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Fono in Review

reporters@samoanews.com

SENATE BUSINESS

FONO MID SESSION RECESS AND RETIREMENT BOARD MEETING

Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie has revealed plans by the Fono leadership to call for a mid session recess at the close of business next week Friday while the retirement committees of the Fono have been invited to the off-island meeting of the ASG Employees Retirement Fund board of trustees.

During Tuesday’s Senate session, Sen. Avegalio Aigamaua, chairman of the Senate Retirement Committee, announced that he has just received an official letter from the Retirement Fund about the meeting off island set for Feb. 20 and 21.

He said that only members of the Senate retirement committee will be attending this meeting.

Gaoteote then announced that the leadership plans to call a mid session recess to begin at the close of business on Feb. 8, which is next week Friday and this recess will coincide with the Retirement Fund meeting.

He said the Fono will try to get any new issues from the administration done on or before Feb. 8, and the rest will be considered when the Fono reconvenes. Gaoteote didn’t say how many weeks the Fono will be in recess, but a Fono concurrent resolution is expected to be introduced soon and approved thereafter calling for the recess and the time frame.

Held every two years in Honolulu, the ASG Retirement Fund pays for airfare and per diem for lawmakers attending the meeting. The gathering gives lawmakers a chance to get a financial briefing from the board and their financial experts about the status of the fund and where monies are invested.

Besides Avegalio, members of the Senate Retirement Committee are Sens. Leatualevao S. Asifoa (vice chair), Laolagi F.S. Vaeao, Magalei Logovi’i, Nua Saoluaga, Faumuina Tagisiaali’i, Letuligasenoa Soli, Alo Fa’auuga, Tuiasina S. Esera, Faletagoa’i I. Tuiolemotu, Saole Mila and Galeai M. Tu’ufuli.

In the House, the retirement committee members are: Reps. Fagasoaia F. Lealaitafea (chairman), Fetu Fetui Jr., (vice chair), Iaulualo Talia Fa’afetai, Fatulegae’e Mauga, Talaimatai E. Su’a, Faimealelei Anthony Allen, Vaetasi Tu’umolimioli S. Moliga, Maugaoali’i L. T. Anoa’i, Florence V. Saulo, Timusa Tini C. Lam Yuen, Puletuimalo D. Koko and Atualevao G. Afalava.

Samoa News notes there has been no announcement about the Retirement Fund Board from the Governor’s Office. The board chairman is Aleki Sene, Sr. and one of the members is former Lt. Gov. Faoa Aitofele Sunia and former Treasurer Magalei Logovi’i, who is currently a Senator and also a member of the Senate Retirement Committee.

In the past, the leaders of the Fono were sometimes included in the ‘paid’ trip, while other times the Fono paid for their trip. There is no word as to whether or not these two men will be attending the meeting at all.

HOUSE BUSINESS

ANOTHER OUTBURST ABOUT HOW CONFIRMATION HEARINGS ARE CONDUCTED

Just when it seemed like everything was smooth sailing in the House of Representatives as far as the way confirmation hearings are conducted, yet another outburst took place on Tuesday morning, during the confirmation hearing for DPS Commissioner William Haleck.

Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety Rep. Su’a Alexander Eli Jennings had instructed the lawmakers that the hearing should last about an hour, meaning each lawmaker could have a minute to ask any questions.

The first outburst came from Rep. Vailoata Amituana’i who was one of the first people present. Vailoata noticed that all the other faipule who walked in after him was afforded the opportunity to ask questions but he had yet to be called on.

Vailoata was vocal, telling the chairman and committee members that he didn’t know why they convinced him to attend the hearing so the necessary quorum was met to conduct business when everyone else that walked in after him was given a chance to talk.

Committee vice chairman Rep. Puletu Koko interrupted and told Vailoata that this was his chance to speak and he should use this time to do just that. A motion was then put forth and seconded, to release the witness so the committee could discuss the nomination and render a decision.

But Rep. Toeaina Faufano Autele raised his hand and said he didn’t understand why the chairman would say that every faipule could get a minute to speak but he and Rep. Lemapu Talo didn’t get that chance. Committee Chairman Rep. Su’a was about to give Toeaina a chance when Rep. Fetu Fetui Jr. intervened and reminded the chairman and committee members that there has already been a motion, which was seconded, meaning the hearing was over.

“That’s it!” Fetu said. “Our well wishes and words of gratitude for the witness have already been voiced and now all we are waiting for is Mr. Haleck to say his final words,”

However, Rep. Su’a still offered Toeaina a chance to ask questions, but the Manu’a faipule declined.

REP QUERIES STATS FROM 2010 CENSUS

During the confirmation hearing for Keniseli Faalupe Lafaele as DOC director in the House of Representatives yesterday, Rep. Lemapu Talo inquired about the 2010 census saying he is concerned with how accurate the numbers are, because it affects funding. He said the amount of money coming in to the territory is based on the population count and that is why is it important for the numbers to be accurate.

Lafaele responded that money is needed to carry out the census and he is looking into conducting another small census so there can be a correct population count. According to Lafaele, the numbers for the 2010 census were confirmed by those who performed the job but there was a local expert in the area who questioned the results. Lafaele said he inquired about the issue to those in charge of statistics in his department and discovered that another count can be requested, although not a full-on census like the one held every 10 years but a smaller one instead. “We need to carry this out and address the issue so we can get an accurate, true count of the population,” Lafaele said.



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