Guam – Another Public Safety agency is calling for the removal of Sen. Telena Nelson from the oversight chair.
Department of Corrections Director Tony Lamorena joins Chief of Police JI Cruz in calling for Sen. Nelson’s ouster.
“Senator Nelson has done little but ridicule us, point out what she perceives to be failures, yet has not made any sincere efforts to advocate for our needs as our appropriating member of the legislature,” Lamorena wrote to Speaker BJ Cruz.
A former senator himself, Lamorena pointed to a recent oversight hearing in which he quotes Nelson as saying “Let’s get to the real reason we are here,” without her ever acknowledging the hard work of the DOC employees.
That controversial oversight hearing, where Lamorena went on a five-minute long tirade, was scheduled following the murder of detainee Manson Ernest.
“The success of the department is the success of the oversight chair. After a year and half in this position we feel that we have not been getting the positive response that we expect of an oversight chair,” said Lamorena.
Lamorena once again boiled it down to funding.
PNC: “I know that you keep saying that funding has been an issue, lack of funding, which has contributed to many of the issues at DOC, like the attacks, the recent murder, but hasn’t funding always been an issue?”
“Funding, and not only funding, but also the age of the facility. We’re constantly, on a daily basis, in repair,” noted Lamorena, adding, “So when we’re underfunded–and then we’ve lost over 30-plus officers just in the past year … we’re unable to fill these positions because of that shortfall in the budget.”
PNC: “Under previous chairmanships, funding has always been a problem, and in fact, under previous chairmanships, DOC was still under a consent decree. What makes the current chairperson different from the previous chairperson?”
“The big difference is working with the department,” answered Lamorena.
But Sen. Nelson defended her chairmanship on News Talk K57 with host Patti Arroyo this morning, implying some of the problems may also stem from leadership concerns, noting that it’s clear officers at DOC still need more training.
“It’s always important to have someone with a criminal justice background at the head so that they understand these operations and the needs of the mission,” explained Nelson.
Nelson also talked about her recent visit to DOC after she was slammed for only spending an hour at the facility during her first tour. While there, Nelson said she made some observations that made her question the leadership. She talked about an instance in which a cell door was left unlocked right in front of her face while a guard was making rounds.
She also talked about Lamorena’s lack of knowledge in the area of coverage for the different posts at the DOC compound.
Arroyo: “Do you think that we have the wrong people in there?”
“I think, Patti, that with the right training, they would do an exceptional job,” answered Nelson.
“It’s easy to pinpoint issues and concerns and–but finding solutions is really what makes leadership even stronger. When I walked into DOC, I found many problems. In a year and a half we were able to change the skins of the domes, we’ve begun the process of renovating, we finished Post 17, we’re on 7 now and then we’re gonna work on Post 6. So we’re making changes,” said Lamorena. “It’s not like DOC is just sitting back, I mean we’re also looking at our policies, what changes can be made.”