Friday's news cycle was pretty busy on Guam.
President-elect Joe Biden unveiled plans for a $15 minimum wage. He proposed adding $1,400 to the $600 direct aid to every American and U.S. resident reeling from the economic devastation caused by this pandemic.
The release of more tax refunds was announced. Guam marked its 126th death related to COVID-19. All of GovGuam finally will reopen.
But the news story that made so many Guam residents take to social media to vent was a local government accountability story.
The news that sparked so many reactions was the hiring of a convicted former Guam Department of Corrections officer, Frankie Rosalin, who has pleaded guilty to official misconduct for his role in the conspiracy to bring methamphetamine into the prison compound. This case, which ensnared several other DOC officers who lost their jobs after they were caught colluding with two maximum-security prisoners, was a breach of public trust.
They were supposed to guard the prisoners, not help them bring in drugs. In Rosalin's case, text messages between Rosalin and a maximum-security inmate detailed the former corrections officer's participation, according to court documents.
Rosalin's guilty plea spared him from going to prison. His official misconduct plea was a misdemeanor. Rosalin's case was closed in January 2020. The next month, the Port Authority of Guam opened a new position: program coordinator II for the Port's maintenance division.
Rosalin applied, along with others. Rosalin was hired. A mention was made that part of the decision to hire him was his experience in law enforcement - which, ironically, he ended up abusing in his previous government job.
Guam's online community was lit. Some said he should be given a chance. Port General Manager Rory Respicio felt the same way.
Many, though, were surprised, even dismayed. This came a day after the former mayor of Yona, Jesse Blas, got a slap-on-the-wrist, three-year sentence for extortion in a drug-related bribery case.
Is GovGuam so desperate to hire that it chose someone with a criminal record that deals with abuse of public trust?
The Guam attorney general's office stated it is ultimately the discretion of the head of a GovGuam agency to disregard or look past someone's official misconduct conviction – and rehire the person for another GovGuam position.
The law is clear on sexual assault convicts, who can't be hired in GovGuam. A family violence conviction can also derail a law enforcement job application.
But official misconduct? Apparently getting rehired into GovGuam is at the discretion of a government department head.
A well-meaning group of senators may want to see if it's time to plug this gaping hole.
The Guam Office of Public Accountability, as well as federal authorities, need to look deep into the Port as the agency is the recipient of tens of millions of dollars in federal funds.
This episode is a morale-breaker for the honest and hardworking people in the government of Guam who don't break the law and don't abuse the trust the public gives them.
For the public, it's another cause for dismay and erosion of trust in the government's choices.