By Lee Webber
Turning one’s head away from writing about never ending problems throughout the government in a weekly column can do wonders for clearing the mind and potentially changing your attitude.
That said, the problem is, when you return to paying active attention to your surroundings, the situations haven’t improved and in most cases, have actually worsened.
It definitely gives you reason for pause about who is actually in charge of protecting the community and living up to the promises that were made prior to and after elections.
During every election cycle nearly all candidates will stand and publically promise to work to fix the failing public health situation at Guam Memorial Hospital and Public Health itself.
They will pontificate about the ever-growing drug problem, family violence, assault and the myriad of violence issues facing our community and promise to improve public safety.
Or they blast the problems we have in our public schools with supplies and the overall general safety conditions within the public school buildings and the system as a whole.
Then search for a new whipping boy they can bring in to blame for not fixing the problems within the education system.
They know full well that these are perennial problems that have faced the citizens of this community for many years yet they run for office knowing full well they have no real solutions nor the intestinal fortitude nor the persistence to fix them.
That – driven primarily by the reality that if they actually fixed what was needed – they may never get elected again.
Fixing perennial problems that adversely impact the majority of the population generally means making significant change in the way things are done (and by whom) within the government.
Changing things that will likely cost people jobs, put others behind bars, or ensuring everyone is doing eight hours work for eight hours pay and not overly rewarding their political cronies.
However, once in office they spend the vast majority of their time on pet projects laying the groundwork for their next election cycle.
Take such things as the horrid conditions at the Guam Memorial Hospital and its crumbling infrastructure and mold conditions along with the reality that those responsible for fixing the crumbling environment have been there for years and years.
This reality applies in nearly every department within the government yet, the same people elected agreed that giving these same people a 22 percent increase in pay was justified, in spite of the perennial problems.
According to a Goggle AI summary of GovGuam revenues and spending: “As of September 15, 2023, Guam’s approved fiscal budget was $909.2 million. This is compared to $809.9 million in fiscal 2022.
“In 2021, Guam’s expenses for government activities were $2.1 Billion. This was funded by $1.2 billion in program revenues, including $1.1 billion in federal supplements, and $825 million in taxes and other general revenues.
“In August 2023, the Guam Legislature proposed a $1.168 billion budget for fiscal year 2024. This is about $43 million more than what Adelup requested in February.”
What has to happen before elected and key appointed officials actually come together to improve the quality of life for everyone in Guam? What will it take to make Guam a better, safer place for not only our residents but those who come to Guam to escape from the problems they face from whence they came?
Wake up, it’s time to make Guam Great again!
Lee P. Webber is a businessman and civic advocate, the former publisher of the Pacific Daily News, a former president and publisher of the Honolulu Advertiser, and a former director of operations for USA Today International/Asia