Opinion: I hope we all thought our ballot choices through

By Lee Webber

By the time you read this column many of you will have already voted. [Editor’s note: Lee Webber authored this piece Tuesday, the day of the general election. While a portion of his column is dated, most of his message remains relevant and timely.]

For the balance of you reading this, you still have time to analyze real information and decide upon who the best potential candidates for various offices really are.

Depending upon your thinking, it could also be the choice of the lesser of multiple evils.

After the end of the day today (or maybe a few days later) we will learn who the voters of Guam have selected to administratively lead GovGuam for the next four years.

For Congress, the next two years. And then there are the fifteen people  that are charged with making laws and giving the green light to the GovGuam budget.

Also learned will be who voters have selected as Guam’s attorney general.

We will see whether voters have tolerated enough heavy-handed oversight and realistically perceived loss of the separation of powers between the administration and legislature or if they decided they like being lorded over with little or no opposition.

If you have not yet voted, here are a few questions you may want to consider asking yourself prior to making those dark marks on your ballot:

Do you want to continue to face the apparent unabated growth of drug use on our island?

The obvious and precipitous rise in the use of methamphetamines and the ensuing destruction it has caused for our community is obvious and remains, essentially, unaddressed save by our federal authorities at the U.S. Postal Service. 

Is it time to federalize our customs control?

Because of this growth in the availability, low price and use of methamphetamines we have seen the corresponding increases in various violent and destructive crimes. The wanton destruction of the traditional family unit and substantial increases in child abuse have been left aggressively unaddressed.

Because of this we now face the reality and the need for more foster homes for 600+ children.

Do you want to see that trend continue and grow?

Or what about the ensuing and ongoing mental health issues and the definitive need for improvement in that area while at the same time experiencing a corresponding decline and lack of service and care as well? 

What about being tougher on criminal behavior and locking criminals up rather than continue the ‘catch and release’ program presently being run here on Guam?

…a situation in which the diminished number of properly trained police officers are arresting the same criminals again and again only to see them back on the street within days or sometimes hours.

We need a new and properly sized, managed and staffed Department of Corrections planned and designed for the future with the potential for expansion included in that plan.

What about the continued deterioration of our schools and the prolonged foot dragging of those responsible for changing that situation? 

Why haven’t we heard the constant public screams and shouts for repair and replacement on the part of public officials (elected and appointed) in this arena?

Their silence has been deafening!

Where is the public plan for dealing with the perennial leaky water system? 

Guam Water Authority manages to generate electronic water outage notices on a daily basis but cannot seem to stop the leaks. Where’s the plan so the public can one day see an end to this craziness?

Or what about the multitude of issues (health and administrative) at the Guam Memorial Hospital? 

The current plan seems to be to spend a billion dollars on a new hospital- and public health combination at the Eagle’s Field location with no infrastructure built into that plan.

Why not build a new hospital where the old one was, close to most physicians and the airport, with good entry and exit capability as well as existing infrastructure on land that was dedicated for a hospital? Or, is that too logical?

I won’t even touch on the existing supply, financial, collection and mechanical service issues facing GMH – a hospital with an otherwise hard-working medical staff!

What about streamlining the government of Guam’s constipated procurement system that can’t seem to get out of its own way? 

How long will we tolerate continuing to use that as an excuse for the time and confusion involved to get needed purchases and projects moving forward?

Or what about fixing the Civil Service Commission along with the personnel guidelines for handling the handful of troubled, lazy or incompetent government employees who manage to drag down, discourage and otherwise demoralize the majority of good government employees?

Finally, when are real long-term thinkers with foresight going to be honest with the island community and stop playing politics with our individual – and the island’s – future as it relates to our association with our U.S. government, its military services and the protections they provide?

The current administration would not have survived the last three years without the federal and U.S. military presence and financial support.

Anyone who tells you otherwise is simply lying.

Take a look around you and then tell me how many other ‘honest brokers” there are in the world who have real interest in Guam and with whom we could realistically deal and get the support and protection that is, has been and will be provided given actual, real-world (in particular Indo-Pacific) safety circumstances?

My sincere hope is that you have seriously considered all of the above prior to voting if you have already voted. 

If you have not already voted, read this a few more times before you blacken those little boxes on your ballot.

It is high 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

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