By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) NewsTalk K57's Patti Arroyo asked Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero this morning if Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving - will be declared a public holiday. The governor curtly responded, "No."
After Ms. Arroyo pressed her, Ms. Leon Guerrero said, "Well, if the employees want to take the day off, they may do so by signing leave."
I know. She really did say that; no joke.
Ms. Leon Guerrero and her senior staff are under fire for illegally paying her director of communications Janela Carrera more than $4,000 in gross wages while Ms. Carrera was on two personal vacations. Ms. Carrera provided Kandit with leave forms that indicate she used compensatory time to cover the 112 hours she was on vacation during work time. She is not qualified to take compensatory time.
Her time sheets, which we received from the Department of Administration payroll office, indicate something quite different. According to these payroll documents, Ms. Carrera was at work, earning regular working hours and being paid as such. But she wasn't at work; she posted pictures throughout her vacations in Europe and the United States west coast.
Many classified employees, however, do qualify for and accrue comp time. All employees accrue annual leave hours.
Kandit filed criminal complaints with the attorney general and asked the public auditor to investigate the matter. The complaints name Ms. Carrera, the two officials who approved the payroll documents: chief of staff Anthony Babauta and deputy chief of staff Jon Junior Calvo, Adelup timekeeper Antonio Benavente, and Adelup certifying officer Lynette Okada Muna.
On Friday, Ms. Leon Guerrero's policy director, Carlo Branch, told Kandit that it was Ms. Leon Guerrero herself, who approved the illegal payroll scheme, exposing the governor to criminal liability.
So, despite the governor's declaration and double standard that only her staff can illegally take leave while the rest of GovGuam has to abide by the payroll laws of the island, she did give GovGuam employees an opening: if you have comp time, take it on Black Friday. There's nothing she can say that can reasonably or justifiably defend disapproval.