If there was ever any doubt that the 32nd Guam Legislature is haunted by a brood of out of control vote happy schizos, the last 72 hours bear witness to that frightening reality. It is clear that the House of Hesler has become a domicile of horror - for the people of Guam as we witness crazy Democratic infighting, a children’s cultural program that was held in fearful hostage to a furtive vengance…and a carnival of madness that seems to know no end!
Mole in the hole
Let’s recap the amazing spectacle that began with the general election of 2010…and the successful plant of a Calvo mole in the midst of the Democratic caucus: senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr.
Dennis Rodriguez Jr. has fought hard to seal a veritable bribe from lt. governor Eddie Calvo that would allow his parents to skip on a tax case worth almost $3 million.
In exchange, the cherub-faced lawmaker has willingly introduced legislation that favors some underhanded plots by the Calvo administration, including the introduction of a bill that sought to hand the Guam Memorial Hospital over to the Calvo family in a complex privatization scheme.
Adelup’s Mormon Inquisitioner Arthur Clarke has strung senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr. along with a deal to let his parents skate on a multimillion dollar tax debt, but now finds that their rope-a-dope strategy has got them entangled in a brilliant counterplot by Pedro Pangelinan and Gil Shinohara that has legalized their gambling machines, as long as Guam Memorial Hospital remains in debt - which should be perpetuity. The Calvos nonetheless can now count on seeing primary care at GMH privatized and handed over to SelectCare as part of the deal.
The trojan horse measure, Bill 20, was subsequently used by Pedro Pangelinan and Gil Shinohara in a brilliant squeeze on Adelup that flipped the script Calvo operatives expected Rodriguez to follow and aimed to legitimize their illegal gaming devices.
The two men are the principals behind Guam Music, Inc., a company estimated to produce as much as $30 million annually with their machines, previously used at island gamerooms for gambling entertainment.
The pair, according to Committee reports, “run Dennis (Rodriguez Jr.)” and have been generous donors to almost all current lawmakers. The allegiance and effectiveness of generous donations was on full display for island voters.
In May, senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr. unsuccessfully tried to pull a fast one with Bill 19 that would legitimize the illegal gaming machines that belong to his generous donor Pedro “Dongo” Pangelinan, who appears to left of the sourpussed Archbishop Anthony Apuron in this PDN Sunday News file photo. After a convoluted carnival of cowardice and corruption the majority of the 32nd Guam legislature allowed Rodriguez to reward his benefactors and Adelup puppetmasters with a successful amendment to Bill 19 that ultimately will allow Calvo to privatize GMH for his family interests and give Dongo and Guam Music, Inc. a virtual monopoly on gambling machines for a very, very long time to come….that is until John Baldwin of Guam Greyhound infamy realizes he now has the greenlight to put in a thousand gaming machines, a bar, a dinner show and entertainment to break Dongo’s monopoly - and can sue GovGuam if they refuse to license such an operation. (Are you reading this John? Email me…I got a plan for you.)
Many think the “debt crisis” at GMH is over exaggerated or even manufactured as a pretext for legitimizing gaming devices in order to fund hospital debt service - even as the Calvo administration claims GovGuam has as much as $25 million in surplus and $400 million in deficit has disappeared, saying “the government financial crisis is over.”
Pedro “Dongo” Pangelinan, according to reports has heavily lobbied lawmakers and effectively managed to create a divide that exploded on the floor of the legislature last Friday in a struggle among Democratic senators for power.
Dongo’s efforts appeared to be coordinated with a lobbying effort directed by Adelup among Republican lawmakers that sought to bulldoze opposition to Bill 20, giving Dongo his machines and Calvo the hospital.
However, senator ben Pangelinan and speaker Judi Won Pat - who seemed to have learned little from her Gavelgate experience with former senator and beauty queen Ray Tenorio a couple of terms ago - blocked passage of Bill 20 through procedural maneuvering - and that’s when the fireworks started in full.
The blow up
Rodriguez, allied with senator Rory Respicio who fought fiercely to allow and approve Dongo’s effort, and supported by the Republicans managed to piggyback Bill 20 onto Bill 19, sidestepping the Attorney General’s Office, Won Pat and senator ben Pangelinan…and blowing the Democrats apart just ahead of a critical election year.
After a brawl between Won Pat and Respicio that had Respicio challenging the authority of the speaker, and forcing another opportunity for Dongo and Calvo to see their goals achieved, senator Michael San Nicolas proffered an amendment that appeared to kill all forms of gambling on Guam.
Vice speaker BJ Cruz and senator ben supported the San Nicolas amendment noting recent voting trends that show the majority of island residents to be against gambling.
Senators then voted 8 to 7 in favor of the amendment. Joining San Nicolas, Cruz and Pangelinan in favor of the amendment were senators Frank Aguon, Jr., Chris Duenas, Tommy Morrison, Tina Muña Barnes and Won Pat voted. However, only minutes later after concerns about re-election had settled in alongside a bunch of warning text messages, Barnes buckled, changing her mind, confusing stunned viewers watching the human fishbowl.
Island seniors, allies and friends of senior centers and numerous service providers were irate at efforts by lawmakers that seemingly outlawed all forms of gambling, including bingo and cockfighting, as a result of senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr.’s fight to underhandedly legalize hundreds of gambling machines owned by one of his biggest supporters. The machines are mostly found at Korean-owned gamerooms that operate late night and are frequently locations for ice trafficking, afterhour liquor sales and other forms of illegal gambling. Rodriguez has successfully piggybacked the push to legalize the gambling devices by tying them into a presumptive effort to pay down debt at GMH. An amendment that offended a vociferous minority of Guam voters, doesn’t really outlaw old people’s fave gambling activity (Bingo), but only makes it look like lawmakers tried to do something…dont worry folks, its one of those wonderfully ineffective and wasted efforts your elected leaders are wellknown for. You can sleep. Your bingo/gambling fever is safe.
Even as D-Rod’s hardcore push to bag that tax loot for his parents at any cost set the stage for a major blow up between Democrats of principles vs. Democrats of convenience, another issue had Guamblog inbox overflowing with the display of dementia by the majority.
A bill to provide government funding to Duk Duk Goose for the local production of educational videos that will be used by PBS was finally approved today. But the final approval came only after efforts to thwart the production were made for reasons other than what was being told to the public, and following a highly misleading article by Mark-Alexander Pieper that appeared in the PDN on Saturday.
Senators Michael San Nicolas and Mike Limitiaco opposed providing $127,000 to the nonprofit group aiming to create a Chamorro children’s cultural video program, suggeting that approval by the legislature would sidestep procurement law.
However, according to a dozen emails and text messages received by Guamblog over the weekend, and comments made by political insiders last Friday, it is clear, the real reason Limtiaco and San Nicolas were so adamantly opposed to the children’s program funding had more to do with payback than procurement.
In other messages to Guamblog, readers raged against the PDN story that misstated a number of facts; so many, in fact, that one cannot help but wonder if the writer hadn’t pulled a page out of KUAM reporter Mindy Aguon’s book of make-it-up-and-pull-it-out-your-ass journalism.
Of particular note was a suggestion made in the PDN article by Pieper that the Duk Duk Goose producers had been deceitful about having produced and delivered several episodes of the children’s program to PBS Guam.
Pieper incorrectly reported, "The bill states three episodes have been produced and provided to Guam Public Broadcast System.
But PBS hasn’t received the episodes and has seen only the trailer, which was played during the public hearing.”
There is, however, no such language in the original or the substitute measure ultimately passed by the legislature Monday afternoon supporting Pieper’s statement.
When contacted by Guamblog, none of the producers could identify the source of the misinformation, except in the PDN article. It was suggested then that a lawmaker may have conveyed that erroneous assumption to the PDN reporter.
But that is not the only misleading information in an article fraught with errors that defy reasonable justification, other than it is another example of the manipulation of truth and fact that the PDN continues to exert in order to drive its undisclosed agenda.
While Pieper claims PBS Guam management has not seen the episodes in question, saying all they viewed was a trailer, Guamblog sources at the agency say that is not an accurate statement.
"Kathy (Gogue) and Baltazar Aguon previewed a considerable portion of the first three episodes right in her office," said the Committee. "And that was before there was even a trailer, so I don’t know what the PDN is trying to pull by saying that!"
The PDN story further claimed Cara Mays, president of the Duk Duk Goose board started the Nihi project over a year ago with a $5,000 grant that she received from CAHA.
The truth, however, is another matter. Mays and her colleagues had already begun the labor to bring Nihi to fruition BEFORE they received any help from CAHA to produce two 1- to 2-minute segments for a pilot episode.
Additionally, the remiss reporting alleged that Mays had “received money from the Guam Preservation Trust to help get the (Nihi) project off the ground.”
Individuals familiar with the project for Guam Preservation Trust mocked the PDN claim, noting that the money Pieper referenced, "was certainly not for Nihi or to get it started. It was for a program about the Lujan House in Hagåtña. Funny he (Pieper) would even say that. The PDN wrote about the Lujan project and they knew about our plans to create a show about the historic property," the Committee told Guamblog.
Other messages received pointed to efforts by a "major television station" to forestall the Nihi programs because, "they want to do a children’s program and want to be the first."
While another reason given for the unusual opposition suggested that, "Mike L. (Limtiaco) had proposed a bill that sought to appropriate $200,000 from the TAF for a business incubator program at the airport. But, the airport and GVB opposed and so he’s upset with Tina for not bringing it forward," the email said before adding, "He is just worried that funding NIHI! will take away his potential to reintroduce the measure and use this same funding source."
Other cultural groups have benefited from legislative action to help them get off the ground and stay afloat. None received the opposition that this nonprofit effort has received.
It all smelled funky to me. I had no idea who was behind this effort or who opposed it, until Guamblog put up a timeline cover on Facebook - and people came out of the woodworks to justify their position against the bill to fund Duk Duk Goose.
They should have stayed away from me. It only got my interest in this roused and well…I’m just glad that through the madness and carnival of corruption on full display Nihi! made it through.
As for those whose schemes may have been exposed…well, even I know what ‘duk duk’ means.