Senator Brown: Governor’s SOTI speech was ’embellished’ and didn’t address many issues

Senator Joanne Brown (Official photo by 36th Guam Legislature)

Describing the governor’s state of the island address Monday night as a “self-authored” progress report, Sen. Joanne Brown said moving beyond the pandemic requires a more realistic and “unembellished” understanding of the current state of the island.

“We know these speeches are every administration’s self-authored progress report to the people. And there’s no doubt that Guam survived a devastating year with the combined efforts of the Leon Guerrero Administration and from every single one of us who adhered to the stay-at-home orders and the numerous directives that followed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, I expected the governor to take off her rose-tinted glasses, for just a moment, so that we as lawmakers could have a clearer picture of the challenges ahead,” Brown said in reaction to the governor’s speech.

While it is true that federal aid is on its way to the island, Brown said this is an unsustainable source of income that creates an artificial economy. Without a comprehensive, concrete plan in place, the senator said parts of the island’s economy will collapse even further.

“The governor needs to make this very clear to everyone instead of presenting it to us as an accomplishment of her administration. This federal aid is only a life raft used for emergencies such as this and we must remain cognizant of that as we plan for the challenging months ahead,” Brown said.

The senator added that the pandemic generated not only a greater awareness of an
under-funded, under-staffed, and overworked healthcare system on island, it also kicked the doors of inequality wide open — inequalities with respect to economic opportunity and personal income, sustainable healthcare, and adequate education.

“This has left a vast number of vulnerable families in perpetual uncertainty. And beyond the difficulties of the pandemic, this administration has handed out pay raises and hired non-essential personnel, such as the new digital engagement manager and other similar positions, while thousands of families waited for food distribution schedules and unemployment checks. There is something inherently wrong with these actions,” Brown said.

She added: “It’s disappointing the governor didn’t address current issues like this or the instances of government corruption, allegations of government workers gambling on-the-job or the growing mistrust of our law enforcement officers. Moving beyond this pandemic requires a realistic, unembellished understanding of the current State of the Island.”