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Flurry of new appointees for boards and dept heads

LBJ and ASTCA boards, DOC and Parks & Rec departments
reporters@samoanews.com

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga on Tuesday appointed Tofoitaufa Sandra King-Young as chairperson of the newly reconstituted American Samoa Medical Center (LBJ) board of directors, and named four other new members.

On Wednesday, the next day, the governor appointed veteran attorney Roy J.D Hall Jr as Chairperson of the American Samoa Telecommunications board, and named 5 new members to the board.

Also on Wednesday, businessman Keniseli Fa’alupe Lafaele was appointed as the Director of the Department of Commerce, while Maeata’anoa Pili Gaoteote was appointed as the Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation. Maeataa’anoa is currently Deputy Director for Parks and Recs and a long term employee of the Department.

Both men are noted by Lolo to be responsible to carry out the functions, duties and responsibilities of their appointments as prescribed by law and will each faithfully implement those performance deliverables set by the governor.

LBJ BOARD

Tofoitaufa, founder and CEO of PiCED, was a candidate for lieutenant governor in the 2012 gubernatorial race. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University and her Juris Doctorate from the George Washington University Law School where she was a member of the GW International Law.

Other board members are Tofaeono Dr. Victor Williams, a medical physician; Rep. Faimealelei Anthony Allen, a military retiree; Leiataua Leuga Turner, former director of the Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs;  and Mase Akapo, the meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tafuna.

“Each of these appointees have experience and exceptional abilities in managing and directing either government services or private sector,” said Lolo in the memo appointing the new board members. “I know that each of them will work faithfully to perform their duties and responsibilities as board members.”

“I am certain that these new members... will use their skills and experience to build upon the work formed by previous boards and board members and that they will develop and implement solutions to the litany of complex issues and difficulties which the... Medical Center must instantly address,” he said.

“As they labor to improve the quality, availability and affordability of medical care in American Samoa, I ask for your support,” he added.

Local law states that board members are appointed for a four year term by the governor and confirmed by the Senate only. The board shall be constituted as follows: Two members with extensive financial or business management experience; one member who is an active or retired Medical Doctor; one member who has extensive health care administration, or public administration experience; and one member at large.

The board, among its many duties and responsibilities, appoints the chief executive officer, chief financial officer and the Medical Director.

See the governor’s State of the Territory Address on samoanews.com for details of is mandates to the new board, among them is to reduce the  hospital fees, including the laboratory test fee.

One of the biggest concerns from lawmakers and the public over the past four years is the lack of funds for the LBJ off-island medical referral program, which sends local residents off island seeking medical care not available in the territory.

Lolo acknowledged this issue in his address saying that off-island care for residents is “mandated by law” and he will instruct the new board to assess carefully the federal Affordable Care Act, aka ‘ObamaCare’, for opportunities to help fund this program as soon as possible, as well as assisting patients needing off-island care in ways other than direct financial assistance.

“Nevertheless, funds will be identified in the interim to facilitate the restarting of the off-island care program,” he said.

LBJ’s FY 2013 budget of just over $39 million does not have funds for the referral program, which hospital officials said last year was due to budget constraints.

2% WAGE TAX

Lolo also revealed that his administration is re-considering the new 2% wage tax law which was passed by the Fono last year. Proceeds collected from the tax will first pay the $3 million loan for LBJ from the ASG Workmen’s Compensation Account and therefore goes directly into operations for the medical center.

Lolo said the reconsideration is “for fairness reasons”. To illustrate this issue, Lolo said, take a father of six minor children with a $10,000 salary who pays the 2% wage tax for the LBJ Hospital plus the 4% minimum income tax.

Then take a rental property owner who receives $4,000 a month in rental income and does not pay the 2% wage tax for LBJ hospital, only the 4% minimum income if he/she declares such income on his/her income tax return, or if he/she even files an income tax return at all.

“In this scenario, which is not unusual in the territory, the poor employee is paying for the property owner’s health care. The question is, is this fair?,” he asked.

ASTCA BOARD

Lolo in his General Memorandum No. 017- 13 dated Jan. 16, 2013, states that in accordance with Executive Order 02- 1998 he has appointed the chairman of the ASTCA board as well as the five new members.

They are businessman Steven Shalout, ASCC’s Moefauuo Bill Emmsley, educator Dr Trudie Iuli Sala, businessman Bill Young and Alofagia Nomura. The governor said the new members meet the requirements set by law.

“I know that they will all work together to strengthen the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority and that they will faithfully execute their duties and responsibilities as board members” said the governor.  

ASTCA was established in 1998 by Executive Order for the express purpose of improving telecommunication services in the Territory of American Samoa, according to ASTCA’s facebook page. Previously operated as the Office of Communications under the Executive Branch, ASTCA is now organized under a Board of Directors, and is managed by an executive director.

Because of it not being established by law, board member composition and terms of service, as well as its duties are not clearly defined. Samoa News assumes one of the board’s duties will be to appoint or re-appoint an executive director.

Aleki Sene, Sr. has held the executive director post for decades, and prior to the utility becoming an authority, he was also at the helm of the Office of Communications.

Samoa News in reviewing an FCC document, found that the ASTCA governing board comprises 5 members that serve in staggered terms. The last chairman of the board was the former Treasurer Magalei Logovi’i. The members and chairman are appointed by the governor.

Hall told Samoa News he and the newly appointed board are subject to confirmation.

He said, “I am looking forward to the opportunity to not only serve but to move communications in the territory forward so we can all be more competitive in business, and government can work more efficiently.”

The memorandum from the governor does not state how long the terms of the directors are.



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