$2.7 MILLION GUAM CONTRACT UNDER SUSPICION

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Award to member of governor’s campaign committee

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Aug. 3, 2011) - The governor's office intends to award a contract worth up to US$2.7 million to a business owned by a legal counsel for Gov. Eddie Calvo and Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio's gubernatorial campaign.

A business entity owned by Tom Fisher, who also is a former law firm partner with Tenorio's wife, has been chosen to run the Guam Medical Referral office, according to a proposed contract that has been signed by governor's Chief of Staff Franklin Arriola.The contract is awaiting signatures from Calvo and Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas, but it has been approved by John Rios, the acting director of the Bureau of Budget and Management Research.

GovGuam's intention to hire Fisher's business has prompted a letter of protest from a former medical referral office director, who said yesterday that the procurement choice leaves "room for suspicion."

The governor's office didn't comment on the proposed contract earlier this week, but spokesman Troy Torres said last night that Fisher's business was selected because it offered the lowest bid amount and is the most qualified bidder.

"The chief of staff signed the contract, but it is still an ongoing procurement matter," Torres said. "The governor has not yet signed the contract. We do know that Fisher and Associates was the lowest bidder. That's to put to rest any concern."

The government of Guam hires a contractor to run its medical referral offices in Manila, Hawaii and Los Angeles to help local residents who must leave island to seek medical attention. The offices help arrange lodging and transportation, among other services.

According to a Bureau of Budget and Management Research memo, the proposed contract is for one year, with a possible extension of four more years, each year costing US$540,000.

That breaks down to:

Before the new administration took office, Fisher provided legal representation to the Calvo-Tenorio campaign, including attending regular Guam Election Commission meetings and making statements to local journalists. Fisher also helped the campaign file a Federal Communications Commission complaint against Marianas Media Investors.

Until recently, Fisher's law firm was Shimizu, Canto and Fisher, which has since disbanded. His law partners were Naoko Shimizu, who is the lieutenant governor's wife, and James Canto, who became legal counsel for the governor's office.

Calvo recently nominated Canto to become a Superior Court of Guam judge, but the attorney hasn't been confirmed in the Legislature.

Fisher could not immediately be reached for comment.

The intention to hire Fisher has prompted a protest from Peter Alexcis Ada, who ran the referral office under the administration of former Gov. Felix Camacho.

Yesterday, Ada sent a letter of protest to the General Services Administration, which handles GovGuam procurement, alleging that his bid price was "jeopardized and tampered with."

Ada wrote in his letter that, during a visit to GSA, he noticed that his bid envelope was opened. It should have remained sealed because his bid was rejected before it reached the phase to open the bid amount, according to Ada. In a statement yesterday, Ada said he wasn't a "sore loser," but his protest is "based on principles."

"I find it very difficult to comprehend that my program design is unacceptable," Ada said. That just tells me that the Review Panel Team already had their minds set in stone. The best thing to do is get rid of those with experience. Just rate those we don't want below acceptable and it's covered. Their rating just leaves lots or room for suspicion."

Two calls to chief procurement officer Claudia Acfalle weren't returned yesterday.

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