Camacho speaks out about GHURA board
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - Marcel Camacho may have resigned from the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority, but he isn't leaving without putting in his $0.02 about the agency's board. Camacho didn't want to go on camera but instead issued a press release today further detailing what he calls "irregularities" with the board's decision to award low income housing tax credits.
It was those concerns that Camacho said prompted his resignation from the agency, but the board has a much different story.
The now-former GHURA executive director believes the agency's board of directors went against his better judgment when they awarded Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to Great Homes and Tower 70. The decision was made back in December of last year. In light of his resignation to the governor on Monday, Camacho wants to clear the air and claims that there were deficiencies with great home's application that agreed to build 80 homes for low-income families in return for tax credits. Camacho claims negotiations with Great Homes ended because the parties could not come to terms with their price and the tax credits should have been awarded solely to Tower 70.
GHURA bypassed the top three ranked applicants because they had site control issues which meant that the developers still need to acquire ownership or a long term lease of the land. Awards were subsequently given to Great Homes and Tower 70. While Camacho contends he had the sole authority as the executive director to accept or reject applications and the board made a decision to award the tax credits without getting his recommendations, GHURA board chair Dave Sablan has a different recollection of what happened. "If you did not do the negotiations properly, I believe the board has the prerogative to come in and do it right and we did that," he said.
Camacho said he stands by his decision not to sign any of the documents relating to the award of the tax credits as he questions the board's actions. "If he was concerned about how we handled the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit back in December he probably should have resigned back then when we made the award. Instead, he waited until the board was ready to take some action completely separate from this issue," Sablan said.
Sablan wouldn't get into specifics but said the board found improprieties with the way Camacho handled negotiations with Great Homes, noting, "You negotiate the proposal was properly given. You look at the evaluation criteria, they met everything. They're now in the running to discuss this matter with you, but just because you don't like them or somebody in the organization bothers you is that reason enough to go to another company."
Sablan says that's not the only reason why Camacho was placed on administrative leave for 20 days last month. He wouldn't disclose specifics, but KUAM News has learned that Camacho failed to make a number of disclosures including that he had a realtors license, had been brokering deals for commission, and had brought up a waiver of the system development charge request for his father's company. "Those issues are definitely serious issues that the board was looking at with regard to Mr. Camacho and some of his private dealings," said Sablan.
And he does confirm that during the time Camacho was placed on leave, an investigation was conducted, saying, "As far as what we found in our investigation is concerned, it's kept confidential in the file of our attorney as far as we're concerned."
Sablan says during a December meeting, Camacho also told board members that the FBI was investigating them, but he did not divulge any further details despite requests by the board to do so. The board chair says they welcome any scrutiny of their decision on the low income housing tax credits as he says the board acted ethically and in the open.
In the meantime, this isn't the first time Camacho has left government service under questionable circumstances. According to news files, in 2009 Camacho was fired via e-mail as the deputy general manager of the Guam Visitors Bureau. Camacho at the time said it was "all very sudden" and that the termination came from the board.
Governor Eddie Calvo meanwhile says he was disappointed to learn that Camacho had resigned. Calvo did say he was aware that there have been issues with the board and management for quite some time and he hopes that the agency can move forward with focusing on its core mission to build affordable homes for the people of Guam. As for a possible replacement, the governor says he is confident the agency is in good hands at this time with Ray Topasna as the acting executive director.