Former TEO Director comments on his removal

Aliitama Sotoa, who until last week was Director of the Territorial Energy Office, was attending a meeting of Energy Directors and officials from all 50 states and territories, under NASEO, in Washington DC, when he received an email from Governor Lolo Moliga saying that his appointment as TEO Director is rescinded.

The date of the email was February 7 and the effective date was February 9.

Sotoa says he had indicated to the administration in October of last year that he was going to resign and move into the private sector. But he was told to hold off.

Sotoa cited the email he received from Governor Lolo last week:

“It appears that significant recurring family demands, requiring your presence at home, is creating a stressful and a compromising conflict with your duties and responsibilities as the Director of the Energy Office, which necessitates full commitment of you time at the office to successfully discharge and implement mandated functions of the agency.

“On behalf of the Lieutenant Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga, I wish to extend to you our gratitude and our thanks for your services to the administration and to the people of American Samoa for the last four years.

Given the above, your appointment as the Director of the Office of Energy is hereby rescinded effective February 9, 2018 at close of business day.”

Governor Lolo confirmed with KHJ News yesterday that he has terminated Sotoa’s  services as Director of TEO and cited as the reason Sotoa’s continual absence due to off island travels.

The governor said he had discussed previously with Sotoa that his family and also the government and people of American Samoa that the Territorial Energy Office serves were not getting his full attention.

Lolo said he didn’t feel that the warnings given to Sotoa in the past were heeded so he made the decision for the TEO Director.

But Sotoa has a different view.

He said, “In my four years since 2014 as the Energy Office Director I have never, ever neglected the office and staff in lieu of personal matters.

“The records will show that all of my work off-island travels were budgeted, appropriated and allocated accordingly with U.S. Dept. of Energy policies that were consistent with the local office.

“All other personal travels were out of pocket which were consistent with administration policies.

He explained what happened in October of last year,

“I had a scheduled meeting with the Governor sometime in October; however, it was rescheduled due to the Governor’s NGA off-island meetings.

While off-island he (governor) directed me to meet with the Lieutenant Governor and Chief of Staff.  At that meeting I had expressed my intentions to continue with the Governor’s agenda of the Energy office; and added that I believed and was convinced that it would be more advantageous to push that agenda from the private sector. Therefore, I would suggest to move on with a transition period until perhaps during or the end of the first quarter (Jan – Mar) of 2018 which is now…”

Sotoa said at the meeting he had the separation/resignation letter on hand “to reflect all of this.”

He told KHJ News the Lieutenant Governor and Chief of Staff highly recommended and requested to hold off on the resignation letter until the Governor returns from his off-island trip.

Sotoa said a subsequent meeting was held when the governor returned to the territory with Lieutenant Governor and Chief of Staff present  to discuss his plan.

He said at that meeting  the Governor started and opened the meeting with “a humble and encouraging suggestion to leave any hurdles along the way aside and continue the good work and the duties with the office accordingly.”

According to Sotoa, no one else had any question and/or comments then.

Before the meeting ended the Governor directed the Chief of Staff to make sure that all costs from previous trips that he (Sotoa) paid for are to be reimbursed.

Despite what has transpired Sotoa was apprecitative of the chance to serve on the Lolo Lemanu cabinet.

He said, “I would humbly take this opportunity to thank the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, the governor’s office, the administration and my fellow cabinet directors for the golden opportunity working with all of you serving the government and the people of American Samoa. I trust that my transition to the private sector again will help enhance the Governor’s legacy by his original Theme of “People First”; with Honesty, Integrity, Accountability, Responsibility and Transparency for the remainder of his second term.”


15 Comments

  1. For the record

    I have had the pleasure to work with Aliitama on many occasions and I cannot stress enough how intelligent and visionary this man is.

    The problem with Lolo’s Administration is that he has too many chiefs and not enough tautuas. The hilarious thing about Samoans today is that they all fight to be the chief, but they forget how much power there is in tautua. Tautua is sacred.

    Leaders like Aliitama are a threat to all of the wannabe chiefs who each have their own political agendas. How sad is that?

    For the record, EVERYONE who knows Aliitama knows this Administration asked him to join them. He did not apply for his job. From the very beginning Aliitama made it clear that he did not have any intention to be a cabinet member and that he would much rather be in the private sector. The Administration did not listen to him from the beginning. It is sad that they have chosen to take this low road and do wrong by him.

    Let’s draw a comparison here. So. You have a director of a major department who violated labor laws and attacked an employee in front of staff and you did not address it. However, you are now saying that Aliitama gets fired because he’s off island too much. Governor, your numbers don’t add up. And I sincerely hope your decision does not affect Lemanu’s numbers in 2020.

    Manuia!

    Reply
  2. Taisamasama

    It is easy for you to fire your own family members, Matai of the Faletolu who had served the village council and always goes to Manu’a to help out but hard for you to fire Dennis at Immigration? You have your suck-ups around you who only care about themselves but will forget you in a heartbeat after your tenure. But the very people who helped you get there donating hard but had never got anything you get to ruin with haste! When 2020 comes I will put you in your place when you come to Ta’u Manu’a.

    Reply
    1. Ata Ata

      @ Taisamasama who cares if he’s a family member or Matai of the Faletolu. I guess you take that back to wherever you from cause the way I see it you are not from Ta’u, Manu’a.

      Reply
  3. Manuia Manuia

    So, Ali’itama Sotoa was attending a meeting in Washington DC for the Energy Directors and Officials from all 50 States and Territories for NASEO and he gets let go. He received an email from the Governor while in Washington DC rescinding his position as Director of Territory Energy Office. Couldn’t you have waited until he returned from his meeting? WOW, this is disturbing. I know Ali’itama and his work ethics and he is Always helping people. As he stated in his response above…”It would be advantageous to be in the private sector to help enhance the Governor’s legacy by his original theme “People First”

    Manuia

    Reply
    1. Puleuple Leaisaufeau

      Aliitama was never interested in the private sector. I think he thinks he was Utu Abe Malae at one time and commit the ASG $$$ to some off island energy company that he has no authority to do and he should have been long terminated for that.

      Reply
  4. SMH

    Aliitama Sotoa, I should say is a good and humble person, I totally agree with the first comment, ua ova kele fo’i le fia director o isi ma isi. I don’t like the fact that Aliitama was let go, ae a isi director ga o le travel travel ae kigaiga kagata faigaluega e faila lakou expense report, poo le kigaiga fo’i o kagata e leai gi credentials faiga o lipoki e maga’o mai ai le kovaga, please eu muamua le mea uliuli o lou maka, ga e alu ai loa lea eu le maka a leisi kagata. I am pissed off, because ua tooooo personal fo’i oe governor ma ou ta’ifau.

    Reply
  5. rankon

    the HIART philosophy is far from reality if we assess some of the cabinets performances. some of the cabinets with criminal minds should have been terminated after several allegations yet the administration continues to sponsor wicked and evil ways instead of “PEOPLE FIRST.”

    Reply
  6. This Government. . . .

    This government has no tact, protocol, schedule, or system. For those of you asking how they can dismiss someone who is not even physically present, get real. This is their typical brand of undercooked politics. There is no direction or general idea of where they want to take Tutuila and Manu’a. They just want to make sure public expenditures go into their gang’s pockets as much as possible.

    E sa’o?

    Reply
  7. This Governments Protocol

    E leai se faʻailoga a lenei Malo. Le fiafia i se Faatonu pe a aluese mai le motu e auai i fonotaga i Uosigitone DC. Ou te manatu o le mafuaʻaga na ia faia ai lenei mea o le faʻaalia lea o se faʻataʻitaʻiga na faʻaalu ai le galuega a le Faatonu Sili, talu ai o le a ia faamavae. O lenei mea e faʻaalia ai le uiga o lenei Malo!

    Reply
  8. Pasefika619

    Well written and well said Uncle Ali’itama. It’s unfortunate for some to assume the worse of someone who did nothing but their best for American Samoa. It’s politics like this that give “our people” the opportunity for others to look down on us. “For the record” is correct when he says, “The hilarious thing about Samoans today is they all fight to be the chief, but forget the power in Tautua.” Humility, Honor and Trustworthy go a long way. Thank you Uncle Ali’itama for serving and still continuing to serve our people. I share this in favor and with no fear, because it’s the truth!

    Reply
  9. Thank You!

    I saw this breaking news on Facebook with the caption
    Governor Fires TEO Director on Talanei News and I’m here in California. I’ve worked with Al (Aliitama) for many years in the utility business. After reading both articles including Al’s removal comments. It’s appalling on how his own people American Samoa (where he was born) would treat him. Al is the best in the industry and when he retired, he turned down several opportunities that he was offered to work in the private sector with big bucks. He told us that he wanted to give back and return to American Samoa. Al was making 6 figure salary and was offered more in the private sector. I remember him saying, “it’s not about the money, it’s giving back”. I really admired that about him. Now, reading this on social media and how his own people with negative feedback can be so cruel. I did read the response of supporters with positive things that were said. In light of this, we are happy to reach out to Al to come over to the private sector because he gets things done. He was an asset to San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and he knows his stuff!!!! Thank You American Samoa for releasing him. We need him!!
    Al, I will contact you soon.

    Thank You

    Reply
  10. Moli Lemana

    This in unfortunate but there are directors that should have been terminated because they are not productive since day January 1, 2013.

    Reply
  11. Tama palagi

    I met Tama at Tradewinds a couple of times and he was a very generous and kind man who was genuinely interested in our work in Manu’a. When he came to Ta’u he discussed his interest in helping the people of Manu’a. Very nice man. The government has a knack for screwing over people who really care about their homeland. What a shame that greed has corrupted the heads of multiple departments, DOE, DAgr, DOH, and the governors office. Samoa will NEVER be a modern country if you put family preference over JUSTICE and HONESTY! Nepotism will never work and neither will lying about someone to save your own muli!

    Reply

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