Chamber of Commerce shows hypocrisy
By Sen. Jesse Lujan R-Tamuning
HAGÅTÑA — I received the following e-mail message from Monty McDowell, chairman of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, a business lobby group. This is what McDowell had to say about my efforts to overturn the Klitzkie amendment to the recent budget bill. The Klitzkie amendment completely revamped the Civil Service Commission, transferring almost 70 percent of its employees and much of its responsibilities to the Department of Administration, all without public hearings and in the dead of night in the budget bill. This midnight revamp affects almost every GovGuam employee. None of which had a single minute to review the Klitzkie amendment or to publicly comment on it.
In defense of this slight of hand, this is what McDowell had to write
on behalf of the Chamber: “Just a quick note to let you know the
Guam Chamber of Commerce is absolutely thrilled with what has been done
with the Civil Service Commission via the recent budget bill. From our
view point [sic] only good things will occur for our community as a result.
We encourage that no effect be put forth in overturning the good work
accomplished as it relates to the CSC via passage of the budget bill.”
It should not matter that we support what the Klitkie amendment accomplished.
What matters is that it was done by slight of hand without public input
or comment. McDowell’s unwillingness to take this principled stand
smacks of hypocrisy on the Chamber’s part. You cannot take a principled
stand only when it suits you. Principles matter most when you stand for
them especially when it does not suit you. Good policy or trust cannot
be based on a foundation of hypocrisy. Public hearings for matters of
such public import that affects all our government employees cannot and
should not be ignored simply because it is inconvenient or we like the
result from avoiding them.
Besides the obvious democratic component of public hearings, there is
a practical benefit from conducting them on issues of this importance.
These hearings bring to the fore many different points of view that improve
legislation. For instance, it is conceivable in this case that a procedure
to allow the Civil Service Commission to review any reclassifications
by the Department of Administration could have been put in place. This
is to ensure that the governor of the day does not reclassify his political
enemies to lower pay grades and higher pay grades or job descriptions
for his political friends. Much of the protections of the Civil Service
system we have in place now are to prevent this very type of gerrymandering
and shenanigans against government employees in retaliation for their
political views that the Klitzkie amendment seems to open the door to.
But what is clear is that Klitzkie and the Chamber, by their stand, have paid little respect to our democracy and to the law of unintended consequences. To the extent that abuse of GovGuam employees’ political independence is foreseeable and likely from the Klitzkie amendment, the Chamber and Klitzkie must take responsibility for it if and when it happens.
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