Letters: Thieves among us need to be dealt with by all people

There are many home break-ins throughout the reservation where victims of such situations suffer greatly in many ways. Many break-ins are never reported with thoughts that police won’t do anything anyway or that police don’t know what to do anyway or the break-in location is too far from a police station.

A loss of valuables such as money, jewelry, clothing, food storages, and so forth causes great harm to victims of break-ins. Some victims are elderly who become affected with negative health from such an ordeal.

On or around the weekend of Feb. 25-26, 2017, at the east end area of the Grand Canyon, a group of three or more people vandalized a longtime family’s residence by stealing, destroying, and damaging personal valuables and other properties.

The break-in was reported to the Tuba City Police Department on March 1, 2017, when a police officer came to investigate the scene at midnight. Unfortunately, only one officer drove out from Tuba City to the home site and was noticeably unprepared to record any information for his written report. The officer merely expressed the department was short on help and couldn’t do much, but walked around the damaged areas and instructed the victims to report the incident and left.

Two homes and two large storage sheds were ransacked and severely damaged. Some items stolen were eight Satellite Dish batteries, hundreds of dollars’ worth of food storage, two electric generators, three rifles, ammunition, two chainsaws, tools, and much more.

The family who lost greatly from the above mentioned break-in is requesting assistance from neighbors and anyone who may know something about the break-in and are requesting private information to the family for purpose of investigating and the capture of the guilty.

The purpose of this letter is to raise public awareness of the mentioned incident and other unreported incidents of this nature in other parts of our reservation where other families lost properties as described above. It is also understood that problems of this sort have existed throughout the reservation for many years.

It is time the honest citizens stand up and take action by reporting any experiences of this nature in reference to their loss and such. So long as victims do not report their losses by break-ins, nothing will happen to resolve the problem or police trying to follow up on such incidents with minimal information.

Each one of us is responsible for the safety and well-being of our reservation citizens. It should be understood that it is up to the victims of break-ins to address their incident as quickly and as accurately as possible. Minimal police action or lack of it will not resolve the problem.         Reporting such conditions to the public along with police reports may be a way to address such problems for better public awareness as well as to identify the guilty culprits. Thanks for your help.

Tulley Haswood
Rock Springs, N.M.

Gallup schools deserve quality education funds

In times of scarce resources we should all be even more attentive to how those resources are allocated, used, and whether or not they are producing their intended results. When it comes to public schools, there is no greater priority for the Legislature than ensuring our kids have access to high quality education.

How to pay for it, how much to pay, and how to divide the pie of funding among 89 school districts and 99 charter schools are the challenges.

Right now, the state faces a lawsuit contending it isn’t spending enough money or allocating it fairly to ensure children from economically distressed families and communities get a fair shake educationally. Schools from Gallup receive low funding despite great need.

We face three key issues to improve how we fund public schools: reforming our funding formula to recognizing the extra costs of educating kids from low-income families and English language learners; providing more budget certainty over the cost of charter schools; and ensuring all communities, no matter what their economic profile is, are treated fairly.

There is a growing consensus in the Legislature that we need to reform how the formula compensates schools for educating kids from low-income families and English language learners, and how schools are compensated for teacher salaries.  These critical reforms, contained in Senate Bill 30, would be phased in over a five-year period and start reversing years of inequity that has resulted in underfunding of school districts like Gallup-McKinley County.

This bill has reached the House and I look forward to its speedy passage and signature by the governor.

Charter school growth outside our area has come at the expense of our local school district. Largely seen as a national urban educational experiment, this reform movement in New Mexico has had mixed results at best and has created enormous fiscal challenges for a policy that has no clear purpose.

According to a report last year by the Legislative Finance Committee, between 2008 and 2015, the Legislature added over $200 million in formula funding. But almost half of that money went to charter schools, largely concentrated in Albuquerque, and other large cities, which served only seven percent of New Mexico students.         The number of charter schools increased by 50 percent during those years, which included the great recession. Because of how the formula works much of that growth dilutes funding, not just when a student transfers from a district to charter, but for all public schools. As a result schools in Gallup lost over $1.2 million in funding.

Many charters receive more money per student, as much as 26 percent in some years, than districts because the Public Education Department awards small school units contrary to state law. We should be looking at capping total funding for charters until the education community can better define the purpose of charter schools, how to fund them, and manage future growth so that it doesn’t come at the expense of districts like ours.

Finally, some communities and schools receive funding to compensate for not having a local property tax base or for other reasons. For Gallup, the state takes credit for Impact Aid payments and reduces the state’s share of formula funding.

However, some charter schools get the same payments and no credit is taken. Other communities have revenue from special taxes, or payments in lieu of taxes, with no credit. And some communities receive enormous payments, as much as $8 million, from the federal government or their contractors, again with no credit. The state formula provides large subsidies for very small districts so they don’t have to consolidate.

At the same time, after Gallup improved its schools’ organization and efficiency, it wound up losing $1.2 million in state aid. This is a problem that Senator John Pinto and I have bills to address with the help of Representative Wonda Johnson and Senator George Munoz.

We will continue to work to boost funding for our schools, but equally important is reforming how we allocate that funding to ensure all kids get a fair shot at a high quality education, including kids from Gallup.

Patty Lundstrom
New Mexico State Representative
House District 9
Santa Fe, N.M.

Legislation 044-17 hurts Diné business owners

I am a Navajo business owner from St. Michaels. I have been in business since 2011. Since day one I was told to follow Navajo Nation laws and guidelines enforced by the Navajo Business Regulatory, Navajo Tax Commission, and Navajo Corporate Code.

I was upset that our Navajo leaders passed Legislation 044-17 and are granting favoritism and waivers to Mr. Hamby’s two companies: Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers, Inc. and Upland Desert Popcorn, LLC, who I might add, have their corporate status suspended in their home state of North Carolina.

Our Navajo leaders not only granted this company a 15-year lease but have waived and bypassed all Navajo business laws and regulations, which I and other Navajo businesses comply with. These two companies for the past 20-plus years farmed at NAPI and have not paid a penny or complied with the Navajo Tax and Business Regulatory guidelines. PPF and UPD will not even have to pay any delinquent balances, penalties, or interest.

If I or any other Navajo business is late we are subjected to delinquent fines before we can be compliant in conducting business on the reservation or be listed on the Navajo Preference List.

Hamby’s two companies PPF and UDP still have an existing balance of $632,000 owed to NAPI. My opinion is that NAPI and the Navajo Nation should have Hamby’s Pumpkin Patch pay all outstanding debts before any further business is conducted with this outfit.

Another concern of this legislation is not for NAPI or the Pumpkin Patch, but for the Navajo business owners that abide by the Navajo laws and regulations: truckers, construction companies, rodeo contractors, business companies, etc., that have their own businesses and struggle to keep Navajos employed. These businesses are scattered throughout the reservation.

To our elected officials, please tell us how we Navajo business owners will benefit from this favoritism?

This legislation does not only pertain to NAPI and PPF/UDP, but to the small Navajo business owners. Keep in mind, outside companies will come on to the reservation, take our contracts and find excuses to waive existing Navajo laws and eventually have disregard for Navajo preference hiring laws. I am all for work and businesses on the reservation, but businesses that come in and don’t hire our people don’t do us any good.

Mr. President Begaye, this legislation needs to be fair and all businesses operating on the reservation need to follow Navajo Nation laws and regulations or waiver it for all and keep it honest and fair for us down here in the trenches.

Ramos L. Benny
Window Rock, Ariz.

The Language of Poverty

To understand poverty among the Diné you need to be able to speak the language of poverty. Poverty is an issue that is getting worse among our people. So, to address it, we need our leaders to speak poverty.

Poverty in a mild dose might be acceptable, but when it reaches and affects 80 percent of our Diné, that is a sickness that has gone unchecked and has infected all of our Diné.

Two major employers are going to be shutting down in the months ahead (Peabody and NGS). What are we to expect when Navajo Mine and Four Corners Power Plant shut down?

As it is, the tribal government and the various state, federal and county governmental entities are going to be the only major employers of the Diné Nation. The poverty of our Diné has been in a state of emergency for the past 60 years as it has brought in all of the devastating sickness of society and this has been totally ignored by our leadership.

Their only response to our Diné poverty is creating another government program, organizing another task force, asking for more government money, giving away more of our natural resources (land, water, minerals, etc.).

These attempts to combat poverty have not worked. If anything, it has only made conditions worse as they have shackled our Diné to the entitlement mentality.

Today, we live in a world divided and if it progresses any further we will soon find ourselves in an every-man-for-themselves situation.  There is also an economic war going on now where all have departed the “rule of law.”  Where the devil are our leaders who should be aware of these conditions and warning our Diné?

Our trusted leaders are content to receive a million dollars for consulting fees where we Diné all end up in planned communities. These planned communities and government land grabs are the goals of the Agenda 21 in the U.N. Agreement with the United States federal government and are being carried out by the BIA and NHA as their agents in the Diné Nation. Thanks a lot, Mr. Zah!

In the Diné Nation there is a way to start on the road to recovery. So, in the language of poverty, give the Diné their $410 million of the mismanaged monies. Giving back their money is a very simple act and it is the right thing to do. That money has never been nor will it ever be tribal government money.

Again, in the language of poverty, don’t deprive the Diné of money that is rightfully theirs. Give them their money so they can learn to arm themselves in today’s economic war.

Wally Brown
Page, Ariz.

Having second thoughts regarding our latest leadership

How is changing our name from Navajo to Diné going to change our socio-economical condition?

A historical note: While the Spaniards were pillaging for the Seven Cities of Gold around the mid to late 1500s, asked the Southwest Pueblo tribes who their neighbors were, seen here, there and elusive. They told the Spaniards, “The People” you are asking about are the Naabaahii’ Diné. Naabaahii means hunter/warrior, foremost to survive – not a thief or savage.

Father Sun gave that name to the Twin Warriors signifying their leadership for their people as Naabaahii.       Naavaaho is how the Spaniards pronounced the name, heavily accented in Spanish since first encountered; the name, Navaho stuck ever since, and the current spelling of Navajo is known worldwide.

Diné means “The People” where we precede the singular I, as all people – none excluded covering all genders, including LGTBs.

In our legend, the coyote has lots of names. He once said Maii a’ni’ jini’, “Diné la’ nishleeh,” (coyote rumored, “I could be a man”). This name gives him a dual and complex personality. Maybe because a man can don his skin to become a coyote and think and act like him. Coyote went on further to say, “As a matter of fact, I am a man” (“T’a’ a’nii, Diné nishleeh”) to convince those he knew very well jini’ (rumored).

Enough about being sidelined with word games. How about introducing to the Council something more important and news worthy like discussing at least a contingency plan for our Millennials and Generation Z for the future. Our royalties from a limited mineral resource is running low for a large tribe like ours. At least, it was not a government handout, but was the short-end of the stick. Coal is a dwindling resource the world over, it is environmentally unfriendly and the public is leaning toward development of cleaner alternative energy.

For sure, we cannot buy another coalmine or a uranium mine for that matter. Trump’s Executive Order to approve Keystone and North Dakota Access Pipe Line has shown, he has already thrown all Natives under the bus.

Our Tribal Council would rather gather to vote on such things as name change and organize campaigns to say they are trying to respond to the “will” of the people. Weak or strong, this name issue is only superficial when they have the power to remove obstacles, opposition, change laws to plan and safeguard labor, health, and environmental regulations to push the peoples’ agenda through the Council for the better.

Soon, the controller taken for granted will be waving an empty bag with no money. To be more precise, we have a major split between the executive and legislative branch. We are watching a “no confidence” developing in our tribal government when they blame instead of working out difference.

How do people get to feel this way about their government? I am beginning to have second thoughts about our latest leadership.

The people who read the Times can tell or write about what is going on, but no one listens and when not heard, they become cynics or complacent. Why should I be concerned? The balance is going out, or, is already out.

Before long, water and food will become the most critical issue related to climate change. How bad will we be affected? Emergency funds won’t cover it.

We have to find a sustainable type of business economy to support us for the long haul. Have we become so subdued into complacency by our own federal government that we can’t shake it off?

Teddy Begay
Kayenta, Ariz.

‘An uphill battle’ lost

Kindly allow me to comment on a front-page article (Feb. 23, 2017) entitled, “An uphill battle for Escalade.” The Dineh Nation Budget and Finance Committee rejected legislation asking for $65 million to be put upfront in order to have a totally-touristy, resort/gambling playground established at the Confluence of the traditional male and female waterways in far west Dinétah.

In my scientific and cultural evaluation of the proposal headed by former Diné Nation President Albert Hale, the whole idea is just so overwhelmingly ridiculous.

I speak as a PhD-trained scientist (microbiology, University of Oregon, 1980; master’s, ecology, University of Oregon, December 1974) and published (1980) traditional Native American literatures folklore storyteller.

I have hiked twice to the Confluence on the Beamer Trail from the Grand Canyon National Park side as well as from the Bodaway side via Salt Canyon. The area is pristine, unlike any place on earth. At the Confluence, all one hears are the waters of the beautiful Colorado River and the sound of the low-level breeze whispering off the red sandstone walls. Clouds (if there are any) move toward the rez in a majestically artistic motion. The rays of the sun reflect off the rock walls of the massive esplanade formation with indescribable brilliance.

Sixty-five million of Diné Nation dollars before a shovelful of earth is moved and the massive consulting fees formerly awarded (former Chairman MacDonald’s Big Boquillas “purchase”) and now presently being handed to former Diné Nation Presidents, Albert Hale, and Peterson Zah, is absolutely unconscionable. Unthinkable – an uphill battle lost already at least three times.

Budget and Finance Committee, hang tough because we are watching.

Tacheeni Scott
Flagstaff, Ariz.

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Categories: Letters