Ridgell: CCU lost touch with the public

Senator Clynt Ridgell introduced Bill No. 188-35 which seeks to prevent both the Guam Power Authority (GPA) and Guam Waterworks Authority (GWA) from back-billing its customers. (PNC photo)

Guam – The Consolidated Commission on Utilities have lost touch with the public, Senator Clynt Ridgell said in reaction to a recording of a CCU executive session that was taken last November.

“They lost touch with the ratepayer. They lost touch with the average household who is struggling to make ends meet,” Ridgell said.

The senator has legislative oversight over power and energy utilities.

During the closed door meeting, the members of the commission discussed pay raises for both employees and executives of both the Guam Power Authority as well as the Guam Water Authority.

Last April, the minutes of the meeting were reviewed by the Office of the Attorney General, who ruled that the session violated Guam’s Open Government Law.

According to the AG, Guam’s Open Government Law prohibits the discussion of employee or officer salary adjustments unless such discussions are held in a public meeting.

In an interview with k57, CCU board member Simon Sanchez said during his time as the chairman of the commission, he was informed of how to conduct the meeting.

Sanchez said, “I did get legal advice when I was chairman from one our attorneys that you can discuss evaluations in executive session, but you must discuss what to pay – 5 percent, 10 percent – and what you’re going to do in open session. So he said, ‘Why didn’t you do that?’ And frankly, I forgot. This was an email from four years ago. ”

Sanchez also said during the interview that the CCU’s legal counsel did not say anything about the legality of the salary discussion after the meeting was conducted.

In light of the executive session recording, Ridgell expressed interest in possibly introducing some legislation that could address these types of raises.