Lease for new Guam hospital hits another snag
By Gina Tabonares-Reilly
While the Guam legislature failed to override Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero's veto of a bill that would require legislative approval for the lease on the new hospital site, the project is facing another stumbling block.
The Navy has given the government of Guam until April 14 to sign the lease agreement for the project site but Attorney General Douglas Moylan said he is not inclined to sign the document because his office was involved in the transaction.
In a letter to Leon Guerrero, Moylan said the “The Guam 21st Century Healthcare Center Act of 2021” which authorizes the project "does not grant the
governor authority to enter into the lease."
"The act clearly provides that the lease-to-own option was to be constructed upon Government of Guam real property," Moylan wrote.
However, the pending lease provides for use of federal lands, and the return of federal lands in 50 to 75 years, along with the structures that will have been constructed by Guam’s taxpayers.
"The act further contains the statement that the hospital would be built upon
GovGuam property, and that this would be the manner in which the hospital would be constructed, especially when one considers that the Guam Legislature would need to fund any other hospital facility," Moylan said.
"The lease also conflicts with the legislative intent of the act in that the facility is not solely for use and control by the government of Guam," he added.
Under the lease terms, the U.S. government may use the medical facility once a “national emergency” is declared.
" This lease is contrary to existing Guam law in that the Lease allows for the new
hospital and medical campus to be taken from the People of Guam’s sole or partial use, to transfer that use to the Lessor’s sole use to the exclusion of the People of Guam based upon," Moylan said.
Leon Guerrero was not pleased with Moylan's arguments, saying he had an opportunity to get involved in the lease negotiation.
"From the start, we encouraged the attorney general to engage us on any legal concerns that may have emerged during his review process. Understanding that his office is understaffed and overwhelmed, we made additional support available to him," the governor said.
"Unfortunately, he did not avail himself of these resources. We are confident that, had he responded to our frequent requests for updates during his review, we could have resolved many of the issues raised in his ultimate reply," she added.
While the governor's office is reviewing the issues raised by the attorney general. the governor said, "none of the issues appear to constitute actual impediments to entering the lease."
However, she acknowledged that a legal remedy will be necessary to "effectuate the Organic Act mandate that the governor shall establish public health facilities, including hospitals, and the Supreme Court of Guam’s determination that the legislature has no place in negotiating lease agreements, which is necessarily an executive function."
"As for those who have opposed this lease from the start, no one should celebrate the increased likelihood that we will lose Eagles Field for a second time," the governor said. "Tragically, the only thing delayed today is a state-of-the-art hospital we all need. Yet not a single senator who opposed our plan has presented a solution of their own."