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Pay raises at the Legislature, too

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - There's not just money at Adelup to give raises, but at the Legislature as well.  On Monday KUAM News reported about a number of raises given by the Camacho Administration to its staffers, ranging from $2,000 to $24,000 increases.  But raises have been given to senatorial staffers as a review of the Legislature's March and September 2009 staffing patterns show pay increases and new hires.

Democrat Senator Frank Aguon, Jr., gave the most raises of his colleagues in the 30th Guam Legislature.  His committee director, Frances S. Lizama, was promoted to chief of staff, which came with a $4 an hour raise, allowing her to make close to $45,000 a year.  Committee secretary Irene V. Macapagal, office assistant Anthony C. Mendiola, and administrative assistant Magdalena Milondaga all received $1/hour raises, while committee special assistant Gina Tabonares received a pay increase of $2/hour.

The rate for the assistant to the director, Natacha C. Aguon, was changed from $800 to $1,024.  While two employees left the office between March and September, Senator Aguon hired three individuals.

Senators Ben Pangelinan and Eddie Calvo's staffers' salaries remained the same, while Senator Tom Ada only gave one pay increase for his staff analyst Anthony J. Sunga who was promoted to his chief of staff.  Senator Tina Rose Muna-Barnes did not give any raises.  She lost her chief of policy and legislation last year, but hired senior policy analyst, Dennis Rodriguez Jr. for $1,500 every two weeks ($39,000 a year).

Senator Rory Respicio, meanwhile, gave two raises to his administrative officer, Elaine Tajalle, and his research analyst Stephanie Mendiola.  Both were making approximately $36,000, but Tajalle is now making more than $40,000 while Mendiola is bringing home close to $45,000.  Senator Respicio says he chose to give the raises following certain staff members leaving his office.  Instead of bringing on another employee, the senator says he gave raises for the additional duties placed on his staffers.

Senator Ray Tenorio gave a 50 cent raise to his receptionist/clerk Mermae Cepeda whose pay increased to $9 an hour.  He lost two staffers from his office, but hired Roe Ann Martin at a rate of $640 bi-weekly.

Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz saw a number of employees come and go last year, but only two staffers were given raises.  Staff assistant Michael Lidia is now being paid $17 an hour, while his staff aide, Jose S. Cruz, Jr's., rate went from $560 to $720.

Senator Adolpho Palacios gave administrative officer Priscilla Cruz a one-dollar raise, while policy researcher Jonathan Diaz's rate was changed from $1,251.20 bi-weekly to $16 an hour.  Office clerk Victoria Phillips went from making $8.50 an hour to $10 an hour.  Legislative aide Jameson Hemley received a dollar fifty raise and is now making $9 an hour. Palacios lost one staffer and hired Britney Mafnas as a receptionist for $9 an hour and former police chief Earl Aguigui as a part-time policy researcher at a rate of $1,000.

There were no changes in staff salaries at the offices of senators Frank Blas, Jr. and James Espaldon, while Senator Judi Guthertz's salaries were actually reduced.  Senator Matt Rector's chief of staff, Freddie Burgos, received a $4.50 an hour raise and is now making $22.50/hour.  Rector hired an executive assistant, a committee director, and a part-time legislative assistant

According to the staffing patterns, Senator Telo Taitague's policy advisor, Michael Perez's, rate of pay went from $1,000 bi-weekly to $12.85 an hour.  The freshman Republican senator lost one employee while she hired two legislative assistants at $9 an hour.

We should point out that the Legislature's staffing patterns, which are posted on their web site do not clearly indicate a staffer's annual salary.  Instead the staffing patterns require one to do some digging and some calculating, as KUAM News did for this story, to determine if a raise was given to employees.

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