Guam – The legislature will not allow misbehavior during public hearings inside the congressional hall and anyone displaying foul gestures will be kicked out of the room, acting Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson warned.
“As acting Speaker of the 35th Guam Legislature and on behalf of my fellow senators, we will not condone nor do we support obscene gestures, violence or criminality within the Guam Congress Building,” Nelson said.
The statement came on the heels of recent theatrics at the legislature.
On Friday, former Communications Director Troy Torres “flipped the bird” at District Court Chief Judge Francis Tydingco-Gatewood and others as he walked out of the public hearing on Dan Tydingco’s nomination to the Guam International Airport Authority’s board of directors.
At the public hearing of Sen. Clynt Ridgell’s recreational marijuana bill last week, Howard Hemsing, while testifying, pulled out bags of marijuana and asked the crowd, “Any buyers?”
Also testifying on the bill was Paul Zerzan, who got into a heated argument with Ridgell and accused the senator of being high on weed.
“I am working with our legal counsel and the Committee on Rules chairwoman to ensure proper form and decorum within the Guam Congress Building is upheld. If such actions are displayed in the future, individuals will be asked to leave or escorted out of the Guam Congress Building,” Nelson said.
As for Torres’s behavior, attorney Tom Fisher also called for action.
In a letter to Nelson, Fisher said, “At a minimum, the individual’s actions may fairly be called an intended obscene assault upon those who witnessed it.”
“Absolutely an outrage to show such contempt and disrespect for the legislative body. Those people work for us. They’re senators and by doing that sort of behavior in the room is showing contempt for all the people of Guam as well. [I think it] was an attempt to intimidate people to keep them from testifying in support of Dan,” said Fisher, attorney for former lieutenant governor, Ray Tenorio.
“He wasn’t just walking by and showing his finger,” Fisher continued. “He was standing [with] both arms towards these people showing the middle finger. In my letter, I pointed out to the senator this wasn’t a furtive gesture. This was intentional aggressive showing of the finger – the sort of gesture that can incite people. As far as I am concerned, that was an assault.”
Fisher said the senators, being in charge of their own hall, “have the inherent authority” to put order in hall.
“The legislature is not picking and choosing among points of view, they are just trying to provide an environment where any citizen can come in. The Legislature has the power to punish contempt that occurs before them and outside the Legislature. I think it would be appropriate for them to bring Troy Torres in and answer to the body why he did what he did,” Fisher said.
In response, Torres appeared on K57’s Andrea Pellicani Show to explain his side.
“Tom Fisher is the attorney [whose] whole defense was [that what] Ray Tenorio did was not assaulting anybody. All right, I flipped the bird…how [is] a bird or two birds is more dangerous than a gun?” Torres said.