GovGuam’s voluminous fiscal 2020 budget bill has an insertion that’s unrelated to the annual process of authorizing how much the government of Guam can spend and who gets to spend more or less than the previous year.
Riding the bill, whose deadline for passage is near, is a provision that would reduce the qualifications for Guam’s next chief of police.
This is the latest example of GovGuam’s history of bending or changing rules so it can hire people who don’t meet existing job requirements.
Specifically, the rider proposes to remove the requirements for the next police chief to possess “no less than 15 years of progressive experience in a government law enforcement position, including five years at a supervisory command level and five years in a senior position with law enforcement management responsibilities.”
The timing looks suspect because the Guam Police Department has just recently welcomed new Chief Steve Ignacio.
Does the administration have someone in mind to slide into the job who doesn’t quite pass the current qualifications? Even if that’s not the case, it’s worth asking why now, and why anyone in the top leadership of this administration would propose to lower the qualifications of a very important public safety position.
“This proposed change not only lowers the bar for the person in charge of our island’s overall safety, it sends the message that we should expect less from our leaders. The people of Guam are right to expect more,” said Vice Speaker Telena Nelson, who was the legislative public safety oversight chairwoman last year. “When individuals with machetes randomly assault innocent drivers and residents washing their laundry are held at knifepoint in front of their kids, our community should expect more from public safety leadership, not less.”
Nelson had used the current, more stringent police chief requirements to introduce bills beefing up qualifications for the directors of the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency as well as the Department of Corrections. Those measures are now Public Law 34-170 and 34-167, respectively.
Nelson is absolutely right on this issue.
But, then again, the local government hasn’t exactly adhered to a gold standard for certain hirings. It only takes a high school diploma to be hired for many jobs in GovGuam.
In another recent example, the Port Authority of Guam hired Kevin Susuico (now the mayor of Agat) as an accountant, even though he had no accounting degree. He had a two-year associate’s degree in marketing and didn’t even have to show his transcripts to get hired.
The Civil Service Commission determined a few years ago that he wasn’t qualified and ordered his termination. But, oddly enough, the Supreme Court of Guam recently ordered his reinstatement to the job he was never qualified for and awarded him years of back pay. And the Port management plans on paying him.
The CSC has a pile of records of cases that involve government employees who were not qualified to work for the positions they were hired for but got the job anyway.
Actions like these don’t help GovGuam gain the confidence of its taxpayers.
We urge our elected officials to shape up.