Robert Underwood writes in defense of FestPac (The Guam Daily Post Letter to the Editor 01/07/2020), I write in defense of our people.

I have not written against FestPac or the positive things it brought to Guam in 2016; I write that taxpayers shouldn't fund it when there are so many more serious issues competing for the same funds.

As you read his column, Underwood waxes philosophically on how FestPac helps strengthen our cultural identity. Bringing FestPac to Guam did that. Sending 100 people to Hawaii only strengthens the cultural identity of the 100.

Guam sends many delegations to international art events, sporting events, and cooking events around the world. The organizers of the local teams participating in those events know the event dates and organize fundraisers to send their competitors. Are senators now going to fund every team wanting to compete or participate in off-island events because participating, as Underwood writes, is at the core of determining “who we are.”

FestPac leaders had four years to raise funds to send a team to Hawaii to "help us determine who we are;" and sat on their hands doing nothing, counting on getting local funding.

Now at the last minute the senators in the 35th Legislature have made their positions about what is more important for the people, safety and security in their homes, or sending 100 people on a Hawaiian vacation paid for by taxpayers?

For most of the senators; sending 100 people to Hawaii is more important than buying a dozen drug detection dogs to help stem the tide of the meth epidemic that is destroying families on our island every day. It is more important than hiring 10 badly needed social workers to help families deal with the carnage caused when homes are broken because one or more of the adults have become addicted to meth. It is more important than purchasing 10 badly needed patrol cars to get more police out into the community to help prevent burglaries and home invasions, and cut police response time from hours to minutes.

Like it or not, the meth epidemic has had a strong impact on our island's culture.

We no longer feel safe in our homes and villages as a result of the increases of violent crime and home invasions. We no longer allow our children to roam village streets fearing kidnapping, rape, and death. We no longer feel safe as we drive in our cars so we now lock the doors to protect ourselves against carjacking.

We are buying guns and learning to use them. We are buying and installing security cameras in our homes, and weekly we are seeing the videos of burglaries posted on line in an effort to catch the burglars.

Before we start spending taxpayer dollars to strengthen our identity, we should spend them making people safer so they will be around to appreciate our identity.

This year is an election year. We get to decide which senators are more concerned about the safety and welfare of the people, and keep them.

Ken Leon-Guerrero is a resident of Santa Rita and is with the Guam Citizens for Public Accountability

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