Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Faleomavaega Admits ASPIRE Failure; Blames Others

Give him credit.  He tried to downplay it in his news release and Samoa News, where his sister-in-law is an editor, obliged him with an attention diverting headline that reads “Eni Reports to Fono on GAO impact study,” but make no mistake about it, the real news is the second paragraph: “Faleomavaega also noted that there is opposition in Congress over the ASPIRE bill, which would provide subsidies to the canneries and fishing boats that off-load whole tuna in American Samoa.”

We have been saying that for months but Samoa News has kept silent.  Now they have no choice but to print the truth: Faleomavaega has failed to convince Congress to move his bill to provide subsidies to the remaining tuna industry.   Telegraphing his punch, Faleomavaega has advised the Fono that the GAO study on the impact of wage hikes that will be released next month will indicate that “advance copy shows that American Samoa’s economy is at the tipping point.   But, the report makes no recommendations about what should or could be done given that every worker in America is entitled to fair wages and an income that keeps up with the cost of living.” 

Read between the lines.  He is saying that the GAO report is not likely to persuade Congress to freeze wage hikes in American Samoa.  Meanwhile, he goes on to point out that while he continues to try to find a way to move his ASPIRE bill, “[w]hether or not these efforts will be successful remains to be seen since the U.S. economy is in serious recession.”

Not content with just blaming the economy for his failure, he also pointed a finger at the canneries, saying “Congress has already provided hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to local tuna industry every year for the past 20-years— these breaks could have and should have helped our canneries prepare for a rainy day.”

As another excuse for not moving the bill he noted two of StarKist’s competitors “have enlisted their Democratic Members of Congress who represent California, Georgia and Puerto Rico to oppose ASPIRE and any modifications to it.”  (emphasis added)  Then, came the real blow: “StarKist may not have the time it needs to wait for the outcome (of the attempts to move ASPIRE).”

Finally, of course, he points a finger at the local government:  “I am hopeful that ASG will continue to do all it can to diversify its economy and put in place the recommendations of the American Samoa Economic Advisory Commission which released its report in 2002, well before the tuna industry was under the threat it is today and long before minimum wage hikes.”

In other words, hey folks, StarKist is about to pull up stakes.  Don’t blame me.  I warned you years ago and the governor and Fono haven’t done a thing to replace them.  I am powerless to do anything in Washington because the rest of the tuna industry has lined up my own colleagues to stop me and the GAO has not made a persuasive case to stop raising the minimum wage.  The public likely will buy in to his line of reasoning once again with an “Attaboy, Eni, at least you tried.”

Meanwhile, Samoa News has said not a word about whether President Obama is going to stop in American Samoa later this month on his way back to Washington from Australia.  There was a big story in Guam's Pacific Daily News about Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo talking to Obama about his Guam stop at a showing of the new HBO series "The Pacific."

Obama held a private screening of the premiere at the White House and afterward Bordallo was quoted by PDN as saying "President Obama was a gracious host and told me that he was looking forward to visiting Guam next week."

The article mentioned that "The screening was also attended by Rep. John Dingell, dean of the House of Representatives; House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton; Sen. John Kerry; and American Samoa delegate Eni Faleomavaega.

Faleomavaega? Hmmmm.  Why no press release from Eni about that?  Why no Samoa News story or even a question to Eni about the status of his invitation?  Perhaps he is hoping no one will remember his invitation to Obama.  Has anyone seen any Secret Service agents or White House advance team around the island yet?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Once again I am posting, Eni's sister-in-law is not an editor of Samoa News. She is a copy editor which means she checks for spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Do you guys read your comments? Just wondering how long you will continue to spread false info.

Patty Page