Executive Director announces carnival is "shutting down"Written by Donna De Jesus
Guam - Guam Liberation Historical Society’s Executive Director Heidi Ballendorf has announced that the annual Liberation Carnival has been canceled, emphasizing "no casino, no carnival." But some mayors who are also members of the GHLS say otherwise.
The past few days have been a rollercoaster ride of emotion-filled disputing between anti-gambling groups and the construction of a casino at the Paseo for this year’s Liberation Carnival. Earlier today, Guam Liberation Historical Society’s Executive Director Heidi Ballendorf told PNC that the Liberation Carnival, along with the casino, will be shut down.
"On behalf of the Mayors Council, I am announcing that we are shutting down not only the carnival, but the casino. We will be cleaning up the Paseo area. That’s going to be my task. People need to understand: there’s no carnival," Ballendorf said.
Ballendorf’s announcement came after days of countless calls regarding the controversy surrounding the casino. However, one of the founding members of the Historical Society confirmed that the Mayors Council of Guam has made no such decision as they have yet to discuss the kinds of events they can have should the gaming component be removed. In fact, he says that several key members are currently off-island and the issue was already scheduled to be discussed at the beginning of next week. He tells PNC, “ultimately it's the governor’s decision since he is the authorizing individual. We will seek his counsel.” Agana Heights Mayor Paul McDonald also confirmed that there was no discussion about cancelling the carnival.
In only a few days, Sen. Telena Nelson’s Bill 50, which seeks to ban casino gambling on Guam, will be taking session floor. A release from the senator states that she met with the Mayors Council of Guam in April, who requested for the bill to be amended and have the ban take effect next year.
“This bill is not against the mayors or one that is malicious, it is to protect our community from the ills of what casino gambling may cause that will negatively effect our families. Regrettably, my words are being twisted but I would like to ensure the public that I have requested Senator San Agustin to file a committee report so this critical piece of legislation makes it to the Session floor next week. Additionally, I will not support an amendment that will delay the ban on the casino at the Liberation Day Carnival,” Senator Nelson said.
After Bill 50 sat with Committee on Education, Finance and Taxation Chairman, Sen. Joe San Agustin, because of concerns regarding the source of funding for the annual festivities, the senator was ready to submit the reports today to have it ready to take the floor as soon as possible.
“Who’s to say that the bill will pass? And just because they pass it, doesn’t mean the governor’s going to support it. And the governor then will have 10 days after that, and in order to discuss that is to call a special session. And if there’s no special session, it isn’t going to happen," Senator San Agustin told PNC. "For me, I’d let it go.”
Sen. Nelson sent a written request to Sen. San Agustin to submit a committee report on Bill 50 to the Committee on Rules for eligibility to be placed on the Session floor next week.