By the Kandit News Group crew
The governor is full of shit.
In a 6:31 minutes special address in the wake of a federal bombshell on local corruption, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero addresses police and public corruption as though this is the first time she’s ever heard of it.
The public testimony of Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Rafael Fernandez at District Court during the arraignment of Yona Mayor Jesse Blas was a political indictment against the mediocre posture of public officials toward the corruption that stares us in the face each day.
But it wasn’t like it was a wakeup call. That’s not the same thing. Ms. Leon Guerrero and our other elected leaders have been very much aware - some of them even complicit - in public and police corruption. They’ve just decided to do nearly nothing about it.
No. A wakeup call it is not. Let’s call it what it plainly is. Mr. Fernandez lit a light under Ms. Leon Guerrero’s ass and it attracted the white hot light of the media and public scrutiny to the sweat drenching her leather throne at Mount Adelup.
Ms. Leon Guerrero’s October 2 special address to the people of Guam was full of the standard platitudes to digest once those in the political class are slapped with the social reality that stings us each day. A couple minutes into her orchestrated speech, she says, “We have seen those we entrust with power corrupt our communities with drugs, exploit women, and rob us of the faith we place in each other. And slowly, when things don’t change, trust turns to fear and fear becomes frustration. I understand these feelings because I feel them too.”
Not only has Ms. Leon Guerrero turned a deaf ear to the cries of corruption she clearly has heard, she’s literally run away from questions of her own corruption, and her young administration has been accused of widespread corruption. Even Carl Gutierrez and Eddie Calvo weren’t accused of corruption so early in their administrations.
Bank of Guam
Let’s start with the obvious.
Perhaps the grossest picture of corruption made in our faces was the moment Ms. Leon Guerrero smiled for the cameras to sign $30 million into the bank her family owns - literally handing the money to her son, the Bank of Guam president - two chairs away.
It was July 25, and government officials involved with the sale of bonds for the construction of the third Layon trash cell gathered with executives from the Bank of Guam for a public signing accepting the bonds into the trustee account. Kandit doggedly asked her director of communications, Janela Carrera, how the administration would handle the conflict of interest every day that the unexpended portions of the money stay in the trustee account.
In one of our most popular live calls to a government official, Ms. Carrera dodged the question and refused to acknowledge that a conflict even existed.
Even Speaker Tina Muna Barnes ignored the Legislature’s responsibility to serve as a check against the corrupt power the governor was wielding in this particular instance. Kandit asked her weeks before the money was signed over to the bank whether she or her colleagues would put rules in place to govern the spending of the proceeds while the inevitable conflict between the governor and her family’s bank existed.
Ms. Muna Barnes was front and center for the cameras that day, as though no conflict existed. The corruption didn’t even phase the island’s elected attorney general, Leevin Camacho, who signed the documents for the cameras as well.
Indeed, the conflict of interest existed the minute Ms. Leon Guerrero took office. The Bank of Guam houses the government of Guam treasury. More than $1 billion in transactions from several checking accounts, savings accounts, and trustee accounts are drawn from Bank of Guam accounts - all of it money taken from our paychecks, granted by the federal government, or loaned from bondholders.
Who determines when and where money is spent? According to practice and all the case law there is on the subject: the governor. She gets to say how long money will sit in her family’s bank, accruing to the benefit of the bank’s lending and money-making ability; and in certain cases accruing interest to the bank from the Federal Reserve.
Section 30 money
That’s exactly the problem with the Section 30 deposits into the Bank of Guam as the trustee of $70 million received from the federal government the evening of September 11. It took the governor nine days to begin expending that money for tax refunds. That first round of check-writing didn’t even eat half the amount.
The issue is that every day that money sits in the trustee account, the bank has been able to earn a special type of interest on what’s considered excess deposits by the Federal Reserve. According to formulas provided by the Federal Reserve Bank, it is estimated that Ms. Leon Guerrero’s bank earned about $4,000 each day during that nine-day period. Every day excess deposits are marked in that account the bank is able to earn money.
The longer more money stays in these accounts, the more money the bank makes off the taxpayers. Who decides how long the money stays in that account? No one but the governor.
Taxing the poor to pay for the excesses of the rich
Despite her dismal record on the prompt payment of tax refunds, Ms. Leon Guerrero led the call to keep and to permanize the increase to the business privilege tax. It is the most regressive tax we have, targeting the poor and the working class.
At that July 25 signing ceremony, Ms. Leon Guerrero took the opportunity to discuss her need for the BPT increase to 5 percent to remain. (This was a few days prior to her infamous forever comment). She claimed the Trump tax cuts eroded the government’s revenue base. Those tax cuts reduced corporate tax rates by 17 points.
So we took the opportunity to ask Ms. Leon Guerrero whether she’d consider replacing the BPT increase with an increase to the corporate income tax rate by - at the most - 10 points. First, her budget director Lester Carlson, Jr. (a symbol of Swiss cheese integrity himself) tried to wave us off with a half-witted lesson on the mirror-image tax provision in the Organic Act. So we schooled him on Section 1421(d), which clearly gives the government of Guam the power to increase income tax rates by no more than 10 points without breaking the mirror-image provision.
Ms. Leon Guerrero said, “No.” She had not and refused to consider it.
What does she care if the BPT remains at 5 percent? Her bank doesn’t pay taxes on gross receipts. Years ago her family joined the other banker families of this island in quietly lobbying senators to place exemptions on banks that effectively neuter any tax bills on most of its receipts. But corporate income taxes? Her family has benefited enormously from Mr. Trump’s tax cuts on corporate income. Raising that rate would be a sacrifice for the Leon Guerreros.
I guess we know whom she’s chosen to sacrifice.
About a month later we tried to catch up with the governor as she was exiting a proclamation signing ceremony at the Cabinet Conference Room. The woman must have been practicing for a 5K. We only had one question for her: Why did you approve a tax settlement for two rich people with close ties to your administration? She ignored the question and our camera as she sprinted from the back door of the conference room to the back den of her office - literally scurrying from the light into the dark like a cockroach, when the lights go on.
Her executive security officer - AJ Demapan - who, is among the executive security staff that goes on trips with her and her husband after she promised not to do that, blocked the camera’s path. Adelup has never been held to account for any of it.
Where is everyone?
Perhaps that’s what’s craziest about the situation the everyday people of this island find ourselves in. Where is the attorney general in all of this? Where is the public auditor? Where is the Guam Legislature? Where is everyone who is supposed to provide layers of checks and balances against the corrupting power of the governor? Are they just going to sit around and do nothing while the governor rapes the people’s tax money and sends more of us into poverty without a second thought?
And so far as tax settlements go, it isn’t just the two rich businessmen with close ties to her administration. What about the $17 million tax settlement bill owed to the taxpayers from Calvo-owned MidPac? The governor has been busy sticking the tax bill to small businesses while a multi-million dollar tobacco and alcohol corporation is skating on tens of millions of dollars on taxes. The original tax receivable from Mid Pac alone can erase the government of Guam’s deficit! Yet, here we are, the poor and working of this island, paying for the forgiveness of the greedy and the banks.
Violations of the anti-trust law of Guam
There isn’t even equal opportunity for that largesse to big corporations. You’re either In, or you’re screwed. Her administration was involved in a conspiracy with Ms. Muna Barnes, Guam Regional Medical City, and Calvo’s SelectCare to boot TakeCare insurance out of the government of Guam health insurance contract procurement. There is irrefutable evidence between conspirators in black and white that shows leaders at the highest levels of government were involved in major and clear felony violations of the Anti Trust Law of Guam.
The result for thousands of our people? Double the rates compared from TakeCare’s rates last fiscal year to Aetna’s rates this year. The result for taxpayers? Tens of millions more we have to fork out because of the corruption of the health insurance contract process.
Ms. Leon Guerrero, in her special address on corruption, calls on the attorney general to accept complaints of corruption as part of the solution that’s always been there. No duh. We here at Kandit sent a written complaint that we publicly discussed to the attorney general and to the governor on this issue.
Nothing has been done.
Mike Phillips and Mount Carmel
We even registered our complaints against the illegal placement of scores of Mount Carmel billboards over a period of months with Ms. Leon Guerrero’s administration. Unlike everyone else, Mount Carmel was able to use public property to conduct its business on large signs without a permit. Ms. Leon Guerrero stopped the Department of Public Works from fining her friend and fellow Democrat, Attorney Mike Phillips’s beloved school from facing accountability for its illegal actions.
That egregious snub of the law is nothing compared to Ms. Leon Guerrero’s decision not to fire Mr. Phillips from his post as seaport authority legal counsel, despite ironclad evidence on tape that Mr. Phillips led a conspiracy that hurt seven fired port workers and cost ratepayers $7 million in legal fees.
Or how about the missing records at Child Protective Services involving a coverup by the Archdiocese and Mr. Phillips of a 12-year-old Mount Carmel student who was being raped by a former Mount Carmel employee? Where is the police investigation into the rape and into the coverup?
The fireworks and the FestPac
The governor is as blind to injustice as she is to the economic turmoil that is the reality for the 99 percent of this island. Nothing illustrates that more than her decision to host an invitation-only celebration of her team’s deficit-spending carnival festivities at Government House and Civil Defense - with fireworks. They couldn’t even inform the public so that the kids in the surrounding neighborhoods could wait and watch the pretty display of all our money going up in smoke.
They did this against the backdrop of a controversial decision to take $400,000 in qualifying certificate-agreed to payments from GRMC to the Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency to pay for 100 people to travel to Hawaii next year for FestPac. That’s $4,000 per ticket for a junket: an illegal all-expense paid trip and no one who has the power to stop it is batting an eye.
The PFAS coverup
And then there’s the coverup of chemical dumping at our airport. Kandit recently uncovered a scheme by airport executive manager Tom Ada, where Mr. Ada brought in a plastic tonkey and staged a photo op in order to present a false narrative on what amounted to the dumping of toxic chemicals at the airport. This fiasco started to become public literally days after the Legislature passed a bill authorizing the AG to enjoin Guam to a class action suit against the manufacturers of the flame retardant PFAS - the exact chemical being dumped into our aquifer by the airport’s management.
We asked Adelup for comment about the growing number of airport firefighters showing symptoms of toxic exposure and Mr. Ada’s alleged part in directing the firefighters involved to lie to EPA investigators during their interviews with them.
Adelup hasn’t said shit.
For families, the struggle has been real, and the hustle has been hard. And not everyone has been strong enough to weather the storm of corruption. Many have given up to the quicksands of poverty or to a life of crime. Despite the damage of her political corruption to the moral fabric of this community, nothing compares to her ignorance of police corruption that Ms. Leon Guerrero has been all too willing to accept.
The testimony by FBI Special Agent Fernandez took the governor for a turn on her political merry-go-round probably because of how frank and direct Mr. Fernandez’s words were. They ring through the annals of the politically connected and the social elite, but not at their high class bars and balls, where they are used to their perches. Now, Ms. Leon Guerrero and her snooty friends have to face these realities by looking each of us in the eye and summoning whatever personal constitution she can muster to explain away how she detests police corruption just as much as the rest of us.
But she can’t. One of the criminal conspiracies Mr. Fernandez mentioned was the investigation into Superior Court Marshals for human sex trafficking of women with active warrants. Some of the women elected to office - the governor included - acted like this was the first time they’d ever heard such a thing.
Even prior to Ms. Leon Guerrero’s assumption of office, Kandit had begun telling the story of Marshal Alan Ecle’s sexcapades, where he extorted and subdued at least 13 women with their freedom in exchange for sex. We have repeated this story and filed complaints. We went to the FBI. We went to the Attorney General of Guam. We went to the Superior Court. And we went to Adelup.
The local government - Ms. Leon Guerrero included - didn’t do jack shit about Mr. Ecle until Mr. Fernandez blurted it out on the stand in District Court.
And how can we forget the plunder of our civil rights under color of law by the former Mandana Drug Task Force? Well, Ms. Leon Guerrero forgot about it. Despite several written, verbal, and media-placed complaints of warrantless-searches, politically-motivated arrests and raids, planting of drugs, police brutality, stealing of drugs and money, and unlawful arrests by an entire division of the Guam Police Department, there is not one internal affairs or criminal investigation into the conduct of those pieces of trash in uniform. Police Chief Stephen Ignacio has not answered any of our questions regarding accountability for the actions of Police Officers Sang To, Steve Munoz, Chris Champion, and Fred Chargualaf, Customs Officer Eugene Igros, and Port Police Officer Kylie Maurer while they ran the Mandana Drug Task Force.
No one has checked the evidence locker for missing drug inventory. No one is keeping tab on each time these officers have perjured themselves on the stand in court. No one has a running log of their warrant-less searches and off-the-record raids of enemies of theirs.
Mr. Ignacio and his spokesman, Sgt. Paul Tapao, still have yet to produce and disclose legally-required internal affairs documents and data that will give us a glimpse into what GPD has done to hold officers of the law accountable for the righteous enforcement of the law.
We recently asked Mr. Tapao and Mr. Ignacio to update us on one such supposed internal investigation into information that Police Officer Albert “AJ” Balajadia had raped a boy, when he first became a police officer.
It has been well past the 90-day investigation period, and yet GPD has failed to provide any information required for disclosure on its website. GPD hasn’t even emailed the documents since we asked.
Adelup knows about all of this. We tend to remind them to the point of nausea. It’s just that the governor has done nothing at all about any of it.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero telling us that she will do something about corruption is like Barbara White telling us the sun will come out tomorrow. The fictitious little orphan Annie sings the refrain with more truth. So get out your umbrellas and turn on the Kandit, because rain and darkness are in our political forecast.
If all this seems too much and too obvious to be real, then we challenge you to think about this: Name one thing - just one - that the governor has done to stop corruption on this island in any meaningful way.
Don’t even get us started. What a joke of a maga haga.