Board places Marcel Camacho on admin leave
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - There's a new person in charge of the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority, at least for the next several weeks. Something's certainly up at the agency, as the board during its meeting this morning voted unanimously to place executive director Marcel Camacho on administrative leave
Camacho was quick to leave out of the back doors of GHURA's Sinajana offices this afternoon. His parking slot was empty after the board unanimously voted to place him on administrative leave for the next 20 days. Board chairman Dave Sablan wouldn't disclose the reasons for their decision, telling KUAM News, "I really can't disclose any details - that was discussed in executive session. All I can say is that he is on administrative leave and he is not required to report to the office henceforth."
The board discussed the action behind closed doors for about 30 minutes this afternoon., with Sablan adding, "We gave him his opportunity to comment and it was very cordial and very civil."
Asked if the board had concerns about possible conflicts of interests and dealings that Camacho was doing," Sablan replied, "I don't think I can comment at this point because again we don't talk about that because it's a personnel matter." Sablan would also not confirm whether the board asked for Camacho's resignation.
The administrative leave comes less than a week after the board took issue with comments Camacho made about the Sagan Bonita project, calling it a "blighted community" that was behind schdule; the board called the executive director's comments about the development "unprofessional and uncalled for". The decision also comes following the board's concerns about possible perceived conflicts of interest that were not disclosed back in December when Camacho attempted to bring up a request from Paradise Meadows that was seeking a waiver of the $8,000 system development charge for each of the 101 homes they are building.
The request was made to Camacho not in his capacity as GHURA executive director but as the executive officer of the governor's Affordable Housing Coordinating Council.
The waiver would have equated to more than $800,000 in savings for the developer. "It doesn't matter it has nothing to do with us, (we told him to) give it back to the Affordable Homes Coordinating Council," Sablan stated.
The board learned later that Camacho has close familial ties to Paradise Meadows but never disclosed them to the board. "Perception is very important and therefore we have to make sure that there is no perception of any impropriety of work that we are doing especially since we are 100% federally funded," the chairman continued.
During an interview last week, Camacho made it clear he didn't think there was a conflict, bringing the matter to the board and said the AHCC intends to recommend the SDC waiver for Paradise Meadows.
"In no way am I affiliated with Paradise Meadows," said Camacho, adding, "As I mentioned to you before, I did do some consulting with them in the past but I have relinquished all connection with them." He also said, "My father's the principal of Paradise Meadows, but again I have relinquished all ties to that. I only did some consulting. I don't own any stock in it."
Coincidentally Camacho, before he was placed on administrative leave, reported to the board about a recent ethics conference he attended that discussed the importance of disclosures and conflicts of interest.
Camacho has not returned our calls for comment. Ray Topasna has been tapped to lead the agency in the interim while Lou Taitano has been appointed as deputy.
KUAM News has also confirmed that former Guma Trankilidat Association president Ray Hackett obtained a temporary restraining order against Camacho. Camacho recently filed a harassment complaint against Hackett after he raised concerns about the legality of a recent election that changed the association's leadership.
Hackett accused Camacho of interfering with the process and calling police to the swearing in ceremony.
Chairman Sablan meanwhile says they learned of the TRO but said they have no comment as it is a matter that Camacho will have to deal with personally.