Controversial Guam Civil Service Commission Bill ‘Dead’

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Calvo promises to veto bill if ever passed by legislature

By Mark-Alexander Pieper

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 16, 2013) – A bill that would have allowed Guam’s Civil Service Commission (CSC) to hold closed-door deliberations is "dead," the bill's author said yesterday.

The governor's office yesterday issued a strongly worded statement, criticizing the commission for testifying in support of the bill earlier this week.

The bill is contrary to the administration's stance on government transparency, according to the governor's office.

Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz, D-Piti, introduced Bill 102-32 at the request of the commission because commissioners said they feared for their safety when having to deliberate in public on controversial cases.

The commission hears appeals from classified government of Guam workers who object to the disciplinary actions taken against them.

The commission's role is to enforce the government's personnel rules and regulations and to shield government employees from political retribution.

Cruz's bill would have allowed the commission to deliberate in private, without having to keep a transcript or recording of its proceedings.

Attorney and former Senator Robert Klitzkie has been one of the bill's loudest opponents, arguing it circumvents the Open Government Law.

Governor Eddie Calvo yesterday promised to veto the bill if it ever passes the Legislature, according to the governor's office.

"The Calvo-Tenorio administration vehemently opposes the legislation proposing to shroud the Civil Service Commission in further secrecy," governor's spokesman Troy Torres said in a press release.

"The CSC testimony in support of the measure was not sanctioned by the front office, and the action will be dealt with accordingly. Members of the administration are required to subscribe to the governor's policies and philosophies, chief among them his commitment to transparency."

CSC Executive Director Alberto "Tony" Lamorena was on K57 radio yesterday morning, forcefully defending the bill. But just hours after he was on the air, he declined to talk about it further after the governor's statement was issued.

"We're dropping the bill," Lamorena said, declining to provide any other comment on the matter.

Lamorena has said the bill was necessary because commissioners were being hassled in the parking lot by employees they ruled against. The request for a change to the law was brought to Cruz, who is the legislative chair of the committee that has oversight for the commission.

Klitzkie has said if it's a question of safety, the CSC can ask for money in its budget to pay for security at hearings.

"The Civil Service Commission is not a privately run and funded operation, and has no right to hide its proceedings from the public," according to the statement from the governor's office.

"Government officers do not have a privilege above the people they serve. The people are the boss, and they have the right to information about their government."

Torres yesterday didn't return calls for comment on what the administration planned to do about the commission's actions.

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