Senator: Agency heads have too much discretion over hiring

Senator Joanne Brown (Official photo by 36th Guam Legislature)

The Legislature held a hearing Wednesday on a bill that aims to close a loophole that allows agency heads to hire people who’ve committed official misconduct.

The hearing was on Bill 37-36, which would bar anyone found guilty of official misconduct from employment with the government of Guam.

That includes anyone found guilty of official misconduct under Guam law (or anyone found guilty in another jurisdiction) of an offense that meets the same criteria.

Senator Joanne Brown said that agency heads have too much discretion in hiring.

She said that this discretion has allowed agency heads to hire people who’ve already proven that they can’t be trusted with a position of responsibility in the government.

Although there was no testimony on the bill from the public, the bill was still discussed by the Legislature.

Speaker Therese Terlaje spoke in support of the bill. As did senators James Moylan, Telo Taitague, Chris Duenas, and Tony Ada.

Senator Brown spoke with Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo this morning about the bill. One of the things she addressed is the accusation that the bill suggests that people with a criminal background shouldn’t get a second chance.

“I mean the least I’ve heard comments related to her spokesperson..that she’s for second chances. A lot of us are for second chances. Third chances even. But not at this level and not with regards to these types of offenses. When someone is convicted or pleads guilty to official misconduct, the public official has essentially violated the responsibilities of the oath of their position. To get it to that degree … that to me is just, it’s not acceptable. This situation with the hiring of this individual at the port just spotlights that loophole in the law, and I think it’s a loophole that we need to close,” Brown said.

The bill will now be revised as necessary and then placed on the agenda for the next session.