• Sun. Aug 7th, 2022

GFD Opposes Commission’s Findings on Voluntary Demotion for Lower Pay | Guam News

Guam Fire Department management is objecting to a recent Public Service Commission ruling on the post-audit investigation involving three firefighters.

Commission staff reported in February that GFD breached staff rules on compensation for voluntary demotion when the three employees were forced to resign from other government positions to be hired at a starting rate of pay when came into GFD about a decade ago.

The commissioners voted to provisionally rescind the staff actions of the employees. GFD had 10 days to respond.

Assistant Attorney General Mathew Wolff, counsel for GFD, cited lack of jurisdiction, denial of due process, delay, omissions and inadequacies in the investigative report and violations of open government law among the reasons. for which the post-audit should be rejected.

He also said the committee’s vote was unclear as to which staff action was considered null and void.

At the commission hearing in February, Wolff tried to get commissioners to discuss a previously filed motion to dismiss and raised open government law issues, but was unsuccessful.

At the start of the meeting, CSC President Juan Calvo told the parties that the hearing would be reserved for staff to present their conclusions and that it would be strictly limited to their presentation. Wolff was asked to leave as he attempted to speak at the hearing.

In his objection, Wolff argued that the CSC had no jurisdiction over this case and that jurisdictional issues should first be addressed by the commission. Moreover, by allowing the filing of a rejected post-audit application, the commission had “opened the floodgates” to unlimited filings by management and non-parties.

The post-audit was based on a re-submission of the application at the end of September 2021. The initial filing had exceeded the statutory 180-day deadline, as CSC was unable to complete the post-audit process beforehand.

CSC submitted a memorandum stating that the deadline would expire in early August 2021 and that the agency could not meet the deadline and comply with the requirements of the Open Government Act at the same time. However, the note also stated that nothing prevented the three employees from filing complaints again.

“Nothing in the law restricts the filing of a post-audit complaint to the employee only… Management has won the first post-audit (180-day violation) and if the employee wins that post-audit filing, according to the report and the letter, nothing prevents management from filing the post-audit again to get their turn in a second bite of apple, to infinity,” Wolff said.

The 10-year gap between the employees’ resignation and hiring and their post-audit petition also remained unexplained in the investigation report, he added. Guam Supreme Court precedent says speed matters, Wolff says.

Null and void for violation of the Open Government Act

The Deputy Attorney General also revived the open government issues he attempted to address during the post-audit hearing.

After the investigation report was verbally communicated by staff to commissioners, CSC administrative judge Eric Miller whispered in the ear of CSC president Juan Calvo before the commission took an immediate break from five minutes, wrote Wolff.

“Management’s counsel asked CSC to put on file what was discussed in camera and what was whispered in the president’s ear just before recess and explained that not disclosing it violates the (Open Government Act) and will result in cancellation of the whole However, management’s attorney was reprimanded for speaking up and the request was denied,” her objection stated.

Because the discussion was conducted in secret – in whispers and during recess – without notice of an executive session and related requirements, the post-audit hearing held in February is in violation of the Open Government Act” and therefore void,” Wolff said, adding that there is no attorney-client exception or general privilege that applies to this scenario.