Faipule say 'no-show' directors is proof of their lack of respect
(WS) Rep. Afalava_0897.JPG
Rep. Gafatasi Afalava and House members are upset with directors being 'no-shows' when the Fono subpoenas them — with one faipule saying it proves that directors are looking at them as ‘house of kids’.
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Some lawmakers were not happy when KVZK-TV director, Tuimavave Tauapai Laupola was a no-show during yesterday's hearing.
Tuimavave was subpoenaed to appear before the House Government Operations Committee, to explain why the recording of church service programs is no longer being conducted in the villages but instead each church has to record their program at the KVZK-TV studio in Utulei.
Rep. Gafatasi Afalava, at the insistence of his constituents from Aoloau, raised the issue during a House session on Monday and asked for a hearing, requesting that the director — not his deputy — appear before the committee to explain the changes.
Gafatasi said he doesn't accept the excuse that church programs are being recorded in the studio because it is more convenient as far as equipment transfer.
“Why is it so hard to transfer their equipment when recording church service programs, but when it comes to the Toa o Samoa prayer services every month, they are able to transfer their equipment to wherever village the service is being held?” Gafatasi said.
When the hearing was about to start yesterday morning, House staff members informed lawmakers the KVZK-TV deputy director is appearing on behalf of the director, as Gov. Lolo M. Moliga has assigned Tauapa’i to work with FEMA representatives in dealing with recovery work around the island.
Rep. Vesi Talalelei Fautanu Jr. told the committee he was very disappointed to hear that the director was not honoring the House subpoena.
“There is no difference in the agenda of the directors and faipule. When we discuss issues pertaining to the betterment of our people, we rely on the directors to provide answers to the many questions we have, but it's really sad and disappointing to see that directors continue to ignore the Fono’s call,” Vesi said.
Saole faipule, Rep. Kitara Vaiau told the committee it's very sad to see that the branches of government are not respecting each other. He said this is a sign that proves that directors are looking at the House of Representatives, as a ‘house of kids’.
“We are not kids, we are representatives from our districts, and it’s our job to raise our district’s concerns. I want the Executive Branch to show some respect to the Fono and honor our requests whenever we subpoena them to appear before the committees. I don’t want to hear anymore excuses,” Kitara said.
He added that if this practice continues without any good reason from the directors, he recommends that the Fono send a letter to the governor, recommending that these directors be suspended from his or her post for failure to comply with the Fono’s subpoena.
Gafatasi said if the deputy director could provide all the answers to inquiries from the faipule, the hearing can move forward.
Rep. Fialupe Felila Fiaui Lutu reminded the committee that her main concern is upholding the dignity of the Fono, especially when committees issue subpoenas for directors to appear.
Lutu recommended that the hearing be rescheduled for a later date, and allow the committee to uphold the House Rules that only directors can appear and testify before the Fono on certain issues.
Rep. Vailoata E. Amituana’i seconded Lutu’s recommendation, which was supported by other committee members.
Vice Speaker Fetu Fetui Jr. told his colleagues that when he leads the House in the absence of the Speaker, and a director is a no show, he would order the police to handcuff them.
“I want directors to show some respect to the House of Representatives,” Fetu said, before instructing the House staff to bring into the chamber the KVZK-TV deputy director, who was sitting outside the house chamber while faipule were deciding whether to continue with the hearing or not.
Committee vice chairman, Rep. Vailiuama S. Leasilolagi informed the witness about the committee’s decision, thanked her for taking the time to appear on behalf of her boss, and then dismissed her.
During announcements, Fetu thanked lawmakers for their patience when situations like these arise in the Fono. He said he feels the same way they do when directors don't honor the Fono's call to appear.
The House has received communication from the Governor’s Office this week, appointing HTC Paogofie Fiaigoa as the new Liaison Officer between the Governor’s Office and the House of Representatives.
Fetu said Paogofie’s first assignment to the governor is to inform him about lawmakers' concerns regarding directors being no-shows.
Paogofie was present during the House session yesterday morning.
In a letter to the House Speaker, Lolo said that due to illness, HTC Logoai Siaki has been unable to consistently attend to his duties, specifically to liaise between his office and the House to respond to any issues raised during the House sessions and to bring to his attention matters of concern raised by faipule.
“Reshuffling of personnel within my office deemed it fitting and appropriate, given his cultural status, practical knowledge of the legislative process, and many years of government experience, in appointing Paogofie to assume the duties of our House of Representatives Liaison Officer,” Lolo wrote in a Mar. 12 letter.
He further stated that his letter formally announces and introduces Paogofie, who will act as his representative to the House. Lolo asked faipule to allow Paogofie to observe and report back to him issues for which members of the House raise on the floor for which possible responses are to ascertained.