Sunday, October 5, 2008

Faleomavaega's vicious attack

As the name of our group suggests, we are for anyone but Faleomavaega. But the filing deadline is well past and that "anyone" boils down to two alternatives: one is his previous opponent, Aumua Amata, who in 2006 held him to the fourth closest race in the country against any Democrat who won a House seat and a retired army enlistee, Rosie Lancaster, who it appears spent her entire career as a paper shuffling personnel specialist and has no Washington experience. Lancaster, who previously was a volunteer on Aumua Amata's campaign, is a paper shuffling bureaucrat at the community college. Since Lancaster's campaign seems to be going nowhere, let us focus on Aumua Amata.

About 10 days ago, her campaign chairman, the respected Senator Salanoa Aumoeualogo, in the wake of the U.S. financial crisis issued the following statement:

As everyone who has been following the national news knows, the United States is in the midst of the worst financial crisis it has faced since the Great Depression over 75 years ago. The federal government is taking urgent action to correct the problems, which affect the world economy, including the U.S. territories.

Last weekend the Bush Administration met with Congressional Leaders and made a proposal that will require congressional action. This week this issue is squarely in the hands of Congress, with both political parties in both houses working around the clock to develop a consensus solution. Underscoring the seriousness of the crisis, Sen. McCain on Wednesday announced he was suspending his presidential campaign to return to Washington to work on the legislation.

One of the reasons the process continues unresolved is that various senators and representatives have different ideas on what should be in the bill being drafted. In situations such as these it is of paramount importance that we be vigilant so that any legislation passed by Congress does not have unintended consequences for American Samoa.

To minimize the possibilities that national legislation would be harmful to our territory, Congress created a non-voting delegate seat in the U.S. House of Representatives beginning with the 1980 election. Having that seat is particularly crucial at a time like this. Therefore, I was shaken to learn that as this crisis was developing last weekend, our delegate left Washington to return to Pago Pago and remains here now.

No matter how talented or well connected his congressional staff may be, they are no substitutes in Washington for the physical presence of the delegate, the only one who is permitted to attend high level meetings where key decisions are debated and made. We need only look back to 2007 to see the ramifications of having our delegate absent from Washington when crucial decisions are being made. The plans to abolish the industry committee and automatically raise our minimum wage were formulated and announced while our delegate was not in the capital. As we now have seen, the change in law has threatened our fragile economy and may have further consequences we are not yet able to foresee.

If Senator McCain were able to suspend his campaign, then surely our delegate could suspend his and return to Washington on the earliest possible flight and remain there to protect our interests until Congress has adjourned. Except in the direst case of personal emergency, it is imperative Faleomavaega fulfill his responsibilities as our Member of Congress. The situation demands no less.

end of statement

A few days later, Faleomavaega issued a response that for anyone who understands who Samoan politics is practiced, would stand on end the hairs on the back of your neck. Line by line we have dissected this statement, which is filled with lies, half truths, misstatements, mischaracterizations and distortions. Over the course of the next few days, we intend to post his statement along with our analysis. Stay tuned.

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