Guam – Two fire stations and one police station were supposed to be shut down over the weekend however it’s not clear if two of the stations were really shut down or not.
The administration has warned the legislature that if they don’t quickly pass a piece of legislation that raises taxes to make up for the 67-million-dollar shortfall caused by the Trump tax cuts certain critical services will suffer. On Friday the Governor’s office announced that the Astumbo and Piti fire stations would close at 8am on Sunday if senators didn’t pass any one of a number of bills introduced by the governor to raise taxes. Then on Saturday they upped the ante by announcing that the Hagatna police precinct would be shut down on Sunday as well.
The administration says the closures are necessary to cut costs. However, on Sunday the Hagatna precinct wasn’t entirely closed down. We found that the Hagatna precinct still had its lights on and there were personnel inside. GPD PIO SGT. Paul Tapao explains that it is still technically open as arrestees will still be processed in the Hagatna precinct. Sgt. Tapao says that there will still be a desk watch day and night to field calls and entertain walk ins at the Hagatna precinct.
Then there is the Astumbo fire station. GFD acting chief Joey San Nicolas told PNC on Friday that both the Piti and Astumbo fire stations would be completely shut down. “So zero personnel at Astumbo fire station lights off?” asked PNC. “Correct,” replied San Nicolas adding, “To include the Piti fire station.” On Sunday morning as promised, the Astumbo fire station did appear empty and closed. However, on Sunday night there were vehicles parked in the fire station and lights were on.
Lawmakers have questioned the need for the closure of these stations and during session over the weekend they asked numerous questions surrounding this decision. This resulted in dueling press releases from the Democratic Party of Guam and the Republican Party of Guam. The Democratic Party says DOA Deputy Director Vince Arriola “admitted that the closure of police and fire stations was–‘The governor’s call.’ The Democrat Party further asserted that Mr. Arriola “admitted that DOA had cash in the bank and that the governor had near absolute authority to manage that cash.”
The Republican Party of Guam issued a release in rebuttal to the Democratic Party’s release saying instead that Arriola’s statements were taken out of context. The Republican Party says the Democratic Party “issued an inaccurate news release,” as an “attempt to spin the Department of Administration Deputy Director’s statements.” The Republican party calls it an “irresponsible attempt to downplay the government’s fiscal crisis.” The Republican Party Chairman Victor Cruz is quoted as saying “We believe the current Democratic Party of Guam leadership is intentionally putting the government of Guam on a crash course to negate all the progress made by this community the past 13 years to set the stage for the upcoming gubernatorial election. This is politics at its worse and will cause a lot of pain to working families on Guam and take our economy off the rails.”