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Senators question legality of payouts for former admin

The Senate hearing yesterday concerning the issue of payouts to previous directors and contract employees as well as the previous governor and lieutenant governor as they left the administration raised questions concerning the legality of the payouts. A report, which the Senate received that includes the “gross” and actual amount of the checks to former ASG employees, was the subject of a Senate Government Operations Committee hearing, chaired by Sen. Galeai Tu’ufuli.Sen. Galeai and Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Sen. Laolagi F.S. Vaeao had 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 had 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. (See yesterday’s story)Fono Legal Counsel Henry Kappel was the only witness to testify due to time constraints. A translator, Raina Savali, accompanied Kappel during the hearing, because he does not speak Samoan,. Senate questions, yesterday, mainly focused on the American Samoa Code Annotated statutes on sick leave, annual leave and compensatory time — the main thrust being the legality of the payouts.Sen. Galea’i noted at the beginning of the hearing that the payouts were based on sick leave, annual leave and compensatory time, and asked Kappel about legal issues concerning them.Referring to 4.0110 Compensation and perquisites-Allowances for former Governor and surviving spouses -“Former Governor” defined. Cite as [A.S.C.A. § 4.0110 ], Kappel said, this “statute does not address sick leave and annual leave for the Governor or Lt Governor. The law is silent on that part… it neither allows it, nor permits it.” The Fono legal counsel noted “the second statute before you — that statute prohibits overtime compensations for gubernatorial appointees, but it allows them to take additional leave with pay, so long as that leave is approved and documented in advance. Kappel was referring to 7.1004.1 Overtime compensation of gubernatorial appointees disallowed.\The other issue that you will be addressing is whether some of these individuals on the payout are career service. If they are career service then the statute and personnel regulations regarding sick leave and annual leave apply to those individuals. There are limits on the payout of sick leave and annual leave to career service