Thursday, November 6, 2008

Faleomavaega Buys Re-election

Voters put aside all their doubts about Congressman Faleomavaega's travels, policies and actions in favor of cold, hard cash and delivered a solid general election victory to him for the first time since 1998, when he faced only token opposition. When he arrived back from Washington to begin campaigning a little more than two weeks before the election, he had over $40,000 in the bank to spend and got a last minute infusion of Asian and Labor special interest money to fund his election day operations. While it's unlikely the expenditure of those funds will be detailed on Federal Election Commission reports, it is fair to speculate that there were a lot of golden handshakes between his campaign and powerful clan leaders who dictate their extended family votes in what remains a very feudal society. And no doubt a lot of individuals were paid handsomely to serve as "poll workers" on election day.

The result reminds of the old story about a guy standing on a street corner repeatedly banging his head with a hammer. When asked why by a passerby, he replies: "Because it feels so good when I stop."

Well, that may be what is going on here. In a post election interview, Faleomavaega reiterated that he intends to continue to pursue his passion for in foreign affairs and will do his best to cram down the territory's throat his special interest bill to open the port to foreign built tuna boats, despite the opposition of the governor and leaders of the legislature. After all, he owes all his Asian contributors that much and the voters now have posed no objection.

Now, what's the payoff for the union contributions? As soon as congress passes the Employees Free Choice Act (a euphemism for eliminating secret ballots), we can expect the Teamsters to take another run at organizing the canneries and the Communications Workers no doubt will have an eye on the call centers being established once the fiber optic cable is here.

That is only the beginning. With a new administration in Washington and a Congress with swollen Democrat majorities, expect a lot more federal controls and dictation out of Washington. Expect Faleomavaega to expand his control of federal CIP money going to the territory, imposition of a federal court and continued escalation of the minimum wage. He also likely will attmpt to change the way local senators are elected and launch another round of GAO studies, investigations and audits of all facits of government.

It should be a wild ride but ultimately I guess the people will feel so good when it stops.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Faleomavaega's treachery

The blog Faitatala puts the whole tunaboat bill controversy into cold perspective.
In all the rhetoric that has swirled around, Faleomavaega has not answered the basic accusation: that he tried to slip this bill through the process under the radar. The question is why? Is he now prepared to sacrifice his quarter century political career by drawing this line in the sand? He says if re-elected he plans to introduce the bill again. Not a word about hearings. Nothing about consultations. Just ram it through in a raw demonstration of power. I suppose his party's expected swollen majorities in both the House and Senate means he will prevail, unless the voters stop him next week. Why is he so adamant about no hearings or consultations? It's not even the absence of local consultations that has the voters so up in arms. It is the secrecy with which he has operated and his unwillingness to explain why this has been desirable or necessary. Forget his foreign travels, his bad relations in Congress and all the rest. He deserves to be defeated on this issue alone.

Special Interests to the Rescue

Whether or not the Indonesian ambassador to the U.S. brought a suitcase full of cash with him for Faleomavaega's campaign when he visited recently, it looks like the veteran delegate will have all he needs to buy himself re-election. Following a $5,000 contribution earlier in the week by the Teamsters Union, just yesterday Faleomavaega scored another $11,000 from an array of people with Asian names, Asian special interest groups and labor unions. Beyond his secret tuna boat deal, just what interest the Asians have in him is unclear but there is little doubt about the union money.

Last year the U.S. House passed something called the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would do away with secret ballots in union organizing drives. The bill died in the Senate thanks to a Republican filibuster but Democrats have vowed to pass it next year if they have the votes--which they likely will--and a friendly White House--also likely.

The Teamsters some years ago tried to unionize our tuna canneries but were rebuffed. There is no doubt their contribution to Faleomavaega is designed to grease the skids for another attempt after EFCA passes and is signed into law.

Can Faleomavaega's defeat stop this? No, but we don't have to have our own delegate leading the charge to our economic destruction. And maybe after election day there still will be enough Republicans in the Senate to stop the bill or at least exempt us.

What Eni is going to do with all this campaign cash remains to be seen because there is only so many radio and newspaper ads you can buy. No doubt this is for "election day operations." Expect to see an army of paid election day "workers" and perhaps barbecues in every village. (a chicken in every pot?) In some eastern Mainland cities, this is called walking around money.

Will it work once again? We'll find out Tuesday night.