Attorney general questions legality of GPA and GWA pay raises

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CCU Chairman Joey Duenas said that in the next 5 years, they are going to put in a billion dollars into the infrastructure of GWA. (PNC photo)

Guam – The Attorney General’s Office questioned the raises given to Guam Power Authority and Guam Waterworks Authority executive managers. According to the OAG, the raises were in violation of the Open Government Law.

“We pay them what they are worth,”  Consolidated Commission on Utilities chairman Joey Duenas said when word of raises for GPA top managers first surfaced.

But the decision to provide the raises behind closed doors raised alarm bells. In a letter to the CCU, Attorney General Leevin Camacho said, ” Our office reviewed the minutes of the Nov. 27, 2018 CCU regular board meeting. According to the minutes, salary adjustments of executive management were discussed in executive session in violation of the Open Government Law.”

According to the AG, the Open Government Law prohibits discussion of salaries, or adjustments of any employees or officers. Instead, such discussions must be transparent and held in a public meeting.

Duenas said, “At this November 27, 2018 CCU meeting was legal counsel present? Yes, they were. Now when the subject matter of pay raises came up or salary adjustments for executive management came up did they not advise against that because it was a closed session meeting? You know, you got a copy of the AG letter and I just got that late last night and I rather not discuss it with the media because I think it is important that I communicate with the Attorney General and not communicate to him through the media.

Duenas said he is preparing a response and would prefer not talk about the subject 156

The letter from the AG not only rescinded the pay adjustments but also requires those who received the adjustments or bonuses to pay back the money. That means GPA General Manager John Benavente and GWA General Manager Miguel Bordallo must pay back the 10 percent increase they received.

Benavente must pay back the $25,000 bonus he received on top of his $225,000 annual salary. Meanwhile, Bordallo will be bumped back down from $190,000 to $175,000 annually.

Camacho said that the issue is still under review by his office and they are awaiting a response from the CCU.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.