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Togiola seeks help from two federal agencies

While attending last month’s meetings of the nation’s governors with President Barack Obama and his cabinet, Gov. Togiola Tulafono says he was able to meet with the Secretaries of Transportation and Education to discuss several issues pertaining to American Samoa.

Speaking on his weekend radio program, Togiola said that during the meeting with the USDOT, he pointed out the setbacks of local tourism development due to the high fares from the US to the territory.

Togiola did not provide further details of issues he discussed with USDOT however, the governor has raised the possibility of providing to American Samoa an exemption under the federal cabotage law, in the past, to allow foreign carriers to stop over in Pago Pago for flights to and from the US to help bring down air fares and promote tourism in the territory.

During his meeting with the USDOE, Togiola said he asked the federal agency to include American Samoa and other US Insular Areas on new federal programs which include the new “Race to the Top” grant program currently geared only to “states”. The governors of the other territories support his request said Togiola.

The same issues with USDOE and USDOT were also raised,  along with other matters, during last month’s meeting of the Federal Region Council Region IX meeting in San Francisco reported Togiola.

At the Region IX gathering, which included several local ASG directors, Togiola said US Department of Agriculture officials discussed the lunch program at the local DOE and the food voucher program for seniors administered by the Territorial Administration on Aging.  USDA funds both programs.