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Uncovered documents: Telo "Kickback" Taitague

By Johnnie Rosario

One of the two senators attempting to lead an anti-corruption task force is mentioned in a kickback scheme at the Guam Visitors Bureau in 2016, when she was the deputy manager of the agency.

In a November 23, 2016 executive session of the GVB board of directors, several board members discussed then-deputy manager Telo Taitague's incompetence, insubordination, protection by Eddie and Christine Calvo's Adelup... "and then there was a kickback."

The mention of the "kickback" was by board member Bruce Kloppenburg. The reference, according to a former highly-placed GVB officer, was to a high-end purse Ms. Taitague received from GVB contractor G4S Security that was meant for an employee raffle. Ms. Taitague allegedly kept the purse.

At least one other GVB employee at the time was implicated in the scandal. That employee apologized for her part and returned the purse she received.

This discussion among GVB board members in executive session was only rumored to have existed prior to this story. Executive sessions of any government agency are conducted behind closed doors. The law permits governing bodies to conduct these executive sessions, but only to discuss very limited matters, such as personnel issues. The sessions, however, must be recorded and transcribed; both the audio and the transcription files available for public inspection after six months.

Efforts to have the November 23, 2016 executive session transcripts disclosed have been blocked by GVB's previous management and legal counsel under the Calvo administration. Thankfully, the Gutierrez management under the Leon Guerrero administration has seen fit to follow the law and to be transparent.

The kickback was not the only deficiency of character and ability the GVB board discussed relating to Ms. Taitague, who now is a senator.

In a wily discussion that even included then-Gov. Eddie Calvo's first cousin, Eduardo "Champ" Calvo, several board members discussed Ms. Taitague's inability to perform to the agency's standards. Board members openly talked about Adelup's interference with GVB, forcing the agency to keep Taitague on its payroll against the advice of its manager at the time, Nathan Denight.

At one point, GVB board chairman Mark Baldyga cautioned board members to watch what they say: "But keep in mind that - you know - these are public documents in six months from now, so."

From one board member to the next, the solution they were trying to find was to the question, 'How do we get rid of Telo Taitague?'

“[H]er job standard performance frankly is not up to standard,” Mr. Kloppenburg said.

"She serves at Nate [Denight]'s pleasure and I've had a number of discussions with Nate, and he felt handcuffed because, let's face it, she was protected by Adelup," Kloppenburg continued.

"A year ago, Nate asked me if I would stand next to him and go up to Adelup and have the discussion to make that change; and so, he did that, and there was agreement to do that," Mr. Baldyga said.

Surprisingly, the board members openly discussed GVB and Adelup's unethical arrangement that used the hard-earned dollars of the hotel and restaurant industry's thousands of minimum wage earners to keep Taitague on the job despite her dismal performance because Adelup could not find a suitable job to place her in elsewhere.

Mr. Baldyga told the board members that the Calvo Governor's Office had agreed to take Taitague out of GVB, "But then a few months later, the feedback was 'can't find any other position.' I think Nate's gotten to a point where he's kind of frustrated as far as he doesn't know what to do at this point."

And it wasn't just Mr. Denight who had asked the board and Adelup to do something about Taitague.

"I've had staff come to me saying they've been misrepresented off island," Mr. Kloppenburg said. "I think we should do something."

In the end, Mr. Kloppenburg was joined by board members Therese Arriola and Robert Hoffman in their desire to do what was right, but they were outvoted by the Calvo appointees on the board, who ended up protecting Taitague and taking a giant shit on the tourism industry.

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