Saturday, August 12, 2017

2007 in Three Articles

I have been wracking my brain for the past few hours and also "tearing apart" at least digitally my computer looking for the source for a quote that I had included in my notes and now need to use in an article I'm completing for The Journal of Okinawan Studies. As of now I have yet to find it unfortunately and I'm hoping that this quote didn't come from a news article that I had photocopied years ago but had yet to scan or transcribe. If that is the case, I may never find the citation for it.

Part of the joy, but also the frustration of searches like this, is the random surprises and nostalgia bombs that end up crossing your path. While searching through more than a decade of research, I came across so many bits and pieces of things, some of which ended up being keystones in my academic cosmology, others I had completely forgotten.

One thing I came across that I wanted to share was these three articles below. They all come from August 2007, at a time when the infamous US military buildup to Guam was still almost completely notional and resistance to it was difficult to organize. This moment was important because Congresswoman Bordallo was on Guam and she had brought US Virgin Islands Congresswoman Donna Christensen with her for a series of meetings. It created a perfect moment at a time when everything was still very much up in the air, but everyone had incredibly unrealistically positive assumptions about the buildup, and it was difficult to even have a forum or meeting about it and get people to engage. The meetings with Christensen were ideal for both leaders, community figures and activists to come out and find a place to make their statements and have some legitimization of their critical points. This moment was no doubt one reason why Bordallo has been far more cautious when returning to Guam with buildup news, as she may expect crowds to celebrate her for the deals she brokers in DC, but sometimes they do quite the opposite.


Feds asked to match Guam's allegiance
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff
August 17, 2007

MEMBERS of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs last night heard the Guam senators' chorus, stressing that the federal government should match the level of allegiance and patriotism of the people of Guam by treating them as equals.

They demanded that the federal government share the burden placed on Guam resulting from the impending military buildup.

Senators insisted that Guam desperately needs federal funding assistance as it scrambles to build new infrastructure, expand healthcare, and strengthen public safety to accommodate new residents who will come to Guam, along with the 8,000 Marines who will be relocated from Okinawa.

A long list of individuals has signed up to testify at the town hall meeting hosted by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo and subcommittee chairwoman Rep. Donna Christensen, D-Virgin Islands, at the Hilton Resort and Spa.

The lawmakers were on the priority list. The meeting was ongoing as of press time.

Vice Speaker Eddie B. Calvo, R-Maite, requested that all information pertinent to the buildup must be open and accessible to all developers, including local investors. He also asked the federal government to increase federal support for the Guam Apprentice Program to enable the island to produce its own labor pool to pick up the construction projects.

Sen. Ben Pangelinan, D-Barrigada, said the $700 million in investment funds that retired General David Bice said would be poured into utility projects must be directed toward the civilian community. "The military shouldn't grab that entire $700 million for themselves. We depend on Congress to make sure that we get what we need," Pangelinan said.

Sen. James Espaldon, R-Tamuning, urged the federal government to look beyond the strategic importance of Guam and start showing respect for its citizens.

"The frustration we face, aside from the financial constraints, is that the quality of life of our island does not seem to be a part of the strategic vision that the Department of Defense has," Espaldon said. "Our quality of life seems to be only a footnote to their strategic plan."

Sen. Rory Respicio, D-Agana Heights, said the amount of money being requested by Guam is "miniscule," considering the huge amount that the Japanese government pledged to the U.S. for the Marine relocation.

Besides funding assistance, senators also presented a long list of issues that they said the federal government must look into.

Sen. Frank Ishizaki, R-Yona, requested that the military assist the Guam Police Department with the public safety aspect of increased population. He requested that joint military-police posts be built on both ends of the island.

Sen. Judith Guthertz, D-Mangilao, asked the federal government to revisit Guam's quest for self-determination.

Sen. Tina Muna Barnes, D-Mangilao, briefly discussed the Navy's decision to increase rates for water services provided by Fena. "This is the kind of unilateral action by the military that decreases the community's support for the military," she said.

Sen. Jesse Lujan, R-Tamuning, said if the federal government refuses to treat the people of Guam as equals, "then maybe independence is the way to go."


Political status, war claims pushed
By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff
August 17, 2007

MINORITY Leader Judith T. Won Pat, D-Malojloj, has urged visiting Congresswoman Donna Christensen, D-Virgin Islands, to focus not just on the military buildup but also on Guam's quest for political status and war reparations.

According to Won Pat, political status and war reparations are two issues of
paramount importance to the people of Guam that have yet to be resolved.

"I won't belabor the issue but just to say that on political status, there is a need for Congress to support and fund the local effort for Chamorros to finally determine their own political destiny," the minority leader said.

On the issue of war reparations, Won Pat said many Chamorros are elated that the World War II Loyalty Recognition Act has made it to the U.S. Senate.

The Guam War Claims Review Commission established by Congress found that the U.S. has a moral obligation to pay proper compensation for war damages and that there is a lack of parity in war claims for Guam when compared to other war claims programs established by the U.S. Congress.

"I hope Congress will do the right thing and pass this very important legislation for the people of Guam and finally bring closure to this dark chapter in Guam's history," the senator said.

She is also hopeful that Christensen's visit will convey to Congress the frustration and anxiousness that Guamanians feel about the coming military buildup and to recognize the need to include Guam and their leaders in the full scope of any discussion regarding the buildup.

"I commend Chairwoman Christensen for holding her hearing on Guam and I hope this will be the first of many congressional oversight field hearings that will be conducted on Guam regarding the buildup," Won Pat said

There have been many discussions about Guam being the "tip of the spear" and
that Guam is of the highest strategic value and of great importance to the mission of the United States in regional security and national defense.

But as a U.S. territory so far removed from the mainland, Won Pat said Guam issues and concerns often fall on deaf ears.

"This is why this oversight hearing on Guam means so much to the future of our island. It will be decisions made in Washington, D.C., and not on Guam, that will determine the direction of Guam for decades to come," the senator pointed out.


Residents speak on buildup
Town hall meeting presents local views to U.S. Congress
By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno
Pacific Daily News
August 17, 2007

With Guam's future at stake, many Guam residents spoke before a Congressional panel at last night's town hall meeting on the looming military buildup.

The buildup's $14 billion to $15 billion price tag -- a scale about four times the size of Guam's economy -- generated a mix of positive and negative comments about what the military's increased presence would do to the island.

For some of the residents who spoke out, their concerns were related to money.

Others voiced hope that as the buildup preparations progress, the military and officials of the federal government treat Guam as a partner rather than a subordinate.

"We need to sit at the table as equals and talk about it," said Democratic Sen. Tina Muna Barnes, who added that her husband and oldest son serve in the U.S. military.

But while Guam has generally voiced support for increased military presence on island, a new issue, according to Barnes, could erode local support for the buildup.

Rising water price

The Navy's recent confirmation that it would double the price of the local water agency's purchase of water from the military-held Fena water treatment plant, Barnes said, "makes our local people very angry."

The Navy earlier this week confirmed it would increase the Guam Waterworks Authority's purchase price of water from Fena from about $3 million to $6 million a year because of increased cost to operate the water treatment plant.

The increase, which the Navy plans to implement in about two months, would equate to a 6 percent increase in what GWA customers pay for water, said Simon Sanchez, chairman of the Consolidated Commission on Utilities.

The plant is the primary source of water for Nimitz, Santa Rita, Agat and other southern Guam areas.

"This increase in water cost, this unilateral action, ... jeopardizes local support," Muna Barnes said.

A major part of the Guam buildup involves the relocation from Okinawa of about 8,000 members of the U.S. Marines and about 9,000 of their relatives. The buildup's construction activities also are expected to cause an influx of about 15,000 construction workers.

With more civilian and military residents on Guam, the local population, last counted in a federal census at close to 160,000, would surge.

Becoming San Diego

Retired Marine Adolf Sgambelluri, a longtime Guam resident, commented that he expects Guam's quality of life to improve.

"I don't have a problem with Guam becoming like Oahu or San Diego," Sgambelluri said.

One benefit of the economic and population boom, Sgambelluri said, is that prices of consumer goods would drop because the local economy becomes bigger.

Another retired Marine, John Gerber, said he's disappointed that even some of Guam's elected officials have made comments that the Marines are "big, ... bad men."

The Marines built Marine Corps Drive and more than 300 miles of Guam roads after World War II, Gerber said. "When I heard about the Marines returning to Guam, I was very happy. It's a windfall," he said.

The military buildup has the support of "the silent majority of our people on Guam," Gerber said, citing surveys such as the Guam Chamber of Commerce's.

Those who cast the reputation of the Marines and the rest of the military in a bad light have no respect, he said, for American troops fighting in Iraq and deployed foreign missions such as Afghanistan.

"It really bothers me to hear my corps being trashed as they are in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting as we speak. This is not about the Marine Corps, this is a national defense issue," Gerber said. "I don't like people saying Marines are big, bad men ... that is not the Marines of today at all," Gerber said.

On record

The comments voiced at the town hall meeting, which were heard by congressional Delegates Donna Christensen of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Madeleine Bordallo of Guam and Rep. Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa, were recorded and will become a part of congressional records.

Local officials asked the congressional delegates to be advocates for Guam's local community.

The meeting started around 6 p.m. at the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa and still continued past 9 last night.

The local community's voices will help to shape what the military's actions will be, said Christensen, chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs.

"Guam is now at a very, very critical point," Faleomavaega said.

Bordallo emphasized that the military's buildup plans for Guam are not final.

Money issue

Guam needs the federal government to provide Guam with the money to host the military buildup, rather than expect the local government to use "non-existent" local funds, said Sen. Eddie Calvo, the Guam Legislature's vice speaker and Finance Committee chairman.

Without federal money to help Guam host the buildup, Calvo offered the analogy of a rich brother visiting his poor brother's home and asking the poor brother to pay for the rich brother's stay.

Democratic Sen. Ben Pangelinan said rather than listing all of Guam's wishes for more money associated with the buildup, he gave the congressional panel his assessment of local sentiment.

"Some wholeheartedly welcome the military, some halfheartedly welcome the military, and some don't like the military," Pangelinan said.

He noted that the military in one meeting said it would not conduct live-ammunition exercises on Guam; and in another meeting said it would do so.

David Bice, executive director of the Joint Program Office, said he understands the local community's frustration about not getting more detailed information from the military.

But Bice said the buildup still is in a phase where "homework" is being done toward putting together more firm plans.

To emphasize the complexity of the "homework" and other preparations related to the buildup, Bice mentioned that the Japanese government's money contributions toward relocating U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam are a first for the country in terms for a foreign government financially supporting a move of American troops to U.S. soil.

Pangelinan also called for more military openness on what its plans are for

"If you want to come to Guam, say you want to come to Guam, ... otherwise, we have this adversarial relationship, ... this big brother coming to us," Pangelinan said.

"We need to be told the truth of what the military needs, ... and what they offer to Guam," Pangelinan said.

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