By Jacob Nakamura
It is what it is, unless you're in the legislature.
Since the public health emergency began in March this year and thousands of people lost their jobs in the private sector, nine out of Guam's 15 senators either hired more staff, or gave their employees raises. This is according to a comparison of the legislature's staffing patterns between the second and fourth quarters of Fiscal Year 2020.
Speaker Tina Muna Barnes and Senators Regine Lee, Amanda Shelton, Wil Castro, Sabina Perez, Jose "Pedo" Terlaje, and Kelly Marsh Taitano all hired more staffers during the time the private sector was laying off its employees.
Some staffers at the offices of Senators Therese Terlaje, Regine Lee, Joe San Agustin, Amanda Shelton, Wil Castro, and Telo Taitague received pay raises.
Vice Speaker Telena Nelson and Senator Mary Torres were the only members who reduced the size of their staffs, and did not increase any payroll costs. Senator Jim Moylan's payroll costs were reduced. And while Ms. Taitague's responsibilities during this period increased, when Republicans took away the minority leader position from Mr. Castro and elected her instead, she did not hire any additional staffers. Mr. San Agustin also reduced the number of staffers in his office.
Castro has less duties, more staff; gives biggest raises
The largest pay raises happened in Mr. Castro's office, and also occurred during the time his legislative responsibilities were reduced. Mr. Castro's chief of administration and operations, Jose M. Mesa, received a 32 percent pay raise, from $19.50 an hour to $25.75 an hour. His administration and communications manager, Marie D. Cruz, received a 400 percent pay raise, from $250 every two weeks, to $1,000.
Mr. Castro also hired two additional staffers during this period, or a 40 percent increase in staff levels. One hire, Christopher Roberto, receives $2,500 every two weeks for part-time work and holds the title deputy chief of staff.
Breakdown by senatorial office
The pay raise Ms. Terlaje gave to her staffer, Patsy Cruz, corresponds to a promotion and increase in responsibilities from a legislative assistant earning $15 an hour, to the office manager earning $17 an hour.
Ms. Lee gave a $1 an hour increase in pay to her legislative aide, Michelle B. Mafnas, and hired two part time staffers: Kiana P. Yabut and Jenelle C. Aguilar.
Mr. San Agustin gave meager 50 cents per hour pay raises to Rosemarie T. Mesa, Hope Delos Reyes, Peter John T. Johnson, and Vincent Benavente. He gave a $1 an hour pay raise to his chief policy analyst, Joseph Mesgnon.
Ms. Shelton hired two people: Forrest Chargualaf and Al Edrich Labang. She gave her policy analyst, Diandra V. Villanueva, a $2 an hour pay raise, and increased staffer Evelyn San Agustin-Claros's weekly pay by 15 percent, from $1,600 to $1,840.
Ms. Perez hired two people: Geraldine Leon Guerrero to be her communications director earning $1,100 every two weeks, and Manuel L. Cruz III earning $600 every two weeks.
Mr. Terlaje hired one staffer: John Paul Manuel, and pays him $21 an hour.
Ms. Marsh Taitano hired Dr. Michael Bevacqua and pays him $23.08 an hour.
Ms. Muna Barnes hired three staffers during the period: Mona Marie DeJesus at $15 an hour, Taylor J. Whitt at $12 an hour, and Brian J. Mafnas at $10 an hour.