Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he has made a final appeal to Mr. Jim Skinner, Vice-Chairman and CEO of the McDonald’s Corporation, in a letter dated April 26, 2006. The letter was copied to Jonathan B. Jarvis, Regional Director of the National Park Service, Governor Togiola, Lieutenant Governor Ipulasi, President Lolo Moliga and Senators, Speaker Matagi R. McMoore and Representatives, Lydia Faleafine of the DOI in American Samoa, Peter Bush, Managing Director/CEO, McDonald’s Australia, Charles Tautolo, CEO of McDonald’s American Samoa, and Lelei Peau, Chairman, PNRS Board, ASG.
The full text of the Congressman’s letter is included below.
Dear Mr. Skinner:
As a follow-up to my letter of May 25, 2005, I am once again requesting your immediate intervention regarding a decision made by McDonald’s to build a new facility at the Utulei Beach Park in American Samoa. Utulei Beach is the only public beach in America Samoa and building at this site goes against the core values of McDonald’s which promotes an agenda of community involvement, environmental protection, and a promise to earn the trust of your customers and everyone else affected by your business.
Most importantly, based upon relevant information including documents, maps, and other material, there is a signed agreement (attached) between the American Samoa Government (ASG) and the US National Park Service (NPS) that places Utulei Beach Park within the Land and Water Conservation Fund Program (LWCF) as park land dedicated to public outdoor recreational use in perpetuity. Also included with the agreement is a map (attached) clearly showing that the entirety of the Utulei Beach Park is included in the agreement which places the proposed McDonald’s within a protected park area and violates ASG’s agreement with the NPS.
Because ASG has accepted over $4 million from the federal government since signing this agreement, I can assure you that the NPS is prepared to take whatever legal action is necessary against ASG and the McDonald’s Corporation if this matter is not expeditiously resolved. Please note that both NPS and ASG are under the jurisdiction of the US Department of the Interior and any action taken will directly involve the US Secretary of the Interior and this will not be good for ASG or for McDonald’s.
As you know, last year I copied you on a letter I wrote to Mr. Charles Tautolo, CEO of McDonald’s American Samoa, in which I requested a copy of the feasibility study of the proposed plan to construct a McDonald’s at Utulei Beach Park. To date, I have not received a copy of the feasibility study and I am very concerned about how the McDonald’s Corporation can support construction of a new facility at any location when no environmental study has been conducted.
I also question how the McDonald’s Corporation can support a lease agreement which is itself under review by the court. In brief, the Governor initially signed what he thought was a 9-year lease agreement with an option of renewal for an additional 20 years plus. However, the legal counsel for the local Senate noted that the proposed lease was actually for ten years and, as such, local law requires the lease to be approved by the local legislature. Consequently, the counsel for the Senate filed suit in court challenging the validity of the proposed lease.
While the case was pending in court, the Governor’s counsel re-drafted the lease agreement to make sure the terms of the lease was for less than ten years so that it did not require legislative approval. ASG’s attorneys petitioned the court to dismiss the Senate’s lawsuit but the court denied the request so this matter is also pending.
While it was my hope that the McDonald’s Corporation would have interceded and resolved this situation more than a year ago for no other reason than it was the right thing to do, I would strongly urge you to take action now before this situation brings unwanted embarrassment to the McDonald’s Corporation. I would also suggest that you direct your Managing Director for McDonald’s Australia to be more responsive to the concerns of the people of American Samoa. I am extremely disappointed that he did not even offer a courtesy response to my letter of almost a year ago and I consider his lack of interest in this issue to be unprofessional and unbecoming of a corporate official of the McDonald’s Corporation.
Considering that this issue now involves the federal government and based on documentation provided by NPS which I am convinced is correct, I am trying my best to prevent a confrontation between the McDonald’s Corporation, ASG, and the US Department of the Interior. For this reason, I am making a final appeal to you and I am hopeful that at your earliest convenience you will work to favorably resolve this matter and support efforts to put an end to construction of a new McDonald’s at Utulei Beach Park.
The Congressman concluded his letter by saying, “As I have previously stated, the people of American Samoa will support the construction of a new McDonald’s in American Samoa at any other location. We also applaud the many valuable contributions McDonald’s has made in American Samoa and wish you continued success.”