CNMI Museum executive director Danny Aquino cites an administrative law in disputing a claim that he is an exempt employee and should not receive overtime pay for emergency services rendered following Super Typhoon Yutu in late October 2018.
Aquino said that he and his wife, Saipan Mayor’s Office field operations director Joann Aquino, are usually exempted from overtime pay. However, he said that, in times of emergency, the administration reserves the authority to pay them overtime. He cited 5 CFR 551.211(F)(2)(ii) for this.
That law states that: “Regardless of an employee’s grade or equivalent level, the agency may determine that an emergency exists that directly threatens human life or safety, serious damage to property, or serious disruption of an activity, and there is no one other recourse other than to assign qualified employees to temporarily perform work or duties in connection with the emergency. In such designated emergency an exempt employee can become non-exempt for any work week in which the employee primary duties for the period of emergency work are non-exempt.”
Danny Aquino’s primary duty is to run the CNMI Museum; however, he became involved in debris removal in response to Super Typhoon Yutu’s devastation.
“I was directly involved in debris recovery with the Saipan Mayor’s Office before the governor’s directive on Jan. 24, 2019, during the governor’s directive, and after the directive. I was assigned to the field…working under the hot sun and extreme weather,” Danny Aquino said in a statement.
“I did not spend the holidays with my mom or my family as originally planned before Super Typhoon Yutu caused catastrophic damage. Our home was destroyed [and] personal belongings, clothing, children’s photos—all were lost,” he said.
He noted that he and his crew, which are all CNMI Museum staff, worked at least six days a week to remove debris “to restore some degree of normalcy to affected families” around Saipan. “I worked extremely hard and tried my best to load as many dump trucks efficiently.”
Aquino issued the statement in response to Rep. Edwin K. Propst’s (Ind-Saipan) and Rep. Ivan A. Blanco’s (R-Saipan) comments when the former blasted those who allegedly received their overtime paychecks ahead of others while also questioning those who received overtime pay while exempt, like Cabinet members.
No access to timekeeping
Danny Aquino further disputed the claim of being included on a list of people who allegedly received their overtime pay in advance. He noted that, in order to receive any overtime compensation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, one must input Labor forms and FEMA forms on a daily basis.
He noted that time cards are certified and timesheets are prepared only through the timekeeper; documents forwarded are first inspected by another agency; approved timesheets are forwarded to the Finance Department for inspection and inputting; and that checks are printed depending on the availability of funds.
“No one has access to print their own recovery checks. In addition, we were paid the same time as all others from the Saipan Mayor’s Office and we are still waiting for other pay periods,” Danny Aquino said, adding that Joann Aquino’s overtime pay was one of the last five to be handed out in the Saipan Mayor’s Office.
Joann Aquino’s role in the Saipan Mayor’s Office is to disseminate commands from the office to the teams through radio. She assists with coordinating the teams during the debris pickup efforts and even represents the Saipan Mayor’s Office during emergency meetings.