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Back Island Stir Calvo fires a broadside

Calvo fires a broadside

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GOV. Eddie Calvo was in a fighting mood during his State of the Island address last Tuesday.

Speeches of this kind usually don’t contain any direct political barbs, but you can tell this is a political year by the number of broadsides Calvo fired off against the Democrats.

The governor wasted no time socking it to the Legislature when he started his address with the successful distribution of the long-delayed tax refunds. This, of course, was the subject of Calvo’s biggest battle with the Democrats last year.

“You only allowed $198 million to be paid in December, leaving a balance, and another $100 million owed for this year’s refunds,” Calvo chided the senators.

Calvo also blamed some members of the Legislature for the stalled military buildup, which according to Japanese reports will now be spread out to other parts of the Pacific.

The governor lamented that the Marines received “mixed” signals resulting in a buildup that’s been stalled by a “federal budget predator” who preyed on the perceived division within the government of Guam.

“Senators, how do you expect the Defense Department to react when some alluded to Marines as rapists? Or when another told the descendants of our liberators to take their buildup somewhere else? You wanted me to empanel the Guam First Commission so this island could speak with one voice, yet fringe elements of this very body are the ones sending mixed signals to Washington,” the governor thundered.

Calvo did praise Democratic leaders Judi Guthertz and Madeleine Bordallo for advocating the buildup.

In fact, Calvo did a lot of praising that night. Probably mindful that 2012 is an election year, Calvo doled out praises to a number of Republican senators. First, Sen. Tony Ada, then Aline Yamashita, then Chris Duenas ... obviously Calvo was looking towards the November senatorial election. His praise of the GOP senators sounded like political endorsements no less.

Employing a “divide and rule” strategy, the governor also heaped praise on Democratic senators who he probably perceives as more accommodating to his policies. These Democrat leaders included Sens. Guthertz, Adolpho Palacios, BJ Cruz, and of course, Dennis Rodriguez Jr., whom Adelup already counts as a GOP senator.

But the governor reserved his biggest salvos for the Guam Federation of Teachers union, which is one of the major bases of the Democrats on Guam. Calvo may have figured, hurt the GFT, and you hurt the Democratic Party as a whole.

In what he described as “a little secret” that was conveniently kept from the public, Calvo charged that the ultimate decision to close F.Q. Sanchez Elementary hinged on the union, which had a nurse at the school making a whopping $90,000 a year and four teachers who made a total of $300,000 a year.

“The board said if that high-paid nurse could be moved to an overcrowded school, and the teachers were switched out, then the school could remain open. The union never agreed, so it couldn’t happen. Imagine that. The real decision makers on the closure of a public school were not the people you elected to public office, but a handful of power brokers,” Calvo said.

He then urged the school board to get rid of the current GFT contract “that only vests power in a select few union bosses who care little to nothing for the future of Guam’s children.”

GFT has since responded, saying the governor has “finally come out of the closet.”

“He was waging war on us, but he would usually use the school board. But this is good because everybody now knows his true colors,” GFT President Matt Rector said.

All in all, the governor’s State of the Island address took almost two hours to finish. It was certainly one of the longest State of the Island addresses in recent memory.

And in a departure from the past, the governor’s speech was held in the evening instead of the morning, as was the usual practice of the earlier administration.

Clearly, the media-savvy Calvo wants to maximize his exposure to the public. And since his family owns more than half of the cable TV business on Guam, prime time Eddie can pretty much do anything he wants.

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