EDITOR'S NOTE: Kandit, as promised, brings to you this chronological series on the Port 7 scandal. This story of public corruption and political intrigue is the largest and longest-running political witch hunt in the history of the government of Guam. The story begins during the first year of the Eddie Calvo administration in 2011, and continues to this day. We are producing this investigative piece because of the age of this story and the many twists and details involved.
CHAPTER 1: It started with the blow of a whistle
CHAPTER 2: 'I was sent here to fire you'
CHAPTER 5: The infamous slip and fall
By Johnnie Rosario
(Tumon, Guam) A few weeks after the September 2011 slip and fall in the bathroom at the Port, former Marketing Administrator Bernadette Meno became ill.
She had been diagnosed with Lupus several years prior and shortly after the fall she suffered a very serious Lupus flare. For months she struggled with her Lupus and as she was fighting for her life, former Corporate Services Manager Vivian Leon continued their fight against corruption at the port.
Leon was working hard to ensure the Port was protected in the easement leases formerly with Shell and assigned to IP&E and SPPC as well as the dispute with Hansen on their property. Attorney Mike Phillips intervened and took these issues away from Leon and her Commercial Services Manager Glenn Nelson. Up until the time Mike Phillips left the port - despite being paid MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in legal fees —those issues had yet to be resolved when he left. Leon also took Phillips and Chairman Dan Tydingco to task over the legal billings from the Phillips and Bordallo law firm questioning why his billings were so late and what legal opinions had he rendered that demanded such high monthly costs. She shared her concerns with General Manager Mary Torres and oversight Chairman Tom Ada.
Their continued scrutiny of the Mike Phillips legal billings eventually led to the discovery of illegal billings and even one attorney who billed the port for more than 24 hours of work in one day. This information was eventually forwarded to the Attorney General and the Bar Ethics commission by Mary Torres.
Meanwhile, Meno was finally able to get her Lupus under control and returned to work but she struggled with the lingering pain in her back. Often she was hunched over at work even holding onto the walls to steady herself. Over the summer she left island for her son to have surgery in the Philippines and while there she had an MRI done on her back at her own expense. It was then that the doctors explained to her the extent of the damage to her spine. Shocked and scared, she returned to Guam and sent the results to port Safety Administrator Frank Roberto. She reminded Roberto about her workplace accident a few months prior and asked if the port could send her to their doctor to verify what the doctors in the Philippines had told her. Safety Administrator Roberto agreed, prepared the paperwork and sent her to Dr. Steven Hiyashida, the surgeon who handled all of the Workers Compensation cases for the Port Authority of Guam. Hiyashida was a Hawaii-based neurosurgeon who held clinic on Guam every few months at his office in Tumon. Mrs. Meno went to her appointment as instructed by the Port and Dr Hiyashida reviewed all the scans, examined Mrs Meno and concluded that she would need surgery to repair the damage to her spine. Hiyashida prescribed Mrs. Meno some morphine for the pain so that she could walk but said she could not go back to work because of the medication she was taking.
Hiyashida’s office then coordinated with Frank Roberto and his safety office to prepare the paperwork and surgical itinerary for Mrs Meno. She was to fly to Hawaii where he performed all the surgeries on port employees who were injured on the job.
Despite the medication, the pain worsened and became debilitating for Meno. Her family - especially her children - watched as she suffered daily. The excruciating pain from the injury also exacerbated her Lupus so her struggle was intense. Bernadette was scheduled to have surgery in October 2012. There finally was a light at the end of the tunnel for her ... a hope that she would be healed and get back the quality of life that had been missing for her since the accident in the bathroom. The Port - like they did for all other employees before her - prepared her travel authorization, routed it for signatures at the agency, and then forwarded her travel authorization documents to Governor Eddie Calvo for his review and approval.