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No pay yet for precinct officials

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Following the deadline for comments on Proposition 'A' over the weekend, the Guam Election Commission reconvened Monday evening choosing the top arguments in favor and against the for-profit bingo initiative that will be printed on an informational pamphlet for voters.  In favor of Prop 'A', commissioners choose retired Veterans Affairs director Juan Blaz's comments, which argued that by promoting bingo as another entertainment option, it would increase investment in Guam's tourism industry which would create jobs and additional revenues for our government to provide needed services to all residents.

Meanwhile, representing opposition on Prop 'A', commissioners choose comments from the Committee to Keep Guam Good to be placed in the pamphlet. Their submission argued that Prop 'A' is just another attempt by Guam Greyhound to allow for-profit bingo casino gambling only at the Tamuning location, creating a monopoly and a permanent license. They further warned that while the initiative purports to give 20% of net proceeds to healthcare, education and public safety, in reality there is no legal mechanism to transfer the funds as only the legislature can determine where the money should go. Legal counsel noted that according to statute, comments submitted by a bona fide association would be considered a priority followed by comments submitted by individuals.

The two arguments inclusive of the GEC's objective analysis and the initiative in its entirety will be printed and mailed out to voters by October 7. Commissioners have tasked GEC executive director Maria Pangelinan to put together a draft pamphlet before final approval by the board. She hoped to get a draft pamphlet to commissioners by Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Pangelinan noted that close to 290 precinct officials who worked during the primary election have yet to be paid. With each precinct official set to be paid $170 for their work, it would total over $49,000. Pangelinan told commissioners that she has inquired with the Bureau of Budget & Management Research in the past few weeks in releasing close to $100,000 in reserves to pay for primary election expenses. She further noted that with the search for more precinct officials for the November general election, it is unacceptable that those who worked the long hours of the primary election have not been paid yet.

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