Discussion of the 2006 elections, the island's economy, and various military issues dominated Guam's media during the year in review. However, perhaps the most telling event affecting the island's state of affairs, political and otherwise, was the granting of limited voting privileges to Guam's delegate to the US House of Representatives.
Democrats secured a US congressional majority in 2006, reinstating the short-lived insular area delegates' ability to vote in the House of Representatives (which had been lost in 1995 when Republicans became House majority). These "partial" voting rights were narrowly passed and are only allowed when territory delegates do not determine House vote outcomes. In fact, if their votes do make the difference, the House revotes without the insular area delegates. Many would disagree with Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Z Bordallo's assessment that this partial vote demonstrates that the people of Guam are "members of the American family" (PDN, 26 Jan 2007; MV, 12 Feb 2007). Some find it ironic that while the US military (including many Guam [End Page 198] daughters and sons) fights to ensure Iraqi political participation, Guam's US citizens are denied any real voice in the US national government despite having been "family" for nearly eleven decades. Understanding how Guam does or does not fit into the US system sets the stage for understanding the island's contemporary political and other landscapes.
Underscoring Guam's status as an unincorporated territory was the 2007 visit by US Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, whose department oversees US insular areas (PDN, 11 May 2007). Meanwhile, Guam continues to send delegations to the United Nations to provide testimony regarding the island's status as one of the world's few remaining non-self-governing territories (PDN, 22 June 2007).
Another indicator of Guam's quasi-incorporated status within the United States is the decades-long wait for World War II reparations, meant to acknowledge Guam's suffering of wartime enemy occupation. The Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act (HR 1595) had yet another year of limited success. The House passed the act, but the prospect of its clearing the final hurdles of Senate approval and presidential action looks bleak (GovTrack.us, 7 May 2007). The cost of the measure, superseding ethical obligations, seems to be a major factor blocking its passage. Public comments such as, "the US bears no blame here, and no responsibility" and the "war reparations bill will start a slippery slope" are not unusual (PDN, 8 Jan, 24 May, 28 May 2007).
This and other unresolved issues, such as unexploded ordinance, dumped hazardous waste, and large holdings of ancestral lands, explain the mixed local reaction to plans to increase the military presence in Guam and the Northern Marianas, announced in press releases and discussed at forums during the year.
Guam received some minor US recognition, inclusion, and concessions this year. For example, Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron provided the opening prayer at a US House of Representatives session, and the US Postal Service "honored" Guam with a stamp of a Hagåtña Bay sunset (PDN, 23 Sept 2006; 2 June 2007). Also, the US Transportation Department granted Guam certain expanded air cargo service consideration (PDN, 6 Aug 2006).
In day-to-day island life, Guam saw many positive developments and demonstrations of community spirit. John "JR" Hattig Jr became the first Chamorro/Guam athlete to bat his way into the major leagues, playing for the Toronto Blue Jays—a feat declared the "top local story" of 2006 (PDN, 1Jan 2007). The University of Guam earned "high marks" from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation team, opened a $15 million business school, and recorded increased enrollment (PDN, 26 July 2006; 1 Jan, 6 Feb 2007). Guam welcomed its first Chamorro female federal judge, Frances Marie Tydingco-Gatewood, who became federal chief judge for the District Court of Guam (PDN, 5 Aug 2006). Public libraries reopened after years of closure (PDN, 14 Aug 2006). Several local parish priests, including three Chamorros, received the title monsignor (PDN, 5 Sept 2006). The Government of Guam (GovGuam) unveiled a [End Page 199] new official website, www.guam.gov...