The Governor’s fiscal team is inviting all of you to Adelup next week (venue & time and date TBD) for a comprehensive presentation on the people’s money. The directors and deputy directors of the Department of Administration, the Governor’s budget and management research bureau, RevTax, and GEDA will personally answer any questions you may have. This will be the first in what will be regular opportunities for the media to sit down with the fiscal team to ask away about government finances and get the answers you need.
What prompted this? Stories of fiscal unicorns
The administration came across Saturday’s Pacific Daily News article on tax refunds. The article is filled with so many inaccuracies that it has revised the history of tax refunds.
We’ve been a bit busy from one project to the next and the unexpected issue in between. Many times that has meant that when Vice Speaker Cruz, or Sen. San Nicolas, or Sen. Underwood make some claim or accusation of fiscal management against the administration, we don’t always have the time to be distracted by such silliness, especially since we personally know that what they’re saying is unbelievable. But little by little, every time we brush off these claims on social media or a Shawn Raymundo story about fiscal unicorns, these tidbits of untruths turn into a tidal wave of perception that allows a newsroom to change history altogether.
From raiding newsrooms to encouraging transparency
In the past two administrations, those of you who had to work with them knew that their response to news stories they didn’t like was to ban entire news organizations, issue gag orders, punish employees for speaking up, and even use the police to raid a newsroom! Not only have we refused to do any of these things, it is antithetical to what we try to represent from the Governor’s Office. As a matter of fact, the very first directive from the Governor’s Office to the employees of the administration eliminated all existing gag orders, admonished any officer from using fear tactics against employees, encouraged opinion and discussion. We don’t always get it right, and we can certainly do things better, but the difference between then and now is night and day.
Choosing to withhold or to just let it all out
Despite the abuse of power by the PDN against the administration, we will not reverse course. We’ve come to the realization that of all the news organizations on this island, the one that has received the MOST information from the government is the PDN. The solution isn’t to withhold information and become less transparent. The solution is to make sure we provide even more information. And since the PDN has a penchant for picking and choosing information in order to fit whatever agenda it has, the biggest part of this solution is to make sure that the other three major news organizations have this same information.
What recourse do we have?
In our system of government, the media is entrusted with the necessary and time-honored duty to monitor the government and to inform the people of its activities, not just promoting transparency but preventing its officers from suppressing the rights of citizens. Over the decades, I’m sure you’ve heard government officers in the past ask, ‘But who monitors the media?’ That is NOT a question we in the Calvo Tenorio administration ponder. We are under no illusions. The constitutional right of a free press is absolute and meant to protect the people.
- But what happens, when an entire news organization — instead of reporting facts — begins changing facts and choosing words to fit a different context?
- What happens when a person’s words are used in ways that don’t tell the whole story?
- Worse, what happens when this newsroom has abused the awesome power it has so as to rewrite history in order to achieve some agenda incompatible with the search for truth?
The answer is simple. We give the truth to all the other news organizations, and the social media outlets we’re on, too.