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Should ethics commission be elected, not appointed?

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Perhaps spurred by recent Ethics complaints, Senators Thursday heard testimony on a bill to update an Ethics Commission Law that's been on the books for more than 20 years, but has never been fully implemented. The measure by Senator Michael San Nicolas would change the commission from an appointed body to an elected one.

"Dealing with what's already in statute needs to happen whether its standing up the board making it elected, or repealing the statute altogether. And from there having the discussion what exactly we're going to construct in terms of providing some sort of ombudsman where the public can go to for relief if they feel they're not able to do so directly with the agencies, the entities they feel aggrieved by," he stated.

Several testified in support of the bill, citing what they believe are recent examples of ethics violations.

Separately, San Nicolas also took testimony on his resolution to amend the organic act to require a referendum for any new tax or tax increase. A local law is already in place mandating a vote, but a recent tax hike by-passed it through a so-called "notwithstanding clause." 

But former Democratic party chairman Joaquin Perez opposes the resolution, saying its counterproductive to the bigger issue of Guam's political status, saying, "In my opinion asking to amend the organic act in any manner that reflects on the ability of our elected leaders to resolve issues screams political immaturity."

He suggests leaders need to step up and resolve the problem at the local level.

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