Ada’s final days as senator devoted to CLTC reform

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L-R: Sen. Jim Espaldon (R) and Sen. Tom Ada (D) attend session at the Guam Congress Building on December 17, 2018. Neither senator ran for reelection for service in the upcoming 35th Legislature, set to convene January 2019.

Guam – No denouement just yet, but retiring senator Tom Ada (D) is still attempting to guide closure and settlement of the decades-long lease controversy with the Chamorro Land Trust.

After combing through 102 leases that were transferred from one family member to another with CLTC’s oversight and approval but were later declared null and void by the attorney general, Land Committee Chairman Ada and his staff are attempting to edge these leases toward fair settlement without causing a worse homelessness problem on Guam.

Squeezing out every lost drop of time left in his helm of the Land Committee, the 18-year veteran lawmaker brought Newstalk K57 radio listeners up to speed on The Andrea Pellacani Show today.

“So while it is true that we may not–the Legislature may not– go back into session again to act on the particular bill that will ratify these 100 leases, we will have at least put it on the record and have started the conversation, so that hopefully the incoming legislature and the incoming land committee will hopefully pick up the ball and put to rest the questions that are overshadowing these 100 leases,” Ada told Newstalk listeners.

Ada says that in 80 percent of the transfer cases, year-1995 applicants waited for 20 years for lease awards and bought land and built homes in the interim while saving lease rights for the next generation. Ada says it isn’t fair to take those rights away, when applicants followed the rules and transferred leases to family members with CLTC’s approval.

As for the 2,800 leases deemed voidable by the AG for such improper approvals as administrators giving the nod without commission board sanction, Ada says after his staff examined a ten percent sampling, he’s confident to send all of these leases back to CLTC for proper processing according to clearly defined rules.

“Voidable because they did not get the final blessing and approval from commission,” Ada clarified.

“The ten percent random sample on those 2,800 leases, basically the committee is gonna recommend that they send that back to the commission, since it’s within their authority to simply look at these and say, ‘OK, fine, everything is in order,’ and ratify it.

Ada insists his committee has found no suggestion of fraud in its oversight investigation into the past couple of decades of executed Chamorro Land Trust leases and the application process. Rather, that at the outset of the lease program, lands had yet to be surveyed and no money was available to do that work.

He also said the Chamorro Land Trust Commission had experienced difficulty forming a quorum because nobody wanted to sit on the board. All CLTC leases must be approved by the commission board prior to signature.

Ada’s Land Committee will report its findings next Friday at 9:00 a.m. inside the legislature’s public hearing Room at the Guam Congress Building.