Monday, July 30, 2007

Respect for Inouye?

Faleomavaega has told Samoa News that if the governor and Lolo want to raise the cabotage issue with U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committtee "they are more than welcome to do so, but I have too much respect for the Senator to put him in such a predicament."

He said he doesn't want to put Inouye in a position of having to choose to give American Samoa a waiver at the expense of putting one of Hawaii's carriers (Hawaiian Air) at risk.

As he acknowledges, getting a change in cabotage would be very difficult. Given his track record, we'd say impossible. But we had to chuckle at his talk of "respect" for Inouye. Where was the respect when Inouye asked Eni not to move forward on his resolution on Japanese World War II comfort women? Eni ignored the senator's plea and the measure passed the full House yesterday on a voice vote.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Three Strikes and You're Out?

There is a Radio New Zealand report that Eni has asked the Interior Department to help the U.S. labor Department with its study of the effect of wage hikes in American Samoa. Political analysts say they believe he is looking for someone to blame if DOL's report doesn't stop future increases in the territory's minimum wage. Eni's credibility was badly hurt in January when his ally, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, essentially threw him under the bus. First he asked AS to be exempted from the wage increase. When that failed he asked the House to put American Samoa under a wage review board along with Northern Marianas. He lost both rounds, even though his party is in charge of both Houses. Now he is opposing a second hike due next year unless Congress changes the law. The Labor Department findings are critical to that. Three strikes in a row could affect his political survival.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

spreading the word

We are not going to make any effort to publicize the existence of this blog in order to see who stumbles across it and how quickly it finds an audience all on it own.

Marshalls controversy

Some people found it unusual that Foreign Affairs full committee chairman Tom Lantos, rather that subcommittee chairman Eni, would extend an invitation to Marshall Island leaders to testify at a subcommittee hearing just five days before it was scheduled, especially considering th cost of air travel when not purchasing tickets at least seven days in advance. Rude, to say the least. But scratching beneath the surface, we find that it was Lantos's intervention that resulted in short notice. The capital was abuzz this week that Eni had rigged the hearing on nuclear issues to favor the opposition and didn't invite the government at a time when RMI is preparing for national elections just three months from now. Among other things, Lantos overrode Eni, downgraded the hearing to a "briefing" and insisted that his hearing be limited to testimony from Bush administration witnesses. So concerned at what appeared to be Congressional interference in internal RMI politics was Foreign Minister Gerald Zackios that he softly and diplomatically cautioned the subcommittee against pressing delicate issues during the campaign season. Nonetheless, Faleomavaega announced from the chair at the hearing's conclusion that he wanted to hold "field hearings" in RMI "in the coming months." We doubt Lantos will allow that to happen.

This is the third major controversy for the outspoken delegate since he took on the chairmanship in January. First it was the Comfort Women resolution, which is still unresolved, and then his controversial trip to Indonesia. We'll expand on these issues as we go. The sad thing is that at a time when American Samoa has so many problems, its congressman continues to be preoccupied with his myriad foreign adventures. The cowboy is in the saddle. Hang on. Looks like we are in for quite a ride.

As usual, the mainstream media is focusing on Faleomavaega's outbursts of outrage at how the U.S. has treated the Marshallese people but have not dug deeper for the real story. When at the end of his current term he again will have been shown to have a scant legislative record, people will wonder why. This is why.