by John Dankosky - As a contrast to Governor Rell’s decision to stay home and skip the important meeting of the National Governor’s Association in Washington, where governors asked for federal help and conferred about how to fill their budget gaps, here’s the itinerary of American Samoa
Governor Togiola Tulafono, who did make it to the meeting. He left last Sunday night, and likely wasn’t in Washington until sometime Tuesday. It’s about a 7000-mile flight, and takes roughly 15 hours. That’s if you’re not trying to save money by letting Expedia pick your itinerary. That’ll cost you a 12-hour layover in Honolulu!
(UTULEI: Monday, February 15, 2010) - Governor Togiola Tulafono departed the Territory on Sunday night to attend meetings in the mainland, which begin in Washington DC at the end of the week.
In the nation’s capital, Governor Togiola will join the governors of states and territories at the annual National Governor’s Association winter meeting, which begins this Saturday, February 20th. First Lady Michelle Obama will be the opening speaker at the NGA conference. She will speak on her new initiative on childhood obesity and the need to make improvements in child care settings, schools, and communities to support obesity prevention among the nation and territories’ children. (JD Note – The Governor’s attacking one of the biggest problems his territory faces. According to the WHO, Samoa has the highest worldwide incidence of childhood obesity with 74% compared to that of America’s 34% and China’s 2%.)
Governor Togiola and Mrs. Mary Ann Tulafono will attend a formal dinner at the White House on Sunday night along with other governors and their spouses. (JD Note – Sounds like fun!)
On Monday, February 22nd, Governor Togiola will attend the Pacific Basin Development Council (PBDC) winter meeting. The PBDC members are the governors of American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam and Hawai’i. (JD Note – Cooperation between these territories and states is important. By reading just a little bit from Pacific news reports, you can tell these meetings are a chance to say “Don’t forget about us” to the federal government.)
On Tuesday, February 23rd, Governor Togiola will attend the White House Interagency Group on Insular Affairs (IGIA). The IGIA was established by President Bill Clinton in 1999 to work directly with the Secretary of the Interior, the White House Intergovernmental Affairs and federal departments and agencies to identify issues concerning the four territories and to make recommendations to the President concerning Federal Government policies, programs and activities related to the insular areas. Governor Togiola will be joined by CNMI Governor Benigno Fitial, Guam Governor Felix Camacho and US Virgin Islands Governor John deJohng at the IGIA meeting. (JD Note – We learned yesterday that Governor deJohng did not make the meeting. The VI is pretty nice compared to DC this time of year. Meanwhile, Togiola got out of town just in time.)