Are feds blackmailing GovGuam? - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Are feds blackmailing GovGuam?

by Lannie Walker

Guam - As KUAM News first reported, the Department of Defense has given the Guam State Historic Preservation Office a deadline to signoff on an agreement that could affect Guam's history for a very long time to come. The new head of the Department of Parks and Recreation, Pete Calvo, has been in office for a short time but he has already been given a deadline by the federal government on an agreement that would outline how the military buildup will affect historic properties on Guam. 

The stalemate is not a new one. For months in the last administration Guam State Historic Preservation Officer Lynda Aguon held out on signing the agreement - giving the inclusion of Pagat the preferred site for a Marines firing range as one of her main reasons. Now with a new administration at the helm chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation, Senator Tina Muna Barnes, says the DoD is trying to strongarm them into signing the Programmatic Agreement by Friday.

She said, "That there is a deadline for the pa and that they would have to act on it by Friday.  She said that should they not act on it by then, "That it was something like an all-or-nothing perspective."

Speaker Judi Won Pat says the posturing is not a new one and believes the DoD is trying threaten Guam officials that they will be left out of the loop if they don't agree to the terms of the pa in its current form. "But if that was true, why didn't it happen a long time ago? Because my understanding is in the previous administration that same discussion has taken place and the threat has always been there if you don't sign off then we are out of here," she said.

But senators say this could be an empty threat and they say they would like to see how a lawsuit brought by the Guam Preservation Office, its national counterpart and the group We Are Guahan pans out in court.

The three organizations with the help of a pro-bono legal counsel obtained by the National Trust for Historic Preservation officially filed a lawsuit against the DoD in November. A scheduling conference on case is scheduled for February 14 in Hawaii.

Speaker Won Pat says until then the Legislature will stand firm in its opposition to specifics included in the PA, noting, "To be able to take the strong position not to signoff on the Programmatic Agreement because of problems with sect 106 and because of Pagat still being on the table."

The Record of Decision held off on making any determination on the Pagat firing range issue because Section 106 was not fulfilled. This section requires the signing of the Programmatic Agreement.

Meanwhile, Senator Rory Respicio says they expect Governor Eddie Calvo to stand by the legislature in their position. He said, "Linda Aguon stood firm and said she was not going to sign that Programmatic Agreement because it was problematic, and we expect the current administration to take the same position."

Respicio and other members of the legislature are scheduled to meet with the governor's director of policy, Arthur Clark, Wednesday afternoon. Looking ahead, Speaker Won Pat says she would like to see Guam officials take control of the agreement and draft it in a way that puts the community's sentiments first. "We should take the bull by the horns and we should take that PA and every thing that is problematic we should delete, reprint that whole agreement have all of the consulting parties sign off and then give to them to sign and they would be the last signatory on this Programmatic Agreement," she told KUAM News.

A suggestion the speaker will be able to make in person to Assistant Secretary of the Navy Jacklynne Pfannestiel, who will visit Guam next week. Won Pat says discussions on the Programmatic Agreement are expected to continue at that time.

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