Webber: Closed-door meetings are breeding grounds for corruption
Updated: Sep 9, 2021
The Vigilance Committee is demanding transparency, reminding government officials that they are bound by Guam's open government law to conduct meetings in full view of the public.
"By not following laws that hold our government accountable and transparent, whether it is intentional or unintentional, government corruption grows deeper roots,” said Lee Webber, president of Vigilance Commiittee.
“Government corruption is never a one-time occurrence—it is a feature of a complex network of incentives and opportunities. The open government law and the Sunshine Act disrupt this complex network by demanding our people remain informed of the decisions made on their behalf by government officials.," he added.
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Last week, Webber wrote to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, calling her attention to "a substantial violation of the open government law," involving several government boards and commissions that held meetings in August and September without complying with Public Law 35-34, which requires full public access to proceedings.
PL 36-34, which was signed into law in June, mandates all government agencies to broadcast their meetings "via live streaming applications."
“Even in the midst of a pandemic, the Civil Service Commission was one of the few who complied with the provisions found in Public Law 36-34, further demonstrating their will to follow the law," Webber said.
He warned any decision made behind closed doors entails consequences that have "the potential to harm progress, invalidate contracts and waste government resources."
Webber reminded government officials of their offical duty to make full public disclosure of any deliberations at their meetings.
The open government law requires: publication of sufficient detail of agenda items nonexistent or insufficient (e.g. publication of a “link” to the “agenda” does not satisfy the requirements for public notices); information to view the broadcast of regular and special meetings; or compliance with the Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for effective communication for people with disabilities.
Additionally, government agencies are required to disclose the source of payment for government notices which must include a disclosure statement that the public notice, advertisement or message is paid for by government funds.