,” he said. Defense and security agencies continue to have some concerns.
The visa waiver effort is likely to benefit from other congressional initiatives, Beighley said. “One of the biggest pieces of legislation going through Congress right now is comprehensive immigration reform,” he said. “That’s the perfect vehicle to deal with things like visa waiver programs.” Members of Congress are trying to include visa waiver programs for the United States in the immigration legislation. He said he and others are working with members of both parties on two Senate committees to include Guam in the legislation.
“If comprehensive immigration reform passes, I think we’re probably going to be sitting in a very good situation of [that legislation],” he said. “If that doesn’t pass, we go back to the path of pushing the Department of Homeland Security to do this.” The key to success will be to attract attention to Guam’s concerns in the face of the myriad issues DHS faces.
Key to success with the visa waiver efforts, he said, is a regional approach. “This is a Guam/CNMI visa waiver program,” he said. “Like it or not, we are joined at the hip and that’s not going to change.” In January 2015, Customs and Immigration regulation of travel between Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands is slated to cease. If the federal government gets mixed signals, it may well stop moving forward with the effort. He added that both areas will likely benefit as travelers will see the region as a destination with more to offer.
Even without a visa waiver program, the island is benefitting from other ongoing visa reforms, he said. “Two years ago there were one million Chinese that held U.S. visas,” he said. “This year we think we will probably get that number up to 1.7 million and next year it goes to 2.5 million.” If other efforts are successful to ease the process by which Chinese citizens are able to get U.S. visas, the number could grow to 5 million to 7 million.
Beighley also addressed common misperceptions about China. “It’s not one big market; it’s a very big and very diverse market and it’s very complicated,” he said. “There is much more diversity within Chinese consumers than you will find in any nation in the world.”
He said that as the country develops, outbound travel is increasing. “International travel isn’t being driven by the GDP of China, because a lot of that is infrastructure investment,” he said. “International travel is being driven by urbanization and disposable income in urban cities.”
As evidenced by trends in the travel industry, travelers increasingly are coming from secondary Chinese markets adding to the diversity of the market. “For the first time ever we have started to see the number of travel agents in secondary cities grow faster than the number of travel agents in primary cities,” he said.
One of the morning’s featured speakers of the symposium was Guo Ming, chief operating officer of HH Travel and executive chairman of the TM Group. He said that in order to attract high-end tourists to Guam, the island must provide exceptional service. “Like you are the king; or you are the queen,” he told Variety. “Compared to other islands the Chinese are familiar with ... the other areas have already been popularized. Just to increase the quality of hardware is not the key. Service is very important. Service has many different facets; for example if tourists come to the immigration area at the airport, they should give them smiles to help them get rid of apprehension about entering the United States. That is important.”
He also said that many destinations in Asia are crowded and not safe. “This is probably service by the government,” he said. “To provide a relaxing, safe environment for tourists.”
“China represents the fastest growing outbound travel market in the world,” Karl Pangelinan, general manager of the Guam Visitors Bureau, said during a press conference yesterday. Chinese tourists have recently been named the biggest spenders and the World Tourism Organization has estimated that Chinese outbound travelers will number 100 million by 2015, he said.
“This obviously represents a wonderful opportunity not just for Guam and our tourism industry but across the board with our entire economy,” he said. “With these staggering numbers, capturing just a 1 percent market share will add what we estimate to be another $1 billion to our Guam GDP and increase employment opportunities for all of our people.”
The symposium will present experts that will help attendees better understand Chinese travelers, meet their needs, and gain maximum benefit from the market, Pangelinan said.
Kate Chang, regional director for China for the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), is one of the morning’s featured speakers. She said she will update participants on PATA’s latest visitor forecast for Asia Pacific with specific focus on China and a new visa travel intention study. “I would like to close my presentation with my recommendation on how to engage with China through PATA’s network,” she said.
Another of the featured speakers is Guo Ming, chief operating officer of HH Travel and executive chairman of TM Group. “As one of the most high-end travel agencies in China I am looking forward to the chance to exchange with Guam travel trade,” he said. “I will talk about characteristics, features and traits of the Chinese high-end travel market.”
Xinjun Wang will be the first featured speaker at 9 a.m. He is the CEO of Ivy Alliance Tourism Consulting Co. Ltd. “I am looking forward to sharing my research with Guam travel colleagues,” he said. He plans to give his analysis of Guam as a destination, as well as an update of trends and characteristics in the Chinese outbound travel market.
Beighley will speak on the status of the efforts to secure a China visa waiver for Guam.
The afternoon panel discussions are entitled “Lessons Learned in Preparing for China Outbound Travel Markets” and “How Guam can Best Prepare for the Coming China Visitors.” Panelists will include George Chiu, executive vice president of Tan Holdings; Sam Shinohara, managing director of business development for Asia Pacific for United Airlines; Grace Donaldson, general manager of Pacific Human Resource Services Inc.; and Lynette Johnson, managing director MidPacific of the DFS Group Ltd.
THE Guam International Airport Authority announced yesterday that it has entered into a specialty retail concession agreement with Lotte Duty Free Guam LLC, permitting Lotte to operate a duty free retail concession in the main terminal of the airport, according to a release from the airport.
The agreement is for an exclusive term of five years with an additional five-year term on a non-exclusive basis. The agreement increases the airport’s specialty retail concession guaranteed rental revenues from $4.5 million under the previous contract with DFS Guam to $15.4 million in minimum annual guaranteed rent to be paid by Lotte, according to the statement.
The agreement with Lotte represents a 242 percent increase in minimum annual guaranteed rent with the potential for further increased revenues based on percentage rent, which the airport expects to be substantial. Moreover, the airport was able to negotiate additional revenue of 1 percent of all non-airport sales made by Lotte on Guam, according to the release.
“This is an exciting time for the airport and we are eager to move forward with our agreement with Lotte,” said Chuck Ada, executive manager of the airport. “The airport will realize tremendous additional value from this contract with Lotte which will undoubtedly contribute to significant increased revenues for the airport.”
The agreement requires Lotte to invest no less than $23 million in capital improvements to the airport’s retail concession space, the release said.
Lotte also committed to make additional renovations to the airport food court and restroom facilities at no additional cost to the airport. “In recent years, retail sales at the airport have not kept pace with the increased enplanement numbers,” Ada said. “This is a trend we would like to change and the Lotte agreement is a big step in that direction.”
Lotte issued a statement expressing its gratitude. “On behalf of the entire Lotte Team we wish to thank the Guam International Airport Authority for being awarded the retail concession,” said Gerry Perez, Lotte Guam transition director. Lotte is looking forward to a long-term partnership with the airport authority in improving the visitor experience at the airport, he said.
“It has been a long and challenging bid process, but we are very excited to get to work for the Guam international airport, and the people of Guam,” he said. He added that the company was excited about moving forward, and the innovation and investment Lotte will be providing will help Guam improve its competitiveness as one of the most successful visitor destinations in Asia. Lotte will be discussing in more detail what it plans for the airport in the coming weeks.
The airport’s request for proposals last year resulted in bids from four international duty free retailers. The airport evaluation committee charged with reviewing and recommending the most qualified proposer unanimously ranked Lotte Duty Free the top bidder, the airport statement said.
On April 12, the airport board of directors unanimously approved the evaluation committee’s recommendation and Lotte was selected as the best proposer. Shortly thereafter, the airport began the negotiation process with Lotte.
On April 23, DFS, which held the previous contact, protested the Lotte award based on what it said were irregularities in the process and gifts given to airport board members, who subsequently did not vote on the award. Upon receipt of the protest, the airport delayed the negotiations with Lotte while the protest was being addressed.
On May 17, after an investigation, the airport dismissed the protest and subsequently concluded negotiations with Lotte.
Ada said it was important for the airport to finalize its negotiations and consummate the agreement. “The delay in entering into the new agreement was preventing the airport from receiving over $900,000 a month in additional minimum annual guarantee revenue. So it was in the best interest of the airport and its stakeholders to expedite negotiations and execute the duty free contract, and that’s what we did.”
DFS issued the following statement yesterday: “DFS received GIAA's response to our protest after close of business on Friday. This is the first time since we raised this issue in October that we have been provided with information relative to the internal investigation conducted. Unfortunately, the response we received raised more questions than it answered.
“The investigation determined that gifts were provided to the members of the delegation that visited Lotte and that they were given pre-planned tours of their facilities by Lotte senior management. After a series of contradictory and partially misleading statements in the press, it appears now that those gifts were not just nominal in value, but were in fact high value branded products as DFS has alleged. In addition, some of the central figures involved in these violations appear to be now changing their accounts of what transpired. We are greatly concerned about the circumstances surrounding these events, as we have always believed that these issues are not only clear violations of the RFP, but also a violation of the integrity of the process. The delegation contained several officials who were in a position to directly and indirectly influence the process. The visit to Lotte, the tour of their facilities and the transmission of these valuable gifts was part of a continued, coordinated effort to exclusively benefit one of 4 bidders in the process – all of which was clearly prohibited during the RFP process.
“We also note from GIAA's press release that Lotte was apparently given the opportunity to revise their financial offer to the airport following their selection as the first ranked proposer. This would be another advantage that other proposers have not been offered. DFS notes that its original annual guarantee offered to GIAA was $16.0 million per year, with additional spaces, and looks forward to Airport revealing the original financial proposal of Lotte which would have been the basis for the initial ranking determinations.
DFS is currently reviewing the response of GIAA relative to the facts we have acquired regarding the RFP process. We will make a determination on what, if any, further actions we will take in the coming days.”
The statement is from Evan Lewis, vice president of public relations, events and communication for DFS.
The carnival will run until July 28, and is open from 6 p.m. to midnight on weekdays and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends and holidays.
Mayors’ Council of Guam President and Agana Heights Mayor Paul McDonald assured that the carnival will be better this year and the “glitches” from last year have been corrected.
McDonald said the Mayors’ Council was able to prepare the grounds earlier this year compared to last year.
In addition, the council had more funds available to spruce up.
“We could actually provide a walkway with black top in compliance with ADA. We tried to do it last year, but it was gravel this year so it’s a better solution,” McDonald said, adding the lighting is also better.
He said the new layout can accommodate more people and more booths. There are also several new rides this year.
For the first time, the Mayors' Council will be hosting the Islandwide Softball Tournament.
There are more than 50 teams registered. Schedule for the games will not be finalized until the registration closes by the end of today.
Any teams interested in competing in the tournament can contact Santa Rita Mayor Dale Alvarez or Barrigada Mayor June Blas.
The theme for this year’s Liberation is “Stories of Courage and Faith.”
“For the first time, we deployed theater ballistic missile defense to Guam in protection of the homeland,” said Lt. Gen. Frank Wiercinski. He was taking the opportunity to brief reporters as he prepares for retirement.
Wiercinski began the session by outlining the history and scope of the Army Pacific command. That was followed by questions from media representatives, one of which concerned the threats from North Korea toward the U.S., according to a transcript of the session.
“I've seen this for 34 years – cyclical provocation with the grandfather, the father and now the son. It's nothing that I have not expected,” he said. “However, I would think that this time it was a tenuous situation. For the first time, we deployed theater ballistic missile defense to Guam in protection of the homeland. Later in the session, a member of the Japanese media asked Wiercinski whether the U.S. planned to bolster its missile defenses in response to North Korea. The general replied that the regional allies – Japan and South Korea – as well as all U.S. service branches “are constantly in coordination.” He added, “A [Terminal High Altitude Area Defense] battery deployed to Guam for the first time ever. That's a big change. But you're still seeing that integrated and synchronized defense. I believe that that will continue, if not get stronger. To get into the specifics of that, I can't really enter that discussion right now.”
He also said he was aware of only the one THAAD deployment to Guam, when asked if there might be more THAAD deployments to the Pacific Command region. He added there is no time limit on the Guam THAAD deployment. “It’s condition-based,” he said.
The North Koreans have a demonstrated capability to place a missile into space, he said. “We've seen that. They have a purported testing of nuclear weapons systems. And we take that very seriously. But it appears the rhetoric has died down in recent days and we're hoping that that cycle of provocation has come to its endpoint for this cycle.”
The amendment was offered by Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and would make Compacts of Free Association migrants eligible for Medicaid outside of Guam’s Medicaid cap. The bill still must be considered by the full Senate. The amendment is similar to H.R. 912 which was introduced by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii and of which Bordallo is an original co-sponsor. It is similar to legislation that Bordallo has sponsored in the past.
Bordallo joined her colleagues on the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in sending a joint letter in support of the amendment to Chairman Patrick Leahy and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley of the judiciary committee. The efforts of CAPAC and Bordallo, the vice chairwoman of CAPAC, helped to ensure the amendment was adopted by voice vote and was generally supported on a bipartisan basis.
“I thank Sen. Hirono for offering this amendment and for working to address and fix this longstanding issue for our states and territories,” Bordallo said. “State and local governments continue to bear much of the financial burden of providing social services to COFA migrants as a result of the compacts. Sen. Hirono’s amendment restores Medicaid eligibility for these migrants and will allow the federal government to pay a percentage of the healthcare costs for eligible migrants, many of whom are currently covered by our local [Medically Indigent Program]. Should Congress maintain this provision and pass this comprehensive immigration bill, it will help to mitigate one of the most significant impacts of the Compacts of Free Association.
“I also want to thank my colleagues in CAPAC for their support of this amendment. This is a positive step forward in addressing Compact-impact issues, especially given current budget constraints. I will continue working with them to maintain this provision and push for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform. I remain committed to working with Gov. (Eddie) Calvo and the Legislature to look at other legislative measures to address and mitigate the financial burden from the Compacts
For the past six months, the division has been implementing the program to manage, track and reduce fuel usage in GPA’s fleet of 272 vehicles. Each of the vehicles is equipped with the system which transmits data wirelessly.
GPA Communications Manager Art Perez said the wireless network is tied to the smart grid project.
GPA is a mobile organization reliant on the availability of a transportation fleet which includes sedans, utility trucks and heavy equipment. The annual fuel budget is approximately $330,000 for unleaded gasoline and $187,000 for diesel fuel, making this a significant part of the GPA transportation division’s operating expenses.
Jimmy Pangelinan, GPA fleet services manager, said since the program started, the utility has realized fuel savings of at least 25 percent by cutting back on maintenance and fuel costs as well as vehicle idling time.
"The program tracks everything – vehicle movement, fuel reports, alerts for management. All of these are tied to the smart log. Now if someone is speeding, we can pick it up," he said.
According to GPA, idling of vehicles accounts for approximately 30 percent of fuel costs. This is one metric the transportation division uses to measure fleet efficiency. Other metrics include traveling speed and fuel calibration of all vehicles.
By utilizing the system, Pangelinan said GPA’s aim is to minimize and eventually get rid of idling time to generate more fuel savings.
To help GPA more accurately measure fuel use, Pangelinan said all of their vehicles are currently undergoing fuel calibration. After this is completed, GPA can project the amount of fuel used for travel time, work, and distance to the job site.
"This information will be used to place better cost controls for managers to help reduce operating costs which in turn provides savings to our customers,” Pangelinan said.
Meanwhile, Perez said he is glad the transportation division is taking the lead in the initiative because this helps a lot in terms of facilitating efficient planning and savings.
"GPA is all about savings and I am glad that our transportation division is taking the lead in putting that out," Perez said.
The Facebook page features photo albums that provide cultural and historical information about Guam and the museum’s artifacts.
In addition, viewers can access photos about the history of the Guam Museum and the previous homes of the exhibits including the Garden House at the Plaza De España in the 1970s and 1980s; Adelup from 1994 to 2002; the Guam Premier Outlets in 2003; and Micronesia Mall from 2004 to 2008.
Viewers can also keep track of the museum's progress with photos of the groundbreaking in February this year.
There will also be aerial photos of construction progress and information about dates and constructions phases.
The website can be found by clicking here.
The Guam Museum is located in Skinner Plaza in Hagåtña and is expected to be completed by December 2014.
“This year is going to be critical for us since we are trying to get up to speed with LNG technology. Some major decisions have to be made while heading toward there,” Consolidated Utilities Services General Manager John Benavente said.
LNG as a fuel diversification strategy is indicated in GPA's Integrated Resource Plan.
In preparation, Benavente and several others attended an LNG conference from April 16 to 20 in Houston, Texas.
Benavente, in his report to the Consolidated Commission on Utilities, said he is reviewing the information gathered at the conference in order to frame a recommendation consistent with the policy decision to convert to LNG approved in the current Integrated Resource Plan.
“The decisions we face as we move ahead to LNG are quite complex and important ones. I am encouraged that the industry ... is evolving and provides us with opportunities because of the industry’s growth and advancement,” Benavente said.
Benavente said the island can look forward to the first LNG unit in seven years. Before this can be done, Benavente said the necessary infrastructure needs to be set up first.
According to a report submitted to the CCU, the LNG chain covers several essential processes including the drilling and transmission of gas to a liquefaction facility; shipping transportation to ship the gas to the destination; and storage and re-gasification infrastructure to store and convert the LNG for pipeline transmission, among others.
LNG is an energy source formed by “condensing natural gas to liquid by chilling it to about -260º F, reducing its volume by more than 600 times,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
As a result, according to the USEPA, “just one shipload of LNG can provide nearly 5 percent of the U.S. average daily demand for natural gas, or enough energy to heat more than 43,000 homes for an entire year.”
“Right now we want to have enough time to make the decisions since this is not something you do every day. This is the first time the island will convert completely from oil to gas,” Benavente said.
He added that with the recent technological developments, GPA has an opportunity to develop a system that would be best for the island with little technical constraints.
The conference touched on several key points about LNG which helped shaped the global industry as well as trends in power generation, including the discovery of substantial amounts of shale gas reserves necessary for LNG production – an amount that could be available for about 2000 years.
In addition, the United States and Australia have been emerging as major players in the LNG market and Benavente said this could be beneficial since pricing structures won’t be as volatile as oil.
Benavente reiterated the benefits of the decision to convert to LNG, stressing that maintaining current power facilities on Guam to meet stringent USEPA stack emission control regulations will cost $400 million.
In contrast, Benavente said converting the plants to LNG costs significantly lower and would generate around $1 billion in fuel savings over the next 30 years.
According to the current IRP, the steam-powered plants Cabras 1 and 2 and Tanguisson 1 and 2, as well as slow speed diesel plants Cabras 3 and Cabras 4 and MEC 8 and 9, can be converted to process the natural gas.
Bill 16-32, now Public Law 32-025, rezones land in Tiyan, Barrigada from Agricultural to Light Industrial.
Bill 53-32, now P.L. 32-026, changes Guam Community College’s current autonomous procurement process and brings them back under government of Guam procurement statutes, rules and regulations. This legislation came at the request of GCC, which wants to be held to the same procurement laws it teaches its students.
Bill 56-32, now P.L. 32-027, changes the category of traffic misdemeanors to violations, no longer requiring representation from the Attorney General’s Office in traffic court.
Bill 57-32, now P.L. 32-028, updates current fines on encroachment violations that obstruct roadways from $10 to $50. It holds individuals who violate the law responsible for costs incurred by DPW during the process of removing obstructions.
Bill 58-32, now P.L. 32-029, prohibits government agencies from publishing information about students under the age of 18 without prior consent from their parents or legal guardians. It also restricts student participation in certain surveys, analyses, assessments or evaluations administered by government agencies or schools without the authorization of their parents.
Bill 62-32, now P.L. 32-030, creates the Guam Council on Child Death Review and Prevention. The council will review suspicious deaths of children looking for common denominators, such as health hazards or physical abuse. Through its records and investigation, the council can be proactive in addressing potentially hazardous situations.
Bill 65-32, now P.L. 32-031, requires agencies to create educational programs for their oversight board members. Programs will educate board members about their agency’s operations and procedures. Failure to complete these programs will result in removal from the board.
Bill 67-32, now P.L. 32-032, identifies the new boundaries of the Guam Football Association soccer field in Dededo.
Bill 72-32, now P.L. 32-033, grants the administrators of estates of the deceased control of email, social networks and digital media accounts that belong to the deceased.
Bill 76-32, now P.L. 32-034, authorizes the Attorney General's Office to disperse the funds of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund pending the filling of vacancies on the commission to establish a quorum
ASIDE from the question of whether Section 30 bonds can be used to pay the former owners of properties where the Layon Landfill has been built, the value of the condemned 300-acre land also remains to be a subject of deliberation before the District Court of Guam.
When Superior Court Judge Alberto Lamorena III rendered a decision on Jan. 24, 2008, the court awarded more than $25 million plus interest.
The amount represented the “just compensation” for the condemned lands based on the appraisal made by Nicholas Captain, president of Captain Real Estate Group.
To date, approximately $7 million in interest has accrued on the $21.7 million balance owed. The interests continue to accrue in the amount of $110,000 per month until it is paid.
In his April 2008 appraisal report, Captain said the value of just compensation to be paid to the landowners was $3.39 million.
According to the AGO, GovGuam received a July 2010 report that Captain prepared for the trial. Without any prior warning or communication with the appraiser, the AGO learned that Captain raised his estimate of “just compensation” from $3.3 million to $5.9 million and doubled his opinion of damages to the remaining 2,700 acres from 25 percent to 50 percent.
In his April 2011 appraisal report, Captain further increased the value of just compensation from $5.9 million to $10 million and later $13.9 million. In the few days between the completion of his sworn testimony and the delivery of the April 2011 report, Captain’s just compensation figure increased by $4.5 million and by more than $10 million since his April 2008 report.
The court decided not to give weight to the bulk of Captain’s testimony due to the inconsistent figures in his multiple reports.
“The second appraisal report not only lacks many indicators of reliability relative to his revised conclusions ... [but it] also undermines the reliability of Mr. Captain’s methods and conclusions relating to his first report,” the court said, unconvinced with the explanation of the Calvo Insurance Underwriters expert.
When the former landowners – Joaquin C. Arriola, Leonard Calvo, Alfred Ysrael and Edward “Champ” Calvo – testified that just compensation should be between $185 million to $300 million, the court found that the landowners’ value estimates are high.
A professional condemnation expert, Randall Bell testified to an estimate of just compensation in the amount of $32 million.
The court has not indicated what amount or appraisal value it will consider for the just compensation.
The scheduled quarterly status conference on the consent decree compliance has been moved from May 17 to May 21 at 9:30 a.m.
NOAA Special Agent Charles Raterman stated: “It is illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to harass or take, hunt, capture, collect or kill dolphins, or attempt to do so.”
With interviews not yet conducted, Raterman stressed there is still an ongoing investigation on the case and he cannot share information at this time.
In a plea for public help, Raterman said: “If anybody has any information of any poaching of dolphins, in the southwest part of Guam, please contact NOAA office of law enforcement, Special Agent Raterman at 472-7200. I would be happy to speak with them.”
While NOAA has ultimate jurisdiction over this investigation, Raterman said he will also be working with the Guam Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources.
When asked about criminal charges associated with dolphin poaching, Raterman, reciting code from the Marine Mammal Protection Act, said: “Any person who knowingly violates any provision of the subchapter or any permit or regulation shall be, upon conviction, fined not more than $20,000 for each violation and imprisoned for not more than one year.”
Charged with a mandate of not only seeking punishment and levying fines but also educating the public, Raterman concluded: “NOAA wants to work with communities. We’re not looking just to punish people but we would like to help people, educate them and do further outreach to assist into this matter.”
For her part, University of Guam Marine Lab Director Dr. Laurie Raymundo commented: “I am personally appalled by this shortsighted and careless incident. It reflects a lack of respect for laws that are designed to protect these animals and for Guam's natural resources. People on Guam derive a huge amount of satisfaction and enjoyment from having dolphins in our coastal waters that we can interact with in harmless ways. Living dolphins are much more valuable to the culture and economy here than are harpooned ones.”
“This is the public launch of We the People project,” he told Variety. “Really it involves all the territories.” The project addresses issues common to Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C.
We the People was formed in February. Its most immediate focus is its representation of eight plaintiffs from American Samoa in the case Tuaua v. United States. The plaintiffs claim that under the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States, they should be citizens by virtue of being born in the U.S. territory. Residents of American Samoa are considered non-citizen nationals.
“The status of America Samoa is basically the same as it was in Guam before the Organic Act,” Weare said. “The issue and relevance for the other territories is: Is the citizenship of the residents of these areas based on federal statute which can change, or is it based upon the guarantees of the Constitution?”
If it is the former, Congress can remove citizenship by passing another law – the same way it granted it, Weare said.
“Then more broadly with that case as a vehicle for reconsidering the insular cases, this impact litigation (the Tuaua case) provides an opportunity to have a real national conversation about the status of these areas and revisiting those cases,” he said. “It creates an opportunity for different kinds of political discussion in Congress and in the territories about what the future of these areas is.”
The “insular cases” are a series of court decisions in the early part of the 20th century – shortly after the territories in question became part of the United States. They have been interpreted to mean that the full guarantees of the Constitution do not apply in the “unincorporated territories.”
“Under the insular cases ... we can keep these areas in this perpetual state without ever having to address issues of political representation,” he said. “If you change that, you can create some new opportunities for addressing these broader issues of rights and representation.”
At UOG, Weare told attendees how, as a high school student, he had been incensed at the unfairness of Guam’s territorial status and had carried that indignation through his higher education and into his career.
Weare is a former Guam resident and graduate of Southern High School. He worked as a staffer for the Guam Legislature and as press secretary for Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo. He holds his doctorate in law from the Yale Law School.
“The new approach that our organization is talking about is trying to bring these areas together,” he said. “So instead of it being a Guam issue or a D.C. issue or a Puerto Rican issue, it’s really an American issue. It’s a civil rights issue that affects almost 5 million Americans. Equal constitutional rights and representative government are really the core of what American democracy is about.”
He said the organization is trying to “create a new civil rights movement around rights and representation for all Americans.”
The territories will more likely be successful by banding together. “In the last 50 years, it’s been an every-man-for-himself strategy in each of these areas,” he said. “It would be a much more powerful statement and movement if the residents of these areas worked toward a common solution. The voice of nearly 5 million Americans is much more powerful than the voice of any of these communities by themselves.”
The organization’s advisory board includes former Guam Delegate Ben Blaz and former Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Affairs Tony Babauta.
The first task will be to build connections among the different communities, Weare said. “The timeline is the next two years. We’re going to be focusing on work in the territories and D.C. itself to really get this conversation going, then – a few years after that, leading up to the 2016 presidential election – really trying to make this a national conversation.”
GMH is facing a $10 million shortfall, due to more than $20 million of debt and being under-budgeted for this fiscal year. The proposed budget for the hospital presented in 2012 was for $93 million. However, GMH’s debt to vendors and salaries for much-needed professionals were not included in the budget.
GMH Chief Financial Officer Alan Ulrich told the Variety the hospital has been working with the Governor’s Office and the GMHA board of trustees to determine what will happen with hospital operations with the appropriations available as the fiscal year comes to an end.
“We’re looking at what has to be done relative to cash flow,” Ulrich said.
GMH recently launched an incentive program offering half off on overdue hospital bills to increase cash flow. In addition, the hospital is in communication with insurance companies.
“We’re making sure we maximize all of our revenues,” Ulrich said.
Leaving no stone unturned, the hospital is also working with the Department of Administration to determine if there are any other available funding sources.
“The question is what funding is out there, what funding is still remaining that we haven’t appropriated by the fiscal year 2013 budget bill,” Ulrich said. “We know there are some funds relative to general obligation funds that I don’t believe we have received yet.”
Looking to the future, GMH will be presenting a budget of more than $140 million for the next fiscal year.
“We’re hoping the Legislature and the Governor’s Office will support the initiatives we are presenting,” Ulrich said.
If the budget is not approved, Ulrich said the budget will have to be re-evaluated and modified.
“But we’re hoping more than ever that the Governor’s Office and Legislature can help GMH reach its fiscal goals, which is to have a balanced budget in 2014,” Ulrich added.
The complete March 2013 Employment Report was not posted on the Department of Labor website as of press time.
According to the release, government of Guam employment dropped by 100 jobs from the same period last year, including a dip of 70 jobs over the last quarter. Federal government employment also dropped by 80 jobs from March 2012, including 60 since December 2012.
The decline in government jobs over the latest quarter – a decline of 130 total government jobs since December 2012 – is the biggest reason for the decline of total employment – 140 jobs – when comparing total employment in December 2012 to March 2013. Despite growth in several industries over the quarter, there was a seasonal drop in the retail industry. Retailers tend to hire more temporary workers in December to assist with the Christmas shopping season, according to the release.
The March 2013 report is a reversal from the March 2012 report, when there was a loss of more than 1,000 jobs in the construction industry alone, according to the release. The March 2012 report showed hotel jobs were slightly below the March 2011 levels of 5,410. Today’s job report shows tremendous growth in the hotel job market since that time, with 5,790 jobs in hotels. This follows consecutive months of news that tourist arrivals are at record levels.
“Private average hourly earnings, average weekly hours paid and average weekly earnings all decreased slightly in the latest quarter but remain above the comparable figures of one year ago,” Hiles is quoted in the release.
Joseph’s attorney, Mitchell Thompson, requested a continuance of about a week in order to have the assistance of prominent Guam criminal defense attorney David Lujan to help prepare for the proceedings. Lujan is currently off-island, Thompson said.
Assistant Attorney General Ben Abrams did not oppose the continuance.
The evidentiary hearing got underway on Friday and several witnesses testified before it adjourned in the late afternoon with Joseph on the stand. Joseph was expected to return to the witness stand. With the continuance, the proceedings are scheduled to resume next Monday at 10:30 a.m.
The hearing began two days after the execution of an administrative inspection and search warrant at Joseph’s Wise Owl Animal Hospital on Wednesday, May 7. Personnel from the Department of Public Health and Social Services Division of Environmental Health – assisted by about a dozen officers from the Guam Police Department – removed controlled substances, cartons of medical records, and clinic computers.
According to DPHSS officials, the raid was authorized by the Attorney General’s Office and prompted by concerns that Joseph was dispensing controlled substances though his controlled substance registration was revoked by the Guam Board of Allied Health Examiners. Joseph said the registration remains valid.
Joseph said he is planning to retain Lujan because of statements in documents related to the “illegal raid.” “They say they are going to pursue criminal charges,” Joseph said. “So in order to preserve my rights in criminal matters, I’ve got a criminal lawyer.”
Abrams said he was unaware of any plans by the Attorney General’s Office to pursue criminal charges against Joseph. “The first I heard of the possibility of this kind of thing was when Mr. Thompson talked about it,” he said.
He noted he is in the civil litigation division and criminal charges would not be pursued by that division. “Never since I have rejoined the AG’s Office in 2008 can I recall the criminal division picking up on any aspect of our civil cases that do involve criminal activity,” he said. “I’m nowhere near the level of being involved in decisions by the criminal division of the Attorney General’s Office that would result in the institution of criminal charges. ... They’re on the fifth floor; we’re on the sixth floor and almost never do we discuss our cases or our caseloads with each other.”
Former Republican Sen. Robert Klitzkie, during yesterday’s public hearing on Bill 102, quoted the following during his testimony: “The Civil Service Commission cannot, must not, should not be allowed to contravene the expressed intent of the Open Government Law.”
The words, Klitzkie said, came from a decision authored by former judge and now Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz in a decision rendered in December 1984 pertaining to the Open Government Law.
Vice Speaker Cruz is the sponsor of Bill 102.
“One of the things that pop in my mind when I read the bill is, 'What is the problem? We have been doing this for 30 years?' We haven’t had any problems. As a matter of fact, I would submit that it has worked pretty well,” Klitzkie said.
He added that the Legislature has consistently strengthened the Open Government Law during the last three decades.
“We’ve made it better and we’ve made it stronger over the years. But I’ve never seen a senator say we’ve got to restrict the Open Government Law now because the public is finding out too much,” Klitzkie said.
“The question that occurs to me when we are talking about this sneaky, secret deliberation in a public body is: Who is trying to hide what and from whom are they trying to hide it? If we are trying to do these things, we should do it in the open so that everyone can understand what’s going on."
But the Civil Service Commission cited public safety as a reason for Bill 102, which amends portions of the current law relating to the meetings of the commission.
In particular, the bill proposes that meetings of the commission shall be conducted in accordance with the Open Government Law except that any and all deliberations may occur in a closed session and no transcript of such deliberation need be maintained, nor shall the commission be required to record such deliberation.
When conducting such closed deliberations, according to the bill, only members of the CSC board, along with the commission’s counsel and its executive director, may be present.
CSC commissioners, in accordance with the Open Government Law, currently deliberate publicly, according to CSC Director Tony Lamorena, a former senator.
Private deliberation, Lamorena said, will lend itself to improving the safety and security of the commissioners who will be free to discuss their views without fear that what is said is misconstrued and used as a motivator for parties or members of the public to harbor feelings of distress with the process.
As a body with a quasi-judicial function, the CSC handles cases involving decisions to demote, suspend or terminate classified employees, among other personnel issues which are sensitive in nature.
As such, Lamorena said members of the CSC should be free to engage in rigorous debate and to express their respective opinions so that all aspects of any particular decision may be weighed.
“[The] Open Government Law was instituted 30 years ago but we didn’t have to worry about our little children being kidnapped, we didn’t worry about workforce violence. ... I have had board members followed to their vehicles after a hearing – I wait in the parking lot after every hearing for all of my staff and commissioners to drive away before I leave,” he said.
He added: “We’ve had family members scream and shout and threaten our commissioners. And rightly so because we are dealing with their livelihood, with their jobs and with their capacity to feed their children, and their family.”
The EmpireState Building in NYC was completed in 1 year & 45 days with primitive tools compared to 2013 tools