The Hearing: Quinata, Public Safety Committee resume Ishizaki confirmation talks
by Ken Wetmore, KUAM News
Just after 9:15am Thursday the continued confirmation hearing of acting chief of the Guam Police Department Frank Ishizaki began. Everything leading up to the hearing has been contentious, but Senator John Quinata, chairman of the legislative Committee on Safety, promised to keep the hearing from being confrontational and in an opening statement complemented the acting chief.
He announced, "It's clear with what you've done that you've done considerable reforms at GPD and I'm pleased with those accomplishments over the last several months, Frank."
The oversight chair also congratulated Ishizaki for the respect he has inspired from GPD's rank and file. While Quinata said the acting chief Ishizaki did not need to make the PowerPoint presentation made to the media last week outlining the acting chief's explanation for the findings of his polygraph test, Republican senator Robert Klitzkie asked the chief to make the presentation again. In the slide decks, Ishizaki outlined why he felt polygrapher Edward Clarke's report was unfair and biased, he says he believes Clarke was offended when at one point during the examination he told Clarke he thought polygraph tests were "hocus-pocus voodoo magic" and says he feels Clarke skewed the report.
After making his presentation and his explanation to some of the items in the report that have caused concern, such as alleged falsification of overtime, stealing a pen from a friend and supplies from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (among other things), Senator Klitzkie declared he was satisfied with the explanations offered. "You've talked about Gestapo [and about the] Spanish Inquisition," said Klitzkie, recently re-elected to serve a second term as a local policymaker. "I think that perhaps the final chapter here is we can all be thankful here this is not a Star Chamber procedure and that you do have chance to come forward and tell us what happened and to tell us the truth, so I thank you for coming forward and doing that."
Klitzkie and the other five Republicans present today all said they were satisfied with the explanations offered and would vote to confirm the acting chief. On the other side of the floor, most of the present Democrats also said they were satisfied with the chief's explanation for the troublesome report and would vote to approve Ishizaki.
However, both Senator Lou Leon Guerrero and Speaker Ben Pangelinan expressed reservations about the confirmation and questioned the acting chief vigorously about why he called the polygrapher less than a month after taking the test, to request to take the test again - but this time with different questions. Both senators wanted to know what questions the chief didn't think were fair and didn't think should have been on the test.
After much back and forth discussion on the question both the acting chief and the two senators became frustrated. Said Pangelinan, "You obviously when you called him and wanted to keep some things private had an idea of what those are - obviously you do - yet you won't tell us what those are." Responded Ishizaki, "You know, Speaker, it really does not matter what those questions are because everything is out so there's no need to go to that point. I mean what I really don't know at this point to really quite honestly answer your question; I'm exhausted and I think each of us in here would be if we went through four hours. Now this thing in here has run for three-and-a-half hours, I'm exhausted."
The Speaker didn't take kindly to this estimation of endurance, firing back with, "But Chief, you can't afford to be like that as Chief of Police. I don't want anyone like that as Chief of Police. I don't want a Chief of Police who when he feels that things aren't going his way, things aren't the way he wants them to be he's going to say, 'I'm exhausted and I don't want participate any longer.' I don't think that's fair."
Again, Ishazaki responded, expressing his weariness at the procedure. "You know Speaker, I don't think there's anything I can say or demonstrate to you that will convince you otherwise, because I believe you and Lou have already pre-decided your decision, so I don't think there's any need for me to continue to respond," he said. In jumped Senator Leon Guerrero, saying, "I would like to make a comment about that Frank, because I have not decided." The Speaker added, "You've prejudged us. Because I ask you those questions you think, 'Oh, now she's not open-minded?' I don't think that's fair, I don't think that's a fair statement to be made, I don't, because I have not made my decision yet, I'm hearing listening to everything."
Ishizaki quickly retracted, saying, "If you misread that, I apologize." But Leon Guerrero, who finished fourteenth in the Decision 2004 General Election senatorial voting, said, "No, I didn't misread it - you said it right out."
"Yeah, my impression is that the two of you have been responsible for this problem that has developed out of this," Ishizaki replied.
Speaker Pangelinan said that wasn't the case - that he had told Senator Quinata he thought the confirmation hearing should be held before this past Tuesday's General Election. The Speaker said he felt it was obvious Ishizaki was qualified for the position of police chief, but questioned judgment. "You've made assumptions then that are absolutely wrong," said the Speaker, "gone out there and inflamed those fires...you're accusing Mr. Clarke, yet you don't feel any responsibility for that. You feel that's okay for you to do but it's not okay for anyone else to do. That's where for my question suitability come in. I may not be so concerned about the fudging of the overtime. I'm concerned about how you've how you've handled this situation, how you've responded under pressure and what your role has been to the politicizing of this event."
Ishizaki said he never tried to politicize the event and there was a very specific reason why he wanted the hearing before Super Tuesday. "I've asked for a free and open meeting to discuss these issues, the sooner the better for me, because the rumors have been running rampant out there because it is not your name, it is not your reputation, it is my reputation that has been running around out there," he said.
Even with the Speaker's misgivings it was apparent at the end of today's hearing as Senator Quinata and the acting chief clowned for the cameras that the acting chief's confirmation seems assured, and Ishizaki seemed to let out a sigh or relief that senators seem to be satisfied with his explanation about the polygraph, saying he was most concerned about his reputation.
Ishizaki told KUAM News at the end of the meetings, "Hopefully, it's a vindication. I think the election might have been that. My wife and I have gone through a very difficult period of time and I've wanted to clear the air for weeks and I'm thankful I finally go the chance to do that."
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