By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) Francine Rocio, one of the Port Authority workers fired by Joanne Brown in a political scandal and conspiracy plotted by the Calvo Administration, has won her case. The Civil Service Commission today issued its decision to grant her motion to dismiss the case based on two grounds.
First, the Administrative Law Judge, Eric Miller, wrote in the decision that the Port Authority violated the government’s 60-day rule, when it served Ms. Rocio her final notice of adverse action (FNAA) 63 days after the port assumed any wrongdoing.
Mr. Miller also ruled that the FNAA was defective from the start because it “includes vague accusations of conspiracy, disobedience, falsification and conclusions as to violations of the criminal code, but does not allege a specific act done by Employee.”
The fired employees, known collectively as the Port 7, have said from the beginning that they were never even made aware of what wrong they had done. All of their FNAAs were template-written with the same verbiage given to Ms. Rocio; paragraphs of vague conspiracy theories without any fact assigned to the accusations that the employees somehow conspired to award Worker’s Compensation claims to their co-worker Bernadette Meno.
Ms. Meno never even received the claims payments she was entitled to following a slip that injured her back seriously: the only fact of this whole case that is backed up by evidence, including X-rays, doctor’s certifications, medical charts, and other medical records.
All seven have cause to celebrate the outcome of Ms. Rocio’s case. Every one of their FNAAs were written the same way, meaning that the reasoning applied to Ms. Rocio’s case that led to its dismissal will apply to their cases as well. Dismissal of all cases is expected shortly.
Their cases also should be dismissed on the same 60-day-rule reasoning; all of them were served their FNAAs on the same day.
The employees were fired by Ms. Brown on December 18, 2012, nearly seven years ago. They have suffered major financial and health losses since their termination, which began and followed as a political witch hunt to rid the government of Ms. Meno and her co-worker Vivian Leon. The others were fired as collateral damage in a conspiracy created by Ms. Brown and former port legal counsel Mike Phillips, dragged on by the need to rope in other workers in order to make their conspiracy plausible.
The port board at the time, including its former chairwoman Dan Tydingco from GTA, vice chairman Mike Benito of PayLess Markets, member Christine Baleto of MidPac Liquor Distributors, and member Ed Ilao who had several government contracts, allowed Mr. Phillips to rake in over $7 million in legal fees during this time, most of which was paid to him for his role in slandering the fired employees.
Ms. Brown, Mr. Tydingco, Mr. Benito, Ms. Baleto, Mr. Ilao, former governor’s chief of staff Franklin Arriola, and even former Gov. Eddie Calvo himself also took part in maligning the credibility of the fired workers for the better part of the past seven years. Ms. Brown, for her part, frequently took to the radio waves and conducted interviews perpetuating falsehoods against the fired workers in order to advance the port’s case using public pressure against the Civil Service Commission and the courts, and intimidating the workers as well.
Two port employees at the time, who were part of the Port Safety Office, Frank Roberto - its former administrator who now is retired, and Paul Salas, also were part of Mr. Phillips’ conspiracy. Their role in the scandal was caught on voice recordings of their plot with Mr. Phillips to lie to investigators and to make up scenes and conversations involving several port employees.
The conspiracy ran so afoul that it cost then-port general manager Mary Camacho Torres her job and severed any ties there were between the Calvo and Camacho and Torres families. Ms. Torres, who has since been one of the most popularly-elected senators in Guam history, refused to fire the employees following an investigation conducted by Mr. Phillips and his investigator at the time, John Bordallo Bell. Ms. Torres told the media, in a news conference held at her office at the port with her husband, then-Chief Justice Robert Torres and her brother former Gov. Felix Camacho flanking her, that Mr. Phillips and Mr. Bell’s so-called Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law was so incoherently written and baseless that she had to stick by her decision not to fire the employees because it seemed that the document was drafted with a pre-determined conclusion to fire the employees.
Port board members during this time signed off on 12 illegal pay raises to Ms. Brown, nearly doubling the six-figure salary she started with by the time she left the port six years after the firings. These raises now are the target of an investigation by the Office of Public Accountability. The results of this investigation are anticipated to be released next month.
Kandit notes that of the five board members who were on the board during the time of this conspiracy, only board member Shelly Gibson opposed the actions taken by Ms. Brown, Mr. Phillips and Mr. Tydingco. Board meeting minutes reflect her continuous opposition to the conspiracy and the retaliation against her and her family for standing up for what is right.