Saturday, February 16, 2008

Faleomavaega Buckles Under Pressure

Fresh from the setback of his presidential candidate, Barack Obama, to Hillary Clinton at the American Samoa delegate selection caucus, Faleomavaega has folded his cards on holding a hearing on his bill mandating the secretary of Interior to force the governor to hold a referendum on three controversial issues: direct popular election of senators, establishment of a federal court, and making American Samoans full U.S. citizens.

Members of the legislature, senators in particular, have been increasingly vocal in their opposition to Faleomavaega's interference in what they view as being local prerogatives and last week openly debated whether to boycott the hearing, which was to take place on February 22. No doubt sensing there would be fireworks not only from the legislators but the public as well, the beleaguered delegate beat a hasty retreat and requested House Insular subcommittee Chairwoman Donna Christiansen (D-VI) limit the hearing to minimum wage only. His press release announcing the scrubbing of the hearing lamely cited lack of time but no one was fooled.

Legislators also claimed Faleomavaega's proposal of the college as the venue for the hearing was an effort to attract a younger audience that might be more favorable to his proposals. With the hearing scrubbed the need for the college was moot and the two sides settled for the "neutral" Lee Auditorium for the wage hearing. The legislature wanted the hearing at their building.

Faleomavaega's prestige has suffered yet another blow at a time when his principal opponent in 2006, Aumua Amata, has announced she will run again. In her announcement, she noted her race was the fourth closest in the country in 2006 against a Democrat elected to the U.S. House.

Should be interesting.

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