Daily Archives: 03/11/2003

Local News Roundup

I’ve been laying off the news roundup lately, mostly because I stuck that KUAM newsfeed over on the left sidebar. But significant events are happening, and I feel I must comment on them.

  • GMH begins laying off workers. I think I mentioned a couple weeks ago that the new hospital administrator was appalled by the staff size at GMH. 932 work at GMH, and Bill McMillan has started passing out pink slips to 100 people this week. The first to go are security guards, housekeeping and cafeteria workers. All these services are being bid out to private contractors, and McMillan expects to trim $700,000 off the monthly payroll by outsourcing. A second round of layoffs next month will trim the staff at GMH down to 700. [Let’s hope McMillan can turn GMH around and finally get that place accredited. He is certainly doing exactly what all the other administrators the hospital had should have done: Clean house. The employees up at GMH are deeply entrenched and resist any reform action. The trail of broken and defeated hospital administrator’s attests to who really holds power up at GMH. McMillan seems intent on busting up the cabal that exists up there. Let’s hope he can actually accomplish his goals.]
  • Trial for Marilyn Manibusan continues. Former senator Marilyn Manibusan’s trial for corruption and fraud entered it’s second full week with testimony from Korean contractor Il Joong Ju. Manibusan is accused of accepting bribes and extorting money from Korean contractors while she was chairwoman of the Territorial Land Use Commission. [The federal government is intent on routing out the corruption that exists in GovGuam’s highest offices. About time. I expect more indictments will be handed down soon.]
  • GovGuam workers now on 32 hour work week. GovGuam workers at several agencies are now working 32 hour work weeks, an effective 20% pay cut for those unlucky souls. The Department of Education is one of the hardest hit, and protesting loudly over any planned cuts. DOE is probably the single largest GovGuam agency, so the cuts affect the most people in this department. However, DOE is pushing hard to lift the budget impositions, citing concern for the children’s education as the reason. [DOE is in real danger of completely collapsing under it’s own weight. Again, it’s the same problem that is rampant in GovGuam: the focus is not on educating kids, the focus is on providing jobs. DOE is stuck between a rock (the non-existent budget) and a hard place (the powerful employee base and teacher’s union), and it certainly doesn’t seem like anybody is teaching the students these days. If I had kids, I sure wouldn’t have them in the public school system here. This year is basically a waste. So many days have been missed by students this year, I doubt the seniors have enough credits to graduate and get into college.]
  • GovGuam Increases Taxes. In a reckless bid to totally stifle the private sector economy, the legislature passed a 2003 budget that increase the Gross Receipts Tax by 50%, and institutes ‘sin taxes’ for alcohol and tobacco purchases. I guess somebody was asleep at the wheel, how else could they be so surprised that tax revenues has shrunk so dramatically (by 24%) the last couple years? Oh yeah, the governor wants to borrow $200 million to government expenditures for this year too. [Mortgaging the island’s future to pay off the present. The private sector already subsidizes substandard service from the government, and now the GovGuam would rather punish private businesses than trim the payroll or cut programs. Profit margins are slim on Guam, primarily because businesses need to replicate services GovGuam cannot reliably provide: backup generators because GPA can’t keep the lights on, reservoirs and catchment systems because GWA cannot provide clean, reliable water service, hell Leo Palace even has their own earth station because GTA can’t keep the phones working. Shows were the politicians real interests lie, they’d rather protect GovGuam employees and their own political futures than provide efficient service. These tax increase will cripple Guam’s fragile economy. Hotels are threatening to close their doors, construction projects are being put on hold, and property values continue to plummet. The end result will be less income for the government as the economy contracts further. Good thinking. And hell, float that junk bond for $200 million – if that will help get my two years of tax refunds paid out, I don’t care what the long term consequences are. Nobody else seems to give a damn here. It should be noted that a large portion of the $200 million is to pay off an immediate $50 million loan that the governor wants to secure to meet government operations for the short term. I think that is called “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”]
  • Dededo Dump Fire Extinguished. Oh yeah, another dump caught on fire Saturday night. Surprise, surprise. Firefighters extinguished the blaze late Sunday night. The Dededo Transfer Station was accepting typhoon debris, mostly wood and plant material. I guess all the decomposition was the cause of that blaze, though the fire department should release a report today or tomorrow. [Dry season is beginning, the brushfires will commence soon, only exacerbating the situation. I shudder to think about it. And it is a drought this year too. I expect fires to rival those of 1998, when it seemed like the entire island was ablaze.]

…And that was the week that was…

USAF Buzzes Saipan

Residents on Saipan were scared witless yesterday when a loud sonic boom rattled the island and broke windows around 5:30 pm. When questioned, the Air Force admitted that a couple B1’s were performing low altitude flyby’s of Saipan to familiarize themselves with the airport. At first the Air Force denied that any of the passes were supersonic, but this morning the PDN reports that the Air Force now admits that at least one pass was supersonic, creating a sonic boom that reverberated the island.

Whoops.

Cassini

Yesterday’s APOD (NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day) has a nice shot Cassini took departing Jupiter. Never seen a crescent Jupiter before. Very cool. Cassini is en route to Saturn, and will arrive in early 2004.
Here are some other Cassini links:

One thing the APOD site neglects to mention – this photo is actually over two years old. The caption suggests it was made a couple months ago. Cassini is actually over halfway between Jupiter and Saturn now, and actively imaging the ringed planet.

Still, I highly recommend the APOD site. It’s one of my favorites on the internet.