PaganWatch seeks access to MPLA records

Posted on Nov 29 2004

A watchdog group filed an Open Government Act request yesterday with the Marianas Public Lands Authority to uncover details about mining permits and applications on Pagan.

Attorney F. Matthew Smith, who filed the public records request on behalf of PaganWatch, said his group wanted to make sure that the public is informed of all MPLA discussions concerning the mining application of Azmar International and the mining permit of J.G. Sablan Rock Quarry Inc.

He said PaganWatch particularly wanted to know more about what happened at the Nov. 16 meeting, when the MPLA board decided to enter negotiations with Azmar.

“The whole thing at the last board meeting was just a little odd. The board went through a list of everything Azmar didn’t do, they went to recess, and then in a complete turnabout, decided to hold secret talks with Azmar,” Smith said in an interview. “We just would like to see what the public is entitled to see.”

The Saipan Tribune tried but failed to reach either MPLA chair Ana Demapan-Castro or MPLA commissioner Edward Deleon Guerrero yesterday.

In his letter, Smith asked Demapan-Castro and Deleon Guerrero to make the public records he requested available for inspection within 10 days, as required by law.

On top of his list are the minutes (including audio tapes and transcripts), agendas and all correspondence, notices, and reports from MPLA board meetings on April 15, June 24, Aug. 13, Aug. 17, Nov. 16 and any other meetings this year at which the board discussed Azmar and/or mining on Pagan.

Smith also requested to inspect the notes or papers read by the chairwoman and board member Nick Nekai at the Nov. 16 board meeting after they emerged from a recess in the back room and Nekai made his motion to enter negotiations with Azmar.

Further, Smith sought access to all public records “relating to the matter of mining and mining permits and applications in the CNMI and on Pagan.”

These include, but are not limited to, the findings reports prepared by the MPLA staff on Azmar’s application, compliance reports, correspondence, as well as records relating to the MPLA staff investigations and subsequent recommendation to the MPLA board to deny the Azmar mining permit request.

Lastly, Smith requested to examine all public records relating to, and including, the mining permits, leases, licenses and other agreements between MPLA—and its predecessors—and JG Sablan—and its assignees and affiliates.

These include, but are not limited to, all compliance and inspection reports, staff recommendations, letters of default and notices of violation, amendments, correspondence, and all other public documents showing the history status and monitoring of JG Sablan mining efforts on Pagan.

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