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Gov. Felix Camacho is greeted by Guam Supreme Court Justice
Frances Tydingco- Gatewood after
his State of the Island Address yesterday at the Guam Legislature.
TO THE POINT
Democratic senators said Gov. Felix Camacho's State of the
Island Address did not provide enough specifics, Republican
senators praised it.
Long on promises, short
on specifics. That was Speaker Ben
Pangelinan's reaction to Gov. Felix Camacho's State of the Island
Address presented yesterday at the Guam Legislature.
"He has been a good
steward, I think. He has managed the policies of past legislatures,"
said Pangelinan, D-Barrigada. "(But) I haven't seen any new
ideas. I think they have been an extension of some of the old ideas
and some of the policies that have been drafted."
Several Republican senators
yesterday, however, praised the governor's speech.
Camacho touched on issues
in his address including the economy, education, privatization of
government agencies and reorganization and called for greater cooperation
from the Legislature.
"I find it a little
insincere on the governor's part to say that he wants bipartisanship
after hanging a Blackmail Budget banner," Pangelinan said after
the address. He was referring to the banner hung during a press
conference last year announcing his reluctance in signing the fiscal
"But we'll continue
to work with the governor, vigorously debate the ideas presented
and, as we've seen in the past, we'll see this body come together
in bipartisan cooperation," he later said.
Sen. Mark Forbes, R-Sinajana,
said he thought the governor accurately portrayed how difficult
the past year has been.
"He noted ... that
many, many things still need to be done. And he asked for a call
to action to try to bring everybody together, to move forward and
address those issues," he said.
Forbes said the governor
hit many important points, including a push for the construction
of seven new schools in three years.
"We have to really
make a better investment in education and make some very significant
improvements to the conditions that children in Guam attend the
schools in and conditions where the hardworking teachers and other
staff work every day," Forbes said.
"So I am pleased
to see that it looks like there is going to be some attention from
the administration's side on that."
Forbes said building
the seven new schools is realistic as long as the government continues
to receive the level of funding from the federal government.
"The cost of an
elementary school is not prohibitive, especially if you are focusing
on building smaller, more community-based schools, (which) are quite
affordable," Forbes said.
Pangelinan, who introduced
a bill Monday to borrow money to build public schools, said a high
school costs about $28 million to $35 million, an elementary school
costs about $8 million and a middle school costs about $16 million.
"If (the governor)
is going to build one of each, you are talking about $60 million.
I don't know where he is going to get the money," Pangelinan
said. "That is why I say (the speech) is long on promise and
short on specifics."
Sen. Lou Leon Guerrero,
D-Tamuning, said she was "expecting more" than what was
"In a society, when
you say we are doing better, you give the people some kind of statistics
to prove that. I didn't see any substance in this way," Leon
"He talked about
how we are a safer community because no prisoner escaped. To me,
that is not an indicator."
Camacho said he was "proud"
to announce that the past year was one of Guam's safest years in
history, saying not a single prisoner escaped from the Department
"He didn't mention
what's our domestic violence cases now versus a year ago, crime
in drug abuse, thefts, burglaries, homicides. Where are those hard
numbers?" Leon Guerrero asked.
"Because if you
go out there and talk to people, they're not feeling safer. You
hear about burglaries. You hear (about) women's purses being snatched.
The tourists don't feel secure. That's what I mean -- there was
no substance to back up his words about the recovery of our island."
There were eight homicides
in 2003 and in 2002, according to Pacific Daily News files. In 2002,
there were 13 traffic-related fatalities and 24 last year, files
Leon Guerrero said she
also was concerned about the governor's answer to water and wastewater
problems that continue to plague residents -- from the lack of water
in high elevated areas to the recent boil-water notice for Asan
that lasted more than a week.
"His whole answer
is, well we need to sell (Guam Waterworks Authority)," Leon
Guerrero said. "To me, that is not an answer. What are you
Sen. Robert Klitzkie,
R-Yigo, had a different take on the speech, saying it was "upbeat
"That's what I like.
I like to get on board with things like that," Klitzkie said.
This article was
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