Minimum wage impact study bill to be heard Wednesday

Tuesday, 29 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE legislature has scheduled a public hearing 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.

The committee on rules, chaired by Sen. Rory Respicio, scheduled Bill 376's hearing for tomorrow at 2 p.m.

The bill would require the Department of Labor 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.

Specifically, the bill would require the labor director to issue a request for proposal to conduct a one-year independent economic impact statement, relative to the minimum wage on Guam.

According to Yamashita's office, "In light of the deliberation relative to the minimum wage increase, the desire for an independent economic assessment study was clear. This measure is introduced to ensure that such an economic study is completed."

Yamashita said the study should, at a minimum, detail the impact of the minimum wage increase to small businesses, their employees, and their budgets.

“This study will detail the impact of the wage earner, their buying power, and their job security and job retention," Yamashita said.

The Guam Legislature recently passed a substituted version of the Bill 316 – a compromise version of the legislation which proposes to increase the current minimum wage of $7.25 to $8.25 an hour by Jan. 1, 2015.

Bill 316, authored by Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz, gathered 13 yes votes from both sides of the political spectrum.

The compromise version of the bill seeks an immediate $1 increase by 2015 but struck out a provision requiring an independent economic assessment.

Bill 316 was enacted into law this month.

 

            

Death ruled a homicide

Tuesday, 29 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY GINA TABONARES-REILLY | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

Salon owner had multiple stab wounds

THE Guam Police Department has reclassified the investigation of the death of a Tamuning hair salon owner as a homicide investigation after the autopsy report revealed he sustained multiple stab wounds all over his body.

Acting Guam Police Department public information officer Officer Paul Tapao identified the victim as 62-year-old Nicolas Reyes Tolentino, the owner of the Hair Plus by Nick salon located on the second floor of the Hafa Adai Exchange in Tamuning. The victim reportedly lived in the establishment.

An autopsy performed by Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola showed Tolentino died from multiple stab wounds.

Tolentino was last seen alive on Saturday between 3 and 4 p.m. by associates within the Hafa Adai Exchange annex, according to police.

Tolentino’s lifeless body was discovered by his daughter inside the hair salon at around 10 a.m. Sunday.

Preeyanuch Jitlamuo, one of the owners of Mai Thai Restaurant located near the hair salon, was one of the people who saw the man’s body after she responded to the scream of the victim’s daughter.

Jitlamuo had been opening the shutters of the restaurant she owns with her husband, Billy Ray, around 10:15 a.m. when she heard a scream and followed the sound, exiting out the rear of their restaurant.

Lying face down

Ray and Jitlamuo saw Tolentino’s daughter and went to help. Jitlamuo said the body was lying face down, with blood around it and she saw a broom on the man’s back.

“(Jitlamuo) looked in the window and saw the guy’s legs and blood,” Ray said. Tolentino’s daughter told Jitlamuo that she had spoken to her father just the night before, Ray said.

GPD is asking for the community’s help with the investigation. If anyone has any information about Tolentino’s death, they are asked to call GPD at 475-8615/6/7, or Guam Crime Stoppers at 477-HELP (4357).

 

 

Encourage renewable energy

Friday, 25 Jul 2014 03:00am

VARIETY NEWS STAFF

IT SEEMS a safe bet that renewable energy will be a major source of electrical power well into the future. With the rising cost of oil, the resolve to develop real alternatives to fossil fuels has been strengthened. The rate of advances in renewables technology has quickened substantially in recent years, and the price and practicality of the new systems are bringing them within reach of more and more residents.

Of the alternatives – solar, wind, biomass, hydroelectric, geothermal – solar seems likely most suited for Guam. At 13 degrees north latitude, Guam gets more of the sun’s rays than most places on Earth. Solar technology – photovoltaic cells – makes no noise, has no moving parts and can simply be laid out on top of another structure, so it really doesn’t require additional space.

Current challenges include pricing, power storage and cell efficiency – all of which we understand are being addressed.

On Guam and in similar locales, the ability to withstand typhoon-strength winds will also be a significant feature. At least one local company offers a mounting system designed to withstand the severe weather, but that will only be determined by an actual typhoon – the test we’d prefer to avoid.

It seems entirely possible, if not likely, that at some point in the future solar power or some other renewable energy system will be the norm. But that day will not happen soon. The time between now and then will be a period of transition that will present its own set of challenges.

The Guam Power Authority has begun grappling with some of those challenges. Specifically, as residents reduce the amount of power they purchase from GPA, the power authority has the fixed costs associated with operating and maintaining its system but less revenue. It is also required to purchase excess power generated by its customers – a measure intended to encourage customer-owned and -operated solar-power systems.

For the foreseeable future, GPA will be expected to have a system capable of meeting the power needs of the island, which may fluctuate as cloudy weather reduces sunlight, or storms wreak havoc on solar-panel arrays. At the same time, GPA is planning to invest $800 million to transition to a natural gas power-generating infrastructure. A major challenge is how to generate the needed revenue at the same time ratepayers are buying less power.

Guam power officials are, and will continue to be, faced with some complex decisions during what we see as a long-term transition to renewable energy sources. Decisions should be made carefully, and should work to encourage the development of renewables and away from dependence on fossil fuels.

Seleznev lawyer insists on Russian’s release

Friday, 25 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY GINA TABONARES-REILLY | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

Says court has jurisdiction to decide on motion

THE defense team of Roman Seleznev, the Russian detainee arrested for alleged cyber hacking, said yesterday that the District Court of Guam can decide on the defendant’s motion for discharge but cannot rule on the transfer to the U.S. mainland because the detainee was kidnapped and unlawfully arrested.

Responding to Assistant U.S. Attorney Marivic David’s argument that the District Court of Guam does not have jurisdiction on other matters and should just act as a transferor court, attorney Patrick Civille yesterday said Seleznev is not challenging the indictment filed against him but is questioning the court’s authority to remove his client because the detainee was brought to the territory in an illegal manner.

In support of his argument, Civille submitted 95 pages of documents regarding the 110th U.S. Congress 2007 session on extraordinary rendition, extraterritorial detention and treatment of detainees, and the resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council  in 1985 condemning all acts of hostage-taking and abductions.

The defense also cited the Supreme Court decision in the case of Mexican Humberto Alvarez-Machain who was arrested by Drug Enforcement Administration agents at his home in Mexico and was flown by private plane to Texas where he was arrested for his alleged participation in the kidnapping and murder of a DEA agent and the agent’s pilot.

Violated treaty

The District Court dismissed the indictment on the grounds that it violated the extradition treaty between the United States and the Mexico. Alvarez-Machain was repatriated after the court found that the U.S. had authorized the abduction and the Mexican government had protested the treaty violation, jurisdiction was improper.

Under the same ruling, the Supreme Court stated that every state that violates international law, no matter how serious the crime; the state must provide a remedy which is to return every possible way everything to the state in which it was found before the transgression occurred.

Civille reiterated that U.S. law enforcement agents have no power to execute an arrest warrant outside the United States absent express statutory authority. He said that while Maldives law enforcement agents were present during the arrest, no Maldives-related criminal charges were ever filed against Seleznev nor was he ever placed in custody.

Civille added that the presence of Maldives officials at the time of the arrest was used as a pretext to camouflage Seleznev’s extraterritorial arrest by the US “to create the false appearance that he had been expelled by Maldives officials.”

As a practical consideration, Civille said the court should decide on whether the Guam court has jurisdiction over Seleznev as a result of the alleged illegal arrest before bringing him to another district thousands of miles away.

“Should the transferor court ultimately decide that it has no jurisdiction over Seleznev, irreparable harm will have resulted from his removal,” Civille said.

The defense added that the court stands in a better position to determine the jurisdictional issue because it is geographically closer to the location of both the alleged kidnapping and alleged unlawful transfer.

Waiting

District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood is still waiting for an additional brief from the U.S. attorney’s office on whether the court does not have personal jurisdiction over him to even conduct a removal proceeding.

The 30-year-old defendant from Vladivostok, Russia, was indicted in the District Court for the Western District of Washington on March 16, 2011 for his alleged involvement in a computer hacking scheme I which he allegedly generated millions of dollars of profits by trafficking hundreds of thousands of consumer credit card numbers.

A separate indictment was also filed in the District Court of Nevada on Jan. 10, 2012 for similar charges.

Seleznev was in the airport in Maldives on July 5 and was on his way to Russia after a family vacation when he was picked up by U.S. Secret Service agents.

From Maldives he was flown to Guam where a writ of removal was filed for his transfer to Washington.

The removal proceeding, originally scheduled for July 22, was removed from the court calendar after the defense filed a motion for discharge or release citing illegal arrest or kidnapping.

 

US attorney on Seleznev: Guam only a ‘transferor’ district


Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 03:00am


BY GINA TABONARES-REILLY | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


THE Office of the United States Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the CNMI yesterday said the District Court of Guam does not have jurisdiction to decide on the release of detained alleged cyber hacker Roman Seleznev because the district court’s role is limited to mere “transferor” district.

Responding to the motion to discharge/release filed by Seleznev’s lawyer, Patrick Civille, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marivic David said any challenges to the defendant’s indictment, arrest or prosecution must be determined in the district where the crime was committed.

David said that the 30-year-old defendant from Vladivostok, Russia had outstanding warrants of arrest until he was taken into custody in the Maldives on July 5.

A federal grand jury in the Western District of Washington returned a 28-count superseding indictment on March 16, 2011 charging Seleznev with various felonies stemming from his alleged involvement in a computer hacking scheme. The indictment alleged that Seleznev generated millions of dollars in illicit profits by trafficking hundreds of thousands of consumer credit card numbers.

A federal grand jury in the District Court of Nevada also returned a superseding indictment on Jan. 10, 2012 and charged Seleznev and others with similar charges.

Seleznev was transported to Guam and was scheduled to appear before the court for an identity hearing yesterday. That hearing was vacated.

Motion

On July 18, Seleznev’s defense team filed a motion to continue the identity hearing and filed a motion to release the suspect on July 21, citing an alleged illegal arrest.

David said Seleznev’s motion was not merely seeking pretrial release on bond but for an order that will release him unconditionally after which he will undoubtedly flee the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

She explained there were no charges filed in Guam and the jurisdiction over Seleznev’s motion for release lies not with the District Court of Guam but with the Western District of Washington.

David said the court is only limited to make findings on whether the United States has produced an arrest warrant and whether the person before the court is the person named in that warrant.

Once the court has established the two issues, the court must transfer the defendant to the district where the offense was allegedly committed.

David further explained that Seleznev’s dispute with the legality of his arrest and prosecution in Guam as part of the removal proceedings is false, saying the scope of the removal court’s jurisdiction is extremely limited and does not extend to the matters raised in the defendant’s motion for discharge and release.

David asked the court to dismiss the motion and to re-schedule the identity hearing as soon as possible.

Seleznev’s lawyer was given until today to file a response.

District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood said she wants briefs on whether she has jurisdiction on the motion for discharge and release.


Vice speaker introduces new tobacco bill


Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 03:00am


BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


VICE Speaker Benjamin Cruz has introduced Bill 384, legislation that would prevent the sale of tobacco products to retailers or consumers through any multi-pack discounts such as “buy one, get one free” promotions.

The bill's introduction comes five months after the enactment of Public Law 32-132 which establishes a tax parity among tobacco products by increasing the current tax rate on smokeless tobacco.

According to the vice speaker’s office, the legislation would ultimately close another tobacco tax loophole.

“This bill aims to end the tactic of giving away free or combo-packed merchandise to make tobacco products cheaper and harder to tax, and more accessible to the youth,” said Cruz, who introduced the bill last Friday. “While there’s still a great deal of money to be made in keeping people hooked on nicotine or in perpetuating that addiction among younger consumers, there will always be a few tobacco companies that are eager to take advantage of legal loopholes wherever they exist.”

Price discounting

The measure also prohibits the sale or distribution of tobacco products without charge or for less than the listed or non-discounted price.

Price discounting, according to a release from the vice speaker’s office, is one of the tobacco industry’s strategies to influence purchasing and use among potential customers who would otherwise be deterred by higher tobacco prices. 

Moreover, recent direct-to-consumer tobacco marketing on Guam has periodically included multi-pack discounts, 75-cents-off or dollar-off deals, as well as other price-related incentives. Under Guam’s existing laws, Cruz said some of these marketing tactics may even allow distributors to avoid tobacco taxes altogether.

Cruz cited the Federal Trade Commission, which states that the amount spent on cigarette advertising and promotion by the largest cigarette companies in the United States rose from $8.05 billion in 2010 to $8.37 billion in 2011, due mainly to an increase in spending on price discounts in order to reduce the price of cigarettes to consumers. Spending on price discounts increased from $6.49 billion in 2010 to $7 billion in 2011.

ACS CAN supports bill

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network lauded the vice speaker for introducing the legislation.

The network is the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society. The group supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem

The group said tobacco remains the No. 1 preventable cause of cancer on Guam and price is proven to be one of the most effective ways to keep kids from starting tobacco use and to prompt adults to quit smoking.

“We commend Vice Speaker Cruz for his work on this bill and look forward to working with the Guam Legislature on this measure,” the group said.

According to the vice speaker’s office, Bill 384 was drafted in consultation with the Cancer Action Network and with the support of the Non-communicable Diseases Consortium comprised of representatives from various government agencies, not-for-profit organizations and the private sector.

Ken Corporation to build new hotel

Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

Hilton renovations unveiled



THE Ken Corp. group announced yesterday that it plans to build a new five-star hotel adjacent to the Hotel Nikko Guam in Tumon, making another 300 hotel rooms available for visitors to Guam. The announcement was made by Shigeru Sato, president of Ken Corp.

According to Milton Morinaga, managing director of P.H.R. Ken Micronesia, the company plans to build the hotel on the Hotel Nikko Guam property between Lotte Hotel Guam and Nikko. The new hotel will occupy 96,000 square meters on the Nikko property, Morinaga said.

The company plans to start construction on the resort sometime next year, with an anticipated completion date in 2018.

Sato was on Guam for the unveiling of newly completed renovations at the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa.

The Hilton’s new facilities include renovated main tower rooms with modern fixtures and furnishings. The hotel now has beachside cabanas, an extended patio dubbed The Lanai and a new outdoor space with a view of Two Lover’s Point called the Banyan Point. Sato said the company has invested $330 million in renovating its current Guam properties.

Currently Ken Corp. owns the Pacific Islands Club, Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort, Hyatt Regency Guam, Hilton Guam Resort & Spa and the Hotel Nikko Guam. Ken Corp. also acquired the Country Club of the Pacific golf course in January 2007 and owns Aqua Resort Club and Pacific Islands Club in Saipan.

The Ken Group invests in and manages 24 hotels worldwide.

Tourism 2020

The introduction of another luxury hotel with extra hotel rooms is in line with the Guam Visitors Bureau’s Tourism 2020 plan, which aims to attract 1.5 million visitors to Guam in 2015 and grow arrivals to 2 million by 2020 through 2023. Ken Corp. owns nearly 2,700 hotel rooms in its Guam hotels.

GVB hopes to achieve the goal through eight core objectives, one of which is to add high-end hotel rooms.

Applebee's opens on Guam

Posted: Jul 22, 2014  by Ken Quintanilla  kuam

Guam - It was once a popular neighborhood restaurant that has since grown to become a popular restaurant in neighborhoods all across North America - and now Guam can be added to that list. Today Applebee's officially opened for business along Chalan San Antonio in Tamuning. According to Apple Pacific president Richard Hart, Applebee's is one of the largest casual American dining establishments in the world with almost 2,000 locations. The Guam location has 143 employees and can seat up to 250 guests. Its menu features a variety of steaks, salads, ribs, pasta, seafood and burgers. Applebee's is open daily from 11am to 11pm.

 

MRE partners with firm for solar project

Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

MICRONESIA Renewable Energy Inc. (MRE) has announced a partnership with SUNNOVA for Solar4All, marking the island’s first zero-money-down solar energy service program for residential homeowners, according to a release from the company.

The group will be launching the project tomorrow at the MRE office in Tamuning to provide homeowners with an alternative, cleaner power generation system that would facilitate savings.

Under the Solar4All project, MRE will install the system for free and also provide maintenance for the life of the agreement. In addition, MRE will also dispatch a crew should issues arise with the system to get it back online immediately.

For its part, SUNNOVA will remotely monitor the system to ensure peak performance.

Under the program, eligible homeowners simply pay monthly fees for solar power but at lower rates than they are currently paying for power. Moreover, customers can “lock in” the lower electricity rates for the duration of the contract.

Aside from the potential savings and the zero down offer, homeowners can also increase property values and reduce their carbon footprint by having a system installed.

MRE specializes in the development, design, engineering, procurement and construction of renewable energy infrastructure and alternative energy solutions.

SUNNOVA is a solar power company providing nationwide coverage with local-minded service to thousands of homes across the United States. Its mission is to be the most reliable and efficient provider of low-cost solar power to homeowners.

 

      

Construction started on new farmers’ market in Dededo

Friday, 18 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

Photo shows an artist’s illustration of the new Guam Farmers Cooperative facility in Dededo. Contributed photo

WORK has begun to construct the new Guam Farmers Cooperative facility in Dededo. The building will also house the Dededo Flea Market, which is currently at the intersection of Route 27 and Marine Corps Drive.

The facility will be constructed on a 6.9-acre lot near the intersection of Marine Corps Drive and Route 3, before the turn to the northern branch of the Department of Public Health and Social Services.

According to the scope of work provided by the Guam HOT Bond Project, it will feature a retail Farmers Market, dry and cold storage, a community kitchen, a dining area, flea market stalls and a parking facility.

Bill McDonald, president of the Farmers’ Cooperative Association of Guam, said the facility has been a long time coming and the farmers are very much looking forward to using the facility. “We’ll finally have a home,” he said.

McDonald said there will be a place for farmers to load and off-load, which will lift the burden off of some farmers since the facility will be a centralized place for them to bring their products. Once off-loaded, the products will go right to the consumers, McDonald said.

There will also be a space for cleaning, sorting and packing, which he said some farmers do not have readily available to them otherwise. “We’re not sitting pretty just yet,” McDonald said.

The farmers market facility is one of several “HOT Bond” projects, funded by the Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue bond series, which was established under Public Law 30-228 in December 2010. The project cost about $2.5 million, with the contract awarded to Mega United Corp. The Guam Economic Development Authority is the contract administrator, however, the facility will be operated by the Farmers’ Cooperative Association of Guam.

Architects Laguana LLC designed the project and Cha Consulting Inc. has been listed as the program manager. The building is expected to be completed by next March.

Last November, GEDA distributed the solicitation for sealed bids for the project.

The scope of the design included the possibility of a slaughterhouse, but McDonald said there will not be a slaughterhouse at the new facility. Farmers will still however, be able to gather and have a facility for their wares.

McDonald said last year, farmers sold $145,000 worth of produce, despite the cherry tomato crop production taking a hit. He said they lost 85 percent worth of crop last year in addition to damage caused by inclement weather last August.

  

United Airlines flight 201 delayed again

Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

ACCORDING to United Airlines Corporate Communications, flight UA201, the same flight that experienced mechanical issues that forced an emergency landing at Midway Island last week, was delayed due to mechanical issues yesterday.

“Flight UA201 from Honolulu to Guam on July 15, 2014 ... was delayed following a mechanical issue,” United Corporate Communications said in a statement. The Boeing 777-200 aircraft had 343 customers aboard.

The delay forced the aircraft to depart Honolulu on July 15 at 4:15 p.m. Honolulu time. Customers arrived on Guam yesterday at 7:45 p.m., the statement said.

The airline apologized for any inconvenience to customers caused by the flight delay.

This news comes days after UA flight 201 was diverted due to what United Corporate called “mechanical issues.”

CNN reported that passengers aboard last Friday’s flight, which landed at Midway Island, smelled an odor and reported the pilot telling passengers there had been smoke in the cockpit.

After passengers waited for hours in a gymnasium on Midway, as reported by eTN Global Travel News, they were flown back to Hawaii and eventually the 300-plus passengers made it to Guam.


 

DOC director: Seleznev treated like any other detainee

Friday, 18 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

DEPARTMENT of Corrections Director Jose San Agustin said detainee Roman Seleznev’s quarters are no better or worse than those other detainees and prisoners on Guam encounter.

Amid reports from Russian news agencies that Seleznev is being detained in “awful” conditions, yesterday the director allowed local media to view the holding cell Seleznev was in.

Seleznev is a 30-year-old Russian man accused of computer hacking and selling credit card information across the United States. He is wanted by the federal government in Seattle.

San Agustin said Roman Seleznev underwent an examination by DOC’s medical doctor yesterday, which included a blood test.

Seleznev was transported to visit the doctor on Wednesday. “The reason we brought him here is because the doctor started the change of medication,” San Agustin said.

Seleznev had medication from Russia that DOC doctors are unable to obtain on Guam but he has been given American alternatives that are medically equivalent to what he’s been taking, San Agustin said.

The blood test was necessary for the doctor to determine the amount of medication Seleznev had taken in order to match the dosage.

Seleznev will be under medical evaluation for several days so doctors can monitor him and ensure the medication he is taking is taking effect as it should.

Far from true

San Agustin said allegations that painted a dire picture of Seleznev’s detainment are far from true. He said reports that he hasn’t had a place to sleep or a bed to sleep on are false. The Russian has had a mattress, a bed and a pillow with sheets to sleep on since he entered the prison system.

San Agustin said he has spoken to Seleznev, whose English he could understand, and the only complaint the Russian man had was that the facility was too cold.

The air conditioning system at the DOC facility keeps the temperature between 70 and 73 degrees, the director said. “But that’s why we decided to give him an extra sheet.”

The room Seleznev was in yesterday had two beds and a toilet, as well as toiletries including shampoo, toilet paper and soap. One mattress was left uncovered and had books, extra clothes and papers strewn atop. The other bed was covered in a simple white sheet. The surroundings were simple.

“It is prison,” San Agustin said. “I explained to him also when I met with him (three days ago) that everything we provide him with is what we provide to everybody else.”

San Agustin said yesterday another federal detainee was held in the same area as Seleznev. After a few days, the Russian man is expected to return to the Hagåtña facility where he had previously been detained.

The next step for Seleznev will be determined at his next court date on Tuesday, July 22. He is to appear at the District Court of Guam. A grand jury in Washington indicted him three years ago in March 2011.

He was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service on Guam earlier this month after he was brought to the island from the Maldives. His arrest has prompted protests from Russian government officials. The Secret Service called him one of the most prolific traffickers of stolen financial information in a statement announcing his arrest. If convicted of the multiple bank fraud, identity theft and credit card theft charges he has been indicted for, Seleznev could face decades in U.S. federal prison.

Since his arrest had been made public, Seleznev’s father, Valery Seleznev, has been denying the charges brought against his son have any merit. Valery Seleznev, who serves on the country’s parliament, has told Russian media that his son is incapable of hacking any system. Further, in a July 14 article published by Itar-Tass, a Russian news organization, Seleznev Sr. reportedly said “psychological pressure is being exerted on his son at the Guam prison” and that “conditions at the prison are awful.”

Valery Seleznev also told Itar-Tass that Roman Seleznev needs constant medical care due to a brain injury.

 

Women’s Chamber honors more Guam ‘Women Firsts’

Friday, 18 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

http://mvguam.com/images/resized/images/stories/localnews/071814/01-womens-2_200_200.jpgJackie Marati, one of the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce founding members, said it’s important to identify the ''Women Firsts'' honorees because Guam as a community needs to know their achievements. Photo by Matt Weiss / Variety

JACKIE Marati, one of the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce founding members, said the chamber has pulled together to recognize another round of “Women Firsts,” some of whom have ties to the history of the island’s liberation from Japanese occupation during World War II.

“It’s important for history and it’s important for documentation to identify these women because we as a community need to know their achievements,” Marati said.

The first group of “Women Firsts” was recognized by the women’s chamber in March, followed by this group. Marati said another group is expected to be recognized in August. She said it had just been a natural project for the chamber to undertake, considering the partnerships and the drive within the organization.

This time around, the following women were recognized at yesterday’s ceremony at Government House in Agana Heights:

Sister Marian Therese Arroyo was the first woman to compose a Chamorro Catholic Mass;

  • Cecilia Cruz Bamba was the first Chamorro woman to lead the struggle for Guam war reparations;

  • Jessica Warner Barrett was the first female certified as a plumber;

  • Marjorie Grathwohl Driver was the first faculty member of the Micronesia Area Research Center at the University of Guam;

  • Elizabeth Concepcion Gayle was the first Chamorro woman to be a licensed professional engineer;

  • Judith Paulette Guthertz was the first female chief of police;

  • Lourdes Palomo Klitzkie was the first female Chamorro Olympian;

  • Evelyn Salas Leon Guerrero was the first female Chamorro lieutenant colonel;

  • Gladys Lujan Lizama was the first Liberation Day Queen of Guam;

  • Pilar Cruz Lujan was the first woman to create a Chamorro Language Program with the Guam Department of Education;

  • Lourdes Taitano Pangelinan was the first Chamorro woman to lead the Secretariat of the Pacific Community; and

  • Laura Marie Torres Souder was the first female Chamorro author to have her work published.

    Marati said this is only the beginning and that the chamber continues to search history, in partnership with Guampedia, to find the women in Guam’s history that held prominent positions in their fields.


Korea arrivals exceed GVB forecast

Friday, 18 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Guam Visitors Bureau has overshot its goal of attracting visitors from Korea this fiscal year by 25 percent.

Karl Pangelinan, GVB’s general manager, said the bureau projected 230,000 this fiscal year. Instead, Korean visitors are now trending closer to 300,000, with a couple more months to go before the end of fiscal 2014.

Recently, United Airlines announced that non-stop flights between Guam and Seoul, South Korea will begin Oct. 27. Pangelinan said GVB definitely sees the nonstop service as another positive development for the island. Korea is the second largest visitor market for Guam and the growth has been significant over the past several months, the GM said.

The bureau has partnered with the Guam International Airport Authority to encourage expansion of various gateway cities in Guam’s core markets, Pangelinan said.

“For the Korea market, Busan was the most recent gateway that opened up to Guam through Korean Airlines as a regularly scheduled flight service,” he added.

United adding nonstop flights from Seoul’s Incheon International Airport in October will be another gateway recently opened up for Guam. “By 2020, we want to bring in over 350,000 visitors from Korea to the island,” Pangelinan said.

Dynamic Airways

Additionally, GVB and GIAA worked to secure direct regular charter flights with Dynamic Airways. The flights began just last month and offer travel between Guam and Beijing, China. Pangelinan noted that United has also announced it will be pursuing direct charter flights out of Shanghai, another major city in China.

According to a statement from the airline company, the Guam-Shanghai service could begin in October as well and is just pending government approval.

“This is one of several other goals to boost the island’s tourism industry beyond what it has experienced in the past, as envisioned in GVB’s Tourism 2020 plan. The plan also works to increase a diverse market and bring in visitors from other countries. Diversification and growing arrivals are key components of marketing Guam,” Pangelinan said.

In October, the United flights from Seoul to Guam will depart Guam at 8:05 a.m. and arrive in Korea at 12:10 p.m. the same day. The flight from Seoul to Guam will depart at 10:25 p.m. and arrive in Guam the following day at 4 a.m.

The flight will be approximately four to five hours long, each way.

                       

More tests being conducted on piles for Guam Museum

Posted: Jul 17, 2014  by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It was last month when contractors for the Guam Educational and Chamorro Facility conducted testing on 60 piles that were initially determined to be damaged.

A second set of tests showed that 95% of those piles were able to meet capacity. During today's GEDA board meeting, real property division manager Larry Toves says as a safety precaution more tests are being conducted on more than a dozen other piles. "So in addition to that, there's a certain area where the main load if you will of the structure, there were concerns about the piles in that general area so at its own costs the contractor has elected to retest those piles and there's about 27 of them that will be retested at the end of this month it should be completed," he said.

Once the findings from those tests are revealed, the contractor inland builders will begin pouring the foundation. The new completion date is set for May 2015 but GEDA is hoping for something earlier next year.

 

250 university students from Japan, Korea join UOG summer program

Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 03:00am

PRESS RELEASE

UOG) – The University of Guam Professional and International Programs Office welcomed more than 250 students from six Korean and four Japanese universities to campus this summer to participate in the short-term English Adventure Program.

Students are focusing on language acquisition skills as well as cultural activities through July, August, and September. While on campus, foreign students learn about U.S and Guam cultures and connect with UOG students from the International Friendship Club. They also go on various excursions around the island to enjoy all that Guam has to offer.

“This is part of the University of Guam’s Internationalization effort to develop comprehensive relationships with partner universities,” said Professional and International Programs director Cathleen Moore-Linn.

“These relationships enable us to offer study abroad opportunities to University of Guam students. We sent eight UOG students to Chonbuk National University’s summer program for four weeks on scholarship while two smaller groups of students will travel to Jeju and Pusan universities later this month. These overarching relationships help build language skills, cultural interaction and understanding, and better prepare all participating students to compete in a global workforce.”

Participants

Participating universities from Japan include Chiba Institute of Technology, Shibaura Institute of Technology, Gifu City Women’s College, and Aichi Shukutoku University.

Partner universities from South Korea include Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Dong Yang University, Pusan National University, Chungbuk National University, GN Tech National University, and Jeju National University.

“UOG-branded English language and other activities offered within an American higher education framework combined with opportunities to engage with UOG students positions UOG as the destination of choice for English language acquisition in Asia,” noted PIP associate director Carlos Taitano.

“We expect these programs and relationships to continue to grow and to enable more UOG students to expand their own educational horizons by studying abroad,” added Moore-Linn. “It is a win-win-win for Guam, the University of Guam, and our partner universities.”

Guard engineers recognized for distinguished performance

Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 03:00am

PRESS RELEASE

 (GUNG) – The 1224th Engineer Support Company of the Guam National Guard was selected as Honor Company for the 14th Engineer Battalion during Rotation 14-08, an exercise in support of the 2-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team’s pre-deployment training.

According to Lt. Col. Douglas E. Brown, commander, 14th Engineer Battalion, the Guam soldiers stood out for their “get it done” attitude.

"The 1224th Engineer Support Company from Guam is a very dependable and flexible unit. They are always on time and at the right location. As a result of their performance and positive attitude, I selected them to be the Honor Company for my battalion during NTC Rotation 14-08. It was pleasure to have them on the team."

Approximately 100 soldiers of the 1224th ESC spent nearly three weeks at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, providing horizontal engineering support and force protection, while receiving training collectively on various engineer and support tasks.

“I am very proud of the soldiers. We had the least equipment, but completed the most missions, while pulling our own security – no other engineer company did this,” said Capt. Melvin Pilarca, commander of the 1224th ESC.

“The soldiers were prepared and worked collectively to ensure we completed the missions on time, with no major injuries, sick calls or negligent discharges; no loss of sensitive items and no accidents. Despite the extremely hot and dry conditions, we also had no heat casualties,” said Pilarca.

Good training

Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Santos, a 33-year veteran and original charter member of the Guam National Guard, felt that it was good training. “This is the first time that the Engineers participated in this type of exercise and I love it. Because the changing environments and situations present a lot of challenges, the soldiers have had to learn to adapt to get the mission done.”

Santos, a horizontal construction engineer, said they also had to react to random enemy attacks. “This training gave the soldiers the real-world training they needed.”

The 1224th ESC was the only Engineer unit to bring soldiers with engineer skill sets, but they also brought their own security. Spc. Rita Taitano, from Hotel Company, was part of the team to provide security for the soldiers while they were working to perform engineering functions.

“This exercise is similar to some of the missions we did while in Afghanistan. It’s good to keep our skills up to par and to learn how to work with different units.”

“The desert training environment allows us to use skills as medics to help the Soldiers battle the cold nights, as well as the dry, hot days,” according to Spc. Nelson Soliva. “Basically, it was priceless training for us – we learned to help them stay in the fight.”

After a successful annual training, the 1224th ESC is hoping to continue similar training opportunities to help the unit grow and stay ready.

Fitch warns more water rate increases may be needed

Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE bond rating agency Fitch Ratings has warned that the Guam Waterworks Authority may have to implement further rate increases if it is to maintain its bonds' positive standing.

Fitch recently assigned a "BB" rating with positive outlook to the Guam Waterworks Authority's $84.5 million water and wastewater system revenue refunding bonds, series 2014A and series 2014B.

In addition, Fitch has affirmed a "BB" rating with positive outlook for GWA's $377.4 million outstanding water and wastewater revenue bonds.

However, the ratings agency said there may be a need to further raise water rates in the future to finance GWA's capital needs.

On Oct. 29, 2013 the Public Utilities Commission approved GWA's five-year rate proposal that covers fiscal years 2014 to 2018. Remaining base annual rate increases range from 4 percent to 16.5 percent along with additional surcharges, with rates increasing to about 3.0 percent of median household income by fiscal 2018.

However, despite GWA and the PUC's continued commitment to necessary rate hikes, Fitch said the level of current service charges could limit future rate flexibility to address expected capital needs.

GWA's bonds are secured by a senior lien on the authority's gross revenues excluding development charges. Fitch said GWA's debt levels remain high and significant capital needs remain to meet ongoing regulatory requirements, which could challenge future financial results.

More capital projects

Fitch pointed out that more capital projects will ultimately be needed to meet expected military buildup demands, although actual needs are not incorporated into GWA's capital improvement program. However, GWA expects capital costs incurred as a result of the eventual buildup to be funded by the Department of Defense, including a recent $106 million appropriation.

Overall, Fitch noted that the Consolidated Commission on Utilities and the PUC have shown a demonstrated commitment to raising rates to enhance system financial performance, approving cumulative increases of over 95 percent since fiscal 2007. But Fitch said significant capital needs persist which will challenge utility operations over the long term.

In 2003, the authority negotiated a stipulated order with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a result of violations of the Clean Water Act. To resolve system-wide deficiencies, the order was subsequently amended and superseded by a new order, which added several major projects to be constructed. Projects included in the order are expected to cost $269 million over the next five years.

Fitch said GWA's progress in addressing regulatory requirements is a positive, but the authority faces significant capital needs to meet remaining requirements.

GWA's capital improvement through fiscal 2018 still does not include the secondary wastewater treatment upgrade projects or appropriations from the federal government.

Nevertheless, Fitch has praised GWA's "political willingness" to raise rates. Fitch said the five-year rate package to support the authority's substantial capital needs, effective Nov. 1, 2013, demonstrates continued political willingness to raise rates.

The ratings agency stressed that significant additional rate hikes will likely be necessary, which will further pressure customers and could ultimately test rate flexibility.

State memorial held for Pangelinan

Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE state memorial for Sen. Vicente “ben” Pangelinan was held yesterday at the Plaza de España, allowing the community to pay their respects to the late senator who has been known for championing native land rights and self-determination, among other pro-people advocacies.

Political and government leaders, grassroots organizations, cultural groups, as well as other members of the community came together to pay homage to the late senator at the historical site where island leaders have been inaugurated in the past.

At the memorial, the legislature conferred a resolution honoring and celebrating the life of the late senator and former speaker for his dedication and selflessness to the people of Guam and for his unwavering commitment to truly serve and stand up for the common person.

Pangelinan served for 20 years as a senator. His service began in the 22nd Guam Legislature in 1993 and continued – with the exception of the 28th Guam Legislature – until the 32nd Guam Legislature where he served as chairman of the committee on appropriations.

He was speaker of the 27th Guam Legislature. While at the legislature, the late senator authored more than 200 laws

A proclamation from Gov. Eddie Calvo was also presented, wherein the governor lauded the late senator for being an admirable public servant and a vocal proponent for indigenous rights, championing Guam to reach her full political destiny.

“Sen. Pangelinan leaves behind a legacy of dedication and service to the island he loved. His career was based on a core belief that the people of Guam are destined for greatness. Our people are indebted to this faithful public servant. His memory will live on in the laws and programs he created, and through the example he set as a senior member of the Guam legislature,” the governor said.

Colleagues pay tribute

During the memorial, colleagues shared their memories of the late senator.

Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz said: “This brilliant young man came back from Georgetown and I was just amazed by the intellect that he possessed and I listened to some of our colleagues talk about the fact that he had been a man with the mind of a lawyer. But he was more brilliant than most lawyers that I’ve known. So I thank him for the more than 35 years he has devoted to this community and I am hoping that some of the young members of this legislature will be able to continue the work that he started,” Cruz said.

For Sen. Michael San Nicolas, Pangelinan provided direction and foundation. “He was a rock in this body no matter what state of health he was in," San Nicolas said. "He always committed to being that rock, so we’re going to miss you a great deal, Mr. Speaker.”

Sen. Aline Yamashita said: “I learned how to become stronger because of him. I learned that this is a very serious business and you need to be on your toes.”

For Sen. Tom Ada, one of the trademarks of Sen. Pangelinan and throughout his career in the legislature was that he was always very steadfast in the positions he took. “He was able to do that because he was very diligent in studying the issues and being able to speak on the issues and defend it. I think certainly he was a model to follow after and he certainly has left his mark in this legislature and in our community,” Ada said.

Regional tributes

Tommy Remengesau, president of the Republic of Palau, remembered how the late senator fought for Guam’s “inalienable right to self-determination” by testifying before the United Nations Special Political Decolonization Committee: “When one of our brothers and sisters of Micronesia loses a fighter for our people, all of Micronesia mourns together.”

CNMI Gov. Eloy Inos and Lt. Gov. Jude Hofschneider jointly sent their message of condolence, noting that the late senator “worked in collaboration with many of their past and present lawmakers in tackling issues that affected both Guam and the CNMI."

Pangelinan’s most recent assistance included co-authoring the law that allows for the exportation of cattle and livestock from the CNMI to Guam, which, they said, “cements his legacy as a true man of the Marianas.”

“In his two decades as a civil servant, he was widely respected by his colleagues and from both ends of our island chain," the joint statement read. "Though he may be gone, we can all take solace in the fact that through his work, the next generation of our islands’ leaders will have a path they can follow because of the diligence and humility of this great Chamorro.”

The CNMI legislature also issued a senate resolution “honoring the life and achievements of the late senator for his 20 years of distinguished public service and his outstanding contributions to the people of Guam and the Marianas.”

The late senator was born in Saipan on Oct. 22, 1955 and grew up on Guam in Barrigada. On July 8, he lost his battle against cancer. He was 58.

From July 9 to 17, rosaries for the late senator will be held at the St. Francis of Asissi Catholic Church in Yoña. The funeral date is scheduled for Friday, July 18 at St. Francis Church, Yoña, according to the senator’s office.



Public Defender no longer representing Russian info trafficker


Posted: Jul 15, 2014

 by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Roman Seleznev is no longer being represented by the public defenders office, according to an order from the District Court of Guam he is now being represented by attorney’s Joseph Razzano, Patrick Civille and Joshua Walsh. The U.S. Secret Service describes Seleznev as one of the world’s most prolific traffickers of stolen information. From 2009-2011 he’s accused of devising a scheme to defraud various financial institutions such as Chase Bank, Capital One and Citibank. His father is a Russian politician who says he intends to take all steps to protect his son’s lawful interests. DOC Spokesperson Jeff Limo confirms that Seleznev was visited by a Russian Consul recently. According to wire reports he is based in San Francisco, California.  According to an online article in “Russia Beyond The Headlines” Seleznev is being held in a damp cell, on a concrete floor with no blanket and essential hygienic items. His father is quoted in the article as saying this was a way to force his son to make a confession about something he was not involved in. Seleznev is scheduled to appear


State memorial scheduled for Pangelinan

Monday, 14 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

A state memorial service has been called into session for Wednesday to honor Ben Pangelinan. Variety file photo

THE Office of Speaker Judith Won Pat has called the legislature into session on Wednesday for a state memorial service honoring the late senator and former speaker of the legislature, Ben Pangelinan. A separate ceremony will follow afterward at the Kiosko at the Plaza de España.

The session will be held at 3 p.m. followed by the state memorial at 4 p.m.

Guam is currently in a state of mourning to honor the 10-term member and former speaker of the Guam Legislature who died last Tuesday at the age of 58.

Pangelinan served in the legislature for 20 years. His service began in the 22nd Guam Legislature in 1993 and continued – with the exception of the 28th Guam Legislature – until the 32nd Guam Legislature, in which he served as chairman of the committee on appropriations.

He was speaker of the 27th Guam Legislature.

Won Pat expressed her sentiments regarding the late senator’s death in her weekly address: “My heart is heavy with sadness at the loss of Speaker Vicente 'Ben' Pangelinan – a true friend and mentor. Speaker Ben dedicated his life to serving the people of Guam. He never compromised his integrity or lost sight of his purpose. Most admirably, he tirelessly sought truth and justice, often fighting political battles that no one else had the courage to face.”

She went on to say: “Speaker Ben wasn’t a senator for prestige or profit; his intention was to be a voice for the voiceless and to do what he believed was right for the people of Guam. Because of this, no amount of criticism, no attacks from political opponents could keep him down. He upheld his positions relentlessly and encouraged us all to serve with the same level of seriousness, commitment and transparency.”

The speaker also urged the community to not forget the issues the late senator fought for. “Let us carry on his legacy, particularly his commitment to protecting the rights and lands of the Chamorro people and advocating for our self-determination.”

Won Pat also quoted the late senator in her address. The quote, she said, is “one of the most eloquent descriptions of his purpose” – “Today, in a time full of cynicism, political sound bites and press releases, we must remember who we are as a people. We once mastered the navigation of the seas; surely we can determine our political future. We survived a world at war; surely we can build an economy which leaves no hardworking families behind. We are the inheritors of an ancient land; surely we can leave this place better than when we found it.”

Won Pat concluded: “While his passing is a tremendous loss to the people of Guam, may Speaker Ben’s words and actions continue to inspire us to serve our island with dignity and to help make Guam a better place.”


Leon Rodriguez sworn in as USCIS director

Saturday, 12 Jul 2014 03:00am

PRESS RELEASE

WASHINGTON (USCIS) — Leon Rodriguez was sworn in Thursday as the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during a ceremony at USCIS headquarters.

Rodriguez, born in Brooklyn, and raised in Miami, comes to USCIS with a broad legal background and will lead the nearly 18,000 employee agency charged with administering the nation’s immigration and naturalization system.

“This is both an exciting and challenging time for USCIS,” Rodriguez said. “Our role in administering our nation’s immigration and naturalization laws has never been more important. I look forward to working with the entire USCIS family, including our partners and constituents, to ensure that our mission is carried out with fairness and integrity.”

Leon Rodriguez was confirmed by the Senate in June 2014 as the director of USCIS. He previously served as the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, a position he held from 2011 to 2014. From 2010 to 2011, he served as chief of staff and deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Department of Justice (DOJ). Previously, Mr. Rodriguez was county attorney for Montgomery County, Maryland from 2007 to 2010. He was a principal at Ober, Kaler, Grimes & Shriver in Washington, D.C. from 2001 to 2007.

He served in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania from 1997 to 2001, first as chief of the White Collar Crimes Section from 1998 to 1999 and then as first assistant U.S. Attorney until his departure. Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Rodriguez was a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division at DOJ from 1994 to 1997 and a senior assistant district attorney at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office in New York from 1988 to 1994. He received a B.A. from Brown University and a J.D. from Boston College Law School.


Senators eye TAF for Chamorro culture and arts programs

Monday, 14 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

SEN. Tina Muña-Barnes has introduced several bills appropriating excess money from the Tourist Attraction Fund for several Chamorro culture and arts programs.

The legislature convened a public hearing for all 14 Tourist Attraction Fund appropriation bills last week. Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz co-authored the bills.

“These bills are being introduced to provide much needed funding for organizations to protect and promote Chamorro culture, heritage, and history,” she said. “I want to say that these organizations perpetuate what makes us uniquely Chamorro.”

“Without these groups, we would be indistinguishable from other islands in the Pacific Ocean,” she said.

Money in the Tourist Attraction Fund comes from the hotel occupancy tax which tourists pay for hotel rooms. The Guam Visitors Bureau earlier this year projected $28.97 million to be raised for the Tourist Attraction Fund in 2014, representing a conservatively projected increase of $1.3 million over the past year.

Muña-Barnes reported that the current revenue estimates for the Tourist Attraction Fund for fiscal 2014 are tracking at $30.167 million of which around $28.5 million is already appropriated, thus providing an excess of approximately $1.6 million which is available for appropriation.

Appropriations

Through Bill 363, Muña-Barnes proposes to allocate $1.2 million for the Festival of Pacific Arts, which will be hosted by Guam in 2016.

Moreover, several other bills were introduced providing $50,000 worth of funding for the Historic Inalåhan Foundation and $75,000 for the Humåtak Foundation for the operation of a heritage museum at the former F.Q. Sanchez Elementary School.

Muña-Barnes also proposed $50,000 for Hurao Academy for the purpose of continuing its mission to promote and perpetuate the Chamoru language and culture.

Another bill proposes to allocate $20,000 to the Guam Council on Arts and Humanities and the Guam Humanities Council as well as $25,000 for Guampedia Foundation for the operational requirements of these entities.

In addition, another bill appropriates $50,000 for the fiscal 2014 operations of the Guam International Film Festival.

Cruz has congratulated GVB for a very successful year and for exceeding revenue estimates from last year, which resulted in having more funds to provide assistance for these programs.

Russian consul to visit Seleznev on Guam

Monday, 14 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Russian consul will visit Roman Seleznev in Guam sometime this week, according to Russian state news agency Itar-Tass. U.S. federal agencies are accusing Seleznev of stealing thousands of credit card numbers and bank fraud. He is currently detained on Guam, but is wanted in Washington state by the Western Washington District Court.

Itar-Tass reported that the Russian consul will travel from San Francisco and is expected to have arrived on Guam yesterday. Seleznov’s father, Valery Seleznov, told Itar-Tass that preliminary reports have placed the consul on Guam by that date.

Valery Seleznov serves in the Russian parliament and has told Itar-Tass that the arrest of his son is considered another “unfriendly step” by the United States. Valery Seleznov has accused the U.S. of kidnapping his son and claimed to other new agencies that his son lacks the skill to execute the credit card fraud scheme the U.S. is accusing him of.

According to the indictment, which had been sealed prior to Roman Seleznov’s arrest on July 6, the Russian national faces charges of bank fraud, trafficking unauthorized devices and aggravated identity theft. He is accused of using point-of-sale machines at restaurants and saving the credit card information of thousands of customers in Washington, Idaho, Maryland, Maine Arizona, Illinois and California.

The indictment also alleges he sold the information online to other cyber thieves. Roman Seleznov, 30, is also alleged to have used other names including “Roman Ivanoc,” “Ruben Sammvelich,” “TRACK2,” “nCuX” and “shmak.” The charges against him are based on incidents that occurred as far back as October 2009, with the latest incident documented on February 2011.

Court appearance

Roman Seleznov made his first court appearance at the District Court of Guam on June 7. He was provided a Russian language interpreter and appeared before Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan Jr. According to court documents, Roman Seleznev advised the court that he wished to retain his own attorney.

Federal Public Defender John Gorman was appointed to represent Roman Seleznov. His next court appearance has been scheduled for July 22. He has been remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

In a statement, the U.S. Secret Service, the agency that apprehended Roman in the Maldives, called him one of the world’s most prolific traffickers of stolen financial information.

Jenny A. Durkan, the U.S. attorney of the Western District of Washington, said at the time of Roman Seleznov’s arrest, that his detainment was a message to other cyber crooks.

“We will bring you to face justice,” she said in a statement.

U.S. Attorney of Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands, Alicia Limtiaco, confirmed that her office worked in tandem with the federal agencies to apprehend Roman Seleznov.

‘Innocent’

On Friday, the Associated Press reported that Seleznev’s family insisted he is innocent and fear he will die in custody if he doesn't have his medication.

Seleznev's father, Valery, told reporters at a televised news conference Friday that his son, who was left brain-damaged after a 2011 bombing in Marrakech, will die without his medicine.

"There are no medical services there at all, treatment is not available," AP quoted Valery Seleznev as saying. "He will die."

Don Hall, a U.S. Marshals Service spokesman in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, said Guam authorities have staff to handle medical issues.

"The U.S. Marshals Service is adamant about ensuring that detainees receive all necessary medical care and prescribed medication," Hall said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused Washington of kidnapping Seleznev. U.S. officials have declined to say how or where he was apprehended.

According to AP, Seleznev's girlfriend, Anna Otisko, said she was with him when he was grabbed by unknown men at Maldives Airport and put on the plane. Otisko said he was never wealthy and the vacation in the Maldives was a luxury for them.

Marianas Business Journal

Monday, July 14th 2014 4:49 PM Chamorro Standard Time

In line for takeoff: General aviation airport plans pending

If all goes according to plan, Guam could be looking forward to acquiring a second airport for general aviation in the coming years.

Thai spa opens in Pacific Bay Hotel

Pacific Bay Hotel welcomed a new Thai spa in February. Planning for Lilawadee Thai Spa began in late 2013, and construction - an investment of about $90,000 - was completed by January.

SDA plans expansion in next couple of years

Plans are underway to renovate the Seventh-Day Adventist Guam Clinic and also to build a new clinic, administrator Theodore Lewis told the Journal.

Rhino Linings Guam

Since opening in July 2006, Rhino Linings Guam has been expanding its services and products, with still more growth planned for the future.

OBITUARY - Sen. Vicente "Ben" Cabrera Pangelinan

Senator and former speaker Vicente "Ben" Cabrera Pangelinan passed away on July 8.

Lotte Hotel Guam off to a strong start

In the first couple weeks since the grand opening of Lotte Hotel Guam on June 30, business looks promising.

LEGAL BRIEF

A local construction company is being sued for skipping out on its bill for mechanical equipment.

IT&E to launch new network, rate plans, devices

IT&E was due to launch its HSPA and LTE network on July 14 with new rate plans and devices to match.

Guam Gift Baskets operates brisk business in Mangilao

Since opening its doors on Feb. 5, Guam Gift Baskets has steadily been growing in both clientele and popularity, a rate of success which co-owners Pearla C. Masga and Denise M. Hertslet attribute to the boutique shop's product lineup, presentation and unique combination of physical and virtual storefronts.

GEDA to host trade show in July, economic symposium in October

In an effort to reach out to international and regional investors, the Guam Economic Development Authority will be sponsoring the Guam Economic Symposium, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 22 to 23 at the Hyatt Regency Guam.

CORPORATE GIVING

Data Management Resources held the inaugural roadway cleanup of its adopted portion of Route 16 as part of its participation in the Roadway Adoption Program.

King of the hill: Raceway owner develops hillside lots in Santa Rita

For many, Henry L. Simpson is a name synonymous with auto racing on Guam.

Solar-powered AC now operational on Guam and Saipan

Isla Energy, a renewable energy company in Guam, completed the installation of the island's first solar-powered air-conditioning units on June 19.

SDA Clinic partners with Taiwan Adventist hospital

TUMON, Guam - The Seventh-Day Adventist Guam Clinic has partnered with Taiwan Adventist Hospital to make the Taiwan facility and its international health care service a resource for patients in Guam in need of services not available on the island.

RIM Architects

RIM Architects is in the process of completing the Gloria B. Nelson Guam Public Service Building, the much-anticipated new home for Guam Power Authority and part of Guam Waterworks Authority.

 

Article reports Guam surplus to investors

Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 03:00am

PRESS RELEASE

ADELUP) – The Bond Buyer – dubbed “The daily newspaper of public finance” – has published an article about Guam’s budget surplus.

The publication recently hasn’t had many positive reports of state, territorial, or county government finances.

The Bond Buyer is the global publication investors around the world read to see what municipal issuers and governments are risky or safe for business. A positive story is a big deal, especially when the pool for investment shrinks with negative news on finances in many other places, a news release from the governor’s office stated.

“That’s why the story, 'Junk-Rated Guam Reports Budget Surplus' by Keeley Webster, appearing on the front page of today’s The Bond Buyer is a big deal for us. The story comes ahead of Gov. Eddie Calvo’s early-August push for credit rating review in San Francisco. GovGuam lost its long-held investment grade credit rating after 1999. This followed a string of audits, investigations, questioned costs, and uncertain economic times. GovGuam’s general obligation bonds have since been junk-rated; however, our credit rating has been increasing the last two years, giving hope that Gov. Calvo will be able to restore GovGuam to investment grade credit,” the news release stated.

According to Adelup, the Bond Buyer’s Webster announced Guam’s second consecutive budget surplus in this story before noting Governor Eddie Calvo’s fiscal reforms that led to the achievement.

Webster also mentions the recent upgrade in our general obligation bonds credit rating to BB-minus (with a stable outlook) from B-plus last October by Standard & Poors.

“And he acknowledges, ‘A large portion of the debt Guam issued in recent years has gone toward paying down other long-term liabilities such as unpaid tax refunds,” the news release stated.

“Hence, acknowledgment from an independent third party that Gov. Calvo transferred the burden of the existing tax refund debt from the shoulders of the people to the bank, where the interest rate is a lot better anyway,” Adelup stated.

In the article, Guam Economic Development Authority Public Finance Manager Lester Carlson, Jr. also makes the pitch for businesses to invest in Guam. Along with the improving financial condition, Carlson notes Guam’s close proximity to major Asian economies, the strength of tourism, and tourism’s growth potential.

Reacting to the article, the governor stated: “This is great news. My thanks to Keeley Webster and The Bond Buyer for this article. They’re getting our story out there for the world to see that, even amid bad financial news elsewhere, Guam is different. We’re a beacon glowing brighter every year. We’re leading our island into better times despite what happens elsewhere. That’s good for our people and it’s good for our investors. We’re going to keep moving in this direction because our work isn’t done yet.”


GEDA: DSEIS has no financing strategy for buildup

Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

The draft SEIS mentions that the civilian workforce demand is expected to increase by a maximum of 7,031 full-time jobs in 2021, mostly in the construction sector. Variety file photo

Warns of ‘tax leakage’

THE Guam Economic Development Authority, in its review of the draft supplemental environmental impact statement, said the study does not reflect the clear cost as well as financing strategy of the impending civilian-military buildup.

John Rios, GEDA administrator, indicated this budgetary concern in a document submitted to the Joint Program Office Forward and to Mark Calvo, director of the military buildup at the Office of the Governor.

According to GEDA, the study must provide a more detailed discussion of the costs of infrastructure needed to support the buildup and how the costs will be addressed by the Department of Defense and the federal government.

Rios said the study mentions the $106.4 million authorized under the FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act. However, no specifics were provided on when and how the funding will filter to Guam.

GEDA also stressed the importance of “eliminating tax leakage that could potentially occur when off-island U.S. and non-U.S. contractors are awarded projects as a result of the buildup.”

Rios said the Department of Revenue and Taxation must work hand in hand with DOD and be afforded appropriate access to DOD contracting information on businesses and individuals receiving military contracts and payments to ensure that awardees are abiding by Guam tax law, and thus avoid the “leakage.”

GEDA also listed several initiatives that should receive funding support in order to mitigate the post-buildup period between 2021 and 2028. These initiatives include the “Buy Local” Incentive Awareness Program and the marketing aspect of the “Made in Guam” and the “Guam Product Seal” program.

Rios also mentioned the importance of assisting in the development of a regional farmers’ cooperative, leveraging the agricultural resources of the island and the region to meet the needs of the projected growth population.

Population growth

He also noted that the study recommends no mitigation for the resultant population growth, “as the increase in tax revenues would likely compensate for any increase in demand on public services that would occur.”

Rios said this assessment is inaccurate since the vast majority of the workforce participating in the buildup falls in the category at or near the lower level of the tax income brackets.

The draft SEIS mentions that the civilian workforce demand is expected to increase by a maximum of 7,031 full-time jobs in 2021 (6,150 related to construction and 881 related to operations). 0f the 7,031 jobs, 3,058 are estimated to be taken by Guam residents.

Rios said “workforce training and education programs need to be established and supported by both federal and local agencies to increase the overall gain by the resident workforce. Moreover, funding must be allocated to assist educational training institutions.”

GEDA also expressed concern about the loss of labor to higher paying jobs and pressure for increased wages in existing jobs that will adversely affect non-military projects throughout the buildup phase and the few new federal civil service job opportunities for local residents.

Rios also said that 57 percent of the jobs created will be held by non-residents and as a result, part of the income generated will not remain or circulate in the local economy.

“Increasing resident labor participation throughout the buildup is a foremost priority throughout this period of Guam’s development. The desired effect would ensure sustained economic growth for the island and improve standard for living for residents,” he said.

Gross island product

Rios said GIP projections for Guam would be reasonable during the construction buildup phase. Meeting growth targets, according to Rios, depends heavily upon how much funding is expended for goods and services that can be acquired on island.

Moreover, he said DOD policies that foster small business and local participation in the buildup will have a significant positive effect on the GIP.



Guam flood forecast model now online

Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

NEW computer models that would assist communities in and around Apra Harbor and Malakal in Palau to forecast potential inundation and flooding threats as a result of sea level rise can now be accessed online by the community.

A team of physical oceanographers working with the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) developed the models which are called the PacIOOS Six-Day High Sea Level Forecasts, and the most recent ones include Apra Harbor in Guam and Malakal in Palau.

According to PacIOOS, the new tools can be used to forecast potential inundation events so that affected communities can better prepare and respond to such threats days in advance.

“Along with a more accurate analysis of the tides, the PacIOOS Six-Day High Sea Level Forecast tool utilizes analyses of several kinds of non-tidal sea level variability that can add to the height of the tide to produce unexpected flooding in coastal areas in the absence of storms or tsunamis,” said Martin Guiles, PacIOOS senior physical oceanographic research specialist and project lead.

“The predictions include the influences of currents and eddies that evolve over days, as well as shorter period motions not included in tide-only forecasts,” he said.

Guiles also clarified that the forecasts do not include predictions of tsunamis or storm surge flooding. In case of those events, the public is advised to seek advice from the National Weather Service.

Guiles and Doug Luther, PacIOOS co-investigator and professor of oceanography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, developed the forecasts in response to requests from ocean stakeholders in the PacIOOS region.

According to PacIOOS, fishermen, divers, surfers, boaters, businesses, government agencies and emergency responders all benefit from the increased prediction accuracy of sea level in areas where there may be an inundation and flooding threat. More informed citizens and agencies lead to better decisions and preparation.

To access the PacIOOS High Sea Level Forecasts, visit the PacIOOS website



Article reports Guam surplus to investors

Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 03:00am

PRESS RELEASE

ADELUP) – The Bond Buyer – dubbed “The daily newspaper of public finance” – has published an article about Guam’s budget surplus.

The publication recently hasn’t had many positive reports of state, territorial, or county government finances.

The Bond Buyer is the global publication investors around the world read to see what municipal issuers and governments are risky or safe for business. A positive story is a big deal, especially when the pool for investment shrinks with negative news on finances in many other places, a news release from the governor’s office stated.

“That’s why the story, 'Junk-Rated Guam Reports Budget Surplus' by Keeley Webster, appearing on the front page of today’s The Bond Buyer is a big deal for us. The story comes ahead of Gov. Eddie Calvo’s early-August push for credit rating review in San Francisco. GovGuam lost its long-held investment grade credit rating after 1999. This followed a string of audits, investigations, questioned costs, and uncertain economic times. GovGuam’s general obligation bonds have since been junk-rated; however, our credit rating has been increasing the last two years, giving hope that Gov. Calvo will be able to restore GovGuam to investment grade credit,” the news release stated.

According to Adelup, the Bond Buyer’s Webster announced Guam’s second consecutive budget surplus in this story before noting Governor Eddie Calvo’s fiscal reforms that led to the achievement.

Webster also mentions the recent upgrade in our general obligation bonds credit rating to BB-minus (with a stable outlook) from B-plus last October by Standard & Poors.

“And he acknowledges, ‘A large portion of the debt Guam issued in recent years has gone toward paying down other long-term liabilities such as unpaid tax refunds,” the news release stated.

“Hence, acknowledgment from an independent third party that Gov. Calvo transferred the burden of the existing tax refund debt from the shoulders of the people to the bank, where the interest rate is a lot better anyway,” Adelup stated.

In the article, Guam Economic Development Authority Public Finance Manager Lester Carlson, Jr. also makes the pitch for businesses to invest in Guam. Along with the improving financial condition, Carlson notes Guam’s close proximity to major Asian economies, the strength of tourism, and tourism’s growth potential.

Reacting to the article, the governor stated: “This is great news. My thanks to Keeley Webster and The Bond Buyer for this article. They’re getting our story out there for the world to see that, even amid bad financial news elsewhere, Guam is different. We’re a beacon glowing brighter every year. We’re leading our island into better times despite what happens elsewhere. That’s good for our people and it’s good for our investors. We’re going to keep moving in this direction because our work isn’t done yet.”


Governor and admiral officially open Agana Bridge, intersections

Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 03:00am

PRESS RELEASE

 (ADELUP) – Drivers now have a smooth ride as they approach Chief Quipuha Park in the capital, whether you’re coming from the south or north on Marine Corps Drive, or from Routes 8 or 4.

Gov. Eddie Calvo and Adm. Tilghman Payne, joined by several dignitaries and partners, cut the ribbon yesterday on the completed reconstruction of the Agana Bridge and the intersections of Marine Corps Drive with Routes 8 and 4.

The $16.4 million project was completed in two years. At stake was whether the Agana Bridge could support heavy vehicles since the bridge had never been rehabilitated since it was built after World War II.

The stretch of road through the two major intersections also needed to be redone to accommodate more traffic from natural growth and from the increase in military and tourism activity.

The road features many improvements, including wider lanes, lane markers, sidewalks, and the restoration of two left-turning lanes from Route 8 onto Route 1.

There’s also a new right-turn lane from Route 1 onto Route 8. This is not to mention the new bridge, which now is strong enough to carry increasing traffic load for the foreseeable future.

The completion of this project is significant for two other reasons. First, it was a large, collaborative effort among the government of Guam, the private contractor, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Department of Defense.

Second, it’s further commitment from DOD that it will invest in outside-the-gate improvements to our community as the military buildup moves forward.

This stretch of road is among several considered Defense Access Roads, and among the first projects of the military buildup.

Reacting to the completion of the project, Calvo said: “I’m glad it’s done and I’m happy with the results. Traffic was terrible for two years in and out of Hagåtña. Now things are smooth. Most importantly, now we can count on that bridge and the stability of those intersections. And this project shows us that the military will invest in outside-the-gate improvements as the military buildup moves forward.”


Cruz, Duenas get top spots as candidates draw ballot positions

Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Guam Election Commission sailed through the ballot placement drawing last night just 50 days before the Aug. 30 primary election.

During the drawing, legislative candidates were called in alphabetical order, with the Democratic Party candidates called first, followed by the Republicans. After each candidate pulled a number, the packed GEC conference room erupted in applause.

Candidates for Democratic Party

1.    Benjamin J.F. Cruz (incumbent)

2.    Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (incumbent)

3.    Rodney A. Cruz, Jr.

4.    Judith Paulette Guthertz

5.    Hope A. Cristobal

6.    Tina Rose Muña-Barnes (incumbent)

7.    Frank Taitano Ungacta Jr.

8.    Thomas C. Ada (incumbent)

9.    Judith T. Won Pat (incumbent)

10. Dennis G. Rodriguez Jr. (incumbent)

11. Derick Baza Hills

12. Rory J. Respicio (incumbent)

13. Adolpho B. Palacios Sr.

14. Frank B. Aguon Jr. (incumbent)

15. Nerissa Bretania Underwood

Republican Party senatorial candidates:

1.    Christopher Duenas (incumbent)

2.    Valentino Gumataotao Perez

3.    Tony Ada (incumbent)

4.    Brant McCreadie (incumbent)

5.    Tommy Morrison (incumbent)

6.    Roland Blas

7.    Frank Blas Jr.

8.    Romeo Carlos

9.    Felix Benavente

10. Jim Espladon

11. Mary Camacho Torres

12. Adonis Mendiola

13. Michelle Hope Taitano

14. Wil Castro

15. Aline Yamashita (incumbent)

16. Glenn Leon Guerrero


Delegate, AG

In the race for the delegate and attorney general seats, incumbents took the No. 1 spots and challengers drew the second spots. Madeleine Z. Bordallo will be the first name to appear on the ballot in the Washington, D.C. delegate seat and Matthew Artero will be the placed in the second slot.

Leonardo Rapadas also pulled No. 1 while Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson pulled No. 2.

The GEC board recessed their meeting after the ballot placement drawing was held and tabled the items on their agenda for the next meeting, on July 17.

GEC Executive Director Maria Pangelinan said the new tabulation system the commission hopes to procure is on the agenda for that meeting.


Roman Seleznev’s father claims son was kidnapped by US

Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

ACCODING to Russian news reports, Roman Seleznev, as he has been identified and who was arrested on Guam last weekend, is the son of a Russian lawmaker, Valery Seleznev, who has claimed the United States kidnapped his son in the Maldives.

According to the Itar-Tass news organization, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it is “outraged” by Roman Seleznev’s detention by the U.S. Secret Service.

The report, which was tweeted by the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official Twitter account, stated that Roman Seleznev was forced by agents of the Secret Service into a private jet and transported to Guam.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is said to consider the action as “another Washington unfriendly step.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it is making every effort to find out the circumstances of Roman’s detention and hope to provide his soonest return to Russia, Itar-Tass reported.

Russia Today reported that Valery Seleznev was concerned that the United States wanted a ransom for Roman Seleznev or wanted to exchange him for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Russia Today also reported that Valery Seleznev said his son has “scant computer skills” and “could not be involved in any sort of hacking.”

Local officials have been tight-lipped on the Russian national’s arrest and as of yesterday evening, the Secret Service had not released any public statement denying the ministry’s claims.

Wanted in Seattle

According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, Roman Seleznev was arrested on Guam on July 6 and is wanted in Seattle, Washington. The Western District of Washington indicted the man on several counts of bank fraud, intentional damage to a protected computer, obtaining information from a protected computer, trafficking unauthorized access devices, identity theft and other charges.

Roman Seleznev is accused of stealing thousands of credit card numbers through malware and hacked point-of-sale systems across the U.S.

The Secret Service called him one of the most prolific traffickers of stolen financial information, in a public statement released following Roman Seleznev’s arrest.

The Russian national has already been seen in Guam’s District Court and will have another court appointment on July 22. In the meantime, he has been ordered to remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Russia Today also reported that Roman Seleznev was detained at the Male International Airport in the Maldives and brought to Guam where he was officially arrested.


Psychiatrist: DeSoto is crazy

Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE last psychiatrist to evaluate the mental health of Chad Ryan DeSoto, the 22-year-old man on trial for the Tumon rampage that occurred Feb. 12, 2013, diagnosed DeSoto with psychotic depression.

“From a purely clinical perspective, there is no possible alternative explanation that I could come up with to explain why he did what he did except that he was operating – driven – by a psychosis,” said Dr. Martin Blinder. “And this psychosis drove out the good parts of him, the parts of him that would go ‘This is not something I ought to be doing; these people have not done any harm to me.’”

Blinder said DeSoto had no capacity to weigh those sorts of thoughts. “His mind was no longer functioning like a normal person,” he said.

Blinder evaluated DeSoto in July 2013. Blinder, under cross examination by the prosecution, said he had been paid about $2,500 by the family of the defendant to evaluate DeSoto, as Blinder was a forensic psychiatrist. He said four-fifths of the money went to airfare and lodging, and he estimated he was compensated “several hundred dollars” when he deducted his expenses.

The forensic psychiatrist operates his practice in California and in Hawaii, splitting his time between each location. He said he has been called to offer his expert opinion “a zillion” times in his 40 years as a practicing forensic psychiatrist and has given expert opinion on Guam cases of mental health about 30 times.

Could not discern

In the case of DeSoto, Blinder said he could not discern any nationalist or antagonist elements that would lead him to believe that DeSoto did this with anti-Japanese motives left over from World War II.

The psychiatrist said he did not think DeSoto was under the influence of drugs or alcohol despite DeSoto telling police that he had been drinking the night of the rampage, which Blinder said he read in the police report. The psychiatrist noted that DeSoto also told cops he thought his brother was also in the vehicle with him the night of the rampage.

Those statements are not accurate because of his state of mind, Blinder said.

“That leaves us with only one possible explanation: He’s crazy,” Blinder said. “He’s crazy. That’s a lay term for his inability to not know the quality and wrongfulness of his homicidal act.”

Prior to his evaluation of DeSoto, whom he only met once, Blinder said he had the benefit of having a narrative of the account of DeSoto’s girlfriend, Reanne Acasio, of DeSoto’s life before the rampage on Feb. 12, 2013. Blinder also said he had police reports and reports from Dr. Michael Kim, the court-appointed psychiatrist, and Dr. Andrea Leitheiser, former clinical psychologist at the Department of Corrections.

Blinder said Acasio’s narrative was helpful in his evaluation. “As I take the history from Mr. DeSoto as well as a more objective history from his girlfriend who observed his progress, you can see how this man is disintegrating before your eyes,” the forensic psychiatrist said.

DeSoto’s life prior to the rampage was one of a man who had been growing increasingly psychotic, Blinder said. His statement was based on DeSoto’s conversation with him and Acasio’s narrative of events.

"This is unusual in that we have an objective and intelligent outside observer actually give us the process by which this man actually started to fall apart," Blinder said of Acasio’s account. “I give that as much weight as I do my own history of the man because by the time I saw him he was no longer psychotic. But she had the opportunity to describe what was going on while he was actively insane.”

Devil

Blinder said Acasio described DeSoto talking about a relationship with the devil, voices telling him to give away or bury his belongings, voices telling him to kill his family and DeSoto telling Acasio that he believed he had become a monster. Blinder said Acasio's description of DeSoto was of things wrapped in religious terms but were things that were clearly a psychotic version of the Bible.

“What I think is important is that he had stopped sleeping, he had stopped eating, he lost 30 pounds, he couldn’t work anymore,” Blinder said. DeSoto’s loss of his grandfather and his girlfriend, who Blinder called “life rafts,” on top of other outward symptoms showed a picture of a man drowning in his own psychotic thinking, Blinder said.

In addition to his conversations and other reports from local mental health professionals, Blinder said he issued two tests, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), a questionnaire with 500 questions, and the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCMI-III). The MMPI revealed to Blinder that DeSoto still had residual signs of psychosis.

Both tests, the forensic psychiatrist said, were able to pick up on the severity of DeSoto’s depressive disorder, Blinder said, but it was the MMPI that showed residual signs of psychosis in the defendant.

For most people, depression is associated with someone who is dispirited, pessimistic and sad. In severe cases people experiencing depression wish to commit suicide. But Blinder said there is a small percentage of people whose depression evolves beyond that into emotional derangement and manifests into delusions and their thinking becomes bizarre and they begin to “hear voices.”

Most severe

Blinder said he concluded that DeSoto did have psychotic depression and it was a severe case. “Mr. DeSoto suffered one of the most severe depressions that I have experienced in my long professional life,” he said. “And his depression, unfortunately, fell into that minority category of individuals who are so despairing and so emotionally deranged that it begins to affect the clarity of their thinking. And they reach a point – and he did – where they don’t see and hear the same things the rest of us do.”

The defense attorney pointed out that DeSoto’s act could be construed as premeditated based on DeSoto storing seven knives in his car. Blinder agreed that the act of collecting knives was pre-meditated but he said it was “psychotic pre-meditation.”

“People who are psychotic are capable of planning, but their planning is as psychotic as the rest of them. What’s he going to do with these knives? Throw them at people? And at which people? ... There’s no rational element to his planning,” Blinder said. “You have to look at the quality of that planning and if it is rational.” Further, Blinder was asked by the defense to review the diagnoses made by Kim and Dr. Karen Fukutaki. Blinder said Kim, who testified that DeSoto seemed normal based on his evaluation, didn’t have Acasio’s narrative. Blinder added that it was possible Kim had run into a “wall” with DeSoto and apparently took DeSoto’s mental state as it was two weeks after the incident as consistent with what had happened at the time.

Blinder also said he and Fukutaki agreed that DeSoto suffered from depression but said if DeSoto was schizophrenic, he would “probably still be much more psychotic than he is now.”

Blinder was the last witness the defense called for its case in chief. The trial resumes today, as the prosecution is expected to call about four more rebuttal witnesses, including FBI Agent Blake Anderson, Leitheiser and DOC personnel.

DeSoto, 22, is on trial for allegedly driving his car along a sidewalk in Tumon on Feb. 12, 2013, hitting pedestrians with his car and stabbing several people, killing three and injuring 11. DeSoto pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness, disease or defect to three counts of aggravated murder and 11 counts of attempted aggravated murder, both as first-degree felonies and attached with special allegation of possession and use of a deadly weapon.

Guam mourns Pangelinan

Wednesday, 09 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

Sen. Vicente ''Ben'' Pangelinan died yesterday morning after serving for two decades in the Guam Legislature. Variety file photo

GUAM is mourning the loss of Sen. Vicente “Ben” Pangelinan who died yesterday morning.

Gov. Eddie Calvo declared Guam to be in a state of mourning to honor the life of the 10-term member and former speaker of the Guam Legislature. The cause of death was not given, but Pangelinan had said he was being treated for cancer in recent months.

The news of Pangelinan’s death evoked an outpouring of emotion from both sides of the political spectrum, as differences were set aside to honor the late senator.

“This is a sad day for Guam. Sen. Pangelinan was a fighter. He devoted his entire life to serving our island as a watchtower for clean government. I respect the man and I will miss him," Calvo said.

The loss was felt at the Guam Legislature, where Pangelinan served for 20 years. His service began in the 22nd Guam Legislature in 1993 and continued – with the exception of the 28th Guam Legislature – until the 32nd Guam Legislature, in which he served as chairman of the committee on appropriations.

He was speaker of the 27th Guam Legislature.

“Speaker Pangelinan was a true leader and genuine statesman who worked hard for the people of Guam,” said Speaker Judith T. Won Pat. “He was a dear friend and mentor and I am deeply saddened by the news of his passing. I send my sincerest condolences to his family. ”

Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo said she is "deeply saddened by the passing of Pangelinan,” noting he was a dedicated public servant who worked diligently to improve the island.

"As a 10-term senator and former speaker of the Guam Legislature, he championed many issues for our families and fought for his convictions. He was a tireless advocate for Chamorro self-determination and he was a careful steward of our public funds. I was honored to work with him throughout his career and will deeply miss his friendship," she said. “Our island has lost a great statesman and leader. I join the people of Guam in honoring Ben's service to our island and remembering his many contributions to our community. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, loved ones and friends during this very difficult time.”

Across party lines

Sen. Rory Respicio, chairman of the Democratic Party said: "Speaker Ben was a true Democrat and a great senator. My condolences go out to Speaker Ben's family during this most difficult time. As a colleague, Speaker Ben was always a great example to all of us of what it meant to be a public servant. He was a man of ideals and not ambition. He believed in helping working families and those in need. He always fought for what he felt was right, even if it was not popular at the time. With Speaker Ben's passing, the Democratic Party has lost an outstanding leader, and our island community has lost a noble public servant."

Democratic Party Vice Chairwoman Nerissa Bretania Underwood said the late senator was a fighter for the people all of his life.

"Just as he fought cancer these past few years, he fought for an honest and accountable government. For all Democrats, indeed for all of the people of Guam, Pangelinan represented the power of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. His intellect and his service will be missed," she said. "While there will be thousands of official words of praise in ceremonies for the next few days, there will be many more silent words of praise uttered by the common citizen who felt the power of his service," she added.

Republican Party of Guam chairman Mike Benito issued the following statement on behalf of the Republican Party: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Speaker Ben Pangelinan. He dedicated his life to public service and fought until the very end for what he believed in. Guam is a better place today because of him. On behalf of the Republican Party, we extend our heartfelt condolences and prayers to his family.”

GDOE, UOG

The island's education department and institutions of higher learning also paid tribute to Pangelinan and extended their condolences to the senator's family and loved ones.

Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez said the late senator's commitment to public service and, in particular, to Guam's children and families will be sorely missed.

"On a more personal note, I was lucky enough to work for Sen. Pangelinan 20 years ago, and he has been a mentor and friend to me since then," Fernandez said. "When I was considering coming home to Guam, he was among the first people I called for his advice and perspective, and he was among the very first to offer me his public support. Whether we agreed or disagreed on issues, it was always in the spirit of trying to make Guam a better place. I will miss his leadership and dedication to our island and our children."

The University of Guam also joined the island in mourning, noting that the former speaker worked tirelessly for the island and her people as a senator for more than two decades.

"The well-respected leader and statesman was a strong advocate for higher education and the efforts of the university to fulfill its mission. He was also a dear friend to many in the UOG community who worked closely with him over the years," the statement read.

UOG President Robert Underwood, who is currently traveling, expressed his sadness at the news: "Speaker Pangelinan was more than just a supporter of resources for the university, he was a champion of sound government finances and an intelligent force for positive change. I knew him for several decades and my admiration for his insights, tenacity and sense of service grew decade after decade. The island will miss his voice.”

"The leadership at the University of Guam sends its deepest condolences to the family of Speaker Pangelinan and to his colleagues in the 32nd Guam Legislature. The university community is grateful for the commitment and dedication to Guam that Speaker Pangelinan has demonstrated over the years and will remember his legacy in public service," Underwood added.

Judiciary, OAG

Attorney General Leonardo M. Rapadas said the late senator was a man who passionately served the public for more than 20 years, gave a voice to the people, and will be remembered for his dedication and insight.

"From proposing legislation that has positively shaped the legal landscape, to sitting as the oversight chairman and handling the government’s budget in recent years, his stout commitment is evident and the toils of his work have touched the lives of all he encountered," he said.

Chief Justice Robert J. Torres of the Supreme Court of Guam said the late senator will be remembered for his expertise and foresight in public finance and government operations.

"Through his career in the legislature, he shaped public policy to favor transparency, openness, and equality. He is counted as an early and steadfast supporter for the independence and unification of the Judiciary of Guam,” Torres said.

Gutierrez

Former Gov. Carl T.C. Gutierrez yesterday issued the following statement: "My wife Geri and I are extremely saddened by the passing of Speaker Pangelinan. Ben was a great and passionate leader, and he loved the people he was honored to serve. He was not afraid to fight for what was right, and he never backed down, even when the odds were against him. For that, he had my deep respect. His death is a great loss to our island community, and I know he will be missed. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family.”

Retirement

Late last month, Pangelinan announced his retirement from the Guam Legislature, stating: “For 20 years, I have had the honor of serving the public with the love and support of my family and the willingness and courage to do what is in the best interest of the people of Guam. This year, I have put great thought into and consideration for my family and giving them that same love and support they have given me these past years when thinking about my decision for the future.

“In wanting to ensure I spend the remaining good years of my life with my family – enjoying them, living with them, serving them, and giving them the same commitment that I have given to the people of Guam these past decades – I have decided that I will be retiring from the Guam Legislature at the end of this term.”

Pangelinan was born in Saipan in 1956 and came to Guam when he was very young. He was raised and lived in Barrigada and attended San Vicente School and Father Duenas Memorial School. He held a bachelor’s degree in government from Georgetown University.

Island community grieves loss of Ben Pangelinan

Posted: Jul 08, 2014 5

 

 

 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - The island is in a state of mourning over the loss of Senator Vicente "Ben" Pangelinan. The Democrat lawmaker served 20 years in the Guam Legislature and passed away this morning. He was a man many considered a great statesman, passionate leader and dedicated public servant.

Attorney Mike Phillips says there are very few people like Ben. "It's an enormous loss for the people of Guam," he told KUAM News. Phillips was one of several island leaders and former colleagues who remembered Pangelinan today after he passed away this morning. Phillips remembers Pangelinan for the time they worked together paying cost of living allowances for retirees, he said, "With COLA, the same thing, Ben was tenacious he wouldn't stop I remember when he was designing the legislation, we were on the phone two or three times a day, he was always in the lead, keeping me on the loop."

Pangelinan was born in Saipan and came to Guam at a very young age. He grew up in Barrigada and graduated from Father Duenas Memorial School in 1974 before attending Georgetown University in Washington, DC with a bachelor's degree in government. At an early age, Ben showed interest in government service having worked as a staff assistant for Guam's first congressman Antonio Won Pat. Speaker Judi Won Pat says as an intern, Senator Ben would attend family dinners in DC and today remembered the softer side of Ben.

"Ben would always pick on me and joke with everybody especially when our colleagues were around him," she recalled.

Lawmakers were supposed to reconvene session today but instead senators paid tribute by sharing their memories of the late senator. Black ribbons were placed at the entrance of the Guam Legislature with a candle and wreath placed on his desk in the Session Hall and his chair draped with black ribbon. Won Pat says Senator Ben wasn't just a dear friend and mentor but a true leader and genuine statesman, saying, "Always reminding me to put the people first and that's what exactly what he did his whole life, as a public servant you look at his office and you see the sign and what does it say? The People's Office - it was never really about Ben."

Pangelinan served in the 22nd to the 27th and 29th through the 32nd Guam Legislatures. He served as the speaker in the 27th Guam Legislature and last served as the chairman on the Committee on Appropriations. Senator Ben served as chair on many committee and championed many issues that others did not. Along with cola, he led the fight on Guam's quest for self-determination, protection of our natural resources and our land.

Acting Land Management director and former Chamorro Land Trust Commission chairman Mike Borja says Pangelinan fought hard until the day he died. "Senator Pangelinan was a very big champion on Chamorro land rights here on Guam and land rights all together and his passing is very hurtful," he shared.

Many island leaders paid their respects to Senator Ben this morning at the Guam Memorial Hospital, including Governor Eddie Calvo. He said Ben, "Has served this island and he served it at 150% and he was working 'till his dying breath. What more can we ask from a public servant?"

Today Governor Calvo declared the island in a state of mourning to honor the life of Senator Ben. "He's a fighter - we may not always agree but one thing you ask for someone elected into office is to fight for your cause, Chairman Ben loved the people and he fought for the people and with that all I can say the island has lost a true Guamanian, a Chamorro patriot," he said solemnly.

For the past few weeks, Senator Ben was in the intensive care unit at GMH. He recently announced he would be retiring after this term to, as he said, "Ensure I spend the remaining good years of my life with my family - enjoying them, living with them, serving them and giving them the same commitment that I have given to the people of Guam these past decades." 

Ben Pangelinan was 58 years old.

 

Legislative session turns into emotional tribute to Pangelinan

Wednesday, 09 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

For the past two terms, Sen. Ben Pangelinan has chaired the committee on appropriations. Variety file photo

SESSION yesterday turned into an emotional tribute for senator and former speaker Ben Pangelinan, who has been a constant presence for 20 years at the legislature.

Pangelinan's service began in the 22nd and continued unabated until the 32nd Guam Legislature, where he served as chairman of the committee on appropriations. He was speaker in the 27th Guam Legislature.

An emotional Speaker Judith Won Pat led several senators in prayer after placing a candle on top of the late senator's now empty chair.

One by one, the legislators present offered their heartfelt condolences, setting aside the political and philosophical differences that have divided the body in the past and came to remember and honor the late senator.

Sen. Chris Duenas said: "I can truly say from the bottom of my heart, it is an honor to be on this floor and learn from a good friend, a good leader. Speaker Ben went doing what he loved the most, serving the people of Guam. Thank you for your service. You will be sorely missed. Thank you for all the lessons that you have taught me on the floor," he said.

An emotional Sen. Michael Limtiaco said: "It was truly an honor, in the short time that I was able to work with him, to see someone who had a good grasp of public laws and a passion for fighting what he believed in. I know that on the floor, Sen. Pangelinan and I disagree on many things. However, I always knew that he respected me and he always knew that I respected him deeply."

Strong passion

Sen. Dennis Rodriguez recalled the first time they met when the late senator ran for Congress. "Just listening to him, hearing him, we knew his passion was very strong in wanting to serve the people of Guam. When it was apparent that I needed some help, he would let me know what needed to be done. We know we had our differences on the floor. But at the end of the day, we always knew that the interest was for the betterment of our island, the betterment of our people," he said.

Sen. Tina Muña-Barnes, her voice cracking, said the late senator was the man who always fought for the Chamorro people, always fought to protect the land, always making sure that the island people were first. 

"He was the man who taught us to never give up the fight," she said.

Sen. Michael F.Q. San Nicolas said he is incredibly blessed for the opportunity to work with Pangelinan in his first term.

"When I first started here, I wouldn't have ever imagined how attached I would have grown to Speaker Pangelinan. The impression that a lot of us get, without knowing the man, is one of a strong leader who is passionate and dedicated. But when you get to know the man, something magical happens and you realize that not only is he strong and dedicated, he is also so committed to what he believes in and has a heart of gold."

Sen. Frank Aguon said Pangelinan came in at the legislature always prepared to discuss any piece of legislation and stepped up to chair the most difficult committee.

In honor of the late senator, Aguon suggested the public hearing room be named in Pangelinan's honor.

Sen. Tony Ada said he hopes that Pangelinan's work will always be remembered because he was a man of the people.

Sen. Tommy Morrison thanked the Pangelinan family for allowing a great leader to serve through his last breath.

The passing of Pangelinan has left a void in the committee on appropriations. The speaker notified the senators via email that Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz has been appointed as acting chairman of the committee.

  

Romeo Carlos to be on ballot, placement drawing tonight

Wednesday, 09 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Guam Election Commission certified all of the candidates who submitted petitions to run for office at their meeting last night, opting to accept legislative candidate Romeo Carlos’ name on his petitions, despite Carlos acknowledging that his legal name is Carl Gross.

The board’s legal counsel, Jeff Moots, said the term “legal name” was not defined by the legislature. “However, since (the legislature) did not define it and the commission has not in the past focused on it, I was instructed by the commission to look for the spirit of a name,” Moots said.

Moots said through his research he found two definitions for the commission’s review. “The modern way, as I pointed out, that the (United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit) cites is ... that it’s the name you are given at birth or the name you change through a court order,” he said. “I noted (it) would be consistent with a lot of other Guam statutes.”

Moots also said another old common law practice was “a person could use whatever name they wish as long as it wasn’t for purposes of fraud or wouldn’t infringe upon the rights of some other person.”

Voted to accept

Based on the definitions provided by the legal counsel, the commission voted to accept the names of the candidates as they appeared on the sample ballot provided by Maria Pangelinan, GEC executive director. The sample ballot included 31 candidates running for the 33rd Guam Legislature, including Romeo Carlos, named on the ballot as “Romeo Carlos.”

In light of the recent discussion among the election commissioners over the legal name of candidates, three other senatorial candidates wrote to the election commission to have their names changed on the ballot to names they are commonly known as.

Valentino Perez requested to include his mother’s family name “Gumataotao” in his name on the ballot, despite it not being part of his name on his driver’s license. James Espaldon requested his name appear as “Jim Espaldon” on the ballot. Vicente A. Ada requested his name appear as “Tony Ada” on the ballot and Romeo Carlos wrote to GEC requesting his name be printed as “Romeo Carlos” on the ballot.

The board approved all of the requests regarding the candidates’ names. Other candidates who wish to change their name before the ballot placement drawing tonight will have the opportunity to submit their request to the GEC for its approval by 4 p.m. today.

With the ratification of candidates complete, the commission will continue with the election process, drawing ballot placement tonight and purchasing new tabulation equipment for the Aug. 30 primary election.

     

First psychiatrist testifies

Tuesday, 08 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY GINA TABONARES-REILLY | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

 ‘DeSoto appeared normal and sane’

THE first psychiatrist who evaluated the mental state of Chad Ryan DeSoto in March 2013 testified yesterday that the defendant was legally sane when he allegedly killed three tourists and injured 11 others on the night of Feb. 12, 2013 in Tumon.

Dr. Michael Kim, a Guam Naval Hospital psychiatrist, was the court-appointed forensic expert who examined the mental state of the defendant who has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder charges due to insanity.

Kim said DeSoto showed a lot of depressive symptoms during his examination but did not exhibit any psychotic symptoms.

“He’s competent to stand trial, he understands the wrongfulness of his actions and he is able to understand what he did was wrong ... and he can control his actions,” Kim stated in the conclusion of his two-hour evaluation of DeSoto on March 7, 2013.

The psychiatrist explained that during the interview, DeSoto provided scattered information, hesitated to give details about the Tumon tragedy but looked normal and articulated well.

Kim said every time he asked about the incident, DeSoto would pause and look at the wall blankly and when he asked him about the events that led to the incident, the defendant told him it was not premeditated.

“I asked him, ‘What makes you think that I implied that it was premeditated?’ and then he looked at me and tried to gauge my facial expression. Then he looked down. Then he refused to answer further questions as I kind of kept taunting him, asking him. He stopped. So I tried to ask him with another (line) of questioning,” the witness said.

Hearing voices

The psychiatrist said DeSoto mentioned to him that he was hearing voices telling him to hurt himself or to just go to sleep, and that he had a long history of depression that went untreated but did not disclose that he was on and off Prozac.

What was remarkable, according to Kim, was the finding that DeSoto was bullied considerably, verbally and physically abused by his parents, and generally did not have a good relationship with his parents.

The psychiatrist said there is no question when it comes to the competency of the defendant to stand trial because he asked DeSoto if he understood the attorneys, the role of the judge and the whole process in the court.

He added that DeSoto acknowledged to him that what he did was wrong.

Incomplete

But Public Defender Eric Miller pointed out that Kim’s evaluation was incomplete and Kim was not provided a lot of information such as the defendant’s paranoia about the rain and the eight-hour Skype conversation with his girlfriend.

Kim admitted it would have been helpful to have more interviews with the defendant.

Kim said he read some information from the reports of the two other forensic psychiatric experts, Dr. Karen Fukutaki and Dr. Martin Blinder, who had some additional information.

“When I interviewed him I was actually surprised how the defendant was well put together and without the information I read from the other reports I cannot indicate the psychotic status,” Kim said.

With the additional information he read from the reports of the two other experts citing some mental issues, Kim was asked by the defense if he is certain about his initial evaluation.

Kim said he was not really certain, citing other information he read that the defendant understood that the act itself was wrong.

“It seems that when he spoke to his girlfriend something to the effect of ‘forgive me for what I’m going to do tonight and you’ll find out’ ... something to that effect, which leads me to believe when I read that there was some forethought about what he was going to actually do. And there were some statements about he had read that if he would commit some kind of significant thing, that he would buy a day with something, which, for me, points that there was a reason for him to do something, understanding that it is an atrocious thing to do," Kim said.

When Assistant Attorney General Gerald Henderson cross-examined the psychiatrist, the expert confirmed that DeSoto admitted committing the alleged acts out of rage and anger.

The psychiatrist confirmed that based on his experience, some defendants have a tendency to lie and exaggerate.

He reiterated that DeSoto appeared attentive, with good comprehension, articulated well and seemed to be in control of himself.

The prosecutor also asked the psychiatrist about “thought-walking” – a scenario where patients, when asked something stressful, would completely stop talking and lose their senses where they are and come back to reality a few minutes later and have no concept of what just happened.

Kim said that when he noticed DeSoto was thought-walking, he would change the kind of question and then the defendant would answer appropriately, inconsistent with the thought-walking episode.

Kim also told the jury that DeSoto used to smoke marijuana daily and tried different kinds of Spice several times.

He noted that DeSoto’s intellect was above average and he was competent to stand trial.

“Is it possible for someone delusional to understand what is right and wrong? Is it possible to control their actions?” Henderson asked. Kim answered, “Yes.”

Henderson revealed that parts of Fukutaki’s evaluation report stated DeSoto mentioned he grabbed the knives because he was afraid that some people would attack him, a sign of a self-defense mechanism.

Miller went back to ask the expert if the defendant ever indicated he had any grudge against Japanese or whether there was any motivation to harm the victims that was discerned during the interview.

When the psychiatrist said “No” and replied that the only reason he could see was the bullying and the treatment from family members, the defense lawyer asked: “Isn’t it a principle of behavior that people generally do things for a reason and when they don’t have any reason it may be an indication that it could be insanity?”

The psychiatrist answered “Potentially” but explained that he could not arrive at the conclusion if the evaluation was to be based on the plain information that he killed complete strangers.

The prosecutor went back to confirm with the witness that DeSoto did what he did to get attention out of rage.

The trial will continue today with the testimony of defense forensic psychiatric expert Fukutaki.

  

2nd psychiatrist: DeSoto ‘grossly psychotic’ during rampage

Wednesday, 09 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY GINA TABONARES-REILLY | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

CHAD Ryan DeSoto was grossly psychotic when he allegedly committed the crimes for which he is on trial, according to the forensic psychiatrist who testified yesterday during the trial of the man who is claiming mental illness when he killed three tourists and hurt 11 others on Feb. 12, 2013.

“He was grossly psychotic at the time he committed the alleged act and was trying to kill himself without thinking about what would happen to others because he was thinking anybody who died wouldn’t really be dead. ... He had a sense that anybody who dies will be replaced by clones,” Dr. Karen Fukutaki yesterday said during her testimony.

“Because of Mr. DeSoto’s disorganized thoughts, delusional thinking and lack of reality, he didn’t understand what he was doing. He didn’t understand that when he stabbed the victims they will be permanently dead because his belief was they would come back. He also believed that these people were trying to hurt him,” said Fukutaki, who is from Denver.

Fukutaki, a forensic psychiatry expert for almost two decades, evaluated DeSoto for more than two hours on Nov. 2, 2013 at the Department of Corrections facility and concluded that the defendant had a psychotic disorder as shown in his paranoia, disorganized thinking, bizarre delusional thoughts and schizophrenia.

She said analyzing the ages of the victims, ranging from an infant to an 80-year-old grandmother and a pregnant woman, “a person who is thinking logically would not have any reason to think that they would pose any threat.”

Depressive disorder

According to Fukutaki, DeSoto had been suffering from persistent depressive disorder that developed over time but was left unattended.

“He told me that he’s been suffering from depression for years and that his mother was not keen on (the) psychiatric care he felt he needed. He was prescribed with Prozac but was not allowed to take it and was never hospitalized,” Fukutaki testified.

The psychiatrist said the defendant told her what he experienced prior to the night of the incident, which she called “an increasing level of disorganization which are all psychiatric symptoms.”

“He’s been depressed for years, having confusion in terms of his thinking. He described being paranoid of people watching him. He had a number of delusional thoughts. He believed that if he ate rice, that every grain of rice would lead to his being lashed. He had thoughts that the color of the sky would change, that people are grouped either as individuals with converged status versus people underprivileged and he is one of the masses. He had delusional thoughts about his father,” she said.

“He was seeing things, hearing voices telling him to kill himself. He believed that if he killed himself or committed violence, he would suffer less when the world ended. He believed that his girlfriend had died and had been replaced by a clone. He believed his siblings were not really his siblings and had been replaced by some other entity. He believed the color red indicated he would be sacrificed when he died, that people can only be killed with spinal cords, and any else would live and will not actually die and only he would die,” she said.

Not guilty

In doing a sanity evaluation, Fukutaki said she believes that DeSoto’s symptoms were bona fide and ruled out malingering or faking symptoms of mental illness.

Fukutaki said the defendant had symptoms while in jail but the biggest evidence was the testimony of his girlfriend Reanne Acasio, who described the deterioration of the defendant before the crime was committed.

As for the question of whether DeSoto is not guilty by reason of mental illness, Fukutaki said she studied the Guam law on the insanity plea and explained that from what she understands, the defendant must meet at least one of the three prongs of the insanity statutes.

“One must have mental illness which is not secondary to the use of substance and Mr. DeSoto has psychotic symptoms as shown in the increasing severity as documented and testified by his girlfriend,” she said.

Fukutaki said that while she believes DeSoto does not understand the wrongfulness of his actions, he had some control of his actions and did not meet the third criteria of the Guam insanity statute.

“He did not understand the wrongfulness of his actions and he did not understand the consequences of his actions but he had some control,” she said.

Fukutaki said that while the defendant showed symptoms of psychosis in November 2013, she believes the best evaluation that could be taken was when court-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Kim, met the defendant in March – two weeks after the crime happened.

“He was in the best position to determine the state of mind of the defendant when he committed the crime. The ultimate question is: What was his state of mind at the time when he rammed his car into the building and stabbed those people? The farther way you get, it is harder; not impossible, but harder,” she said.

Kim, however, did not get a lot of information from DeSoto about his thoughts on the night of the crime because the defendant was reluctant to talk to Kim, thinking that Kim was part of the conspiracy against him.

Chainsaw

During cross-examination, Fukutaki confirmed to Assistant Attorney Gerald Henderson that DeSoto bought a chainsaw sometime on January 2013 and told the psychiatrist that he needed the chainsaw to protect himself.

The prosecutor also reaffirmed with Fukutaki the report of Dr. Andrea Leitheiser, former Department of Corrections clinical psychologist, who said the defendant hoped the police would kill him after he committed the crimes.

Henderson added that the stab wounds on the victims were consistent with the defendant’s delusion on how it is to die.

In his attempt to get more information from the expert on how the suspect would like to hit a prospective stabbing victim, the prosecutor requested the psychiatrist to step down and do a demonstration with him.

Fukutaki got down from the witness stand and was given a red marker by Henderson, who was then holding an illustration on a body and a head.

When the prosecutor told Fukutaki to mark the illustration with a stabbing motion, she refused and appeared surprised.

“I am a medical doctor and I can tell you there are places that I would think of as being potentially lethal. But this is not part of the training as a psychiatrist. As a physician, we are not trained to kill people in any form of medicine so I’m a little appalled that you’re asking me to do this. I would tell you about crucial areas or major arteries but I will not fabricate a level of expertise that I do not possess,” Fukutaki said.

The trial will resume today with the last defense witness, Dr. Martin Blinder, a psychiatrist from California, who was the last expert to evaluate the mental state of the defendant.

Senator Ben Pangelinan dies

Posted: Jul 08, 2014  by Sabrina Salas Matanane  KUAM

Guam - KUAM News has confirmed that longtime Senator Ben Pangelinan has passed away. Over the last several weeks he had been at the Guam Memorial Hospital's Intensive Care Unit. The veteran policymaker announced that he would retire after this term to spend time with his family. Pangelinan served in the 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 29th, 30th, 31st, and the 32nd Guam Legislatures.

Governor Eddie Calvo has declared the island in a state of mourning to honor the life of the late Sen. Ben Pangelinan. “This is a sad day for Guam. Sen. Pangelinan was a fighter. He devoted his entire life to serving our island as a watchtower for clean government. I respect the man, and I will miss him," Governor Calvo said.

     

DPW: $46M needed for buildup

Tuesday, 08 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Department of Public Works, in its review of the draft supplemental environmental impact statement, reported it would need approximately $46 million to operate under the conditions set out in the SEIS.

Carl Dominguez, DPW director, indicated this budgetary concern in a document submitted to the Joint Program Office Forward and to Mark Calvo, director of the military buildup at the Office of the Governor.

According to Dominguez, a major impact that was not discussed in the draft SEIS is the budgetary requirement for GovGuam as a whole and for DPW as it directly and indirectly relates to the major infrastructure buildup.

"The deficiencies not provided for within the draft SEIS is the lack of funding source to be provided by whom and for how much," he said.

Dominguez emphasized that DPW is charged with the responsibility of providing six essential services to the public, namely; public safety, public health, transportation, highway maintenance, government-wide support and capital improvement projects.

He said the study does not provide a cost analysis as it relates to GovGuam. However, the study mentions a list of what needs to be done but did not provide a cost impact to determine overall budget needs.

Using a conservative approach, Dominguez said DPW projected expenditures at a minimum of $46 million, covering operational costs necessary to keep up with the requirements of the civilian-military buildup.

Included in the projected $46 million are several cost categories, including fuel, maintenance of public streetlights, acquisition of additional school buses to transport new students, and capital purchases for the maintenance and construction of roads, among others.

Of the $46 million projection, DPW allocates $31.12 million for capital outlay, $9.2 million for personnel and $345,000 for the installation of 500 new streetlights.

"The budgetary issue is a major concern for DPW. Currently, DPW is given a bare-bones budget for our operations for the past and current year," Dominguez said in the letter.

Roadways

The draft SEIS mentions several critical construction projects as well as impacts to the traffic flow on island.

According to the draft SEIS, construction of improvements to the terrestrial highway system are required to provide mission-critical transportation infrastructure as part of the planned construction, training and operations associated with the proposed military relocation.

Moreover, the study indicated that the Guam roadway network must be able to accommodate increased traffic resulting from the proposed relocation of approximately 5,000 Marines with approximately 1,300 dependents to Guam once “steady-state” population in-migration conditions are in place after 2028.

During the construction period, the draft SEIS said "the temporary increase in the civilian labor force for construction and related activities would place further demand on the Guam roadway network."

      

First Ninth Circuit Court hearing on Guam set

Monday, 07 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY GINA TABONARES-REILLY | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

Davis class-action voting discrimination appeal among three to be heard

FOR the first time, the Unites States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on Guam in August and the historic event will be open to the public.

Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood, of the District Court of Guam, announced that on Aug. 27 at 10 a.m. the Ninth Circuit judges will hear arguments on one criminal and two civil cases in the fourth-floor courtroom of the District Court of Guam courthouse.

According to the Tydingco-Gatewood, no hearings of the Court of Appeals have ever been conducted on Guam.

The proceeding will be streamed on the Internet for viewing by the public and media will be allowed to record, broadcast and take still photographs provided they will file an application beforehand.

The cases that will be heard are:

  • USA v. Melvin Diaz – Melvin Diaz is appealing his jury conviction and sentence for allegedly traveling from Guam to Rota in 2010 with intent to engage in sexual activity with a 14-year-old minor;

  • Arnold Davis v. Guam – Arnold “Dave” Davis on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, is appealing the District Court's dismissal of his action alleging discrimination in the voting process by Guam and by Guam officials in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The case is filed in relation to the proposed Guam political-status plebiscite, which he contends is open to Chamorros only; and

  • Guam Industrial Services v. Zurich American Insurance Co. – Guam Industrial Services Inc. which does business as Guam Shipyard, is appealing the District Court's judgment in favor of Zurich American Insurance Co. and Starr Indemnity and Liability Co. in Guam Shipyard’s insurance coverage action arising from the sinking of a drydock it owned. The shipyard case stemmed from the sinking of its drydock on Jan. 2, 2011 at the height of a high surf advisory issued by the National Weather Service.

    Tydingco-Gatewood had ruled in favor of the insurance companies after the court concluded that Guam Shipyard breached the insurance policy by failing to get the drydock certified by the U.S. Navy. The company is trying to collect $646,643 from its insurer, according to Variety files.

    According to the Ninth Circuit calendar, each side will be given 15 minutes to present their arguments during the proceedings.

    The court, however, did not disclose which circuit judges will be coming to hear the historic court proceedings.

     

    Bill seeks economic impact statement on wage hike

    Saturday, 05 Jul 2014 03:00am

    BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

of an independent economic impact statement relative to the minimum wage on Guam. Variety file photo

SEN. Aline Yamashita has introduced Bill 376, which would require the completion of an independent economic impact statement relative to the minimum wage on Guam.

The bill would require the labor director 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 the senator's office, "In light of the deliberation relative to the minimum wage increase, the desire for an independent economic assessment study was clear. This measure is introduced to ensure that such an economic study is completed."

The study will, at a minimum, detail the impact of the small business community, their employees, and their budgets. As well, this study will detail the impact of the wage earner, their buying power, and their job security and job retention," Yamashita said.

The Guam Legislature recently passed a substituted version of the Bill 316 – a compromise version of the legislation which proposes to increase the current minimum wage of $7.25 to $8.25 an hour by Jan. 1, 2015.

Bill 316, authored by Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz, gathered 13 yes votes from both sides of the political spectrum.

The compromise version of the bill seeks an immediate $1 increase by 2015 but struck out a provision requiring an independent economic assessment.

 

The US Immigration Party

Saturday, 05 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY RICHARD W. HAMLIN

To visualize the immigration system, imagine the United States as a big house party.”

EN EDITOR’S error in last week's column mistakenly attributed the acronym USCIS to "US Customs and Immigration Service." This error confused two very different agencies, Customs and Border Protection and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, but drew attention to the complication of our immigration system. Since 9/11 and the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the agency known as Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) no longer exists. Instead, immigrants and their advocates must understand at least five different agencies that play a role in U.S. immigration policy and enforcement.

To visualize the immigration system, imagine the United States as a large house party. U.S. Citizens could be described as the house owners, entitled to live in the house and extend invitations to immediate relatives to join the party. Unfortunately the invitations are not always immediately available, invitees must often wait years for their petition priority date to become current. The wait time to enter depends upon the closeness of the family relationship and the immigrant's country of origin.

"Green card" holders, also known as Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) or immigrants, can be visualized as long-term renters in the house. They may indefinitely renew their "lease" to stay in the U.S., and do so in ten year increments, but are subject to certain conditions upon their residence. If they violate the lease terms, such as by committing an aggravated felony, they may be evicted through removal proceedings. LPRs must also be careful not to abandon their lease by staying outside the U.S. for too many consecutive months, or they may find the key to the door changed and their "green card" revoked. After renting for long enough, LPRs may naturalize and become full-fledged citizens.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) could be thought of as the house party's bespectacled door man. Do not attempt to tip the door man. Anyone seeking to enter the U.S., including U.S. Citizens, must be inspected. All guests must present their invitations and only those with valid visas, green cards or passports may enter. CBP enforces a dress code, certain criminal convictions and terrorist affiliations are strictly forbidden. CBP maintains extensive notes and a "blacklist" of inadmissible or previously removed applicants for entry, but can also exercise discretion to admit otherwise inadmissible guests, such as through Guam's parole policy for Russian tourists. Instead of affixing a wrist band, CBP will stamp a guest's passport.

Aliens holding temporary stay visas, also known as non-immigrants, are short-term party guests. Their visa constitutes the party invitation and defines how long they may stay and what they may do once inside. For example, B category tourist visa holders are not allowed to work, but are permitted multiple entries for no more than six months at a time. Unauthorized employment is a violation of status that can result in immediate invalidation of the visa, removal from the U.S. and a bar to re-entry. Some invitations include a "plus one," known as a derivative visa for accompanying children or spouses. A few lucky non-immigrants are on the standing guest list (known as the visa waiver program) and do not need to present a visa, the must only show their passport from a certain pre-approved country.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are the burly security staff roaming the halls of America. They may investigate work-sites and check for belligerent or debauched guests. Those in violation of status and uninvited party crashers are given the boot through different types of removal proceedings. Knowing the bouncers won't help one get into this party.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may be the party's emcee. Their goal is to keep the party moving by processing visa petitions and adjudicating adjustments of status within the U.S. If guests inside the U.S. want to extend their stay or change their visa category, they must submit their application to USCIS. The emcee is very busy, consequently applications can take months or even years for approval to be announced.

Any good party takes work and supplies, and the butler known as the Department of Labor (DOL) ensures the U.S. economic supplies stay stocked and appropriately distributed. If US citizens are not able to fill all the jobs needed, DOL may certify a position as being available for an employment visa, such as for an H-2B temporary worker. While most of the United States must go through the U.S. DOL petition process in Washington, D.C., Guam has the privilege of administering its own labor certifications through the Guam DOL in Hagåtña.

Department of State (DOS) officers are the snobby party promoters located in the embassies and consulates far beyond the U.S. border. DOS is in charge of interviewing and distributing visas to applicants located outside the United States. Certain visa applications (such as for employment) must first have a USCIS referral before DOS will even consider it. Other visa applicants, such as for a B category tourist visa, may apply directly with DOS. DOS judgment is strict and non-reviewable, they don't hand out party invitations to "temporary" guests who interview whilst carrying a tent.

Immigration lawyers are the life of the party, we make the right introductions and keep everyone happy. Good immigration attorneys apply their esoteric knowledge to ensure every client receives an invitation. We can chime in when an interview conversation becomes too pedantic, and even clean up otherwise good guests that become a bit sloppy in their immigration status. Call us if ICE is giving problems or if CBP doesn't want to open the door – we have keys to the VIP entrance.


Richard Hamlin maintains an international law practice devoted exclusively to immigration and business matters. Readers are invited to contact the Hamlin Law Firm for a complimentary consultation.

The financial misdirection: Fiscal ‘13 $28M single-year deficit

Thursday, 03 Jul 2014 03:30am

BY SEN. BEN PANGELINAN

I HAVE continued to push for financial transparency and accountability in our government given the relentless issuance of press releases coming from the executive branch about their claimed financial prowess and GovGuam’s supposed continued financial successes. The GovGuam audited financial statements for fiscal 2013 were released this past Tuesday and the results are far from the governor’s statements during his State of the Island Address of a surplus.

GovGuam posted a $28 million single-year general fund deficit in fiscal year 2013. This is a $28 million single-year deficit even when GovGuam collected its highest revenues in GovGuam history. This is even before the implementation of the Hay Study pay raises, the law enforcement retroactive payments executed in fiscal year 2014, and ballooning debt service payments.

According the Office of Public Accountability’s highlights, the draft general fund financial statements were provided on June 21 for a financial statement period that ended on Sept. 30, 2013. The OPA cited this was the most delayed submission of financial data in more than 12 years. The OPA also stated there is a lack of regular financial information as a result of a breakdown in the financial management systems of the government.

The governor’s continued touting of GovGuam’s financial successes has succumbed to the harsh reality that our government finances are vulnerable, and action must be taken to ensure that tax refunds, debt service payments and operations can continue to be covered. Why would the governor continue to grandstand about GovGuam’s finances being better, when in fact, an audited financial statement for a period that ended over nine months ago on Sept. 30, 2013 shows a different story?

Is it an election year stunt? Maybe. How else would any governor be able to justify:
*The signing of a nonexclusive health insurance contract rather than an exclusive health insurance contract that would have saved taxpayers and GovGuam employees and retirees about $18 million this fiscal year;
*Payment of Hay Study pay increases for GovGuam employees totaling $15 million to $20 million;
*Retroactive payment of law enforcement pay increases totaling $20 million;
*Merit bonus payments back to 1991, which cost millions of dollars when the statute of limitations only requires payment back four years totaling almost $10 million;
*Authorizing tax credits totaling $256 million to Core Tech International Corp. for 50-year-old military barracks;
*Authorizing millions of dollars in tax credits to former Layon landowners using an over 30-year-old law that has never been used before;
*Spending taxpayer funds on a private law firm to appeal the tax refund permanent injunction so he does not have to pay tax refunds within six months of filing; and many other costs?

Just prior to the release of the fiscal year 2013 GovGuam audited financial statements, the governor vetoed Bill 309, which aimed at using excess, unanticipated Section 30 funds GovGuam was to receive to fill gaps in the budget – including funds to the Guam Department of Education, 20 new police officers for the Guam Police Department, new prosecution teams and victim witness advocates to the Office of the Attorney General and personnel costs.

In his veto message, the governor’s reason was that Bill 309 appropriated $22 million and that there were no excess Section 30 funds. The appropriation in Bill 309 was contingent upon GovGuam receiving excess Section 30 funds and did not specify any specific total amount to be appropriated, as the governor’s veto message suggests. In the same breath in his veto message, the governor announced there is excess Section 30 funds in the amount of around $15 million that GovGuam is expected to receive. How can a governor veto a bill because there are no funds, and announce that there are funds? This type of logic to veto a bill would baffle the mind of anyone and it is this type of politics and financial misdirection that needs to stop.

The people of Guam can rest assured that tax refunds will be paid as a result of the brave taxpayers that filed suit against the governor and his appointed finance directors to timely pay tax refunds. Although the governor continues to appeal this permanent injunction from the federal District Court, I am certain that his siege against taxpayers that continues to cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars will end in the taxpayers succeeding against the governor.

The people of Guam can also rely on the Supreme Court of Guam’s ruling in the tax refund declaratory judgment, which states the governor cannot take funds from the Tax Refund Trust Fund for operations. This is direct support from Guam’s highest courts that the people of Guam can rely on to ensure this governor, and any future governors, will pay tax refunds. We do not need any specific governor in office to ensure tax refunds will be paid. It is a court order and a mandate of Guam law.

As we move forward, I continue to urge the people of Guam to keep a close watch on the facts and do not be coerced or misguided to believe all that you read in an Adelup press release. It is apparent based on the misdirection of GovGuam’s finances that we cannot fully trust this administration with precious and important financial information.

Si Yu’us Ma’åse’

 

GovGuam audit shows deficit

Thursday, 03 Jul 2014 03:30am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

28M operating deficit for fiscal 2013

THE government of Guam’s operational costs last fiscal year created a $27.8 million operating deficit, which was reported in an audit released by the Office of Public Accountability on Tuesday.

The report also said the government posted a $2.3 million surplus at the end of fiscal 2013. Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks said the $2.3 million surplus recorded for the fiscal year is a result of the $30 million surplus from fiscal 2012. “(In fiscal 2012) we had a surplus of $30 million. This year, cumulatively, we overspent by $27.8 million. So what surplus do we have left over? $2.3 million,” Brooks said.

Entering fiscal year 2014, the government had a surplus of $2.3 million. Brooks said hypothetically, if the government were to overspend by another $28 million, it would then be facing a $26 million deficit as it began fiscal 2015.

The financial highlights of the audit report stated that several government funds contributed to the $27.8 million deficit, including the Department of Education‘s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) capital expenditures, which spent $32.8 million, and the Unified Courts of Guam which spent $6.4 million.

Brooks also said that because GovGuam is so large and encompasses many agencies, it is not as if one agency spent the most money. “The governor has authority to transfer monies back and forth if some agencies aren’t spending money and others are spending faster. A good example would be the public safety. They overspent by almost $12 million but cumulatively, other agencies underspent,” Brooks said.

Diligent

With three quarters of fiscal 2014 already over, the government would need to be diligent in its spending to ensure that no deficit is recorded come October, which is the start of fiscal 2015.

Brooks said the government’s antiquated financial management system does not help produce timely information. “Here it is nine months into (fiscal year 2014) and we’re just now giving information on 2013,” she said.

DOE ARRA funding

Troy Torres, director of communication for the governor’s office, said the increase in expenditures is not “typical overspending.”

“It means the general fund has a surplus,” Torres said of the $2.3 million in excess. Torres said the extra expenditures were attributed to the funds from ARRA committed to the Guam Department of Education.

GDOE had ARRA funds to use on projects that had been awarded in fiscal 2011, but the projects needed time to construct before the funds could be spent. “So while the cash for the ARRA funds were in the account at the time of the expenditure (in fiscal 2013), the revenues couldn’t be recognized to the expenditure,” Torres said. “Thus the millions in expenditure created an operating deficit in fiscal year 2013.”

Torres said the governor had to ask USDOE three times to extend the deadline for ARRA funds to be used so the funds could be used.

Torres also said the administration looks forward to maintaining a surplus at the end of fiscal 2014. “We track cash collections and disbursements all the time. We track revenues and expenditures all the time. The last quarter of fiscal 2014 looks great,” he said.

IT network weakness, unsigned lease agreement

In addition to the $28 million that had been overspent, the OPA released single-report audits yesterday, which included a letter to the Department of Administration director that detailed other deficiencies.

The audit, by Deloitte & Touche LLP, highlighted six matters involving GovGuam’s internal control that the auditors recommended be addressed, including an unsigned lease agreement, a network weakness and revenue that had not been available for use but had been recognized.

The first of the six matters of concern was the lack of network penetration tests by DOA’s Office of Technology. GovGuam did not perform any network penetration tests. Without the tests, the government network could be vulnerable to hackers or the modifying or viewing of critical information, the report said.

Additionally, more than $2.1 million was charged to the Customs and Quarantine Agency for rent, power costs and administrative fees. A lease agreement, however, was left unsigned.

The Division of Accounts had also recognized certain revenues prior to the revenues becoming available, the report stated. Auditors also found an issue with competitive procurement within the government’s fisheries and the Guam Energy Office.

“Of 28 non-payroll expenditures transactions tested, one, totaling $1,484,855, did not contain documentation to demonstrate performance with competitive procurement requirements,” according to the report.

Expenditures exceed record-high revenues

The government received record-high revenues of $610.6 million, according to the OPA’s report. Expenditure levels, however, exceeded revenues last fiscal year. Expenditures for line agencies, the legislature, the judiciary and subsidies to autonomous entities were $658.9 million.

Additionally, GovGuam has assets of $1.9 billion and liabilities of $1.7 billion. However $1.3 billion of its liabilities are long-term liabilities.

The audit also revealed that the government brought in $1.1 billion in revenues, a combined total from the general fund, federal grants, and other government funds such as the Chamorro Land Trust Fund, Tourist Attraction Fund, Territorial Highway Fund and the Territorial Education Facilities Fund that encompasses real property tax revenues.

Brooks said the government needs to invest in a better financial managing system and hire more personnel, a statement echoed in the report. This type of investment would “bring GovGuam into the types of financial reporting and online capabilities expected of a billion-dollar government,” the report said.

The independent auditors issued a clean opinion regarding GovGuam’s overall financial statements.

To serve Guam

Wednesday, 02 Jul 2014 03:30am

BY MICHAEL BEVACQUA

LAST week I helped organize an informational meeting at the University of Guam for those wanting to learn more about the potential negative impacts of planned military buildups to Guam. We had a pretty good turnout with around 150 people showing up to hear presentations from the groups We Are Guahan and Our Islands Are Sacred. Help and information was given to those who wanted to submit comments. Although some might criticize the event as being “biased,” in truth all details that were discussed and made available were all produced by the United States Department of Defense through their environmental impact assessments.

For those who take issue with what these groups are saying, their critiques all come from things the military itself is stating and claiming. The DEIS, EIS, ROD SEIS are all dense books published by the Department of Defense outlining what their plans are for Guam and what negative or positive impacts are foreseen. If you don’t like the contents of the book, don’t hate on the reviewers, save your chinatli’e for the authors and the publishers.

I have been a critic of any military buildup for years now. I have organized numerous events, written an innumerable number of blog posts and newspaper columns, and tried to find every possible way of making people think more critically about how increased military presence to Guam might have negative impacts. For so many people, believing in the buildup boils down to so many things that have nothing to do with the buildup. People support it out of feelings of patriotism, loyalty, fear and wanting to believe in the awesomeness of the United States, but rarely stop to question whether the buildup would actually be good for Guam. I sometimes try to give a metaphorical edge to this debate in hopes of helping people see the variables in a new light and make it easier to understand the need for criticism. Oftentimes this means turning to popular culture and using the structure of something familiar in order to allow people to see the local dimensions in a different light with less ideological baggage.

One of the more curious pop cultural buildup analogies I use comes from a 1962 episode of “The Twilight Zone” titled “To Serve Man.” In it we can see the need to look beyond the surface when considering the impacts of something like the military buildup.

In the episode, Earth is visited by alien life from another galaxy. Spaceships arrive around the world, with one parking right in front of the United Nations in New York. The delegates within the U.N. are abuzz with questions: What are the motives of these creatures? What are their intentions? What do they bring with them? What will they do to earth? In a speech before the United Nations, an alien emissary informs the people of earth that they, the Kanamit, mean them no harm. They have come to earth to help them, end famine, offer a new power source, and give them new technology to defend themselves. They invite humans to visit their world to begin a cultural exchange. He only asks that the humans trust their new visitors. When the emissary departs, he leaves behind a book. Some humans distrust this message and begin to translate the book that is written in alien characters. After a while they decipher the title, “To Serve Man.”

By the end of the episode, humans have begun to regularly leave for the Kanamit planet, accepting all the wonderful things their visitors have promised. In the climax, as one of the members of the decoding team is boarding a ship to leave earth, his assistant rushes to stop him. They have finished translating the book at last and she screams out to him, “Don’t go; ‘To Serve Man,’ it’s a cookbook!”

When I see the way in which the media and many community leaders try to argue the benefits of any military buildup to Guam, I cannot help for think of this “Twilight Zone” episode. They see the front cover of the DEIS or SEIS and read “To Serve Guam” and then go on to preach the glories of this magnificent buildup. They accept platitudes and try to weave them into beautiful ideological tapestries that are based on little more than the wishes of the rich and the losing hopes of the poor. Meanwhile, there are others who are actually working to decode and translate this massive and imposing text. They look at what is being proposed and the superficial nature of the cover and know this cannot be the entire story – there must be much, much more to consider. For them, this book is not something to be covered over with fake plastic golden tickets, but something to be studied because of how it might affect the island and its people.

There are those who hold aloft the pro-buildup banner and profess to know what it will portend for the island. They claim this buildup is something that will serve Guam. That the cover implies it will serve our needs and ultimately benefit us. Then there are those deciphering this text and with the decoding mantra of no impact funding of any kind actually set aside for Guam, they know that this buildup is not salvation. With the potential negative impacts it could cause, this buildup might as well be a cookbook, with a wide array of ways that our economy, political status, environment and society could be served up on a platter.

To serve Guam

Wednesday, 02 Jul 2014 03:30am

BY MICHAEL BEVACQUA

LAST week I helped organize an informational meeting at the University of Guam for those wanting to learn more about the potential negative impacts of planned military buildups to Guam. We had a pretty good turnout with around 150 people showing up to hear presentations from the groups We Are Guahan and Our Islands Are Sacred. Help and information was given to those who wanted to submit comments. Although some might criticize the event as being “biased,” in truth all details that were discussed and made available were all produced by the United States Department of Defense through their environmental impact assessments.

For those who take issue with what these groups are saying, their critiques all come from things the military itself is stating and claiming. The DEIS, EIS, ROD SEIS are all dense books published by the Department of Defense outlining what their plans are for Guam and what negative or positive impacts are foreseen. If you don’t like the contents of the book, don’t hate on the reviewers, save your chinatli’e for the authors and the publishers.

I have been a critic of any military buildup for years now. I have organized numerous events, written an innumerable number of blog posts and newspaper columns, and tried to find every possible way of making people think more critically about how increased military presence to Guam might have negative impacts. For so many people, believing in the buildup boils down to so many things that have nothing to do with the buildup. People support it out of feelings of patriotism, loyalty, fear and wanting to believe in the awesomeness of the United States, but rarely stop to question whether the buildup would actually be good for Guam. I sometimes try to give a metaphorical edge to this debate in hopes of helping people see the variables in a new light and make it easier to understand the need for criticism. Oftentimes this means turning to popular culture and using the structure of something familiar in order to allow people to see the local dimensions in a different light with less ideological baggage.

One of the more curious pop cultural buildup analogies I use comes from a 1962 episode of “The Twilight Zone” titled “To Serve Man.” In it we can see the need to look beyond the surface when considering the impacts of something like the military buildup.

In the episode, Earth is visited by alien life from another galaxy. Spaceships arrive around the world, with one parking right in front of the United Nations in New York. The delegates within the U.N. are abuzz with questions: What are the motives of these creatures? What are their intentions? What do they bring with them? What will they do to earth? In a speech before the United Nations, an alien emissary informs the people of earth that they, the Kanamit, mean them no harm. They have come to earth to help them, end famine, offer a new power source, and give them new technology to defend themselves. They invite humans to visit their world to begin a cultural exchange. He only asks that the humans trust their new visitors. When the emissary departs, he leaves behind a book. Some humans distrust this message and begin to translate the book that is written in alien characters. After a while they decipher the title, “To Serve Man.”

By the end of the episode, humans have begun to regularly leave for the Kanamit planet, accepting all the wonderful things their visitors have promised. In the climax, as one of the members of the decoding team is boarding a ship to leave earth, his assistant rushes to stop him. They have finished translating the book at last and she screams out to him, “Don’t go; ‘To Serve Man,’ it’s a cookbook!”

When I see the way in which the media and many community leaders try to argue the benefits of any military buildup to Guam, I cannot help for think of this “Twilight Zone” episode. They see the front cover of the DEIS or SEIS and read “To Serve Guam” and then go on to preach the glories of this magnificent buildup. They accept platitudes and try to weave them into beautiful ideological tapestries that are based on little more than the wishes of the rich and the losing hopes of the poor. Meanwhile, there are others who are actually working to decode and translate this massive and imposing text. They look at what is being proposed and the superficial nature of the cover and know this cannot be the entire story – there must be much, much more to consider. For them, this book is not something to be covered over with fake plastic golden tickets, but something to be studied because of how it might affect the island and its people.

There are those who hold aloft the pro-buildup banner and profess to know what it will portend for the island. They claim this buildup is something that will serve Guam. That the cover implies it will serve our needs and ultimately benefit us. Then there are those deciphering this text and with the decoding mantra of no impact funding of any kind actually set aside for Guam, they know that this buildup is not salvation. With the potential negative impacts it could cause, this buildup might as well be a cookbook, with a wide array of ways that our economy, political status, environment and society could be served up on a platter.

Chinese ships join RIMPAC naval drill with US, others

Thursday, 03 Jul 2014 03:30am

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

BEIJING (AP) – A Chinese naval squadron took part for the first time in the world's largest naval exercises hosted by the U.S. in waters near Hawaii, the Defense Ministry said.

China's participation in the Rim of the Pacific exercises is seen as an opportunity to build mutual trust amid tensions at sea with neighbors ranging from Vietnam and the Philippines to the south, to Japan in the east.

Washington and Beijing have been seeking closer military ties following an incident last December when a U.S. Navy cruiser, the USS Cowpens, nearly collided with a ship accompanying China's sole aircraft carrier in the South China Sea – the most serious sea confrontation between the two nations in years.

Twenty-three countries are participating in this year's drills, including Canada, India, Japan and South Korea. The exercises began June 26 and will last through Aug. 1.

A Defense Ministry statement said that the destroyer Haikou, missile frigate Yueyang, the oiler Yueyang, and hospital ship Peace Ark are participating. It said the squadron is carrying 1,100 officers and sailors, including a commando unit and diving team, along with two helicopters.

The statement quoted navy Deputy Chief of Staff Hong Xumeng as saying China's participation in the drills constituted "an important mission of military diplomacy" and a further step in strengthening China-U.S. relations.

"It's also a new development in exploring ways of strengthening friendly relations with countries of the South Pacific through public diplomacy," Hong was quoted as saying.

Never before

China has never before dispatched ships to take part in the exercises, although it sent military observers to watch the drills in 1998.

Chinese and U.S. naval vessels have rarely exercised together. Last year, China sent a guided missile cruiser, a frigate and a supply ship to Hawaii for a search-and-rescue exercise with the U.S.

This year, the Peace Ark will participate in medical exchanges, while the other ships are expected to join a maritime interdiction operations task force.

The exercises are held every other year and are the world's largest maritime exercises.

Frictions along China's maritime periphery have heightened the need for better communication and closer coordination with other countries' navies. Chinese patrol boats are currently involved in standoffs over clashing territorial claims with its neighbors in the South China Sea, along with Japan over disputed uninhabited islands north of Taiwan.

Earlier this month, the U.S., China and two dozen Asia-Pacific nations adopted an agreement to improve communication at sea to reduce the possibility of misunderstandings that could lead to conflict in the heavily trafficked sea lanes surrounding China, Japan and Southeast Asia.

‘Buildup to require more workers’

Thursday, 03 Jul 2014 03:30am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Department of Labor, in its review of the draft supplemental environmental impact statement, said that even with the reduced civilian-military buildup, construction labor requirements on island would entail an additional 7,500 to 10,000 construction workers, with about 75 percent of the workers coming from outside Guam.

Manny Cruz, DOL director, submitted comments on the draft SEIS on June 30 to the Joint Guam Program Office Forward and to Mark Calvo, director of the military buildup at the Office of the Governor.

The draft SEIS looks at the environmental impact of the construction and operation of a cantonment, including a family housing area and a live-fire training range complex, to support the relocation of approximately 5,000 U.S. Marines and their projected 1,300 family members to Guam.

“This large requirement of construction workers can be satisfied from pools of U.S. citizens located in Guam, the CNMI, other territories and the 50 states,” Cruz said.

In his letter, he also noted that the number of eligible journeyman construction workers on Guam is quite limited, both in absolute numbers for the region and because of the distance from the U.S. mainland.

Thus, journeyman workers from the Philippines and other Asian countries may be hired to work on Guam upon acquisition of an H-2B visa.

But Cruz said only 66,000 H-2B visas are issued annually throughout the U.S. and Guam’s requirement for construction workers alone is approximately 20 percent of the nationwide cap.

“That is the reason why Guam has been requesting for an extension of the Guam H-2B visa cap exemption that will expire on Dec. 31,” he said.

Cruz cited statistics in the draft SEIS, which mentions that the civilian workforce demand is expected to increase by a maximum of 7,031 full-time jobs in the year 2021 – 6,150 related to construction and 881 related to operations. Of the 7,031 jobs, Guam residents are estimated to take 3,058.

He said at a steady state by the year 2028, the labor force demand is expected to increase by 1,438 full-time jobs, all related to operations. Out of this number, Guam residents are estimated to take 762.

Workforce

Cruz also suggested considering pay and transportation incentives to attract labor-eligible journeyman workers from the U.S. mainland.

In addition, he said “there are pools of unemployed and under-employed workers on Guam and in the CNMI who can be trained, placed in apprenticeship programs, fill in behind journeyman workers for a time, and later become journeymen themselves.”


GDOE gets first clean audit in over a decade

Tuesday, 01 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Guam Department of Education has made a significant improvement in financial reporting and compliance with major federal program requirements during fiscal 2013, GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez reported over the weekend.

For the first time in more than a decade, Fernandez said an external audit rendered an unmodified or “clean” opinion on financial statements and the compliance audit of GDOE’s major federal programs. The major programs in the compliance audit include the U.S. Department of Education Consolidated Grant, Special Education, Head Start and the National School Lunch Program.

Fernandez said he is pleased with progress the department has made. “This is my expectation and an important indication that we are moving things in the right direction. Now we need to maintain this level of performance as we work to address other areas that will get us off the high-risk status,” Fernandez said in a statement about the audit.

Although the audit issued findings in procurement, non-appropriated funds, account reconciliation and fixed assets management, all questioned costs were under $3,000 as GDOE continues to put structures in place to aggressively address concerns.

According to Fernandez, the full implementation of the Financial Management Information System during fiscal 2013 played a major role in the audit. The new FMIS is used to process financial, payroll, human resources, maintenance, employee self-service, fixed assets and procurement transactions.

Results

“We are seeing the results of the investment we made in the new system and aggressive training of our employees to use it. This was the first year of full implementation and I expect that we will continue to improve our internal efficiency now that we understand the value of our system,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez also noted that GDOE accomplished this major achievement despite a large decrease in staffing levels which were down by 44 employees in the year, and with a decline in total local appropriations. GDOE’s local appropriations decreased by nearly $10 million, going from $230.6 million in fiscal 2012 to $221.3 million in the current fiscal year.

During the year, GDOE also exercised prudent financial management and controlled overall expenditures. GDOE’s expenditures totaled $323.2 million, of which $254 million were local funds and $69.2 million were federal funds.

Local expenditures went from $222.3 million to $254 million, an increase of $31.7 million primarily due to ARRA expenditures.

Otherwise, local operations essentially remained the same.

Fernandez said the release and outcome of the audit is welcome news for GDOE as the department prepares for a visit from USDOE from July 2 to 9 to discuss progress in addressing the high risk status.

“While there is more work to do, I am pleased with the progress we have made with our audit. We will share this outcome as part of our discussions with USDOE,” the superintendent said.



Airport receives $4.55M in grants

Tuesday, 01 Jul 2014 03:00am

PRESS RELEASE

GIAA) – Gov. Eddie Calvo and the Guam International Airport Authority are excited to announce the receipt of two multi-year Airport Improvement Program federal grants from the Federal Aviation Administration in the amount of $4.55 million.

The first grant award is the second to the last funding series for the rehabilitation of runway 6L/24R, phase IV. The amount of $2.95 million was received for the continued rehabilitation work on RW6L/24R. Nearly $12 million in federal funds has been received for this project and final funding is expected in fiscal 2015. The expected project completion is pegged for the summer of 2015.

The second grant award is for phase III of the installation of instrument landing system at runway 6L. About $1.6 million was received as the final funding for the ILS. This award is on top of $7 million that the airport has already received for the project, which has been completed with all components of the ILS in place and ready to support full activity on RW-6L after FAA flight checks have been completed in 2015.

“The airport has been working aggressively to secure all AIP grants and use our federal entitlements to improve and harden our facilities,” said Charles Ada, airport executive manager. “Once our primary runway of 12,000 feet is fully operational, our airport will be ready for even more business, especially long-haul service between Guam and the U.S. West Coast. I think we are all excited about the possibilities that means for us, our airport and our island.”

“These projects will mean more visitors can come to Guam, and the airport can work to secure more routes to and from our island,” said Gov. Calvo. “I commend the employees, management, and board of the Guam International Airport Authority for committing to a better, more modern, more convenient airport. This facility is the first and last impression our visitors have of Guam. I'm proud to be a part of a team that is putting our best foot forward.”





Barrett-Anderson files for AG candidacy

Tuesday, 01 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY GINA TABONARES-REILLY | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

RETIRED Judge Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson, the island’s first female attorney general, filed her documents for candidacy yesterday to regain the position she held for seven years.


Barrett-Anderson was nominated to be attorney general of Guam in 1987, and was confirmed by the Guam Legislature and became the first female to sit in the position.

While serving as AG, she established the Family Division within the Office of the Attorney General to strengthen Guam’s Child Support Enforcement Program. She was instrumental in the enactment of Guam’s consumer protection laws and modernized Guam’s notary public statutes.

In November 1984, prior to her appointment as attorney general, she was elected senator in the 23rd Guam Legislature and was re-elected to the 24th Guam Legislature where she served as the chairwoman of the Committee on Judiciary, Public Safety and Consumer Protection.

In November 1997, she was nominated by then-Gov. Carl T.C. Gutierrez to serve as judge in the Superior Court of Guam. She was assigned to the Family Court.

She retired from the Superior Court of Guam in April 2012.

"The attorney general is a public office that requires strong leadership and management skills which focuses on representing the community through good law enforcement, consumer protection and monitoring the work of the government to ensure integrity. I offer the voters of Guam my 33 years of service in all three branches of government to bring this kind of leadership to the Office of the Attorney General of Guam," she said in a press statement.

According to Variety files, Barrett-Anderson actually picked up a candidate packet for the AG position in 2010 but missed the filing deadline by two minutes.

Welcomed

Her bid to return to public service was welcomed by incumbent AG Leonardo Rapadas who was elected in 2010 over Frank Gumataotao.

“Liz and I and our families have known each other for quite some time and we have worked well together in the past. She’s passionate about the law as much as I am. I anticipate a very lively, competitive campaign, but one that will be filled with respect. I wish her well on the campaign trail,” Rapadas told Variety.

Rapadas, who is the former U.S. attorney for Guam, filed his candidacy on June 4 for re-election and said that he is seeking a second term because there are more things he wants to accomplish as AG.


NOAA awards UOG grant for fisheries research

Posted: Jun 30, 2014    by Joan Aguon Charfauros  KUAM

Guam - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has awarded University of Guam a $196,000 federal grant.

According to a press release, the grant is for age-validated life history using bomb radiocarbon dating in support of territorial science and bio-sampling of fisheries in Guam and CNMI.

According to Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, "this grant will help UOG      continue their efforts to be a leader in marine scientific research in the Asia-Pacific Region


Marianas Business Journal – June 30, 2014

King of the hill: Raceway owner develops hillside lots in Santa Rita

For many, Henry L. Simpson is a name synonymous with auto racing on Guam.

Solar-powered AC now operational on Guam and Saipan

Isla Energy, a renewable energy company in Guam, completed the installation of the island's first solar-powered air-conditioning units on June 19.

SDA Clinic partners with Taiwan Adventist hospital

TUMON, Guam - The Seventh-Day Adventist Guam Clinic has partnered with Taiwan Adventist Hospital to make the Taiwan facility and its international health care service a resource for patients in Guam in need of services not available on the island.

RIM Architects

RIM Architects is in the process of completing the Gloria B. Nelson Guam Public Service Building, the much-anticipated new home for Guam Power Authority and part of Guam Waterworks Authority.

Port enhances maritime and port security

PITI, Guam - On June 12, the Port Authority of Guam announced the completion of its Port Security Enhancements Project, which includes the $4.3 million construction of the Port Command Center and its Command and Control Integration System.

Port of Mocha to open fifth location

The Port of Mocha coffee shop is expected to open a fifth location at the Agana Shopping Center in early August, but owner Sanjay Dewan said that while the new expansion will be under the Port of Mocha umbrella, it may not necessarily be another Port of Mocha outlet.

New Guam Food Code to be implemented

The Department of Public Health and Social Services has begun implementing the changes to the Guam Food Code, which became public law in November 2013.

Military

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam - Brig. Gen. Andrew J. Toth assumed command of the 36th Wing at a change of command ceremony held on June 19 on Andersen Air Force Base.

Legislation planned to implement alcohol serving act

Legislation may soon be passed to implement the Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service Act, which was signed into law July 2013.

LEGAL BRIEFS

The justices of the Supreme Court of Guam issued an opinion on June 17, declaring that the governor's use of funds from the tax refund fund for government operations was illegal.

Down to the wire: BOS contractors asked to submit final proposals

As Naval Facilities Engineering Command Guam whittles down its prospects for the new Base Operations Support services contract, companies on the shortlist rally to determine who will be the final awardee.

Businesses debate proposed workers' compensation legislation

MAJURO, Marshall Islands - Draft legislation for workers' compensation sparked debate - including concern that it would lead to a rise in costs at retail stores - at the regular Marshall Islands Chamber of Commerce meeting on June 4.

Bakery makes sweet opening in Tumon

Sweet Delights Bakery opened its doors in March, offering the island a new selection of pastries.

Acanta to welcome Core, coffee shop and celebs gallery

In the weeks to come, the Acanta Mall will be experiencing an influx of new businesses to breathe some life into some of its empty storefronts.

NEWS FLASH! - Matson promotes Blas to regional manager

Matson promotes Blas to regional manager


RIM Architects

Sun, Jun 29th 2014

RIM Architects is in the process of completing the Gloria B. Nelson Guam Public Service Building, the much-anticipated new home for Guam Power Authority and part of Guam Waterworks Authority. The firm worked with GPA to design a 120,000-square-feet facility that is energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Construction is right on schedule, and the facility is expected to open in the fall, said Timothy L. Armour, senior vice president and managing principal of RIM Architects.

"It's moving the government of Guam workers out of these ancient 50-year-old buildings and into a modern building that is cheaper to run, more energy efficient, safer, and it's going to allow them to get more work done," Armour said. The firm went on a walk-through with the employees and "the level of excitement is just incredible," Armour said.

RIM Architects is behind such projects as the Hotel Nikko wedding chapel, the exterior facade of JP Superstore in Tumon and various military projects as well as projects on neighboring Micronesian islands. The firm takes pride in its sustainable designs and reducing costs for its clients as the years pass.

"We know what makes a building efficient. And we try to use all the tricks and experience we have learned in the past in our buildings. We can show how a little bit of investment in the beginning can save money for many, many years," Armour said. It is a requirement of all the principals in the company to be LEED-certified designers.

The firm has also been involved with the push for the island to adopt the new building code. RIM Architects engages in conversations with the fire department and building department regarding the building code and often advises other professionals on the code.

"This was a big step for Guam - adopting the new code - because the new code takes into account new building materials, new construction methods and improvement in safety over the past 20 to 25 years. We went from the 1993 code to the 2009 code. It was a big leap," Armour said. The code is supposed to be updated every three years.

RIM Architects Guam is one of four offices in the chain; other locations can be found in California, Hawaii and Alaska. The Guam staff includes 16 including four qualified architects, four intern architects, one intern interior designer, an engineer and other administrative staff. When the firm gets a project, the team determines what specialists are needed such as civil, mechanical or structural engineers and partners with other engineering firms to work as a team to complete the project.

"It's not just 16 people that get work; it can be 40 or 50 working on that project because of sub-consultants that we work with," Armour said.

Technology, such as file sharing, has made great impacts on the industry by allowing architects to consult with other specialists anywhere in the world. Such technology also broadens the client base to other parts of the world.

"That has changed the industry. Offices have become smaller because we're more efficient. We can work on projects elsewhere," Armour said. However, ventures with local partners are also cultivated and help support the economy, he said.

The firm is also in the same industry as contracting and construction. As a result the company does get a lot of small projects, with a few larger projects every now and then. The business has its "peaks and valleys," Armour said. "The industry tends to be feast or famine. And it's a struggle because you know it's going to happen; you prepare for it, but still it's tough when you don't have that next project lined up," he said. It's a challenge all in the industry face.

Roughly half of RIM Architects' projects are for the military. The firm was behind the designs of the Joint Region Marianas headquarters in Agana Heights, almost all of the U.S. Air Force housing in Japan, the fitness center on Naval Base Guam, the submarine training facility and Phase 2 of the old Apra housing, to name a few. The firm is looking forward to future work with the military.

"We're preparing ourselves for the military buildup. We're confident it's going to happen, and we're positioning ourselves to get our fair share of the work," Armour said. Preparation includes partnering with other companies in joint ventures to "bring a full complement of abilities" to be competitive.

"We're glad it's going to stretch out for 10 years. It's going to help us, and even if we don't win projects, the federal money coming to Guam will create optimism in the private sectors, and the developers and private sector investors will start building on their own. Even if it's not a military project, there will be plenty of private sector work out there," he said.

RIM Architects came to Guam from Alaska in 1988. The other two principals of the Guam branch are Christopher Woke and Phillip Noret.

"We've been on Guam for 26 years, and we're fully invested, and we want to stay here as long as possible. We do that by hiring locally and trying to hire people that are bringing fresh new ideas. We've got young designers here that are contributing to a new look and new feel. We enjoy that energy," Armour said.

King of the hill: Raceway owner develops hillside lots in Santa Rita

Sun, Jun 29th 2014

By THOMAS JOHNSON

Journal Staff

For many, Henry L. Simpson is a name synonymous with auto racing on Guam. As one of the biggest supporters and participants of the island's racing and motorsports scene, the Guam International Raceway owner has been working to shore up the island's racing infrastructure by reconstructing the raceway with a new professional Formula 3 race track (See "Start your engines: Raceway to implement design changes" in the June 16 issue of the Journal.).

However, Simpson is also putting together an infrastructure development project in Santa Rita that could be as big, if not bigger, than his work with the raceway.

Located on the hillside across from the former Smokin' Wheels track, Simpson's three-phase development project - which he has dubbed Buena Vista Estates - consists of dozens of lots that offer a full view of Santa Rita and Apra Harbor. Of the developed parcels, 28 are available for sale, as many of the rest have been sold in advance. Lot sizes range from about 1,000 square meters to 3,654 square meters with price ranges from $70,000 to $225,000 per parcel.

Simpson, who began the project in 2007 (See "Simpson is smoking ahead with plans to develop lots on Cross Island Road" in the Aug. 4, 2008, issue of the Journal), said that he became well-acquainted with the geography of the area while off-road racing decades ago, saying that off-roaders used to favor a trail that the Navy regularly bulldozed as part of its former guard perimeter.

"I used that trail as a guide while developing the infrastructure for this place," he told the Journal, "And part of the main

access road follows that exact route into the hills. There are about 100 or so lots in

total in this area, but it's difficult to develop all of them because the topography is so extreme. That's the plus and the minus of dealing with height changes this drastic. The lots offer us a great view, but building a road that would connect all of them was a real problem for us at first."

Simpson said the road-building problem was compounded by laws that require that residential roads be at a gentle enough incline for fire engines and ambulances to traverse.

In addition to installing roads, utilities, fire hydrants and other essential parts of the development's infrastructure, Simpson said that he is installing additional pumps to optimize water pressure for hilltop homes and firebreaks to control any outbreaks of brush fires in dry season. He also has plans to "terraform" the hillside soil to control erosion and make it more plant-friendly.

"One of the biggest issues in dealing with red clay like this is the erosion factor, and the inability to grow much in it," he said.

To deal with the soil problem, Simpson plans to implement a strategy used by Guam Forestry: acacia trees. According to Simpson, the trees provide a natural firebreak and reinforce the soil with their root structure. But the biggest advantage, he said, is that they have been used with great success to replenish depleted soil with nitrogen and vital nutrients. With those trees in place, Simpson posited that Buena Vista homeowners would eventually be able to maintain lawns and gardens of their own without having to import topsoil.

Simpson has been gradually introducing other lowland vegetation to the hillside and keeps a nursery filled with potted plants near the old Smokin' Wheels track. In addition to indigenous plants, he has also planted several small plots of acai palms and hopes to plant coffee trees when the soil improves. To further confront the erosion problem, Simpson said, hillside lots have been reinforced with terraced solid-rock bases and a special drainage system that is intended to completely negate erosion by slowing the momentum of runoff.

Simpson said the first phase of the project, which is closer to Cross Island Road, consists of about 30 acres which were bought and subdivided several years ago. The second phase of the project, which extends down into the hills behind the project and offers a view of the mountain valley, has also been partially developed, and several lots have already been purchased. Phase 3, which has been the hardest to develop, offers the most spacious views and is where the most expensive lots are located.

To date, Simpson has invested more than $3 million into developing the land. He said once the initial development and terraforming work is done, he plans to wait until the rest of the lots sell before he develops further. In the meantime, however, he has already picked out a lot for himself atop the highest point in Buena Vista next to the lot owned by longtime racing buddy and Cars Plus owner, Joseph M. Crisostomo.


Airport receives $4.55M in grants

Tuesday, 01 Jul 2014 03:00am

PRESS RELEASE

GIAA) – Gov. Eddie Calvo and the Guam International Airport Authority are excited to announce the receipt of two multi-year Airport Improvement Program federal grants from the Federal Aviation Administration in the amount of $4.55 million.

The first grant award is the second to the last funding series for the rehabilitation of runway 6L/24R, phase IV. The amount of $2.95 million was received for the continued rehabilitation work on RW6L/24R. Nearly $12 million in federal funds has been received for this project and final funding is expected in fiscal 2015. The expected project completion is pegged for the summer of 2015.

The second grant award is for phase III of the installation of instrument landing system at runway 6L. About $1.6 million was received as the final funding for the ILS. This award is on top of $7 million that the airport has already received for the project, which has been completed with all components of the ILS in place and ready to support full activity on RW-6L after FAA flight checks have been completed in 2015.

“The airport has been working aggressively to secure all AIP grants and use our federal entitlements to improve and harden our facilities,” said Charles Ada, airport executive manager. “Once our primary runway of 12,000 feet is fully operational, our airport will be ready for even more business, especially long-haul service between Guam and the U.S. West Coast. I think we are all excited about the possibilities that means for us, our airport and our island.”

“These projects will mean more visitors can come to Guam, and the airport can work to secure more routes to and from our island,” said Gov. Calvo. “I commend the employees, management, and board of the Guam International Airport Authority for committing to a better, more modern, more convenient airport. This facility is the first and last impression our visitors have of Guam. I'm proud to be a part of a team that is putting our best foot forward.”


Bills moved to 3rd reading, lobby looms against minimum wage

Tuesday, 01 Jul 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

LEGISLATORS yesterday voted to move six bills into the third-reading file during the first day of session, including legislation seeking to address the Merizo bridge construction delays.

Bill 355 as amended by the Committee on Public Safety, Infrastructure and Maritime Transportation, and introduced by Sen. Tom Ada, is an act authorizing the Department of Public Works to acquire property for the Merizo bridge reconstruction projects.

The measure proposes to exercise the government’s power of eminent domain in order to acquire about 240 square meters of private property needed to complete the Pigua and Bile Bay bridge reconstruction projects.

According to the bill, the reconstruction projects are integral components of the islandwide road improvement plan supported by funds from the Federal Highway Administration.

However, DPW said acquiring all the properties needed for the project has been difficult.

So far, the department has successfully negotiated the purchase of some of the required lots from private landowners, except for the final portion of land needed for a public right of way.

Technology

Three technology-related bills introduced by Sen. Tommy Morrison were also moved to the third reading file – Bill No. 317, an act relative to the crime of phishing; Bill No. 318, relative to creating the Computer Protection Act, and Bill No. 319, relative to creating the Computer Spyware Protection Act,

Legislators also moved amended Bill No. 249 into the third reading file. The measure, which seeks to reprogram $375,000 to the Department of Public Works for the paving of village streets and the repair of damage to village streets as a result of traffic diversions related to ongoing road construction projects, was introduced by Sens. V. Anthony Ada, Chris M. Duenas, Aline A. Yamashita, Rory Respicio, Tina Mun?a-Barnes, Tommy Morrison, Frank B. Aguon Jr. and Michael T. Limtiaco.

Bill 340, introduced by Aguon, which is an act relative to the transfer of Guam Department of Agriculture property to the Office of Veterans Affairs with respect to the boundaries of the Guam Veterans Cemetery, was also moved into the third reading file.

Bill 316

Meanwhile, senators are planning to tackle the controversial Bill 316, the minimum wage legislation this week.

In an email, Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association President Mary P. Rhodes urged GHRA members to attend session today "to stand in solidarity to fight the legislation, which has been amended as a 14 percent increase one-time increment to raise the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour."

"Although the $1 increase is not the three-year incremental increase as previously proposed, nothing in this substitute legislation holds any lawmaker from making additional changes in the very near future and it is not reasonable to increase by 14 percent," she said.

Rhodes said they are asking the senators to vote against this proposed bill and the substitute bill because the legislature should have an independent economic study administered by the Guam Economic Development Authority or Guam Department of Labor through a request for proposal before considering any wage increases.

Sen. Rory Respicio said in the interest of transparency and open government, he has released online all public testimony received on the bill as well as the committee digest for the bill.

He added that the public record will remain open for anyone wishing to submit written testimony.

Session resumes today at 9 a.m.



Land use commission approves wind turbine


Friday, 27 Jun 2014 03:00am


BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


GPA happy with decision

THE Guam Land Use Commission has approved the land rezoning application put forward by the Guam Power Authority for the Cotal wind energy project.


GPA confirmed that the commission approved the rezoning of the Cotal wind energy project yesterday.

According to GPA General Manager Joaquin Flores, this was one of the biggest hurdles for the start of the project.

"The approval was for conditional use, still forestry and agricultural, but restricted only for that wind turbine project," he said.

Art Perez, GPA communications manager, said the power authority released the bid this week with closing expected on July 7. After GPA reviews and awards the bid submissions, they expect construction of the wind tower to commence in August or September of this year, with the goal of completing the project by July 2015.

Perez said they are hoping to work on a partnership with Guam Community College for potential course work opportunities.

The wind turbine project is located in the Cotal region of Yoña on a lot under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Parks and Recreation.

The project is being funded by a U.S. Department of Interior Office of Insular Affairs grant amounting to $1.5 million, which will be used for the installation of a single 275-kilowatt wind turbine.

According to Flores, GPA expects this project to produce wind-generated power that can serve 25 residential homes.

Through this pilot project, GPA hopes to gain experience in the construction management, operation, maintenance, and grid interconnection of wind turbines.

More renewable energy projects coming

Friday, 27 Jun 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Public Utilities Commission last night approved a petition put forward by the Guam Power Authority for the next phase of the agency’s renewable energy acquisition.

With the approval of the petition, GPA intends to begin awarding contracts by mid-2015 with a target of commissioning a project within 60 months.

"We are very pleased. We think that renewable energy is a key component in our quest to move away from fossil fuels,” GPA General Manager Joaquin Flores said.

"The plan was always to implement 80 megawatts. We have done about 35 megawatts with two contracts that are undergoing," Flores added, referring to the renewable projects recently implemented by the power authority.

When GPA submitted its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) to the PUC six years ago, its intent was to include renewable energy resources in two phases. The first phase is the ongoing project in Dandan, Inarajan, with a combination of solar and wind power generating energy to serve more than 3,000 homes.

“This next phase will involve the procurement of more renewable energy technologies with a goal of attaining 40 megawatts to be included onto our power grid," Flores said.

According to Flores, GPA is not precluding any type of renewable energy. However, bids should be competitive, economical, and must pass the renewable energy standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Minimum

“These potential projects must meet a minimum of 5 megawatts and not exceed 20 megawatts per facility. Prospective proponents must provide minimum production quality guarantees and be responsible for costs associated with construction, location, interconnection to the grid, and other expenses,” Flores said.

“With current plans to include Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) as an alternate primary energy source, GPA is well on its way to shifting its dependence on imported oil for our customers,” he added.

Phase II of GPA’s renewable energy acquisition is consistent with the intent of P.L. 29-62 which promotes the development of renewable energy for Guam and requires GPA to establish a renewable energy portfolio.

P.L. 29-62 required the power authority to promote and source out portions of their power from renewable energy systems to decrease reliance on fossil fuel and also increase energy diversity.

According to Guam law, by December 2015, 5 percent of the net electricity sales on Guam should be produced from renewable energy; 8 percent by Dec. 2020; 10 percent by 2025; 15 percent by 2030; and 25 percent by 2035.


GEPA holds appeal hearing on Navy diesel fuel spill violation

Wednesday, 25 Jun 2014 04:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Guam Environmental Protection Agency board of directors convened an administrative hearing yesterday to tackle the appeal filed by Watts, Webcor, Obayashi AJV (WWO) in response to the notice of violation, or NOV, issued by the environmental agency.

GEPA issued the notice to the company for alleged violations committed to air pollution control standards and regulations and solid waste collection rules and regulations.

GEPA is charged with the responsibility of implementing and enforcing the Solid Waste Management and Litter Control Act as well as the Air Pollution Control Act and Air Pollution Control Standards and Regulations.

During the hearing, GEPA officials recalled that in February, a GEPA representative conducted an inspection of the facility, located at the new Naval Hospital Central Utility plant in Agana Heights after receiving an emergency response call from Naval Base Guam informing them a spill had occurred from one of the 10,000-gallon diesel fuel aboveground storage tanks at the site.

In a letter subsequently issued to WWO Project Director John Beccaria informing them of the NOV, GEPA noted that interviews conducted with the representatives from WWO and representatives from the Navy revealed that an equipment failure caused the incident.

Defective

Moreover, the letter noted “an official report of the incident made by Edward Moon, U.S. Navy, NavFac Marianas, to the National Response Center on Feb. 15, indicated that approximately 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel were discharged from an aboveground storage tank. The cause of the fuel discharge was from a defective solenoid.”

According to GEPA Administrator Eric Palacios, WWO also failed to notify him in writing of the start-up of the boilers located at the facility.

An issue about the start-up dates of the boilers was also raised.

“At no point throughout this entire process did GEPA issue an approval letter granting the operation of the boilers,” Palacios asserted.

GEPA said that WWO allegedly allowed solid wastes to be placed upon the adjacent property of the three 10,000-gallon aboveground storage tanks located at Central Utility Plant, Naval Hospital Guam.

Moreover, GEPA said WWO allegedly failed to test the fuel safety devices on each boiler, causing the release of about 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel to spill onto the adjacent property.

After the appeal hearing, under the advisement of the hearing officer, the GEPA board will deliberate on the proposed decision and determine whether to adopt it entirely or convene another hearing to gather more evidence.

Metcalfe hopes to use business background in DC

Wednesday, 25 Jun 2014 04:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

MARGARET McDonald Glover Metcalfe filed documents with the Guam Election Commission yesterday to secure her candidacy for the seat of Guam’s congressional delegate in Washington, D.C.

Metcalfe, a Republican, will be challenging incumbent Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo this election season.

Metcalfe said her business background is what will help, should she win and serve in D.C. “Our representatives, when they go to Washington, are normally selected to sit on different committees based on their background,” she said. “Well, mine is a financial background and normally, if you’re with the budget or finance committees, you have a little bit more input on where the money goes. And that’s where we hurt the most, because we do not have a voice here.”

Metcalfe said she was raised on Guam and graduated from the Academy of Our Lady of Guam before heading to San Francisco for college where she earned degrees in accounting and economics.

The delegate-hopeful said she worked with Bank of America for many years and is an accountant, an auditor, an industrial developer, a real estate developer and has a business in Silicon Valley – the Ave Maria Community Book Center. Ave Maria has been in business for 56 years, she said.

“I’m a businesswoman, I am not a politician,” she said. “I am a patriot. I am a loyal daughter of Guam. I am Chamorro. And what I’m asking of the Chamorro people, the Guamanian people, is the chance to serve them the best way I can and serve them so they get the support they deserve.”

Primary focus

Metcalfe said her primary focus, if elected, would be war reparations for the survivors of World War II. She said the man’åmko worked long and hard for reparations. “We’re in 2014. Our current representative has been there for 12 years and we still have nothing to show for it.”

“I think our local people deserve sustainable medical coverage,” Metcalfe said. “We can work things out with the buildup on the island and still maintain respect for our seniors and for our culture.”

Her husband and about 20 other family members accompanied Metcalfe yesterday when she filed for candidacy. The group walked together through the GCIC building in Hagåtña to the Guam Election Commission and played Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” on t heir way out

CLTC, ancestral lands inventoried and valued

Posted: Jun 24, 2014  by Sabrina Salas Matanane  KUAM

Guam - Calling it historic news late this afternoon the Governor's Office announced the completion of a 10-month process of inventorying and valuing leased Chamorro Land Trust and Guam Ancestral Lands. As a result of this comprehensive effort the leased properties were valued at $411 million.  According to the Governor's Office the $411 million was added to GovGuam's assets today thus creating an unprecedented massive ripple effect in the accounting and financial portfolio of the government. this includes,  having a major potential  affect on GovGuam's credit rating, currently issued bonds and future credit of GovGuam. 

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Gaming tax revenues not as anticipated


Posted: Jun 24, 2014 by Jolene Toves  kuam

Guam - Hopes for the revenues generated from the gaming tax law are not stacking up.

There were big expectations for the revenues generated from the gaming tax but since the first check was cut in October of last year Guam Memorial Hospital administrator Joseph Verga says they have only received a total of $373,000. "The revenues have not been coming in regularly in any scheduled time the last time we received any revenue from the bill was May 29th," he said. "So we received the $58,000 installation prior to that we have not received any revenues I believe since February."

Signed in Kuly 2013, Public Law 32-60 taxes gaming devices that were the subject of a five year old lawsuit and gaming activities, and diverts the revenue to the Guam Memorial Hospital to establish an urgent healthcare center. According to Verga however the amount of money they've received thus far isn't enough, as he said, "And the revenues have not produced the level of revenue that was initially anticipated we had envision having a lot more money in the account to set up urgent care right now then we do."

Verga has sought assistance from committee chair on health Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr who he says has assured him that he is working to remedy the situation, saying, "We haven't used any of the revenues yet as you know the revenues that we have received are all going to urgent care but since urgent care is not ready to be operational yet we are working on setting up urgent care."

Verga anticipates the Urgent Care Center will be operational in the fall and that the funds will be used to recruit the necessary staff and clinicians to work in the facility. 




DOA submits projected revenues from buildup


Wednesday, 25 Jun 2014 04:00am


BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


Stresses need for more GovGuam staffing

THE Department of Administration is projecting an increase in tax revenues as well as an increase in personnel requirements for government of Guam agencies and departments as a result of the military buildup.



DOA Director Benita Manglona submitted the comments on the draft supplemental environmental impact statement to the Joint Guam Program Office Forward and to Mark Calvo, director of the military buildup at the Office of the Governor.

“We expect revenues to increase. The draft SEIS shows that there will be a baseline increase at the maximum of $86 million with a decline to $40 million at the steady-state,” Manglona said.

Due to the multiplier effect, Manglona said they expect increases to gross receipts taxes, corporate income taxes, withholding taxes, and Section 30 funds as the buildup progresses.

“With an increase in the military personnel on Guam, there will be more money circulated from outside our economy. When military personnel spend their money in the local establishments, GRT and corporate taxes should increase. More sales equate to more taxable corporate income and gross receipts taxes that the government can collect,” Manglona said.

As demand increases, she said she expects more businesses to increase their workforce, and any increase in the workforce means more income taxes and more withholding taxes submitted to the government.

“We conservatively expect that for every dollar spent, the government would receive 1.3 times that amount in revenues. Additionally, all earnings that the military personnel accumulate on Guam will be taxed and remitted back to the government through Section 30 revenues,” she said.

She noted the military buildup plan also includes large construction projects totaling more than $8 billion.

Impact on personnel

The draft SEIS estimates a need for 130 new full-time staff on a government-wide basis to mitigate service population growth related to the buildup.

The number reflects a 2.9 percent increase over current GovGuam baseline staffing levels.

According to Manglona, the increase in staffing levels would be temporary, lasting from approximately 2021 through 2023. 

“At steady state, GovGuam public service agencies would require an additional 55 staff, an increase of 1.2 percent over baseline levels. These staffing level impacts would be dramatically smaller than those identified in the 2010 final EIS because of substantially reduced increases in the agency service populations,” she said.

Public education agencies take a big chunk of the staffing requirements, followed by public health and human services agencies, then public safety agencies, and then the Judiciary of Guam.

Agencies or government bodies with regulatory and permitting functions would also require additional personnel.

These agencies include the Department of Public Works, Department of Land Management, Guam Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Statistics and Plans, Guam Power Authority, Guam Waterworks Authority, Guam Fire Department, Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Department of Public Health and Social Services.

“It is projected that for these agencies, there will be a maximum need of an additional 28 staff which comes to a 25 percent increase. Although these statistics seem alarmingly high, it is misleading,” she said, noting the bulk of the additional staff is needed in the Alien Labor Processing and Certification Division within DOL. The division would require an additional 11 staff during the construction and development phase of the buildup.

For the other regulatory agencies, the maximum additional staff averages from 1.87 to 2, according to Manglona.



GHURA details possible impact of military buildup on housing


Wednesday, 25 Jun 2014 04:00am


BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


THE Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority, in its review of the draft supplementary environmental impact statement, warned that the military buildup may impact low- and moderate-income households, which comprise GHURA's served populations.

However, GHURA also acknowledged that any potential impacts will most likely only be minimal.

Michael Duenas, GHURA executive director, submitted the comments on the draft SEIS to the Joint Program Office Forward and to Mark Calvo, director of the military buildup at the Office of the Governor.

According to GHURA, it has reviewed the draft SEIS relative to the size of the buildup, the projected increase in population, the scope and pace of construction activities, the impact on the civilian housing market, and the impact on various community facilities.

Duenas expressed concern about the potential of the off-base housing needs of the civilian construction workforce to affect the availability of affordable housing for GHURA's served population.

"The conversion of typical, single-family housing to spot workforce housing would reduce the availability of affordable housing for purchase or rental," he said.

According to the draft SEIS, the workforce visiting Guam from other countries to support construction requirements would peak at 3,227 in 2018.

The draft SEIS also noted, based on information derived from Guam construction contractors and the Guam Department of Land Management, that there was "capacity to house 3,700 temporary workers in 2009. Since then, the two major builders of temporary workforce housing began construction of developments that could have ultimately housed up to 26,500 residents to accommodate the proposed military buildup."

However, the study said the "scope reduction of the buildup has in part led to a reduced number of units actually constructed to date, and some units that have been constructed were converted into affordable housing for permanent residents."

Ground transportation

The SEIS also looks at the environmental impact of the construction and operation of a cantonment, including a family housing area and a live-fire training range complex to support the relocation of approximately 5,000 U.S. Marines and their projected 1,300 family members to Guam.

The report indicates the construction of 535 family housing units in the Finegayan area of Dededo.

Duenas noted the potential increase of traffic within the designated location, noting the land being eyed for the preferred military cantonment/family housing is in an area with many low- and moderate-income households, many assisted through GHURA development activities.

He said Guam's roadway network must be able to accommodate the increased traffic resulting from the relocation of the Marines and their dependents.

Additionally, he said the construction period would cause a temporary increase in the civilian labor force which will put further demand on Guam's roadway network.

Competition

The draft SEIS reports that one-third of the 5,000 relocating active-duty Marines would be permanent-change-of-station personnel while two-thirds would be personnel in the unit deployment program.

Duenas said those under the unit deployment program will be deployed for a period of six months and unaccompanied by dependents. "However, there is no discussion of requirements to be housed on-base," he said.

He added: "Regarding off-base housing, the report does not provide details whether deployment to Guam will continue to be considered as an overseas housing allowance. This overseas status is favorable for reducing competition for affordable rents."



Lotte Hotel Guam to open June 30

Tuesday, 24 Jun 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

LOTTE Hotel Guam will open its doors next Monday, according to a statement from the hotel.

Representatives from the company were unavailable for comment yesterday, but the hotel company published the news online on June 19. The hotel had been expected to open last month, according to Variety files.

The Korean-based Lotte Hotels & Resorts Co. took over the Aurora Resort & Spa after it was shut down last summer.

The company calls its Guam hotel a 5-star hotel with prime beachfront property. It is located beside Hotel Nikko Guam in Tumon. The hotel has 18 stories, 222 guest rooms, and a multi-purpose banquet hall which can accommodate up to 350 guests, in addition to a conference room and three seminar rooms.

Lotte Hotel Guam will also offer a buffet restaurant called La Sienne, named after the river in France, as well as a bar and bakery.

An outdoor pool, a kids’ room and a 24-hour fitness center are also located within the hotel property.

Lotte Hotel Guam is the first of the hotel chain properties to open on U.S. soil. The company also has hotels in Japan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Russia and Korea. Lotte Hotel has leased the property it sits on in Tumon from Aurora Resort for 20 years, Variety files state.

Lotte Hotels & Resorts is the hospitality branch of the Lotte Group which is the parent company of Lotte DFS. Lotte DFS is the new operator of retail concessions in the A.B. Won Pat International Airport.

Fishermen’s group submits alternative fishing rights bill

Tuesday, 24 Jun 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

Sen. Rory Respicio, chairman of the human and natural resources committee, recently convened a status hearing on the proposed rules and regulations during which the organization proposed the alternative measure.

During the public hearing, GOSA President Tom Camacho submitted the draft bill called the Guam Fisheries Act of 2014 to the legislative committee. He said the measure was put together in 2010 by organizations such as the Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative, Marianas Underwater Fishing Federation and GOSA.

“All of the members came to the table and said, ‘you know we have to do something about this because the Department of Agriculture is running rampant.’ There is no direction. We need to put a council together to guide them, to show them where they should be going,” he said.

He said the bill provided an opportunity for the fishing community to get back to the table.

“Part of the reason why this bill came to light is that we were looking at opportunities to allow access to safe fishing areas,” he said.

After the legislature passed P.L. 29-127 in December 2008, the department was supposed to develop and submit the rules and regulations, in accordance with the Administrative Adjudication Act, to the legislature 90 days after enactment.

Still waiting

But since then, the legislature is still waiting for the Department of Agriculture to submit the draft rules and regulations for the implementation of the legislation.

The latest status revealed that the department has not touched the 21st version of the proposed procedures since 2012.

P.L. 29-127 also mandates that the department obtain advice and input at all stages of development of the rules from an Indigenous Native Resources Task Force comprised of 10 representatives from Chamorro grassroots organizations.

Although a task force was initially convened for the development of the rules and regulations, the department has yet to discuss the current draft of the rules and regulations with the group.

Respicio asked if the marine resource management council proposed by the bill can be the one to develop the rules and regulations for the law.

Camacho said: “I can guarantee that if you look at its composition, it allows the indigenous grassroots to come to the table. It allows the fishing organizations to come to the table. It allows the governor to appoint. It allows more people that will be invited in a public forum to make these discussions. We are not government employees so we are not afraid.”


Waterworks GM Martin Roush resigns


Tuesday, 24 Jun 2014 03:00am


BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


MARTIN Roush, general manager of the Guam Waterworks Authority, has submitted his resignation to the Consolidated Commission on Utilities.


Roush said he is resigning for personal reasons.

His last day of employment with GWA will be Aug. 24.

"I am proud of GWA and the work that has been accomplished over the last few years. I want to thank you all for your dedication and hard work. It was definitely your teamwork that turned GWA around. You are the ones who made the difference in getting GWA the A-bond rating and the financial stability it now possesses. You also gained the admiration of GWA," Roush said in a memo addressed to the staff at GWA.

Tom Cruz has been designated as GWA acting general manager.

Roush was appointed to the position of general manager in 2011 by the CCU. Prior to the appointment, he had been at GWA since June 2009 as chief engineer.

According to GWA, Roush has served as GWA's lead reviewer on the 2010 environmental impact statement for the military buildup, authored both the 2010-2014 capital improvement plan, and the GWA Production Enhancement Plan.

Moreover, as GM, Roush's accomplishments included meeting the first six months of deadlines in the stipulated federal court order, authoring the GWA Water Audit Program and Water Loss Control Plan, and authoring a Comprehensive Management Plan for the authority.




$6 million in tax refunds mailed today

Friday, 20 Jun 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

A NUMBER of residents who filed error-free income tax returns for 2013 can expect a tax refund check in the mail soon.

According to Department of Revenue and Taxation Director John Camacho, about 2,551 people will receive their refund checks for a total of $6 million, as long as they filed by Feb. 12 of this year.

Camacho said this batch of refund checks will be mailed today and cover a portion of the amount of refunds for people who filed by Feb. 12.

He added that some people who corrected their 2013 income tax returns before Feb. 12 could also receive a refund check in the mail but did not disclose how many residents will be paid this time around.

Businesses who filed 2013 income tax returns will also be paid with this batch of refund checks.

Camacho said DRT is working with the Department of Administration to get residents their refunds on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

The last batch of refunds was paid last month, when DRT revealed that $8 million would be paid to 2,230 residents. That batch covered residents who filed their returns by Feb. 10.


Guam Behavioral Health reveals challenge faced with CMS Certification

Posted: Jun 17, 2014

by Jolene Toves

Guam - The Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center appeared before District Court Judge Consuelo Bland Marshall to provide a status update on operations at the Center. As we reported last year the Center resumed control after Federal receivership and it is now up to GovGuam to come into compliance with the amended Permanent Injunction. Part of that Injunction is to receive certification from the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services or CMS by meeting the application and safety requirements. In court Director Rey Vega provided an update of where his department stands in the certification process and also revealed to Judge Marshall that they intend to also receive certification from the Commission on Accreditation for Rehabilitation Facilities or CARF which Vega says may be a better fit for the Institution. During the hearing Vega revealed the challenge the Department faces in receiving certification through CMS. Currently the Center does not have a Psychiatric Nurse or a credentialed Medical Records Administrator which is required by CMS. Vega says he is exploring the option of contract hiring on a short term basis to meet the requirements of evaluation and certification.


Washington firm connected to hacked accounts

Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

Bank fraud threat has passed’

ABOUT 1,500 bank accounts islandwide are estimated to have been affected by the recent bank-card data breach, according to Philip Flores, BankPacific president and CEO.

Flores said that based on his conversations with other stakeholders, he estimates the number of compromised bank accounts to be between 1,200 and 1,500 for the entire island. He added that BankPacific dealt with about 100 compromised accounts due to the recent breach.

In this case, Flores said officials identified a game-streaming company based out of Bellevue or Seattle, Washington to be the possible culprit behind the recent data breach. “The main conduit for the fraudulent activity is a game-streaming company,” he said. “They have voluntarily paid everybody back.”

According to a bank employee, the merchant was Steamgames.com.

“It’s stopped,” Flores said. “I believe the current threat has passed.” Flores also said the last person to report a fraudulent use of a card was on Saturday, but the bulk of reports indicated transactions occurred on June 8.

No money lost

No money was lost by the hundreds of customers who were affected by the data breach. Flores said all of the money had been reimbursed to customers whose accounts were charged in connection with this incident.

Flores added he did not know how much money had been charged and reimbursed in total but said the average amount that had been fraudulently charged was about $100 per transaction.

Feds

Bankers met with U.S. Secret Service officials on Friday. “Meeting with the Secret Service, they say that’s usually the M.O.,” Flores said. “Someone will get information and sell the information to somebody or they’ll use it for a couple of weeks and then they go away. It’s kind of like ... a robber; they’ve got to go before the police come.”

The Guam Bankers Association issued a statement warning of fraudulent activity on June 9 which is when Flores said bankers noticed suspicious activity and contacted federal agencies a couple days later.

“We discovered it on a Saturday; Monday we were going over it,” Flores said. “We talked to the feds within a couple of days.” It was after speaking with federal authorities that bankers compiled information to submit to the federal investigators.

“You have to make the case with some (information) so they can have a running start with it,” Flores said. “Then we met with the U.S. Secret Service this week and they have specialists in Hawaii for electronic fraud like this, and I suspect they are talking to them.”

FBI officials directed local bankers to seek assistance with the U.S. Secret Service, Flores said.

U.S. Secret Service Resident-In-Charge Kevin Clifton said he could not disclose specific information regarding the case. “Since it’s an ongoing investigation, I can’t make any specific comments. I can’t really verify much of anything,” he said. “I cannot confirm or deny that we are conducting an investigation into the recent news reports regarding the credit card fraud.”

Not noticed

Flores said most customers do not notice fraudulent activity until after they view their statement and he encouraged customers to review their bank statements monthly.

Clifton said generally, after the Secret Service gathers enough evidence against credit card fraud or electronic fraud, the information is presented to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and it is up to the U.S. attorney to pursue the case as a criminal act.

In addition to MasterCard and Visa launching investigations, Flores said the merchant, Steamgames.com, will probably launch an investigation into their accounts as well.

Not uncommon

Flores said fraudulent activity is “not uncommon” with credit cards. “There’s so much fraudulent activity going on,” he said. “It’s not unusual for us to get a customer filing a dispute saying ‘I did not do this.’ And when that happens, when someone files in a timely basis, by law you automatically refund that money to the customer’s account until that dispute is resolved.”

Bank of Guam's Senior Vice President Josephine Mariano said as of yesterday, they have found less than 100 cases of accounts that have fraudulent charges. However, Mariano said customers continue to report unauthorized transactions to BOG personnel.

Mariano said Steamgames.com was also identified as a common merchant that made fraudulent transactions to BOG customer bank accounts.


Renovated marina opens on naval base


Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014 03:00am


PRESS RELEASE


 (NNS) – U.S. Naval Base Guam; Morale, Welfare and Recreation Guam; and Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly-renovated Sumay Cove Marina on the Navy base on June 12.


The $18 million modernized facility improves quality of life for service members and families by offering fishing charters, boat rentals and dive instruction, and supports the Navy and Coast Guard missions by providing space for small marine crafts.

"This is my favorite spot, not only on base but on this island," said Capt. Mike Ward, Naval Base Guam commanding officer. "You have all these recreational activities provided by MWR but what you don't see is there is a mission component to this as well. The Coast Guard now has a great spot to park their boats as so to keep their mission requirements, my port operations team and security boat operation has some spots to place their critical assets, and last but not least my dive locker boat which has enormous capability."

Marina project improvements include a new 175-foot transient dock that offers dockside diesel and gasoline with 51 wet slips and 60 dry pads for storage, and a renovated community area that can be rented for private occasions.

"It gives us a little more exposure now because folks can see that this is part of the quality of life that's been put back by the base, by NavFac, by MWR as a whole," said Chad Quinn, MWR Guam director. "It also gives the base more exposure to the activities and program offerings that we're able to give back to our sailors."

NavFac Marianas provided oversight of the project since it was awarded to Bulltrack-Watts, a joint venture, in June 2010 to its completion in October 2013.

"We took those requirements from MWR, developed those requirements, sent them out for bid, awarded it and ensured it was built with the quality you see here today," said Capt. Douglas King, NavFac Marianas executive officer. "We have a great team with the contractor, the base and NavFac. We did quality work here and we did it within the budget we have."

Future developments for the facility include offering more programs to patrons such as CPR and standup paddleboard classes.

"This is one of the best marinas in the Navy," Quinn said. "I would go out and say this is definitely the best in Asia as far as MWR marinas. So the patrons, our customers, should be proud of what they have and where it's going in the future, and the great things that will come out of it."



Cebu Pacific likely to fly to Guam soon


Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014 03:00am


BY MAR-VIC CAGURANGAN | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


CEBU Pacific, the Philippines’ largest low-cost carrier, is likely to launch direct flights between Manila and Guam after it has been cleared for flights to the United States, the Philippine Flight Network announced yesterday.


Cebu Pacific was previously banned from flying to the United States after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration downgraded the Philippines to Category 2 six years ago.

The downgraded category has hampered the carrier's plan to mount direct flights from Manila to Guam, Saipan and Hawaii.

The U.S. Department of Transportation lifted the ban on June 5, following the restoration of the Philippines' Category I status, according to the Philippine Flight Network.

"This now paves the way for the carrier to continue with its plan to launch flights operated by its own crew and aircraft to U.S. destinations such as Guam and Hawaii," PFN said. "It is believed that Cebu Pacific will launch service to the United States before the end of this year."

Cebu Pacific initially planned to launch the Guam route in May last year.

"The FAA has now announced that the Philippines has achieved IASA Category 1 status, and Cebu Pacific has accordingly sought amendment of its authority to remove the wet lease restriction," the U.S. Department of Transportation said in its June 5 notice. "We would note that on May 28, 2014, the FAA advised us that it knew of no reason why we should act unfavorably on the applicant's request."

Currently, the Airbus A330-300 is the longest-range aircraft in the Cebu Pacific fleet but it can only reach as far as Hawaii in the United States from Manila, PFN said.



Dynamic Airways taking off with inaugural flight


Posted: Jun 17, 2014  by Allyson Chiu  KUAM

Guam - This weekend marks the beginning of a milestone for local tourism.  

The Guam Visitor's Bureau in partnership with Dynamic Airways and the Guam International Airport is planning to diversify and expand tourism by launching direct scheduled air service from Beijing to Guam.

"We definitely are hoping to see numbers grow significantly. This is the first time that we've had, well we've had charter flights from China, but scheduled direct charter flights starting on Saturday, that's big, that hasn't been done," explained GVB's public information officer Josh Tyquiengco.

To commemorate this historic event Governor Eddie Calvo, Senator Tina Muna Barnes, GVB general manager Karl Pangelinan, GVB chairman Mark Baldyga and other local officials are headed to Beijing to host a press conference and gala, which takes place this Wednesday.

According to Tyquiengco the flight will have over 200 passengers which include Chinese tourists, media and travel agents. The flights are scheduled to run once every five days until the end of the year. "We are excited to partner with Dynamic Airways and we hope that our visitors truly experience the warmth and hospitality of Guam's people and we just want to say Hafa Adai and welcome to Guam," he said.

The beginning of these flights correspond directly with GVB's Tourism 2020 plan to diversify and increase Guam's tourism markets. The overall goal is to reach two million visitors by 2020. According to a visitor arrival summary released last month Guam has already experienced a 5.1% increase in total arrivals in comparison to last year. "That's all exciting news for Guam. That means that our work here at GVB is successful in bringing more visitors to Guam and we hope that the rest of the community gets to enjoy the benefits of that.

"The inaugural flight of the direct non-stop air service from Beijing to Guam is scheduled to arrive Saturday morning at ten thirty at the Guam International Airport," said Tyquiengco.


Construction issues delay opening of Guam Museum

Posted: Jun 13, 2014

 


by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Island residents hoping to visit the Guam Museum by the end of the year are going to have to wait a little longer as the completion date has been delayed due to some construction issues.  

It's set to boast many world class features spotlighting Guam's history and culture however due to some piling issues, island residents may have to wait a little longer to experience the new Guam Chamorro and Educational Facility in Hagatna. "The latest update is we are still having some issues with the piles onsite, insulations, so we're dealing with that with the contractor because of that, the construction date or the completion date has slipped approximately five months," said GEDA Real Property Division manager Larry Toves.

He says the completion of the Guam Museum as its better known is more likely to move from December 2014 to May next year. "Again there are some issues with the piling as reported that were installed in the ground 260 piles that were installed, there are approximately 60 of those piles that are considered potentially damaged or damaged so we're working with the contract to resolve those issues," he said.

Toves says these pilings are installed in order to hold up the structure of the building. Contractor Inland Builders Corporation was awarded the contract for the construction last year. Toves says these piling issues were discovered five weeks ago, but what or who's to blame? "Well we rely on the contractor, they're the one who fabricate the pilings, they're the ones who install the pilings but obviously they have their subcontractors but it is our position is that it is the responsibility of the contractor to ensure these pilings are installed," he said.

He adds GEDA is working with the contractor to do more studies in order to determine the extent of damage. "There are always challenges when you deal with construction particularly with this one and the magnitude of this particular project the museum the museum is one of 23 projects that we manage here at GEDA under the hot bonds pursuant to hot bond laws," he said.

Toves adds while it's not an issue now, he says for example, if a contractor is not doing what is required by the contract, there's always a possibility of changing out. The construction bid meanwhile came in at $15.3 million with the total cost of the project at $27 million. So what do this delay mean for costs? "Obviously there is going to be some changes in the cost, but that won't be borne by the taxpayers, there was money set aside for this project to deal with these issues," he said.

Inland Builders vice president Reynald Del Carmen says the company will be issuing an official statement soon but tells KUAM they are aware of the problems, but do not feel they are being properly addressed by GEDA. He adds he doesn't feel the piling issues are a result of actions by inland builders as the company had followed the specifications adding they need more direction from GEDA. Del Carmen says inland builders definitely hopes to still remain with the project.

UOG singers bringing home the gold for Guam

Posted: Jun 15, 2014


Guam - The University of Guam singers are hitting all the high notes in Europe.

During the 42nd International Choir Festival of Songs held in Olomouc in the Czech Republic, the 12-piece a capella/ pop/jazz  ensemble won gold  scoring 96 out of  100 points in the Small Ensemble with Microphones Category.

The group is directed by UOG professor Dr. Randall Johnson.

They're slated to return home on June 19th.

GWA increases operating revenues

Posted: Jun 16, 2014  by Ken Quintanilla  KUAM

Guam - The Guam Waterworks Authority may have closed Fiscal Year 2013 with a net loss of $5.5 million, but its total operating revenues increased by $5.3 million. Those were some of the findings from an audit released by the Guam Office of Public Accountability. GWA received a clean opinion. 



Banks get feds involved


Monday, 16 Jun 2014 03:30am


BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


FBI, Secret Service contacted to report data breach

AFTER a spike in fraudulent bank transactions among local residents, financial institutions have since been working to replace debit or credit cards and refund money, while still trying to pinpoint the data breach.


According to Mark O. Fish, the president of Guam Bankers Association, individual banks have contacted the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service. Fish did not disclose which banks, but said the individual banks contacted the federal agencies to report fraud activity and request assistance.

He also said he should have more information regarding federal involvement today.

In regard to the investigation into the data breach, Fish said there is nothing new at this point.

About three weeks ago, local customers experienced fraudulent transactions, as charges of varying amounts were made to their bank accounts to unauthorized merchants. Fish said in an earlier interview that bankers identified customers who had been targeted were those who used their debit/credit cards to pay utility bills.

Banks with Internet-based point of sale and charge card services were affected, which Fish said, most likely affected all the banks on island.

Laura-Lynn Dacanay, senior vice president and region manager of First Hawaiian Bank, said the fraudulent transactions were most likely the result of a data breach. Dacanay said the breach was similar to what happened to Target, the U.S. department store chain.

Cyber thieves hacked into Target’s online database and stole credit card, PIN and bank account information of more than 40 million customers. Dacanay said what occurred with local customers in recent weeks is very similar what happened to Target.

Dacanay also said Mastercard and Visa had launched an investigation into the matter.

As of yesterday afternoon, bankers still did not pinpoint which utility company’s database was breached. Spokespersons for Guam Waterworks Authority and Guam Power Authority have said since last week that their computer systems are secure and up-to-date.

GPA spokesman, Art Perez, said that GPA employs an off-island call center in Saipan. Customers who phone in payments for their electricity bill speak with individuals based in Saipan. Perez said, however, that GPA is confident that all  of its information networks are secure, including its computer systems and its call center system.

Local and federal law enforcement officials said they are unable to comment on ongoing investigations.


 

Consumer attorney hits behavioral wellness center

Saturday, 14 Jun 2014 03:00am

BY GINA TABONARES-REILLY | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

Court asked to put agency back under receivership

ALLEGING that the government of Guam continues to fail in improving the management of the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center for 13 years, a consumer lawyer has asked the federal court to put the mental health agency back under receivership.

Daniel Somerfleck, who represents three persons with disabilities in the 2001 lawsuit against the agency formerly known as Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, said the plaintiffs have filed countless contempt actions, sought receivers, gone through an extended period with the federal management team but are still confronted with inaction on the part of the agency’s management.

“There is little option left to the plaintiffs at this point other than to again request the court to consider appointing receivers with experience and background in managing a mental health system,” Somerfleck stated in his status report.

Permanent injunction

The mental health department was placed under federal receivership in 2010 due to lack of compliance with the stipulations under a permanent injunction that resulted from a lawsuit challenging the agency’s inadequate services for individuals with special needs.

The local government regained control of the behavioral health center in February 2013 after District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall lifted the federal receivership and relieved Dr. James Kiefer of his responsibilities.

Contempt

In a recent court filing, Somerfleck sought actions for contempt against GovGuam, citing its failure to implement plans intended to provide the minimum care standards envisioned in the permanent injunction. “At this time it is clear that no end is in sight of this litigation,” he said.

Somerfleck said the behavioral health center reported a 100 percent compliance with all annual multi-disciplinary treatment plans, but only 67 percent of the individualized treatment plans have been completed, leaving 33 percent uncompleted.

He noted that the behavioral health center is not in compliance with the development of an Electronic Behavioral Wealth Record system and that there is a regression on the transition of the four consumers currently receiving treatment in Texas.

Sommerfleck said the department’s first quarter status report in 2013 indicated it had received an extension for a design-build residential home. However, he noted that the most recent quarterly report indicated no progress has been made on the project.

The construction of a residential home for the returning consumers was part of a stipulation under the 2004 permanent injunction that resulted from a lawsuit against the behavioral health department.

In November last year, the center announced it had amended its original plan to build the facility on a Barrigada Heights property owned by the Chamorro Land Trust Commission.

According to the initial plan, the center would acquire the CLTC property through a land exchange. The commission originally agreed to take the behavioral health department’s property in Chalan Pågo in exchange for 5 acres of property in Barrigada Heights, where the residential home was originally proposed to be built.

However, the center has decided instead to purchase an existing home and remodel it as necessary to meet the consumers’ needs.

“The decision to purchase a home in lieu of the original plan to design-build was due to difficulty of acquiring land through the Chamorro Land Trust Commission and the timeline to finish this project,” Rey Vega, director of the agency, said in a status report submitted to the federal court in November 2013.

FMT funds

Somerfleck also raised concern that the funds earmarked for federal management team positions are still being requested more than a year since the funds were released.

He said key positions have not been filled, including a quality assurance director which was identified in the January 2013 transitional report as a critical position.

In the most recent status report, the behavioral health center cited six unfilled positions including quality assurance coordinator and medical records supervisor.

As of Oct. 31, 2013, Sommerfleck said, positions including clinical dietician, medical records supervisor, training coordinator, occupational therapist, program coordinator, psychiatric nurse and psychiatric nurse administrator , five psychiatric social worker, psychiatric technician and quality improvement coordinator remain unfilled.



Senators expected to continue deliberations on Bill 309


Monday, 16 Jun 2014 03:30am


BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


Ben Pangelinan


THE Guam Legislature is expected to continue its deliberation on Bill 309, the controversial measure which seeks to direct any potential excess or windfall Section 30 funds received in fiscal year 2014 toward education and public safety.


The session resumes at 10 a.m. today.

Sen. Ben Pangelinan, the chairman of the legislature's appropriations committee, said he introduced Bill 309 to address the lack of transparency in the receipt of Section 30 funds.

The senator recently announced that he also received confirmation from federal officials that GovGuam can expect additional Section 30 funds in excess of what was projected for fiscal 2014.

Pangelinan said the funds, estimated by local officials to be more than $20 million, were a result of two federal entities that have not been remitting “cover over” Section 30 funds to GovGuam for almost two decades.

According to Pangelinan, Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo also confirmed from federal officials that the windfall Section 30 funds will be paid to the government of Guam.

At Pangelinan’s request, Bordallo’s office inquired with the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Treasury on whether Guam would receive any additional Section 30 funds.

The Treasury is still in the process of reconciling the Section 30 funds to determine what has been remitted in comparison to what was due to the government of Guam.

Bordallo’s office confirmed that there are two federal entities, which could not be named at this time because the reconciliation process has not been completed, that owe an undetermined amount of Section 30 funds to the government.

However, Bordallo’s office also reported that DOI and Treasury informed them that GovGuam still owes approximately $22 million in unused funds that were advanced for the Making Work Pay tax credit. The $22 million will need to be repaid to the Treasury.

According to Bordallo’s office, this may impact any additional Section 30 funds due to Guam,

Guam receives Section 30 funds each year from the Internal Revenue Service. The funds are income taxes paid by federal employees and active military personnel who work on Guam, but filed their income taxes with the IRS.

Bill 309, according to Pangelinan, increases transparency and accountability of the reporting of correspondences between GovGuam and the U.S. Treasury to ensure the legislature is kept up to date with potential revenue sources to be received by the federal government.





Over 400 accounts hacked

Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

Banks, Mastercard, Visa investigating cyber theft

MORE than 400 bank accounts on Guam have been hacked due to a recent data breach, according to Mark O. Fish, president of the Guam Bankers Association.

Fish said one bank has reported 400 accounts compromised – the largest number of compromised accounts at one bank. Fish declined to disclose which bank it was.

Fish said BankPacific had 15 or 16 accounts affected by the data breach and added that he suspected all banks on island have been affected.

“We do not know of any bank that has not been affected at this point in time,” he said. “We’ve verified that at least four banks on Guam (are affected) and so I would say, pretty safely, if four banks have been impacted, probably all of them have.”

Banks with Internet-based points of sale and charge card activity services have most likely been impacted by the recent hacks, Fish said.

According to Laura-Lynn Dacanay, First Hawaiian Bank senior vice president and region manager, Mastercard and Visa officials are investigating the issue.

An agent with the Guam FBI office said he could not comment as to whether or not the FBI was assisting any agency with any investigation.

Fish said there are no definitive answers regarding the data breach and what merchant is responsible for the breach. “We’re still working on it,” he said. “It looks like the transactions in terms of the breach of data have come from online transactions. And I would say that the common thread appears to be utility payments here on Guam.”

Local merchant identified

Dacanay, however, said a local merchant has been identified as the common denominator and the local merchant was notified of the situation. Dacanay said she could not disclose which merchant had been identified.

“We are aware of a local merchant who may have had a compromise at their site,” Dacanay said. “And anybody who had used their card – whether it be (an FHB) card or another bank’s card could be a potential for that.”

Fish said Guam Waterworks Authority officials have contacted GBA and that the association provided as much information as it could. He said he knew GWA decided to “take it under their wing” and investigate whether the information breach could have been a result of a fault in their computer systems. However, Heidi Ballendorf, GWA spokeswoman, said GWA’s site is secure.

“What we have found out so far, our website is secure,” Ballendorf said. “We really don’t know what it is.”

Fish said it is still unknown whether it was just GWA, but he did say that bankers are pretty confident that the breach was local.

Target

Dacanay said the local data breach is similar to what Target, the U.S. department store chain, experienced last holiday season.

According to USA Today, Target revealed that cyber thieves hacked into their database and stole 40 million debit and credit card accounts along with encrypted PIN data, names, credit card numbers and card expiration dates. USA Today wrote that earlier this year, Target also revealed that names, home addresses and email addresses and phone numbers of 70 million Target customers were also stolen.

Dacanay said within the last couple of weeks, FHB’s fraud prevention personnel had been identifying compromised bank accounts and alerting customers sometimes even before customers knew that their accounts underwent suspicious activity.

Fish said the reports began a couple weeks ago. He also said he is confident the 15 or 16 BankPacific customers who had their accounts compromised would be completely reimbursed for any funds that they might have lost.

Guam Police Department spokesman A.J. Balajadia said GPD does not provide information regarding ongoing investigations and did not confirm if GPD has been involved in the card-fraud investigation.

Fish said the Guam Bankers Association may seek assistance from law enforcement authorities in the future.

Customers are urged to review their bank statements and report any suspicious or unauthorized transactions to their respective banks.

Bordallo confirms additional Section 30 funds

Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

GUAM Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo has confirmed from federal officials the windfall Section 30 funds that will be paid to the government of Guam, said Sen. Ben Pangelinan yesterday.

“We are appreciative of the congresswoman’s work in upholding transparency in the Section 30 process through working with federal officials to provide the truth,” said Pangelinan, who is chairman of the Guam Legislature’s committee on appropriations.

Pangelinan recently announced that he also received confirmation from federal officials that GovGuam can expect additional Section 30 funds in excess of what was projected for fiscal 2014.

He said the funds – estimated by local officials to be more than $20 million – was a result of two federal entities that have not been remitting “cover over” Section 30 funds to GovGuam for almost two decades.

According to the senator, one of the federal entities will be notifying the Department of the Interior in the coming weeks of the specific amount to be remitted to GovGuam, whereas the other federal entity is continuing to reconcile the amount due to GovGuam.

“We are not saying that there is a certification from the U.S. Treasury that funds are available because that goes directly to the executive branch. The governor should already know that process. We are also not saying that the funds are in the bank today. What we are saying is that there are active discussions and reconciliations occurring and that there is an expected windfall of Section 30 funds,” Pangelinan said in a release.

Bill 309

Pangelinan said the lack of transparency in the receipt of Section 30 funds is one of the reasons he introduced Bill 309, which he said attempts to increase transparency in the Section 30 fund process.

Bill 309, co-sponsored by Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz, would prioritize any excess additional Section 30 funds, over and above what was projected in fiscal 2014, toward:

  • Paying the remaining 50 percent Hay Study pay adjustment to general pay plan GovGuam employees which include all non-attorney/teacher/nurse/executive employees;

  • Providing funds to the Guam Department of Education;

  • Hiring an additional 20 police officers;

  • Hiring additional prosecution teams and victim witness advocates at the Office of the Attorney General; and

  • Paying the remainder of the law enforcement retroactive pay increases.


    Adelup

    The governor’s office has stated that it would not recognize the $20 million in Section 30 money without a note from the U.S. Treasury certifying that the money is on its way.

    “What we do commit to him is that we'll let the legislature and the media know if and when that money is on the way. We hope it is. Gov. (Eddie) Calvo and his fiscal team are working hard to secure it. But it hasn't happened yet. That money doesn't exist in the Guam treasury. The legislature shouldn't be banking on it,” said Troy Torres, the governor’s communication director.

House passes bill on increased health care access for veterans

Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE House of Representatives has passed H.R. 4810, the Veterans Access to Care Act, a measure which allows the Department of Veterans Affairs to enter into hospital care and medical service contracts at non-VA facilities so veterans can receive timely care and services when an appointment cannot be accommodated within the VA's scheduling goal.

The bill also requires the VA to contract with an independent entity to conduct an assessment of healthcare provided by VA medical facilities.

H.R. 4810 passed by a vote of 426 to 0. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo, an original co-sponsor of the bill, made the announcement yesterday.

Bordallo has also written to Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson, urging the VA to use the authority it currently has to permit veterans to see private medical providers.

Congressman Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, introduced H.R. 4810 to provide veterans timely care from VA facilities.

Bordallo said the Veterans Access to Care Act allows veterans to receive the medical care they need while the VA works to improve wait-times at VA facilities.

Concerned

“I have been very concerned that Guam veterans have some of the longest wait-times in the country, with stories of some veterans having to wait 60 days for their first appointment with a doctor. This bill will allow them to use their medical benefits at other facilities on the island and help reduce overcrowding at the Veterans Clinic (CBOC)," Bordallo said in a statement.

She said the problems at the VA are extensive and prolific and it will take significant oversight by Congress and further actions to address these systemic problems.

"H.R. 4810 is a step in the right direction, and I hope that the Senate will act expeditiously on this, or a similar bill, so that our veterans can receive the quality of care they have so rightly earned," she said.

Challenges

Sen. Frank Aguon recently expressed concerns over the revolving challenges Guam's veterans have been facing at CBOC. Specifically, Aguon underscored the lack of response from the administration of the VA Pacific Island Healthcare Systems to numerous requests on the number of veterans waiting to be orientated prior to receiving services at the Guam clinic.

Aguon expressed his concerns to then-Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki in a letter sent on May 19. Aguon included with this letter numerous appeals to the VA Pacific Island Healthcare Systems administrator in Honolulu since Jan. 14, requesting clarification on the orientation process backlog that hinders Guam veterans from obtaining care in a timely manner at the Guam clinic.

Earlier this year, Wayne L. Pfeffer, director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Pacific Islands Health Care System in Honolulu, Hawaii, noted that the shortage of physicians and staff at the Guam CBOC continues to be an ongoing issue.

Pfeffer was reacting to a letter sent by Aguon to Dr. Helene Head, the primary care provider at the Guam clinic, regarding the ongoing issues that veterans face when receiving care at the CBOC.

Charter school holds first graduation

Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

AFTER overcoming a year fraught with challenges, the Guahan Academy Charter School made history this week by holding its first graduation ceremony.

Guam’s first charter school opened its doors in August last year and closed out school year 2013-2014 with a ceremony in the cafeteria of the Tiyan campus.

The school recognized 80 kindergarten students, promoted 47 fifth-graders to middle school, and promoted more than 50 eighth-grade students to ninth grade.

Family and friends filled more than half of the cafeteria Tuesday night to witness the first group of eighth-graders graduate and move forward to their freshman year in high school. It was the final graduation ceremony.

Instead of just a few receiving an academic distinction, each of the more than 50 graduates went home with a certificate bearing a tailor-made superlative identified and voted on by the class, according to Arlene Sayco, school assistant principal.

The superlatives included class detective, social butterfly, class clown and others.

“We are so proud of all our graduates; however, the greatest challenge is for our 50 eighth-grade students who will now move on to high school. It has not been easy,” said Donna Dwiggins, school CEO and principal. “But it is all very worthwhile to see our kids thriving and achieving in our first year as we continue to chart a new course for public education on Guam.”

Dwiggins said GACS will have a small freshman class next year. "The plan is to add a grade a year until they complete high school," she said.

Very attached

Sayco said she has become very attached to all of the students and parents. "I believe we have become a family and hope to see them next year,” she said. “The school year was difficult at times with all the things that we had to do, starting up a brand new school, but together we did it. We are very proud of our students and our parents."

Doris Bainco, parent of student government president Ariyanee Bainco, said: "The school is like a family. When the charter school first opened up, we were overwhelmed. We had students coming from different ethnicity groups and they were just trying to know each other, but as the months go by, they have actually grown as a family."

Doris Bainco said Ariyanee is looking forward to attending ninth grade this coming school year


Senators move election-related bill to third reading file


Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 03:00am


BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


SENATORS voted to move two bills into the third reading file, including the substituted version of Bill 334, which appropriates $206,550 from the supplemental appropriations revenue fund for the purchase of a ballot tabulation system, ballot stock, and coding services to be used by the Guam Elections Commission for this year’s election and future elections.

Sen. Rory Respicio, the bill’s author, said: "Time is of the essence because as you know, we have a primary and general election. Based on the GEC timelines, they are in dire need of this legislative appropriation and if the governor also sees fit and signs it, we will be able to move forward with the awarding of this bid."

Respicio noted that, as requested by GEC, the bill also addresses the $23,800 outstanding amount payable to the University of Guam for the use of the field house during the 2012 primary elections.

Flood mitigation

Senators also moved amended Bill 173, introduced by Sen. Tina Muña-Barnes relative to flood mitigation projects of the Department of Public Works.

The lawmakers also moved to set aside discussion on substituted Bill 307, introduced by Sen. Frank B. Aguon Jr., to allow the author to bring in an amendment or rework problematic provisions of the bill.

Bill 307 seeks to amend laws relative to the power of the judicial council to adopt pay schedules and plans for non-law enforcement employees of the judiciary.

According to Aguon, the measure allows the Judiciary to implement a competitive wage act program for its employees.

Senators will continue discussion on Bill 309 today. The measure, introduced by Sen. Ben Pangelinan, seeks to direct any potential excess or windfall Section 30 funds received in fiscal year 2014 toward education and public safety.

CLTC's Borja appointed as Land Management director

Posted: Jun 10, 2014 by Ken Quintanilla  kuam

Guam - Following the passing of Monte Mafnas in April, Governor Eddie Calvo has appointed Chamorro Land Trust Commission chairman Mike Borja as the acting director of the Department of Land Management.

Borja tells KUAM that Mafnas brought a lot of great ideas to the table and looks forward to continuing in the late director's efforts. "And I also look to try and see what we can do this government is trying to do more with less and obviously I would like to have more people within the organization but we have to work with what we have so I'm trying to find ways how we can do better and do more with what we got and hopefully with issues like technology and getting things to all be digitized," he said.

Borja is the president of Delta Management Corporation and holds a bachelor of arts degree from Creighton University and a master of science degree from Troy State University. Borja has served in the CLTC since 2011. As for what it means for the CLTC, Borja says while he has had to step down, two other individuals h

CCU approves development of execution plan for LNG

Wednesday, 11 Jun 2014 03:30am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Consolidated Commission on Utilities has authorized the Guam Power Authority to submit its Resource Implementation Plan to the Public Utilities Commission as a response to an order requiring the power authority to identify its acquisition strategy for liquified natural gas, known as LNG, and to provide business models for the adoption of LNG and other energy sources.

The order was made after PUC's conditional approval of GPA’s 2013 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) – a multi-year resource and energy blueprint which incorporates fuel diversification and renewable acquisition components.

Joaquin Flores, GPA general manager, submitted a resolution to the CCU which was approved by the commissioners.

"We owe the Public Utilities Commission a Resource Implementation Plan (RIP) at their request. The plan was supposed to pull together all the potential solutions implementing the recommendations in the IRP," Flores said after introducing the resolution.

He said the RIP does not provide the final plan for implementation but would provide information that will be used for the development of a more detailed execution plan for LNG.

The PUC order requires GPA to submit the RIP and include information from the implementation schedule, projected project expenditures, and expected schedules for establishing contracts for the LNG supply.

PUC also requested the power authority to further investigate renewable energy and alternative fuels; to identify and have discussions with potential LNG suppliers to Guam; and look at fuel diversification.

Moreover, the order requires GPA to continue negotiations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with regard to compliance with the RICE MACT standards for slow-speed diesels.

Meeting these clean air regulations, according to GPA, would cost approximately $500 million in capital expenditures to bring units into compliance.

ave been appointed by the governor in order to reach quorum.  Borja's confirmation hearing meanwhile is set for this Monday at the Guam Legislature.



Chamber of Commerce stresses stance on minimum wage increase

Posted: Jun 10, 2014   KUAM  By Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Just as lawmakers prepare to head into session Wednesday morning, the Guam Chamber of Commerce is reiterating its concern over the minimum wage measure that it fears may be placed on session agenda.

It was back in April when the Chamber was one of several organizations who stated its opposition to Vice Speaker BJ Cruz's Bill 316. The measure proposed to raise the minimum wage by $0.95 over the next three years capped off at $10.10. Today, in light of Speaker Judi Won Pat's call for session on Wednesday morning, the chamber decided to hold a press conference reiterating its stance.

"Even if there is no intent to bring up the minimum wage, we just wanted to make sure that we couldn't take the risk of the damage this could do to a lot of our members," said Lou Leon Guerrero. She spoke in favor of Bill 316 during the public hearing both on behalf of the Bank of Guam and the Guam Women's Chamber of commerce. However today, one of its members appeared to have a different opinion. "I want to say that the bill in listening to most of my clients, is a horrible bill," added Lorraine Okada.

Okada serves as a board of director on the Guam Women's Chamber of Commerce and is also a member of the Guam Chamber. She says her comments were not in line with the organizations but as the owner of Okada Managing Consulting Services that handles wages and compensation issues. "If the purpose and the intent of the bill is to get people out of poverty putting money and giving them money does not take people out of poverty we all know that you get out poverty through your training, education, skills, knowledge and experience," she said.

Okada was actually coordinated the Guam Women's Chamber's forum on wage and compensation back in April. "The whole purpose of that forum was to generate discussion and hopefully force the government to provide us, business people with good data, good information so that reasonable decisions can be made when it comes to compensation for employees," she said.

She was however unaware and surprised that Cruz would announce his intent to introduce legislation to increase the minimum wage. As to why she didn't voice her concerns during the public hearing, Okada says she was off-island for medical reasons. She says the Guam Women's Chamber also took a vote among its directors but she was not present for that either.

Meanwhile, other businesses today spoke out against the measure including Melanie Mendiola representing Farm to Table Guam - a non-profit organization, saying, "And I think what a lot of people don't realize is that bills like this have big impact and negative impacts on nonprofits such as mine as well as the small businesses we serve."

And 3D Rentals owner Hank Dacanay added, "I would be forced to struggle to survive but only time will tell if my business can survive."

Peter Sgro meanwhile says he personally believes the motive in moving forward with Bill 316 is not political but rather, without naming names, says someone may be benefitting from it. Vice Speaker Cruz did not answer our calls today. However Speaker Judi Won pat says Bill 316 will not be on tomorrow's agenda. "And when it does get on the floor, is that we will put ample announcement for everybody because it's a bill that everyone is interested in it those who are for it and those who are against so either way we will make the announcement," she said.

KUAM tried reaching Leon Guerrero for comment however she has yet to reply. 

Investigation probes questionable spending at GPA

Posted: Jun 10, 2014   KUAM  by Jolene Toves

Guam - An investigation into the Guam Power Authority's spending is currently underway by the Public Utilities Commission. Six months ago the Consolidated Commission on Utilities became concerned after noticing that GPA management did not comply with a PUC order. The order detailed that the agency was authorized $4.4 million for two projects but according to CCU chairman Simon Sanchez, the way it was spent is what is being scrutinized.

"Two projects that required $4.4 million one was consulting work related to the development of liquid natural gas plan and the other had to do with engineering work to repair a power plant of ours the Temis power plant," he said.

Sanchez says the consulting work for LNG project was allotted $3.9 million while the repair at the plant received $500,000. "The problem that has emerged however is GPA uses the program management group to do the LNG study the repair at the Temis power plant required some work and GPA management decided to ask the PMO that's helping for liquid natural gas to also look at that project," he said.

What should have happened is GPA was supposed to hire a new PMO or do as much as possible in house, but because they chose to use the PMO for the repairs at the plant they exceeded the $3.9 million cap. He said, "So there is a PUC order that says you can't pay the PMO more than $3.9 million well in management when they came to the CCU and says hey we goofed we did spend the $3.9 million for the PMO and we did spend the half a million dollars for the Temis repair but we used the same consulting group."

This raises the question - has GPA used the same PMO to perform other duties? "I think the PUC and the CCU are also concern that management may have asked the PMO to perform duties that might have been otherwise done in house I know the PUC in particular is looking at some marketing that was spent you know we have marketing people within GPA so you know that's a concern we brought to management as well," he said.

At this time Sanchez says a University of Guam accounting class is reviewing the expenditures. He stresses that GPA did spend the authorize amount of $4.4 million and the total cost to the rate payers did not change.

Sanchez says the GPA has acknowledged to the CCU that they have made an error in judgment in terms of the way they manage the PMO.

Sgro: Minimum wage hike goes beyond political agenda

Wednesday, 11 Jun 2014 03:30am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

PETER Sgro, chairman of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, said he thinks the motive behind pushing the minimum wage increase goes beyond a political agenda.

“I don’t believe the motive is about the election,” Sgro said at a Guam Chamber of Commerce press conference yesterday. “I believe the motive is something else and that will demonstrate itself because women in the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce are resigning.”

The Chamber chairman said he believes someone is benefitting from endorsing a minimum wage hike, but opted not to state any names. Sgro said the motivation will eventually reveal itself.

“More and more people from that organization are quitting because they weren’t consulted,” he said.

Sgro did not elaborate further and said the truth will come out.

Members of the Guam Chamber of Commerce spoke out against an increase of the minimum wage on behalf of small business owners and nonprofit organizations. “Everybody thinks the Chamber is big business. The majority of our membership is small business,” Sgro said.

Chamber members wished to clarify the impact that such an increase could have on small businesses and nonprofits.

“It’s not about ‘no minimum wage,’” Joe Roberto said. “At our company, minimum wage doesn’t even exist. Everybody’s making over that.”

Roberto is the managing member of North and East Island Tinting. Roberto said an increase in payroll expenditures will lead to layoffs or firings. “The company is not going to be able afford two people, they can afford that one,” he said of employees should the wage increase.

“A collective effort such as this is voicing the opinion that this bill is not good,” Roberto said.

Special session a risk

Sgro said when he heard of today’s special legislative session he was concerned that the lack of agenda would allow for lawmakers to pass the minimum wage bill.

“At a special session, any senator can rise and bring up any bill. The rules allow for it. My board of directors is responsible for 400 businesses that employ 40,000 people. And it’s a risk,” Sgro said. “We couldn’t take that risk ... that they could use that rule and raise it and vote on it.”

Chamber members wanted an independent party to research and produce an economic impact statement. Lorraine Okada is a member of the Guam Chamber of Commerce as well as a member of Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce and president of the Okada Managing Consulting Services. Okada said what businesses want to see, if there is going to be an introduction to the minimum wage increase, is the rationale behind proposing it.

“What is the rationale?” Okada said. “Do we have the economic appetite for this? Do we have the margin? How is our economy? We don’t even know that. How’s our economy doing? We know it’s struggling.”

Okada also said it was important not to just follow mainland initiatives and took take a careful look at the impact it would have on Guam specifically.

“I’m not sure where (senators) are getting their data,” Sgro said. During public hearings about the minimum wage held earlier this year, Sgro said an economist presented data that contradicted data presented by GHRA.

“The economist showed that the tourism industry was booming during a certain time period. Well, the facts are, as presented by GHRA, is that it was one of greatest slumps because that was when the earthquake happened in Japan and the nuclear power plant was a danger to Japanese.”

Sgro said there has not been any credible economic study surrounding the effects of a minimum wage hike.

Passing a bill without the feedback from employers is “doing a blind-sighted approach” Okada said.  “You’ve got to go in with both eyes. In fact, you’ve got to go in with four pairs of eyes.”



GMH hires four physicians

Posted: Jun 06, 2014

by Jolene Toves

Guam - The Guam Memorial Hospital has four new emergency room physicians, and according to hospital administrator Joseph Verga there's many more doctors to come. "So far we have several new physicians in the pipeline but nothing I can confirm at the moment except for emergency physicians we have recruited several and there are several ne physicians in the emergency room now on staff," he said.

The hires are a result of the increased volume of patients being seen in the ER. Verga says GMH is at 90 percent or more capacity every day and the ER is typically at its highest volume from 4pm to midnight especially on weekends. As far as the urgent care unit it is still in the planning phases, the final plan was recently approved by the hospital's board. He says the plan and services are in place at this time they have received over $300,000 which will be used to hire the staff


‘Buildup may strain GovGuam financial infrastructure’

Thursday, 05 Jun 2014 03:30am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

ALTHOUGH the Office of Public Accountability said it would be difficult to determine at present what the impact of the Marine relocation would be on the agency, Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks said general GovGuam operational expenditures are projected to increase and could pose challenges for the government’s financial and accounting infrastructure.

The public auditor was the only official who presented testimony during the second public hearing on the draft supplemental environmental impact statement convened by Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz, chairman of the committee on general government operations.

"At the outset, even if it was a bigger military buildup, where OPA stood in the growth was always kind of like up in the air," she said.

Reading her testimony, the public auditor said that although it is difficult to quantify what impact the anticipated relocation of the Marines to Guam may have on the operations of OPA, she said it was just natural that as the economy of Guam grows, the government of Guam would also grow.

Brooks also noted during the public hearing that her biggest concern was whether or not agencies more directly affected by the buildup, like the Department of Revenue and Taxation, have the accounting infrastructure or the financial infrastructure in place.Brooks noted that at a May 16 special economic service meeting, the Bureau of Budget and Management Research, in its five-year forecast, said that through fiscal year 2018, estimated government operational expenditures would climb to $734 million from $591 million in fiscal 2014.

Growth rate

In addition, BBMR assumed a growth rate of 3 percent for general government operations and 4 percent for education and public safety operations.

"The majority of the increases in expenditures will be in salaries and benefits. As OPA is classified under general government, OPA, too, would share in some of that organic growth. Although it is likely to be small," she said.

OPA was the sole agency to show up at the hearing after the governor’s office sent a request to reschedule the meeting for June 13 in order to give their office time to review and provide accurate input from agencies.

The vice speaker, during the public hearing, expressed concern that a rescheduled public hearing would occur just a day before the deadline set for the draft SEIS input.

"So we wouldn't be able to have a hearing until the 16th, which would make it the day before the comments are actually due. So the purpose for which the speaker asks us to conduct these hearings will not be met, which is to inform and educate the public so they can make informed and educated comments on the SEIS," he said.

The last day of the public comment period for the draft SEIS is June 17.

Cruz convened the public hearings to receive comments regarding the draft SEIS from all GovGuam agencies, departments and divisions under his committee’s purview.


Bad decisions


Wednesday, 04 Jun 2014 03:00am


VARIETY NEWS STAFF


ONCE again, without warning Guam residents are negatively impacted by a decision made thousands of miles away by those apparently oblivious to its effect on the island. Most recently, it was decided that the cost of non-emergency ambulance transportation to and from dialysis for most diabetes patients is no longer covered by Medicaid.

It is our understanding that such transportation is essential for those who use it. Dialysis patients need the procedure for survival; many of them are bedridden and can no longer drive. Even riding as a passenger in a conventional passenger vehicle is a harrowing experience. Ambulances have the added advantage of including medical technicians able to monitor the condition of the patient. We would advocate for its continued inclusion in Medicaid coverage.

But even more of concern is the manner in which the change was implemented – overnight, without explanation and with little warning. Those who had come to rely on the service have had to make other arrangements for transportation to dialysis. The burden has fallen on the Guam Fire Department which provides the service but also charges for it. There was little time to make arrangements or appeal the decision to curtail the service.

The decision reminds us of, while of less serious consequence, the decision by the U. S. Postal Service to – overnight, with neither explanation nor warning – revamp its mail sorting process so that items without addresses in a precise format would be returned to the sender, despite the fact that other address formats had worked for decades. Thousands of mailed items were not delivered and we suspect postal patrons are still unaware of items they should have received but did not.

While the decisions are dissimilar, they both were made, or allowed, by federal bureaucrats with little awareness or regard for their impact on the residents of this U.S. community nearly 4,000 miles from the nearest state. This is hardly the first time Guam has been so impacted, and certainly arbitrary and deleterious decisions are made throughout the country by the federal government. Guam is not alone in that respect.

But given the island’s distance from the U.S. mainland and its lack of full representation in the government, Guam is particularly vulnerable to federal capriciousness and insensitivity. It remains as important as ever to advocate for the island in national forums, and to build awareness of its needs and the issues that concern it.



Museum foundation has less revenue

Wednesday, 04 Jun 2014 03:00am

BY GINA TABONARES-REILLY | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

Photo shows an artist’s rendering of the $27 million museum currently under construction and projected to open early next year. Variety file photo

THE Guam Museum Foundation’s total revenues in 2013 decreased by $20,000 but its expenses for program and support services went up by $2,000 with increased commissions of $16,000 to settle previous obligations, according to the Office of Public Accountability.

In an audit report released yesterday, the foundation, a separate tax-exempt organization unit of the Department of Chamorro Affairs created to serve as the fundraising arm for the Guam Museum, recorded a net loss of $1,275 with a decrease of $11,204 in the fund compared to an increase of $10,933 in 2012.

The top three overall revenue sources were admissions at 78 percent, or $155,000; grants at 10 percent, or $20,000; and Hall of Governors rental at 3 percent, or $7,000.

Admissions decreased by $4,000 from $159,000 to $155,000. Admissions consist of fees to visit the Latte of Freedom for $3 per adult, $2 per local resident and military, and $1 per child and senior citizen. The foundation pays a fee of $1 per adult visitor as commission to a tour company.

The top three expenses were payroll and employee benefits, commissions and program services which represent 81 percent of the foundation’s expenses.

Although payroll and employee benefits decreased by $51,000 due to the loss of one full-time employee, commissions increased to settle the previous obligations of $16,000.

Findings

The audit found that the foundation does not have staff with necessary accounting skills to ensure that all routine accounting transactions – particularly payroll – have been recorded accurately. The administrator has been solely designated to handle the foundation’s accounting and is not necessarily trained in accounting and when the administrator is on leave or in training, the accounting stops.

“OPA has often referred to the heavy reliance on one person as the single point of failure. With the opening of the new museum, the foundation is expected to have an increase in activities,” the OPA said.

Concerns

Auditors raised concerns about payroll taxes, bank reconciliations and the foundation’s deficiency of failing to record prior year audit adjustments.

The foundation is also at risk of paying penalties and interest because there was no evidence that FICA tax deposits for both employer and employees for 2013 were remitted nor was there evidence to indicate that quarterly FICA tax returns had been filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

There was also no evidence that quarterly returns had been filed with the Treasurer of Guam during the second, third and fourth quarter of 2013.

When OPA requested copies of 2013 W-2s, the foundation was able to provide only two W-2s of two full-time employees but unable to provide the W-2s of six part-time employees.

The audit also revealed that bank reconciliations during 2013 were not timely prepared with errors such as duplicate deposits and checks that, although were recorded, had been unreleased and were not mailed.

“The foundation is urged to take immediate action to remand unpaid taxes and file all required payroll returns and should consider outsourcing its payroll function to an outside payroll service provider,” OPA stated.

The $27 million museum is currently under construction and projected to open early next year.

 

Agencies want more time for DSEIS input

Wednesday, 04 Jun 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

WITH the deadline for public comment just two weeks away, the Office of the Governor has requested the Guam Legislature to reschedule the public hearings set up to gather input from government agencies on the potential impact of the buildup on their operations.

Yesterday, Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz, chairman of the legislature's committee on general government operations, convened the second public hearing to receive comments regarding the draft supplemental environmental impact statement from all GovGuam agencies, departments and divisions under his committee’s purview.

During the first hearing, the public safety agencies – except the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission – that were slated to provide testimony did not show up and requested to reschedule.

Cruz read a letter from the governor's office signed by Mark Calvo, director of the military buildup.

In the June 2 letter, Calvo wrote that they are currently reviewing the input to ensure the agency impacts in the study are accurate, noting that the draft SEIS incorporates some seven years of study related to the proposed military buildup.

"It is critical that we provide the public with factual information regarding impacts to the agencies. The buildup office is preparing to submit final agency comments to the governor on June 12. At that time, these documents will be made available to you and the public on the oneguam.com website," Calvo wrote.

Rescheduled

The Office of the Governor, according to Calvo, is requesting that the hearing be rescheduled to June 13 to provide the legislature with the final input from the agencies.

"This request is consistent with the governor's commitment to deliver agency comments to you when we receive them. We are certain you will appreciate and agree that we should not rush our review or any part of this important process," he stressed.

Cruz said that judging from the letter, the legislature won't be receiving a copy of the governor's comments until June 13.

"So we wouldn't be able to have a hearing until the 16th, which would make it the day before the comments are actually due. So the purpose for which the speaker asks us to conduct these hearings will not be met, which is to inform and educate the public so they can make informed and educated comments on the SEIS," he said.

He also clarified that the intent of the public hearings actually was to allow or provide opportunity for the government agencies to inform the public about the SEIS and the possible impact the buildup may have on agencies. That way, the general public could and would be able to submit comments.

The last day of the public comment period for the draft SEIS is June 17.

Supreme Court issues ruling in DFS, Lotte airport case

Wednesday, 04 Jun 2014 03:00am

BY GINA TABONARES-REILLY | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Guam Supreme Court yesterday issued an opinion reversing in part and affirming in part the decision of a trial court judge on the contentious award of the airport concession contract.

The opinion, penned by designated presiding Justice F. Philip Carbullido, associate Justice Katherine Maraman, and Justice Pro Tempore Alberto Tolentino, remanded the case filed by DFS Guam LP against A.B Won Pat International Airport Authority and Lotte Duty Free Guam LLC to Superior Court Judge Michael Bordallo with instructions to delete some statements from its July 19, 2013 decision.

The case originated on July 15, 2013 when DFS filed an application in the Superior Court of Guam for a temporary restraining order to prevent Lotte from moving into the airport retail space. The multi-million dollar retail concession contract between Lotte and the airport had been entered into on May 18, 2013. The trial court held a hearing on the issue on July 17, 2013 and issued a decision two days later that it lacked jurisdiction, saying DFS failed to exhaust its administrative remedies.

According to the justices, Bordallo should not have addressed the merits once he determined that the court lacked jurisdiction and the statements the trial court judge made were in excess of its authority.

Lotte, through its lawyer Cesar Cabot, and the airport authority, through its lawyer Kathleen Fisher, filed an appeal with the Supreme Court after Bordallo denied their motion for reconsideration and motion for correction. When the trial court judge also denied their motion for sanctions against DFS, alleging frivolous complaint, both Lotte and the airport authority filed another appeal in the higher court.

The two appeals were consolidated. 

Affirmation

On the issue of sanctions against DFS, the justices agreed with Bordallo in denying the motion of Lotte and the airport authority.

The airport argued that DFS knew or should have known that its filing was frivolous due to a clear lack of subject matter jurisdiction and that DFS filed the complaint for publicity purposes.

The Supreme Court justices said Bordallo did not abuse his discretion when he denied the motion, saying the trial court issued a reasoned decision and order and nothing in the language of the decision hinted at DFS’s complaint being frivolous.

DFS is protesting the award of the multimillion-dollar retail concession at the A.B. Won Pat International Airport and had filed a lawsuit against Lotte and GIAA. There was no decision on the merits of the May complaint as Bordallo’s decision was based solely on procedural grounds leaving several issues raised by DFS still undecided.

The complaint was dismissed without prejudice which means the case is inconclusive and DFS is not barred from bringing it back to court.

Elated

Cabot said he considered the Supreme Court opinion a victory for Lotte and should be taken by DFS as a sign to abandon its legal pursuits.

“Lotte is elated at its latest victory from the Supreme Court. Lotte believes that it rightfully won the airport concession bid and shall continue to vigorously defend against any unwarranted attacks challenging the integrity of its contract with the airport,” Cabot told Variety.

“Lotte hopes that its earlier positive ruling from the Superior Court, coupled with this recent Supreme Court victory, shall send a message to DFS to reconsider its needless litigation, and consider the harm it is causing our island community and our traveling public,” the Lotte attorney said.

Cabot added that Lotte is nearing completion of its significant construction improvements intended to bring world-class retail facilities to the airport.

“These are improvements that Guam and our traveling public can all be proud of. Lotte believes that the opening of its enhanced retail facilities shall result in greater revenues, not only for Lotte, but also for the (airport authority) and the people of Guam,” he said.

The Variety tried to contact DFS lawyer William Blair, but as of press time had not received any communication from the law firm.

Won Pat says GovGuam agency input on DSEIS ‘invaluable’

Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

Speaker Judith Won Pat said the island's public safety agencies are already struggling and there is a need for them to read and analyze the SEIS in order to determine what will be expected of them if the buildup occurs. Variety file photo

SPEAKER Judith Won Pat has urged all government of Guam agencies to discuss and report how the revised buildup plans in the draft supplemental environmental impact statement will impact their operations and agency needs.


According to Won Pat, the SEIS states that staffing at GovGuam agencies would have to increase by 2 percent to meet the needs of the population increase expected from the buildup.

"In order for our island’s leaders to budget and plan for the buildup, we must hear from our government agencies. Based on the plans in the SEIS, what can we expect moving forward? We need an honest assessment from our agency experts and directors on the current state of their operations and how welcoming 10,000 more people to our island will impact their services in the future," Won Pat said in her latest speaker's address.

Won Pat said the island's public safety agencies are already struggling and there is a need for them to read and analyze the SEIS in order to determine what will be expected of them if the buildup occurs.

Although they were scheduled to testify last week, the Guam Police Department, Department of Corrections and Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency had to reschedule. The Port Police division showed up, but was not prepared to provide testimony.

Won Pat lamented that the agencies had more than a month to review the SEIS and have less than a month left to comment.

Invaluable

"Their input is invaluable, and I cannot stress enough the need for them to provide the community with their findings. Any population increase is going to have significant impacts on our island community and government services. We have to be able to adequately address these impacts to ensure that they do not negatively affect our quality of life," the speaker said.

She added that although Guam has been promised federal dollars, the U.S. Senate is already making cuts to community-related funding. On Friday, Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced that in the committee’s markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, they cut $80.6 million from the Office of Economic Adjustment for projects related to the transfer of Marines to Guam.

According to a statement released by Levin, the committee had to terminate “troubled or unnecessary programs and activities" in light of the U.S. budget deficit problems.

"This is not a good sign moving forward, especially if we think about the needs of our local government," Won Pat said. "I hope that as we hear from more of our agencies, we can make a more honest and realistic assessment of the impact the revised buildup will have on our island community."

Military buildup to have relatively less impact on utilities

Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

OFFICIALS from the island's water and power companies yesterday assured that both utilities have enough capacity to handle the increased demand of the upcoming military realignment.

The officials testified during an informational hearing conducted by the legislature’s infrastructure committee on the possible effects of the draft supplemental environmental impact statement on the island’s utilities.

The SEIS looks at the environmental impacts of the construction and operation of a cantonment, including a family housing area and a live-fire training range complex to support the relocation of approximately 5,000 U.S. Marines and their approximately 1,300 family members to Guam.

The SEIS is expected to be completed in early 2015 and the Record of Decision – which represents the final step in the planning process – will be issued following the completion of the impact study which is required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Martin Roush, Guam Waterworks Authority general manager, said: "There is no doubt, even from a conservative perspective, that we have enough water in our aquifer to meet the needs of the military buildup and the growth in population. But with that said, GWA needs to be a good steward and make sure that we work with (the Department of Defense) to reduce the losses in our water lines and manage our resources."

Roush said the existing safe yield for Guam is 80 million gallons per day of total water capacity. The current use is 40 million gallons per day.

Roush said potable water demand for the cantonment/family housing area would be reduced from the average 5.82 million gallons per day – estimated in the 2010 final EIS – to approximately just 1.7 million gallons per day for the 2012 Roadmap Adjustments.

He added that wastewater generation for the cantonment/family housing area would be reduced from an estimated daily average of 2.6 million gallons per day in the 2010 Final EIS, to approximately 1.2 million gallons per day for the 2012 Roadmap Adjustments.

"This gives you the scale of the impact on the aquifer and wastewater systems," Roush said.

The SEIS also noted that approximately 11 new wells, based on estimated daily maximum demand of approximately 2.6 million gallons per day, would be installed at Andersen regardless of the selected cantonment/family housing alternative.

However, to meet the induced growth, Roush said GWA would require that DOD fund Northern District Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades.

The SEIS stated that as potential mitigation, DOD would assist the water authority in locating funding for the Northern District plant upgrades.

Additionally, the FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act appropriated $106.4 million for civilian water and wastewater improvements on Guam, which Roush said may be explored as a funding source for the northern plant upgrades to move it into primary treatment.

With the issuance of National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits in 2013 establishing discharge limits consistent with secondary treatment levels, both the Northern District and Agana Wastewater Treatment Plants are currently out of compliance and will continue to be so until the upgrades are completed.

Roush also stressed the importance of continued dialogue and cooperation with DOD to establish compatible water and wastewater systems, and additional updated studies and monitoring of water resources to ensure the island's northern aquifer continues to be well managed and properly protected.

In addition, he said DOD will be expected to fund other direct and indirect impacts identified as a result of the buildup.

Enough power

Guam Power Authority General Manager Joaquin Flores said there is also enough power generation capacity to support the buildup, noting that GPA has been seeing reduced demands during the last three years at an average of 3 to 4 percent per year.

Under the SEIS proposed action, the demand for electric power at the cantonment/family housing area would be reduced relative to the 2010 Final EIS and Record of Decision from an estimated 20 megawatts to approximately 5.7 megawatts.

Consequently, current generation capacity on Guam would be adequate and no power generation upgrades would be required, Flores said.

However, some transmission line upgrades would be required for current transmission infrastructure to function properly and all cantonment/family housing alternatives would require construction of a new onsite substation.

Flores said DOD should pay for the buildup’s direct and indirect impacts, noting that projects listed in the SEIS address only the Marine relocation.

He said other projects are necessary to address overall military load growth. "We need to determine exactly which projects will be funded by DOD to ensure GPA is in a position to support the military buildup," Flores said.


GCC opens Community Access Point in Talofofo

Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 03:00am

PRESS RELEASE

 (GCC)

– Guam Community College will open a Community Access Point (CAP) in Talofofo on Wednesday at 10 a.m. Residents of the village who are unemployed or looking for better-paying jobs will have the opportunity to improve their job skills at the CAP.

It is the fourth village CAP to be opened through a partnership between Guam Community College, the Guam Contractors Association, the Guam Chamber of Commerce, the Mayors’ Council of Guam and PC Merge.

The Talofofo CAP is sponsored by JTC Services, Rotary Club of Tumon Bay, Island Tinting, JMC Equipment Rental and Budazu Electric.

The CAP program provides village residents with a means to become more marketable in the workforce through access to free online training via the KeyTrain component of WorkKeys, the Job Assessment and Training program offered by GCC. Once participants complete the KeyTrain program, they can take the $65 test to earn a National Career Readiness Certificate offered through WorkKeys. The NCRC is proof for employers of specific skills that the potential employee has mastered.

In exchange for six to 10 hours a week of working on online skills development at the CAP, residents work two hours a week on village beautification projects.

Community Access Points are already in place in the villages of Inarajan, Sinajaña and Tamuning, and have helped several residents in those villages to secure better-paying jobs. The respective village CAP sponsors are M80 Systems Inc. for Inarajan, Bank of Guam for

Sinajaña, and Isla Paint & Roof Supply, with iConnect providing Internet access in Tamuning.

Doctor details DOC woes

Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 03:00am

BY GINA TABONARES-REILLY | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

Inmates' access to health and mental care better or worse?

AS FAR as Director Joe San Agustin is concerned, the Department of Corrections is on the right track toward addressing federal mandates to provide adequate health and mental care to its inmates.

However, Dr. Raja Saad, DOC medical director, painted a different picture when he testified during yesterday’s hearing, saying there is a crisis and a lack of systems and procedures that overwhelms the prison's understaffed medical unit.

To top it all, Saad said he was threatened and told not to share any information with independent court monitor J. Bradley Klemm.

The federal government stated that DOC management is attempting to hide the fact that health care access has declined in recent years.

Klemm was appointed to monitor the progress of DOC in complying with the requirements of Section 7 of the settlement agreement regarding inmates’ access to medical, mental and dental health care.

The U.S. Department of Justice sued DOC in 1991 for violation of its inmates’ constitutional rights.

No crisis

Cecilia Arciaga, Department of Public Health and Social Services program manager, took the witness stand for the second time and informed the court that judging from her experience in dealing with the outbreak of tuberculosis at the facility, DOC and DPHSS were able to handle it well. The situation is currently under control with no additional active case of TB from the May 27 test conducted among 79 inmates and DOC staff, she said.

“Is there really a public health crisis?” asked Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood.

“Given what we have right now, since we did not find additional cases of TB, I don’t think there is crisis as of right now. As far as the Department of Public Health is concerned, we have not made such a statement,” Arciaga said.

Working

San Agustin said he has been working very hard to fill all vacancies for medical staff.

He said two psychiatric technicians were hired last Friday and a third nurse will join the medical team within the week.

San Agustin said he got full support from Adelup which provided $1.8 million to hire more nurses. Saad is requesting at least five registered nurses to meet the medical needs of some 745 inmates and detainees.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mikel Schwab questioned San Agustin on the witness stand and asked the DOC director how soon he could put a plan in place as required in the 1991 settlement agreement.

Before San Agustin could answer, Schwab followed up his question with: “Does DOC have a plan?” and the director replied “Yes.”

San Agustin said now that they are able to hire medical staff, he will be able to start implementing some mandates required in the settlement agreement and he is looking at finishing it after October.

“We want to implement first the 14-day physical test for incoming inmates. We take a look at what is realistic. We want to comply with the mandate but it is impossible if we are undermanned,” San Agustin said.

Schwab attempted to ask why San Agustin offered a much lower salary to former DOC clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Leitheiser, but Assistant Attorney General Donna Lawrence objected to the questioning.

Tydingco-Gatewood asked the federal attorney for his offer of proof in pursuing some questions.

Schwab wanted to prove that the DOC management was not serious in observing a timeline to come out with the plan when it opted to be adversarial when the director offered a much lower salary to Leitheiser who opted not to renew her contract.

Reduced access

Saad was called to the witness stand again and told the court that things inside the jail have gotten worse as the 31 percent of health care access in 2013  went down to 18 to 21 percent in 2014.

Saad disclosed that his medical team has been in dispute with DOC and things started to fall apart when he announced that he would suspend his service after not getting his salary for nine months. He said he was then threatened by Lawrence.

Saad testified that Lawrence told him on two occasions that if he ceased to report for work she would go to the medical board to revoke his medical license.

Lawrence, however, told Saad that the doctor misunderstood her and it was not her intention to threaten or intimidate the doctor.

“Has anyone pressured you to change your opinion regarding the DOC situation?” Schwab asked Saad. The doctor answered “Yes” and said the pressure happened a few times.

Saad said there were occasions when he was told not to share information with the court monitor and not to attend conference calls with representatives of the Department of Justice.

Lawrence told Saad he misinterpreted her instructions that all documents that were to be released have to go through her to maintain confidentiality and there was no attempt to limit the doctor’s participation in the meeting.

“You scared me because you are a lawyer and I am not. I called my own lawyer because I need help and I want to protect myself,” Saad told Lawrence.

Saad expressed frustration on getting medical supplies, asking why DOC was able to get TB testing kits in a span of two days when he’s been requesting medical supplies to attend to the inmates’ health needs.

“I have to get my supply somewhere else. Why is it so difficult to get a supply? One tablet means a lot. Where is the system? I don’t know,” Saad said.

Saad also stressed that he is not working against the government and he is protecting the government from further litigation.

The closing argument will continue today and the court reserves its decision whether it will allow Leitheiser to take the witness stand.



Congressional delegation has fact-finding mission


Posted: Jun 02, 2014


by Ken Quintanilla  KUAM

Guam - Accompanied by Guam congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, a congressional delegation of seven representatives and their wives paid the Guam Legislature a visit this morning simply to learn more about the island. Minnesota congressman John Kline, who chairs the Committee on Education and Workforce led the codel.

"Although the primary purpose of our trip, the whole trip we're taking is to look at education for younger students what we call K-12 and of course higher education and see how that interacts with the workforce, are people coming through the schools ready to go work," he said.

For many of them, this was their first trip to Guam minus brief stops for refueling. As for what was discussed, education oversight chair Speaker Judi Won Pat questioned Kline on his recently passed "Success and Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act", saying, "We talked to the parents who feel like this is their only hope, this is a dream fulfilled that they now have a chance for their child to get the good education that will prepare them to go onto college or a meaningful career."

Kline says he was unsure of the situation on Guam and whether or not the act could be applicable. As for reformulating teacher preparation programs on Guam, the Minnesota congressman says he shares Guam's concerns adding it's an important issue. As for workforce development, Kline says it's not limited to a certain demographic, saying, "But in general, we're trying to make it easier for anyone who's looking for work to get the kind of training they need, the skills, the certificate they need for the job."

As for bringing H2 workers to Guam for the buildup, he adds while there's a lot of talk in Congress about the H2 visa system, it's not anything his committee is pursuing.

But talk wasn't limited to education and workforce, as Speaker Judi Won Pat raised concern over the Jones Act and cabotage laws. She asked the codel on help in seeking a waiver to these laws as she called them "restrictive" and an "impediment" to Guam. "So it makes it hard for our local economy to grow and even for our local businesses to actually thrive when things become expensive so help us in that respect so that we too can help ourselves to grow our economy," she said.

As for the buildup, along with several Chamorro activists, Senator Ben Pangelinan says based on the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, the Marines relocation to Guam appears to be anything but balanced. "And when that imbalance occurs, the burdens fall on the communities that have to carry the load and in this case, the burden at least on the SEIS falls on the civilian community that the revenues that will generated by the movement of Marines to Guam by construction and so forth is going to be less than we need to do to beef up our education, workforce training, crime, police department and such," he said.

Kline replied saying having been stationed in Okinawa once as part of the Marine Corps, he's aware of the sensitivities that are involved. "I think that the move is an important move and a good move and I'm heartened that the government is working to address the issues you brought up and others, so we'll see how that plays out," he said.

The courtesy visit lasted all but half an hour. So how did Won Pat feel the meeting went? "I was expecting more substance in terms really what it is they can do, but It's non committal at all even to the point of listening to our concerns," she said.

After meeting with lawmakers, the codel met with the military before leaving this afternoon. KUAM has learned that their next destination is to Vietnam. 


 

Governor meets with congressional delegation


Posted: Jun 02, 2014


by Sabrina Salas Matanane KUAM

Guam - Prior to this morning's audience with lawmakers Governor Eddie Calvo also had the opportunity to speak with the visiting congressional delegation. Aside from discussing what he said were the usual discussions on issues involving education and workforce development.

"I told them that the vast majority of our people are for this buildup," he said.

Calvo says he wanted to make sure the message is clear on where Guam stands on the Marines relocation of from Okinawa to Guam and he says he wanted to do that before their meeting with lawmakers. "I did make note that there are few of the leadership of the legislature that are against this military realignment but I wanted them to also understand that they didn't speak for most of the people of this island who are pro-military who want to see this military realignment come to Guam - we feel its good for its economy and we feel its good for Guam's safety and for the safety of the United States."

The governor also reminded the codel of the agreement between the feds and GovGuam about the One-Guam approach to the military relocation. You may recall it's this strategy Robert Work, who is now the deputy secretary of defense, had an integral role in crafting.  The governor is hoping that by informing the codel from the House about Guam's position on the buildup, they will take this message back to their colleagues in the US Senate.  As we reported the Senate Armed Services Committee over a week ago completed their full mark up of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act. In it they cut $80 million from Office of Economic Adjustment to fund projects for the Marines relocation to Guam. The senate committee also extended the prohibition on the use of government Japan funds until DOD submits a master plan.

Governor Calvo said the senate's actions as it relates to the buildup are all the more reason why Guam's message should be unified, saying, "I did speak with Chairman Kline and some of the issues that we had last night at dinner he says it doesn't take many it takes a few folks here in leadership positions making some statements that come out as against the buildup that can have a lasting effect there's a lot of folks in Washington, DC including some in the Senate that would like to move this buildup to Hawaii or to Continental United States and there looking for those on this island that can build the case for them ."

The governor meanwhile did cite some examples in which the One Guam approach has been working in terms of federal funding for projects in preparation for the buildup. "Of course it has been  shown in the funding levels out of the house of representatives  in regards to outside the fence investments 124such as the waste-water , mental health facilities and public health lab," he said.

As we reported the governor along with Guam Buildup Office director Mark Calvo attended meetings in Hawaii and California regarding $119 million for Guam for waste water infrastructure and the construction of a Center for Disease Control lab.








Prison parties describe state of health care behind bars

Posted: Jun 02, 2014

by Krystal Paco  KUAM

Guam - The state of healthcare available to prisoners is up for debate. Parties describe a completely different environment behind prison walls.

Only 31% of the prison population had access to healthcare back in 2013. According to DepCor medical director Dr. Raja Saad, this figure is on the decline.

As he testified today at the District Court of Guam, he says "things are getting worse" adding "I'm the one really fighting the challenges."

As we reported last week, Dr. Saad admitted he was apprehensive to speak up about his concerns relative to access to healthcare at DepCor in fear of being "marked" by his superiors.

On the stand again today, he detailed that for six to nine months last year he went without getting paid and when he advised his employers he would suspend his services, he was threatened by Assistant Attorney General Donna Lawrence who he reports stated "I'll go to the medical board and revoke your license."

Dr. Saad was so intimidated by the event, he hired Attorney Pat Civille to represent him the next day.

In addition, Dr. Saad described other times Lawrence or DepCor director Jose San Agustin ordered he not disclose information to court monitor Attorney Bradley Klemm and not attend conference calls with the Department of Justice.

Although Lawrence denied ever making such a threat and blames miscommunication, the parties disagreed all day on what's really happening when it comes to access to care at DepCor.

As San Agustin took to the stand, he says he remains instrumental in bringing DepCor into compliance with the stipulated agreement from 1991, stating he hired Dr. Saad and two nurses and just days ago, hired two more nurses to round out the medical team saying "I'm for supporting Dr. Saad."

But it's not enough to hire, as Dr. Saad reported this afternoon, there's other limitations keeping DepCor from meeting minimum healthcare standards, including willingness to do so, planning, and budget. He added that despite the frustrating and intimidating work environment setting, he continues to remain passionate for caring for the DepCor population saying, "These people lost their freedom...my job is to take care of thee people and keep their health at minimum."

While status hearings continued today at the District Court of Guam, a memorandum from former DepCor clinical administrator Dr. Andrea Leitheiser addressed to DepCor director Jose San Agustin has also surfaced.

The memo, dated August 2013, requests that the director assist with intervention for warden Frank Crisostomo to include that the warden be counseled or ordered to anger management treatment because of unaccepting and alarming behavior.

Dr. Leitheiser describes an incident in which Crisostomo yelled at her accusing her of disrespecting the “power of the warden.”

When she countered his verbal attacks, he continued to yell. As a result, Dr. Leitheiser removed herself from the room. In a telephone conversation later that day, Dr. Leitheiser says Crisostomo continued to threaten her stating “I don’t care who you talk to or what you do… I have a mission to do and I am the warden.”

Other nurses have also expressed frustration with the warden for occasions where he would call on medical staff because he “wanted Vicks for himself…and for that I had to completely stop sick call.”




Hagel emphasizes commitment to rebalance

Monday, 02 Jun 2014 03:00am

BY FRANK WHITMAN | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

SECRETARY of Defense Chuck Hagel on Saturday reassured Asian allies that the nation remains committed to its military rebalance to the Pacific, according to a Department of Defense release. He was addressing the plenary session at the International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

As an indication of the priority placed by the Department of Defense on the force posture in Asia, Hagel said, “I am directing our Deputy Secretary of Defense (Robert Work) to oversee the implementation of our ongoing enhancements to America's military presence in this region, and with particular emphasis on our posture in Japan, Korea and Guam.”

He said the U.S. is shifting assets to the region including an additional submarine that will be forward-stationed in Guam next year. DOD has announced that the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine, USS Topeka, will be homeported in Guam. Hagel also said that as many as four littoral combat ships will be deployed to Singapore by 2017. “By 2018, the Navy's advanced, multi-mission Zumwalt-class destroyer will begin operating out of the Pacific,” he said. “And by 2020, as we achieve our target of operating 60 percent of both our Navy and Air Force fleets out of the Pacific, we will also be flying the Hawkeye early warning and unmanned Triton (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) aircraft in the region.

As evidence of the strength of the relationship with Japan he said the United States has deployed its “most advanced capabilities” to Japan including two Global Hawks at Misawa, F-22 fighters at Kadena, and Ospreys on Okinawa. The Global Hawk aircraft had been stationed at Andersen Air Force Base until May 24 when they were deployed to Misawa until October, according to a report from Misawa.

Among the Obama administration’s achievements he noted the progress made in the realignment of Marines from Okinawa. “Consider that just three years ago, the strength of our alliance with Japan was being overshadowed by disagreements over the future of the U.S. presence in Okinawa,” he said. “Today, we have a fully agreed force realignment roadmap, and we achieved a major breakthrough last December with the approval of the permit to build the Futenma Replacement Facility.”

University archaeologist optimistic about access to Ritidian

Friday, 30 May 2014 03:00am

Ritidian is Guam’s best public beach as well as the oldest known and longest-lasting ancestral Chamorro settlement site. FWS photo by Laura Beauregard

THOUGH he neither has a strong opinion for or against the proposed firing-range complex at Ritidian on Guam, an archaeologist expressed his optimism that a solution would be reached in favor of providing access to the public.

University of Guam’s Micronesian Area Research Center assistant professor Dr. Mike T. Carson, who has been conducting research at Ritidian where he found evidence of a 3,500-year-old human settlement, said: “Part of my motivation to conduct research at Ritidian has been the direct contribution to public knowledge and appreciation.  A shutdown of the refuge, even if it's only partial or periodic, would reduce the realistic benefits for the public.  Ideally, a solution can be reached to avoid or minimize the shutdown and instead to continue as much public access as possible.”

For Dr. Carson, nobody intends to sacrifice Guam’s natural or cultural resources for the sake of building a new firing range and surface danger zone, or SDZ.

He said this is the reason the decision-making process is taking such a long time, so all options will be considered toward arriving at the most responsible decision.

In his personal opinion, Dr. Carson said he hopes the Department of Defense could keep “within its own rather large existing footprints on Guam.”

He cited Andersen Air Force Base in northern Guam as an example.

He said he suspects there could be “plenty of buffer space that exists for building a firing range complex and accommodating the responsible surface danger zone that goes with it.”

Real issue

He added: “In my perception, the SDZ is the real issue here. It needs to be very large, and it probably will extend over the adjacent ocean. Moreover, the plan is to use the firing range and the SDZ for as many as 39 weeks per year, leaving only 13 of the year's total 52 weeks open for other kinds of activity in the SDZ.”

For Dr. Carson, an additional concern is that those 13 free weeks will need to be announced and scheduled with the public who may want to have access to the area.

“Some people have expressed worries that those 13 weeks will become 12, 11, and even less over time," he said.

Constructing the firing range and SDZ near Ritidian is an option being considered.

For Dr. Carson, options may also be explored within “the very large (Andersen Air Force Base) property.”

He said within the base, “a firing range and associated SDZ would require shutdown and relocation of existing facilities, such as a golf course, housing and other areas. Any location will come with its problems, but AAFB is a large place with plenty of options and excellent engineering minds at work to make virtually any possibility into a reality, no matter how challenging it may appear to be.”

He also expressed his confidence in the planning engineers and in the resource managers to overcome these challenges.

“I hope that their opinions are being considered in the decision-making process,” he said.

If the firing range were to be constructed within AAFB, Dr. Carson said it will not require any major reconfiguration.

However, if the range were to be located near Ritidian, it will require shutting down the Ritidian unit of the Guam National Wildlife Refuge for 39 weeks per year.

Research programs

“In addition to the impact of vastly reducing the public access to this essential resource of the refuge, the scientific research programs will suffer and in some cases become eliminated. Some of the natural resources potentially will improve with absence of human entry into the SDZ, but others will become worse with neglect. The sustained access is what makes the refuge so important for public appreciation and learning, as well as for long-term scientific studies,” he said.

He said DOD could mitigate these problems by building a new road, access point, support buildings and utility service lines for the Ritidian unit. 

“This is not a perfect solution, but it is worthy of consideration. It is a multimillion-dollar operation, and it will require several months to reach completion. It can be compared against the time and cost of reconfiguration of facilities within the existing AAFB footprint for a different location of the firing range and SDZ,” said Dr. Carson, adding that he is not aware any such comparison has yet been made.

He said it would be prudent to have one.

He sees that the archaeological sites and resources in the refuge will not suffer any direct damage.

However, Dr. Carson said the people will no longer be able to access the areas.

“The guided tours and school fieldtrips will no longer be realistic, but a partial solution may continue with the shift in access point as noted,” he said.

He added that at least in principle, archaeological surveys and excavations possibly can be scheduled during times when the proposed SDZ is not active, and other studies may continue in the non-affected areas.

Restricted access

Meanwhile, restricted access to Ritidian is one of the main concerns of supporters of an online petition against H.R. 4402 that will authorize the Secretary of the Navy to establish a surface danger zone over the Guam National Wildlife Refuge or any portion in support of the operation of a live-fire training range complex.

As of yesterday, 1,132 supporters have signed the petition.

The petition underscores the site’s critical role in conserving the natural and cultural heritage of Guam, and its place as an important recreational and educational destination of more than 92,000 Guam residents and tourists each year, including over 12,000 school children who come to the refuge each year to learn about conservation and the island’s traditional habitat.

The petitioners said H.R. 4402 would restrict public access to Guam’s best public beach, the oldest known and longest-lasting ancestral Chamorro settlement site.


Business community primed on military's plans

Posted: May 28, 2014 by Sabrina Salas Matanane  KUAM


Guam - The island's business community had the opportunity today to hear from Joint Guam Program Office director Captain Philip Old who provided an overview of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. "With the new roadmap realignment in having a smaller amount of marines with having that change composition we also have a much different timeline for making this relocation occur originally it was supposed to happen between 2010 and 2014 $10 billion in four years now we're looking at a 2015 and final construction should be in 2028 so its really 13 years going forward," he said.

The Draft SEIS is much different from the 2010 Environmental Impact Statement in that it accounts for a smaller relocation of marines from Okinawa to Guam. The ancient village of Pagat is no longer on the table for the Marines live fire training range. In the new supplemental EIS the preferred location is Northwest Field on Andersen Air Force Base.  In order for the site to be selected however, a surface danger zone must be declared over the US Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge in Ritidian.  Like many in the community, members of the Chamber of Commerce had questions about Ritidian including whether the citing of the firing range at Northwest Field was a done deal.

"The whole NEPA process is ongoing we still have to talk to Fish and Wildlife, Ritidian people national level just to talk about whether or not we can make this alternative to continue to work there is no decision made this is the preferred alternative," he said.

Responding to a question from the audience on the design of the firing range, Captain Old confirmed that whichever alternative is selected - a protective barrier would be constructed around the range. "There's actually berms at the end and berms on the side and you have to flatten out, and that final design still needs to be made but firing ranges are designed to keep bullets into the firing range so the bullets should be staying within that red area is there a possibly that a bullet could ricochet hit something strange on the berm and go tumbling off into the yellow area absolutely is it remote extremely remote. That's why we have surface danger zone and that's why we don't let people into surface danger zones because we're not willing to take that chance," he said.

Meanwhile Speaker Judi Won Pat was also at today's chamber meeting, she was one of chamber chairman Peter Sgro's guests he invited to attend.

The speaker asked Captain Old if he was aware what projects could be cut as a result of the Senate Armed Service Committee's final markup of its version of the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act. As we reported last night the Senate Armed Services Committee cut $80 million to the Office of Economic Adjustment for projects related to the transfer of Marines to Guam.

"The answer is I don't know I must have missed that news cycle, I have not seen that press release," he said.

As we also reported last night, the Senate's version also extends the prohibition on the use of Japanese funds for the realignment of Marine Corps' forces from Okinawa to Guam or other Pacific locations until several conditions are met, including the completion of a master plan for military construction necessary to support such a move.

Meanwhile Captain Old encourages island residents to read the Draft SEIS and provide comments by the deadline of June 17th. You can read the Draft SEIS at guambuildup.eis.us.


Grow Guam with growth in minimum wage

Thursday, 29 May 2014 03:00am

BY SEN. BEN PANGELINAN

WHENEVER one thinks of the future, it should not be without first understanding and recognizing the actions of today and yesterday. As an elected official, I ensure that a proper understanding of the potential effects any legislation may have on future generations is obtained and there is adequate consideration on how previous legislation may affect any current proposals. If history has taught us anything it is that we must not be bound simply by the limitations of the past but open to the possibilities of tomorrow – just as our graduating students across the island are hopeful and open to the possibilities of their future. Much like the seed of education that was planted many years ago by their parents and teachers, a planting of the minimum wage seed will, in part, shape their future professional and personal successes so that their harvest can be much more fruitful for their families.

In April of this year, Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz introduced Bill 316 that would, over the span of three years, incrementally raise the minimum wage by 95 cents each year until 2017 when the minimum wage is proposed to be at $10.10 per hour. Since its introduction, Bill 316 has received an abundance of media attention and debate by both critics and advocates who each cite many decidedly helpful reasons that support their opinions and help, through their discourse, the people of Guam and the Guam Legislature formulate a position on this very important community topic. Despite the pros and cons that have been circulated, there is a history that includes real numbers that should not be discounted or ignored.

Much like in 2007 and 2009, business owners threatened a huge impact to Guam’s economy and they were right, though not in the way that they originally predicted. Many business owners warned that they would need to increase prices to make up for their added labor costs just as they are predicting today. The Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce president, Lourdes Leon Guerrero, indicated at a public hearing on Bill 316 that jobs have actually increased from mid-July of 2009 through the present. The number of jobs created was estimated to be at 1,740 while hours worked increased by two hours a week despite economic market losses in 2008. There were no sustainable job losses or cut hours as a direct result of the 2009 minimum wage increase. So what has changed since 2009?

Well, much has changed. The governor is touting that our economy is growing and thriving. The executive branch believes that these growth numbers coupled with the size of recent developments place the economic status for the island in an upswing. If these press releases are accurate and true about our island’s economy, then now is the time to increase the minimum wage. Let our minimum wage grow with Guam. Actually, more accurately depicted, raise the minimum wage so that we can grow Guam even more.

There are studies that have shown that raising the minimum wage will also have a positive impact on the economy in terms of spending-spurring growth, the production of jobs and stimulating demand. We have heard our local government economists speak of this impact as well. Additional income earned by low-wage employees is typically spent on goods and services they need immediately. So while opponents of the minimum wage increase have long held that an increase in the minimum wage would undoubtedly lead to a contracting of the economy, we know and studies have shown that this is simply not true. Putting more money into the pockets of our people will certainly increase spending power while in turn, increasing spending within our economy at the very businesses that have threatened layoffs or work-hour reductions.

Other statistics show an increase in the number of jurisdictions who are or have increased the minimum wage. Surely those jurisdictions have taken into consideration those very same ideals and forward thinking. In fact, 34 states are considering increases to the state minimum wage. So far, Minnesota, West Virginia, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Hawaii have all enacted wage increases this year. The legislators of these jurisdictions across the nation believed that raising the minimum wage was a good thing and have sided with facts and figures rather than anecdotal threats and suppositions. What are we waiting for?

We all must rise above ourselves such that we ensure that our families, especially our women and children, are provided with a wage that reflects more accurately what is reasonable and just. One of the main purposes for raising the minimum wage is to allow the hardworking people of Guam to provide for their families despite the increasing cost of living they continue to face. The cost of goods and services will continue to rise whether or not a rise in the minimum wage is enacted. We have seen this trend over the last five years. Let us not leave our people further behind.

The current proposal to increase the minimum wage allows time for employers to prepare over the course of the next three years, just as they were allowed to prepare in 2007. Given the much touted growing economy of our island by the governor, now is the most opportune time to enhance this growth with an increase in the minimum wage. Much like our recent graduates, I am hopeful that the seed we plant for the future of our people, most especially our women and children, will provide the sustenance necessary to ensure that our hardworking families are empowered and filled with possibilities for their own successes.

Si Yu’os Ma’åse’

Port modernization plan now law

Thursday, 29 May 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE Port Authority of Guam can move forward with its modernization plan. According to PAG General Manager Joanne Brown, acting Gov. Ray Tenorio signed Bill 328 into law last Wednesday.

“After some interesting and challenging moments with the Guam Legislature we now have our master plan for the Port Authority of Guam approved,” Brown said at yesterday’s board of directors meeting.

Port management also updated board members about the procurement of emergency generators and running electricity to the container freight station building.

Felix Pangelinan, port deputy of operations, said the wires needed for electricity in the CFS building were to be installed last night. Pangelinan said the CFS building will have electricity by Friday midnight and the operations division will be able to move into and utilize the building in the coming days.

Pangelinan said the contractor, ProPacific Builders Inc., will need to run the air-conditioning units for about five days prior to the move.

The CFS building had been without electricity for months. Pangelinan said the installation of the power lines was a task the port was looking forward to since the lines were damaged in February.

About 4,000 feet of electrical wire had to be replaced, costing about $90,000.

Additionally, the yearlong undertaking of procuring emergency generators for the port is moving along. Brown said the port will go through the federal General Services Administration to complete the procurement.

“We finally, a year later, a whole year later since the LC4 went down, we’ve been able to get final concurrence from federal, our U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FEMA ... we got their approval to purchase from fed GSA,” Brown said.

Misconceptions and lies about the minimum wage

Thursday, 29 May 2014 03:00am

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

SINCE its inception during the New Deal era of President FDR in the 1930s, the minimum wage has not achieved its desired goals.

Because no one mentions, or it is purposely hidden, that the increase in the minimum wage does not go entirely 100 percent to the employee. The government takes a big chunk out of it – 1/3 percent as taxes and FICA. For example: The desired increase of $2.85, in reality, becomes $1.90 after the government takes out its taxes. While the business person has to pay out the added $2.85 increase per hour, he has to add this amount to his sales price, plus more. So the employee gets to keep $1.90 in his pocket, while his expenses go up by at least $2.85. This is a no-brainer. This is rather another ruse to collect more taxes, without calling it a tax increase.

If our elected officials really want to help their constituents (all voters), they should get the government of Guam out of the infrastructure business, e.g., sell GPA and GWA, use the proceeds to pay off the billion-dollar bond debt, save on the interest to be paid to the bond holders and use this saving to run the essential GovGuam operations. We have encumbered our future GovGuam revenues to pay off the bond debt.

Alfred C. Ysrael,
Tamuning


Earliest known photographs of Guam on virtual display at the Guam Museum’s Facebook page


Tuesday, 27 May 2014 03:00am


PRESS RELEASE


(DCA) – The Department of Chamorro Affairs, the Guam Museum, and the Guam Museum Foundation invite the public to take a “virtual tour” of Guam’s historic, capital city of Hagåtña, in commemoration of International Museum Day.


Tying in this year’s theme of “Museum Collections Make Connections,” perhaps the earliest known photographs of Guam are now available for viewing in the Guam Museum Facebook page.

The images connect us to a time, once described only through writings, illustrations and oral history, but now through photographs taken by a German expedition in Asia and the Pacific.  Here is a description of the photographs by Dr. Christina DeLisle and her Museum Studies Class at the University of Guam:

“These photographs of Guam’s capital city of Hagåtna are attributed to Gustav Riemer.  Riemer was Paymaster of the SMS Hertha, a German man-of-war that traveled to Asia and the Pacific from October 1874 through July 1877 and whose visit to Guam was most likely part of a German colonial mission in the region.  The expedition was one of many European and American ventures, scientific and commercial, which followed a longer history of imperial powers carving up the world, and Spanish colonialism and missionization in the Marianas.  German encroachment, in particular, spurred Spain to reinvigorate its presence in Micronesia and to strengthen its political claims to the region.

“First publicly exhibited in Berlin as a wunderkammer (“wonder room”) or “cabinet of curiosities,” these photographs may speak more about foreign desires to capture exotic and faraway lands and to stage “picturesque” and “tranquil” images stereotypically associated with the tropics and distant outposts, rather than accurately depict quotidian life on Guam.

Deportados

For example, when the Hertha arrived in 1876, a recent influx of several hundred Spanish deportados had already exacerbated the living conditions and challenges that the people faced as a result of typhoons, flooding, drought, diseases, and food rationing by the Spanish government. “One would not know this by simply looking at the photographs. One would also not know that the deportados – who Spanish officials exiled to Guam because some believed remote beaches had ‘moral virtues that regenerated the culprit who set foot on them’ – were rationed rice and pork while others received only a small portion of rice daily.”

From the images and imagery (i.e. “bucolic” landscapes, “docile” natives, “quaint” others), one may not sense the long history of Chamorro resistance that occurred alongside local and nativist struggles in the Americas, Mexico, and the Philippines – movements that also challenged Spanish rule. Upon closer inspection, one may not even surmise a history of Chamorro survivance (survival and resistance).  Indeed, these early images of Guam do not simply afford a ‘window into the past’; rather, they provide an opportunity to reclaim stories of Chamorro landscapes and the multiple narratives of “native” and “other.”

"Guam's rich 4,000 year historic past continues to unveil marvels of stories untold of its peoples, the Chamorros.  We celebrate along with all other museums ... the significant contributions that communities provide in advancing Museology worldwide," said Joseph Flores Artero-Cameron, president of Guam’s Department of Chamorro Affairs, and president of the Pacific Islands Museum Association.

A permanent exhibit of the “Riemer” photographs are on display at Guam’s 1st Lady’s Museum at Government House. Call 671-475-9474 for visits.

For more information on the “virtual tour,” contact Mr. Simeon Palomo, Director-Designee of the Guam Museum, at 671-475-4230 or simeon.palomo[at]dca.guam.gov.



Lotte Duty Free Guam Live music festival lineup announced


Wednesday, 28 May 2014 03:00am


BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


THE Lotte Duty Free Guam Live music festival is expected to take place in nine days. Sponsors released more information about what it called a “world-class international lineup” yesterday.

The music festival will feature nine musical acts who will take the stage on June 6 and 7 at Paseo Stadium in Hagåtña. The two-day event is the first music festival to be held on Guam and is a new Guam Visitors Bureau signature event.

Headliners include Sublime with Rome, Matisyahu, Steel Pulse and Pia Mia. Other performers based in Asian countries also made the lineup. These acts include the bands Brown Eyed Girls, NU’EST, Home Made Kazoku, Izah Blue and Popu Lady.

Brown Eyed Girls and NU’EST are from Korea. Brown Eyed Girls are a four-member K-Pop girl group and NU’EST is described as an “urban electro” band with five members.

Izah Blue is a musician originally from California who now lives and produces music in Kansai, Japan, GVB stated in a release. 

Home Made Kazoku is a trio also from Japan. Home Made Kazoku is described as a hip-hop group, and was once pronounced Upcoming Artist of the Year in Japan.

Finally, Popu Lady is a five-member Taiwanese female musical act. The group debuted with HIM international in 2012 and its focus is on upbeat pop music.

Tickets are on sale for the two-day event. Tickets for one day of access cost $50 and a two-day access pass costs $80.

Sublime with Rome, Brown Eyed Girls and Steel Pulse are scheduled to kick off the festivities with their performances on Friday and the other acts are slotted for Saturday.

GVB stated on its website that the line-up is subject to change and refunds will not be given due to a change in the line-up.

Doors each night will open at 4 p.m. The Paseo Stadium can handle up to 8,000 spectators.

For a full list of rules and policies and more information regarding the festival, click here.




Guam kicks off fundraising for Festival of the Pacific Arts


Wednesday, 28 May 2014 03:00am


BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

ORGANIZERS of the Festival of the Pacific Arts have estimated a working budget of $13 million to host 26 island nations for the festival in 2016 on Guam.

Theresa Arriola, event chairwoman, said $11 million of the $13 million will come from the local government or company sponsorships, which leaves about $2 million for the committee to come up with through various fundraising events and sponsorships. Arriola said she is optimistic about the amount the committee could raise and said $2 million in two years is a manageable goal.

“We have established a working budget of $13 million; $5 million of that will come from the government appropriations; $6 million we’re looking at in-kind contributions from the government as well as the private sector,” Arriola said.

So far, two companies have already pledged support. United Airlines has been named the official airline service of the festival and Bank of Guam has been recognized the official bank sponsor of the festival. Arriola said both companies have pledged $100,000 each.

The committee also launched its first community fundraiser last night, entitled Dinanña Kotturan Guahan. Though it started late, the fundraiser served as a preview of what can be expected during FestPac 2016. Arriola said the event featured cultural performances, local art and local foods.

“It’s not even close to what the plans are in 2016,” Arriola said. “It’s a glimpse of what Guam will do.”

Arriola said the FestPac organizing committee hoped to collect about $20,000 from the event and nearly made it. The event chairwoman also said most of the tickets for last night’s event were sold prior to the doors opening at 6 p.m.

Very close

Despite a stacked social calendar, Arriola said the committee was able to sell enough tickets and collect an amount “very, very close” to $20,000.

The details of the next fundraiser have not been finalized. Arriola said the plan is for another group of island cultures to preview their FestPac performances and artwork in the same way as last night’s Dinanña Kotturan Guahan event. The next fundraiser is expected to occur in the latter part of this year.

“It’s a daunting task and the festival is not a GVB event; it’s not a government event; it’s not a private sector event. It really is all of us pulling together,” Arriola said. “The wonderful thing about the festival is that it’s the island’s event – Guam is hosting.” She added that the last time an event this large was held on Guam was the South Pacific Games hosted in 1999.

Arriola said it won’t be for another few decades that Guam will host an event of this stature and said it is an exciting time in the island’s history. “This is the first time Guam is hosting a cultural, international festival,” she said.

The 12th annual Festival of Pacific Arts will run from May 22 through June 4, 2016. About 2,500 performers, artists and cultural practitioners are expected to showcase the unique cultures of the 26 other island nations within the Pacific.

Thousands of festival attendees are also expected, a statement from FestPac said. The festival is held every four years. The 11th Annual FestPac was held in the Solomon Islands in 2012.

Participants are expected from American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Easter Island, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji Islands, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis


Dusit Thani Resort and Spa hiring for management positions


Wednesday, 28 May 2014 03:00am


BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


 


DUSIT Thani Resort and Spa has started its search for its managerial staff, in anticipation of its grand opening which is expected in the coming months.

Tanota Partners, owners of the hotel, disclosed on its website that the deluxe hotel is expected to open in July. Dusit Thani Guam General Manager Dean Huntsman, said in February that the hotel would open its doors in the third quarter of this year.

A job announcement for management positions was recently posted. The announcement lists nine positions responsible for overseeing various hotel operations, including a purchasing manager, an executive housekeeper, a front office manager, director of engineering, a director of finance, an executive chef, a director of food and beverage, a director of sales and marketing, and an administrative assistant to the general manager.

The resort will feature a convention center, the first of its kind on island, according to Tanota. The resort is expected to offer services and amenities of five-star quality, including the island’s largest conference center, a modern full-service spa, an idyllic pool and several world-class restaurants, Tanota stated.

The hotel will be connected to The Plaza shopping center and Outrigger Resort and will have a helipad for patrons who require helicopter access.

Adding to its list of “firsts,” the hotel’s communications services are maintained by a Gigabit Passive Optical Network throughout the entire resort, Variety files state. It is the first passive optical network created specifically to service a hotel on island.

Huntsman said in an earlier interview that about 360 jobs will be available with the opening of the Dusit Thani Resort and Spa.

According to Variety files, the resort cost about $60 million to build.

Dusit Thani representatives did not respond to calls or messages as of press time.




DOE investing in solar panels


Posted: May 28by Jolene Toves

Guam - The island's children are our future and the Department of Education is not only molding them but also taking the necessary steps to ensure they will have a better environment tomorrow.

The rising costs of power has the community exploring their options when it comes to the generation of power even government agencies are looking towards renewable sources of energy that will save money and trees. Joining the effort is DOE. The department is thinking green with the hopes of installing solar panels at several of our island's schools. DOE superintendent Jon Fernandez said, "We basically are in the final stages of reviewing an agreement with GEF which is the landlord of our lease schools our four of our lease schools including Okoddo, Astumbo Middle School, Liguan and Adacao to install solar panels as soon as this coming school year hopefully before the end of the calendar year."

A review and approval of a power purchasing agreement will allow DOE to purchase power that is up to 80 percent of the schools capacity. "At a discounted rate from our GPA rates and of course the remaining 20 percent we will remain on the grid to be able to use GPA power," he said.

Fernandez says they are looking at the mechanics of the agreement and trying to leverage federal tax credit to make it possible. "Basically they will install and maintain the solar panels at no cost to the department what we will be doing instead paying on an annual basis through the power purchasing agreement," he said.

Fernandez says the department does have a broader solar panel effort in the works with the General Services Agency, noting, "We are working with GPA to come up with some final answers to the IFB they are putting out and once that gets going we be able to address the installation of solar panels in the rest of our school system."

So while the first to harness the power of the sun will be the lease schools Fernandez says once the details are worked out with GSA the rest of the department will go green.



IHOP to join Applebee’s in Tamuning

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 03:00am

BY FRANK WHITMAN | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

AT THE same time that the owners of the Guam Applebee’s franchise are preparing for a mid-July opening, they are also making plans to develop Guam’s first IHOP restaurant. Both establishments, along with a commercial retail and office building, will be located in Tamuning in front of Cost-U-Less on a lot owned by Cam Properties LLC.

The construction of the Applebee’s restaurant is about 85 percent complete and in its finishing stages. The franchisee, Apple Pacific LLC, said it anticipates opening in about six or seven weeks.

At the same time, the company is in the process of acquiring the building permits for the IHOP location. “We are prepared to begin (construction of IHOP) as soon as all the necessary permit requirements have been met,” said Richard Hart, president of Apple Pacific. “We are hoping to open in the late fourth quarter (of this year) or early first quarter of 2015.”

The Applebee’s restaurant is 8,350 square feet and will include a dining room, private party room and patio with a total of 288 customer seats. The IHOP is planned to be 4,300 square feet, with a customer capacity of about 180, though that number has not yet been finalized.

The two restaurants will employ a total of 175 to 200 people, Hart said.

Those who are familiar with the iconic Applebee’s brand from other locations may be surprised to find that the appearance of the Tamuning restaurant is unique. “In partnership with Cam Properties we have strived to build a one-of-a-kind Applebee’s that is unlike any other in the world,” said Hart. “We abandoned the ‘cookie cutter’ style franchise and have done something really wonderful.”

The restaurant design team is Taniguchi Ruth Makio Architects, EMCE Electrical, EMC2 Mechanical, WM Engineering Services LLC and Duenas Camacho & Associates. The project contractor is Isagani B. Baluyut Construction. “Together they have done a terrific job at bringing our vision to life,” Hart said.

The preparations for the IHOP location began about 18 months ago, Hart said. “We began by doing a market survey to see what the people of Guam really wanted to have here and found there was overwhelming support for such an iconic brand like IHOP to come to Guam,” he said. To comply with franchise guidelines, the local company must “bring a training team from all over the world to Guam, coordinate food supply, hiring, training and construction and completion along with any other events that come up along the way.”

Cam Properties, the owner of the 7,000-square-meter property, comprises the seven children of former Gov. Carlos Camacho, including former Gov. Felix P. Camacho. In addition to the two restaurant buildings, there will be a third building which will be constructed at the same time as the IHOP restaurant.

The third building is a two-story structure that will share a breezeway with IHOP. It will include about 6,000 square feet of commercial retail and office space. The complex will provide a total of about 150 parking stalls, according to Tom Camacho, one of the Cam Property principals as well as a structural engineer and managing partner of Duenas Camacho and Associates engineering firm.

“We have not selected tenants for building 3 at this time but we are aggressively marketing the spaces and have several potential tenants,” Camacho said.

The Tamuning location is ideal, said Hart. “There is no other destination in Guam where you can find so many outlets for dining, entertainment and shopping all in one place,” he said. “This should become a really wonderful development for all sorts of businesses; with the restaurants able to drive traffic into the complex there it will make for a great place to set up a business.”

Great success

Hart said he anticipates IHOP will be a great success on Guam. “We are looking forward to showing people that IHOP can be a great destination for families to enjoy a high-quality food product at a reasonable price any time of the day, not just at breakfast,” he said. “Although if you want our world-famous pancakes we are happy to make them for you no matter what time it is.”

Hart has been in the restaurant business for more than 25 years. He was formerly the managing partner of Outback Steakhouse in Tumon and has held various other positions at Guam restaurants.

Both restaurant brands operate under Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar and International House of Pancakes, respectively, and are subsidiaries of DinEquity Inc. of Glendale, California. Both are popular, family-oriented casual dining restaurants.

There are more than 1,560 IHOP restaurants in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

More than 1,990 Applebee's restaurants are operating in 49 states, 15 countries and Puerto Rico. Applebee's employs approximately 28,000 workers companywide and has annual sales of $4.7 billion, according to the company website.

Concerns aired over money running out to pay tax refunds

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

EVEN as the administration has announced a new round of tax refunds, one senator is expressing concern that money may run out before all the tax refunds owed are paid.

Sen. Ben Pangelinan, chairman of the legislature's appropriations and public debt committee, said there is still approximately $73.7 million owed to individuals and $9.63 million owed to businesses for a total of $83.33 million in tax refunds still left to be paid by the government.

The senator based this estimate on the Income Tax Refund Status Report for the month ending April 30 submitted by the Department of Revenue and Taxation to the Guam Legislature on May 16.

Based on the report, Pangelinan continued to express his concerns over the remaining income tax refund liability the government of Guam continues to owe.

“The latest RevTax report states that the government of Guam still owes over $83 million in income tax refunds, even though we have paid millions this fiscal year. We cannot let our guard down, or we will quickly find ourselves in a deficit,” said Pangelinan. “No press release, no weekly address, and absolutely no distorted account of history can wipe away the tax refunds that we owe to our people. With a sizeable tax refund liability still on the books, only strict adherence to the tax refund laws of Guam and no more withdrawals from the Tax Refund Trust Fund will place us on a path in the right direction.”

Pangelinan claimed that almost $50 million has been withdrawn or transferred from the Income Tax Refund Efficient Payment Trust Fund between fiscal 2011 to the present for non-tax-refund-related purposes such as government operations.

The Guam Legislature has filed for a declaratory judgment for action on what Pangelinan said are non-tax-refund-related withdrawals. In addition, there is also a tax refund permanent injunction requiring that tax refunds be paid in a timely manner.

“If these withdrawals/transfers did not take place, we would have been in a better position than we are in today. The brave taxpayers who filed suit against the governor for the timely payment of tax refunds continues to fight him in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, because the governor has appealed the tax refund permanent injunction,” Pangelinan said.

“We continue to have an over $83 million tax refund liability. Moving forward, I continue to urge the governor for strict adherence to all the tax refund laws of Guam and to stop wasting money by fighting the District Court and the taxpayers with his appeal of the tax refund permanent injunction,” the senator said.

Bigger and better

Saturday, 24 May 2014 03:00am

VARIETY NEWS STAFF

The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."
– Thomas Jefferson

MARIANAS Variety-Guam was founded in October 2004, amid a shaky economic climate as the island was then struggling to recover from the devastation left behind by Super Typhoon Pongsona.

Guam survived. And so did we – a feat we are particularly proud of considering the inherent challenges facing the publishing industry.

We persevered as we built our credibility and reputation as a reliable source of local, regional, national and world news. Our integrity is our currency and our commitment to serve the community is what keeps us going.

Now on our 10th year on Guam, we are hitting another milestone as we launch the weekend edition of MVG today. This is the maiden issue of the Saturday edition of MVG. To fulfill our promise to serve the Guam community seven days a week, we are launching the Sunday Variety tomorrow.

The expansion of our MVG clearly dispels the myths about the death of ink-on-paper industry and the public's purportedly lost appetite for long-form journalism. Our decision to expand was made in response to insistent community demand.

This is not to say we are sliding backward. Rather, we are transforming and adapting to the brave new world that converges paper and screen contents.

As the billionaire Warren Buffet said, community papers are bound to last because nothing can beat the intimate delivery of local news.

We agree. We are here to tell you about what is going on in our government, in our schools, in our streets and in our neighboring islands. We are here to report the victory of your school basketball team or an award received by a student, who you may happen to know in your neighborhood.

In this edition, we are launching our new sections, such as the Real Estate Corner and the movie review page. In the forum page, we are introducing R. William Hamlin's column on immigration matters. The Saturday edition will regularly carry a local editorial cartoon created by a local artist, Nezumie. The Community section carries Gina Tabonares-Reilly's pet column.

Wherever there is a sense of tight community, a paper that caters to the special information needs of the residents will thrive and remain relevant to a huge segment of the population.

Welcome to our weekend edition.



GVB certifies 20 more tour guides, release arrival summary


Monday, 26 May 2014 03:00am


BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF


TWENTY new tour guides are certified and ready to serve Guam tourists after the Guam Visitors Bureau’s  58th cycle of certification.


Tour guide certification was made law in 1997 and since then, GVB said, 335 tour guides have been through the program. GVB partnered with Guam Community College to offer the courses and training as designated in P.L. 23-136.

Legislative findings stated in the law that the island anticipated two million visitor arrivals by 2001, a goal which has yet to be reached. According to GVB’s Tourism 2020 plan, the bureau has the same goal is to attract 2 million visitors in the next six years. In 2013, arrivals were at about 1.3 million.

According to the law, “The role of a tour guide is equally significant to maintaining and fostering the economic success and prosperity,” thus the legislature implemented the tour guide program requirement.

GVB encouraged interested persons to contact them at 646-5278 for information about tour guide certification.

May arrivals continue to increase

GVB also released the preliminary visitor arrival report which accounted for the first three weeks of the month. The report shows a 5.1 increase overall compared to arrival numbers for the same time period last year.

The Korean market showed significant growth, with arrivals up by 29.4 percent compared to May 2013.

Japan arrivals continue to decrease, this month by 10.1 percent. Overall, for first four months of the year, visitors from Japan have decreased by 11 percent. Japan remains the No. 1 source market, however, and visitors continue to arrive from that destination by the tens of thousands. Between January and April 2014, Japan arrival numbers were almost three times as much as the Korean arrivals.

This month, despite the decline, Japan numbers are twice that of Korean numbers. Additionally, more than half of the visitors to Guam between May 1 and 22 came from Japan.

Calendar year-to-date data shows the same is true, more than half of all the visitors Guam received since the beginning of 2014 have come from Japan.

Russian and Chinese arrivals are up from last year. Month-to-date numbers show 38 percent more Chinese visitors and 314 percent more Russian visitors flew to Guam in May, so far.

GVB also noted in its report summary that arrivals from Taiwan, the Philippines and Hong Kong showed growth so far this month, with increases of 38, 36 and 16 percent, respectively.


 

USDA seeking applications for renewable energy systems

Monday, 26 May 2014 03:00am

BY LOUELLA LOSINIO | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

THE U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program is seeking applications from interested small businesses and agricultural producers for funding to make energy efficiency improvements or to install renewable energy systems.

The funding will help farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology into their operations to create jobs and become more energy independent.

Through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), USDA grants and guaranteed loans are available for eligible applicants to alleviate the investment for energy systems. Created by the 2008 Farm Bill, REAP was reauthorized by the recently passed 2014 Farm Bill. For fiscal 2014, USDA plans to award up to $12.3 million in grants and $57.8 million in loan guarantees.

USDA is accepting applications for:

  • Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement loan guarantee and grant combinations;

  • Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement loan guarantees; and

  • Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grants.

    At least one company on Guam has already availed of REAP funding. American Printing Corp. used a $24,170 REAP grant to help offset the cost of installing a 20-kilowatt photovoltaic, grid-interconnected solar power system on the rooftop of the company’s building in Tamuning.

    Co-owner and manager James Yu said that with the doubling of the cost of power, his family’s business began looking for ways to control its power bill. With the investment, the business expects its next power bill to be half of what it had been.

    “Guam has been our home for over 36 years and knowing we are saving energy while doing our part to save our environment and to make Guam a greener place, is a rewarding feeling,” Yu said.

    Under the program, requests for grants may not exceed 25 percent of a project's cost – either for stand-alone grant requests or for grants combined with loan guarantees.

    "This announcement clearly demonstrates the Obama administration's effort to create a clean energy economy,” said Chris Kanazawa, state director for Hawaii and the Western Pacific. “The REAP will enable owners of rural businesses, farms, and ranches to develop renewable energy systems and improve energy efficiency to save thousands of kilowatt hours of energy annually."

    Since the start of the Obama administration, REAP has supported more than 8,200 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide. During this period, the USDA has provided more than $264 million in grants and $212 million in loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small business owners.

    “We want to reach out to more farmers, ranchers and small businesses in the Western Pacific and encourage them to take advantage of this funding opportunity for investments in energy systems,” said Joe Diego, area director. “Rural Development understands that investment in these systems can be costly; however, REAP offers an affordable financing alternative to finance these investments. Ultimately, the investment will assist businesses and agricultural producers become more sustainable in the face of rising energy costs in the Western Pacific while at the same time becoming more environmentally friendly.”



GFT to launch solar energy program for members


Monday, 26 May 2014 03:00am


PRESS RELEASE


 (GFT) – The Guam Federation of Teachers has partnered with Micronesia Renewable Energy Inc. to help its members and their families reduce their power bill.


GFT announced in its latest newsletter that Micronesia Renewable Energy will install a solar energy system on their roofs “with zero upfront cost” to the homeowners.

“You’ll only receive an $11.33 service fee per month from the (Guam Power Authority)” the GFT newsletter said. “A percentage of what you were paying for power to GPA will go to pay for the system allowing you to save money from day one.”

As power rates continue to increase, homeowners can expect their monthly solar energy system payment to stay flat, hedging their utility costs.

At the end of the lease term, the homeowner will get to own the system “with a 30-year warranty on the solar panels.”

GFT said the system will continue to produce free power for decades to come.

]“The lease term is dependent on your credit score, but this isn’t a loan; it will not affect your credit,” GFT told its members. “For example, if you decided to apply for a car loan your solar energy system lease will not show up on your credit report.”




Vice Speaker Cruz makes case for minimum wage increase

Friday, 23 May 2014 03:00am

BY JASMINE STOLE | VARIETY NEWS STAFF

VICE Speaker Benjamin Cruz presented data contradicting arguments made against raising the minimum wage yesterday at the Rotary Club of Guam meeting at the Pacific Star Resort & Spa.

“In the end, history has not been kind to naysayers ... wage increases on their own do not and did not kill business, nor throw people out of work,” Cruz said.

Cruz said employees working in the hotel lodging industry have only seen a 28-cent increase, between 2009 and 2014. “Twenty-eight cents, not 28 percent,” Cruz said.

The senator went on to detail the wages of workers in the retail industry, from which employees have also only seen a 28-cent increase. Cruz said in 2009, workers in the retail industry were paid an average of $8.51, which increased to $8.70 in December 2013 and again to $8.79 in 2014.

“Workers are helping their employers make more money, while their personal wages have grown only slightly over the last six years,” Cruz said.

The vice speaker added that the minimum wage increase is affordable. He cited the 2012 Guam Economic Census, which he said showed revenue growth was almost three times more than the increase in total operation costs, based on worker output. “Moreover, revenue per employee grew to an astonishing $25,000. And all of this took place at a time when there was a global recession,” Cruz said.

Cruz refuted the argument that the minimum wage only impacts teenagers. Cruz said people of all ages, from teenagers to senior citizens, hold minimum-wage jobs.

More than 11,000 women earn minimum wage in the private sector, Cruz noted. He added that 6,415 families presently live in poverty on Guam, of which 40 percent consist of single-parent homes with no adult male present, headed by a female parent.

“People, both men and women, who work full-time jobs should not have to raise their families in poverty,” he said.

Challenge

Cruz said the facts he encountered also pushed him to challenge his own “deeply held beliefs.” Education is touted as the magic bullet out of poverty, but statistics indicate otherwise.

“According to the latest population census, of the individuals in Guam’s workforce who hold a bachelor’s degree or completed at least one training program, 20 percent earn less than $15,000, 40 percent earn less than $25,000 (a year),” he said.

The speaker also said data showed the economy grew during the last three minimum wage increases and that price increases related to a minimum wage increase would be modest. Cruz cited a 2004 study that concluded such and said a product that costs $100 now would cost $101.60 if the minimum wage was to increase to $10.10.

“Many of the men and women earning low wages are not lazy, uneducated moochers,” Cruz said. “Some are the best among us.”