VIDEO: District Court Judge Grants Administration’s Request to Replace AG as Legal Counsel in Solid Waste Case


Guam – District Court Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood  has granted the Governor’s motion for a full substitution of counsel, disqualifying the Attorney General from representing the Guam taxpayers in further proceedings over the capping of the Ordot Dump.

US Department of Justice Attorney Robert Mullaney alluded that Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio is in collusion with Governor Eddie Calvo and his family to be compensated as former Layon landowners instead of protecting the interests of the people of Guam. He said this during a hearing in District Court for a motion to stay the procurement of the Ordot Dump closure.

Mullaney was referring to a brief Tenorio filed in which the Lt. Gov stated that unless the federal receiver paid the former landowners, he would act to block the procurement contract for Ordot Dump.

“In hindsight, the Lt. Gov has kept his promise and basically blocked [Gershman Brickner & Bratton] from fulfilling its duty,” Mullaney says.“It’s serving the interests of the Governor and his family and not representing the people of Guam.”

One of the former landowners is Calvo’s Insurance Underwriters, which is part of Gov. Eddie Calvo’s family enterprises.

“There is no conspiracy there is no collusion there’s just an interest in making sure that the people of Guam in the long run are only paying for what they have to pay for and are making sure that we’re paying for what we’ve already got in front of us,” Tenorio responded.

Attorney Rawlen Mantanona, representing the governor’s office, says the government is obligated to pay the former landowners, a debt which currently stands at about $30 million, but in the long run could balloon to hundreds of millions of dollars.

“We’re going to end up paying–if we pay them last–the government will end up paying $200 million when they could pay now just $25 million,” Mantanona argues. Right now, says Mantanona, the government doesn’t have the money to pay landowners nor does it have the ability to borrow money.

However, on the other side of that argument, Mullaney says the government could also face penalties for delaying the closure of Ordot Dump. Under the consent decree, he points out, the government could be fined $5,000 per day that the dump is not closed. And so far, it’s already been six years, which amounts to about $11 million dollars.

“We could have penalized the government for delaying the closure, but we chose not to. We were concerned with the closure of Ordot,” points out Mullaney.

Mantanona, meanwhile maintains that the governor’s office has not had a voice and simply wants to be able to actively participate in decisions regarding the solid waste consent decree. He also says that a short delay in the dump closure will not result in substantial environmental harm to the island. While he believes that the leachate has already been stopped, the US government says there is still leachate leaking into the Longfit River from the Ordot Dump.

“That is to me, a … infinitesimal leachate leak. I don’t know because Mr. Mullaney refused to–well he didn’t refuse to–he didn’t clarify his position as to the amount. Is it a couple of pieces of algae or is this a green river running down there? There’s 2 different things,” laments Mantanona.

Mullaney, on the other hand, says the amount does not matter. What matters is that there is leachate and therefore the Guam government continues to violate the Clean Water Act.

“This is an incredible public nuisance. I don’t know what island they live on or with whom they talk to, but they must be isolated from reality,” says Mullaney.

He also says that granting a stay pending a 9th Circuit Court appeal decision would delay the Ordot Dump closure by another year.

Mantanona however maintains that the bond is responsible for paying the Layon judgment. He asked Judge Gatewood that if the motion to stay is denied, to at least grant a 14 day temporary stay to allow the parties to plan its next move.

Judge Gatewood is expected to render a decision before the end of next week.

READ the release from the Governor’s Office below:

THE JIG IS UP: Judge Rules to Give Guamanians Representation in Layon Case

The administration thanks Chief Judge Frances Tydingco Gatewood for siding with the people and ratepayers of Guam today.  She granted the Governor’s motion to disqualify the Attorney General from representing the taxpayers.

“We ratepayers have been wondering why it costs so much for trash service, and now we’re faced with another increase. All of the decisions surrounding the costs from this Consent Decree were done without a legal voice for several years now. That’s because the ratepayers had no representation while the elected AG was being the lawyer for the off-island company that’s been spending all of the people’s money,” said Governor’s Legal Counsel Sandra Miller. “We needed that to stop. It was just wrong for our lawyer to be the other side’s lawyer as well. This was especially wrong because of the obvious conflict when the elected AG is representing the very off-island company that’s spending and charging us ratepayers for its costs.”

At a hearing today to delay the federal receiver from spending any more money on the contractor to close Ordot, the Judge expressed her surprise at the AG’s position that it was representing the receiver and it was taking instructions from the receiver.

Attorney Rawlen Mantanona, who joined today’s hearing in place of Miller (who is on personal leave right now), explained to Judge Tydingco-Gatewood that it is important to suspend any more spending on the Ordot issue until the government has time to make up for the past two-and-a-half years that the ratepayers have lacked representation.

“What we need to know is whether we can make this cheaper for the ratepayers,” Miller said. “We will do this while also ensuring the proper closure of the Ordot Dump and the maintenance of the new landfill. We have a responsibility to disagree with the receiver sticking us for runaway and frivolous spending. Up until this point, every decision was shoved down our throats, from the condemnation of Layon to the pavement of a road that was miles longer that it needed to be made, to the increase in the trash fees and everything else in between. We are going to look out for the best interests of the ratepayers of Guam, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the federal government will now have to answer for the way they’ve bullied Guamanians into paying for this mess.”

The administration also notes its disgust with slanderous allegations by the U.S. Attorney’s Office that the administration is just trying to pay the condemnation costs. The administration had nothing to do with the condemnation of that land and has actively been trying to resolve that conflict by lowering the cost of the condemnation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office used this as a political distraction to its benefit after the Judge’s ruling. That ruling ended their ruse for the past few years to use the Guam Attorney General against the very people who elected him.

“The jig is up,” Governor Calvo said. The Governor has been watching this issue from the sidelines after recusing himself from these proceedings. Nonetheless, he continues to be concerned about the costs of this receivership and the runaway spending of the receiver.

“This is just typical of the U.S. government’s attitude toward its territorial possessions. They’ve been abetting the off-island companies that are just scraping the mighty dollar off our backs and taking it all back to Corporate Tennessee,” Lt. Governor Tenorio said.

“This is just another typical example of the U.S. government doing whatever it wants and saying whatever it needs to advance its own interests and keep us down,” Chief Policy Advisor Arthur Clark said. “We are grateful that the judge stopped this abuse today and allowed the Guamanian people to have representation in a U.S. court.”