Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he has written to Mr. Charles Tautolo, President and CEO of McDonald’s American Samoa Franchise, and has expressed his opposition to construction of a McDonald’s at Utulei Beach. A copy of the Congressman’s letter dated May 25, 2005 and copied to the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the President of the Senate and Senators, the Speaker and Representatives, the Vice Chairman and CEO of the McDonald’s Corporation, and the Managing Director/ CEO of McDonald’s Australia, is included below:
Dear Mr. Tautolo:
I am writing to express my opposition to your decision to build a McDonald’s restaurant at the Utulei Beach Park in American Samoa. I am also requesting a copy of your feasibility study pertaining to this proposed location.
It is my understanding that as a responsible corporation it has been the practice of McDonald’s to conduct a feasibility study and/or an environmental impact assessment of a proposed site before construction of a new facility may proceed. I am hopeful that this is also the case in American Samoa and, for this reason, I would appreciate a copy of your study.
I also believe McDonald’s feasibility study for the Utulei Beach Park should be shared with the people of American Samoa because they deserve to know what impact your proposed restaurant will have on the welfare of our community. While I applaud the many valuable contributions McDonald’s has made in American Samoa, I do not believe your current plans are sensitive to the social and environmental concerns of our Territory.
Since the day McDonald’s announced plans to build on the Utulei Beach, which is the only public beach in American Samoa, my office has been inundated with calls from constituents voicing their objections to your proposal. I have read of further complaints in our local papers and the Senate has passed a resolution recommending that the Governor not finalize the McDonald’s lease.
I have also received a petition signed by water sport organizations incorporated in the U.S. Territory of American Samoa which includes Executive Committee Members of the American Samoa National Olympic Committee. Organizations opposed to the construction of a McDonald’s at the Utulei Beach include the American Samoa Kayak Canoe Association Inc., the American Samoa Swimming Association Inc., the American Samoa Canoe Racing Association Inc., the Aiga Tautai O Samoa Inc., the American Samoa Yacht Racing Association Inc., the American Samoa Surfing Association Inc., the Pago Pago Game Fishing Association Inc. and Common Cause.
Aquatic sports such as sailing, canoeing, and yachting are flourishing at Utulei Beach. International sailing and especially outrigger events which celebrate our proud heritage have been hosted at Utulei Beach and, in time, Utulei Beach may become a major tourist attraction. It is also my understanding that Utulei Beach offers the only stretch of shoreline where outrigger canoes and fautausi, or longboats, can enter deep water via the natural channel through the reef.
More importantly, Utulei Beach has been enjoyed by the people of American Samoa for generations and, in keeping with traditional Samoan culture, families travel for miles to swim or picnic at this public location so as to respect the more restrictive customs set forth by each village council. For many reasons, including the historical and social significance it holds for our families and the economic implications it has for our future, Utulei Beach must be preserved. This is why federal funds have been appropriated to finance the Utulei Beach Project which was included as a priority project for the Community Development Block Grant Program.
These are facts which I believe must be shared with the McDonald’s Corporation and given the importance of this issue I am copying this letter to Mr. Jim Skinner, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, as well as Mr. Peter Bush, Managing Director/CEO, McDonald’s Australia. I am also informing both that there are other sites available for construction of another McDonald’s in American Samoa.
Also, with the popularity McDonald’s enjoys in American Samoa, I am confident that the people of American Samoa will appreciate, support and welcome another McDonald’s in any location other than Utulei Beach. In turn, McDonald’s must be sensitive to the wishes of our people. The McDonald’s Corporation has built its reputation on being a responsible corporate partner and invests millions of dollars to promote family values.
Therefore, I am hopeful that this issue will be immediately resolved at the corporate level. However, if I must go to the House Floor on a daily basis to express my outrage about McDonald’s unwillingness to respect the public’s concerns regarding your proposed lease agreement with the local government, I will have no choice but to do so.
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA
Member of Congress
Governor Togiola Tulafono
Lieutenant Governor Ipulasi Aitofele Sunia
President of the Senate and Senators
Speaker of the House and Representatives
Mr. Jim Skinner, Vice Chairman & CEO
Mr. Peter Bush, Managing Director/CEO
“I am hopeful that this matter will be resolved locally but, if not, I have called upon the McDonald’s Corporation to immediately intervene and put an end to construction at Utulei Beach. Constructing a McDonald’s at the only public beach in American Samoa goes against the core values of the McDonald’s Corporation which promotes an agenda of community involvement, environmental protection, and a promise to earn the trust of its customers and everyone else affected by its business. It is time for McDonald’s to live up to its promise and I trust that all involved will do right by the people of American Samoa,” the Congressman concluded.