House confirms two directors designate
HOUSE CONFIRMS OPAD NOMINEE; CALLS HIM WELL QUALIFIED
Matautu Dr. Peter Tinitali, nominee for the Director of the Office of Protection and Advocacy for the Disabled (OPAD) has been confirmed in the House of Representatives in a vote of 18-1.
Matautu appeared before the House Government Operations Committee Tuesday morning, where representatives urged him to be compassionate and patient, while praising his qualifications. The hearing lasted about half an hour.
Chairman of the Committee Faimealelei Anthony Allen, noted that, according to Dr Tinitali’s resume, his service started in the American Samoa Government with the Department of Education, Special Education Division in 1974 and his qualifications are unquestionable, especially for the fact that this field is his background.
Rep. Fatulegae’e Mauga said he has heard rumors regarding Matautu, and urged him to be compassionate and love his subordinates. “A good leader has a positive character which is an important value that every good leader holds” said Fatulegae’e.
Rep. Vaetasi Tumolimoli Moliga told Tinitali that he must be mindful that a majority of the funding for his Department comes from the federal government to help disabled students in the territory. “The task bestowed upon you is a difficult one and you should be alert at all times, given the people you are working with are mentally and physically challenged” he said.
Aunu’u faipule Talamatai Su’a said challenges faced by the disabled population in Aunu’u are hefty when it comes to transportation and accessibility issues, because when they are heading into town, they are carried from their home to the boat, then carried to the bus stop and onto the aiga bus. “This is something I urge you to look into, for the disabled population in Aunu’u,” he said.
“There are many intelligent and smart people, but rarely any honest people, and I urge you to be honest in carrying out your duties as the leader of this department” said Talamatai.
Rep. Atualevao Gafatasi Afalava, advised the nominee about the abuse of handicapped stickers that are issued to the disabled population. He said some of the people who are using these stickers are not disabled and that’s "something you should look into."
“Also you should have in store loads and loads of patience in this department because you’re dealing with disabled people,” he said.
It’s unclear when the Senate will hold their confirmation hearing for Matautu.
According to the governor’s nomination letter to the Fono, Matautu holds a Doctorate in English and a Masters in English from the University of Hawai’i, and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Western Oregon State University.
For the past 39 years, Matautu has served with the Department of Education in the Special Education division and has taught many teachers how to work with special needs children. He has a firm understanding of the challenges and needs of this segment of the population in our community, said Gov. Lolo M. Moliga.
“With his immense years of experience and the many years of working daily with these residents, I am certain that Matautu possesses the experience and knowledge that will make him an excellent director” for OPAD, the governor said.
FAGAFAGA PASSES HOUSE CONFIRMATION
Senate vote delayed until Arts Fest report audited
Fagafaga Daniel Langkilde received the positive go ahead in the House of Representatives in a vote of 16 yeas and one nay, following an hour long hearing before the House Government Operations with Co-Chair Florence Vaili Saulo in his bid to head the Public Information Office (KVZK TV).
Rep. Fetu Fetui Jr. went directly to the question of Malama TV, asking Fagafaga why it had been closed.
The nominee said that Malama TV had been created by himself and a group of business people. At that time (2004) there was an ongoing complaint about what was aired on television, as the same programs were repeated for over two weeks. He said Malama TV managed to bring in FOX network, because other TV stations were airing programs from ABC, NBC and CBS.
However, Malama TV was not in a stable financial situation and there was an increase of fees for the FOX network; and as the company was not making enough money, this led to the closing of Malama TV.
Fetu also asked Fagafaga if his heath was stable enough to carry out the work as Director given the many responsibilities that come with the post. Fagafaga replied that his health and strength have been restored, for which he’s thankful to the Heavenly Father, and he’s ready to proceed with the duties of his post.
Fetui then commended Fagafaga for his service to the government in a variety of areas.
Rep. Maugaoalii Sipa Anoa’i noted that in the Public Information Budget close to $300,000 was overspent and asked the nominee about the KVZK TV branch in Hawai’i.
Fagafaga explained that there are currently two people working at the office in Hawai’i who are in charge of recording the programs on NBC and ABC that are sent to the territory to be aired on KVZK TV.
Other representatives urged Fagafaga to air more spiritual programs or church services on Sundays.
SENATE CONFIRMATION HICCUP
In the meantime, the confirmation hearing in the Senate for Fagafaga was held on Tuesday, and Samoa News will publish that story once Fagafaga's name is submitted for the Senate confirmation vote.
However, the Senate Government Operations Committee Chair, Sen. Galeai Tuufuli told Samoa News that unless the American Samoa Government Audit office files its report with the Senate regarding the narrative final report from the 10th Festival of Pacific Arts (held in the territory in 2008) presented by Fagafaga when appearing before the Senate, the committee will not bring this resolution to vote.
During the hearing, Galea’i noted that he had already spoken to Senate President Gaoteote Palaie Tofau, saying that the report submitted would be sent over to the ASG audit office, to which (Gaoteote) agreed.
The Senators questioned Fagafaga as to why there was a delay in presenting the financial report to the Fono. Fagafaga informed the senators that the report had been given to then Gov. Togiola Tulafono after the Arts Festival and apologized to the senators for the delay in handing the report directly over to the legislature, noting that he did not want to overstep any boundaries after what Governor Togiola had instructed them to do.
Samoa News has attained the two documents that were submitted by Fagafaga as the narrative final report for the 2008 Arts Festival. The report called “Narrative Final Report - DOI Technical Assistance Grant — 10th Festival of Pacifics Arts”, August 2008, essentially lays out the money that it received and deposited, which includes deposits from donations, fund raising, reimbursements, Licensing Fees, and ASG funding — noted as ASG contribution.
It does not include an expense report, meaning there is no way of identifying what it spent the money on. It is difficult therefore to ascertain how it overspent its budget or if it did indeed overspend its budget, which then begs the question: “What is there to be audited?”
Of note is that the ASG contribution commitment was reported in the media to be $2.5 Million, and the deposits listed in the narrative final report are only around $1.5 Million, leaving a government commitment balance of about $1 Million, which is not addressed in the final narrative report.
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