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Dear Editor,

It is irrelevant who the parties are in the case of Dr. Meki Solomona. What is relevant is that an illegal act was committed, sufficiently compelling to engender a federal investigation. Additionally, the perpetrator was duly appointed to a cabinet position and recently confirmed by the governing legislative body of a society, alluding to a larger systemic predicament.

The broader issue, in my opinion, is a systemic one that had evolved uncorrected for decades and supports these types of actions.

When lack of accountability occurs at the leadership and executive levels in an organization, i.e., public, private or faith based systems, a culture evolves in time with its own set of values that permeates the system like a virus.

This is most troubling when our aspiring young students, future leaders and committed professionals who enter public, private or faith based service, enter into or are employed in such work place environments.

Unless the organizational culture is changed with an emphasis on the values of service, accountability and responsibility, they are assimilated and become part of the problem assuring more of the same over time.

The victims? The public who are not guaranteed quality public, private and faith based services they are entitled to receive.

What is of concern to me is the apparent existence of a political culture in the government where accountability is not exalted and fear-based compliance permeates the workplace.

It is no surprise that fiscal accountability and reporting, followed by poor program compliance, are the perennial problems that I believe are inextricably linked to a political culture of self-service. This becomes especially advanced when key individuals appointed or placed into positions of authority are implicated or alleged of inappropriate behavior in public, private, cultural leadership and faith-based organizations.

The vast majority of employees of ASG are dedicated workers who are capable of fixing problems, but due to the under value of accountability, have a disincentive to speak out of wrongdoing for fear of work place punishment. In some cases, employees engage in unethical behavior as a way to level the playing field. Silence out of fear is often misinterpreted as incompetence and, worse case scenario, complicit with leaders’ wishes regardless of the inappropriateness.

The silence on this issue is understandable given the systemic issues described. However, it is rather deafening from certain areas.

It takes extraordinary faith and moral courage to speak out against wrongdoing of public, cultural, private or faith based leaders. As shown throughout history for those who speak out, the powers that be will try to discredit you, slander your reputation and seek to disable you from gaining benefit to your livelihood.

Moral courage often comes at a very high cost, personally and professionally. An individual with moral courage is one with the courage of convictions rooted in integrity and principle and willing to accept the consequences of their convictions. If, in this context, one is not willing to accept the consequences of one’s convictions, then one is merely a philosopher.

Only when one assumes full accountability for one’s thoughts, feelings, actions, and results can one truly direct one’s own destiny; otherwise, someone or something else will; and the real value and benefit of accountability stems from the ability to influence events and outcomes before they happen.

The customary view of accountability fails to recognize that people can gain more from a proactive posture than from a reactive one. Accountability puts things to rest or things will get progressively worse. Standing up for accountability, by acknowledging one’s indiscretion, takes morale courage and maturity.

The fact that Dr. Solomona was duly appointed at the highest level, and confirmed at the legislative governance level is a testament to the influence and power by those with it, and to a great measure, the influence and power of Dr. Solomona. But that is all it is. A demonstration of influence and power; it is not a testament of greatness.

Dr. Solomona’s greatness will resonate beyond this circumstance when an action is taken for the greater good of public service and serve as a model of good leadership.

His action to be accountable will be a reaffirmation of all that is good by showing the world that the path he took and the choices he made that were recorded and witnessed are unacceptable under any circumstances and he is remorseful. It will also reaffirm that accountability and responsibility are the highest measures of professional character one can give back to society.

Dr. Solomona can remain powerful and influential. Or, he can become the truly great man we have always known him to be.


Dr. Failautusi Avegalio

University of Hawaii

(EDITOR’S NOTE: While there are always two sides to a story, as Taeaoafua Dr. Meki Solomona and his supporters have stated, there is no doubt of the nature of his remarks to a transgender woman and long time employee of DHSS, in front of some 200 staff members at a meeting following the Nov. 8 general election. The recording of the meeting bears witness to their nature — anger, hatred, malice, arrogance, are just a few words that come to mind when describing them.

And, an apology made in private, while allowing Taeaoafua to claim ‘his side of the story’ does not show that he understands that what he said was wrong. I agree with Dr. Avegalio, his apology showed he is “powerful and influential” but not that he is a “truly great man” — a leader, a matai, a ‘father’ of the Territory. It only showed that ‘everyone makes mistakes’. RA)