Officials: How will federal government shutdown affect Navajo?

By Navajo Times

Updated Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013

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WINDOW ROCK - Navajo Nation officials have been holding meetings during the past week to assess just what kind of an effect a shutdown of the federal government will have on tribal members.

The federal government is expected to shut down on Tuesday if no agreement is reached with Congress on a continuing resolution to keep the government operating.

The Navajo people will see an immediate impact in their communities, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly said Monday.

Hospitals, law enforcement and social services will remain operational.

Social Security benefits (both Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance) will continue to be disbursed uninterrupted.

Other programs such as tribal colleges, some Indian Health Service units, and Head Start will operate only if funds are currently available.

There is, however, no guarantee of federal reimbursement if tribes choose to self-fund.

"Much like sequester, once again Congress is placing ideology before the basic needs of American people," added Shelly.

Shelly said situations like this are a reason why he has been preaching to the Council to make sure that the tribe has money in its reserves.

"The Navajo Nation Council has repeatedly attempted to use up our reserves. I have sought to ensure that we have sufficient dollars to weather these types of crises through veto of budget line items. I recently vetoed more than $8.7 million in unnecessary spending. I urge the Council to keep federal budget uncertainties, like the current possible shutdown, in mind when appropriating the Navajo people's money," Shelly said.

Employees, Billison reach settlement

GALLUP – Casey Watchmen, head of the Navajo Labor Commission, said Monday that a series of complaints that have been filed against John Billison have ended in a settlement.

Billison, director for the Division of Public Safety for the Navajo Nation, was the subject of more than 10 complaints from present and former members of the tribe’s police department.

The complaints claimed that Billison placed people in the department on administrative leave for unknown reasons and that he used the suspensions as a way to punish those in the department he did not like.

The labor commission held three days, off and on, of hearings last week to hear the complaints and at the end, agreed to go along with the settlements which included, in some cases, monetary awards and reinstatement of position and benefits.

Prewitt man gets nine years for sexual abuse of child

GALLUP - Justin Kenneth, 21, who resides in Prewitt, N.M., was sentenced Monday in federal district court in Albuquerque to nine years in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release for his aggravated child sexual abuse conviction.

He also was ordered to pay $2,411 in restitution. Kenneth will be required to register as a sex offender after he completes his prison sentence.

Kenneth was arrested in Dec. 2010, on a criminal complaint alleging that he sexually abused a child under the age of 12 in Oct. 2010, on the Navajo Reservation.

On April 29, 2013, Kenneth entered a guilty plea to felony information charging him with aggravated sexual abuse and admitted sexually abusing the child victim by improperly touching the child.

Kenneth further admitted that he committed this crime on Oct. 6, 2010, at a residence located on the Navajo Reservation. Kenneth has been in federal custody since entering his guilty plea.