We should mark today as the national holiday of the voters of Guam. We are the fools, and it shows in many of the leaders we elected.
We should be embarrassed that ninth grade students have a greater understanding of the role of a senator than six of the 15 senators we elected.
For about two years, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and her office have been planning the development of a medical campus behind closed doors, creating significant resistance to her secret plans that will cost the tax payers at least a billion dollars in development costs if constructed at Eagle’s Field.
All 15 senators in February voted for legislation that would have required Ms. Leon Guerrero to 1) open up her hospital development planning process to the public; and 2) receive legislative approval before signing any lease with the Navy. The governor vetoed the legislation. On Thursday, six democrat senators voted against overriding the governor’s objections to the bills, denying the override by one vote.
The six democrats who aligned with the governor were:
Vice Speaker Tina Muna Barnes
Sen. Will Parkinson
Sen. Roy Quinata
Sen. Amanda Shelton
Sen. Joe San Agustin
Sen. Dwayne San Nicolas
The six senators’s votes against the override of legislation into law seemed to have dashed all hopes of stopping the governor from committing Guam’s residents to her $1 billion plans and lease… until Attorney General Douglas Moylan issued a legal memorandum Friday, returning the lease without his signature.
The 12-page memo began with a lesson in simple Guam civics: The governor cannot sign a contract that commits the government to paying an annual lease payment without the Guam Legislature authorizing such payments.
The premise is such a foundational tenet of American and Guam government, it is baffling how any person elected to the legislature would not understand it:
Only the legislature has the power to appropriate public money.
Why didn’t the governor understand this, when she first saw the lease? Why didn’t those six senators understand this, when they sided with the governor?
The section of the Organic Act of Guam that created and described the powers of the legislature is short and explicit. Among those powers is contained in §1423j(a): “Appropriations … shall be made by the legislature.”
It doesn’t get more clear than that, yet the governor and six senators thought it was okay to commit and ‘appropriate’ public monies via a lease with the Navy without legislative approval.
At the end of the day, and when you really think about it, they’re not the idiots. We, the voters are.
But at least we had the wisdom to limit our foolishness by electing an attorney general, who sets aside politics and looks out for our best interest. Because, if not for Douglas Moylan, today we’d be on the hook for a 50-year lease and a one billion dollar payment.
We dodged a bullet. Today.
You six senators, stop carrying the governor’s water like she’s the Empress of Guam. Do your jobs. Do what we pay you to do. What you were elected to do. Be senators, not lackeys.
If you want to work for the governor, resign from the legislature and ask her to hire you in the government. It comes with a 22 percent pay raise.