Governor Lolo Moliga hosts meeting for Cabinet members
Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga hosted a Cabinet meeting at the Department of Agriculture Conference Room attended by Directors, agency representatives, traditional leaders, media and support staff.
The cabinet meeting began with welcoming remarks from COS Fiu Saelua who then called on Deacon Malaki Timu who led the gathering with a hymn followed by a blessing.
Honorable Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga first acknowledged the gathering. Starting his comments, Governor Lolo paid homage to recently passed EPA Director Ameko Pato and offered sincere condolences to ASCC Director Dr. Rosevonne Pato and family.
Governor Lolo next recognized and commended the confirmation by the Fono of Public Defender Michael White.
First order on the meeting agenda was the upcoming visit by Secretary of the Department of the Interior Ryan Zinke and his distinguished entourage that will be in the Territory on September 6th. Governor Lolo Moliga advised all cabinet members to use the opportunity to show appreciation to the Department of Interior delegation as they provide funds for many local projects for infrastructure development, etc. The Governor spoke about the importance of fostering our relationship with DOI and preparing for their vist by working locally with OIA Field Representative Lydia Faleafine Nomura. Governor Lolo asked all Cabinet members to give their full support to the planning committee preparing for the DOI delegation visit.
With a power point presentation Chief of Staff Fiu Saelua detailed the 5 to 6 hour trip on September 6th by the DOI entourage from arrival with traditional welcome, honor guard provided by Department of Public Safety, a briefing at the Airport VIP room, a motorcade, an ava ceremony, a public reception and the return to the airport for departure. Meetings are scheduled with military personnel, present and retired along with other discussions. Duties were assigned to respective agencies regarding preparation, security and escort details, media contacts and coverage, etc. with instructions to sync with US Federal authorities coordinating the visit. COS Fiu also asked that on the day of the visit that all traditional title holders wear relevant cultural attire.
Governor Lolo added that during the forthcoming visit by Secretary Zinke, the importance of demonstrating our culture and the Territory’s natural beauty by decorating and cleaning roadsides for the view of American Samoa is of utmost importance.
Addressing the Island Wide cleanup, EPA Deputy Director Faamao Asalele explained plans to use zones as designated with adjustments to accommodate the anticipated DOI visit including more extensive cleanup and roadside decorations. Natural flora will primarily be used to present the natural beauty of the island. He asked Zone Leaders to be mindful of their areas and then confirmed that Island wide cleanup day was scheduled for Tuesday, September 4th with additional decorating and final beautification on Wednesday the 5th in anticipation of DOI Secretary Zinke’s visit. Governor Lolo asked all to support and prepare for the promotion of our island and requested all traditional leaders and performers dress traditionally to present our pride in our culture and values.
Governor Lolo next called for an update on Workforce Day. Director of Human Resources Eseneiaso Liu explained that despite the many upcoming events, Governor Lolo has reiterated the importance of proceeding with the day to honor the Territory’s workers. Workforce Day will be held as before at Veterans Stadium on August 31. Respective agencies were reminded of their assigned responsibilities. All participants are requested to gather at the Stadium at 6:30 am with the program starting shortly thereafter. Private sector and nonprofit organizations will participate. Agencies were advised to send a representative on August 29th to finalize plans and prepare at Veterans Stadium. Scheduled to offer an Invocation for the day is Father Kelemete, with songs provided by the workforce participants. ASPA & ASTCA raise flags and Workforce Day proclamations are to be read by representatives of the private sector. Following Director Liu’s report, Governor Lolo once again stressed the importance of honoring our local workers. He instructed the Committee to prepare accordingly and ensure the inclusion of the private sector. He told the Cabinet to have full staff participation on this day to honor workers of American Samoa.
Budget Director Cathy Saelua reported that budget hearings are underway and proceeding smoothly. The Director expressed her appreciation to those who had already testified before the Fono and advised all other budget so be should be completed by end of the month. Line agencies are to submit their own budgets to the Fono and should do so promptly so the Fono has time for review. Governor Lolo added that agencies testifying before the Fono should share their issues with the Legislators as they are an integral part of finding solutions. The Governor advised for transparency in order to achieve good government.
Regarding the Adopt a School Program Governor Lolo asked those in charge of school maintenance to be diligent in directing their crews. Public Health Director Motusa Nua reported on behalf of the Adopt a School committee explaining that for the most part all is progressing well in preparations for the approaching school year.
To provide a report on the recently completed Coral Reef Task Force meeting held in the Territory, DMWR Director Vaamua Henry Sesepasara first thanked the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and all cabinet members and those who helped host the event. He specifically thanked Governor Lolo for putting together the planning team for the complex conference which brought experts from the US States and territories to the island. Director Sesepasara described their trip to Manu’a where the people positively impressed our off island guests with their hospitality and friendship. Dives at extraordinary coral heads and expanses of reef fields in Ta’u, Ofu and Olosega were an awesome experience for all. Director Sesepasara thanked Paramount Chief Mauga Asuega and the Office of Samoan Affairs for the presentation of the ava ceremony which captivated the visitors. Regarding the results of the conference, requests were made for assistance to protect our coral reefs and to find funds to remove abandoned fishing boats for which DMWR is awaiting review and is hopeful for assistance from the Federal Government. Awards presented at the Coral Reef Task Force Conference included a book detailing coral reefs in American Samoa since 1902 which will be a valuable resource. A grant proposal was also awarded for $17,900 to study reefs in Manu’a and protect them from invasive algae. Director Sesepasara acknowledged and thanked Governor Lolo and administration, as well as many agencies for their collaboration including the Department of Commerce, Environmental Protection Agency, American Samoa Community College/Land Grant, Department of Agriculture, ASTCA, American Samoa Marine Center, ASPA, Port Administration, Treasury and Procurement and the SOFIA organization for coordinating activities.
In closing comments, Secretary of Samoan Affairs PC Mauga stressed that as leaders it is important to work together for the benefit of the people of American Samoa, especially for the elderly and children. He stated that with so many important events coming up that Committees must work together to support what the Governor has requested.
A prayer by Deacon Timu concluded the Cabinet meeting.