Gov’s brother appointed as Assistant to Commissioner
The Appointment of the governor’s brother, Fuega Moliga as Special Assistant to the Commissioner of Public Safety with a high salary is not sitting well with high ranking police officers. In addition, the Lolo and Lemanu Administration has assigned the Director of the Office of Fraud Prevention and Investigation (OFPI) Save Liuato Tuitele to DPS for 90 days.
Both appointments have been confirmed by the Commissioner of Public Safety, William Bill Haleck in response to Samoa News queries late Wednesday evening.
Fuega, a retired police officer, served as the Warden when Sotoa Savali was Commissioner, however he resigned when he ran for office in the House of Representatives, which was unsuccessful. Fuega was recently hired to work with the Department of Public Works to oversee its projects and programs in the Manu’a district, before he was appointed to this newly created position within DPS.
Samoa News understands the contract for Fuega is $45,000 per year.
An official with DPS told Samoa News the hiring of Fuega appears to be the same practice as previous administrations — hiring retirees to work in ASG, yet there are others who can do the job. Samoa News understands this appointment came as a surprise to those at DPS. Samoa News also understands the Commissioner did not seek an assistant.
Samoa News asked the DPS Commissioner why he needs a Special Assistant when he has a Deputy Commissioner. Haleck replied, “No comment.” Further, asked if he had requested an Assistant, again the Commissioner said “No comment.”
A senior ranking police officer said, “It’s a slap in our faces. We work for many, many years yet we are underpaid, however someone who’s retired and he’s getting another salary is hired, while we are still trying to make ends meet with the salaries we have.”
An official from the Lolo and Lemanu Administration, who did not want to be named, stated that Fuega’s qualifications in the field of law enforcement are unquestionable and his long years of service to DPS at the Tafuna Correctional Facility should be highly noted. He’s a veteran of DPS and his work experience is much needed given the on-going issues at DPS.
The official also commented that the appointment of Fuega as a Special Assistant is the right decision and it will provide DPS with invaluable assistance and continuity in moving the DPS towards new heights commensurate with contemporary DPS management policies.
He further stated that anyone who is retired can be hired to work for the government. He quoted the American Samoa Administrative Code, (ASAC) Title IV, Chapter 3, Section 4.0314: “An employee who has retired may be reemployed under this chapter but his annuity shall be suspended during the period of his reemployment under this chapter.”
“In areas where the expertise is vital to the services provided to our people and no person is found with the required skills to maintain continuity, quality and integrity, the contract will be extended with the incorporated criteria that a replacement will be trained to assume the post when the contract extension period expires.”
He noted the general public should know that bringing retirees back into the workforce is perfectly legal and is based on qualifications which ASG needs — most importantly — the continuity of quality service to the people of American Samoa.
SAVE LIUATO TUITELE
Save began working for DPS last week Thursday and he’s there for 90 days according to the Commissioner, who said the governor assigned Save to DPS to look into recurring issues at DPS. Save is conducting an assessment and will be reporting to the government leaders after the 90 days.
Commissioner Haleck said Save “will work in addition to what I’m already working on,” and Save will be making recommendations on what’s needed for improvement. Haleck said there are issues that Save is looking into, for instance the delay of the fire fighters to a fire, the reoccurrence of inmates escaping from the jail among other issues.
Asked if the Commissioner supports having Save working at DPS, Haleck said he supports whatever is done for the betterment of the Department. The Commissioner did point out that since the new Warden, Fo’ifua Fo’ifua Jr has taken over at TCF, the problems at TCF have been minimized.
Questions were sent to Lt Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga and the Governor’s Executive Assistant Iulogologo Pereira about the move, and just minutes after the email was sent, Samoa News received a call from Chief of Staff Fiu Johnny Saelua stating the governor’s office will respond, however, as of press time yesterday afternoon, there was no response.
Samoa News should point out that one of the actions listed in the proposed ASG Ethics Code Manual, by the Lolo & Lemanu Administration (May 2013) under “Equality” is to “refrain from granting preferential treatment to family and friends when making personnel decisions and awarding contracts”. Whether or not the manual was finalized by the administration and is now being utilized is unknown at this time.
It should also be noted that the funding source for the Special Assistant position is unknown at this time, as there is no such position listed in the DPS budget — something again, the Lolo & Lemanu Administration has insisted must preclude any hiring for any position.
However, Samoa News understands the Deputy Director of DPS is retiring on the 25th of this month, and this action is seen as the Administration’s move to put the governor’s brother in this job position.
In a story, Samoa News reported on May 10, 2013, the Lolo & Lemanu Administration’s hiring practices were questioned when the American Samoa Council on Arts, Culture and Humanities (ASCACH) hired a program manager without the position being advertised, nor was it included in their budget.
The program manager was “initially brought on board to serve as deputy director with an annual salary of $40,000…”, but, the lack of money in the ASCACH budget was alleged to be the reason the “program manager” position was created instead.
At the time, a government employee said, “Please governor Lolo, made us believe you and your administration. Stop exercising ‘exceptions to the rules’ that you implemented!”