By Johnnie Rosario
(Tumon, Guam) "To the victor belong the spoils," New York Sen. William Marcy infamously quipped about the American spoils system ushered in by Andrew Jackson following his hard-fought election to president in 1828. In a nutshell, this was the turning point in American politics, when presidents began replacing high-level government officials with every turn of an administration. Mr. Jackson promised a bunch of people who helped him win his campaign jobs and high posts in government if he won. And that he did. Democrat or Republican, everyone who sat in the Oval Office after him did the same thing.
We sometimes like to think that this system of political patronage is some Only On Guam concept; but it's not. We just take it to a whole new level.
Take for instance Adelup executive Rommel Obispo. He earned a respectable career as a cable repair technician at the former MCV, then went solo. Now, he's earning $60,000 in annual gross pay - $75,140 when you include benefits, to help out around Government House.
First of all, the cable contract at Government House and the Governor's Office comes with maintenance.
Secondly, no one even lives at Government House. It is astounding the number of people paid by the taxpayers to function a home that is vacant.
Third, he has an executive's salary - what in his resume bridged his career as an independent contractor to a highly-paid executive management position paid by taxpayers?
Mr. Obispo started his job in GovGuam at a base salary of $60,000. Nurses start at $24,172, according to the Unified Pay Schedule in Guam law. Teachers start at $28,667. Even the executive pay plan starts at only $40,762.
Attorneys in the government with less than three years of experience start at $40,352. Even the Chief Public Health Dental Officer starts at less than what Mr. Obispo makes - $54,531.
The Spoils System never really offered any sensible citizen a reason rooted in righteousness, but it does offer an answer as to how Mr. Obispo got his job, and why.
Mr. Obispo is the husband of Bank of Guam Vice President of Human Resources Theresa Obispo. The bank is owned and operated by Mr. Obispo's boss, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero. She was once Ms. Obispo's boss, when she recently was the president and CEO of the bank.
She has distinguished herself as having hired both Obispos to positions of management. The thing is, she fails to explain to the taxpayers why she hired one of them on the public's dime. While there's nothing illegal about her decision, the facts sure do speak to a rotten system of political patronage.
The line of reasoning? Perhaps the same one used to hire her son-in-law to be her legal counsel, even when he didn't have a license to practice law in Guam.