By Nancy I. Maanao
The offices of Senators Amanda Shelton, Kelly Marsh Taitano, and Regine Biscoe Lee were empty on Black Friday, but Taitano and Lee say they and their staff were teleworking.
Black Friday was not a government of Guam holiday. Employees, including the legislature's staff, were being paid by taxpayers, even if they weren't in the office.
The legislature's central staff also was a no-show; the parking lot was nearly empty the whole day. Only Speaker Tina Muna Barnes and her staff reported to and stayed at work that day. The Guam Congress Building houses the legislature's central staff, and the offices of the speaker and Sens. Shelton, Taitano, and Lee.
Ms. Taitano said that while her staff was not in the office, she and they were working.
"Given the occurrences of other staff and senators contracting COVID-19 in the Guam Congress Building and the continued use of procedures for digital submission of legislative/committee work, my staff have continued teleworking except for key staff during session and on certain other days," Ms. Taitano stated. "As is our practice when we tele-work, we held our daily staff meetings via zoom this morning and staff members were assigned individual committee, policy, and constituency work for the day through the weekend."
The senator provided Kandit with a copy of teleworking guidelines given to all senatorial offices by the chairwoman of the Committee on Rules (the legislature's governing body), Ms. Lee. The guidelines provide for the digital submission of committee reports, voting sheets, and other digital files. The guidelines do not say anything about teleworking for each of the senatorial offices, or the central staff.
Ms. Lee's policy advisor, Phillip Leon Guerrero, said the senator and her staff also were teleworking on Black Friday. Calls to her office are forwarded to one of the staff members. That staff member answered Kandit's call Friday.
Ms. Taitano and Ms. Shelton's office phones also were forwarded, but no one answered our calls Friday.
Ms. Shelton has not responded to Kandit's inquiry about her absence from work on Black Friday, which traditionally is the biggest shopping day of the year.