The Lieutenant Governor declined to comment
Guam – Pacific News Center caught up with Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio and a his security contingent on Wednesday, while Tenorio was waving to drivers at the busy ITC intersection in Tamuning. Meanwhile, the lieutenant governor’s political opponents were just down the road in Tumon delivering withering blows against his conduct in public office, before a Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa.
“So we don’t need a lieutenant governor,” Chamber keynote and former Republican senator Robert Klitzkie said. “I don’t know that we’ve needed a lieutenant governor for quite some time. If I needed to prove my point, I’ll just refer you to the last eight years. We don’t need a lieutenant governor. We could save a lot of money.”
Drawing laughter and applause for his tongue-in-cheek comments, Klitzkie continued.
“Here’s a novel idea,” he said. “If I were governor, I would use members of the police force to do police work. I don’t think we need executive security. Maybe I’m missing out on something, but, to me, this is about as safe a place you could be, you could live, if you were the governor of anything. People here love their governor. They love their senators. They love their government officials. Sometimes I don’t know why, but they do.” More laughter followed.
Gov. Eddie Calvo, First Lady Christine Calvo, and Lt. Gov. Tenorio, have earned a reputation for surrounding themselves with police officers who are detailed to protect them in public, sometimes at questionable cost and need. Tenorio is now running for governor of Guam and appears to be making ample use of security personnel. Neither the cost, necessity, employment status, nor official duties of each security person assigned to executive detail or campaign detail is clear at all times, but Tenorio is often seen with multiple armed guards in public.
The candidate churn
And yet today’s public criticism of Calvo-Tenorio personnel assignments didn’t end with Klitzkie’s observations. One lawmaker is pressuring the incumbent Republican gubernatorial administration to stop the practice of hiring political appointees who suddenly turn around and run for elective office, while keeping their high-paid appointments. Current senator and Democratic gubernatorial contender Frank Aguon, Jr. has introduced legislation that would, among other objectives, prevent front office hiring as a way to groom GOP hopefuls for the legislature.
Bill No. 306-34 (COR) posits that the only exception to the law requiring government employees to resign before running for elective office should be a person already holding elective office.
“If a classified employee of the government of Guam chooses to pursue an elected office, he or she is required by law to resign from their position,” Aguon stated in a Wednesday morning news release promoting the new legislation in light of what he suggests is a loophole in the law.
“This law should be applicable to all employees of the government of Guam, whether they are a staff assistant, appointed by the governor, performing professional or special services, or working on a casual basis,” Aguon stated.
Lauding less politically connected candidates, Aguon sided with what he seemed to characterize as purer motivations.
“If we take a look at the individuals who have stepped up to run for higher office, many of them are not government of Guam employees and are not seeking a salary of $85,000 a year or more,” Aguon said. “In running for elected office, they recognize the need for their government to do more for the people.”
Offering Tenorio a chance to defend himself from the assessments of his detractors, PNC approached him and his guards during the incumbent lieutenant governor’s political roadside wave, as the Chamber meeting ensued. But Tenorio declined two requests for interview.
PNC asked one of his body guards if we could interview him, clearing our questions in advance. When Tenorio was finished waving, PNC again briefed the lieutenant governor on the questions, to give him a moment to collect his thoughts for rejoinders to the following:
- What is your response to former Sen. Robert Klitzkie’s joke to the Chamber that Guam should abolish the lieutenant governor’s office, because it has cost the government too much over the last eight years?
- What is your response to Klitzkie’s assertion that you’re spending too much money on security detail?
- Are you hiring political appointees at Adelup, so you can groom them to run for elective office as Republicans and stack the deck at the legislature in your favor, should you win the governorship?
“No comment,” Tenorio said. Then he walked away. But back at the Hilton, Sen. Aguon wasn’t backing down from his argument that Adelup needs to shut down its senatorial factory so as to make running for office fair for all candidates.
“Well, let me put it this way, Adelup is not paying some of these employees to run, the people of Guam are paying for these employees to play in [pursuit of] elected office,” Aguon said. “So it’s the people of Guam who are assuming this additional cost, and I believe that we need to level the playing field.”
In recent weeks Aguon has constantly and publicly chastised the Calvo Administration in general, and Tenorio in particular, for ignoring the need to save the government of Guam much-needed costs at a time when the Administration has sought constant help to meet one funding crisis after another, whether at Guam Memorial Hospital, in the Department of Education, for timely tax refund payments, or to meet revenue shortfalls and general fund obligations, for example—even going so far as to raid protected lockbox funds designated for court-ordered child support, the Emergency-911 system, and Chamorro Land Trust surveys and infrastructure.