GovGuam wants Ordot consent decree halted - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GovGuam wants Ordot consent decree halted

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - The Government of Guam is talking trash, asking District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco Gatewood to stop the Ordot consent decree from proceeding any further. On Friday the 13th the Governor's Office has filed a motion to stop the proceedings in the Ordot consent decree case.

At the heart of the government's argument, allegations the Attorney General's Office is not working in the best interest of the people of Guam and as a result has no voice in the case. According to the government's motion it was it was on August 13th the District Court reiterated its position that the Attorney General's Office is GovGuam's only authorized lawyer. But on that same day the AGO filed  papers with the court "revealing for the first time that it has not actually represented the government since April 2011"  in that same filing the AG's Office admits that its client is the Guam Solid Waste Authority which by court order is  under control of the federal receiver.  

Governor's deputy chief of communications Phil Leon Guerrero said, "It really would be it really isn't in the best interest of the people of Guam to continue these proceedings in the district court 147 without effective legal representation. And if it's not going to be by the Attorney General's Office because they say they're representing the Receiver that the receiver is there client then we really need to have an attorney that is action within the best interest of the people of Guam and only the people of Guam."

According to Leon Guerrero this is clearly a conflict of interest, and according to the motion to stay, this must be resolved immediately. Because without a voice in the litigation the government maintains there's no transparency and in effect the receiver could saddle the government with contracts potentially requiring tens of millions of dollars in additional funding. Leon Guerrero saying the government is not only being left in the dark, but also could be left dealing with a shortfall.

"The receiver is fully intending on awarding a contract for the closure of the Ordot Dump by the end of this month or early next month and it would be irresponsible for the government to enter into a long term agreement with a company without knowing first how much the contract is going to cost and second the receiver has already admitted that they under budgeted the closure of the Ordot Dump, so if we already know that we're not going to have enough money because the receiver says that he doesn't have enough money that's bad enough but at the same time if we don't have enough money how can we responsibly enter into a contract if we don't know how much we're short by exactly," he said.

KUAM requested reaction from the AG's Office for reaction to the motion to stay. Spokesperson Carlina Charfauros says, "The Office of the Attorney General has been representing the Government of Guam, including its governmental agencies, in the Landfill Consent Decree Case for more than 13 years. Since the entry of a 2012 judgment in the Layon Landfill condemnation case, the Governor's Office has filed a motion seeking to remove the OAG from representing the Government of Guam in all aspects of this case. That motion was denied by the federal district court. Our court filed documents will contain any further comment we have on this matter."

The Attorney General's Office meanwhile issued this reaction to KUAM in response to the motion to stay. "The Office of the Attorney General has been representing the Government of Guam, including its governmental agencies, in the Landfill Consent Decree Case for more than 13 years. Since the entry of a 2012 judgment in the Layon Landfill condemnation case, the Governor's Office has filed a motion seeking to remove the OAG from representing the Government of Guam in all aspects of this case. That motion was denied by the federal district court. Our court filed documents will contain any further comment we have on this matter."

The 2012 judgment the AG's Office is referring to is for the government to pay $25 million for the land taken for the Layon landfill. For every month the judgment is not paid more than $100,000 interest is accruing.  Even in this case the Governor's Office contends the AG's Office is not representing the people of Guam's interest - even though they were under the impression they were being represented by the AG's Office.

Meanwhile, according to the Governor's Office about 6,200 people who filed their tax refunds by April 8 will get their tax refunds this week - if the Legislature goes into session to pass Bill 187. They add the governor will release another $6 million in the income tax reserve for a total of $15 million in payments, all of which the Governor's Office states "is cash in the bank."

The release from Adelup notes that if senators allow the governor to make this payment at the end of the week, the government will be far ahead of schedule to pay all remaining Tax Year 2012 in according with the injunction. As of last week, $27 million remains to be paid for all status-a refunds filed this year inclusive of prior year refunds that were filed only recently.

The Governor's Office further notes that despite debate from democrat senators that who argue that enough money was appropriated in the FY2014 budget for tax refunds, they clarify that the provision in the FY2014 budget is for Tax Year 2013 and that the GOP senators are "trying to speed up the payment of this year's Tax Year 2012 and prior refunds. The democrats are comparing apples to oranges."

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