An improper transfer of a Chamorro Land Trust Lease requested from the agency’s director was already terminated by the trust’s governing Commission late last year.
More information on the handling of the contract was revealed following a request from a former senator and transparency advocate. The Guam Daily Post obtained the “Land Agent Staff Report” furnished to Bob Klitzkie through a Sunshine Law demand for public records. In it, a CLTC employee identifies constraints in law that limit transfers of “application rights” upon the death of an applicant to a limited list of relatives.
But according to the land agent preparing the report in a recent commission meeting, CLTC Administrative Director Jack Hattig coerced her into accommodating this transfer, which would have had one CLTC applicant advance in front of about a year’s worth of others waiting potential lessees by taking over her husband’s lease.
The original applicant, identified as Gerald Lee Hodges in the document released by the commission, initially turned in his request for a residential lease on Jan. 5, 1996. According to the same report, more than two decades later Mr. Hodges’ wife Katrina Borja Hodges “signed her lease” for her husband’s CLTC lot in Barrigada.
The attorney general in 2018, following a controversy surrounding Land Trust leases in Barrigada Heights, issued an opinion that "switched" or transferred leases are considered null and void, resulting in a moratorium on new leases that was only recently lifted.
Minutes not posted
By its Dec. 28, 2020 meeting the Land Trust Commission decided to terminate Hodges’ lease, and instead issue a “Right of Entry” for the lot “until such time a lease is issued.” The land agent staff report did not detail the reasons for the termination.
Commission meeting minutes for this date are not available on the CLTC’s or Guam Legislature’s websites, nor is there an audio recording available at the Office of Public Accountability’s website, despite local law calling for the agency to transmit or post these records.
The most recent “Board Meeting Minutes” published on the commission’s website is from Sept. 19, 2019. The last audio recording from 2020 posted by the OPA, which is charged with posting all files sent by agencies, boards and commissions, was from July 9.
Last month, an official recommendation was made to “approve the transfer of the application rights of Gerald Lee Hodges to Katrina Borja Hodges,” despite the same report disclosing Gerald Hodges “could not qualify” for a CLTC lease under previous rules and that he did not “wish to maintain the application toward qualification in the new regulations.”
Instead, the report recommends the CLTC award the residential lease to Katrina Hodges, and in the process decrease her own time on the lengthy wait list for these properties.
But the proposals made were not from the land agent preparing the report. CLTC Director Hattig said in a commission meeting held last Thursday that although he did not force his subordinate to make any changes he did, however, take the report submitted and added his recommendations.
“If the Commission approves of the transfer of application rights to Mrs. Hodges, she would be eligible for a lease under the original numerical designation and date and time of Mr. Hodges,” the report reads.