UTUALI'I IUNIASOLUA TULUI SAVUSA FULLY CONFIRMED AS NEW HEAD OF ASDHS
The Legislature has fully confirmed the nomination of Utuali’i Iuniasolua Tului Savusa, a retired Command Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army, as director of the Department of Homeland Security (ASDHS).
The Senate handed down yesterday its unanimous vote of 15-0, while the House endorsement vote of 15-2 was made on Jan. 28. Utuali’i, a candidate for lieutenant governor in the 2012 general election, is the second director since the ASDHS was established by law some six years ago.
Prior to the Senate vote, the nominee appeared before the Senate Public Safety/Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Sen. Faletagoa’i I. Tuiolemotu, who raised his concern over different information being disseminated by local radio stations during times of natural disasters such as cyclones.
Faletagoa’i pointed out that sometimes, some residents are getting prepared for a disaster while others are not and he believes this is due to the difference in information put out by different radio stations.
The retired senior police official said that the Emergency Operations Center, which is under the ASDHS jurisdiction, has the responsibility of ensuring that the information sent to the radio stations is consistent, so that residents are fully aware of what is happening.
Utuali’i responded that if a radio station broadcasts a different message than the one sent out by the EOC, that station is contacted to make sure the corrected weather bulletin is put on the air.
He also pointed out that the EOC works closely with the National Weather Service in Tafuna when it comes to the dissemination of weather bulletins during emergencies.
During the 40-minute hearing, senators who spoke praised the nominee for his excellent service in the U.S Armed Forces and thanked Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga for his vision in appointing a son of American Samoa to head this important department that deals with making sure that our “homeland” is secure and well protected.
Sen. Tuiasina S. Esera noted that a person who retires from the military has enough leadership skills, experience and knowledge to be a great leader in civilian life and this is what the nominee is all about — a great leader, especially when he retired as a command sergeant major, a person who had overseen many, many military personnel.
This statement was also echoed by Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie, who stated that as a military retiree himself, he was prepared to provide verbal testimony about the leadership skills of his fellow military retiree.
“You have the skills as a leader, and don’t be afraid — as a leader — to make changes when necessary,” said Gaoteote, who added that if things are good, don’t change them, but make them better.
He also said he supports his fellow senators in praising the governor for this nomination and thanked Utuali’i for his tough decision to return home to serve the people of American Samoa.
“With tried and proven leadership ability and the skills to coordinate, achieve, and maintain large scale safety-related objectives and tasks, I am convinced that Utuali’i will excel in faithfully and dutifully fulfilling his duties” as ASDHS director, wrote Lolo in his nomination letter to the Fono in January.
Read additional story on Utuali’i’s reply to a question pertaining to a new building for ASDHS.
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