Cruz continues inquiry into airport's legal services - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Cruz continues inquiry into airport's legal services

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It was over a month ago when Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Guam International Airport Authority over its legal service billings which during a public hearing earlier this month revealed to be over one million dollars.

Today, Cruz continued his investigation by actually paying the airport a visit collecting documents detailing the breakdown of those legal services. "I just want to determine how did you get 6,000 hours of legal services that went up to $1.3 million dollars - so I just want to see those bills that document and exposit how you go to 6,243 hours and charged $1.3 million," he announced.

Cruz says the information would justify the need for his Bill 180, which aims to put the brakes on excessive legal billing, specifically requiring agencies to hire unclassified in-house counsel in lieu of contract legal services through private attorneys. A response from the airport last week indicated Cruz could obtain the requested documents but would have to pay copying fees which Cruz says he was happy to do.

Today, airport executive manager Chuck Ada says it was a matter of miscommunication as there are no fees for government organizations filing a FOIA request. Ada adds Lotte Duty Free - not the Government of Guam - is paying for the airport's legal fees in regards any matter defending the contract as it was outlined in the negotiation for the concessionaire contract.

 

Ada went on to state "The Airport needs highly skilled and experienced professionals to effectively carry out its responsibilities and obligations.  This year the attorney's fees have reached that level due to the Specialty Retail RFP, the protests by DFS and JR Duty Free, the protracted litigation brought by DFS and the related and affected matters such as the successful $240 million bond financing recently accomplished.  

"Looking at all the work that was done and all that we have accomplished I think you will see the Airport does a good job of managing its costs, including those of its lawyers and other professional service providers. Additionally, whenever possible the Airport will try to recover costs from third parties".

 

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