FONO LEADERS VISIT GOVERNOR IN HAWAI’I
Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie and House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale left Monday night for Honolulu to visit Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, who is going through medical appointments there.
The Fono leadership’s visit followed a call early last week by Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono, who stated that it’s appropriate for the Fono to conduct an “asiga” or visit to the governor, who has been in Honolulu for about two weeks, after being hospitalized for five days at Straub hospital.
Lolo was first hospitalized for a week in Washington D.C. beginning Feb. 21 for an as yet unknown illness. He then traveled to Honolulu, where he had further medical care.
He had gone to Washington D.C. for a series of meeting with a group of government officials and directors, when he fell ill, and was unable to attend more than one of the meetings. When he left for Honolulu on his way home, he was once again hospitalized, this time by his doctor, for further observation.
The group has since returned home, but the governor stayed behind in Honolulu for follow up medical appointments, and his actual return date to the territory is not firmed up yet.
The governor is scheduled to hold a conference call this morning with his cabinet directors.
At last week’s Senate session, Soliai recalled that several years ago when then Lt. Gov. Galeai Poumele was hospitalized in Hawai’i, the Fono traveled to Honolulu for the traditional ‘asiga’ and it’s the usual practice when it comes to top government officials being hospitalized.
Soliai said the Senate is made up of the territory’s traditional leaders, who are “tama o le atunu’u” (fathers of the territory) and the father takes the lead role in visiting the governor, who has been absent from American Samoa since last month for medical reasons.
Sen. Mauga T. Asuega agreed, saying it was only appropriate the Fono does the “asiga”, and also noted the governor has been off island for several weeks. He reminded his colleagues that the ‘asiga’ is a Samoan tradition.
HOUSE CONFIRMS SCHOLARSHIP BOARD CHAIR
In a 13-1 vote, the House confirmed Monday the nomination of Rev. Kalepo Vaitautolu as a member of the American Samoa Student Financial Aid Board, or Scholarship Board. His confirmation is still pending in the Senate but no confirmation hearing is scheduled yet.
Vaitautolu has been chairman of the board since he was appointed early last year, but during the first round of Fono confirmation hearings, he was off-island. The fact that Vaitautolu was not yet confirmed by the Fono surfaced last month when the Scholarship board was called to testify in Senate and House hearings.
In his nomination letter two weeks ago to the Fono leadership, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga said Vaitautolu has been a dedicated public servant for the departments of Treasury and Public Works. Further, he is a well respected church and community leader for CCCAS-Vaitogi.
Lolo said, “With this appointment, the board will constitute a full membership.”
LAWMAKER QUESTIONS STATUS OF TSUNAMI PROJECTS IN BAY AREA
At the House session Monday, Rep. Faimealelei Anthony Allen requested an official and updated report from the Department of Public Works and other government entities on the status of all tsunami improvement projects.
In particular, he wanted the latest on roads, seawalls and rivers for the Bay Area. Faimealelei said that although several projects have begun for other parts of Tutuila, part of the Bay area damaged by the tsunami have not had many improvements.
Faimealelei said he keeps hearing the same answer from Public Works over and over again, that projects are ongoing — but it’s now five years after the tsunami, and there has not been much done to repair, renovate or rebuild the Bay Area.
Besides requesting the report, the House Public Works Committee has also scheduled a hearing today with ASG officials called to testify.
SENATE REQUESTS EXPANSION OF AIRPORT TERMINAL
Sen. Faumuina Tagisiaali’i has sponsored a resolution requesting the governor to instruct Port Administration Department to expand the Pago Pago International Airport terminal to include a two-story building for the installation of a jet way or jet bridge where passengers can embark and disembark aircraft, and enhance the security of terminal operations.
“A project of this scale may seem excessive but is necessary for the future development of American Samoa,” Faumuina said. He also said funding for this project will entail exploring any and all available funds allocated to infrastructure improvement from the Federal Aviation Administration, Capital Improvement Projects and other federal funding sources.
Expansion of the airport terminal to include a jet-way has been raised before, and it’s been a part of the airport plan for sometime, but requires funding — federal or otherwise.