An industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars that contributes to the increase in crime and destruction of families has been protected for decades by our island’s politicians.
Guam Music Inc. is the conglomerate on island that managed to get the exclusive license to all the gaming machines. The owners of this company and the ones with the licenses to operate most of the game rooms include the estate of the late Pedro “Dongo” Roberto Pangelinan, Gil Shinohara, Port Deputy General Manager Connie Jo Shinohara, Johnny Cool and Shiela Torres and Lauren Bromley. For decades they have lined the pockets of politicians from their game room money in the form of political contributions.
And it appears that those donations have paid off. Machines were deemed illegal, but then former Governor Calvo renewed the licenses and now that case challenging the legality remains before the Supreme Court of Guam awaiting a decision. But over the years these families have amassed millions and millions in personal fortunes and have very cleverly and strategically supported and assisted candidates into getting elected into office.
Their most recent candidate they funded and ran a campaign for? Senator Amanda Shelton whose family has a long standing history with the game room industry which is well documented in local and federal court. Her campaign treasurer was Johnny Cool and Gil and Connie Jo Shinohara even fronted all of the cash for her billboards and related materials. With at least $3,800 coming from Guam Music and its affiliates and owners and another $6,030.86 in fronted campaign costs, it is no surprise that Senator Amada Shelton was front and center in the debate on the legislation this year to change the law and allow casino gaming at our “family friendly” Liberation Day Carnival. In fact, during her efforts to make sure this law passed, she proclaimed in hearings and to the media that she will support the legalized gambling but wants to make sure the law protects the children. Amanda Shelton said she wanted language included in the rules and regulations that would require a "security protocol, including how minors will not be impacted."
Her attempt to sound sincere about protecting the children of our island from the harmful and destructive impact of gambling is nothing but camouflage, the term used for professional gamblers who have to have more than a poker face in order to conceal their real intentions. Shelton was really sincere, she would apply that same concern for the children with all of the hundreds of liberty machines poisoning our island at all of the game rooms. Where is Senator Shelton’s concern for the children who go to the Micronesia Mall Fun Fair to play with their friends? The children of our island who pack the Fun Fair during the summer and over the weekends play their innocent children’s games right next to the addictive liberty machines which often attract addicts who are high on crystal methamphetamine. Where is Senator Amanda Shelton’s concern for the children of our island who frequent King’s Family Restaurant in Harmon?
Kings pretends to be a family restaurant but right next to the restrooms are gaming machines. Why does Amanda Shelton only care about the children who could be harmed by the effects of a temporary allowance of gambling for a few months at a carnival and not the 24 hours “family friendly” establishments on our island that place those machines right in the direction of our children? Maybe because one of the owners of the gaming machines on Guam is her campaign treasurer Johnny Cool Torres. And the other owners – Gil Shinohara and Port Deputy Director Connie Jo Brennan Shinohara – fronted all the cash – thousands of dollars – for the billboards and signs plastered all over the island.
It is hypocritical to pretend to care about our island, and most especially our children, when you ignore the harm and pain these gambling machines are causing to the children. When you ignore that the money that funded your campaign for senator is tearing apart families and increasing crime on island, then you do not have a right to stand up on your politician soap box and pretend that you are concerned about the best interests and welfare our people and our children.
Senator Amanda Shelton is fueled by Blood Money. She has chosen to protect her own interests above ours. But Senator Amanda Shelton has underestimated the will of the people of Guam who are fed up with the special interest legislation and the corruption permeating across our island. They are fed up with these families making millions and millions of dollars at the expense of their mothers, fathers, siblings and children. When it comes to the battle between Senator Amanda Shelton’s Blood Money and the will of the people to rise up, we will lay the odds on the 99 Percent every single time.