HOUSE DONATES iPAD TO ‘SPELLING BEE’ WINNER
House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale last week presented to Rep. Toeaina Faufano Autele an iPad as a gift for this year’s Samoa News Spelling Bee champ, Walter Nevile Fa’apouli, a student from Olosega Elementary School.
It’s the first time a student from Manu’a won the annual competition and Toeaina represents Manu’a District #2, which comprises Ofu, Olosega and Sili villages.
During the House session early last week, Toeaina pointed out that this is a historical moment for his constituents, as it is the first time a student from Manu’a has won the Spelling Bee, and he asked for an iPad from the House as a gift to the new champ.
Toeaina says the iPad will also assist Walter in his preparation for the national competition to be held later this year in Washington D.C.
Two days after day the official request for an iPad, Toeaina publicly thanked Savali for the gift, and he personally travelled to Ofu to present the iPad to Walter. Toeaina didn’t attend Fono sessions last Thursday and Friday but traveled to Ofu instead to make the presentation on behalf of the Speaker and the House membership.
The gift came from the iPads purchased by the House last year with the plan to distribute them to House members for their use during their work, but distribution has been held up.
The Samoa News Territorial Spelling Bee is held annually for elementary students —from public and private schools — who have not reached the age of 15 before the August of the year the Bee is being held. It’s major sponsor is Hawaiian Airlines.
Walter made Bee history by being the first Manu’a student to win American Samoa’s Bee, and he is only the 3rd boy to hold the title, Territorial Spelling Bee Champ.
SOLIAI CALLS FOR BoH TO STAY IN TERRITORY
At last Friday’s Senate session, Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono called for a Fono joint resolution supporting Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s ongoing efforts for Bank of Hawaii to remain in the territory and not shut down operations completely.
Soliai says the community is suffering from the service of only one bank — referring to ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank — which will be the only financial institution left, if BoH finally closes down its Utulei branch and there is no other bank here.
Soliai told colleagues that there is still no solid information at this point that another bank will be opened soon in the territory. He said a joint resolution is the firm stand by both the Senate and House for their support of the governor, and such a united stand by the Fono is a clear indication to the public that lawmakers are not taking this issue lightly.
BoH has delayed indefinitely its departure from the territory until there is adequate banking services for local residents.
When BoH announced its departure from the territory, the Lolo Administration moved to secure the service of Utah-based Zions Bank to take over certain ASG accounts, including the processing and issuance of payroll for the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial ASG workforce.
Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie told senators at Friday’s session that he does not know why the government has taken away payroll services from BoH and transferred it to Zions Bank, which does not have a branch in the territory.
Gaoteote says ANZ bank is still available in the territory and wondered why the government didn’t use ANZ instead of an outside financial institution.
(As previously reported by Samoa News based on information last year from the government, ANZ does not provide many services including payroll services, offered by BoH, and used by ASG for decades).
Gaoteote suggested the Senate summon the ASG Treasurer to provide answers on this very important issue that needs further clarification from this administration. The Senate plans to schedule a hearing soon, once there is confirmation that Treasurer Dr. Falema’o ‘Phil’ M. Pili is back on island.
In April of last year, the Fono endorsed a Senate concurrent resolution supporting the establishment in the territory of locally owned Community Bank of American Samoa (IO), which is currently awaiting federal regulatory approval.
SENATE: HIRE MORE PULENU’U
The Senate has called for the Office of Samoan Affairs to hire more pulenu’u and village police to assist, not only with the protection of villages from the many problems occurring in the territory but also to lead with the clean up at the village level.
Secretary of Samoan Affairs, Satele Galu Satele Sr., accompanied by the three District Governors, appeared Monday before the Senate Samoan Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono, who requested the hearing to discuss the need for the government to hire more pulenu’u, or village mayors, especially in villages with large populations.
At the start of the hearing, Soliai said it’s no secret that there are many problems of bad behavior that have surfaced from the villages, and the question is — where are the pulenu’u to take the lead role in keeping watch over the villages?
The problem, according to Soliai, is that there are not enough pulenu’u and village police; therefore more of them are needed to be hired, as the population grows in many villages.
Sen. Laolagi F.S. Vaeao said one of the issues that has come to his attention is that pulenu’u appointed to the post do not qualify for the post, in accordance with the law. He supports the call for more pulenu’u, but at the same time, said to make sure those hired as village police are qualified.
Sen. Magalei Logovi’i said he believes that one of the issues that needs to be addressed is the low pay scale of pulenu’u, so they can carry out their duties diligently.
Another concern voiced by Magalei is that village leaders are appointing ‘taulele’a, or men without chiefly titles, to be pulenu’u — and residents don’t pay much attention to taulele’a.
During the hearing, the committee recommended that Samoan Affairs — whose official name is the Department of Local Government — add more pulenu’u and village police to villages that don’t have sufficient numbers, especially in villages with large populations.
Satele informed the committee that before the Senate called this hearing, his office had already laid out a plan to be presented to the governor when he returns to the territory — to recruit more pulenu’u.