Lawmaker favors giving pulenu’u authority to ticket sanitation problems
To further assist with the government’s Beautification Plan, Rep. Larry Sanitoa has called on Secretary of Samoan Affairs, Satele Galu Satele Sr. to revisit a local law which gives the village mayor or pulenu’u the authority to charge any person within the pulenu’u’s jurisdiction for sanitation violations.
The Beautification Plan is overseen by the Samoan Affairs Office, which is allocated $100,000 under the $5 million FY 2013 Supplemental Budget "to purchase equipment to be used in village beautification efforts.” Distribution of this money, according to the bill, is $30,000 each for Manu’a and Eastern districts, while the Western district gets $40,000.
This week, Sanitoa — on behalf of his Tualauta county mayors — wrote to Satele expressing sincere appreciation for acquiring the necessary equipment and supplies that will aid mayors with the Beautification Plan.
He also commended the three district governors for their commitment and leadership to immediately implement the plan, with the support of the governor and the Treasury Department by ensuring funds were made available from the supplemental budget.
Sanitoa went on to point out that most of the island is still under the Boil Water Notice by the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) “because our underground water is… to be contaminated”.
Additionally, many popular beaches are always under “no swimming” advisories because of contamination due to runoff water from streams. Sanitoa says flooding in Tualauta stems from irresponsible people dumping household trash in the stream, among other things.
“Therefore, we appreciate your commitment in protecting our environment by placing a priority on beautifying our island,” he said, adding that it’s also very pleasing to see ASEPA is currently promoting an Adopt-A-Roadside/ Adopt-A-Stream Program that will further enhance their efforts.
In addition to the collaborative work by other government agencies in support of a clean environment, Sanitoa brought to Satele’s attention a current statute that will help solidify the Beautification Plan.
He explained that provisions of the Environmental Health statute give village mayors statutory authority to charge any person for sanitation problems within their jurisdiction.
“I believe it is important to re-examine and emphasize this section as it will empower and give more statutory responsibility and enforcement to our village mayors and the village council,” he said.
Provision of the law (ASCA 25.0105 - title - Powers and duties of pulenu’u) states in part that one of the duties of the pulenu'u is to regularly and thoroughly inspect all portions of his village and all other areas within his jurisdiction for compliance with the applicable provisions of this law.
Additionally, the pulenu'u shall have the authority to charge any person within his jurisdiction with failure to comply with any provision of this title or any regulations adopted under it.
Such charge "shall be filed with the district court in the village over which the pulenu'u has jurisdiction if the violation charged is punishable by a village regulation in effect therein and adopted pursuant to the method for adopting village regulations as set forth in this Code", it says.
And if "the matter charged is not made punishable by any village regulation in the village in which the offense occurs, the pulenu'u shall consult the Attorney General, who shall take appropriate action", it says.
In his letter Sanitoa says “it is my belief this existing statute will prove beneficial for the continuity of the beautification plan” and said he would be happy to further discuss this matter with Satele and the district governors.
Copies of the letter were to be sent to the governor, the three district governors, the Attorney General’s Office, ASEPA, the Treasurer and the Tualauta lawmakers.
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