Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Tiring of public criticism over their frequent breaks during the year, Congress some years ago renamed their recesses “district work periods” to more accurately reflect what Members were doing during the times Congress was not in session. Right now they are in the midst of the Presidents’ Day district work period and, being an election year in which voter anger at incumbents is extraordinarily high, most Members indeed are back home pressing the flesh and tending to constituent needs.


But not all.

The American Samoa Fono (legislature), which is part time and only meets for 60 days in two sessions per year, just happens to have resumed its first session of the year. What marvelous timing, because it gives Faleomavaega an opportunity to report to the legislature the progress of his ASPIRE bill designed to dissuade the territory’s remaining tuna cannery from pulling out. There are a whole host of other issues as well and since the President has just submitted his FY2011 budget to Congress, it is timely to make sure the needs of the local government are reviewed so Faleomavaega can have fresh input on the appropriations process on their behalf.

Surely one would expect Faleomavaega to be on hand. After all he sacrificed being in his seat in Washington when his party took charge of Congress in January, 2007 so he could be on hand for the ceremonial opening of the Fono that year. Even though by so doing he was out of town when new Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a flick of the wrist ordered Rep. George Miller to add American Samoa to the minimum wage bill that was first order of business (H.R. 2). Besides, Faleomavaega is just back from an extensive trip to Asia.

Oh, wait. We forgot. Faleomavaega is not in Pago Pago but in Morocco on his way to Spain to visit a naval base and hold bilateral talks. Then it’s off to Austria to participate in a parliamentary meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Hmm. We checked the committee roster and, nope, he’s not on the subcommittee that deals with North Africa-Middle East issues. And, nope, he is not on the Europe subcommittee. And he’s not on the subcommittee that deals with international organizations. Maybe this is his consolation prize for being left out of the Speaker’s delegation to Copenhagan for the U.N. Conference on Climate Change last year—even though that is precisely an issue over which his subcommittee does have jurisdiction.

Even though he will miss the Fono, his Europe meetings should be over in time to get him back to Washington to confer with his governor, who arrives over the weekend for the winter meeting of the National Governors Association and several other groups that will be meeting while all the governors are in town.

Wait until the Fono reads about this in the territory’s only daily newspaper. They will be enraged and so will the voters. Oh, I forgot. They won’t know about this because Samoa News, which carefully protects the dear traveling congressman, won’t tell anyone. Faleomavaega’s sister-in-law, an editor at the paper, will see to that.

And so it goes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A couple of corrections. American Samoa has two tuna canneries; StarKist Samoa and TriMarine. Each are committed to paying US federal wages. By the time the wage rate hits $5.50, canneries workers will be on economic parity with ASG workers, a total shift in consumer purchasing power.

In other words, American Samoa didn't need aspire legislation, Pelosi's wage rate hike was a good thing and nobody understood the motivation for continued canning operations in the territory.