By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) In the first couple months, we chalked it up to, 'they were busy.' After that, it became clear to us that the Leon Guerrero administration probably is the least transparent and most arrogant of any of Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero's predecessors. Ms. Leon Guerrero should stop trumpeting that she's Guam's first female governor. She gives a bad name to women throughout the island. And she's far from a role model for girls to grow up honest and with integrity.
Every person in her administration draws a salary from taxpayers via a government forged upon the trust of residents and authorized by the agents of elections - the voters - to administer their government. They literally work for the taxpayers. The government is not their platform, it is an entity created of, by and for the people. Its assets do not belong to its officers, it is the collective property of the people. The government's business is not the business of bankers, businessmen, and political appointees; it is, by law, an open book operation subject to the scrutiny of its owners and the auditors and journalists who keep them honest.
But keeping government officers honest and accountable isn't possible, when they act like they own the motherfucking government, hide their conduct, sweep public documents into vaulted rooms, and find every was to skirt the Freedom of Information Act and the Sunshine Reform Act of 1986 to avoid detection of their illegal activities.
Many officers of the Leon Guerrero administration, to include the governor herself, have been acting like they own the joint; that, somehow, her skin-of-the-teeth mandate by voters was some anointing by God of a queenship and that her friends and family have established a royal court.
Well, madam governor, you ain't the Queen of England; and this government doesn't fucking belong to you and your cronies.
In every major function of government operations, the Leon Guerrero administration has lacked any attitude of humility and accountability for their service through transparency in their activities.
Take for instance the payment of tax refunds - money that never EVER belonged to the government in the first place. Beginning in February Kandit and the other news stations started asking Director of Administration Edward Birn for documents and financials about the government's fiscal health. The newsrooms wanted to understand and report to the people how much money was in the bank and available for tax refunds. We wanted to know simple things, like, 'What does your cash flow model look like, and when does it allow you to pay refunds? How much when? How many people have filed so far? How much does GovGuam owe taxpayers who overpaid? Has DOA received the requests for payment from the Department of Revenue and Taxation?'
He didn't give us shit. For someone who is supposed to know the daily cash condition of the government (THAT IS HIS JOB), he certainly is useless.
His deputy director, Edith Pangelinan, is even a bigger moron. Ms. Pangelinan, when cornered on the phone by Kandit, couldn't answer a single question about tax refunds or the government's balance sheet. She said she was more in charge of human resources. Forgiving her incompetence, we asked her a question on promotions. She didn't have a clue.
So we caught up with her at her office on the second floor of the ITC Building. The woman literally ran - yes, ran - into the women's restroom to avoid having to answer any of our questions.
Director of Corrections Samantha Brennan has a policy not to conduct interviews. Ok, whatever. We have been quite magnanimous about her because of the bold reforms she's making at the prison. But when there are escapes or questions of dangerous riffs within prison management, or allegations of corruption and misconduct among the merit-based management, that policy needs to go. There is a duty to answer to the people about these very basic concerns regarding the management of the island's only prison facility.
Then there's Janela "Bubbles" Carrera. Oh my goodness, Janela. Her title is Director of Communications. Jesus Christ. From questions on tax refunds to war claims, police misconduct, corruption, education funding, hospital resources, stances on legislation, and clear conflicts of interest, Ms. Carrera has snowflaked every question of major consequence to the taxpayers who pay her salary, telling Kandit in a moment of unprofessional frustration that, "I DO NOT WORK FOR TAXPAYERS!" Holy shit, snowflake. Yes, you do.
Printed on that paycheck drawn from a Bank of Guam account (how fitting), is the payee - the Treasurer of Guam. Who the fuck does she think the Treasurer of Guam represents?
Who the fuck does she think she is?
But maybe Ms. Carrera gets her attitude from her boss. Ms. Leon Guerrero is even more dramatic and scared of the media finding the truth than Ms. Carrera is.
Kandit found out that Ms. Leon Guerrero approved the forgiveness of taxes for two rich cronies of hers in the midst of collecting on taxes for small businesses struggling with her decree to hold the increase of the business privilege taxes "forever." Cameras rolling, we held the microphone to her as she exited the west doorway of the Cabinet Conference Room at Adelup and asked her these questions. She didn't say a word as she ran faster than she's ever run in her life up two flights of stairs into - literally - the darkened back recess of her chambers.
On one occasion - where the governor could not escape our questioning - we asked her why she wanted to keep the BPT at 5 percent, when clearly the projected dip in collections was due to tax cuts to the corporate income tax. Her staff interrupted, trying to feed the public some bullshit about the federal mirror image tax code. So we threw a provision of the Organic Act back in their faces and she finally spoke up - she would not even consider reducing the BPT that burdens the poor and increasing the corporate income tax that burdens her family's bank.
Her budget director, Lester Carlson, Jr., ever the symbol of public integrity (herein lies the literary tool sarcasm), was the staffer who tried to sell the public the bag of tricks that Guam couldn't adjust the corporate income tax rate because of the mirror image provisions. Lies, and he knew it.
For days following reports of the detection of a tourist with Dengue fever, Kandit was asking Public Health Director Linda DeNorcey whether she would quarantine or isolate the patient to prevent one of our local mosquitos from drawing blood from that patient then spreading it to someone in the local population. Ms. DeNorcey ignored our questions. Days later, public health announced the beginning of the worst public health crisis in half a century: a locally-acquired Dengue infection. At a press conference happening already too late to diffuse the crisis, we were able to ask Ms. DeNorcey why she made that decision. Her answer? "That's what we decided." Lady, why, not what? Why? Why did you make this decision that undoubtedly led to the inauguration and spread of the vector? Bad decision, pues Dengue. Otro na malana'n pala'an.
But that wasn't the first time Ms. DeNorcey avoided our questions. We doggedly pursued the truth about the report to police and subsequent report to Child Protective Services of the rape of a 12-year-old Mount Carmel School student. By all indications, someone at CPS had tried to erase all trace of the incident. To this day, Ms. DeNorcey has ignored our questions of whether she will look into this.
Bureau of Statistics and Plans director Tyrone Taitano had the audacity to send us screenshots of his secretary's desk calendar, when we demanded his. The idiot didn't even screen the damn thing to see that his secretary's kid's parent teacher conference was written on it.
Then there's Connie Jo Brennan Shinohara, one of Guam's premier gambling lords whom Ms. Leon Guerrero appointed to be deputy manager of the seaport. We asked for all of her emails. Her secretary sent us 405 pages of email correspondence. Ms. Shinohara wants us to believe that since January, she's only ever sent one email from her government server.
Holy shit these criminals know no bounds.
Her boss, the governor, hasn't answered a single one of our questions regarding the vetting process for choosing a known gambling lord to be the second-in-command of one of the largest agencies on our island - and the one agency that clears sea cargo into and out of the island; cargo like illegal gambling machines replacements.
These questions may be uncomfortable for these so-called leaders to answer, but no one gives a shit whether they sweat through their polyester suits on Ross-cushioned seats paid by the taxpayers they so arrogantly disrespect. People who have nothing to hide wouldn't think twice to answer the questions, crude as they may be. Officers of the people's government need to stop acting like Susie Snowflake and put their big girl panties on. No one owes them a case of spam. They are not entitled to their positions. As a matter of fact, they took the jobs and are paid for them - they need to act like they work for the people, not serve a corrupt queen.
You get what you dish out. So, when these officers begin to hear from people that 'I'm no longer In,' or that 'This is the worst governor we've ever had,' they need to start looking in the mirror. They did this to her. That is the greatest irony in all of this. They tried to protect their boss by hiding her secret misconduct. What they failed to consider, is that the people are more intelligent than they thought. We can smell bullshit. We don't care about their excuses. We aren't charmed by cries of how hard the work is or how little sleep they get. And that's probably because we know it's their consciences that keep them tossing and turning at night, not the work.
The question that dogs this misfit royal court of her majesty Lou the First and Never Again: What, governor, are you hiding?
Count on us finding out.