Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Adios JAL!

My grandfather, echoing older days of politics on Guam, often says that the Guam Legislature always needs at least one Lujan. Its for that reason that in the 2008 election, in which grandpa was particularly displeased and disgusted at the character of the potential candidates for the office, he only cast two votes. One for Doug Moylan (sa' ga'mumu yan ga'gumantes gui') and the other for Jesse Anderson Lujan, also because ga'mumu gui', but more so because Lujan gui'.

Unfortunately the votes of my grandfather, my grandmother and even my brother weren't enough to put Jesse Anderson Lujan or "JAL" as I fondly refer to him as over the top in this past election, and so next year the Leyesleturan Guahan will be without a person who has Lujan as their last name. Oh, they'll be plenty of people with Lujan parientes or relatives, but no one left whose main family identifiers are Lujan, through either their mother or father (at least on the surface, so I could be wrong).

Otro fino'-ta, achokka' ha na'triste yu' este na estao TaiLujan gi i Leyesletura, sina masangan na este megg'ggai na taotao Lujan esta manhalom guihi, ya bula'la' na Mampolitikat na Lujan. Maolekna na ta na'fanchagi i otro na familia.)

I've been a fan of Senator JAL for a long time and made no secret about it on this blog or in my zine Minagahet as well.

In all things we have no idea how much a person's rhetoric relates to what they truly believe or feel. People put so much energy into this, especially in relation to politicians, but, in their case and in the case of everyone around you, that knowledge is often sealed off, unknown, even to the speakers themselves. So for instance, in the case of Barack Obama, so many progressives supported him, because although many of his positions aren't progressive and frankly not change worth believing in, you could attribute a consciousness to him, a thinking relation to his rhetoric in which you can rationalize that he was just saying this to get elected, and once in power he'll be the real progressive I know he is deep down.

Tom Tomorrow of This Modern World had a funny take on this, when in one of his strips, he had horrified "progressives" or "liberals" shocked and stupefied at the centrism of Obama, and screeched in disbelief that he never sounded like this or did anything like this in any of the imaginary conversations that they'd had together!

I mention this because, amongst "regular" people and activists alike, too much time can be spent discussing and guessing what level of consciousness or authenticity politicians have or don't have. And thus an assumption of a particular consciousness will lead you to overlook the flaws or limits of some politicians in the sense that you will believe in them far too much, and think they are capable of doing or currently doing way more than they actually might or can do. On the other side, the assumption of a lack of consciousness, doesn't necessarily mean that you will work against them or seem them as evil, bad or somebody to be stopped. More generally, you will see them as the majority of any society see the majority of their political leaders (ko'lo'lo'na gi halom Democracies), that they are "manaisetbe" "mandakkon" "mandugeru" or worthless, liars and cheats. You may see them in a negative light, as people who are responsible for a community's political rot, but the main way in which you will see them is as being useless, pointless, not capable of anything.

The time wasting here comes because, your focus, the locus of what drives your speech, your thinking, your framework of possibility here is all linked to the internal processes of this or these politicians, what they really believe or not. I feel that it is more important to work with what politicians do and say, their psychological relationship to their rhetoric isn't as important as what their rhetoric does once its invoked, once it leaves their lips and ends up in your mind, in newspapers, in video, on blogs. After all, this is why the messages of politicians are so managed and massaged nowadays, because their words bind them, their words can all be twisted, their words can have different effects and impacts, most of which they probably don't intend or have no way of controlling.

I think instead of spending time delving into what candidates really think and whether or not their words are minagahet pat i minagahet-na, you already have plenty to deal with, just with what they do so, what is public, what emerges from their mouths.

Since coming into office, Senator JAL, in particular when the massive movement of Marines from Okinawa was announced, has been a darling of decolonization activists on Guam, and those who feel that Guam is a colony and oppressed by the Federal Government. This darling status has always been tinged with an apprehension over whether or not JAL is really "one of us" or "really believes these things" or whether he is just using the rhetoric to get grassroots support or look like he's doing something.

Regardless of what he really thinks about these issues, his public records, most notably his column that he used to write in the Marianas Variety titled "Jesse's Corner" make clear that he's invested in that rhetoric and not afraid of brandishing it in confrontational or critical ways. And that has made him a perfect voice for me to cite, to invoke, to use in my own activism.

One of the strategies that local politicians on Guam can use is to play the local against the Federal or the local against the National. The best way of doing this is to argue that the Federal Government is taking advantage of us, don't really care about us, that Guam is not being respected and that we deserve better! Its a weapon that all local politicians, in particular Senators have at their disposal in making their cases in terms of policy or even just defending themselves. Senator JAL absolutely engaged in this strategy, but hardly as just a simple tactical tool, to be used here or there, but for years, with regards to several different issues, he attacked the Feds, the stateside dominated media on Guam and had no qualms about criticizing the Governor of Guam, Felix Camacho for acting more like the Federal Government pool boy than Guam's executive leader.

Some may say that the antagonism between Camacho and JAL is personal and that its a waste of time to even discuss it. I disagree, especially in late 2005 and 2006, when Senator JAL was one of the first political/public voices to speak out about the possibility of Guam being screwed over in the transfer of thousands of Marines from Okinawa, his criticisms of Camacho have turned out to be almost prophetic. He decried Camacho for "meek stewardship" and not "leadership," by instead of playing a more confrontational strategy with the Feds and the military on the military buildup, seemed to just go along with everything and hope and pray for the best. Most may have already forgotten, but there was a point at which Camacho and his administration snubbed visiting officials from Okinawa, since they were worried that meeting with them might irritate or piss off the US military and Feds. Camacho was worried about even the slightest hint of appearing to be against this or have issues with the buildup appearing and so even snubbed those visitors from Okinawa to prove his loyalty to the United States.

He's learned the hard way that this was the wrong approach, and now looks very silly and taisensia with the changes in rhetoric where he is suddenly being "hard" or "tough" on the Department of Defense. He would have looked much more malate' frankly if he'd listened to those of us who had been arguing that the military wasn't being forthcoming and that the build-up wasn't the proposed dreamy paradise that was heading to Guam and would arrive in 2014. If he had designed his rhetoric accordingly, with more principle and pragmatism in mind, instead of having an American flag and mindless patriotism become his approach to navigating what will probably end up being the re-colonization of Guam would be far more effective and useful.

I think that, especially amongst the Legislature, there was plenty of Senators who from the start had the same concerns as JAL, and perhaps were even more worried or apprehensive, but it was the usage of his column in the Marianas Variety and his targeting of Governor Camacho that made him a sort of forerunner in the creation of a counter-argument and counter consciousness with regards to the military buildup. He stopped writing his column last year, and two other Senators (Guthertz and Pangelinan) have notably taken up to criticizing the the Feds and the DOD for their conduct in militarizing the island, and as I just noted, Felix Camacho has recently gotten into the game as well.

Aside from this, JAL also had no qualms about attacking the Pacific Daily News (which in turn seemed to relish in attacking him, mostly about the fact that he lied about graduating from college (note: The PDN revealed the same sin with Congresswoman Bordallo, but they don't seem to take as much joy in revealing that every chance they can)), or certain radio stations as "stateside dominated" media for their bias in reporting stories and supporting candidates, programs or ideas based on their non-local and sometimes racially driven interests. He also had no qualms about calling Continental Airlines place in Guam a monopoly and push for legislation to try and get shipping and travel prices to Guam reduced.

In conclusion, as I am an "information" activist always seeking bits of public rhetoric out there to use to help my own interests or help teach the structures of colonialism out there in our lives, JAL was a godsend. Whether he intended to or not, he was a much needed counter to the rhetoric of Congresswoman Bordallo and Governor Camacho, in late 2005 and throughout 2006 on the military buildup. In the media they appeared to be love-sick teenagers, craving the military, needing it, wanting as much as they could get, alwaysby begging and asking for me. Whether Senator JAL meant what he said or didn't is irrelevant, he played an important role providing an oppositional/critical voice, and in doing so helped give voice to so many others out there with concerns, with apprehensions, or who just didn't want the military buildup to happen, but couldn't find the space or the community from which those thoughts or fears could be spoken.

In honor of Senator Jesse Anderson Lujan, I've pasted below some of his writing gems from his "Jesse's Corner" over the years. Read them, enjoy them, and please join me in saying Adios JAL!


"Fight For Tiyan is Also a Fight For Equality and Justice"
Senator Jesse Anderson Lujan
February 16, 2006
Marianas Variety

THERE has been much said and written about the recent federal attempt to confiscate our Tiyan land once more.

This saga of injustice extends back to December 8th of 1945. On that date, our peaceful island was invaded and our land in Tiyan was taken at the point of a bayonet. Our people were used as slave laborers on that very property. When the U.S. Marines stormed our shores to retake our island, we thought justice would replace the bayonet. Instead, the injustice born on the tip of a bayonet is continued by the tip of a federal pen.

After waiting many decades, the Tiyan families finally saw some light at the end of the tunnel, only to be told this is a mirage. Once again, the federal bureaucracy is exercising its heavy hand to kill our dreams and aspirations.

In reaction, some have expressed anti-American feelings and opinions. I say this is not the way to go. We are Americans— all of us. We must demand that we be treated with the dignity and respect that any human being should be entitled and that an American should take for granted.

I say we must demand our equal share of the American pie instead of opt out of the American family. We must demand equal treatment as that given to statesiders. We must demand an equal seat at the American table and an equal share of the meal of representative democracy. Something all Americans should take for granted but sadly we cannot.

This must start with more home rule. These federal officials, crushing the living daylight out of our every aspiration or dreams, have been put there and kept there by people we did not elect. We, in short, are ruled by laws and a bureaucracy without our consent. If we had the democratic right to elect leaders with influence over those with such heavy handedness towards us, we would have a greater and more effective right to redress our grievances by petitioning our elected leadership for intervention. This basic human right is denied us.

As a result of this unbearable situation, we are subjected to a tyranny whose practical effect is no less obscene than that found in such countries as Cuba and the former Soviet Union. Because of this undemocratic atmosphere in which we live, it is incumbent upon federal officials to exercise their power over us in consultation with us, even to a larger extent than if they were exercising the same power in any of the 50 states where democracy reigns. Instead, we are treated worst then they treat their own dogs.

It is my guess that if Guam were populated mostly by European Americans, we would not be treated so shabbily. Well, we must demand our equal rights and peacefully revolt. We must shout and agitate until the blood of our patriotic sons and daughters who have given their lives for the democracy so easily and gleefully denied us, is honored, when democracy becomes ours, too. We must not waiver in this determination to be treated equally and with dignity.

Many will try to deter us, and many statesiders especially, will gang up on you, like a tribe protecting its special interests, when you demand equal treatment to that given to them. They will call you racist. But do not be deterred. It cannot be racist to demand equal treatment. It cannot be racist to demand democracy. It cannot be racist to demand just treatment. It cannot be racist to point out racist treatment.

In this effort, history is on our side. We will fight for Tiyan and for equality and dignity.


"Kowtow Felix"
Tinige' Senadot Jesse Anderson Lujan
The Marianas Variety

"Kowtow Felix"

WE recently heard from the Secretary of the Navy about our efforts to obtain some federal government help to upgrade our infrastructure. We have been pursuing these efforts to better prepare ourselves for the incoming Marines from Okinawa and to better position ourselves for future military placements here.We want these investments to make sure we do not descend into an unending morass of water outages, power outages, overflowing sewer lines, clogged roads and serial killer power poles, mercilessly murdering more and more of our citizens. We want to avoid a total deterioration of our quality of life. Also, we want to succeed at helping in the defense of the country.

We cannot do that with substandard infrastructure which has a capacity that continues to be stretched beyond its breaking point.

Much to our amazement, the message from Mr. Secretary was nada, zip, nothing for Guam’s civilian community. Apparently, Mr. Secretary’s message was that as far as civilian infrastructure is concerned, we civilians are on our own.

Where does that leave us? Well, we, 160,000 people, must now find a way to beg or borrow up to $2 billion to upgrade our current infrastructure. We need to do this, mind you, so that we can accommodate about 50,000 new residents, who are coming here for the sole purpose of bolstering our national defense.

Perhaps, Mr. Secretary was misquoted or I misunderstood him. But if correctly stated, this position is incredibly short sighted and bordering on incredible. To give you an idea of how incredible Mr. Secretary’s position is, mull this example over for a minute. What if a private developer came to Guam, said that he was going to invest $15 billion here?

Let’s say that developer said he was going to bring in 50,000 people for his project. Moreover, all his investments would go straight into his project. Let’s say the developer told us that all impacts of his investment on our island and on our community would be ours to bear alone. With a straight face, he would tell us that all our power, water, roads, landfill and port problems were all ours to bear—solely. If this happened, it wouldn’t be long before we sent that investor on his way. The point is that some projects are simply too big for our small community to absorb by itself. The Secretary of the Navy and the Nation are asking us, a community of 160,000 Americans, to subsidize the defense of a nation of 300 million people. Put simply, giving us a helping hand is critical to the military mission in the Western Pacific. As Guam takes on an increasingly important role in the defense of the nation, the nation must recognize that a completely upgraded civilian infrastructure is an essential component of that mission. It is unquestionable that the military community will, to a large extent, live, work and shop in the civilian community. To think that this will all be meekly accepted and subsidized by us is simply foolish and reckless.

But, however stunned we were about Mr. Secretary’s position, we were even more stunned by Governor Camacho’s response to such an absurd position.

True to form, Governor Camacho stepped up to bat for the federal government.

His apology for such stupidity and arrogant abuse of our hospitality left many of us thinking whose governor is he? Does he represent us or the federal government? Is any one in his administration explaining to Mr. Secretary that leaving us civilians high and dry, and to foot the bill to boot, for the military move to Guam jeopardizes the stability of the whole effort? Does the governor even know how to defend our interest when it is necessary?

The governor should stop kowtowing and start thinking of the long-term consequences of his actions. Governor, stand up and defend our interests.

You must fight for us to deserve the title "governor." If you do not do so, you will not be remembered as Governor Felix Camacho but rather as "Kowtow Felix."


Jesse's Corner:
By Senator Jesse Anderson Lujan
From the Marianas Variety

I have over the years pushed for a more dignified political status for Guam. At the moment we are some of the few US Citizens who are not ruled by laws enacted by leaders we elect.

We are subjected to Federal rule and laws that impose millions of dollars annually in additional costs for our consumers in multiple areas and all by leaders and bureaucrats we had nothing at all to elect or put in power.

By any definition, this is rule by dictatorship, though perhaps a benign one, it is no less offensive for that. This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue.

We have seen this dictatorial Federal power strutted over us by Continental who runs roughshod over us in their attempt to keep in place a system that in effect taxes us for their profit to the tune of over fifty million dollars annually. And, this is only one example of this kind of oppression we are forced to endure despite a long track record of loyalty to America and the principles for which the nation stands.

Adding insult to injury is that fact that as long ago as 1974 President Ford recognized the injustice of this situation and directed that a Commonwealth Agreement, as an interim status, be negotiated with Guam.

Apparently with Department of Interior connivance, this directive was ignored and kept secret, hidden from Guam’s leaders. The purpose of this subterfuge was to continue to keep us under the yoke of the Department of Interior as an owner would keep a pet dog. We are tired of being treated as the Federal Government’s pet poodle and want the situation rectified and done now.

In pursuit of this effort I recently sent a letter Dated October 19th to President Bush. Here is the letter I sent:

“As an elected official and Chairman of the Committee on Decolonization. I am writing on behalf of the United States citizens in Guam to direct your attention to an extremely important matter that has recently come to my attention. It relates to the status of Guam as a United States territory and our inability over the last 30 years to accomplish any significant response from the federal government to our frequently expressed complaints regarding our status.

A recent published book entitled, “The Secret Guam Study” provides a wholly new perspective on this matter. A copy of the book is enclosed. Based on previously classified documents, the book’s two authors, both highly regarded historians, set forth the following conclusions:

1) In 1973-74 an interagency committee, chaired by the Department of State, produced a detailed study of Guam’s political status, the territory’s critical importance to the Nation’s national defense and security, and the need of the federal government to respond affirmatively to Guam’s many legitimate complaints about its status. The memorandum submitted to the President on August 9, 1974, summarized the basic conclusion of the study: “Guam’s strategic importance to the United States is such that its continued association in federal relationship is essential. To satisfy Guamanians while maintaining this relationship, the study concludes that Federal Government attention in the near future is required to provide an improved political status for Guam’s U.S. Citizens and to address their economic and social aspirations–including further diversification of the economy.”

2) President Ford approved the recommendations of the study. By memorandum dated February 1, 1975, signed by Henry A. Kissinger, the President directed the Department of State, Interior, and Defense to negotiate a new political relationship with Guam. In particular, President Ford instructed the agencies as follows: “The U.S. negotiator should seek agreement with Guamanian representatives on a commonwealth arrangement no less favorable that that which we are negotiating with the Northern Marianas” unless the Guamanians prefer some comparable, but different,

3) This directive was never implemented by the federal agencies. In fact, no elected leader from Guam was ever informed of this study or President Ford’s instruction to provide Guam with commonwealth status at least comparable to that which was provided the Northern Mariana Islands. The people of Guam were not aware of this study and President Ford’s directive until “The Secret Guam Study” was published last month.

4) The book’s authors attribute this lack of candor and failure by Department of Interior officials to implement President Ford’s directive to their basic disagreement with the directive. We do not know whether this is fair or accurate, although the documents included in the book do tend to support its conclusions. We do know, however, that disclosure of this information 30 years ago, and an honest effort by the federal government to implement the study and President Ford’s directive, would have profoundly improved Guam’s status and encouraged a much more positive attitude within the community towards the federal government.

Mr. President: we ask that you refer this matter to a member of your domestic policy staff and ask for a report dealing with the following questions:

1) Does the Department of the Interior have an explanation, supported by contemporary documents, that differs from the analysis provided in this book regarding Interior’s alleged lack of candor and failure to implement the study?

2) Does the Department of Defense agree with the conclusions expressed so strongly by that Department some 30 years ago, namely, that Guam and the federal government has an affirmative obligation to address Guam’s legitimate complaints about its status such as those identified in the 1973-74 study and presented to President Ford?

3) Should your Administration appoint a Special Assistant, of appropriate stature and qualifications but not from Interior, to address Guam’s political status in light of today’s circumstances in order to achieve the national security and fairness objectives that motivated the 1973-74 study and President Ford’s directive to implement it?

Thank you for your attention to our request.


published in the Marianas Variety
By Sen. Jesse Lujan

JON Anderson, on his talk show on the K57 radio station, a statesider-owned radio station on Guam, responded to my article in this paper that the stateside-owned media on Guam is biased against Filipino and Chamorro citizens of our community. It is my opinion that the stateside owned media on Guam are more lenient towards the malfeasance and misfeasance of stateside public servants, politicians and businesses and fail or refuse to criticize them for similar actions for which they energetically and consistently criticize non-statesiders.

In part of his response to this criticism of statesider media bias, Anderson lobbed a personal insult my way saying I must be dreaming when I write this column. Given the context of the comment, Anderson clearly intended it as a personal insult. He did not intend it in the good sense of the word dreaming, as I along with many of our other residents of all colors dream of creating a better community.

First, there should be no room in our community for public figures to lob personal insults at each other. Secondly, doing so is the first sign of a weak argument. As strongly as Anderson disagrees with me, and me with him, we should not allow this discourse to degenerate into a name calling session. Thirdly, this kind of response should be beneath a journalist like Anderson who holds himself in such high regard and wants the rest of us in the community to do so as well. Anderson owes me a public apology.

Anderson also took issue with my labeling his radio station a statesider-owned media outlet. His defense is that he and his radio station should be considered “local” given that he owns a house here and has lived here for decades. Defined as a “locally- owned” radio station Anderson reasons, should make him and his radio station immune from my criticism of statesider bias.

He misses the point. It does not matter to me, nor should it to anyone else in our community, who owns any media source on Guam. What does matter is if they are biased in their reporting or criticism based on color, national origin or religion. It is clear to me, and many others in our community, that K57 has a strong statesider bias even if its owners want to consider themselves “local”.

Anderson also argues he has many non-statesider employees and does not restrict their reporting implying they cannot be biased as I have stated. What he does not address is the culture of statesider bias on K57’s talk shows that seems to permeate his organization. This business culture as in sports is what gives cues to employees as to what is considered acceptable conduct from them by top management. For instance, in a sports stadium no one instructs the fans to cheer at the same time. Yet they do.

Even as an occasional listener of Anderson’s talk show, it is obvious to me that he gives stateside callers, of whom I am aware, a delightful and much cheerier reception than some Chamorro and Filipino callers who are struggling with strongly accented English as a second language to make a point. Anderson sometimes loses patience and cuts these callers off while he is infinitely patient with his statesider friends. This attitude and culture, probably prevalent in other aspect of his organization, is what instructs his reporters on what is an acceptable reporting posture.

Additionally, Anderson coddles stateside-owned businesses like Continental Micronesia Airlines on his talk show and radio station. Time after time Continental is given free reign on his station as he pitches them what appears to be well rehearsed soft balls that they hit with what appears to be well rehearsed answers.
Anderson’s aim, it seems, is to convince us that this Federally protected monopoly that overcharges us to the tune of $50 million dollars per year is really acting in our best interest. If any Chamorro or Filipino or non-white business were doing the same thing as Continental, Anderson and his cohorts would waste no time mercilessly crucifying them and the government entity giving them the monopoly right to do it.

Thank God we have KUAM and Marianas Variety to get a true picture out to our people.


from the Marianas Variety

I have been a vocal critic of statesider media bias here on Guam. Statesider media bias of media outlets and reporters based in the States is even more obviously racist and biased than those based here. We have seen constant unfair biased uninformed news stories and jokes about Guam from the statesider media. Even though Guam is more beautiful and has more activities and a larger international presence then 90% of stateside communities – some of whom have the false confidence to denigrate us.

This attitude recently manifested itself in a racist and condescending misinformed article written by Mike Ogle a freelance ESPN reporter. Here is an especially relevant excerpt of the article written as a criticism of cockfighting: “Evidently, this is what the locals do to pass the time on
this 341-square-mile island (about three times the size of Washington, D.C.) stuck all by itself in the middle of the Pacific. Truly, the middle of nowhere. Entertainment options are limited. People here fit into one of two categories. Either they've lived here their entire lives, or they're
stationed here by the U.S. military. I'm here to visit Matt and Kristy, who's one year into his three years at the U.S. Naval Base. And for the record, cockfighting is legal in Guam. Parking overflowed the lot into the street. We walked onto the grounds of the mayor's office – yes, the mayor's office – and paid our entrance. I wasn't sure how I should feel. Should I be excited for the upcoming fights? Fascinated to experience a foreign slice of life? Horrified? Disgusted? Outraged? ...Patrons make their verbal bets to the pit – $20, $25, $50, $100 – just like traders on the stock-exchange floor. Or, in this case, the cock exchange. Guam, though, is not exactly
Manhattan (23 percent live below the poverty line), and the crowd was not exactly the upper crust of the population. They say if an American man walks through a particular poor village in Guam, families will offer their daughters."

Notice the clues of how this pseudo sophisticated American with the fresh smell of moonshine still oozing from his pores thinks he is better than us Americans living on Guam. He says we live out in the “middle of nowhere” to give the impression of a backwater. Even though Guam is within several hours flying time of three billion people and some of the most exciting destinations and dynamic economies on the planet. With this yardstick Washington D.C. is a heck of a lot more isolated than Hagatna. There are many other obvious clues of his bigotry and false sense of superiority peppered throughout the above excerpt and in the article itself, but I’ll let you decipher them. There is however a wider story resulting from Ogle’s racist ramblings and I would like to comment on them.

Ogle was here visiting with his sister and his brother in-law who is in the Navy. They appear to have collaborated with Ogle in his preparations for the article using Navy housing and facilities to do so. The Navy requires and depends on our hospitality to feel welcome, which we freely and generously extend. We do not think that Navy personnel should participate or collaborate in efforts that denigrate the other Americans who live here. For these reasons Ogle’s family on Guam owes the community an apology for their role in the preparation of this article and the Navy owes us an apology for allowing their facilities to be used for such racist purposes. The Navy must implement rules and sensitivity training so their personnel are informed they cannot use vicarious means to spew out racist ideas that they personally are not allowed to express as it appears has happened here.

Finally, and on a more positive note, many of my statesider friends living here, and who have lived here, were as equally outrage by this racist trash as I am. They, in many cases, took the lead in writing some pretty strong responses to Ogle. This shows that despite the divisive efforts of creatures like Ogle and his employer ESPN, we Americans are making progress towards achieving a truly equal multiracial, multicultural and tolerant society.


Ignore Scare Tactics
Tinige' Sendaot Jesse Lujan
Ginnen I Marianas Variety

The recent Northwest Airlines bankruptcy caused a ripple of nervousness on Guam about our airline services. The question is, how should we react? Should we push harder for aviation competition or should we pull back those efforts or risk losing all our airlines?

Some media commentators have concluded that competition drove Northwest into bankruptcy, and therefore, we should stop pushing for a more competitive aviation environment here on Guam. One champion of this scare tactic has been Travis Coffman on K57 radio. He recently dedicated a whole radio show to make that point. His argument is that we should be careful about pushing for more competition since this very competition from low cost carriers drove Northwest to Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Travis and his supporters argued that if we force Continental Micronesia to compete more fairly with all comers we could, as a result of this enhanced competitive environment, force that airline into bankruptcy as well.

There are several things wrong with this argument, the least of which is that our government should not be in the business of ensuring that any business be guaranteed survival.

Our system has proved itself superior to manage economies. Our system has proved that it can create and sustain wealth and prosperity better than a system where competition is managed and limited. One of the fundamental concepts of our system, as opposed to those advocating a managed economy, like Communists, is that competition is a consumer and worker’s best friend. This applies to airlines too.

There is nothing about the aviation business that makes it immune from the basic principle that more competition creates better products at lower prices and results in more jobs and prosperity for everyone. Though airlines, and their socialist-inspired managed economy apologists and advocates like Coffman, have spared no effort in attempting to convince us that airlines and especially Continental is different. They argue that airlines deserve government protection from competition to stay in business.

Even if that means higher airfares and fewer jobs for us.

Another hole in Coffman’s Swiss cheese argument in support of limiting aviation competition is even more obvious than the favorable economics of competition. If an airline is driven to bankruptcy by competition, by definition, there must be a more efficient low-cost operator that caused the bankruptcy. If there is a more efficient operator, the new, more competitive airline will replace the old, less competitive one and acquire all their old customers. In fact Continental and Northwest replaced the former stalwart airlines like PanAm and TWA precisely because they are more efficient and could offer us lower airfares and better service and more jobs.

Moreover, insofar as airlines are concerned we have seen how Continental itself has several times used bankruptcy to restructure and lower its costs making it a more competitive airline today. There is a strong likelihood that Northwest will do the same.

But there is a broader issue to consider here. There is much change in the air in relation to the aviation industry. The low-cost carriers are a juggernaut that is altering any industry or business dependent or connected to aviation. We, more than most other communities, are singularly dependent on competitive air services. Our tourism competitiveness and viability as a destination depends on competitive airfares. For example if airfares are higher to Guam than Hawaii from Japan we will get less visitors and Hawaii will get more. Our retail outlets, hotels and restaurants will suffer as they will have to charge less to make up for higher airfares paid by our visitors to come here.

We simply cannot sit by while our competitors and their customers have the benefit of lowering airfares while our visitors and citizens must continue to pay some of the highest airfares in the world. One of the main inputs into selling Guam to a tourist is the cost of airfare. We must therefore remain competitive on airfares to remain competitive as a visitor destination. This is analogous to a car company having to pay twice as much for its components than its competitors. It won’t be long before that car company goes out of business.

Ignore Coffman’s ill-informed scare tactics. We must press on with efforts for more aviation competition.


By Sen. Jesse Lujan R-Tamuning.
from the Marianas Variety

Hagåtña — Bill McMillan is gone finally. He did not go quietly or with dignity. He lied to the governor, stating he resigned, cleared his desk and office and went home. Thereafter, he backtracked saying he had really not resigned. Finally, the GMH board of trustees mustered the courage to put him out of his misery and asked him to go. It is exactly this kind of double-dealing and backsliding that made McMillan such a management disaster at Guam Memorial Hospital in the first place.

Nevertheless, with a straight journalistic face, the Pacific Daily News, despite this McMillan double-shuffle about his resignation, called him a gentleman. K57, the other statesider-owned media outlet on Guam, spent no small amount of airtime on their radio station praising McMillan for a job well done. There was no mention from either one of these statesider-owned media outlets of the lack of paper cups in the emergency room and other basic supplies in the operating room even after two years of McMillan at GMH.

Meanwhile, before Peter John Camacho a well-educated, competent and qualified Chamorro, could even take his seat at GMH, the statesider-owned media on Guam, had already begun to attack and criticize him. It is as if they wanted Camacho to fail and were setting him up for failure. Yet this same statesider-owned media had asked for cooperation from the Legislature with double-dealing, backsliding McMillan so he could fix the problems at the hospital. Based on what I know of PeterJohn I believe him to be honest and sincere and look forward to working closely with him to improve GMH.

In this whole process, what has become exceedingly clear to most fair minded people in the community is that the statesider-owned media on Guam have two standards of performance and two standards of integrity. They apply a higher standard of performance and integrity to non-statesiders, especially to Chamorros and Filipinos, and a much lower standard of performance and integrity to statesiders.

Moreover, their handling of the hospital fiasco under McMillan is not the only instance where this racial bias is obvious. Take for instance the circumstances surrounding the hiring of Dr. Jerry Albom by Dr. Nathaniel Berg to work for Berg. In a Dateline undercover investigation, Albom supposedly admitted to molesting underage girls. This alleged child-molesting doctor was immediately granted a temporary 90-day permit to work for Berg on Guam. Berg managed to work that out with the Guam Board of Medical Examiners, which, incidentally, is chaired by his good friend Dr. Jerone Landstrom. This board is responsible for licensing doctors to practice here. Contrast this with the treatment received from the same board by Dr. Apolonio Pasion, a Filipino cancer specialist badly needed on Guam.

Dr. Pasion was previously licensed in the U.S. and was railroaded out of Guam in an effort spearheaded by Berg and Landstrom. Dr. Pasion’s offense was to have the audacity to come here to compete with services provided by Berg. Dr. Pasion could not even get a temporary license to practice, even though a statesider alleged child molester had previously quickly obtained one from the Guam Board of Medical Examiners under the leadership of fellow statesider Landstrom. Landstrom says Dr. Pasion or his sponsors did not submit the necessary paperwork on time, but all facts appear to me to indicate that Landstrom put every conceivable bureaucratic roadblock in Dr. Pasion’s way so he would be delayed in submitting the needed documents, a delay Landstrom now uses as the excuse for keeping Pasion from practicing here and competing with his friend Berg.

Where was the statesider-owned media on Guam in covering this discrepancy in treatment between the accused child molesting Albom and the good doctor Pasion? Where were they in questioning McMillan about back dated contracts with exclusivity provisions for Berg to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars while our people died at the hospital due to lack of supplies in the operating room?

I know by exposing the racist bias of the statesider-owned media on Guam I am also exposing myself to a systematic prolonged attack by them. I am fully aware that they will dredge up any embarrassing facts they can sling at me whether they are by ex-cons, ex-wives or ex-girlfriends and call me every name in the book. But I did not seek a senatorial office to be a pretty flowerpot in the Legislature content to do nothing but accumulate accolades, while injustice and racism swirl about me in my native land. I sought office to do the right thing no matter the consequences and will do so.

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