The talk of the town this week was the recently passed Bill 52 -- or “The Women’s Reproductive Health Act” – which will require that information on alternatives be provided to pregnant woman who are considering terminating their pregnancy.
Any legislation concerning abortion is bound to be controversial and Bill 52 was no exception. During the special session called for the measure, our lawmakers made impassioned speeches expressing their stands on the bill. Several senators even became emotional and shed tears during the session. And serving as a dramatic backdrop were the anti-abortion protesters who lit candles anytime somebody said anything opposed to the bill. In the end, Bill 52 passed, 11 to 4.
Although Bill 52 was controversial in itself, part of the buzz was about the senator who resurrected the bill from the doldrums --- Democratic senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr.
The legislation was actually a pet measure of Gov. Edde Baza Calvo. It was railroaded by the Democrat-controlled Legislature when it was first introduced more than a year ago.
Thus, quite a number of people were shocked when a Democrat lawmaker was the one who helped bring the bill back to life.
Almost immediately, whispers arose about the political horse-trading that allegedly took place between Adelup and the camp of Rodriguez to get the bill re-introduced and passed.
The lawmaker’s family, so the whispers say, allegedly owes the Calvo administration a big favor which Adelup can take advantage of.
Conspiracy theorists say the fact that Rodriguez belongs to the opposing political party increases the lawmaker’s value to Adelup when it comes to counting votes in the Legislature.
“Rodriguez is Adelup's Trojan horse in the Democratic Party. They don't want him to become a turncoat and join the GOP because he is more valuable to Adelup where he is right now,” one conspiracy theorist hissed.
Rodriguez, of course, has always been rumored to be close to the administration, which is why these conspiracy theories about his family started in the first place. Both Adelup and the Republicans in the Legislature would surely be delirious if Rodriguez joins their ranks.
And why not? Rodriguez is the most promising of the new crop of senators in the Legislature and his stature continues to grow. For a newbie lawmaker, he has accomplished more than some of the oldtimers in the Legislature and if the latest surveys are to be believed, Rodriguez would definitely place high in the rankings this November. This is the reason why I don't believe the speculations that Rodriguez took instructions from Adelup on Bill 52. The man is intelligent enough to know that those conspiracy theories about his family's ties to Adelup are out there. The last thing he needs now is to validate the rumor that he is being remotely controlled by the puppet masters in Adelup because that would be the end of his burgeoning political career.
No, I think Rodriguez acted the way he did simply because he truly believes in Bill 52. There was a telling moment, towards the end of the special session, when Rodriguez acknowledged that the legislation had stirred emotions throughout the island and caused divisiveness.
Then he said: “Bill 52 does not take away women's right to choose, it just gives them the information to make a decision. With the passage of this bill the community can heal. And with the passage of this bill, we can close this chapter, because it has been going on for too long.”
I think that was the real Dennis Rodriguez Jr. talking --- he sincerely believes in the bill.
Which is not to say that there was no politics involved in Bill 52. Many Democrats told Island Stir there was no particular reason why Adelup should call a special session on the bill.
But Governor Calvo also believes strongly in the bill and Adelup may have seen this as a chance to again hammer the Democrats who have been leading in the surveys.
In a statement after Wednesday's special session on Bill 52, Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo said: “Today’s session clearly demonstrated this bill had enough support to pass since it was introduced in January 2011. It also clearly shows that the power a select few senators have has been used to keep good bills from being voted on. It is a shame it took executive authority to force a vote on this bill.”
Ahhh Guam politics, you gotta love it.
Madeleine's Biden moment
The Rodriguez rumors were not the only ones stirring up the island's political cauldron as people are still talking about that memorable debate between Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo and Republican challenger Frank Blas Jr. hosted by the Guam Medical Association.
The usually calm and elegant Bordallo, probably taking a page from President Barack Obama's recent debate playbook, came out swinging during the debate and wasted no time in attacking her Republican opponent.
“I’m here to set the record straight. You’ve riled up the mama bear in me. You aren’t allowed to go around inventing your own facts,” Madeleine thundered in her opening remarks to the delight of the pro-Bordallo spectators.
But the most interesting part of the debate (some say the most politically intriguing) came when the issue of the military buildup came up and Bordallo said: "I've had quite a few obstacles from leaders here on Guam when it came to the military buildup. Now everybody is changing their mind. They're all very supportive."
Back in the audience, many people gasped. Was Maddy referring to the Democrats, specifically the so-called Fab Five, who were perceived to be blocking the buildup?
The following day, Bordallo's office quickly attempted damage control. It issued a hasty press release attempting to smooth ruffled feathers and explain away Bordallo's comment as just “a Biden moment,” referring to Vice President Joe Biden's penchant for making political gaffes.
“I did not intend to imply that local leaders were an obstacle to the buildup,” Bordallo stressed in the press release. But I wonder if Bordallo was expressing her real sentiments during the debate. Maybe Madeleine's frustrations with some of her Democratic colleagues just involuntarily came out.