ASG execs paid thousands as Togiola/Sunia admin exits
Payout to former governor Togiola Tulafono was more than $43,000 while for former lieutenant governor Faoa Aitofele Sunia it was over $39,000, according to the ASG report on “payouts” to the previous administration. These were checks issued to previous directors and contract employees as well as the previous governor and lieutenant governor as they left the administration.
Additionally, the former chief election officer Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono claimed and got paid for just over 1,000 hours of compensatory time, or comp-time. This very interesting piece of information in the report became a matter of quick questions and answers between senators last Friday.
The report, which includes the “gross” and actual amount of the checks to former ASG employees, is the subject of a Senate Government Operations Committee hearing set for 9a.m. today. Committee chairman Sen. Galeai Tu’ufuli, with the assistance of Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Sen. Laolagi F.S. Vaeao, sought the report from the ASG Treasury Department so that a Senate hearing could be carried out on the legality of these payouts and whether they were budgeted in FY 2013.
The Lolo Administration has already made public that of the $1.04 million in payouts, more than $500,000 was not budgeted in fiscal year 2013. The largest payouts were in the governor’s office, with $372,505 worth of checks issued, according to the report, which appears to be dated Jan. 28, 2013. Another one-page report labeled “pending” covers six employees - including Commerce Deputy director Lelei Peau, a career service employee, whose “pending” payout gross amount is $45,935.
Today’s hearing in the Senate is expected to clarify any murky issues surrounding the payouts. Two witnesses are scheduled to testify today in the Senate. ASG Treasurer Dr. Falema’o ‘Phil’ M. Pili is expected to be questioned about the expenditures involved in the payouts and whether the total amount was budgeted. Fono legal counsel Henry Kappel is expected to be questioned on the legality of paying out unused comp-time, sick leave and annual leave for directors who are gubernatorial appointees.
“Payouts” to outgoing cabinet members, contract workers as well as the governor and lieutenant governor surfaced by accident during last September’s FY 2013 budget hearing for the Feleti Barstow Public Library and prompted lawmakers to question then Budget and Planning Office director Malemo Tausaga and then director of Human Resources Evelyn Vaitautolu Langford.
The most surprising payout revelation during the budget hearing was that the outgoing governor and outgoing lieutenant were also entitled to payouts as well as all outgoing directors.
According to the payout report, Togiola’s gross total for the payout was $43,817 but after all the required taxes were taken out, his final paycheck as chief executive came to $39,406. For Faoa, his gross amount is $39,789 and the final take home pay after taxes came to $34,812.
According to the report, two other large payouts came out of the Governor’s Office: Motu Laau Seui Jr — the deputy chief of staff — took home $31,401 and Faalepo Faalepo, who headed the ASG office in Honolulu, had a take home check of $28,047.
The majority of the staff at the Governor’s Office were contract workers as they were appointed to serve at the governor’s pleasure.
The largest former cabinet member payout was to Soliai, who is now a Senator. His final take home pay came to $50,552 but the biggest surprise, which was also realized by his colleagues after the report was distributed to senators last Friday, was the 1,096 in comp-time. And this became a quick and friendly unguarded joking exchange between senators while awaiting the Senate session to begin, with no one paying attention to what they were saying, while news reporters from Samoa News and KHJ News were in the Senate gallery.
Soliai was overheard responding to the quips of his colleagues saying in Samoan that he did claim and was entitled to the comp-time. Samoa News observed former ASG Treasurer and now senator Magalei Logovi’i smiling but his conversation to another senator at the time could not be heard from the Senate gallery, which included just a handful of Senate employees.
Soliai’s big payout first became public during Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s address to the Fono in January when the governor was talking about the deficit incurred so far by the new administration from the first quarter of FY 2013.
Lolo said the “Office of Election’s budget has also been overspent with the payout of $57,609” for the chief election officer, but never mentioned Soliai by name. The dollar amount cited by Lolo was the actual “gross” amount before taxes.
According to the payout report, only 12 former employees — including Soliai — received comp-time pay but none of the other 11 employees came close to getting paid what Soliai was claiming in comp time. Everyone else claiming comp-time was below 300 hours.
A Samoa News review of the payout report shows that Soliai took home more than anyone else who received payouts, including his bosses Togiola and Faoa.
As for Magalei, who during his tenure as Treasurer, strongly defended spending by the previous administration and at times was at odds with the last Legislature, had a gross amount was $27,276, while his take home check totaled $23,838. Magalei claimed annual and sick leave.
The largest payout per department was at the Department of Education, whose acting director was Faoa, while Dr. Jacinta Galeai was the director-designee and paid under the Governor’s Office with a final check of $13,479.
For DOE, the “gross” amount came to $52,675 and total payout was $44,359 covering three employees. Among them is Ioane Saelua, believed to be Lolo's current chief of staff and former campaign manager, with the take home payout of $21,667; and Sally S. Faumuina, the current secretary to Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga, with a final check of $18,266, according to the report. The third person at DOE who took a payout is Brian U. Thompson, who was recently transferred out of the Governor's office to another ASG department, at $4,425.
Here is a quick look at other former directors and their final payouts according to the amount of the check issued:
• Ufagafa R. Tulafono $17,387
• Pese Atiulagi $19,358
• Tuaolo M. Fruean $21,342
• Fepuleai A. Ripley $19,555
• Reupena Tagaloa $14,695
• Ivy Taufa’asau $6,772
• Taeaotui Punaofo Tilei $17,592
• Leiataua Leuga Turner $13,452
• Semo Ve’ave’a Jr. $18,951
• Dr. Toafa Vaiagae $20,279
• Fa’afetai Ialiva $8,669
• Paolo Sivia Sivia $14,367
• Uta Dr. Laloulu Tagoilelagi $8,001
• Mike Sala $12,678
• Leilua Stevenson $7,618
• Matagi Raymond McMoore $19,005
• Lealao Melila Purcell $3,505.
Samoa News should point out that Taufa’asau only served as chief procurement officer for about two years while Lealao served for the last nine months of the Togiola administration.
In the one-page that states “pending” to be processed, the Department of Health deputy director Seiuli Elizabeth Ponausuia, a career service employee, who was acting for some three years, shows a “gross” payout amount of $27,026.
Also on the “pending” is a gross payment of $858 to Evelyn Vaitautolu Langford, former director of Human Resources. Samoa News has questions about this payout, because, according to the report, her total “sick leave” payout is 55.50 hours and total annual leave payout is 25.50 hours, but total payout hours are only 25.50.
Another former cabinet member whose payout is on the “pending: list, is former Public Defender Ruth Risch-Fuatagavi with a gross amount of $12,230 and gross payment for former Territorial Auditor Robert Dantini, a contract employee, $3,076.
Samoa News notes that the information cited in this story is based on the report now with the Senate, and the ASG Treasurer is expected to provide more information as well as clarification at today’s hearing.