Fono in Review
AFOA CONFIRMED AS AG IN THE HOUSEAfoa L Su’esu’e Lutu was confirmed yesterday as Attorney General in the House of Representatives in a unanimous vote of 15-0. The confirmation hearing was held on Monday, by the Legal Affairs Committee, chaired by Rep. Florence Saulo. Two issues of interest arose during the hearing; the ability of the AG’s Office to taken on multi-million lawsuits against the government and the nominees offer to work for free for a year, during his bid for governor in the last general election. Rep. Pulelei’ite Li’amatua Tufele Jr. was the first to ask Afoa if attorneys in the AG’s office are ready to take on mult-imillion lawsuits against the government. He said more than $10 million is what the government owes in one lawsuit and the government is currently seeking funds to pay this and other judgments by the court.Afoa replied that attorneys in his office are well equipped in their careers, however, there are cases where there is a need of attorneys from off island to assist the local AG’s office, especially in multi-million lawsuits against the government.Rep. Talaimatai Elisara Su’a le Loia asked Afoa if he’s still willing to work for the government for free as announced when he was running for office in the last gubernatorial race. However, before Afoa responded to the question, the chairperson for the Legal Affairs Committee intervened and noted that the question is not proper for a confirmation hearing.Rep. Fetu Fetui Jr., a member of the committee, objected and told Saulo to allow the question to be posed by the Aunu’u faipule.Afoa then answered, saying it’s true he offered to work for the government for free for an entire year if he was elected as governor, however he and Le’i were unsuccessful in their bid and Gov. Lolo M. Moliga appointed him as Attorney General. However, he noted, lightheartedly, if members of the House of Representatives think that he should work for free, then his wife should be out looking for a job to pay their bills, while he works for free. The Senate has not scheduled a confirmation hearing for Afoa.PA’U ROY AUSAGE CONFIRMED AS DYWA DIRECTOR BY HOUSE MEMBERSThe House of Representatives has cleared Pa’u Roy Ausage to be Director of the Department of Youth, Women Affairs in a vote of 13-2, yesterday morning. Monday was the confirmation hearing for Pa’u before the Government Operations Committee, chaired by Rep. Faimealelei Anthony Allen. Pa’u said that he’s ready to assist and help the youth of American Samoa and can also help broaden the knowledge of mothers and young women in the territory and said the main purpose of this department is to assist families, who are in need, and they also provide services for families who are homeless as a result of an incident, for instance a fire.He explained there is a shelter in Tafuna that was opened in 2012 to assist families in need. Rep. Vaetasi Tuumolimoli Saena Moliga urged Pa’u to look into issues regarding the youth in the villages, who are consuming alcohol and smoking at a very young age. Taulauta Rep. Florence Saulo echoed comments by Vaetasi and also urged Pa’u to look into this important issue.Saulo added there’s a lot of youth that are involved in burglarizing home and businesses, and that the majority of these troubled kids did not complete high school, ended up in jail and this department should create programs to combat these issues. She urged Pa’u to continue with the programs currently underway under former Director of DYWA Leiataua Lesa Leauga Turner, which Pa’u said is his intention with regards to the ongoing programs already in place.PORT ADMINISTRATION WRITES TO HOUSE MEMBERSHouse members received a letter written to officials of the Port Administration from Airport Manager Tavita Fuimaono explaining the timeline of the power outage on Jan. 24, 2013 at the Pago International Airport. According to the letter, at 7:37 p.m. the power outage occurred and minutes later ASPA’s team responded to the call about the outage of the generators at the airport. ASPA said it serviced the generators on Jan. 08, 2013, but forgot to turn back on the automatic switch, which allow the generators to automatically come on line during a power outage.The letter states that Hawaiian airline arrived safely and there was no circling or missed approached as claimed by some of Hawaiian Airlines employees on the flight. The generator was turned off 15 minutes after Hawaiian Airline departed. The letter further states that in ensuring that the mistake with the switch will not be repeated, the Airport Maintenance is now required to do a daily check on the generator, in addition they must check after each service call by ASPA is completed. These activities will be recorded in a log (book) located in the Generator Room.Its also established that Airport Manager will check generators for backup in case of power outages and also that Airport Security is responsible for crowd control in case of any emergency at the airport, which now includes a revision to include power outages. This letter came to the Fono after House members during the regular session asked about who was at fault for the power outages that occurred at the Tafuna International Airport, minutes before the Hawaiian Air flight from Honolulu was suppose to land. The issue was raised during the regular House session, by Rep. Faimealelei Anthony Allen, who provided his colleagues with the exact time the airport lost power and the time the power came back on. The longest power outage to happen at the airport, according to Faimealelei, lasted about 10 minutes.