Years before Kevin Susuico became the mayor of Agat, he was hired for the job of accountant II at the Port Authority of Guam. A little more than a year into the accountant job, he was fired.
It turned out he wasn't qualified, the Civil Service Commission has ruled. The job, among other qualifications according to the Port Authority's posting for the position, required: a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field including or supplemented by 24 semester credit hours of accounting/auditing subjects. An applicant could also present prior accountant I experience "or equivalent work and possession of a certificate as a certified public accountant," the Port Authority's requirements for the job state, in part.
Susuico, according to public records, did not have an accounting degree. Without that degree, it would have been impossible for him to even take the board exam to be licensed as a certified public accountant.
He did obtain a two-year associate's degree in marketing from the Guam Community College, which didn't quite fit the requirements for the job he was fired from but sought to regain by fighting his case all the way to the Supreme Court of Guam – including years of back pay.
The Supreme Court ruling acknowledges that Susuico wasn't qualified to be an accountant at the Port Authority, but it still agreed with the Superior Court that Susuico should be awarded years of back pay for a job he shouldn't have been hired for in the first place.
The courts chose to look at a technical fault in the government process leading up to his January 2013 termination. After he was hired as an accountant II in 2011, the government supposedly missed a 60-day deadline to inform Susuico of the adverse action against him, hence the award for back pay and reinstatement. The Port Authority is looking at an enormous cost. Years of back pay plus interest could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Susuico hasn't responded to The Guam Daily Post's requests for comment, but it would be safe to say he wants the payday, although not necessarily to go back to a job he isn't qualified to perform. A marketing graduate cannot just wing it on a job that requires an accounting degree and a CPA license.
The Superior and Supreme Court decisions leave more questions than answers.
Why would the courts side with a person who wants back pay and reinstatement for a position he shouldn't have held to begin with?
In this case, the high court took a 180-degree turn from its recent decision on the Guam YTK Corp. debacle. Ultimately, the high court recently decided Guam YTK couldn't get a $14 million-plus arbitration award payday in its fight with the Port Authority over a lease dispute on Hotel Wharf. There's no need to pay Guam YTK because the government lease was illegal to begin with, so stated the Supreme Court in its recent ruling.
The Susuico case is puzzling. But just because the Supreme Court issued a ruling doesn't mean the issue goes away.
More scrutiny and more answers are needed. The Office of the Attorney General needs to look at Susuico's job application and determine whether he purposely claimed to be an accountant when he wasn't. The AG's office also needs to look at who among the Port Authority management let his employment slide through, if that was the case.
If anything, Susuico should be held accountable instead of being given a fat, back-pay payday.
The Port Authority receives a lot of federal funds. Maybe a federal investigation should be launched too.