Cleaning up financial discrepancies

November 15, 2012

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T he most recent published statements of Tuba City Council Delegate Joshua Lavar Butler are irresponsible, reckless, and purely self-serving. Stories have appeared in the Navajo Times and the Gallup Independent about the FBI stepping into the Tuba City Chapter financial debacle left by former chapter officials and administrative staff, who no longer serve.

Council Delegate Butler, who has been aloof and disconnected, is unaware that we have filed the quarterly financial statements along with residual payments for two quarters of 2012 to the Navajo government ($222,648.20). The Tuba City Chapter operates by calendar year with the first quarter beginning in January.

On May 14, Ben Davis and Angie Williams were elected while supported by the advocacy of Council Delegate Butler to succeed the outgoing officials, and on July 3, Gerald Keetso and Charlene Zahne were installed by oath of office. On Aug. 13, Ben Davis stepped down from the Council and assumed the position of chapter manager.

Amid the investigation, frozen bank accounts, files turned over to the Local Government Support Center, and signature authority placed strictly with the community development executive director, reconciling financial records with LGSC assistance was successfully completed.

This was achieved in the wake of former officials stepping down in the midst of utter financial ruin. It substantiates that the new leadership has worked arduously and cooperatively to clean up financial discrepancies and submit necessary reports and payments. We are working now to complete the third quarter that ended Sept. 30.

Council Delegate Butler wants to "de-certify" the single chapter he represents. Many of his colleagues represent on average five chapters, some seven. His realm of responsibility is significantly smaller; now his answer is to "de-certify" a chapter, for which he singularly represents, further of which has worked to put finances back in order out of a pile of chaos and ruin? Where's his logic and rationale?

Leadership is about accepting responsibility no matter how grave circumstances may be. Responsible leadership covers and accepts blame for others and then works to correct wrongs and mistakes. It does so without boisterous claims and public statements. Making claims in local newspapers at the behest of the FBI stepping into investigate officials who are no longer with the chapter, assert blame, make insinuations is demoralizing, unbecoming, and woefully less than worthy of an elected official.

Council Delegate Butler would be well advised to instead find ways to be cooperative, less egocentric, and more results oriented, even if he would attend our local meetings and show involvement we would welcome his presence. His actions instead are counterproductive. This is America after all, not a small country that adheres to tyranny.

Gerald Keetso, Angie Williams, Charlene Zahne, and Ben Davis
Tuba City Chapter officials
Tuba City, Ariz.

Why were distinguished officials attacked?

First the usual disclaimer—this letter represents my personal views and not those of any present or former employer or client.

I was disappointed to read Milton Bluehouse and Tulley Haswood's letter in the Nov. 1 Navajo Times attacking a number of Navajo and non-Navajo employees such as the distinguished Navajo Attorney General Harrison Tsosie and longtime Minerals Department Director Akhtar Zaman.

Assuming that the Milton Bluehouse who co-authored this letter is the same Milton Bluehouse who served as Navajo Nation president for almost six months in 1998-1999, the letter is certainly inconsistent with his past policies.

President Bluehouse always stood for what he said were traditional Navajo values—such as creating a new Navajo ceremony by means of which one leader would transfer the office to his/her successor and closing the Window Rock Zoo because it was contrary to Dine' values.

Since Dine' values also emphasize courtesy and respect, k'e and hozho, it is surprising that a Navajo leader would attack non-Navajos who have served the Navajo Nation for decades and belittle and demean dedicated Dine' people and Navajo Nation officials like Harrison Tsosie, Ray Benally and Fred White. Harrison Tsosie is a Navajo Nation attorney general in the best tradition of that office, which has attracted extraordinarily capable lawyers over the years—Claudeen Bates Arthur, Herb Yazzie, Louis Denetsosie and Levon Henry come to mind.

Akhtar Zaman has brought the Navajo Nation far more money during his tenure as minerals department director than the Navajo Nation has received from any other non-governmental source. And while I still don't know if SB 2109 was or was not a good solution for Little Colorado Water Rights claim, since its defeat in the Council no one has brought a better proposal to the Navajo Nation, which could be approved by the Congress and president.

And I know Ray Benally and he has been a lifelong fighter for Navajo rights—both in the area of employment as well as the area of water resources. The people attacked by Mr. Bluehouse and Mr. Haswood work tirelessly for the Navajo Nation with salaries and working conditions far worse than they could enjoy in the outside world. They don't ask for "thank yous" but they sure as heck should not be subject to scurrilous bigoted attacks by Navajo (or non-Navajo) "Know-Nothings."

Lawrence A. Ruzow
Flagstaff, Ariz.

Solution to alcoholism: prohibition

Other drugs, less deadly than alcohol, like aspirin, Tylenol, etc., is childproof. We need for the federal, state, local, and Indian governments to start giving a darn and childproof our children from legal alcohol. We acquire new drinkers every single day.

The formula is very simple: Bring back prohibition, or at the very least, dry up all of McKinley County (the county is dry to cocaine). Why have all of these governments danced around this very obvious solution and continue to embrace the band-aid system?

Our most precious possessions, our children, are filling up the jails and prisons. They are also filling up the graves and dying before their grandparents, all because of legal alcohol. This is totally unnatural. Children should not die before their grandparents.

Voters, if our children and we are to survive, we must vote in legislators that will stop the long excepted tradition of siding with the liquor industry, and start caring about those of us that are continuing to be destroyed by this legal treacherous drug. Unless we take action and vote these present legislators out, this legal alcohol problem can only get progressively worse. Isn't it worse now than ever before?

When we continue to get deafening silence as a response to our repeated concerns, and we continue to get band-aid action concerning this legal alcohol problem, do we have to get hit on the head with a hammer? Gallup citizens, wake up!

Martin Luther King said, "Silence is a betrayal, if we don't act we shall surely be dragged down the long corridors of time, reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight."

Louis Maldonado
Gallup, N.M.

Now that election's over, take down your signs,

Radio ads are quiet and those fortunate to have electrical service on the Navajo Nation the TV ads are gone.

To all politicians who won and lost, use a portion of your campaign funds to remove all your signs. As you are driving around removing signs, take a real good look and make a pledge to make it better.

Event sponsors of any event also use a portion of monies earned and remove all your signs after the event. The general public helps your cause with entrances fees/admissions/food sales. In return, thank the contributors by removing your signs.

Eugene T. Begay
Tonalea, Ariz.

Veterans Hall of Fame inductee

On Oct. 28, 2012, I was inducted into the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame. It was a day to remember as I was honored by dignitaries and special guests who traveled far to make this event such a success.

I would like to thank Vice President Rex Lee Jim, Arizona House Representative Albert Hale, New Mexico Senator Pinto, Speaker Johnny Naize, Navajo Nation Council, Apache County Supervisor Tom White Jr., and Kirk Arviso for their part in putting the paperwork together for this great honor.

Ramone Yazzie Jr. for his songs, the Black Creek Gourd Society who did the tribute for me, under the direction of Larry Anderson Sr., Chapter President Ben Bennett, who was our master of ceremonies, and who did such a wonderful job.

Eugene Atcitty for the biography of my life thus far, Robert Williams for doing the invocation, to Katherine Hillis who is a Five Blue Star Mother. I would also like to thank all the honor riders who did the escort from Lupton, Ariz., to the Moore sisters, who sang the national anthem so beautifully, to Jerry Lee of Wide Ruins Veteran Society, my family, and all the community members who came and celebrated with me. Each one brought to me hope and pride for our veterans who live among us.

I would like to thank Chevron Mine for their contribution to cover the expense of having a catered luncheon provided for myself and all my guests who attended. The food was catered by Kissani Catering Services, and as always the food was very delicious.

I would also like to thank Navajo Nation Gas & Oil and H.D. Williams for funding provided to the veterans who traveled to Phoenix to be a part of the recognition that I received and if not for these kind donations, a lot of my commands would not have been able to attend.

In closing, I am thankful for this honor and thankful for the many hands, minds, and hours of planning that brought this event to reality. I am thankful that I live in this great country and that we all have the privilege of our liberty.

Earl Milford
Fort Defiance, Ariz.

Yei Bi Chei patient can get better health care elsewhere

The article in the Navajo Times "Resident surrenders to allow Yei Bi Chei Ceremony during Shiprock Fair" by Alastair Lee Bitsoi, states the land owner, Annie King, did not want to go forth with the ceremony became part of the Shiprock Fair.

Guy Lee, the patient, who was being treated for his ailments, waited before they could go forth with the ceremony. Due to poor planning, the night way ceremony was on the brink of not happening at all. However, Fair Board President, Russell Begaye, who had heard about the situation, wanted the community to get involved so Lee could get healed.

When it comes to culture none compares to the Navajo people. Our culture is a subcategory of stereotypes and racial slurs. "Stingy", "selfish" are one of many labels the majority of Navajo people have. A patient needs a night way ceremony during the Northern Navajo Fair, but after much indecision, the ceremony finally went ahead as planned as the owner presumes, "I guess he's really sick, they're going to have it for him now."

My opinion is, I'm sure with the same kind of money Lee is shelling out for this ceremony, he can afford better health care from licensed professionals and probably won't get the same treatment from his own people.

Christopher Katso
St. Michaels, Ariz.

Not opposed to development

Navajo Times editorial rebuttal To Vallie Crank's article regarding Forgotten People. The Forgotten People are not against development; it is a question of how can it be done responsibly so that People's desired outcomes are achieved in a just manner; so that in the end, the development leaves a legacy that benefits the People and preserves what matters.

We believe economic development on Navajo Nation is long overdue. It's about creating prosperity for the Diné and it must begin by educating our people about the many alternative economic opportunities available that are aligned with preserving our way of life and traditional values. It's important to offer our people workforce development training to hone skills required to implement, manage and operate holistic solutions that build sustainable and thriving communities.

The basic issues in responsible develop include transparency, consent of the governed, third party monitoring, establishment of best management practices and metrics, indemnification, and social contract.

Transparency means opening the process from cradle to grave for community review of any and all documents, proposals and related studies available for the people's analysis.

Consent of the governed means community meetings and clear no-nonsense public forums and referendums put forth by and for the people.

Third party monitoring means mutually respected institutions like universities should review plans and project documents for legality and due process that supports the people's interest.

Establishment of best management practices should be trusted as having the community's best interest at heart. They are guidelines of accountability to process.

Identifying the metrics means that objective standards must be established and rigorous effort must be exerted by respected third parties to determine if the people's required standards are really being considered and achieved.

Indemnification begins with bonding but requires skin in the game. Breaking ground on a school or installing solar power where no power is available for example.

Social contracting should come from the developer. Just saying that the government will divert revenue to a desired end just lets the developer off the hook. The developer needs to say what steps they will take to make sure that the community gets something of lasting value and not just a few low paying jobs that could dry up tomorrow after the land has forever been desecrated and the developer is nowhere to be found.

Forgotten People believe the Diné who have been displaced and/or deprived of opportunity resulting from the Bennett Freeze deserve better and entitled to be informed and empowered to determine a way of life that is not dictated for them.

In closing, the Escalade cronies have one thing in common: their own self-interest and short-term gain. We stand for social, environmental and economic justice and do not support selling out to non-Native corporate interests for the sake of seasonal tourism.

Don Yellowman
Forgotten People Corporation
Tuba City, Ariz.

Gambling addicts, politicians, and casinos

It's hard to get your mind back out of the gutter so better not to let your mind wander there. So it is with anything else such as casinos. You think you will come back out with lots of money but at the end of the day you spent all your monthly grocery money plus money you don't have.

The sad thing is you knew what would probably happen but those machines promise a lot and you keep on feeding it with your last pennies. It's the same thing all over again the following week or month. You forget about the shoes or a new shirt you needed. One day you look in the mirror and see a horrible creature looking back at you. Is that me?

Yes I can save myself but what about the thousands of other Navajos in this same predicament. The politicians will only tell you to see the medicine man or gambling counselor. Your closest relatives will tell you it's a curse some jealous Navajo has placed on you and you should see a medicine man. The medicine man demands a thousand dollars to lift the curse. And so the vicious circle goes on and on.

We elected the politicians who approved the old man gambler back amongst us and he is growing. Everyone wants their own slot machine in their bedroom.

It's the same thing the council delegates promised the Navajo voters, the casinos are going to bring in a lot of revenue and fill our tribal coffers. You walk into any Navajo casino and the majority of the gamblers are Navajo. Whose money generates the huge gambling revenues?

I guess we can look around with a huge grin on our faces. We certainly have intelligent politicians. This robbing Peter to pay Paul reminds me of an article where someone was waiting for something to happen for some 30-odd years or an economic development business office waiting for a miracle. And these people are supposedly the movers mind you. The anecdotes are hilarious and should make the joke of the year but sad indeed as it shows the intellect in those offices.

Aside from the gambling addicts, politicians, and casinos, we as Navajo are still faced with some many problems: wild dogs, cats, and horses roaming free and the trash in contention with tumbleweeds all over our motherland, resulting in blinding sandstorms common again. We have yet to figure out what we're to do with the trash we generate.

Some 40 odd years ago I had to drive to the nearest border towns for groceries and today I still do. We desperately need intelligent leaders. Sort of reminds me of that old song, "Looking for love in all the wrong places."

Loren Crank Sr.
Montezuma Creek, Utah

A coal economy

In the Navajo Times article "A Coal Economy", by Alistair Mountz, it states that the Navajo Nation Attorney General, Harrison Tsosie, and Salt River Project Senior Director, Jim Pratt, are renegotiating terms and conditions of the NGS (Navajo Generating Station) lease near Page, Ariz.

Tsosie says the reason for this is the Navajo Nation may receive higher payments from NGS but the priority is keeping it open. The problems being faced is $1 billion that might be needed to upkeep the plant to EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) standards, the long process of the NEPA (National Environmental Protection Act) that would take years, and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power might sell their ownership, which makes up 21.2 percent of NGS.

I feel with the 2006 California Assembly Bill 32, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power are thinking of selling 21.2 of NGS because profits might not be worth to maintain NGS to EPA standards. Now, if Los Angeles believes that it might not be worth owning because it is economically safer, maybe we should reconsider rushing this lease into completion.

A $1 billion estimate to maintain a 50-year-old facility to EPA standards seems to me like a waste of time and could be better invested into alternative energies. Though this is a long process, and so is the NEPA process. In these types of negotiations we need not look for short-term profiteering but longevity in our environment's health and in our own.

Otto T. Draper Jr.
Tsaile, Ariz.

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