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Residents not giving up on landfill issue

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by Mindy Aguon

It remains to be seen what impact, of any, a five-year-old civil suit in the Superior Court will have on the Ordot consent decree.  The Attorney General's Office submitted a report to the District Court chief judge informing her of efforts in Guam's trial court to put an immediate stop to construction efforts at the new Layon landfill.

A handful of residents, led by former Ordot-Chalan Pago mayor Rossana San Miguel, aren't giving up their efforts to have the government put a landfill at Guatali or Mala'a instead of at Layon.  It was something the Attorney General's Office was concerned about two years ago.

"If the Supreme Court should decide that Judge [Katherine] Maraman made a mistake and reverses (her decision) it what that would mean is that the law that said Guatali and Mala'a had to be considered as the landfill was applicable to the governor's action.  If he had no authority to enter into the consent decree, the consent decree is null and void," said Alberto Tolentino in July 2007.

And apparently the issue is still a concern as Assistant Attorney General Phil Isaac filed a report with the District Court detailing the latest efforts in a taxpayer lawsuit, led by San Miguel seeking a temporary restraining order for the Layon landfill.

She said, "I'm not asking them to completely stop the project.  I'm just asking to really look at it and like I said in the meantime by law there's a place and a company that can take care of it. So it's really up and you know the bottom line it's really up to our lawmakers how they want to handle this."

San miguel, Jose Chargulaf, Angelo Gombar, Anthony Duenas Leon Guerrero, Lawrence Portela, Tony Quinata, Franklin Taitague and Jose Terlaje have been asking the Superior Court to force the Government of Guam to stop efforts to put a landfill anywhere other than where a public law enacted back in 1997 states it should be.  The taxpayer lawsuit filed back in 2004, alleges the government broke the law by failing to work with Guatali and Mala'a as potential sites for the island's next landfill.

"The law says it's Guatali," said San Miguel.  "I pushed that from the very beginning and I said it again.  I keep saying it time and time again.  Why are you inducing all the millions of dollars on the people of Guam, the taxpayers to pay for this project when they shouldn't even have to be the one to do it?"

She continued, "Guatali is in the books.  It's local law.  This new landfill where it's supposed to be, is not in the books and funding for this new landfill has never been there it's money that is now made that the Government of Guam now has to pay and that's the bottom line."

A hearing on San Miguel's motion for a TRO is scheduled for January 14.   Federal receiver Gershman, Bricker & Bratton meanwhile says they are aware of the report filed with the court as well as the taxpayers' litigation.  Receiver representative David Manning says, as the receiver it is not their role to ask the court to take any action on a purely legal question. 

However he says they are confident that all matters with respect to the consent decree and the construction of the new landfill at Layon have been proper and are being handled in strict compliance with all applicable legal requirements.

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