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Tussle over transparency

by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - The Democrat majority in the Guam Legislature once again going after the Calvo Tenorio Administration. This time, over transparency.

"The governor can say he's being transparent all he want," said Rory Respicio, the legislature's acting speaker. During the Legislature's Weekly Address Respicio says the Calvo Tenorio Administration's "tales of transparency are really nothing more than political rhetoric and that in reality our government is shrouded in dark secrecy like no other time before in the history of our island."  

"Not only is there a dark secrecy there's also a climate of fear there's also whistleblowers are really retaliated against," he said.  

In response governors' chief of communications Troy Torres says Respicio's comments are baseless and without merit adding that if there's any secrets it's at the legislature. "I believe what the acting speaker might be referring to is the number of bills that are either heard or on the session floor without ever having a public hearing or the number of amendments that senators make to bills that are substantial that actually change the forms of bills that never had a public hearing," he said.

Respicio said, "By statute the speaker's authorize to waive a public hearing requirement on a matter that's already been publicly heard."

Aside from the lack of transparency, during his address Respicio said that truthfulness in accurate reporting is nearly non existent from some agencies especially when it comes to public finances.   He cited multiple examples of how the administration failed to provide information to senators citing the hesitation in providing a breakdown of the hay pay plan and most recently when senators requested information about the tax credits in lieu of cash payments program.

"I think transparency is releasing everything when you're being asked not just releasing what you want to release and then pat yourself on the back and saying I am being transparent," he said.

Torres defends the administration is being transparent citing companies like Standard and Poors, the Government Finance Officers Association and Bloomberg that recognized the administration for their financial transparency. "And it is what has lead to the improvement in the fiscal structure of the Government or Guam and the ability for these creditors and for these people who watch out for transparency and fiscal responsibility in government's throughout the nation when they're saying these improvements are having in the Government of Guam it means a lot," he said.

Senator Respico has introduced a resolution creating the Guam  Legislative Freedom of Information Advisory Council. The group will consist of 12 members including the attorney general, representatives from the media, the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches of government as well as members of the general public. 

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