Since I was such a slacker last week, I let several major news story slip right by me. I guess I should go ahead and link to the big news stories from Guam for everyone’s perusal.
- Gil Shinohara Indicted – Former Gutierrez administration Chief of Staff was indicted on over a dozen charges by federal attorneys. The charges revolve around bilking the FEMA with fraudulent claims after typhoon Paka in 1997, and bank and wire fraud apparently with the complicity of former senator Willy Flores.
- Carl Gutierrez Pleads Innocent – Carl Gutierrez declared his innocence Friday in the Superior Court, denying that he used $64,000 of government money and labor to construct his pleasure dome along the Uranao cliffline.
- Cliff Guzman Pleads Innocent – Cliff Guzman pleaded innocent last week to charges that he ordered the government to absorb the cost of numerous private street lights; Carl Gutierrez has yet to enter a plea in this case.
- Rosie Tainatongo Indicted – Former Department of Administration Director Rosie Tainatongo was indicted last Friday for misuse of government funds to aid in a Liberation Day contestant’s bid to be Liberation Queen.
- Audit Reveals ‘Enhanced’ Retirement Pay For Elected Official – Public Auditor Doris Brooks released the results of an audit of the Government of Guam Retirement Fund and the bombshell was how an unnamed executive branch official had his retirement pay doubled in a questionable arrangement with the Director of the Retirement Fund, bypassing any oversight by the board of the retirement fund. The former director defended his actions, but it certainly raised eyebrows around the island.
- Democrats Introduce Wage Hike – In a move designed to stir public comment, Democrats introduced a bill to raise the minimum wage on Guam to $7.50 an hour. Local businesses cried foul instantly, and Republicans accused the Democrats of pandering for votes in an election year.
- Deal Reached In Ordot Dump Closure – Well it looks like the progress is actually being made on closing the Ordot Dump. Public Works is researching locations for the new dump and
- Erosion Control Project Begins At Talofofo Beach Park – For the last few years the beach has been slipping into the sea at Talofofo Beach Park. The erosion increased rapidly following typhoon Pongsona in 2002. By last month, several pavilions and restrooms were on the verge of tumbling into the waves. So the Department of Parks and Recreation finally got moving with a plan to halt the erosion. Giant limestone boulders are being placed along the shore to absorb the waves energy and hopefully halt the deterioration.
- Scientists To Map Guam’s Water Table – The Guam EPA, USGS and WERI received $400,000 grant to produce a modern three-dimensional map of Guam’s water table. It is hoped this study will lead to better water resource management and prevent salt water encroachment in the priceless fresh water lens that supplies Guam’s fresh water supply.
- Invasive Species Of Frog Found On Island – Two male coqui frogs were recently found on Guam. The frogs are an invasive species that probably arrived on ornamental plants shipped from Hawaii. While the frogs are not a threat to local wildlife, they do produce an earsplitting racket. In a related story, Guam is relaxing the importation of ornamental plants to the island. I guess we need more exotic animal species sneaking into the island.
- Still No Archaeologist Working At Ylig Site – Go figure. It’s been almost a year now since ancient Chamorro remains were found at the Ylig Bay end of the Route 4 expansion project and still no archaeologists have excavated the site. The Department of Public Works is hoping some magical fairy archaeologists appear and do the work pro bono. Meanwhile, looters and wild dogs pillage the site. Somebody deserves a prize for this fuck-up.
- Other News Of Interest
- Explosion Disables Saipan Mobile Phone Company – In probably the weirdest story of the past few weeks, a large explosion crippled the cellular provider iConnect on Saipan on February 7. An explosion destroyed the company’s transmitter located atop Mount Tapochao, and damaged both the FBI and NOAA transmitters too. That brought in the FBI, and they quickly rounded up three suspects that readily confessed when presented the evidence. Seems the owner of a rival cellular firm paid two employees to fly up from Guam to Saipan to disable iConnect and bring him some business. Too bad he picked a couple knuckleheads that got caught of videotape.
- Marine Dies In Freak Accident – A marine drowned earlier this week when his tank slipped off an amphibious assault craft during training in Apra Harbor. The tank slipped off the side of the hovercraft and sank in 90 feet of water.
- Renowned Painter Creates Mural At Airport – Renowned ocean artist Wyland was on island for almost two weeks painting a mural at the Guam International Airport. He met with many school and local artists during his stay on island.
- Catholic Relic Installed At Hagatna Cathedral – A bone fragment from St. Therese of Liseaux was installed at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral in Hagatna. The remains of the ‘Little Flower’ visited Guam in 2002, and the response was enormous. As a gift to the people of Guam, this bone fragment was installed in the cathedral.
So I guess a lot happened on Guam the last couple weeks. I’ll try to stay on top of the news in the future.