Friday, May 02, 2014

Buildup Disappointment

I want to write about these two statements, but I don't have much time today. Too many things to do. For now, I'll just leave them here for you to read and analyze and draw your own, hopefully critical conclusions.

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Statement of Governor Eddie Calvo
"We Support the Buildup"

I want there to be a clear message from Guam about the military buildup: we welcome it and we are at the table with the Navy to iron out the details.

The military buildup is a program we support for many reasons. Among the countless economic benefits to the quality of life of our people is the honor of hosting the Marines during this dynamic period in world history.

Is it a perfect proposal?

No.

That's why it's critical to maintain a professional and healthy dialogue fit for negotiation. We were respectful, yet strong when negotiating with Navy and federal officials when we came to office.
The result of those negotiations was the Four Pillars.

When reading the draft SEIS, it is obvious the Navy listened and, more importantly, is willing to engage in dialogue and change that benefits the military's interests and the best interests of Guam.
So, if there are things we don't like about the program, we can simply sit down at the table and work through those differences. We further hope the military will consider the concerns of original landowners, including those around the Ritidian area, in keeping their net negative promise.
That's what responsible parties do.

I caution senators, especially the same ones who almost derailed the buildup the first time around, to exercise restraint and some decorum and care for the future of Guam when dealing with this issue.
Sending letters to Congress insinuating that you represent all the people of Guam in your opposition to the buildup is irresponsible, reckless, and misguided from the truth. Wild and uncontrolled political rhetoric from senators serves one purpose: politics. The Marine movement is bigger than anyone's politics.

I want there to be a clear message to Congress and the Defense Department: If there is any dissension in the government, it will not be the result of any official position of the government of Guam, unless a majority of the members of the Legislature actually pass a resolution stating such a reckless position.

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Speaker Judi Won Pat
"Incredibly Disappointed with Governor's Statement"

"I am incredibly disappointed in the Governor’s statement on the military build-up, which was released yesterday, particularly because it shuns public engagement and genuine discourse on this very important issue that affects our future. The SEIS was released less than two weeks ago. It contains over 1,400 pages of dense language detailing the revised build-up plans. As leaders, it is our responsibility to read through these plans carefully and thoughtfully before making blanket statements about how they will impact our community. I am not prepared to declare so soon after the release of the SEIS whether or not the build-up is going to benefit our island, because I don’t know that for sure without carefully examining the details. This does not mean I do not support the build-up. It simply means I want to be aware of all the consequences, both positive and negative. In order to this, I must be able to engage with the experts in our government agencies, and members of our community, who have also been reading the SEIS. Thus, I ask the Governor to take a step back and truly listen to the requests that have been asked of him in the past few days.


Community groups asked that he request an extension of the deadline for the commenting period, giving us all more time to carefully read and understand the SEIS. They also asked to hear from our government agencies on their findings before the commenting period ends. We don’t know for sure that this build-up is going to bring the economic promises the Governor is expecting, because it is still not clear how much the necessary infrastructure upgrades for this build-up will cost, or who will pay for them. We need to hear from our trained economists after they have had the chance to read the SEIS. We need a cost-benefits analysis before we can declare that this new build-up is in our best interests economically.

It is not reckless to ask questions or to encourage our community to carefully read and analyze the plans for the build-up as outlined in the SEIS. It is not reckless to listen to the concerns of our community members, who will be most affected by this build-up. Nor is it reckless to allow all members of our community the space to vocalize their feelings about the build-up, even if they don’t support it. Our community has been divided over this issue for years. And all sides deserve to be heard and taken seriously by our government. Not all the people of Guam whole-heartedly welcome the build-up as the Governor does. We heard this on Monday at the round-table discussion on the SEIS. The community has raised legitimate concerns about the build-up for years, and despite conversations our leaders may have with the Navy, we are not at the table when the decisions are made. The drastic changes in the build-up plans from 2010 to now were not merely the result of the Governor’s conversations with the Navy. Community groups, concerned residents, a lawsuit, and external factors including the Federal Government’s financial restraints all contributed to these changes.


There should never be a time when our people feel that they cannot speak up. Our community should not be scolded for writing to Congress or reaching out to their own law-makers, for they are engaging in a democratic process. There isn't a clear message of support from Guam, as we heard on Monday. Many in our community continue to question the need for this build-up and are worried about the long-term impacts on our future.


It is not the Governor’s role to tell the Legislature how to behave or make decisions. We are an equal branch of government and we were all elected by the people, thus we must listen to the people first. We must approach the build-up as “One Guam” like we set out to do with the creation of the Guam First Commission in 2008. As was expressed in Public Law 29-128, “… it is in the people of Guam's interest to have a unified front when we bring our serious concerns to the forefront in talks with Congress and the Department of Defense. Guam must speak with one voice when it deals with representatives of the Federal Government in order to properly and more effectively coordinate policies affecting or related to Guam's political, social, economic, environmental, and infrastructural concerns on an ongoing basis.” This voice cannot be the voice of one elected official. It must be fair and balanced, and include all perspectives.


As an educator, I always present both sides of the story in order to engage my students in critical thinking and prepare them to make well-informed decisions. As a leader, I follow the same principal, and take the time to consider all points of view. I encourage our Governor to do the same."

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