Today, senators debated a motion to strike a provision in Sen. Mary Torres and Speaker Tina Muna Barnes’ Bill 312-35 that would allow for unqualified hires to work if it is not found within six months that the hire is deemed not qualified.
The Republican Minority Caucus, made up of Sens. Telo Taitague, Louise Borja Muna, Jim Moylan and Wil Castro, objected to a move that removes any right of the government to remove someone who was erroneously hired and found not to have met even the minimum set of qualifications.
Torres, however, defended her bill against her Republican colleagues' attacks.
“I realize some individuals give misinformation to advance their political agenda, but even I expect opponents to actually read the bill. While certain people are entitled to their own opinions, no one is entitled to their own facts," she said.
"Despite the lies touted by members of this body, I introduced Bill 312 at the request of the Civil Service Commission because I believe that people should be hired based on their qualifications, not their political connections," Torres said.
She said bill allows the CSC to directly serve an employee notice of adverse action if a post-audit investigation finds that the person was unqualified for the job.
She said an audit should happen within a reasonable timeframe of a standard probationary period. "If an employee lies or commits fraud on their application, that timeline would not apply. My colleagues think otherwise. They say that even after years of hard work and strong performance evaluations, you should lose your job—even if you did nothing wrong," Torres said.
"I ask reasonable minds: do you believe someone who applied for a job in good faith, accepted that job, and did it well for months or even years should lose it because government made an error? I don’t," Torres said. "Time and time again, this Body has considered remedies for land, businesses, and student scholarships, because they shouldn’t take the fall for the government’s mistakes. Why should that standard be different for real people?”
In a statement, the Republican Minority Caucus calls out to all government of Guam employees to take note and voice their objections.
“It is a slap in the face of all those who qualify for their positions, period. Is there a mad scramble to fill govGuam positions for which political hires do not qualify? What’s going on?” said Taitague, minority leader.
“To allow an employee to continue working in a position that he or she is not qualified to hold may have dire consequences if not corrected,” Muna said.
“GovGuam should always have the right to reverse an injustice,” Moylan said.
"The merit system is designed to ensure we provide the best possible service by those trained or otherwise qualified,” Castro said.
The Republican minority applauded Sen. Therese Terlaje for stepping forward to point out this egregious departure from hiring qualified applicants.
The seven senators who voted to keep the ‘hire and permanize unqualified employees’ are Speaker Tina Rose Muna Barnes, Sen. Mary Camacho Torres, Sen. Joe S. San Agustin, Sen. Regine Lee, Sen. Amanda Shelton, Senator Jose Terlaje, and Sen. Clynton Ridgell.
The seven senators who fought to protect the people’s government’s right to remove unqualified employees from positions are Sen. Therese Terlaje, Sen. Telo Taitague, Sen. Sabina Perez, Sen. Jim Moylan, Sen. Louise Borja Muna, Sen. Kelly Marsh and Sen. Wil Castro.
The Republican Minority Caucus recognizes all those who meet even the minimum of requirements to fill critical positions in the government of Guam and encourages all employees and future employees to raise concern about this underhanded move to shortchange the people of Guam.