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Editorial: When is it enough? Part 2: Guam

By Troy Torres

(Tumon, Guam) Right now, there is at least one criminal with a gun, who shoots people along Route 15 randomly. I'll bet the traffic along the back road to Andersen has been lighter the past two weeks.

There's a child rapist on the loose, too; at least one.

Then there's the manamko-beater. And we can't forget the dog killer, either.

Meanwhile, the Department of Corrections rallied to get rid of leadership Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero refused to recognize as part of the problem, and the Guam National Guard seems to be taking steps toward its own mutiny.

The governor, in her 2019 state of the island speech said a woman went up to her and said she'd never felt so safe before. I think her speechwriter accidentally edited out the first part of that sentence, which should have began, "I had a dream..."

In the absence of transparency and data from the Guam Police Department, including mandated publication of its internal affairs reports, we are left only to surmise that violent crime has surged this year, based on the reports of violence against women, children, the elderly, and many more that have made it to the news. Then there's the Leon Guerrero administration's distinction of having won the record for most prison escapes in a single year: four, to be exact.

The administration is failing in every way to keep us safe - the primary function of government - and yet, the governor globe-trots with two highly-paid police officers at a time.

And yet, aside from Vice Speaker Telena Nelson's oversight of DOC - the only agency where public and legislative pressure led to reform in the Leon Guerrero administration - there has been no oversight from the Guam Legislature on the major safety and security issues facing the people of Guam.

A member of the governor's executive security staff - Police Officer Ryan Shimizu - was caught on camera stealing money needed for a little girl's medical procedure.

No senator has called an oversight hearing.

Police Officer Joey Aguon, a known bad cop and former member of the Mandana Drug Task Force, was caught on camera punching a cuffed man in the gut.

No senator has called an oversight hearing. In fact, no one has said anything about the problem of police brutality. What are our leaders yacking about in their daily offering to the cacophony that is GovGuam? Ambient light for fish, and stop signs for the previously illiterate.

What about public education? Where is that commitment - that fire - from elected officials to rebuild Simon Sanchez High School? This is not to mention the fact that nearly all the other schools are rotting fast and need renovations, too. Rather than doing anything of substance to provide learning environments to students, our governor has preferred to prevent needed cash flow to the Department of Education, to take away part of its physical plant that houses its special education division, and to meddle in the issue of interscholastic sports.

No one is calling for an oversight hearing on these matters. It's like these issues just solved themselves while senators's heads are trimmed into the sand.

The governor was able to raise money and commit government resources to a fancy and delightful Christmas display at Skinner Plaza and at the still-vacant Government House, yet when parents asked for some help in affording the cost of school supplies at the start of the school year, Adelup couldn't name one effort that could be of assistance. A nine-year-old Tamuning Elementary School student was raped by Paul Mafnas after he kidnapped her while she was walking along a darkened road to her bus stop in the morning. Even that incident didn't trigger any prioritization of resources toward a school bussing system that would yield a better and safer bell schedule for students.

No plan from Adelup; no oversight from the Legislature. It's like all is peachy keen in FriendLand.

Last year, then-candidate Lou Leon Guerrero was showering us with campaign promises about universal health coverage and better care at Guam Memorial Hospital. It's now a quarter of the way into her administration, and not one finger has been lifted toward universal coverage. As a matter of fact, health coverage has become more expensive and less accessible since she's been in office. Even the GovGuam health insurance provider, whom her administration facilitated in the contracting, costs us more money.

The problems at GMH are so rampant that employees skipped the whole anonymous letter trend and went straight to publishing the hospital's dirty laundry in the newspapers. I mean, for goodness sake - the elevators that carry the gurneys from floor to floor hardly ever work!

Lest we forget this administration failed to prevent the first outbreak of Dengue in half a century, the Department of Public Health and Social Services just informed residents that it won't be testing for the disease at its Dededo laboratory because of a fire that happened at its Mangilao central office. What? They're not even making any sense anymore.

Yet the very venue to make sense of an often-incomprehensible and malfunctioning government - an oversight hearing - is not being provided or even mulled by legislators except for two - Telena Nelson, and Therese Terlaje. One other senator, Jim Moylan, who has no oversight authority because he's a member of the minority party, has been asking many many questions of the administration, to no avail.

Mr. Moylan has been raising issues regarding the excessive tax burden on the everyday Guamanian, the need for more resources to GPD, quicker hiring at DOC, and a focus on priority matters for residents. The governor has ignored Mr. Moylan's pleas, even though he is a sitting senator.

The governor and her staff think it's okay to ignore questions from the media and from residents about the financial situation of the government. They believe it is on their terms, when information on the disbursement of tax refunds should be released. Members of the governor's fiscal team are coy, at best, when reading from their scripted talking points for sound bites. They reject requests for information or put up every obstacle they can to its disclosure.

Ms. Leon Guerrero literally has run away from both Kandit and the Guam Daily Post staff as she shielded public information from reaching the public, as though she owns the information.

Meanwhile she and her staff refuse to answer very fundamental questions of conflicts of interest she has as she governs a treasury tied directly to the bank her family owns and operates.

She refuses to answer questions of police brutality and corruption, acting like this very serious problem does not exist. Her agencies refuse to say anything about existing criminal complaints regarding the rape of a Mount Carmel student, and an administrative investigation into Police Officer AJ Balajadia stemming from allegations of child rape throughout his career in law enforcement.

Her office still has not provided answers as to the vetting process that allowed the appointment of gambling lord Connie Jo Brennan Shinohara to be the seaport's general manager. They still have not explained the governor's about-face on the issue of gambling, since expressing her disapproval of Sen. Nelson's anti-gambling legislation.

The crimes being committed by the gambling industry have been reported to the proper agencies, and yet nothing, not even inspections, are being done. Payroll crimes involving governor's office executives and that may also involve the governor herself have been revealed, and everyone in the political establishment is acting like everything is A-Okay. No one in the government - not the Guam Police Department, the Attorney General's Office, or the Guam Legislature - is investigating corruption and white collar crime.

The silence is deafening. It's annoying. And it's so typical of GovGuam.

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