By Jacob Nakamura
(View the Legislature's livestream of the oversight hearing above)
(Tumon, Guam) Sen. Kelly Marsh Taitano and her husband, Bureau of Statistics and Plans director Tyrone Taitano, are attempting to discredit a professional planning and program management firm in order to replace them with the couple's friends.
The senator is conducting a second oversight hearing of the Hagatna Restoration and Redevelopment Authority as of the writing of this story. Her hearing, which comes on the heels of public outrage over her appropriation of public money to FestPac at a time of dire fiscal constraints in the government. She has publicly blasted HRRA's executive director, Lasia Casil, over fabricated uses of public funds for the rebuilding of the island's capital.
In the first hearing held last Tuesday, Ms. Taitano painted the picture of poor fiscal decisions by the HRRA board and Ms. Casil. She also called into question Ms. Casil's procurement authority over a $196,000 payment she made in March.
The payment, as it turns out, was authorized, and within the scope of Ms. Casil's authority.
HRRA is a diamond in the rough in the government of Guam. It is one of the few agencies that has been able to achieve its mission by guided timelines. HRRA is responsible for the redevelopment of Hagatna into a cultural center and incorporated city.
The conceptual design of the city was created during the Calvo administration by an independent contractor, Matrix Design Group, which has decades of experience in urban planning. The design phase of this process is in a zoning code documents subphase, with the HRRA moving along its mission timelines thanks to the work by Matrix.
Matrix was contracted through a proposals procurement process with Guam Economic Development Authority, which entered into a memorandum of understanding with HRRA to help the agency facilitate its mission.
One of the results of their deliverables was a conceptual design overview, which you can view below:
"I want to acknowledge all the work Matrix has done," HRRA board chairwoman Maria Eugenia Leon Guerrero said at the hearing.
Ms. Taitano, since the early part of her term last year, has been attacking Ms. Casil and the HRRA in an effort to replace Matrix with a company of people whom she and her husband, Mr. Taitano, are friends with. Mr. Taitano managed to wrestle some control over HRRA from Ms. Casil, when those attacks began last year.