Guam – Mary Torres was fired Tuesday from her position of General Manager at the Port of Guam, a development that has exposed a deep and bitter rift within the island’s Republican party.
The decision to terminate Torres was made by the Port Board.
In a statement to the media following that decision, Torres herself said her termination was politically motivated after she refused to fire 6 long time Port employees who, Torres said, did not deserve to be fired.
“As a dedicated employee and a person who tries to play by the rules,” said Torres “I did not deserve to be treated by the Board or the Administration in such a dispicapal manner.”
PART I – statement of former Port Board GM Mary Torres
PART II – statement of former Port GM Mary Torres
Torres spoke to the media following the Port Board’s lengthy Executive Session which was closed to the public. During that Executive Session, Torres read a prepared statement explaining her actions. She then left the Executive Session to await the Board’s decision.
At the conclusion of the Executive Session, the Port Board meeting was re-opened to the public again, a motion was made and unanimously approved to make Acting GM Joanne Brown, the permanent General Manager of the Port of Guam. The meeting ended.
When asked about the status of Mary Torres, Port Board Chairman Dan Tydingco would only say that “Mary Torres is no longer the General Manager for the Port Authority of Guam.”
Torres then called the media into the Port General Manager’s Office, where she sat for the last time, and there she read part of the prepared statement she had already read to the Port Board.
“I am appalled and saddened,” said Torres,” that six employees, most of them long time members of the Port’s family, have lost their jobs as a result of a politically motivated investigation.”
“I refused to take actions which would affect the careers and livelihood of good people on such unreliable evidence,” she said.
Torres said she did not resign and only heard of her termination from the media who informed her of the Board’s decision after it was made.
“Even though there was considerable political pressure on me to issue the NPAAs [ Notice of Personnel Action ] against the targeted employees, I was not willing to rubber stamp the NPAA’s because I did not believe them warranted since they were based soley on the report of counsel, which I did not believe was a trustworthy document.”
Torres was surrounded by her Attorney Pat Civille and her husband, Justice Robert Torres, and her brother, former Governor Felix Camacho, both of whom are powerful leaders within the island’s republican party.
Former Governor Felix Camacho said that he was there in a show of support for his sister, but he also spoke about the political ramifications of what had happened to his sister.
“I am well aware of the political maneuverings that have occurred,” said Camacho. “It is very disturbing for me as a Republican former Governor to see what has occurred here under a Republican Administration.”
The former Governor said that the core of Port Management has been gutted by the firings of the 6 employees saying “Politically, I am surprised that Governor Calvo has allowed this process to get out of hand. Its like a runaway train. He has allowed the Port Board of Directors to run amok and act irresponsibly.”
Camacho also warned that there maybe political consequences if Governor Calvo’s seeks a second term.
“Only time will tell what will happen in 2 years. Remember this administration is up for re-election and I find it interesting that he has allowed, lets face it, the law firm, or legal council that has been in a leadership position in the Democratic Party, his Chief of Staff is of a Democratic family, Mr. Tydingco, the Chairman of the Board for the Port Authority is of the Democratic party, and they have effectively let them drive a wedge in the Republican Party of Guam, 2 years before the election. I’m not sure he [the Governor] is aware of what has occurred here.”
Torres did not identify the 6 employees who were fired, nor did Port Board Chairman Tydingco identify them.
But Port oversight Chair Senator Tom Ada confirmed the names for PNC News when we showed him a list of the employees who were terminated.
The employees fired Tuesday are:
1. Vivian Leon – Corporate Service Manager
2. Francine Roccio – Personnel Services Administrator
3. Bernadette Stern Meno – Port Marketing Manager
4. Jose “Jojo” Guevera – Controller
5. Josette Javelosa – Program Coordinator
6. Frances Arriola – Personnel Specialist
However, Torres said the report submitted by legal counsel was really aimed at only one person. She did not say who that person was, but PNC News has learned that that employee was Bernadette Stern Meno.
“The findings of fact and conclusions of law were obvisouly drafted with the intention of reaching a pre-determined result,” said Torres adding that “was was not surprising because the employee who was seeking workers compensation was perceived to be a political enemy of the Governor allegedly responsible for altering the Calvo-Tenorio platform known as 2020.”
“In fact, the Chief of Satff directly told me that this entire exercise was about getting this employee [ Bernadette Meno] fired. And that I [Mary Torres] in his words, was ‘collateral damage.’ “