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“DISTURBED BY CHEAP SHOTS AT ENI”

Dear Editor:
 
I am more than a little disturbed by a letter to the editor in a recent issue of the Samoa News regarding a blog that urges Congressman Eni Faleomavaega to step down because of the state of his health. There is no doubt in my mind that a few misguided members of a local political Party are behind this move to push Eni out of office and hoping for the Governor to appoint one of their party members to fill out the remainder of the Congressman’s term. Our laws state that if anything should happen to our Congressman while in office, the Governor would appoint someone to fill out the remainder of his current term until the next election.
 
The things they say about Congressman Faleomavaega are very disrespectful.  Congressman Faleomavaega Faua’a Eni Hunkin has devoted a major part of his life in public service to the people of American Samoa. How do I know about the extent of Eni’s service to our people? I worked in the Governor’s Office for four years when Eni was Lieutenant Governor and twelve years with the Congressman as his Chief of Staff in Washington DC.
 
I’ll give you an example of just one of the thousands of things the Congressman has done for his constituents in American Samoa.
 
 The next time you ride the smooth road from Aua to Futiga you can thank the Congressman, who in 1996 managed to earmark with the House Transportation Committee over $36 million dollars to repair the roads in American Samoa.  Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about.  For about three months in 1995, Enere Levi (Eni’s Chief Counsel) and I worked continuously with the staff of the House Transportation Committee to earmark some road money for American Samoa from the biggest pork barrel bill in the Congress (the Transportation Bill).
 
In addition to the thousands of projects that the Congressman performs for American Samoa daily, he fought hard to bring the Food Stamp program and WIC to the territory despite protests from the Governor at the time.
 
To document some of the outstanding contributions this man has made to his constituents in American Samoa, the Democratic Party of American Samoa will soon be publishing a document outlining all the accomplishments of this very dedicated public servant, including his extensive work for the military and recent efforts to increase Medicaid assistance to American Samoa.
 
Rather than denigrating this fine servant of American Samoa … at this point we invite the people of American Samoa to join us in prayer for a speedy recovery for Congressman Faleomavaega.  Get well soon Eni!
 
And that cheap attack on an employee of Samoa News who was married to the Congressman’s brother Tau, who passed away a number of years ago—Now you’re getting personal. Tau was a friend and a brother to many of us, and I for one, do not appreciate the way you’re denigrating his widow just to accomplish political points in some cheap blog. 
 
By the way, if you don’t have the courage to identify yourself when you criticize an elected member of our government, you have not earned the right to participate in the debate of this or any other issue.
 
C’mon! ’Bring it on …We’re ready for you, 
 
Aliimau JR Scanlan
Chairman – American Samoa Democratic Party
 
(Editor’s Note: It wasn’t a LTE on the issue, it was a blog that Samoa News reported that said Samoa News was not pursuing the state of our Congressman’s illness and health because we were biased and seemingly ‘lazy’. We of course denied such allegations.
 
However, while many have come out in support of the Congressman’s many years of service and spoken of everyone’s need to respect his service and deeds, I would point out that as a public figure, Congressman Faleomavaega Faua’a Eni Hunkin will always be subject to such requests for full disclosure of events in his life — in this case his health. And continued silence by his family and especially his office, will continue to fuel such ‘disrespectful’ comments. ra)



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