AMERICAN SAMOA NEWS

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December 3, 1999
SAMOA NEWS

GOVERNOR TAUESE WANTS TO VETO FONO FUNDING INCREASE

PAGO PAGO, America Samoa (December 3, 1999 – Samoa News)---"I am looking for a legal way to veto the entire additional amount the Fono voted to give itself during their recent budget review," Governor Tauese Sunia said yesterday.

"Given the financial shape of the government, they were told they must limit their spending to the same amount they were allowed last year ($4.25 million), but they instead cut other agencies in order to give themselves a $1.3 million, 31% increase, to $5.5 million.

"If the Fono wants to cut the spending of other agencies, that is their prerogative, but it is not fair or proper for them to cut other agencies -- already operating at or below last year’s budgetary levels -- in order to fund more spending for the legislature."

 

CHANGES IN FOOD STAMP ELIGIBILITY STIR RESENTMENT

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (December 3, 1999 – Samoa News)---The definition of "disabled person" used by the ASNAP program (food stamps) has changed and become less flexible, according to the director of the Department of Human and Social Services, Marie Ma‘o.

This has been one reason why some former ASNAP recipients have recently become upset while visiting ASNAP offices in Utulei.

According to a Samoa News reporter who witnessed a recent incident, about five ladies argued strenuously with program personnel. Some were in tears, while others were fairly out of control as they yelled argumentatively, accusing program people of not providing timely notification of the changes.

 

HIGH COURT ALLOWED SAVEA SAOFA‘I TO PROCEED

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (December 3, 1999 – Samoa News)---A title bestowal ceremony (saofa‘i) for Fa‘agau Lefiti took place last week in Matu‘u for the "Savea" title, after the High Court lifted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).

The petitioners for the TRO, Tavita Roseti and Fitiuta Lemaga, had consented to the lifting of the TRO after a conference with Chief Justice Michael Kruse last week Wednesday, the day before the saofa‘i was scheduled.

By the time the conference commenced, the courthouse was packed full of members of the Savea extended family.

Roseti and Lemaga had asserted in their petition for the TRO that Lefiti is "not a blood member of the Family Savea" and should have never been allowed to register the title in his name.

The Chief Justice took this concern very seriously, but all sides agreed to allow the saofa‘i to proceed, while leaving the door open for the challengers to raise the matter in court at a later date if they choose.

"There’s an issue here about blood and that’s an issue that family members are entitled to address and be addressed on," Kruse pointed out.

"And I would like to have that issue addressed sometime."

Roseti and Lemaga were represented by attorney Asaua Fuimaono while Afoa Moega Lutu represented Faagau Lefiti.

 

MATAI REGISTER CONTAINS MANY IMPROPER TITLES

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (December 3, 1999 – Samoa News)---Is your matai title legal? Just because it is registered doesn’t make it legal.

"Many matai titles now on the matai register should not be there," said Territorial Registrar Starr Lutu Schuster in an interview this week.

According to her, more than a hundred matai titles have been registered since 1969, the year when the register was closed.

Secretary of Samoan Affairs Sotoa Savali, in an earlier interview, said that any title that is not on the Registrar’s matai register cannot be legally considered a matai. "To continue to use unregistered titles is illegal," he said, "and things can get complicated with the creation of so many new titles by family Sao."

But even registered titles may not be legal, if they were registered after 1969.

"The problem (Sotoa is referring to) is complicated further by having these matais get on the list," Schuster said. Despite their presence on the Registrar’s list, they "are still illegal because they were not entered on the matai register by the year 1969."

The Registrar said there are several reasons why the matai titles were improperly placed on the list, but she declined to explain or list those reasons.

 

FORMER LAND GRANT DIRECTOR SUES ASCC AND ITS PRESIDENT

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (December 3, 1999 – Samoa News)---Dr. Salei‘a Afele-Fa‘amuli has sued the American Samoa Community College and its president, Dr. Salu Hunkin, over her "wrongful" removal as the dean and director of the ASCC’s Division of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resources (Land Grant).

A career service employee of ASG, Dr. Afele-Fa‘amuli is seeking at least $50,000 in general and special damages from the ASCC and at least $10,000 from Dr. Hunkin, who is being sued as an individual in addition to her capacity as president.

An initial hearing on this lawsuit, which was filed in late October, has been set in the High Court for 9:00 a.m. on Friday, December 17, 1999.

 

REP. MUAVAEFAATASI WILL TAKE ASG TO COURT OVER PAYROLL

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (December 3, 1999 – Samoa News)---Getting a bad credit rating when it’s not your fault really. . . stinks.

Outspoken faipule Muavaefaatasi Ae Ae, Jr. said he is beyond "frustrated and disgusted." The next course of remedy to relieve his pounding headache is "take ASG to court and to the U.S. Labor Board."

"It has come down to this remedy. All else has failed in trying to get the government to pay out my payroll deductions for loans and other obligations. I am also beyond trying to convince my bank that it’s not my fault the payment is very delinquent," said Rep. Muavaefaatasi Ae Ae.

The final blow came this week for Rep. Muavaefaatasi when he was told by the bank that he was delinquent in payments and must pay $161.82 right away as his credit rating is reaching the point of no return.

The faipule is not alone. He mentioned two other Fono employees facing the same problem, and untold hundreds of ASG employees whose credit is no longer secure.

Taking on the burden of trying to help everyone, Rep. Muavaefaatasi told the Samoa News yesterday that he is taking the government and the bank to court.

Additionally, he is filing an official complaint with the U.S. Labor Board against the American Samoa government.

"If my case goes through [court], maybe that will help others in the same situation I am in. Better yet, maybe others can join me in filing the suit," the faipule said.

The last time Rep. Muavaefaatasi asked the public to join in a court suit against the government was over the poker machine issue and only one citizen joined the lawmaker in the suit pending in court.

According to Treasurer Tifimalae Ale, the government is behind four pay periods on payroll deduction and they are hoping at least two of the past pay periods will be paid in December (during which two more pay periods will fall).

Ale said revenue collection for November was down, but "November is always a slow month in revenue collections while December is a good month for revenue collections."

Rep. Muavaefaatasi said if the government would "just stop hiring people at this time, the cash flow shortage could be prevented before the end of this century."

The faipule alleges that reports received by the Fono indicate that the government is still hiring.

 

LELOALOA TO MAKE TRADITIONAL GIFT PRESENTATION TO PENCO

By Tauva Esera

PENCO’s efforts to remove the abandoned longliners from the reefs off Leleloaloa village have fulfilled a long-held wish from the village authorities.

To convey their gratitude to PENCO for a job well done, Faumuina I‘ulogologo Tagisia said the village plans to make a traditional gift presentation when the job is complete.

PENCO, based in Honolulu, has been on the job for several months. Pacific Rim Manager Frank Knight and eleven crewmembers are aided by local contractors, and paid by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The company has removed four of the nine vessels stranded on the reefs from Onesosopo to Leloaloa since Hurricane Val in December 1991.

 

AMERICAN SAMOA NEWS December 2, 1999 SAMOA NEWS

 

LUPELELE GETS NEW CLASSROOMS AND NEW FENCE

PAGO PAGO, America Samoa (December 2, 1999 – Samoa News)---More elementary school fences are on the way, according to DOE Director Dr. Sili K. Sataua.

The next schools to get fences will be Aua Elementary (678 students) and Lupelele (1,050 students).

"These two projects are spearheaded by the schools’ PTA," said Sili. "DOE is giving the project to the school PTA. We will provide the materials, while they will work to get the fences erected."

During Dr. Sataua’s Fono confirmation, he told lawmakers that "DOE cannot do the job alone without the involvement of the community, especially the PTA."

 

REDUCED WORK HOURS MAY BE ONLY OPTION FOR ASG

PAGO PAGO, America Samoa (December 2, 1999 – Samoa News)---Reduced work hours for American Samoa Government employees may be instituted in the near future, according to Governor Tauese Sunia.

ASG is having severe cash flow problems and is presently financing operations by, essentially, borrowing almost half-a-million dollars a week from its employees.

 

TEDI OF SAMOA REOPENS FOR HOLIDAY

PAGO PAGO, America Samoa (December 2, 1999 – Samoa News)---The Tedi of Samoa store at Fagatogo Square has re-opened and will remain open until after the holidays, according to owners Bill and Apoua Tedreck.

The Tedrecks went into semi-retirement last year but decided to re-open for the holidays.

"Its such a good retail location that it makes sense to operate out of our Tedi of Samoa premises until such time as it is sold or rented to another business," explained the Tedrecks, who are still looking for interested parties.

The store is no longer selling clothes, just toys, electronics, bicycles, Christmas lights and holiday decorations.

 

KERETI MATAUTIA: FROM MANU‘A HIGH TO HARVARD UNIVERSITY

By Lewis Wolman

PAGO PAGO, America Samoa (December 2, 1999 – Samoa News)---It is a long way from the Manu‘a Islands to Harvard University, but Tuaau Kereti Matautia, Jr. accomplished the journey last month.

Matautia, a graduate of Manu‘a High School (class of ‘84), recently returned from an eight-day Harvard Executive Program on "Understanding the New World of Health Care."

The Harvard program is designed to provide its 100 participants with "the concepts and tools to influence the evolution of the health care system." The program was designed for "physicians, and non-physician leaders in health care organizations."

Matautia was accepted in the program while serving as the Human Resources Manager for LBJ Tropical Medical Center, but by the time he left for the course he had resigned from that post.

As a result, he spent more than $10,000 of his own money to attend the program (the tuition for the eight-day program was $4,500) held at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"It was worth it, though," Kereti told Samoa News this week. "The program was very intense and conducted at a very high level. I learned a lot, not just from the information provided, but from the interaction with the lecturers and other participants. It was a breath of fresh air to be in a stimulating environment where information was freely exchanged. And I’m sure the personal networks I established will provide a lot of benefits to me and the American Samoa community I am pledged to serve."

Unfortunately, Kereti experienced conflicts with LBJ’s management prior to his departure. He is now staffing his own human resources consulting firm, KHR. According to Kereti, KHR will soon be providing ASTCA staff with ten weeks of human resources training over a five-month period.

 

STEVE WATSON ADDS TAFUNA BRANCH TO HIS ASB DUTIES

PAGO PAGO, America Samoa (December 2, 1999 – Samoa News)---Amerika Samoa Bank has placed Steve Watson at its Tafuna Branch as part of a bank-wide decentralization initiative.

Watson remains the bank’s Senior Vice President for Loans, but now has additional responsibilities as the man in charge of the growing Tafuna branch.

"We want to build up our capability to offer all of our services at both Fagatogo and Tafuna," Bank CEO Hal Fielding told Samoa News

With the continuing shift of private sector activity and population from the harbor area to the west side of the island, the bank is trying to make it easier for its customers by providing full service -- including all loan service -- at its Tafuna location. "The move should also reduce congestion downtown," Fielding said, "which will also assist our town area customers."

Items from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

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