Black Friday holiday could cost a cool million

File Photo. Gov. Calvo gathers with his fiscal management team during a press conference at Adelup.

Guam – After last summer’s budgetary showdown with the 34th Guam Legislature over how to survive the revenue-decimating effects of the Trump Tax Cuts, the Calvo Administration has finally discovered the pot of gold at the end of a tattered tropical rainbow this festive Thanksgiving Season.

A release from Adelup states: “Governor Calvo exercised his Organic authority and signed Executive Order 2018-18, designating Nov. 23, the Friday after Thanksgiving, a holiday for the government of Guam.” The governor’s Holiday Declaration is preceded by pair of main points: (1) that Guam’s GDP has grown for the seventh year in a row, and (2) that Guam’s right on track for a slight surplus closing out FY2018.

A May 2018 memo from Executive Branch Chief Procurement Officer Claudia Acfalle says, quote, “The government is experiencing severe fiscal issues for the immediate future and must take drastic steps in reducing our expenditure.” End quote.

This memo was addressed to the general manager of the DNA Building, informing the property management company that the Department of Chamorro Affairs would be terminating its lease. According to GSA legal counsel Robert Kono, originally, Chamorro Affairs had intended to move to the Guam Museum at Skinner Plaza, but the Arts & Humanities division soon found out the museum didn’t have enough space to absorb its operations. So the division put out a bid for a new home, but only one vendor came forward, and its facility was too expensive.

While Adelup claims to be showing a slight surplus, DCA is one of many agencies, whose operations are hampered due to the financial hardships of the Government of Guam. From the widely reported E911 funds that were raided to make ends meet to the closing of fire stations; from the struggles at DISID which their Director claims to be partially due to financial hardships to the decrepit, potential life-threatening conditions over at Guam Memorial Hospital and recently mold-infested dorms at University of Guam, the government of Guam is clearly short on funds.

So what does your four-day Thanksgiving Weekend have to do with tax dollars? According to Adelup Spokeswoman Oyaol Ngirarikl, the new Black Friday holiday, is in fact a paid holiday for GovGuam employees. And how much in taxpayer dollars will underwrite our retiring governor’s new executive order?

Ngirairikl has not confirmed the exact cost of this holiday. However, in 2014, when Senator Tommy Morrison introduced Bill 286-32, mandating a Guam History and Chamorro Heritage Day to be a paid holiday, senators in the 32nd Guam Legislature discovered that a new holiday for GovGuam would cost taxpayers $810,147 dollars. High cost aside, the administration signed it into law, anyway. This 2014 statute does not include critical employees who fill health and safety positions that work on the holiday who are compensated at a rate equivalent to double their normal hourly rate. This 2014 figure also doesn’t account for the change in the number of employees currently working in the government, nor the pay raises that have kicked in since then.