By Johnnie Rosario
(Tumon, Guam) Kandit News Group’s Troy Torres told University of Guam President Thomas Krise that UOG is breaking the law by demanding a $4,515 payment for duplicating public documents requested under Guam’s Sunshine Law.
The public documents requested under the law include email correspondence between several UOG employees who are subjects in Kandit’s news coverage of UOG faculty using government issued credit cards by the university. One such person is UOG’s liberal arts and social sciences Dean James Sellman who inappropriately spent $450 at the Beng Teng Spa located in the Lotte Hotel for massages.
Instead of complying with Kandit’s public records request, UOG demanded the $4,515 payment and threatened Torres with criminal prosecution if he so much as photographs or videotapes such documents without paying the astronomical fee.
According to a letter from UOG legal counsel Anthony Camacho, the $4,515 fee was assessed for 129 hours of five UOG employees duplicating less than 30 unique emails. Kandit notes that if UOG’s five employees were all full-time, the university said it used the equivalent of five employees earning $72,500 each to run a copier machine (at a rate of $35 per hour).
Contrary to Camacho’s assertions about what UOG is allowed to charge for duplicating services, Title 5, Section 10203(c) of the Guam Code Annotated – Charges for Copying Government Documents states:
(b) Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, any department, agency or instrumentality of the Executive Branch of the government of Guam, including all autonomous agencies and instrumentalities, except for the Department of Land Management and the Department of Revenue and Taxation, may charge the media or the general public a copying fee for documents not to exceed ten cents (10¢) for the first page of any requested document, and two cents (2¢) each for any remaining pages.
Troy Torres stated in his letter to Mr. Krise: “Not only is the act of assessing an unreasonable amount for $4,515 for document duplication services a clear attempt by the UOG administration to violate Guam’s Sunshine Reform Act of 1999, the law does not permit UOG to assess such fee on the basis of time ‘spent duplicating’ records.” The law requires the fee be paid bases on pages.
Kandit plans to launch a campaign encouraging its viewers, the general public, the media, and elected officials to make the same exact public documents requests to draw further attention by the community of this blatant attempt by UOG to defy Guam’s laws.