SAMOA NEWS EDITORIAL: THE GONG SHOW — III
This week’s Gong Show is brought to you by the Church of Cats Are Blessings, in the hope they won’t be taxed by the Lolo Administration’s new GRT plan — Meow.
FONO LEADERS WANT MORE MONEY
Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie says he believes there should be an increase in the annual salaries of lawmakers, and that’s why the Fono needs a higher budget than in past years. Gaoteote then during the hearing on the Fono budget proceeded to point out that they are missing out on a lot of important off-island meetings and conferences due to the lack of a sufficient travel budget.
Of salary increases for lawmakers, he says if a right thing needs to be done, then it should be done and if not, then don’t.
And here’s the crowning glory of his argument: Gaoteote says that maybe the Fono needs to handle its own finances — instead of the current procedure of Fono money being handled by the Treasury Department.
In the meantime, Sen. Nua Saoluaga suggested if there are any other add-ons to increase allowances for lawmakers, those should also be included in the budget, since the cost of living has gone up.
To finance the Fono budget increase, they are proposing to redirect and use $985,000 from Executive Branch programs — including of all things, $100,000 from the local road maintenance subsidy.
Now we know why Fono leaders did not make the raises in directors’ salaries a bone of contention during budget hearings — THEY WANT RAISES TOO!
With all disrespect intended: Have they lost their minds? GONG!
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga moved to “set the record straight” about alleged “unauthorized actions” by his assistant Solialealofiotagaloa Mutini relating to two pallets of cement shipped to Manu’a, a number of missing umbrellas and several 24-hour DOE vehicle passes, which Mutini signed.
Lemanu said his move was to “hopefully regain the trust of the public, village council of Chiefs of Faleasao and Manu’a, and families and friends of Solialealofiotagaloa, who is truly a servant of our people.”
For the pallets of cement, Lemanu said it was an exchange of supplies, something that is often done in Manu’a; for the missing umbrellas, they were used for the good of the government but Mutini generously, out of his own pocket, bought replacements because he felt responsible; and for the vehicle passes, Mutini signed for Lemanu, per approval by the Lt. Governor.
According to Lemanu (and I paraphrase), Mutini and his family are generous people, as they have never asked the government for reimbursement of items they have given for use by the government in Manu’a, and even feed and house government employees free of charge. And God bless them, they even hosted Troy Polamalu and his family.
The Lt. Governor, after throwing the governor’s Chief of Staff and Special Assistant under the proverbial bus, apologized to Mutini, his family and friends.
I think Sainthood is in order, don’t you? GONG!
Yesterday, when House Rep. Florence Vaili Saulo asked Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Sen. Laolagi F.S. Vaeao about what constituted a majority vote after he had quickly moved to honor the pending motion from Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono to end the LBJ budget hearing and dismiss the witnesses, Laolagi replied ‘the majority of hands raised’.
Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono, whose tone of voice was not pleasant, then interjected and told House members to show some respect in the Senate chamber.
He said that throughout the three weeks of hearings, there were more House members wanting to ask more questions despite the majority agreeing to end the hearing after receiving clear and solid responses from witnesses.
If this is an example of future budget hearings, Soliai said, then he would request the Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie — who was present — not to hold any more joint budget hearings. Soliai repeated this statement twice.
“This is the Senate, whose members are traditional ranking leaders,” said Soliai and noted that Laolagi is also a ranking traditional leader from Manu’a.
If the majority is the majority of hands raised, then let’s raise our hands to have separate budget hearings once again, instead of these make believe ones. GONG!