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Mayors need to be more transparent about Guam Liberation Carnival finances

Pacific Daily News , news@guampdn.com
Published 4:28 p.m. ChT May 22, 2017 | Updated 25 minutes ago

Mayors and the Guam Liberation Historical Society need to be much more open and transparent about Liberation finances, particularly the money made by gambling at the carnival.

Sinajana Mayor Robert Hofmann, who’s also the chairman of the Guam Liberation Historical Society, last week said: “The removal of the gaming component would impact (Liberation) festivities and most likely cancel the parade, events, fireworks and carnival.”

He said gambling is the primary funding source for Liberation activities. Concessions, including gambling, make up 85 percent of total revenue. He estimated that last year, gambling brought in an estimated $450,000.

Estimates just aren’t good enough. The public needs to know exactly what vendors are paying for the right to run the various gambling games and casino. Mayors also need to let the public know how much revenue the gambling vendors are raking in. The carnival is a public event held on public land run by public officials — there needs to be a much greater degree of transparency.

And mayors need to reinstate the vendor bid process. Mayors recently waived vendor bids too keep vendors at the carnival, according to Paul McDonald, mayor of Agana Heights and president of the Mayors’ Council.

But the lack of vendor bids is disconcerting. What if new vendors are interested in the carnival? How are they supposed to get a chance to run a food concession or game booth if they don’t have the opportunity to bid?

The lack of bids also raises the specter of possible impropriety and conflicts of interest. If the public doesn’t know who is paying for what at the carnival, it raises the question of whether there was some special deal made with a mayor or mayors, or if favoritism or nepotism is a factor.

Mayors must reinstitute bids for the carnival, and be more open with the public about Liberation finances.

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