The three horsemen of Guam’s financial apocalypse – incompetence, favoritism and corruption – are riding hard and extracting a heavy toll from taxpayers.
Massive incompetence, zero accountability
Incompetence cost taxpayers millions of dollars when the Chamorro Land Trust Commission executives forgot to issue a lease to Global Recycling, resulting in 13 years of lost revenues.
Incompetence cost taxpayers in the termination of a plumber at Department of Public Works, and the controller and an accountant at the Port Authority of Guam.
Incompetence caused the total loss of a $600 million power plant.
In none of these incidents was anyone reprimanded, disciplined or fired.
Sweetheart deals, unqualified appointees
Favoritism also costs taxpayers money.
When the CLTC approved a “sweetheart,” below-market-value lease renewal for the golf course in Yigo, it cost the agency badly needed money that could have been used to provide water, power, sewer and roads to other CLTC properties.
And when autonomous agencies hire politically well-connected insiders for top management jobs – instead of going through a recruitment process to hire competent executives with real-world experience and qualifications – it costs taxpayers a lot of money.
That’s why we almost had a Guam YTK settlement. That’s why we have an airport with millions of dollars of cost overruns. That’s why many government agencies are operating under very expensive federal court mandates.
And to rub salt into taxpayer wounds, autonomous boards give political appointees outrageous compensation packages. Rory Respicio, with no experience running a commercial port, started at $170,000. Tom Ada, with no experience running an airport, started at $155,000. Lillian Perez-Posadas, with no experience running any kind of health care institution, started at $250,000. John Benavente, who runs a utility system with no competition, and only 51,000 customers, of which one is 30% of GPA’s business, is paid almost as much money as the man who runs the power utility in Sacramento, California, that has 1.3 million customers and three world-class competitors.
“Political” over “professional” hires at autonomous and nonautonomous agencies prove politicians make taking care of each other first more important than taking care of the people.
Corrupt deals waste millions of dollars
Corruption costs taxpayers money.
An executive manager for CLTC transferred lots to members of his family. DPW officials spent millions of dollars to lease an excavator, instead of spending $800 to fix the government excavator. Guam Economic Development Authority executives resurrected a previously terminated dead contract for waste-to-energy services and awarded it outside of procurement regulations to Guam Resource Recovery Partners in a shady backroom deal. All these corrupt acts cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Not one person was held accountable.
This brings us to the latest corrupt installment in GovGuam’s “Hall of Shame.”
Pork-barrel queen Tina Muña Barnes, whose previous claim to infamy was her success writing and passing legislation allowing a “mixed martial arts” promotion firm owned by relatives of the previous governor to “win (?)” a contract to rebuild Simon Sanchez High School, has written and passed legislation allowing Guam Regional Medical City to pull itself back from the edge of bankruptcy, using the power granted it by Sen. Barnes, to control how much money will be paid by taxpayers for health care premiums.
Corruption history repeated itself when politicians passed Bill 30 – The GRMC “rescue bill,” a bill similar to one passed in the 1990s to give Bank of Guam a competitive advantage over other banks.
Considering the real driver behind Bill 30 was Leon Guerrero/Tenorio campaign co-chair and GRMC senior executive Francis Santos – who along with Tom Ada previously authored the pork-barrel bill for Bank of Guam, later overthrown in court – this comes as no surprise.
Only our loud protests can stop the waste and abuse
If we, as taxpayers, stand idly by allowing the three horsemen to wreak havoc on our government, Guam’s financial apocalypse will become a certainty, and we’d only have ourselves to blame.
Edmund Burke, a British politician noted “that all evil needs to succeed is for good men to do nothing.”
Only loud protests by the people of Guam stopped the Port from settling with Guam YTK for $7 million to $10 million of taxpayer dollars. Only loud protests caused the rollback of the outrageous pay raises for utility managers and Adjutant Gen. Esther Aguigui of the Guam National Guard. Only loud protests are going to stop Gov. Leon Guerrero and Speaker Barnes from using millions of taxpayer dollars to save the derrieres of the managers behind GRMC’s pending financial debacle.