ASESRO executive director takes exception to Samoa News’ 1602 story

In a press release, dated August 30, 2012, the American Samoa Economic Stimulus & Recovery Office (ASESRO) — Pat M. Galea’i, Executive Director expressed his disappointment with Samoa News “lack of responsibility shown in reporting as fact items for which we have no supporting evidence.”

In opening it states “This morning, the Samoa News printed excerpts from an outdated draft version of a 1602 Program review the ASESRO office is preparing. We wish to emphasize first of all that a draft report is a draft report for a reason. We also want to make clear some of the allegations contained in the newspaper report were flagged for removal from the subsequent draft precisely because no substantiation was available.”

The ASESRO press release further states, “The Samoa News did not contact our office for confirmation or verification of the authenticity of report itself, or of any specific information related to the report prior to printing it. Of great concern to our office throughout the review process was the principle that the final report should be entirely fact-based…”

Galea’i concludes that “If we had been contacted prior to these allegations being published, we could have save the paper the embarrassment of printing these unsubstantiated charges, when barring the appearance of supporting evidence, will not be contained in the final report.”

The ASESRO press release is signed by Galea’i, and was sent to Samoa News from its office, yesterday afternoon. It is not addressed to anyone in particular and bears the header: “PRESS RELEASE”.

In response, Samoa News points out that in our story, published Thursday, August 30, 2012, we state from the first that it is a “draft report” and that these were allegations. The facts we reported were the ‘items’ as stated in the draft report.

In particular, Samoa News wrote in its story published Thursday, August 30, 2012 the following:

The draft report, obtained by Samoa News is in ‘narrative’ form, and is an ‘ongoing’ report, which includes items the compliance staff are still reviewing or questions they are still seeking to answer, which also states that a final report on Section 1602 will be issued in early 2013. This would correspond with the final date of the program — Dec. 31, 2012.

It states the “objective of this preliminary review includes determining if the DBAS complied with applicable federal rules and internal control procedures at grant origination (application), eligibility review in awarding of sub-grants, and administering of 1602 grant funds.”

Also, it’s interesting to note that Galea’i does not say in his press release which allegations were ‘flagged for removal’ nor does he indicate what draft report supersedes the “outdated draft version” Samoa News has reported on, which is dated “July 11, 2012”.

In conclusion, Samoa News stands by its story on the draft report on the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Section 1602.


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