Pacific Daily News

HAGATNA, Guam (Dec. 15) - Governor Felix Camacho plans to soon sign an executive order that circumvents local law by making December 24 and December 31 government holidays.

Speaker Ben Pangelinan sent a letter asking for the executive order a little earlier this month, though the Camacho administration said the executive orders were planned before the letter was received.

This move is all about political appeasement for government employees only at the expense of all taxpayers. It also is a deliberate choice to ignore, and thus invalidate, a sensible cost-cutting measure.

The law was passed in December 2002. It reduced the number of government of Guam holidays from 16 to 10. The statute also eliminated three-day holidays if a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday. The law was passed as a money savings measure, as paying employees to work on holidays costs the government about $450,000 extra per holiday.

Pangelinan’s rationale for restoring the two holidays was to give "hard working government of Guam employees who work throughout the year" a day off to "prepare for the celebration the following day."

So what happens when Christmas and New Year's Day fall on Sundays, as they will in 2005? Will the Legislature ask the governor to make the following Mondays holidays so that government of Guam workers have a day to recuperate from the celebrations of the previous day?

Also, the governor’s office needs to explain where it is going to find the $900,000 that the executive order will cost taxpayers. Will Camacho be taking the money away from an agency? Will a program be forced to end early to cover the cost? Or perhaps Camacho will cut into, or revoke entirely, some of the raises given to his staff members, many of which were in the $10,000 range.

Also, what other laws do senators and the governor think should be ignored or broken because they are inconvenient, politically or otherwise?

The executive order is just plain wrong. It’s a step backward in fiscal responsibility, and sends the message that it’s OK to flout the law if it's done in the interest of political appeasement.

December 16, 2004

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