Guam Governor Asks AG For Independent Review Into Pay Raises

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Calvo believes he has authority to set wages for staff

By Shawn Raymundo

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Feb. 11, 2016) – Gov. Eddie Calvo wants Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson to appoint a special attorney within her office to review the process of giving raises to Adelup staffers.

"As you know, the pay raise issue continues to be a topic of discussion," Calvo wrote to Barrett-Anderson on Wednesday, referring to the illegal retroactive raises Adelup staffers received in December 2014. "As such, I am requesting that your office conduct an independent legal review of the process to pay raises for Adelup staffers."

Calvo said he’s confident an independent review into the salary adjustments will prove he acted within his authority to set salaries.

In a legal opinion in December, the attorney general said pay raises the governor awarded his staff in December 2014 were retroactive and therefore violated Guam law. Barrett-Anderson advised Calvo to have the staffers return the money or introduce legislation to legalize the raises.

Instead, after saying there was a computer glitch with the Department of Administration’s payroll system that made the raises appear retroactive, the Calvo administration initiated a temporary pay adjustment by inflating salaries and crediting staffers for 72 hours of work in a single day. Staffers received checks equal to the amount of the illegal pay raises they received. They signed the checks back to the government of Guam, creating a "repayment."

After the governor’s office announced the repayment plan, Barrett-Anderson told Pacific Daily News she was against it.

"What the governor is doing right now, I disagree with," she said in December. "I disagree with his remedy."

Earlier this week, she reiterated her opposition to the repayment plan in response to recent comments the Calvo administration made.

Calvo on Wednesday acknowledged Barrett-Anderson’s disagreement.

"I acknowledge that you were not supportive of the remedy used to correct the problems with the pay adjustments," he wrote. "However, I maintain that the remedy was within my policy discretion and was legal."

The governor also asked the attorney general to have her office conduct another independent review of the Legislature’s Capitol District Fund, from which the legislative branch sets aside money to repay a $4 million bank loan that’s financing the reconstruction of the Guam Congress Building in HagÃ¥tña.

Based on hundreds of financial documents Adelup acquired from the Legislature in a series of Freedom of Information Act requests, the administration says it found the legislative central office borrowed money from its Capitol Fund to pay for staffers’ annual leave cash out in January 2015.

Legislative officials have confirmed they used those funds, while pointing out the account had been replenished.

"The Capitol District Fund is restricted and is not supposed to be used for operations," Calvo wrote to Barrett-Anderson. "However, information provided by the Legislature points to actions contrary to local law."

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