GUAM AIRPORT’S PRICEY DISPLAY RAISES EYEBROWS

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GUAM AIRPORT’S PRICEY DISPLAY RAISES EYEBROWS

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Aug. 6) - In the Guam
international airport terminal, people casually pass by a small floor display
designed to look like an island landscape.

Not everyone who walks by stops in awe at the decoration, which
includes several fake palms, an artificial carabao and water fountain-shaped
electronic gadgets meant to recite excerpts of Guam's history.

But an audit report released yesterday might draw it more
attention -- not for its looks, but for its price tag.

The Office of the Public Auditor report says that the display,
dubbed "Mama Bear Theme Park,'' cost $1,049,307.

The $1 million expense was mentioned briefly as a footnote in a
summary of the report yesterday because the spending was outside of the scope of
the audit, which covered the Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport
Authority's fiscal 2002 finances.

The expense for the Mama Bear project was incurred in fiscal
2001, although it was, according to the auditor's office, ''uncovered'' in the
course of a financial health check on the airport's 2002 finances.

It was unclear as of press time how the project got its name.
Mama Bear was one of a series of expenditures incurred by the previous
management of the Guam International Airport Authority. The airport's former
executive manager, Gerald Yingling, declined to comment on the audit report
because he said he hasn't seen it.

Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks reported that during the
fiscal year that ended September 2002, the airport agency under Yingling
incurred a loss of $9.8 million and that the losses can be partly attributed to
expenses not directly related to airport operations.

Brooks characterized this kind of expenditure under the previous
administration as "the poster boy of government abuse of power" and
expressed concern that legal action has yet to be taken.

"My concern is, I am dismayed that there hasn't been
indictments made in this area, although the wheels of justice turn slowly,'' she
said.

Local and federal authorities are investigating the airport's
past spending, according to Brooks.

Airport Executive Manager Bill Thompson said as his agency
looked further into the previous airport management's past spending, more items
came up.

"It was like peeling an onion,'' he said. "The more we
peeled, the more we found.''

Thompson said the airport agency's bond creditors recognize that
the new airport leadership has refocused and regrouped into a fiscally
responsible agency. The airport agency has outlined a host of cost-cutting
measures and safeguards against runaway spending.

The public auditor said her office also has been told by the new
airport management that past spending patterns are not being repeated.

August 6, 2003

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com 

 

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