Our government’s services for public safety and education are insufficient | Featured Columnists


Has the government in the continental United States and here in Guam changed in the last 15-30 years?

The very short answer is a resounding YES! Not for the better, I might add.

It has become bigger, more expensive and less responsive to citizens’ needs in far too many areas. Government services in critical areas that revolve around the safety of our children and our citizens, as well as the continued education of our children and our citizens, have been insufficient.

Our education and public safety systems have been very slow but consistently failing in far too many areas. Public education – from elementary school to advanced college – lacks quality and costs much more than in the past.

Remember when the federal government stopped financially supporting our local school system and created its own Department of Defense education activity for the children of military families in Guam?

This is due primarily to the failure of our local government officials – elected and appointed – to ensure the safety, efficiency and proper education and functioning of the public school system.

Far too many residents have been forced to seek safer and more efficient private schools that are efficiently run for their children, while continuing to spend millions of tax dollars on a failing public education system.

Over the past few years, we have witnessed repeated openly aggressive behavior within our public school system from students, teachers and parents.

While government officials have failed to provide proper safety and education in our public school system, they are failing in far too many other areas as well.

Take for example the recent episodes of shootings and machete attacks in Paseo de Susana that have been recorded and shared.

In reality, this is not something new; these problems have intensified in our small island community.

It’s just the fact that technology has made it possible for someone to catch the actions of these bad actors on a recording and share it with the world.

Over the years, we have had many examples of citizens expressing their frustrations or illusions in our small island community as well as in our school zones.

While we remain separated from the continental United States by thousands of miles and trillions of gallons of salt water, television and the Internet have brought us right next to all this senseless, irresponsible, and insufficiently punished behavior.

It reminds me of the most recent violence in the Americas which, by the way, I think should be treated more like suicides by all news agencies.

IMHO this would significantly reduce the number of copying incidents.

Are we really prepared for such behavior in Guam? My categorical answer is NO.

To quote a well-respected warrior brother of the Marines, Jim Reifinger, a retired law enforcement officer, “Columbine arrived 23 years ago. There’s no reason every police vehicle in America (detectives, warrants, narcs, supervisors) shouldn’t have good breaching tools, an individual ballistic shield, a bag full of tourniquets, chest seals and a quick clot and the training to go with everything readily available. Without reason.”

As he continued, “This intangible courage…was once required. The cowards were fired before returning to the police station. Nobody wants a coward to show up… when they call a cop. School Resource Officers must be stallions, not geldings. The direct threat was common sense long before Columbine. Everything else is BS.

As George Santayana said in his book Soliloquies in England, published in 1924, “Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it”.

This thinking really needs to be in place in Guam before it’s too late.

If we don’t elect candidates for public office who truly care more about our community than their egos, their power, their easy money – coupled with re-election – we are doomed to the same fate as our brothers and sisters. from the continent.


Lee P. Webber is a former president and editor of media organizations in Guam and Hawaii, former chief operating officer for USA Today International/Asia, and a longtime business and civic leader in Guam.


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