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Brown under attack again by senators

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Port Authority general manager Joanne Brown is under attack once again before the Legislature.  Vice Speaker BJ Cruz said, "It is the intent of this committee to review the situation of procurement at the government agencies."

And last night the Guam Legislature began that review with the Port Authority of Guam. More than an hour was dedicated on the Port's legal services contract which was capped at $499,999 per year until that cap was removed in April.

Cruz said, "But before you signed the amendment in April did you have authorization from the board to sign?" Brown said, "I'm not aware senator that I would be required to get authorization on a contract that was not executed by the board."

Throughout the entire oversight hearing the GM who is also a former senator defended  she has done nothing in the shadow of darkness, adding the board chairman and other members of the board were fully aware of her actions related to the port's legal services contract.  She further questioned the certain senators motives with all the scrutiny.

Senator Chris Duenas said, "In order to realize and be able to pay out at the 499,999 you had to eliminate this to deal with that fiscal year approval to be able to pay invoices (Brown)  only with certified authorization  to do that." Cruz said, "So, removing this cap removes any amount that makes the board liable to any amount in excess of $499,000 since it's been removed?" "Yes, and the Port can also very easily terminate its legal counsel should it be abusing that process," said Brown.

Brown said, "Why such intense concern, with all the contracts in the Government of Guam, with the legal counsel of Phillips and Bordallo, at this time?" Senator Rory Respicio said, "There are other items on the agenda, you just make yourself comfortable?" Brown said, "Well, I just want to make it clear, Do you have any biased interest,? Does this individual still work for you?" Senator Respicio said, "She does but I have not biases in this case."  Brown said, "And we're to assume that because you say so." Respicio said, "And I'm to assume that everything you say is correct because you say so." Brown said, "Well I guess if you want me to take you at your word then I assume that you'll take me at mine, but I will clarify the Attorney General to my understanding reviewed the contract and signed it."

After spending an hour on the port's legal services contract lawmaker would then turn their attention to whether the port was trying to sole source a procurement for a specific type of equipment. And it connection to recently reappointed port board member Ed Ilao and his company JMI which is the local agent for off island company AS&E.  We should note procurement was initiated prior to Brown coming on board at the port.

Senator Aline Yamashita said, "I'm getting this sense that we're trying to see if a sole source was being influenced  that's what I'm hearing I just want to pointedly ask what there any influence by Mr. Ilao or his company through the board or the port and we want to do business with you? Was there any kind of conversation or influence like that.

Respicio said, "You were awfully quiet Senator Brown when it was revealed on the tape that there was an attempt to sole source procurement?" she said, "Senator for the record I've done no action, you know everybody keeps saying sole source and throwing it around and banding it around. There's a procedure  prescribed by law that would have to be executed to sole source a contract, and unless there's a conspiracy between Mr. Javellana and  Paul Cepeda from DPW and the other representatives to accommodate all this which I haven't been made aware that that's the case, I don't see evidence of that's the case, that all these people have gotten into some sort of conspiracy. I haven't seen it"!

She added, "Oh you assume you've uncovered... we provided you with this information we've been transparent in providing information that's been requested. You act as if you've did some undercover thing to get this information. We provided it as we do as best we can with all the FOIA requests and we get numerous amounts from the Guam legislature. And I'll tell you in the future Senator, we've worked together in the past,  all you need to do is call. Pick up the phone and call. If you want us to come and meet with you we'll be more than happy to do that. But to be called to an oversight hearing because you're making assumptions there's something improper, illegal shenanigans are going on and make this a vehicle for dialoguing then I got to wonder what you're motives are."

The oversight concluded just after eight o'clock last night, up next to appear before the vice speaker's Committee on Procurement issues is the Department of Education, Senator Aline Yamashita said she hopes the committee will be just as critical with scrutinizing the details with DOE as it is with the port.

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