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Senate prez provides update on Lolo's condition and the status of the Fono building

Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie has shared with senators two updates: Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s health condition; and the construction of the new Fono building, for which a decision has been reached that will move the project forward.

Gaoteote, who returned last Thursday night after visiting the governor who is in an unnamed Seattle hospital, told his colleagues during Friday’s Senate session that Lolo has been moved out of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and into another medical ward where he is recovering well and continues with medical check-ups.

He said he extended to Lolo, well wishes for a speedy recovery from the Senate, the Fono, and the people of American Samoa. The governor expressed appreciation, according to Gaoteote, and sends his regards and love.

Gaoteote, who left the territory on Mar. 14th, asks the Senate and everyone for their continued prayers for the governor, for a speedy recovery, with the hope that he'll return home soon

Lt. Gov. Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga is currently the acting governor.


Regarding the new Fono building,  Gaoteote said a decision has been made, that the work will proceed using “piles” so there are no more conflicting arguments and the project can move forward.

He said the architect is to arrive on island soon, probably this week, to look at the current site for the areas to install piles. Machinery and equipment to drill the area to install the piles will hopefully be on island soon so work can commence.

Gaoteote stressed that the latest development is expected to put an end to the back-and-forth over this project, which is been allocated $15 million in proceeds from the 2018 bond series sale.

Gaoteote’s latest update was in response to Sen. Fai’ivae Iuli Godinet’s request during the Senate session last Friday on a Senate Budget Committee’s decision reached last Wednesday, that a letter will be sent to the Lolo Administration to provide proposed legislation to appropriate and approve spending of the more than $50 million in proceeds the government received from the sale of the 2018 bond series, issued by the American Samoa Economic Development Authority (ASEDA).

Fai’ivae said the ASEDA report to the committee during the hearing, shows that $15 million is allocated for the new Fono building and he believes this is sufficient to move the  project forward. He said several senators during the committee hearing last Wednesday had emphasized to ASEDA board members their wish of having the construction work completed before the end of 2020 — which is also when the current 36th Legislature comes to a close.

Committee chairman, Sen. Magalei Logovi’i announced that the communication has already been submitted to the ASEDA board to submit for Fono approval, allocation and spending of the 2018 bond series.

Already introduced in both the Senate and House, is an Administration bill, re-allocating a certain percentage of current ASG revenues to pay the 2018 bond series. But the Senate committee is not expected to take up the bill until the issue of allocating and spending is completed by the Fono.

The Fono building was put on hold since last year, following concerns raised by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), that the structure is built in a flood zone (VE Zone) and that “all new construction in this flood zone must be built using post and pier construction to elevate the lowest floor Base Floor Elevation (BFE), with no obstructions under the building.”

According to FEMA, the ASG’s original Fono building design called “for an elevated structure on piles/ piers with parking underneath”, which would have complied with ASG’s Floodplain Management Regulations (FPMR). (See DBAS building in Pago)

“However, the design was later modified to include a perimeter foundation and backfilled,” said FEMA Region IX Administrator, Robert J. Fenton in an Aug. 20, 2018 letter to the governor.

Fenton explained that buildings using a perimeter foundation, fill, or an elevated slab, are not permitted in the VE Zone and if the building was built ‘as is’ American Samoa would lose its federal flood insurance.