CUC yet to fill 2 management posts

The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. has yet to fill vacancies in two critical management positions that are required in order for the agency to comply with a federal court’s orders.

The two positions are for a water and wastewater chief engineer and a water and wastewater division manager.

CUC executive director Gary P. Camacho told the CUC board that their human resources department continues to advertise the position of water and wastewater chief of engineer.

Negotiations are ongoing for the hiring of a water and wastewater division manager, he added.

Camacho said that CUC deputy executive director William Gilmore has already completed an interview with an applicant for chief engineer as CUC is in dire need to fill the position.

He said Larry Manacop has been “doing a great job” as acting chief engineer.

Song Kim, the former chief engineer, resigned in October 2018.

Camacho said an applicant has already been selected and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

However, they learned shortly during negotiations that the applicant got two other offers from private companies that far exceed CUC’s ability to challenge those offers. Camacho said the salary being offered by two companies is three to four times more than even the maximum salary that CUC can offer for the position of chief engineer.

With respect to the water and wastewater division manager position, Camacho said they have completed interviews of the selected candidates.

Camacho said they are hoping to get some commitment as they already gone past the deadline to fill that position.

“However, we are very proactive even before the deadline. As soon as we received the resignation [of the previous manager], we advertised,” he said.

Camacho said they have been in communication with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the matter.

He said there are about 20 applicants for the position. Gilmore said that EPA vetted all 20 applicants.

Gilmore said they keep EPA informed about the hiring efforts. “We talk every two weeks. We send letters every week. I communicate every other week,” he said.

Gilmore said they making sure that they demonstrate earnest interest in trying to fill the position. “It’s an ongoing effort,” he added.

Former water and wastewater division manager Gary Byrd resigned in November 2018, reportedly to accept an off-island job.

U.S. Department of Justice Enforcement Section senior attorney Bradley R. O’Brien earlier stated that CUC historically sustained lengthy vacancies in management positions, thereby impending CUC’s operations and compliance with the federal court’s stipulated orders.

Stipulated order 1 refers to federal court-mandated projects that focus on drinking water and wastewater and the restructuring of CUC’s organization.

Stipulated order 2 focuses on oil issues and also applies to oil spills and the remediation of the contaminated power plants.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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