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Lawmakers discuss buildup with delegate

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - Before she returns to Washington, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo spent the day with island leaders discussing their concerns surrounding the military buildup.  The input she received today along with those received during town hall meetings this weekend will be part of Bordallo's message to her colleagues.

Guam's delegate didn't have much to say after spending more than an hour behind closed doors with senators.  "Everything's going well," said Bordallo of her series of hearings on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.  Asked to discuss the possibility of an option to rather send the U.S. Marines to Hawaii, Bordallo said, "No, I don't have any comment on that."

While discussions focused mainly on concerns raised regarding the military buildup, Bordallo said they did not discuss the possibility that the marines from Okinawa wouldn't be moving to Guam, but another location.  

It's something Speaker Judi Won Pat says can't be ruled out, as she said, "We've always said from the very beginning is that there's all these other countries and then the state of course of Hawaii, and we even found out that even in California that they have sufficient land mass and space, and they would love to have them come because their economy is so depressed too. But of course that's not our decision to make," she said.

Won Pat says lawmakers brought up concerns about land condemnation, plans for a berthing, firing ranges, the military's overall footprint with the buildup, and inadequate information in the DEIS addressing health issues.  The speaker says Bordallo wants a clear picture of what she has to tell her colleagues in Washington, DC.  The biggest concern, lawmakers hope she gets across, is how the government will obtain full funding for buildup improvements.

"This is just moving so fast and the military is getting its resources to go out there and immediately start their projects, meanwhile where does that put Guam? We're going to end up seeing this failing instead if the government is not able to catchup," she said.

Senators Rory Respicio and Judi Guthertz say the meeting definitely proves that Guam's leaders are on the same page, with the former saying, "We're pleased that the governor asked for an extension, of course some of us did that before he did, but we're glad he's on board, that's very important."  The latter added, "The congresswoman also clarified that she represents the people of Guam, unlike what some may have misunderstood her say the other day that she's here to represent the federal government."

Meanwhile, the speaker has called session for this Friday to discuss Resolution 275, which would present the people of Guam's sentiment on the DEIS to President Barack Obama and Congress.

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