Updated: Nov 26, 2019
By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) Nearly seven years ago, seven seaport employees were fired in a political conspiracy by the Calvo administration to rid the government of two of its political enemies: Bernadette Meno and Vivian Leon. Ms. Meno was the port marketing administrator. Ms. Leon was the port corporate services administrator and the de facto head of the agency. Five other workers became collateral damage to it all: human resources administrator Francine Rocio, HR specialist Frances Arriola, safety employee Leonora Leon Guerrero, marketing assistant Josette Javellosa, and comptroller Jojo Guevara.
In August 2011, Ms. Meno slipped and fell on her back inside the women's restroom on the second floor of the port administration building at Cabras Island. Ms. Meno immediately reported the incident to port safety administrator Frank Roberto via email; and Mr. Roberto sent his underling, Paul Salas, to inspect the restroom. Documents that surfaced after the firings revealed that inspectors found a slippery substance had been applied to the floor.
Months later Ms. Meno saw her doctor because of a growing acute pain in her lower back. Her doctor referred her for further diagnosis. The seaport recommended she see Dr. Hayashida, which she did. He ordered that she go off island for back surgery and ruled the cause of the spinal injury was the hard fall she took in the restroom at the port.
The process for worker's compensation began. Documents reveal that nothing about the process done for Ms. Meno's claim or worker's comp was different from previous claims, including a claim leading to a back surgery approved just one month prior to Ms. Meno's claim.
The documents for the payment of Ms. Meno's worker's comp and travel authorization for the back surgery were flagged at the Governor's Office prior to final approval. Then-Governor Eddie Calvo directed a closer look at the documents. Port legal counsel Mike Phillips and his investigator at the time, John Bell, conducted an investigation with a pre-determined conclusion set by then-governor's chief of staff Franklin Arriola to get rid of Ms. Meno.
In a meeting with Mr. Calvo, his most trusted advisors, and the seaport's highest officials, together with newly-appointed deputy general manager Joanne Brown in late 2012, Mr. Calvo directed the firings of those whom Mr. Phillips said were involved in the processing of the worker's comp claim. Then-port board chairman Dan Tydingco said it was critical that Ms. Leon be included as one of the fired workers, because she holds significant sway over port employees, who had the tendency to determine the outcome of elections in the village of Agat.
It was also in this meeting that it was determined that if then-port general manager Mary Torres does not comply with the governor's orders, that she should be removed and that Ms. Brown would become the general manager and that she would fire the workers.
The port board held an illegal and secret meeting on December 5, 2012, noticed only to the members by Mr. Tydingco via email, in which he told the members to bring a grave digger to the meeting. He was referring to his desires to politically bury Ms. Meno and Ms. Leon.
Ms. Torres defied the governor, after imploring him to discard Mr. Phillips's faulty report. She was fired by the board. Ms. Brown fired the workers in December 2012.
The workers immediately appealed their terminations.
In the investigation that ensued, investigators found several documents that had been kept out of Mr. Phillips's report. Several documents that implicated the seven workers were found to have been fabricated to make it look like the workers had done something wrong. Email correspondence was altered in its printed versions. Hard drives were erased. Emails were deleted from servers. Even the administrator of the worker's compensation commission, Joannalyn Fullertoon, was threatened and harassed by Mr. Bell.
In the years following the illegal firings of seven seaport employees, several GovGuam officials conspired to coverup the wrongdoing. There never was any proof of the conspiracy until secret recordings of two of the conspirators surfaced. Click on the video at the top of this story: a greatest hits compilation for your entertainment. We present to you, Frick & Frack.