Port Authority plans to fight YTK decision in Supreme CourtWritten by Janela Carrera
Guam - Port General Manager Joanne Brown is expressing her disappointment over a judgment issued in the YTK-Port lease controversy.
On Thursday, Judge Anita Sukola ruled in favor of YTK Coporation, ordering that the Port Authority of Guam fork over the $14 million an arbitration panel awarded earlier this year. But Brown says they will fight this decision in the Supreme Court.
Brown pointed out how the 45-year contract the Port and YTK entered into back in 2001 was not legal to begin with.
"If the basis of the contract itself is illegal how do you put--it allowed for arbitration--how do you allow arbitrators to sidestep the law? And that’s very dangerous. I meant this whole thing is something the people of Guam need to be very attentive about because if public officials--and we’d like to think all public officials walk a straight line, but let’s say in the event they don’t, they can get together and cut these deals and take public resources and assets and appropriate them elsewhere contrary to what the law may be and that is frightening," Brown lamented.
At the time the lease agreement was signed, Guam law required that any lease with a term of over five years with the Port receive legislative approval. The YTK-Port lease never got the approval from the legsialture.
YTK attempted to settle for under a million dollars but its new owners sought over $7 million. An arbitration panel made up of Attorneys Cesar Cabot, Cynthia Ecube and Mitch Thompson, awarded YTK $14 million instead.
"We really gotta be concerned because this sounds to me like a real intent to sidestep the law and I don’t know how you get to do that and say, 'Oh this is all legal and proper and oh, by the way, you owe us $14 million," she argued.
In fact she points out that YTK failed to complete projects under the lease agreement, such as a fisheries facility and a cargo facility at Hotel Wharf.
"There are a lot of things YTK was supposed to do. Go and look at Hotel Wharf now. The only thing that’s succeeded is that place has deteriorated to the point that it’s not even usable," Brown noted.
PNC: "There’s obviously an appeal in the Supreme Court that the lawyers can take, but failing that, where is this $14 million gonna come from?"
"I’m not even gonna go there to even imagine. I certainly hope we never get to that juncture. I think it would be a tremendous loss and tremendous negative impact to the port. Overall all the upgrades and improvements that we’re making, including what we hope to finance, is something we even have to borrow money to do," she said.