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Happy Day for Senate Prez

Fono News

It was a happy day yesterday in the Senate, after Tuaolo announced publicly on the floor that he has received great news, that the Senate President is now married and his new bride, was in the Senate gallery — which is also where other senate staff along with news reporters were sitting.

Gaoteote, who by this time had a big smile on his face, appeared to be taken by surprise with Tuaolo’s announcement.

Tuaolo asked the bride, Betty Fritz to stand up to be recognized by senators, who gave applause to the newly wedded couple, with Gaoteote still smiling. However, only senators who had a view of the gallery could see the bride, but not the rest of them.

Sen. Tuiagamoa Tavai thanked Tuaolo for this great and happy announcement, and suggested that the bride shake hands with all senators, once the session had adjourned, because some of them don’t have a view of the gallery.  And the bride did, shaking hands and hugging senators. Even Gaoteote followed by shaking hands with his colleagues.


Six more cabinet appointments from Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga were introduced yesterday in both the Senate and House and assigned to the respective committees for confirmation hearings.

The latest cabinet appointments introduced in the Fono are:

•     Le’i Sonny Thompson for Police Commissioner; who also heads the Department of Public Safety;

•     Douglas Fiaui for Public Defender; who also heads the Office of Public Defender;

•     Faleosina Voigt as Department of Public Works director;

•     Taeaoafua Dr. Meki Solomona as director for the Department of Human and Social Services;

•     Va’amua Henry Sesepasara as director for the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources; and,

•     Filifa’atali Mike Fuiava for Agriculture Department director.

Confirmation hearings in both Chambers are now scheduled all the way through to next week Friday, with the Senate holding the majority of their hearings at 8:30a.m. while the House has hearings scheduled for 8:30a.m., followed by 11a.m. and then 1p.m.

During yesterday’s Senate session, Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie reminded committees that they have a lot of confirmation work to carry out with 12 nominations now before the Senate, and the first confirmation hearing is set for this morning.

He also reminded senators of the governor’s request for expedited confirmation hearings for eight director-nominees, who will be traveling with the governor later this month to attend meetings in Washington D.C. (See yesterday’s story for details.)

However, Gaoteote pointed out that the Senate still needs to thoroughly carry out its work through the confirmation hearing process and there is no need to rush the process.

Sen. Tuaolo Manaia Fruean agreed, saying that the governor’s trip to the nation’s capital shouldn’t be used as a way to rush the confirmation process.

Gaoteote also said that in the past, senators would confirm a director and later on were unhappy with that individual. Therefore, Gaoteote suggested the Senate takes its time to thoroughly review the cabinet-appointee’s qualification and ask questions.

He further suggested that all senators attend confirmation hearings and not just committee members.

During the House session yesterday, Vice Speaker Fetu Fetui Jr., also raised concerns over the governor’s request to expedite confirmation hearing for certain cabinet members, saying that there should be sufficient time for the House to conduct their review instead of rushing confirmation hearings.

He said he is also concerned with expediting confirming hearings and then some cabinet appointees are not confirmed, because the process was rushed.

House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale responded that the House would continue to carry out its work when it comes to the confirmation process. However, he said the governor’s trip to Washington D.C. is also important and the reason for specific directors to have expedited confirmation hearings.