Bill would let whistleblowers sue GovGuam if they're retaliated
against for exposing wrongdoing in the agency
Guam Sen. Frank B. Aguon Jr. is cheering on the efforts of his colleague, Sen. Dennis Rodriguez Jr. to get to the bottom of conflicting allegations concerning the operations of Guam Memorial Hospital, but Aguon is quite clear that the Government of Guam is ripe for a lot of similar investigations.
A rash of allegations of government corruption and apparent retaliatory actions on whistleblowers has prompted Aguon, to introduce Bill 301-34, which would protect public employees who expose wrongdoings in their respective agencies.
“These whistleblowers, despite any harm that may come to them, their careers and reputations, have come forward to protect the best interests of the people and for this, they deserve the utmost protection and support,” Aguon said. Aguon said Bill 301-34 will address “the tidal wave of corruption allegations and questionable decisions that have been made by leadership within the Guam Memorial Hospital, the Chamorro Land Trust Commission and the Guam Police Department.”
The bill seeks to expand current whistleblower statutes to include protection from retaliatory actions of unfavorable or inequitable treatment against employees disclosing information of government corruption. “No appointing authority or supervisor shall initiate or administer any disciplinary action or unfavorable or inequitable treatment against an employee on account of the employee’s disclosure of information,” the bill states.
The bill, if enacted into law, would empower whistleblowers to sue if they are given a retaliatory action for exposing wrongdoings in the agency.
Aguon formally wrote to Sen. Rodriguez: "Thank you for your continued leadership to create a Special Investigating Committee that shall be authorized to investigate the administration and management of the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority. I wholeheartedly support your efforts and vote an affirmative yes to Resolution No. 345-34 (COR), to hold the administration and management of GMHA accountable. However, I believe that we should not stop with GMHA. I believe we must expand the authority of the Special Investigative Committee to include the CHamorro Land Trust Commission, the Guam Police Department and any other agency questioned by our people and the media."
Both senators are announced Democratic candidates for governor and either could be debating the performance of the current administration with the GOP candidate, present Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio later in the year. Sen. Aguon gave Tenorio gave Tenorio particularly low marks on the corruption issue:
"The focus is on protecting our public employees and the whistleblowers who stepped forward and put their lives, their reputations and even their families at stake by virtue of exposing fraudulent activities and corruption. Now if Lt. Governor Tenorio wants to go head to head and he has done nothing to address the issues of the CHamorro Land Trust, he has done nothing to address the alleged corruption that has been exposed by two professional doctors. He has done nothing to address the raiding of special funds which is not authorized by law. Then that tells me that he is abdicating his responsibility and he is also contributing to the situation. This will provide the assurance to our public employees and the people of Guam that their resources and the people's money is being properly spent and that they are getting the best services that they can possibly get."
Sen. Aguon is proposing a local receiver to direct and effort to straighten out the chaotic affairs of the Land Trust.
"How can we ask individuals who have been in the system to go in and address some of the discrepancies when they contributed to the process? That's why it comes back to the legislation that I introduced. To set a moratorium and bring in a temporary local receiver so that this individual, this judge, would be able to address this and follow the law."
The July issue of Pacific Island Times will have much more on the government corruption
issue, which is shaping up as a decisive issue in the Guam election later this year.
"His forced resignation did not exactly come as a surprise given Governor Eddie Calvo’s overt displeasure with the CEO. Lewis’ departure was the culmination of a series of theatrics, which began with a credit card abuse investigation in the summer of 2016, followed by a sexual harassment complaint, which Lewis believes was part of a demolition job in order to get rid of him. His removal as the CEO was preceded by mass resignation of the hospital’s executive board in December 2015 following financial policy disputes with the Chief Financial Officer Benita Manglona.
Now, breaking his silence for the first time since leaving the island, Lewis has revealed behind-the-scene power dynamics and connivances at GMH, characterizing the organization as one run by a “hostile clique” led by Gov. Eddie Calvo that seeks to protect a family business. The Calvo family-owned SelectCare Insurance is the largest insurance provider for GMH.
Lewis said Manglona was practically running the show along with Medical Director Dr. Larry Lizama. “They had a direct line to the governor. They were meeting up in Adelup every week and decisions were being made there,” Lewis said in an interview via Messenger. “They didn’t care about the GMH board.”