GHURA trial focuses on meaning of ‘working session’

164
Atty. Curtis Van de Veld, made it a point for the record to reflect that the words "working session" are not contained in the open government law.

The focus of today’s Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority (GHURA) conspiracy trial centered around what qualifies as a “work session” as the defense cross-examined the government’s witness, former GHURA Executive Director Marcel Camacho.

GHURA board member Cecile Suda’s attorney, Curtis Van de Veld, made it a point for the record to reflect that the words “working session” are not contained in the open government law as he made Marcel Camacho sift through the law to search for the meaning of “meeting.”

“Meeting means the convening of a government body of a public agency for which quorum is required in order to make a decision or to deliberate toward a decision on any matter. Meeting does not include any on-site inspection of any project or program,” Camacho read.

While this may seem insignificant, Van de Veld contends that his client and the other former GHURA board members were not in violation of the open government law as the secret meetings dubbed working sessions were in fact “on-site inspections” which does not require proper noticing of the public as the law states it does not qualify as a meeting.

But according to Camacho’s testimony, there were three meetings held in December of 2011

“Do you recall that after the meeting had commenced representatives of Great Homes LLC and Tower 7 came to attend the meeting?” Van de Veld asked.

“I recall that Eduardo Champ Calvo was there at some point during the meeting,” Camacho answered.

“Do you recall there being an allocation of tax credits made on December 27, 2011?,” Van de Veld asked.

“I think the decision was made on the 26th and it was announced on the 27th,” Camacho answered.

However, Camacho could not recall if resolutions were made relative to the low-income housing tax credits.

Van de Veld was quick to point out that Camacho was not present for the entire meeting on Dec. 26 and testified that he could not recall what occurred.

Camacho says he was told by the chairman how they were going to vote in the Dec. 26 meeting and that the meeting held on the 27th was just a formality for the public.

Tensions rose as Van de Veld worked to get to the bottom of what Camacho did and did not recollect, saying his testimony was that he was told how they were going to proceed.

“You keep saying you were told by Mr. Sablan one thing that was the only thing you could remember. And you said you could not remember anything else, you got angry because of what he said to you and you stormed out of the meeting. That was your testimony. Am I not recalling it correctly?” Van de Veld asked.

In response, Camacho said that in a typical meeting the chairman dominates the forum and speaks for the board. Van de Veld, in response, retorted that he was not asking for Camacho’s opinion but rather the facts of what occurred.

Testimony in the case will continue on Wednesday. It is expected that former GHURA director Michael Duenas, who pleaded guilty to official misconduct in the case, will be taking the stand this week.

##

 

Previous articleGVB: No cancellations due to Hagibis
Next articleGovernor signs minimum wage bill into law
Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.