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By Steve Limtiaco

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 1) - David Sasai, one of three high-ranking Guam Economic Development and Commerce Authority employees asked to leave the agency because of alleged credit-card abuse, filed an appeal with the Civil Service Commission on Tuesday.

The two-page notice of appeal was submitted and signed by his attorney, Randall Cunliffe, who is a Democratic senator in the Guam Legislature.

Gov. Felix Camacho on Dec. 19 asked three GEDCA employees to resign or be fired in connection with alleged abuse of their government-issued credit cards.

Those employees include: chief financial officer Sasai; finance and development director Edward Untalan; and business development director Lester Carlson.

The governor's office has stated that GEDCA-issued cards had been used excessively and for personal purchases.

Two employees were fired, the administration has stated, while the third was not here when the directive was issued and is still off island.

Cunliffe lists 11 reasons why the action taken against Sasai is being appealed, including an alleged violation of the government's 60-day rule. Under the government's personnel regulations, agencies have only 60 days to take adverse action against an employee, starting from the time they knew or should have known that the alleged violation took place.

Administration officials have said action was taken against the three in connection with past abuse of their credit cards.

Agency Administrator Gerald Perez told the Pacific Daily News he became aware of credit-card problems early in 2003, and that rules for card use were tightened in February 2003 as a result.

However, no adverse action was taken against any of the employees until late December 2003 by acting GEDCA Administrator John Dela Rosa, who was temporarily assigned by the governor's office to look into the agency's credit-card issues.

Cunliffe also alleges that the agency's findings are incorrect, there is no evidence of misconduct and the action taken against Sasai was too severe for the alleged violation.

It is not clear whether GEDCA employees, who are part of a public corporation, can appeal to the Civil Service Commission, said commission Executive Director Vernon Perez.

Perez said the first issue the commission must address with respect to Sasai's appeal is whether the commission has jurisdiction to act on it.

Mike Bamba, GEDCA's industry development manager, told the Pacific Daily News last week that some agency employees were hired under a competitive process, similar to "classified" government workers, while others were not hired competitively, similar to "unclassified" government workers.

Unclassified GovGuam employees generally are not entitled to merit-system protection, but there have been exceptions to that rule, depending on their job and the manner in which they were hired.

January 1, 2004

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