JMI says public auditor overlooked key issue: unlicensed contractor doing business with Guam airport
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Why does a government entity engage in business with an off-island company that operates without a proper license?
JMI Edison Inc. said this question has been left on the periphery when the Office of Public Accountability tossed out the company's protest against Guam International Airport Authority over a procurement contract for cargo management service.
JMI said it will seek a judicial review of the OPA's decision, arguing that Public Auditor Benjamin Cruz ignored due process when he dismissed the challenge against the airport authority’s award of the cargo service contract to Menzies Aviation, which is allegedly not duly licensed.
“Our elected public auditor rendered his judgment based upon his false perception of impropriety, and not based on the facts and evidence,” JMI said.
Cruz last week dismissed JMI’s appeal, rebuking the company for submitting a document which he said was obtained through a “bro connection” with the Guam Contractors Licensing Board.
The public auditor was referring to an order issued by Cecil Orsini, then executive director of the licensing board, declaring that Menzies was not properly licensed.
Orsini has since stepped down as head of the board as a result of the controversy.
JMI disagreed with Cruz’s decision, saying it invalidated the actions of another agency that had nothing to do with procurement or audits.
“Process matters and the result of his choice is allowing an unlicensed billion- dollar off-island company to profit from Guam's taxpayers and airport customers,” the statement said.
“Due process requires the taking of evidence at a hearing and following established precedent, procedures, and protocol. Due process requires that the agencies of government follow their statutory roles, and provide those who have had allegations raised about them with a meaningful opportunity to be heard,” JMI said.
The company also disagreed with the OPA’s argument that the CLB director needed four board votes to issue a letter detailing the agency's "findings and decision."
“That is contrary to what the law says, and the OPA ignored that,” JMI said. “After the citation is issued, an appeal may be brought before the board. Rather than let the process play out, the OPA has acted impulsively, and confused the process for removing a contractor's existing license with the process of dealing with unlicensed contractors.”
JMI described as “extremely myopic” the OPA's position that the CLB board must approve every action taken by its executive director.
“It would grindGuam's construction industry to a halt,” JMI said. “It ignores the clear guidance from the board codified in Guam's regulations that its executive director and those who work for the board must stay focused on ‘affording to the public of an effective and practical protection against the incompetent, inexperienced, unlawful and unfair practices of contractors with whom they may contract.’”