Letter to Marianas Variety 12/23/11

from:     Tim Rohr timrohr.guam@gmail.com
to:     editor@mvguam.com
date:     Fri, Dec 23, 2011 at 7:03 AM
subject:     An inquiry
mailed-by:     gmail.com

Good Morning Jon, (Jon Anderson - Editor)

With Christmas so close I really would prefer to be thinking of other things, but as you are probably aware, since 11/9 I have taken Senator Cruz continuously to task for what I believe was an intentional attempt to mislead the public on Bill 323.

I suppose with the passage of the bill you might wonder why I'm still addressing this. But this isn't about Bill 323. This is about legislative transparency and the right of the people of Guam to expect honesty from their elected officials. It is also, though, about journalistic integrity.

As you are probably aware from my copy to you, I sent a letter to PDN Managing Editor, David Crisostomo about reporter Erin Thompson's incorrect analysis of 19GCA, Ch.1. There were 3 problems:
  1. The provision she references was in Chapter 1, not 10 as was printed.
  2. She was DEAD WRONG in her analysis: she cites no source so the reader is left to assume it is her own.
  3. Interpreting the law, especially on issues that are of grave concern to the public, is not the job of the reporter.

As you may be aware by now, this provision only gives minors the right to disaffirm a contract with an abortion provider. It DOES NOT require parental consent for abortion. Senator Cruz was DEAD WRONG to agree with her, and so was Senator Rodriguez.

On 11/9, the Variety also carried the Bill 323 story and reporter, Janela Carrera makes the same error but in a different way. She correctly cites the statute, but by placing it in the context of Bill 323, she infers that Bill 323 is redundant legislation. The difference is that Carrera semi covers herself by citing the law directly, even if it is not applicable to the bill, and the PDN reporter paraphrases it so it appears as an interpretation. Also, Carrera does not cite the title and chapter of the statute and the PDN does, and does so incorrectly.

Also the PDN repeated the error on 12/19 in the middle of the legislative session and the discussion regarding Bill 323. So I decided to send a letter to David Crisostomo about the error and seeing to it that the record was corrected. Apparently, Mr. Crisostomo has only printed a correction about the citing of the incorrect chapter. He has, however, asked the reporter who wrote the two stories to interview Attorney Shane Intihar regarding the incorrect interpretation of the law which the PDN printed twice. We will see what comes of that.

However, the most amazing part of this story is not the questionable journalism but Senator Cruz' admission that he had "no prior knowledge" of 19 GCA, Sec. 1111, and that he only learned about it from the PDN reporter.

On Ray Gibson's show Wednesday morning, Senator Cruz says:

"...after the hearing the reporter called me and asked me about that provision in the law. It wasn’t something that I was aware of prior. She had called me...She had done the research and she was the one that called me and I said yah, that’s probably right....
I tried to call in, but couldn't get on, so I called early the next day and said to Ray, the following:

"As per your conversation with Senator Cruz yesterday, I want to be sure that he wants us to believe that as a sitting senator, an attorney, as a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Guam, and as a family court judge who presided over years of cases involving minors, that he was not aware of the provision in the law relative to the medical care of minors in regards to abortion, because on your show yesterday, he claims that he “had no prior knowledge” of the law and that it was the reporter from the PDN who had researched the law and called him after the public hearing for Bill 323  to inform him about it."

The obvious implication is that we have a former judge who presided over years of cases involving minors admitting that he had no prior knowledge of the Guam law relative to the rights of minors in regard to medical treatment. This would certainly cast a new light on every case he ever heard in which this was at issue.

I also went on to say:

Since he said he called the reporter from the PDN to apologize because he didn’t want to be accused of "stealing her intellectual property" in quoting her legal analysis of 19 GCA, sec. 1111, did he also call Janela Carrera at the Marianas Variety and apologize as well because Ms. Carrera came up with the exact same legal analysis at the same time and printed it on the same day, and in fact Senator Cruz referenced both articles by both reporters on your show on 11/9.

In short, it is apparent to me, that Senator Cruz, hoped to quickly dispatch Bill 323 to the dustbin under the guise of redundant and unnecessary legislation. That didn't happen, and for only one reason. We have incessantly gone after Cruz and his "error", an "error" that he continually repeats in an effort to cover his initial scheme, and an error that remains, at this point, on the record, certainly in the PDN, and perhaps in the Variety as well.

Thus, my main concern in writing you is to ask whether or not the MV story by Janela Carrera of 11/9 should be corrected. Again, because of how Ms. Carrera positions the citation it 1) does not make it seem like she is interpreting the law for herself as does the PDN reporter, but 2) the citation in the context of the intent of Bill 323 is incorrect. Despite Rodriguez' later incorrect confirmation of incorrect understanding of the statute, it still appears that the MV reporter has inferred that there is already preexisting legislation requiring what Bill 323 would require.

For your reference, everything I have referenced above is documented and linked at www.GuamOpenGovernment.org

Thank you for your consideration of my inquiry and Merry Christmas,

Timothy Rohr,
Jan 3, 2012, 7:34 PM
Timothy Rohr,
Jan 3, 2012, 7:34 PM