Hon. Mayor Alson Kelen and Jack Niedenthal completed meetings in Washington, DC, May 27-28, 2009
KBE Mayor Alson Kelen and Trust Liaison Jack Niedenthal completed the following meeting schedule in Washington, DC this week:
Wednesday, May 27, 2009:
9 AM – 10 AM: Met with Bikini attorney Jonathan Weisgall regarding a number of trust fund, budget, legal/lawsuit, and Bikini islander issues.
10:30 AM – 12 noon: Met with Committee of Energy and Natural Resources Committee Counsels Allen Stayman (Democrat) and Isaac Edwards (Republican) on Capitol Hill. Discussed trust fund issues and Bikini resettlement issues (with Bikini Attorney Jonathan Weisgall).
12:30 PM – 2 PM: Met with Ron Basu and Barbara Reinhard regarding Morgan-Stanley potentially managing Bikini’s investments for their 2 trust funds and their thoughts on future investment strategy (with Bikini Attorney Jonathan Weisgall).
2:15 PM – 4:30 PM: Attended a Library of Congress Symposium/Panel Discussion on “Building the Bomb” (with Bikini Attorney Jonathan Weisgall). This included explanations about how the atomic and thermonuclear weapons came to be built nad deployed, and also the history of nuclear weapons testing around the world. Because the testing at Bikini Atoll was part of the discussion, Mayor Kelen, Jack Niedenthal and Jonathan Weisgall were introduced to the audience. Panelists included Pulitzer Prize winning author Martin Sherwin, author William Lanouette, author Mary Palevsky, and author Hugh Gusterson.
6:30 PM – 8 PM: Met with attorney Jonathan Weisgall and RMI Embassy Charge Charles Paul over dinner to discuss the huge money/trust fund issues that will be facing the Bikini Council and the people of Bikini for the upcoming 2010 fiscal year budget beginning on October 1, 2009, and also possible solutions for issues and problems faced by Marshallese people living in Arkansas.
Thursday, May 28, 2009:
9 AM – 10 AM: Met with Bikini Attorney Jonathan Weisgall.
10: 15 AM – 11:15 AM: On Capitol Hill, met with Kathee Facchiano, Legislative Director for Arkansas Congressman John Boozman of the Northwest Arkansas Congressional district. This meeting was requested as a direct result of the community meetings held with the people of Bikini in Springdale, Arkansas, headed by President of the Bikini Arkansas community, Nixon Jibas. Mayor Kelen, Jack Niedenthal and Jonathan Weisgall met with Ms. Facchiano to discuss the possibility of improving the lives of the Marshallese people who live Arkansas. Issues discussed included the mutual beneficial goal of trying to get US federal Compact II funds funneled to Arkansas to help pay for needed social services such as health care and welfare. Ms. Facchiano mentioned that she really needed some help in conducting a population survey to get an accurate count of the number of Marshall Islanders living in Arkansas so that they might get some Compact implementation funds by amending the Compact agreement. This meeting marked the first contact that her office has had with people from the Marshall Islands. Many suggestions were put forth as to how the Marshallese people might be able to help her get some funds for essential services for those islanders living in Arkansas. It was suggested that she get in contact with the RMI Embassy here in Washington, DC, to discuss these issues further. The Bikini delegation made their resources available to her office should she need help with Marshall Islands issues in Arkansas.
11:30 AM – 1 PM: Met with UBS PaineWebber representatives Ed Wile and Van Price to discuss the status of the current Bikini trust funds (with Bikini Attorney Jonathan Weisgall). Because of the current poor market conditions the Resettlement Trust Fund to date is worth $70 million and the Bikini Claims Trust is worth $44 million.
2 PM – 3:15 PM: Met with House Committee on Natural Resources Counsel Brian Modeste and clerk Rebecca Zepeda on Capitol Hill to discuss resettlement funding issues, trust fund issues and general Bikini issues that will be confronted by the people of Bikini as a result of the downturn in the stock market and the downturn of the world’s economy.
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM: Met with Bikini Attorney Jonathan Weisgall regarding our lawsuit appeal that today got thrown out of the US Federal Court of Appeals. Now we must make a decision about taking our case to the US Supreme Court.
4:30 PM – 5:30 PM: Met with Joseph McDermott of the US Interior Department regarding resettlement issues, trust fund issues, and Fiscal Year 2010 budget issues. Mr. McDermott mentioned that the upcoming fiscal year budget for the people of Bikini will only be $4.5 million, down from $7.2 million last year (with Attorney Jonathan Weisgall).