Senators meet with Administration on PA - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Senators meet with Administration on PA

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - For the first time since Governor Eddie Calvo took office last week, senators met with the new administration to discuss a touchy issue: the Programmatic Agreement and its relation to a firing range located near the ancient village of Pagat.

When the word came down that the military was asking for the Guam State Historic Preservation Office to signoff on the PA by this Friday, senators reacted to the news strongly by saying they felt the deadline was another ploy to get local officials to cave to pressures that could leave Pagat an open target as the site for a firing range for U.S. Marines. Senators quickly requested an audience with the Administration, looking for assurances the top tier of the government was on board with their opposition to signing off on the document at this time.  

"The senators we spoke with today had mixed reviews on how the meeting went with the governor's chief policy advisor Arthur Clark," summarized Senator Rory Respicio. He for one seemed disheartened by the meeting, saying they were informed problems may exist with a law addressing the formation of the Guam First Commission, which would act to negotiate political issues with Washington, DC. He added, "So we are seeing the Administration dragging its feet and I'm not convinced there is going to be any 'new direction'."

But the Legislature and the Administration are, in fact, heading in the same direction on this issue according to Speaker Judi Won Pat, who said, "He [the governor] did reiterate that Pagat is not for sale and he is sticking to that position." Asked if she was satisfied with the meeting, she said, "Yes, because those are some of the question I really would like addressed."

According to Senator Judi Guthertz, chair of the Committee on the Military Buildup, the deadline is unfair to both branches of government. "This is a new administration and a new governor - he's dealing with lots of challenges and for military to ask expect him to act on something as significant as this with in days of taking office is unfair to him," she detailed.

Clark met with seven senators in total including Frank Blas Jr., Tina Muna Barnes, Mana Silva Taijeron and Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz. State Historic Preservation Officer Lynda Aguon was also on hand for the meeting, who told KUAM News, "This administration according to the chief policy advisor is adamant in leaving Pagat out."

As for the Guam First Commission, Clark says Governor Calvo is working on that promise, explaining, "It's being empanelled now; I know the governor is acting very quickly to make sure that commission is on board and acting as quickly as he can."

A two-week extension of the January 14 deadline has been requested, of which Aguon said, "It's still under review we are doing the technical review part and Attorney Clark is doing the legal side of it."

As for the law suit brought against the Department of Defense, attorney for the National Trust for Historic Preservation Nicholas Yost told KUAM News today via e-mail that the federal government has a due date to respond to the lawsuit by January 21, but they have indicated that they too will ask for an extension.

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