The Dan Tydingco Land Scam series: A special investigative report
Guam's Legislature gives away prime land to political cronies for pennies on the dollar
By Jacob Nakamura
(Hagatna, Guam) In the sleepy quiet southern village of Piti, the kids don’t have many outdoor recreational options.
Unlike most villages, they don’t have a village gymnasium to gather and play sports. They only have a broken down baseball field and their outdoor basketball court.
Their only village basketball court no longer exists as it has been bulldozed over by GTA and it was all orchestrated by GTA executive Dan Tydingco.
Late last year Dan Tydingco, GTA Executive Vice President for government, regulatory and legal affairs, worked secretly with Piti Mayor Jesse Alig to acquire the property the village basketball court sits on for GTA. Tydingco and Alig worked with Tydingco’s former boss, Senator Tom Ada, to get the bill introduced on November 13, 2018.
The following is the timeline of this legislation that was introduced and passed in record time:
Nov 13, 2018 – Bill Introduced by Tom Ada
November 20, 2018 – Bill referred to Tom Ada’s Committee
November 30, 2018 – Tom Ada schedules public hearing for December 10, 2018
December 5, 2018 – Piti Municipal Planning Council approves resolution backing bill
December 10, 2018 – Public Hearing
December 12, 2018 – Committee report circulated
December 19, 2018 – passed by legislature
December 21, 2018 – signed by Eddie Calvo
For some reason, Dan Tydingco and GTA did not feel the children of Piti were important enough to replace the basketball court prior to bulldozing the only one they have.
GTA pretends to care about the community, but maybe they only care about the members of the community who are related to Dan Tydingco’ wife. Why? Because while the children of Piti have suffered without access to their only basketball court, Mr. Tydingco and GTA made sure to make a huge donation to a sports organization of which Tydingco’s wife Lory is an active member and organizer.
The kids of Piti, many of whom fall below the national poverty level, were ignored and their basketball court bulldozed and then Tydingco and GTA donated $100,000 to the Guam Tennis Federation for a brand-new state-of-the-art facility. Tydingco’s wife Lory Tydingco is a long-time member and a player of the older women’s federation tennis team.
In a GTA press release announcing their $100,000 donation to the tennis federation, GTA Client Relations Executive Laura Cepeda said “GTA is a proactive advocate for all youth development and environmental efforts. We are proud to partake in a larger community effort to provide the adequate resources needed to develop the skills for the sport and push the limits of competition.” She noted that the GTA $100,000 donation will help provide the facility with the latest technology, from cushioned courts to LED lighting to eco-friendly equipment. Meanwhile, the Tennis Federation will still have their current facility which means the $100,000 GTA donation is for a second, additional facility for their tennis players including Dan Tydingco’s wife.
Meanwhile, in Piti, the underprivileged kids still have nothing.
“I am mad that the mayor did not get our input but I am also mad that GTA doesn’t even care about our kids. How hard would that have been for them to lay down a concrete slab and put our fences and basketball posts back up in another location?” one Piti father told Kandit News. He wished to remain anonymous because their village is small and he claims the mayor may retaliate. When we informed the father that GTA instead donated $100,000 to the Tennis Federation of which Tydingco’s wife Lory Tydingco is a member, the father became enraged. “That’s complete bull*#it.”
Instead of spending a few thousand dollars to put an outside basketball court up in the village, GTA decided to focus on the wealthy members of the Tennis Federation instead of the at-risk youth of Piti. There have been vague promises of GTA replacing the basketball court sometime in the near future, but absolutely nothing was placed in that law requiring that they do so.
On December 10, 2018, Senator Therese Terlaje expressed her concern during the public hearing that nothing was in the bill requiring GTA to build a new facility. Dan Tydingco promised lawmakers a new facility would be built. But he didn’t build one. Instead he gave $100,000 for a SECOND tennis facility.
Lawmakers also expressed concern about the appraisal and rent to be paid but nothing was changed to give Piti village more money. Instead the law just says GTA will pay rent based on an appraisal, and the Mayor has said that will be about $1,000 a month. The law gave GTA a 40-year lease so that would mean they would only pay $480,000 in 40 years or $240,000 in 20 years if the optional 20 years is not renewed.
This is a large prime lot fronting Marine Corps Drive in Piti. And although the appraisal from the committee report indicated that this lot being leased to GTA was zoned as residential and not commercial, it was never addressed in the hearing nor was that matter addressed during markup.
Sadly the village’s only basketball court does not seem to be the only recreational area being eyed by GTA. In fact in the public hearing and other public venues, Tydingco has expressed that their $1 Billion undersea cable project was the reason they went after the Piti basketball court land and that they also are interested in Santos Memorial Park in Piti.
VIDEO OF THE PITI BASKETBALL COURT SITE AND SANTOS MEMORIAL PARK
Santos Park in Piti is directly across the street from the former basketball court where GTA is
now constructing their new facility. It is the only park in Piti and the public – especially the residents of Piti – use this beach-side facility for family gatherings, functions, school field trips and even the Piti fiesta was held there this year hosted by Mayor Alig.
In 2012, Guam EPA designated Santos Memorial Park in Piti as a demonstration park for proper stormwater management.
Guam EPA helped to coordinate with village residents the planting of native trees, a stabilized stream bank and a rain garden around the pavilion.
And even though island residents – most especially those in Piti – use their only village park for so many different kinds of functions, it now appears that Dan Tydingco is scheming behind the scenes and without the knowledge of the public nor the residents of Piti to take that recreational area away as well.
According to the June 5, 2019 Board Meeting Minutes from the Guam Economic Development Authority, the Piti Mayor wants to close the park to the public and lease it to a commercial venture.
“First our basketball court and now our park?” said a woman who lives near the Piti church. “We are a small village. We don’t have much. Why is Jesse giving this all away to GTA?”
Mayor Alig said in testimony supporting the lease that his office needed the rental revenues due to budget cuts. Yet the Mayor of Piti receives the same amount of funding as every village mayor including much larger districts who have not resorted to shutting down recreational areas in favor of private commercial interests.
And it appears from June 2019 GEDA Board meeting minutes, that the Piti Mayor may be close to giving the Santos Memorial Park away as well. Alig appears to have been convinced by GTA to lease out the land directly across from the new GTA leased land as he is trying to get an MOU approved to give that property to a private entity.
So now the mayor wants to shut down the public park in Piti and lease it to a commercial venture. This is the same area that Tydingco indicated GTA wants to use for their $1 Billion undersea cable project.
Sources say some current Piti Municipal Planning Council members are not even aware of the Mayor’s newest efforts to close down Santos Park and lease it to a private business. And for sure the residents don’t even know since the Mayor has admitted to us that their Municipal Planning Council did not publish any public notice of their meeting to approve the lease to GTA and do not actually publish any MPC notices at all – not even to residents.
But the mayor routinely communicates with residents via email, What’s App and even via flyers delivered to their homes on other matters such as sharing photos of his events or planned water outages. So is Mayor Alig intentionally keeping residents in the dark? One can only surmise given that his partner in the great land scam of Piti is none other than Dan Tydingco, who is known for his shady dealings with government and for openly flaunting his willingness to ignore local laws. This time, however, he appears to be doing it on behalf of GTA, a company that prides itself on being a good corporate partner and always being there for the people of Guam. Meanwhile, Tydingco’s actions on behalf of GTA has the children of Piti wondering who is really there for them.