Tuesday, September 15, 2015

In Land We Trust

The Chamorro Land Trust was a government program born as an idea and hope during an expansion of Chamorro consciousness and then implemented and given life during a period of heated activism and protest for Guam. When we look back at the work of Chamorro rights pioneers such as Paul Bordallo or Angel Santos, the Chamorro Land Trust is a key, tangible piece of their legacies.

The Chamorro Land Trust's mission is to provide land to landless Chamorros and for the benefit of the Chamorro community, but different administrations have always found ways to blur that or to quietly sneak around or shockingly expand what that might mean, giving away lands meant to be held in trust for the Chamorro people to all sorts of public and private enterprises. The late Senator Ben Pangelinan once said, "anggen ta manteni i tano', ta susteni i taotao." If we hold onto the land, we sustain the people. A very true point that is important to remember as Guam is sold off to foreign companies piece by piece, franchise by franchise. The Chamorro Land Trust is supposed to be something that resists that loss, that is meant to keep something for the people no matter what local leaders or foreign companies do.

I'm preparing to travel to Hawai'i for a conference and so I haven't been following the changing of the Chamorro Land Trust Commission's rules as closely as I would like to. Here are some articles to help those just joining the discussion about the conflicts between the Legislature and Adelup.

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Senator Tom Ada Says Legislature Definitely Disapproved CLTC's Rules and Regulations 
Written by 
September 9, 2015
Pacific News Center 

Senator Tom Ada disagrees with the Governor's opinion that the proposed rules and regulations lapsed into effect. The Senator is going to introduce another version of proposed rules and regulations for the CLTC.  
 
Guam - Senator Tom Ada says he's disappointed that the Governor vetoed the legislature's disapproval of the rules and regulations for the Chamorro Land Trust Commission and he doesn't believe that the Governor's veto puts the rules and regulations into effect.

The legislature had 90 days to approve disapprove or let the proposed CLTC rules and regulations lapse into effect. "Of course the front office is saying the legislature did not act on time. The legislature contends that it did. The deadline was September 1st the legislature took action on August 28th,” said Senator Ada. The legislature passed bill 139 disapproving the proposed rules and regulations for the CLTC. However, the Governor did not sign the bill into law. Instead he vetoed it and thus the Governor's office contends that the legislature's disapproval did not go into effect. 
 
 In a release the Governor's Attorney Sandra Miller stated, "It doesn't appear that the legislature took any of the actions allowed by law. The disapproval did not become effective before the 90 days passed, and therefore under the AAA the proposed regulations automatically went into effect.” Meanwhile Senator Ada says, "The legislature took a definitive action by disapproving the rules and regs." 

 In a release the Governor has stated that the CLTC's rules and regulations would generate millions of dollars to help fund infrastructure for residential and agricultural CLTC property. 

 Senator Ada says he is just about to put out another version of the rules and regulations one he hopes all can agree on. "Well I'm gonna proceed with introducing the bill on the basis that I believe the legislature acted on it and that in fact there still are no rules and regulations in effect,” said Senator Ada.

 Meanwhile the Governor says he will ask the Attorney General to confirm whether or not the rules and regulations are already in effect. 

 Senator Ada says he hopes that the CLTC does not enter into any leases until the matter is settled.

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Calvo veteos CLTC bill
By Robert Q. Tupaz
Guam Daily Post
Wednesday, 09 Sep 2015 03:00am  

Says CLTC commercial lease rules in effect
Gov. Eddie Calvo yesterday trumped the disapproval of rules and regulations proposed to govern commercial leases of public lands when he vetoed legislation that was intended to reject the rules in their entirety.

The legislative chairman on lands said he is confident the legislature’s action was proper and cautioned against any immediate commercial leases of Chamorro Land Trust properties.

According to Sandra Miller, the governor’s legal counsel, lawmakers failed to adhere to the Administrative Adjudication Law, also known as the Triple A process.

The Chamorro Land Trust Commission submitted its proposed rules and regulations to govern the process of availing commercial leases of public lands in its inventory to lawmakers on June 3. Miller stated, “It doesn't appear that the legislature took any of the actions allowed by law. The disapproval did not become effective before the 90 days passed, and therefore under the AAA, the proposed regulations automatically went into effect.”

Not so, said Sen. Tom Ada, legislative chairman of the committee on lands. Ada said he was satisfied that lawmakers met the deadline and took action. “My opinion is that the legislature acted within the 90 days. And we believe that the deadline was Sept. 1. The legislature acted on Friday, Aug. 28, and so we were well within the 90 days,” Ada said. “What was sent to the front office was a substitute bill that states the legislature disapproves the rules and regs that were transmitted.”

Session


Lawmakers went into session on Aug. 27 initially to amend and approve the measure. However, on Aug. 28, they scrapped the process and substituted the measure amending the title “To Disapprove” the proposal. The disapproval, as Bill 139-33, passed unanimously.

However, with yesterday’s veto, the governor said his legal team believes the rules and regulations have gone into effect under the AAA process in spite of the legislature's failure to approve the CLTC bill. Calvo said he would also seek the opinion of the attorney general of Guam but wanted to move forward in the interest of commerce and development.

“The rules and regulations would generate millions of dollars to help fund infrastructure for residential and agricultural CLTC property,” Calvo stated in a release from Adelup. “I intend to confirm this with the attorney general's office. Believing that to be so, CLTC will have the tools it needs to help families who have received properties but need some help to ensure they have water and power, so they can build their homes or their farms and realize their dreams.”

Ada said he is interested in the opinion that was requested of the OAG as well. In the meantime, Ada warned against any signing of leases. “I would just suggest that they act cautiously and nobody should go out and run out there and start signing commercial leases because we don’t want this thing to end up in court again and drag on for two decades,” Ada said. “I will have to give them the benefit of the doubt that they will act prudently and move cautiously.”

Ada said another component of the governor’s action that would need to be addressed in the opinion is the status of the rules and regulations as passed. “It also begs the question which rules and regs are in effect now,” Ada said. “In their minds, what do they think is the approved set of rules and regs? Is it the one they (CLTC) transmitted? Or the amended version that the committee was working on when finally it was decided, ‘Scrap this whole thing and let’s go back to the drawing board?’”

Disappointment

Calvo said he shared CLTC Director Mike Borja’s disappointment at the legislature’s opposition to the proposed rules.

“We conducted a lot of due diligence, held several public hearings as a part of the AAA process, and worked very closely with Sen. Tom Ada's committee before finalizing the proposed rules and regulations," said Borja.

The governor lamented, “The legislature had 90 days to review the proposed rules and regulations. However, instead of approving the CLTC's proposed rules and regulations, Sen. Tom Ada introduced a substitute bill to disapprove the rules and regulations submitted.”

Ada said lawmakers were prudent as well in their dismissal of the rules because some concerns weren’t addressed to the satisfaction of lawmakers. One, in general, was the amount of land that may be leased to a commercial interest.

“One of the major reasons that the legislature acted against the proposal was the concern that the rules and regs did not clearly define how much of the Chamorro Land Trust properties would be set aside for commercial leasing,” Ada said. “And the concern was, what if we ended up leasing a majority of the CLTC properties for commercial use and end up short – with not enough land for residential and agricultural use?”

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The KUAM interview with the director of Land Management over the governor’s veto of the Legislature’s disapproval of the proposed rules and regulations for the commercial lease of Chamorro Land Trust lands raised some interesting points.

The attorney general should take her time in reviewing all issues — the obvious, as well as the not so obvious, which were alluded to by the director’s statement that a commercial land lease was already in the making, even before legislative review of the proposed rules began.

It appears that the Land Trust assumed that legislative approval would be automatic, a perfunctory formality. Sen. Tom Ada very wisely called for a Committee of the Whole review. That a commercial lease was ready for execution should raise eyebrows and important questions.

The director pointed out that that commercial lease would “only” be for the “extraction of minerals” from Land Trust lands in Yigo; that such “extraction of minerals” would produce millions in revenue for Land Trust projects and create terraces for future housing development. Anyone who has seen the results of the removal of kaskåhu from the Hawaiian Rock quarry, the Fadian Point quarry, the quarries in Tamuning along Chalan San Antonio and San Vitores Road knows the final results of this “extraction of minerals.”

Those familiar with the Yigo area know that Land Trust properties stretch from the southern boundaries of the Guam International Raceway, northward toward Hanom Springs and Lahuna Point. The only “mineral” of commercial value, along that coastline, is kaskåhu. The signing of the Record of Decision for the military buildup, creates a demand for a huge quantity of good quality coral — specifically gravel which meets DOD’s specifications for quality of concrete.

The cliff line along Fadian Point and along that area being mined by Hawaiian Rock has been exploited for many years and could be depleting quickly. The area from the northern end of the raceway’s lease boundaries to as far north as Hanom Springs and Lahuna Point is pristine Land Trust land and nearly all of it consists of the type of kaskåhu required. Indeed, the “gold mine” that the Land Trust lease will create, which was being finalized even before the Legislature began its deliberations on proposed rules, is that white gravel.

Someone got a sweet deal before the rules were even seen by the Legislature.

Not so sweet will be the increase in heavy equipment traffic along Route 15. Those traveling southbound on Route 15 will contend with even more 13-yard dump trucks and cement transits, from Yigo to Mangilao. Those living along Gayinero and along Chalan Lahuna, both secondary residential streets, will contend with increases in heavy equipment traversing between Route 1 and Route 15. All of this in addition to the increased traffic going into Andersen Air Force Base, where the 6,300 Marines and dependents will be housed.

Four simple questions:

Was the proposed commercial lease for the Yigo property ever put out on a request for proposals?
Were any studies performed on the impact to Yigo’s human environment of permitting a coral pit operation in their backyard?

Were the people of Yigo ever informed about this proposal?

Were any public hearings in the village conducted on the proposal?

The Land Trust is required by law to develop rules governing commercial leases and present them to the Legislature. Shouldn’t the Land Trust be legally and morally obligated to inform the residents of Yigo how it is proposing to affect their daily lives?

Joaquin P. Perez is a resident of Santa Rita.

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Lawmakers override Calvo CLTC veto
by Jasmine Stole
Guam Daily Post
9/15/15

Lawmakers voted to override the governor’s veto of Bill 139-33 yesterday in a special session.
Senators had first rejected the bill during an Aug. 27 session and substituted the title of the bill “To Disapprove” the proposed rules and regulations to govern the commercial leases of Chamorro Land Trust properties. The governor, in turn, vetoed the senators’ rejection on Sept. 8, which led to the special session called yesterday.

Of the 15 senators, 11 voted to override the veto, including all Democratic senators and two Republican senators. Four senators voted against the override.

The governor transmitted the bill to the speaker of the legislature on June 3. The bill originally sought to adopt rules and regulations that govern the commercial leases and licenses for the commercial use of Chamorro Land Trust properties.

However, in their amended measure, senators found there were still issues that needed to be resolved, including a clarification of what “available property” is, according to the amended bill. Lawmakers also noted in the amended Bill 139 that there was no indication of a process by which property would become available for commercial use.

During session yesterday, Sen. Rory Respicio pleaded with colleagues to override the veto and said it was imperative to override the measure.

“The legislature, the only recourse it had, was to pass a bill that disapproved these rules and regulations in total,” Respicio said, adding that lawmakers acted well within the 90-day time limit to act on such regulations dictated by the Administrative Adjudication Law (AAA).

Gov. Eddie Calvo’s legal counsel said the senators failed to adhere to the AAA process because they did not take action before the 90 days passed. Sandra Miller, the governor’s legal counsel, said when the governor vetoed the measure, “It doesn't appear that the legislature took any of the actions allowed by law. The disapproval did not become effective before the 90 days passed, and therefore under the AAA, the proposed regulations automatically went into effect.”

Respicio said the legislature, in contrast with what Miller said, acted within the AAA law and in order to affirm that the legislature acted within the law, lawmakers should override the governor’s veto.

Bring it to court

Sen. Frank Blas, one of the four senators who voted against the override, said, “Obviously two branches of government disagree with each other,” and said the issue should be brought to court so the third branch of government could clarify the AAA issue.

“If this body was to be successful in this override, then my concern is OK so that voids this or if this actually brings this back on. But the problem is, at what date? Today’s the 14 of September we’re going to go back to the process ... when does the 90 days end?” Blas said.

According to the voting sheet for Bill 139, 14 of 15 senators, including Blas, voted on Aug. 28 to disapprove the proposed rules and regulations.

Blas said the two branches could have come up with better rules and regulations but he objected yesterday to the process.

Sen. Tom Ada said there’s already another bill that’s been introduced that has a scheduled hearing and is focused on the same issue of Chamorro Land Trust Commission properties and rules and regulations for commercial leases.

Ada said by overriding the veto, there’s a clean slate to move forward on Bill 175-33 which addressed concerns brought up during the discussions on Bill 139.

Adelup response

The governor issued a statement less than an hour after the special session ended.

“The governor is disappointed considering that the speaker also asked the attorney general to opine on whether the legislature met the AAA process requirements,” the statement said.

The governor said the legislature “seems to be determined to shelve the rules and regulations” that the committee on land and the Chamorro Land Trust Commission worked on.

“This attempt to reject the rules and regulations illustrates an unwillingness to work with the administration for the good of the people. It has been more than 20 years since the Chamorro Land Trust has gone without these rules and regulations, and our Chamorro people deserve to have the elected leaders who are paving the way to improve, instead of impeding, the process,” the statement said.

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