Just as elected and appointed officials are agents of the people operating "our government" on our behalf, the members of the press are "our agents" keeping eye on the government for us.
You need to remember this is not your government. It's our government. We don't work for you – you and your staff work for us. Thomas Jefferson warned us that we need to keep a valiant eye on politicians when he wrote:
"There is only one force in the nation that can be depended upon to keep the government pure and the governors honest, and that is the people themselves. They alone, if well informed, are capable of preventing the corruption of power, and restoring the nation to its rightful course if it should go astray.
"They alone are the safest depository of the ultimate powers of government."
Another thing you need to remember is the members of the media also work for us, not you. And by not answering their questions, regardless how uncomfortable for you personally, you are censoring our right to know what actions you and your staff are taking, and what you and your staff are doing with our money on our behalf.
If you do not want the actions of you and your administration questioned by reporters, then act in such a manner that the actions of you and your staff are beyond reproach. But when actions by you and your staff are "questionable" – as so many have been over the past three months – you owe the public answers to direct questions on any action taken by the government, or any expenditure made by the government supposedly on our behalf, no matter how uncomfortable, embarrassing or inconvenient.
As a result of the total lack of transparency – by you personally and your administration as a whole, and members individually – we in the public rely on the press to present information by which we can judge whether we have a government of people, by people and for people. If it weren't for trusted members of the press keeping watch on the government, and diligently reporting the actions of those elected and appointed, we would not have a democratic government, we would have a dictatorship, which is what your administration is rapidly descending into.
"When the public's right to know is threatened, and when the rights of free speech and free press are at risk, all of the other liberties we hold dear are endangered," said U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd.
Importance of free, uncensored media
A free and uncensored media is vital to the freedom of our people, and vital to rebuilding the trust politicians destroyed in our government. More than 200 years ago, Jefferson wrote on the importance of a free press, and the words are as important today as they were then: "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."
As a direct result of your actions and the actions of your administrators abusing the power of your positions during this time of crisis, you have further broken trust between our people and our government.
When you deny reporters answers to legitimate questions based on the actions of you and members of your administration, you make the population suspicious of you, and your actions even more suspicious. When you deny legitimate requests for documentation by members of the public, the Legislature and the media, forcing them to resort to sending a Freedom of Information Act request – which more often than not are creatively denied – you heighten the perception that you are a dictator, not a public servant.
Just the actions of your chief of staff have destroyed any faith the people have in federal funds being used for the benefit of the people. The only way you can offset that perception would be to call on the Legislature to resend you Bill 333-35 and sign it without having to force them to override your veto.
The actions of your chief of staff and the communications office have irrevocably broken the confidence of the people that we are getting accurate information about things done with both local and federal funds in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tough times bring out true character
They say that tough times bring out the true character of people. By flooding the 19th floor of the Pacific Star with members of your administration to live a while in luxury while people who've lost jobs and income suffer, by allowing members of your staff to bypass quarantine controls at the airport while separating nongovernment officials from home and family enforcing quarantine, and with the show of power you displayed with the checkpoints, you have shown the people of Guam you are more concerned about the safety and financial security of politically well-connected "insiders" than the people of Guam.
As long as you continue to maintain the position that you and your staff are above reproach, and that serving the needs and desires of politically well-connected insiders is more important than serving the needs of the people, you will have lost your right to claim to be the governor of the people of Guam.
This position will lead to a couple more firsts for you personally: the first governor of Guam recalled by the people; the first woman governor recalled in the history of the United States; and the first administration to be sued in a class-action lawsuit by the taxpayers of Guam for rampant fraud and abuse of government funds.
Ken Leon-Guerrero is a resident of Santa Rita.