Governor Calvo praises GovGuam employees for their work in this week’s address to the people.

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AUDIO: Listen to the audio file by clicking here.
TEXT: The text of the address follows:
My thanks to GovGuam employees
By Eddie Baza Calvo
We were all treated to a healthy dose of ‘checks and balances’ during the “Informational Hearing” on the seaport authority a couple days ago. If you watched it on TV, a lot of information came out from many different people, and there were great revelations made. It was informational. The oversight committee ended up giving port employees and managers the opportunity to correct certain inaccuracies and innuendo.
But what I didn’t hear in that hearing was a resounding ‘thank you’ to the men and women of the port. Those employees have certainly been through moments in the media with controversy that comes up here and there; and, for the most part, management has set a course to clean up the mess caused by just a few. But by and large the men and women of the port are hard working people with a mission in mind: the sustainability of economic development on this island.
The informational hearing revealed that after four years since the master plan was completed, Port Modernization is actually happening. Also revealed was the fact that the current legal counsel costs the port just a small fraction of what the previous legal counsel cost. The managers who testified clearly had it together. They demonstrated their knowledge and command of their respective areas. And the challenges? All of them recognized; all of them being addressed. This despite a rather insulting gesture by the committee requiring classified employees to swear under oath, not at an oversight hearing, but an ‘informational’ one. I couldn’t help but think that was an assault on their integrity and credibility.
These things didn’t happen simply because Joanne Brown is an exceptional manager… or because the board of directors is committed to the success of that port and to doing what is right. The improvements we are seeing are due to the hard efforts of the employees of the port. From the workers on the docks to the accountants in the business office, these people make it through the grind each day with their sweat, blood, and tears to do what’s needed for Guam’s future.
The same can be said about the men and women of the Department of Revenue and Taxation. Recently the department came under some intense scrutiny for its inability to collect everything due in taxes. Deputy director Marie Benito tried to explain that not everything is so black-and-white. How do you collect from the deceased, whose estates are in probate? Or from people who are claiming errors in calculation, and have a right to due process? The reason a large sum shows up as uncollected is because of these issues or, because a balance rolls over from the previous year. That also gets collected, except for a small fraction. In the private or public sectors, you’ll never have 100-percent collection on receivables. Some people lose their jobs, their homes, or they pass on before they can pay their bills. These things happen.
Most of the balances would have gone unpaid if it weren’t for DRT employees. But, because of their efforts, taxes are collected. They are posted and recorded. This is how the majority of our government is funded. One thing glaringly missing from that hearing was thanks to the DRT employees. No one recognized that they processed nearly $400 million in tax refunds over the past two years, cleared thousands of business licenses, helped thousands more with a driver’s license or passport.
I can write books about what I’ve observed in most GovGuam employees in every single agency. The great majority of them work very hard and hardly ever get any praise. Sometimes the only thing they hear is criticism. That comes with the territory in public service; I understand that. But with intense scrutiny also comes an opportunity to recognize the positive things just as we take our lickings in hopes that constructive criticism will lead to reform and improvement. So, in case it wasn’t clear at these hearings, to the men and women of the port and DRT, and to the men and women of GovGuam who work hard, thank you.
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