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HR head to Chef Sualua: Reports are due Apl 30

Human Resources Director, Le’i Sonny Thompson is requesting “Performance and Fiscal Reports” from the American Samoa Culinary Academy (ASCA), in a letter obtained by Samoa News. The letter was sent last week to Chef Sualua Tupolo, and reports are to be provided “no later than April 30, 2013”.


Samoa News sent queries to Le’i regarding these “Performance and Fiscal Reports”  being required by ASNEG. He said, the Performance report has been received, but not the Fiscal Report.


The HR Director noted that Chef Sualua was contracted by the Native Hawaiian Holding Company to establish the ASCA, and the NHHC was contracted by the American Samoa Government to provide training and employment in the contact center industry for 900 NEG participants.


This included job placement and supportive services in a setting that would serve as part of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Workforce System. The project was funded by the US Department of Labor’s National Emergency Grant (NEG) and was administered by the local Department of Human Resources.


NHHC partnered with Pacific Resources Inc., a local company owned by Michael McDonald and his wife Paula Stevenson-McDonald in the administration of the local NEG contract.


Le’i said, “as a matter of contractual agreement, ASCA needs to account for all the fiscal expenditures and performance report, justifying expenditures. Performance reports were received,” he said, however fiscal expenditures were not.


“So, while they (NHHC and ASCA) are pointing fingers trying to blame each other, Sualua needs to provide the fiscal report,” he stated.


 As Samoa News reported earlier, ASCA employees claim that ASCA was taken over by NHHC. Emails sent to Michael McDonald about NHHC contracting with Sualua to establish ASCA were not answered as of press time.


In previous email correspondence to Samoa News, McDonald said that NHHC has no affiliation with ASCA, other than providing payroll services for ASCA, and does not have any ownership in ASCA.


Chef Sualua in response, told Samoa News, via email, that NHHC provided more than just a payroll service — he said they took ownership of ASCA.






In this same letter, the HR Director stated that it also serves as a reminder to Chef Sualua that the government equipment (ovens, pots, pans, and kitchenware) valued at $50,000 must be returned to ASG.


This equipment was used by ASCA following a lease agreement signed between Chef Sualua and former governor Togiola Tulafono — which Le’i has since cancelled.


He explained that the equipment was bought by the government with NEG funding, with the goal to have Sualua conduct cooking courses that would in return allow the students to gain employment as chefs and cooks, yet Sualua has failed to fulfill this obligation.  


As reported by Samoa News last month (March), Le’i said the government moved to cancel the lease for non-compliance with the lease agreement. 


In the lease agreement, the equipment was to be used in support of programs operated by and incidental to the operations of the ASCA to train students and other persons in American Samoa in the culinary arts.


Samoa News sent queries to Le’i on the status of the equipment, asking if it had all been confiscated and where it was confiscated from, given that ASCA has closed its doors.


Le’i said the equipment that was intended to provide employment was located in Malaeimi, hence some of the equipment was removed from a container, which was located behind the ASCA in Malaeimi. 


“Other equipment was removed from the NHHC building at the Tafuna Industrial Park, still others were removed from the rear-end of the DDW restaurant in Utulei, while the remaining equipment is at the Samoa Sports building in Fagatogo at  Sualua’s (restaurant) business.”


He further stated that the Attorney General’s Office is negotiating with the owner of the Samoa Sports Building on the release of the equipment given that Sualua owes rent to the landlord.


Le’i said so far they have the refrigerators; fryers; and other electrical equipment that needs to be checked if they are still operational, but it must be done while Sualua is present. 


“I understand he is off island, so we will have to wait until he returns.


“Second, once all equipment is accounted for and operational assessment is completed, then it would be proper to assess violations of contractual agreement and then whatever legal actions required shall be taken,” the HR director said.


Le’i also noted the $5 monthly contractual agreement, which then Governor Togiola had signed with Sualua to use the equipment was very inappropriate and noncompliant with the terms of the original contract... which he terminated. “Just for that, it was good that we came in on time and caught it,” he said.