Monday, January 28, 2008

Faleomavaega Will Try to Halt Wage Hike

Watch the pattern, folks. Faleomavaega is going to try once more the kind of maneuver that has sustained his career for nearly two decades: create a mess by neglect, then rescue the situation with the help of Hawaii's senators and take credit for averting a crisis.

Following the release of a U.S. Department of Labor study that suggests the rise of American Samoa's wage rates to U.S. parity would be devastating to the territory's fragile economy, Eni has announced he is introducing legislation to exempt American Samoa from future automatic wage hikes and return instead to a bi-annual survey to determine what would be sustainable.

He will beg his leadership to do this for him on the basis of its importance to his political survival then will turn to the Senate's twin Hawaii octogenarians, Inouye and Akaka, to carry his water in the upper body.

Will it work? Who knows? He has failed so far to get timely enactment of the 30A wage credit the canneries say they need to remain profitable and once again will need to get a bill passed that will make the credit retroactive to January 1, when the previous provision expired. Another 50-cent wage increase is due in May. It would be pretty tough to get that made retroactive. Getting voters to fork over their increase wage or to be forced into a reduction after a brief rise would be a disaster in an election year.

Maybe Eni will have to curtail his foreign junketeering at least between now and May to shepherd his legislation through Congress. Will he skip his party's presidential delegate caucus in the territory on February 5, especially after Hillary Clinton has made reference to it? He has endorsed Barack Obama, while Governor Togiola and the local party leadership have endorsed Hillary Clinton. The results of the caucus will be a test of his prestige and influence.

If he does make a quick trip home and then go back to Washington, he is going to have to turn right around to come back for the House Insular Affairs Subcommittee hearing he has orchestrated for February 21 and 22.

Poor Eni. He may be forced to stay on the job more than he likes.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Faleomavaega Out of Position Again

No surprise that our worst fears again are realized. Last January while Congress was furiously working on raising the minimum wage, Faleomavaega was out of town. Result? American Samoa was included!

Did he learn his lesson? Nope. Last week while Congress was furiously negotiating an economic stimulus package that includes a tax rebate for everyone, he was again out of town.

Perhaps he negotiated American Samoa into the package by phone. Apparently not.

He has issued a press release about a letter he has now sent to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and others asking them to "clarify" the effect of the bill on the territories. Read clarify to mean "territories forgotten." So, once again he has to play catch up and then if he succeeds he can triumphantly claim he has saved the day--even though he's only cleaning up a mess he himself has made. Reminds me of the guy who was banging his head with a hammer., When asked why he was doing that he replied: "Because it feels so good when I stop."

By the way. Steny Hoyer. Steny Hoyer. Unusual first name. Say, isn't that the fellow who was in American Samoa just a week or so ago as part of a fact finding tour that Eni skipped so he could tour Israel with a bunch of island ambassadors to the U.N.? I think so. Apparently, American Samoa did not leave enough of an impression on him to remember us when it came time for the stimulus package. Perhaps if Faleomavaega had been on that junket instead of looking at desalinization projects in the Middle East we might not have to be playing catch up once again.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Faleomavaega AWOL again

Most people understand that even when Congress is out of session, only the House floor is dark. The routine business of Congress goes on unabated: hearings, meetings, negotiations, constituent work, fact finding travel and all the rest. This week was no exception (the House comes back into session next week).

The big news in the morning papers today was the completion of negotiations between Congress and the Executive Branch yesterday on a federal stimulus package to counteract the country's economic slowdown. Most House members were in town to make their views known.

At the same time, this morning's Samoa News carried a photo and story about Faleomavaega giving a talk to a local third grade class yesterday. If he had to be away from Washington, at least he was home. If there is little or nothing in the package for American Samoa, you will not hear a peep out of him and not from the sad sack local media either. If American Samoa does benefit, you can bet there will be a press release, carried in full in the local papers, even if he was 10,000 miles away when it was negotiated and had not a thing to do with it. Life goes on.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Faleomavaega energy bill fraud

You have to give Faleomavaega credit for making news out of no news. Several regional outlets, including the respected Pacific Magazine, picked up his January 17 press release about the energy bill that President Bush signed on Dec. 19 last year. And it really didn't have all that much to do with American Samoa. Here is what he said:

“I am especially happy that the new law included ocean thermal energy conversion, a concept that was included in a bill I introduced in the House earlier last year, and I am thankful to Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic leadership for recognizing the importance of ocean thermal energy conversion as a potential alternative source of energy.”

Notice he didn't claim responsibility for the provision on ocean thermal conversion, only that he was happy the bill included a concept he introduced in a bill in 2006.

He goes on to express hope the governor and legislature will take advantage of the bill. What leadership! What a fraud! But once again, he got away with it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Faleomavaega displays racist side in Ho Chi Minh issue

For years people have described Faleomavaega as being "anti-haole," especially when it comes to the French, but let's call it what it is: Faleomavaega is a racist. That really came out in his long response to the two Vietnam War veterans who wrote stinging letters of criticism to the editor of Samoa News after Faleomavaga issued a press release in which proudly proclaimed that he called Ho Chi Minh a "great leader" during a recent trip to Hanoi. In a way it was unfortunate that the two vets just happened to be haoles who are married to Samoan women and have lived in the islands for many years. This fact has given Faleomavaega and his sycophants the opportunity to attack the critics by their race and divert away from the issue of whether Ho deserves to be called a great leader.

In a follow up letter to the editor, one of Faleomavaega's goons wrote:

"There is a fine line between freedom of press and being disrespectful of a Samoan leader in your letters to the editor. You are entitled to your opinions. However, since you have chosen to live in American Samoa, I encourage you to take a little time to live and learn the epitome of the Samoan culture, 'respect.'"

In a second letter he wrote:

"you are obligated to your opinions and you have that freedom even in the Samoan culture. Have you done a sanity check about your position on the issue as well as how the Samoan people feel about your approach? The last time I checked our leaders were elected by the majority. I know you have been around several of your wife's extended family meetings and village council meetings to appreciate the decision-making process in those settings. You can say whatever your heart dictates as long as you know your place and the language to use in those meetings. As you have known in those meetings, nobody talks out of line."

In the past, letters like this have been enough to end discussion, but in this issue, this approach appears to have backfired. More letters against the position of both Faleomavaega and his backers have been published, and this time from Samoans. This issue does not appear to be going away. Whether Eni will cut his losses and apologize remains to be seen.

Falomavaega on Mideast junket

Those of us who have followed Faleomavaega's bizarre 20-year career have come to learn that the longer and more convoluted a press release, the more he is trying to defend an indefensible position by preemption. You are encouraged to go to his House website to read his full explanation of why he was running around Israel when two of the most important members of the U.S. House of Representatives (where he works--in case you forgot) were in Pago Pago.

His press officer must have had trouble suppressing a smirk writing this one, in which he has our roving delegate claiming he missed the opportunity of showing the House majority leader first hand what the territory's unmet needs are because he needed to be traveling with a bunch of Pacific Island ambassadors "to discuss ways to advance the relationship between Israel and Pacific Island nations" says the press release.

The biggest joke,of course, is that he says this junket was at the behest of Hoyer. Among other things, he addressed the group, which was billed as an "educational exchange" and looked at some desalinization projects. Please note that he was the ONLY member of Congress on this delegation. Everyone else was a Pacific Island Country ambassador to the U.N.! Last time I looked, "international tour guide" is not listed in the job description for congressmen.

What in God's name does he take the voters for? Look hard and long and read slowly and closely. If anyone can find a shred of benefit or potential benefit to American Samoa from this pure junket, please post a response to this blog.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Faleomavaega breaks with local Dem. Party Leadership

In an almost united front, American Samoa Governor Togiola and the entire leadership of the local Democratic Party the day before the New Hampshire primary announced their support for Sen. Hillary Clinton as next president of the U.S. That leaves out Del. Faleomavaega, who has announced his support for Sen. Barack Obama. It is said that the local Democratic Party does not have much use for Faleomavaega and several years ago rebuffed his efforts to be electe4d national committeeman. It is not publicized at all, but it is believed it has been some years since he has sought the party's endorsement for re-election out of fear they will vote down the proposition.

Faleomavaega AWOL for CODEL Visit

In Washington speak that probably got its start in the military, a traveling delegation of Members of Congress is called a CODEL for short. Well, a very high-powered CODEL made it to Guam and American Samoa during the period between sessions over the Holidays. Led by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD)and House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO), a bipartisan group of a dozen House members made a day and a half visit to Guam as part of their swing through parts of Asia, Australia and New Zealand. According to press coverage on Guam, both Hoyer and Blunt gave credit to Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo for insisting on a Guam stop and praised her for her tireless efforts for Congressional action on Guam issues.

We understand that the itinerary did not orginally have a stop scheduled for American Samoa but after complaints by Faleomavaega, a refueling/rest stop in Pago Pago was added after New Zealand.

A big page one photo in the January 10 issue of Samoa News shows Lt. Gov. Ipulasi Sunia greets the CODEL leaders: Hoyer, Blunt and Bordallo. What's wrong with this picture? Well. No governor for starters. He's still in the hospital following emergency surgery over the weekend. And I'm sure there is some squirming on Hoyer's staff since fellow Democrat Sunia is under federal indictment for alleged procurement illegalities when he was government treasurer. But also absent from the photo? Faleomavaega!! The wandering delegate had a conflict. He's off touring the Middle East at the moment, thank you. But he did send his best regards.

Faleomavaega Praises Uncle Ho; Creates Firestorm

On yet another overseas junket, our wandering delegate, Faleomavaega, this time turns up in Hanoi in December, 2007, where he sings the praises of Ho Chi Minh as a great leader who only wanted to end French oppression of his people.

Needless to say, this characterization of Uncle Ho did not go down too well with American Samoa's sizable community of Vietnam veterans. The rhetoric has been incendiary.

Unlike the situation in which then-Sen. Leader Trent Lott, in praising Strom Thurmond
on his 100th birthday, offhandedly and jokingly suggested the country should have elected the then-segregationist president in 1948, Faleomavaega issued a press release (on Pearl harbor Day, no less)with his pro-Ho remarks.

Not terribly bright, but it gets better. After a couple of sharply worded letters to the editor criticing the delegate's position on Ho, Faleomavaega issues another press release containing his own letter to the editor in response, in which he fully defends his prasie of Ho. Not to let an opportunity go by, in the same letter he slurs President Bush and Vice President Cheney over their military service or lack thereof. So much for the passionate bi-partisanship he so fervently avowed during his years in the wilderness when Democrats controlled neither Congress nor the White House--although last time I looked, Bush/Cheney has a year to go.

Faleomavaega thwarted in Papua

People who have been around Washington long enough remember a Virginia U.S. Senator named Bill Scott. Not considered by many to be the sharpest tool in the box, some publication one year named him one of the 10 dumbest members of Congress. As if to prove the point, Scott held a press conference to deny he was dumb.

Well, it often seems Faleomavaega follows the Bill Scott school of press release writing. You will recall that after his most recent re-election, he announced that Papuan self-determination towards independence would be the top priority on his agenda in the new Congress (not American Samoa's problems, of course--but that's a story for another day).

So, on one of his frequent overseas junkets during the summer, he went to Jakarta with the expectation of traveling on to Papua for some self-determination seminar. Only thing is that the Indonesian government wouldn't give him permission to go. So he left, saying he was nevertheless satisfied with the progress Indonesia was making with its troubled province. Immediately after he cleared Indonesia airspace, the central government rounded up all the dissidents Eni wanted to meet and hauled them in for some, um, routine questioning.

Fast forward to December, now. Indonesia is hosting in Bali the latest International Conference on Climate Change. Of course, our lead junketeer is front and center. Okay, we'll give him a break this time. After all, he is the chairman of the House subcommittee on Asia, Pacific and Global Environment.

This time he makes a big deal about having gotten permission to travel to Papua while he is in the country. Only problem is the government hardly lets him out of the airport in Papua.

Naturally, when he returns to Washington he issues a press release about his failure to get to see people in Papua. Maybe they didn't like his bolo tie.