Faced with an unprecedented 17 drownings this year, Governor Camacho ordered all public beaches closed during the passage of Typhoon Nock-Ten. Hoping to forestall the loss of life that occurred during Tropical Storm Ting Ting in June, police officers were pulling surfers and swimmers from the water around the island.
This move sparked off another controversy between the Attorney General and the Governor’s office, with AG Doug Moylan noting that the Governor has no authority to close beaches and threaten criminal prosecution unless martial law is declared.
Local surfers were incensed as well, staging a protest rally yesterday at the Hagåtña Boat Basin. While police were busy rousting surfers, dozens of tourists waded in the waters of Tumon Bay, unfazed by any warnings or police action.
I understand the governor’s caution, but I think he was out of line. The surfers are saying the ban impinged their civil rights, and I am inclined to agree. If local surfers want to take advantage of the conditions and risk injury or death in the surf, so be it. It’s their life, not the governor’s. If anything, chase the tourists out of the water since they are usually poor swimmers and shockingly oblivious to water safety.
The phone system went down yesterday. Every single phone on the island was down. All telecommunications stopped. A power surge at the Hagåtña central switch burned out a rectifier causing the entire island telecommunication system to shut down shortly after noon yesterday. No internet, no cash from the ATM, no credit card transactions, no phone calls, no 911, not even cellphones were working. We have our own private WAN at work with the corporate office in California, but the T1 line was down as well.
GTA was struggling to install a replacement rectifier and bring the system back up last night. GTA general manager Lawrence Perez explained the problem to the PDN:
“This situation could’ve been avoided twofold: First, if all of our backup rectifiers were repaired,” Perez said. “And two, our personnel should’ve caught this before it occurred.”
The Hagåtña central office has seven rectifiers, with three that are supposed to act as backup converters. However, three of them were burned out by similar power spikes during the last administration and were never replaced, Perez said.
Perez said he is looking into why the three rectifiers were not replaced, and that the agency is now working on emergency purchase orders to replace the three backup rectifiers.
In the time honored tradition of Guam politics, blame the previous administration.
At the same time as this crisis struck the island, the legislature met to approve two bills that would finalize the sale of GTA to winning bidder TeleGuam Holdings. It looks like the privatization of the island’s phone system is a done deal.