By Johnnie Rosario
(Tumon, Guam) In a bizarre act of defiance against a valid request made under the Freedom of Information Act, the University of Guam today refused to release public documents connected to UOG’s credit card use unless Kandit News pays UOG $4,515.
The university has also threatened criminal prosecution against Kandit’s President and CEO, Troy Torres, if he so much as photographs or videos such records when he is scheduled to inspect the documents should he not pay the ransom. The letter literally spelled "ON NOTICE" in large caps.
“You are also ON NOTICE that UOG will treat any unauthorized copying of said records, including but not limited to the unauthorized taking of video or photographs of said records, without paying the ($4,515) fee as theft and violators will be prosecuted in accordance with Guam law,” wrote UOG legal counsel Anthony Camacho in a letter to Torres.
The letter stated that the huge sum is for 129 hours of five employees “duplicating” the records for Torres’ review.
Strangely, that amount of $4,515 divided by 129 hours is $35 per hour. Assuming UOG’s five employees were all full-time, the university is essentially implying that it used five employees earning $72,800 each to run a copier machine.
“It is very obvious they are willing say just about anything to justify such an incredibly ridiculous demand for payment,” Torres said of UOG’s justification.
When Torres asked UOG Vice President David Okada, who presented the letter, what policy allowed the university to assess the $4,515 fee, Okada refused to answer and deferred to UOG’s lawyer.
The public documents requested by Kandit News on February 3, 2020, were for copies of emails and other communications within a brief period between UOG spokesman Jonas Macapinlac and a handful faculty and administrators who were issued credit cards. 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.
Kandit has been shedding light on the issue of UOG’s credit card use in the context of a 30 percent tuition hike students will be subjected to beginning in August this year.
“We at Kandit News believe these emails are critical to shedding more light on the university’s handling of its credit cards, and we will not be deterred by the UOG administration’s threats and demand for a ridiculous sum of money for what is rightfully public information,” Torres added.
Since the airing of Kandit’s first story on UOG’s credit cards in December, there have been numerous members of the UOG community coming forward to Kandit with information of even more questionable and inappropriate credit card transactions by certain members of the faculty.
All of the misspending that has been discovered thus far occurred during the tenure of Robert Underwood as the president of the university.