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Governor: Ypao Point proposal caters only to special interest groups


By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Proponents of the Ypao Point site for a new Guam hospital will need to sway at least two senators to switch sides and vote to override the governor's veto of Bill 185-35. Otherwise, the Tamuning option might be off the table.

Lou Leon Guerrero

"Why wouldn't we want to raise the standard of living for residents who live outside of Tamuning?" Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero asked, nixing Sen. Chris Barnett's bill that would keep the medical district in the same village.

Bill 185-37 passed the legislature on an 8-7 vote. The legislature needs 10 votes to override the veto.

The governor said Tamuning has been the center of economic development for over 60 years since Guam Memorial Hospital was built in the village.

"Because it has served as the location for our hospital for so long, businesses that service the hospital have also sprung up around it," the governor noted in her veto message.

"It is incomprehensible to me that any elected public official would be so

 easily swayed by people with clear financial interests in keeping the hospital in Tamuning, to a degree they are telling our people that we should downsize our dreams, that we should accept less for our families so that a select few people, who are already well-resourced and politically influential, can have more, and be less inconvenienced," she added.

The governor has been pushing for the Eda Agaga site in Mangilao since the failed deal on Eagles Field. She plans to build a medical complex that would include other services such as a Veterans Clinic, public health and behavioral health.

"There is an opportunity here to stimulate growth in this area through the development of small businesses, clinics, and housing for visiting doctors. To me, incidentally raising the availability and quality of government services in an underserved village is an argument in favor of Eda Agaga," the governor said.

"Why shouldn't we allocate government resources and services to other central villages?" she added.

Barnett, however, argues that it would be more practical to work on the existing structure sitting on Ypao Point, which is being endorsed by the medical sector.

"We are building a public hospital for the island that will outlast our terms as leaders and the private practices of doctors pushing for Bill 185-37's enactment," Leon Guerrero said. "And yet Bill 185-37 is so obviously tailored to cater to these specific people, it might as well order construction of a tunnel from the hospital to their property."

Being a former resident of Tamuning, Leon Guerrero said, she has benefitted from the hospital's current location.

"Before I was elected governor, I lived near the hospital for over 30 years, a home I intend to return to when my term is complete," said the governor, who currently lives in the official Governor's House in Agana Heights. "Constructing a hospital at Ypao Point will certainly enhance my property value, and give my family immediate access to the best healthcare available on our island."

The governor said signing Bill 185-37 into law would provide convenience for her and her family when they move back to their Tamuning home.


"But if my being slightly inconvenienced means more people on our island, especially those who live in areas with underdeveloped healthcare facilities, have easier access to our only public hospital, that is the path I will always choose," she said.

The governor lashed at critics who she said resort to social media jabs "for the sake of scoring cheap points."

"At some point, criticism, comedy and theatrics will not be enough. At some point, you will actually have to build something, and contribute something to the lives of our people," she said.

" Ultimately, as leaders, we will be judged by the progress we made on behalf of our community, not on the roadblocks we erected in their path," she added.



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