Trouble at GRTA, board questions Babauta’s hiring authority

Guam Regional Transport Authority (PNC file photo)

Guam – Celestin Babauta, the governor’s appointee to the Guam Regional Transit Authority has yet to be confirmed as executive manager by the board and the Legislature. Does that give Babauta the authority to hire and fire? That may not be the case as pointed out by GRTA board chairperson Mayor Louise Rivera.

“According to the law, it’s the board that does the hiring,” Rivera said

Rivera said Babauta was placed as GRTA interim executive manager under an emergency order, following the resignation of the previous director.

But then  Babauta turned around and fired the board secretary which was also hired by the board, according to Rivera.

Babauta said the hiring and firing of personnel is an unavoidable necessity, whether it’s permissible under his acting authority or not.

“I’m on my own in regards to the administration in the office. I’ve been working. Because I don’t have any administrative support so I’m not sure, what illegalities I’m doing. I’m here under the appointment of the governor and her Organic Act authority,” Babauta said.

But where is the road block to his appointment? Babauta has yet to be confirmed by GRTA’s board, a board that is currently incomplete.

According to Rivera, there are only three board members out of the seven board seats. All 3 were asked to stay on in the interim but in order to meet quorum Rivera says they need four board members.

Meanwhile, a statement has been rendered out. Oversight chair, Sen. Jose “Pedo” Terlaje’s said,  “He is the acting executive manager and as such, he has full power as the executive manager to meet his required mandates.”

In addition, according to GRTA statute, “the powers and duties of the executive manager include “To enforce all rules and regulations of the authority.”

PNC has reached out to the Governor’s office for clarification on the extent of Babauta’s authority, but we have yet to receive comment as of news time.