By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) As Gov. Ralph Torres forces bus drivers, teachers, secretaries, and other low-wage earners throughout the Commonwealth on furlough to pay for the sins of his mismanagement of the government, we continue to uncover stacks of receipts and reimbursements he received for personal items and fine dining he charged to the very people his policies are hurting.
On Thanksgiving Day 2016, a little over a year from Soudelor's direct hit, Mr. Torres walked into Best Buy in Boise, Idaho, and bought himself a $149.99 Superman Life Jacket, a $599.99 Nikon camera and lens set, and two USB port hubs for $49.99 a piece. He had the Commonwealth reimburse him for the camera set and the port hubs through a December 1, 2016 reimbursement memo signed off by then-Secretary of Finance Larissa Larson.
A little more than a year later, in the midst of a second-year-in-a-row budget deficit, he walked into the Navy Exchange in San Diego, California and bought another Nikon camera and lens bundle. The $473.09 purchase on December 4, 2017, was part of a January 8, 2018 reimbursement memo approved by Ms. Larson.
But that wasn't all that appears on that memo. Mr. Torres also was reimbursed for his purchase of another Bose speaker system from Costco Wholesale in Boise on October 23, 2017.
Here's the thing: One of these reimbursement memos shows a disregard for fiscal accountability and integrity, and a complete abandonment of many officials's fiduciary responsibilities to the Commonwealth at a time, when the governor should have known that government finances were in trouble. The January 8, 2018 request for reimbursement was done after reports from the Department of Finance that the Commonwealth was projecting a major revenue shortfall for Fiscal Year 2018. The audited financials of FY 2018 show a $25 million budget deficit, yet the governor showed no signs of curtailing either operational or personal spending he conducted on the public dime.
The other reimbursement memo is worse. It is dated December 1, 2016, just a little over a year from the direct hit of Supertyphoon Soudelor. Many Commonwealth citizens had not yet recovered, but there the governor was in Boise on November 24, 2016, spending what little the taxpayers had on his expensive camera. He and his brown-nosed minions can say all they want that the camera and all the other cameras he bought at Best Buy in Boise were for official government functions. But if you believe that, then I've got a rainforest in the Sahara Desert I can sell to you for $599.99, and a free pass to a third grade education in one of the public schools he's screwing over.
God bless the Commonwealth Legislature for doing absolutely nothing to stop this menace to society. Bravo to their complicity in the corruption of the governor.