ISLAND LAWMAKERS HAVE TOUGH ROW TO HOE

Editorial

Samoa Observer

APIA, Samoa (Feb 2) – Being leaders of a country like American Samoa has got to be the most exciting jobs there are, and most difficult too.

What separates them from the rest is the sheer controversy of almost every decision they have to make, right down to the cruelly biting criticisms that those decisions invariably attract.

Let’s face it. These people are charged with the solving of the country’s most tenacious problems that neither you nor I would want to touch.

And yet these problems – the majority of them anyway – have been caused mainly by everyone else’s dishonesty, ineptitude, and disobedience.

Which means our leaders have got to be as hard as nails to function effectively in those public offices they occupy, and be allowed to become cruel sometimes to stay sane.

Take a look at Governor Togiola Tulafono for instance, and what he has to go through simply because he’s governor.

Straight out of hospital not long ago, he flew to Washington DC in connection with the federal minimum wage threat his administration believes could ruin the Territory’s economy.

And even as that threat has yet to be averted, he’s being dragged into what appears to be an embarrassing controversy brewing within the Homeland Security Program.

According to the Samoa News, the governor has ordered the program’s funds frozen.

In addition, he has ordered the director of the Territorial Emergency Management Co-ordinating Office (TEMCO) to be placed on leave to allow a federal investigation into the fund to be carried out.

Once again, these are hard decisions that are likely to sap Togiola’s local popularity, but nevertheless they are decisions that just have to be made.

"The concerns of the federal agencies are very serious," Togiola told the News. "Our Homeland Security program is under threat of being classified as a ‘high risk operation.’"

What that means has not been made clear, but its harrowing tone spells imminent disaster that needs to be averted.

Which is why Togiola has taken over control of the program, thus adding another responsibility to his plateful of responsibilities.

Meantime, there’s still the dispute with Hawaiian Air to be sorted out, the Pago Pago Airport tower snag to be overcome, among other pestering obstacles slowing thinking down.

Over there in the Senate and the House of Representatives, our lawmakers’ heads are bald and blue from being scratched so much.

Last year they thrashed out LBJ Hospital’s financial problems. This week when new problems in the form of new hospital fees emerged, they’re scratching their heads harder.

They’re also praying for inspirational solutions to the nagging glitches emerging from the controversial American Samoa Employees’ Retirement Fund (ASGERF), among other undying sources of frustration.

Will these public figures ever have time to sit down for a bit of rest?

Looking at it from a positive perspective, we have to admit the life these men have chosen is difficult, but nobler; the demands on them are punishing, but the privileges are comforting.

Indeed, they’re making history and their legacies will surely survive.

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