Judge: Airport intentionally violated open government law | Local News

The Guam International Airport Authority provided false information to the court in a deliberate attempt to violate the island’s open government law, according to Guam Superior Court Judge Anita Sukola, who said that she was considering holding the airport in contempt of court.

She set a hearing date for June 27 to determine whether the airport should be tried for contempt.

Following: Airport authority owes DFS $ 2.9 million, company says

Following: Sealed meeting transcripts argued in DFS, airport business

In question, the transcripts of an executive session of the board of directors of the airport on April 26, 2018, which DFS Guam had requested as part of its protests against the supply against the airport. Under Guam law, transcripts of executive sessions of government become public documents six months after the meeting is held, according to the judge.

DFS, which challenged the airport’s 2012 decision to award its luxury goods concession to Lotte Duty Free, requested the executive session transcripts and tapes in November 2018, but the airport denied the request. .

The April 23 executive session is potentially important for the public procurement call, as the airport’s board of directors agreed in April 2018 to waive $ 175,000 of Lotte’s monthly rent for two years, documents show. judicial.

Compliance with the law on government transparency

Sukola said the airport filed a “misleading compliance report” that omitted the fact that the transcript of the April 26 executive session was not released more than six months after the meeting was held.

The airport did not have the transcript because the court reporter had not completed it, but Sukola said the airport should have told the court that the transcript had not been released. Instead, the airport said it was in compliance with the Open Government Act.

“This lack of frankness is concerning and suggests that the GIAA was using the delay in transcription to its advantage to avoid complying with (open government law),” Sukola wrote. “The court therefore concludes that the GIAA made a false statement to the court when it declared that it was in compliance with the (Open Government Law).”

In order to comply with the open government law and ensure that public policy is not decided in secret, agencies must ensure that textual transcripts of executive sessions are produced promptly, the judge said. The councils should not meet in executive session if the authorized court reporter does not cooperate with the requirement, she said.

“The court believes that such a strict rule is necessary to force compliance with (open government law),” she said.

The airport acted in “bad faith”

According to Sukola, the airport acted in “bad faith” because it did not press court reporter George Castro to complete and provide the transcript.

“A government agency acting in good faith would have repeatedly reminded the court reporter that the transcript was necessary,” she wrote, noting that the airport contacted Castro only once in the seven months. following the holding of the executive session.

“The court concludes that the GIAA’s lack of due diligence and openness was a deliberate strategy to avoid complying with (open government law),” she said. “The court will not allow the GIAA to act in bad faith while achieving its goal of keeping the transcript sealed.”

The “appropriate sanction” for violating the open government law is for the airport to provide the April 26 transcript, Sukola said.

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This article originally appeared on Pacific Daily News: Judge: Airport intentionally violated open government law

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