Marianas Variety Guam Edition – The Local and Regional Newspaper

12 23Fri04252014


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Three significant issues

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FOR the last several months, we have looked closely at the topic of medical marijuana. We did still another poll last week, and the public support remains strong with at least 60 percent of voters supporting it. In our last poll, we also asked voters if they wanted the legislature to approve this idea or should the public approve it at election time. Again, three out of five voters would prefer for voters, not the Guam Legislature, to approve it. I was surprised by this, but it does indicate that the public has a value for approving ideas at election time.

When the Guam Election Commission rejected the legislative request to put medical marijuana on the ballot, the legislature responded by going to court. There are other political methods the legislature could use to avoid the courts and it is a Guam political reality that leaders are addicted to turning to the courts to solve problems. In the end, I believe that medical marijuana will pass, but how it will be approved or when it will be approved is still up in the air. The final word will likely rest with the federal government regarding whether the Guam Organic Act allows medical marijuana.

On other fronts, there is an important point to be made about political parties. In the Guam Organic Act, there is a provision in the bill of rights section that provides for freedom of association. Political parties and their members are covered under this concept. But there is a caveat, just because a person claims membership does not mean they are a member. Political parties do not have to accept members or allow anyone off the street to run as a candidate under their banner. Every community in the United States has its share of political clowns or persons who pretend to participate in the election circus. At the primary or party election stage, candidates from the party participate and vie for seats for the general election. A person running under a party banner needs to be an approved or endorsed member. These persons should also have been active members of the political party according to the requirements of the party. While any clown might stumble into the circus and pretend to participate, it is not likely they are really running for anything other than attention.

Finally, in late March, Sen. Respicio worked with his colleagues at the Guam Legislature to establish the Guam Legislative Freedom of Information Advisory Council by Legislative Resolution 330-32. This council was established because of concerns that FOIA requests and open government concerns were not being complied with. Before this council was established, a person had to hire a lawyer and go to court to have their concern looked at. Under this concept, a panel composed of mostly citizens will look at questions posed to it and will offer advisory opinions. The council will also assist the legislature in updating laws related to various local Sunshine provisions. In general, I think this council was needed and will be able to serve the public well. There are many aspects to these freedom-of-information and open-government concerns. In general, many agencies could simply post most of their official information points on a regular basis and this would reduce the need for FOIA requests. Also, government agencies need to be made more aware of the open-government provisions.

During this past Easter weekend, a lot of families and friends gathered and politics was a common topic of conversation. The next major holiday will be Memorial Day, so we will know more within a month.

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