Directors invited to ‘have their say’ at final cabinet meeting of the year
“Collaboration” and “working together” were words echoed by several cabinet members, during the governor’s cabinet meeting held last Thursday at Gov. Rex Lee Auditorium, where the governor also announced two of three cabinet nominees that will be submitted to the Fono for confirmation when lawmakers return in January for the 3rd Regular Session.
Already announced in the November cabinet meeting is the appointment of Marie Alailima to the post of Administrative Law Judge — a post subject to Senate confirmation only. At last Thursday’s cabinet meeting, Lolo noted Alailima’s nomination as well as Kenneth Tupua, as director of the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Tupua, who is also the deputy director, has been acting director since former director Maeataanoa Gaoteote retired a few weeks ago.
The third cabinet nominee to be submitted to the Fono would be the Human and Social Services director; however a possible candidate for nomination is being reviewed before official submission to the Fono.
Since it was the last cabinet meeting for the year, each cabinet member was given the chance to address the gathering after Lolo thanked directors for their hard work throughout the year and reminding directors that “we are all public servants.”
Holiday greetings from cabinet members were extended to each other as well as to the governor and the lieutenant governor and the people of American Samoa.
The first to speak was American Samoa Power Authority executive director, Utu Abe Malae, who noted that “working together” is important for all of them especially when it comes to sharing with each other that will result in new ideas.
For example, before the cabinet meeting got underway, Utu says he shared thoughts with three other cabinet members, which resulted in new ideas that will probably address some ASPA issues. And a discussion with Territorial Administration on Aging director Evelyn Lilio-Satele resulted in an idea where ASPA can work with TAOA to help senior citizens.
Education director Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga said that the Department of Education’s theme this school year is “together we succeed” and this theme can be witnessed on signs at several locations island-wide.
She agreed with Utu on sharing ideas and working together and this is the belief for “all of us at DOE — working together.”
Budget Office director, Catherine A. Saelua endorsed, “working together to succeed” but for “me, it’s collaboration.” She explained that the Budget Office has many mandates that must be followed in accordance to the law — for example the annual budget and the quarterly performance reports, which are compiled and submitted to the governor and the Fono.
She thanked all ASG entities for their continued collaborative work to ensure the quarterly performance reports are submitted in a timely manner. “We have set a record for the past five years” including 2017 in which no ASG entity has missed submission of their performance reports she pointed out.
As for the government’s annual budget, she reminded all in attendance that spending is all based on revenue collection and if there is a problem with revenue that will have an impact on budget spending for that fiscal year.
Police Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson said that if there is anything he has learned throughout this year, is the phrase, “‘I’m sorry” because of what’s happening. He said, “50% of the people don’t like the cops because of what they do; the other 50% don’t like them when they don’t do what they are supposed to do.”
“So I’ve learned quickly, no matter what, the only thing is to apologize; say I’m sorry to the public and cabinet,” said Le’i, who then revealed that the annual DPS Holiday Enforcement runs from Dec. 22, 2017 to Jan. 5, 2018.
Deputy Treasurer for Revenue, Keith Gebauer, attended the meeting on behalf of Treasurer Uelinitone Tonumaipea. Gebauer noted that 2017 was a challenging year for the department. “Some challenges are new, some challenges are old, and as we work together, we can overcome all these challenges,” he said.
Criminal Justice Planning Agency director Leseiau Laumoli informed cabinet directors that if any of them were hoping for CPJA funding but didn’t get it, he apologizes, saying that his office is required to follow guidelines for all federal grants.
He reminded directors that except for his salary, the entire CPJA is funded by federal grants.
Insurance Commissioner Peter Fuimaono noted that in order for the Insurance Commissioner’s Office, to succeed, “we must engage with the community. We must engage our service with the consumer.”
He encouraged all sectors of the community that have questions or are in need of information on all matters pertaining to insurance — home, cars, buildings — to stop by his office in the A.P. Lutali Executive Office at Utulei.