Brown’s attacks on seaport do not match audited financials and awards

Joanne Brown

The Office of Public Accountability has once again issued an audit relatively complimentary of the Port Authority of Guam under Rory Respicio. The audit into the port’s use of credit cards follows a long list of independently-issued accolades of financial management under Mr. Respicio, including OPA audits and awards from the Association of Government Accountants.

This isn’t Lou Leon Guerrero patting her employee on the back. These are reputable and independent critics, whose role it is to find mismanagement, fraud, other crimes, and opacity.

“The recent audit highlighted no instances of fraud or abuse, affirming the Port’s commitment to ethical practices and financial integrity,” Public Auditor Benjamin Cruz said. “Our audits aim to foster transparency and continuous improvement. This audit is not merely about finding faults but reinforcing the strong foundation the Port Authority operates on. We value our collaborative relationship with the Port and are committed to working together to implement the audit recommendations.”

Those recommendations were few and based on minor errors of financial reporting from staff who made mistakes in internal controls. They are nothing compared to audits of the previous port management, where it was found that the previous board and managers facilitated the illegal pay raises of Mr. Respicio’s predecessor, Joanne Brown. The audited financials of the port since Ms. Brown left and Mr. Respicio took over also show an agency going from red to black and consistently improving in its financial position – even through the pandemic!

It is among the largest of ironies in our political system that Ms. Brown, now a senator, has used her position to form a narrative contrary to what these audits have reported. Time and again the senator has berated – literally from a pedestal – port managers over her seemingly perpetual allegations of financial mismanagement under her successor’s tenure.

As the saying goes, ‘Where’s the beef?’

There has been no audit finding or otherwise independent report to substantiate Ms. Brown’s accusations. In fact, the findings and facts have stated the exact opposite. But these appear to enrage the senator even more as she doubles down on her attacks on Mr. Respicio.

These attacks by Ms. Brown appear to be more personal than anything else. Certainly not based on the facts. Certainly divorced from the truth published by the OPA and the AGA.

This is symptomatic of the problems that prevent progress in our government. It is one thing for officials to find and correct faults in the interest of justice and improvement. It is quite the opposite for leaders to abuse their power in pursuit of a political or personal agenda. It is no wonder the government cannot agree on such a simple question as where the hospital should be built. Or why Simon Sanchez High School – and every other school in need of rebuilding – has yet to be built. Or why no real reform and commitment of funds can be made to the rehabilitation of thousands in the throes of drug addiction.

Everyone talks a big game about public safety and the police force, but senators and the governor are arguing so much about the most ridiculous things, all we’ve seen is piecemeal solutions toward a fully staffed, trained, and equipped police force.

Senators actually are talking about running a race track, when the government can’t even get the decade-old cannabis industry mandate off the ground. For crying out loud, the government can’t even fill a swimming pool without a typhoon swinging by to do it for them.

Ms. Brown is a smart woman with a sharp tongue. But what has that done for the good of the people in recent years? By the time her term ends this year, will she have only accomplished a witch hunt against the Port Authority of Guam that is based on innuendo, defamation, and sabotage and not on the facts that independent evaluators have revealed? Is that where we are in leadership? The use of power to take down enemies?

There are important matters at hand for the people we elect to attend to. A vendetta one senator has against a man who reportedly is fixing the messes she left behind is not among them. Is it too much to ask for the people we elect to just be honest?


  • Alan San Nicolas

      03/21/2024 at 7:16 AM

    Duru ma anunsia put I minaolek I kinalamten I puetu pues uttmo ña matompo-matohleng-basnak. Alulayi ma korihi I achaki ya basta man achaka. AFAÑELOS ESTA DESPUES

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *