Thursday, 16 March 2017

Gary Gumataotao's position as Ed. Board legal counsel could end soon

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"$60,000 was the max for the fiscal year and with everything that's been going on with the financial conditions that we're facing with the department, we want to make sure that anything that the board is dealing with that we ensure funding for it," Mark Mendiola explained. 

Guam - Attorney Gary Gumataotao may no longer represent the Board of Education, according to GEB's Finance Chairman  Mark Mendiola. The reason? Mendiola says the board can no longer afford him. 

"Basically, we just crafted a letter and sent it to him saying you know we appreciate his service to the board, however we're coming up to the point where it's becoming a financial challenge to continue and serve as legal counsel for the board," Mendiola shared.  

Mendiola says retaining Gumataotao has been rather costly. Last year, the previous board instructed Gumataotao to conduct an investigation that reportedly racked up well over $49,000 in attorney's fees alone.

"His contract basically highlighted that there has to be funding for that. It basically said $60,000 was the max for the fiscal year and with everything that's been going on with the financial conditions that we're facing with the department, we want to make sure that anything that the board is dealing with that we ensure funding for it," he explained. 

According to Mendiola, GEB's RFP for a legal counsel states that Gumataotao's legal services is subject to availability of funds. And he says the RFP clearly indicates that the $60,000 was intended to be $5,000 per month stretched over a year's worth of time. 

"As we started looking at the numbers and we said ok it's pretty close... I just wanted to give him the curtesy and we prepared a letter to him and based on the contract, we said you know we don't have any funds available," he said. 

Mendiola made it clear that if Gary Gumataotao's allotment ended soon, he wouldn't leave a gap in the workforce. In fact, he tells PNC that the board already has two legal counsels at their disposal, one of them is the Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett Anderson. 

"There's contracts everyday that are no longer extended at the Department of Education this is just one of them. This is not a new thing. The reason why this probably out there is because of the controversy surrounding the superintendent," Mendiola said.  

According to the finance chairman, Gumataotao was the only vendor that responded to GEB's last RFP for a legal counsel. He's been representing the board for several years now and all of that might change when the board convenes again at the end of the month.

Mendiola says he will likely add discussion on Gumataotao's contract to the next board meeting agenda which is scheduled for the end of this month.  

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