NGS came late to 'good neighbor' policy

WINDOW ROCK, May 8, 2014

Text size: A A A




T he article in the April 17, 2014 Navajo Times is titled "Entering the modern age: Grant makes it possible for LeChee residents to receive electricity."

The story talks about bringing electricity to some of those unserved in LeChee Chapter. There are no concerns with that. Except that some of the rest of the story needs to be told.

The original NGS lease was approved by Navajo Nation leaders in 1969. All of a sudden, in 2014, Hardeen declares SRP/NGS have a super "good neighbor" policy in place. Before detail of the LeChee project, it needs to be understood that NGS has used a billion dollars' worth of Navajo Colorado River water from Lake Powell since it started operations in 1973. Here's how much the "good neighbor" paid Navajo for that 34,100 acre feet per year (approximately 1,364,000 acre feet of water up to today), which is the same as a pool of water the size of a football field that reaches 260 miles into the sky. They paid Navajo nothing for the water.

Here's another "good neighbor" fact. In 1969, SRP/NGS made a one-time payment to the Navajo Nation for all the land the whole NGS project used for rights of way for power lines, railroad, etc., for 50 years, to year 2019, or when NGS stops operations, whichever comes first. Navajo got a one-time fee of 14 cents per acre for 7,400 acres. This "chicken feed" (a total of $1,000) was approved by the Interior Secretary and the Navajo Nation lawyers, and then rubber-stamped by the council and chairman. Not much has changed. (Interior is the biggest single owner of NGS. The more Navajo is cheated, the more Interior and the NGS owners make.) Instead of $1,000 for 50 years of rights-of-way it should have been millions.

Navajo Nation also got no taxes until very recently. Additionally, for the 50 years, Navajo Nation got far below a fair return for the NGS plant site lease. NGS owners owe Navajo a billion for the water and many tens of millions for the rest of what Navajo was cheated out of. They and Navajo Nation lawyers are also planning to cheat Navajo out of water fees again in the future. The $2 million "grant" is appreciated, but it's a cheap substitute for the billion-plus Navajo is due.

It's great that SRP/NGS are at least now talking about being a "good neighbor," but obviously they saw it as too expensive in 1969 to be a real one, and still do today. If they had and were, LeChee Chapter and other chapters surrounding NGS would be all lit up by now. SRP/NGS, their supporters like Hardeen, Navajo Nation DOJ lawyers, and the often easily swayed Navajo leaders are still denying the Navajo people billions worth of water rights on the Colorado River in Arizona and Utah, and on the San Juan River in Utah. DOJ is giving away the Navajo tribe's potentially huge reserved rights, including the greater and more valuable agricultural water, for faucet water projects, with relatively tiny amounts of water that the Indian Health Services is already required by Congress to promptly construct.

In July 2013, Navajo Nation was pressured by SRP/NGS to approve a 25-year lease continuation to year 2044. When this happened, Navajo Nation Council didn't have the expertise to negotiate what the lease is fully worth. The Navajo Nation DOJ lawyers, Ben Shelly, delegates like Johnny Naize, Navajo Nation DOJ, NGS owners and people like Hardeen won the day.

The old guard giveaway artists and exploiters of the Navajo people, and their lawyers at Navajo Nation DOJ, have to go. The Navajo Tribe needs moral leadership – young or old, male or female, traditional, more modern, or mixed – who will listen and search out the truth and vote for Navajo, the Navajo economy, and Navajo survival as a tribal nation.

Tulley Haswood
Rock Springs, N.M.


Naize needs to step down, do what's right

In the April 10, 2014 Navajo Times article titled, "Naize case on hold, judge requests additional info," Alastair Lee Bitsoi points out on the controversial issue surrounding Navajo Nation Speaker Naize placed on paid administrative leave.

Naize had petitioned to the Window Rock District Court for a temporary restraining order against the 12 Council delegates and one tribal employee who are responsible for placing Naize on paid leave. In addition, Naize has further requested to disqualify Navajo Nation Department of Justice from intervening on the case. Naize faces one count of conspiracy and 11 counts of bribery and additional charges.

My own view on Naize's situation is not fair for he had cheated many elders who should have benefited from the money he stole for his own use. Bitsoi pointed out, "Instead of removing Naize as speaker, Council on April 4 voted to place their leader on paid leave for allegedly misusing more than $37,000 in discretionary funds."
This is clear evidence that Naize committed conspiracy and took bribery. Putting Naize on paid leave is just like giving him free money because he just sits at home getting extra money which I think is ridiculous. He has cheated all the Navajo people, especially those who voted him in. He should be removed as speaker without pay.

Furthermore, there was clear evidence that Naize took money and committed a serious crime that constitute an automatic removal. It is an outrage. The senior citizens on Navajo Nation needed the money for home repairs.

In conclusion, the solution I have in regards to the controversial issue, surrounding Speaker Naize placed on paid leave, instead of putting him on paid leave, the Council should remove him as speaker of the Navajo Nation. He has committed a crime that is detrimental to the Navajo Nation and other corporations that would like to invest in Navajo companies or the Navajo tribe as a whole. Why is he getting away with the crimes he has committed?

In the best interest of all the Navajo people, Naize needs to remove himself and do what is right for the tribe.

Virginia Reed
Kayenta, Ariz.

Council did not abuse discretionary funds

Why did the so-called special prosecutors determine discretionary funds of former president dismissed while they have not had time to investigate?

They did not print the list of those assisted like they did for Council delegates. We all know the president used to get the most amount allocated. Why is it all one-sided up to now?

The 88 helped and assisted hundreds of indigent poor Navajo people, the young, elderly, veterans, sports participants, school clubs, education field trips, traditional ceremonies, Christian religious organizations, judges' children and families, presidents' children and families, burial assistance, and mostly educational and hardship emergency assistance. Discretionary funds were used appropriately towards needs of Navajo people and families, not abused.

Council delegates assisted many unemployed, struggling Navajo people, including some delegates' children and siblings. Remember, they are Navajo too, but DOJ giving millions of our Navajo dollars to outside Anglo attorneys. Delegates' families are not rich, they have needs too, kids in school and college expenses. They struggle just like common Navajo people. Why continue to drag them through the mud?

The Window Rock Court, DOJ, already know about evidence of the Navajo auditor general's report on Onsat. Another outside investigation found evidence of bad dealings with Onsat, but former AG only determined that not legal. DOJ and courts already know former chief of staff and president walked through papers to continue to pay Onsat even though there was a cease order. Why are courts and DOJ covering all that up and supporting that same administration to return?

Prosecutors had said they will start investigating Onsat after they clear all Council cases, but all of a sudden they said intensive investigation is done and all cases were dismissed. They did not investigate Onsat yet because they did not know the auditor general is still gagged, told cannot talk about Onsat. They did not even know the Council delegates continued to request investigation of Onsat, but then AG only denying their request instead turned around the investigation against delegates. Even Anglo attorneys, judges, former judges, and Navajo attorneys know about and talk about concerns of much abuse of the Navajo justice system. Too many due process rights violated and being denied by court. As long as DOJ courts support special prosecutors there will never be fair and equal justice provided the Council delegates.

While you hear someone boast about Navajo court being fair, the best and set example for other tribes, that's very funny. Is that any reason why the state does not recognize the highest court on Navajo Nation?

Why did the state reject our indigenous reservation? Is it because DOJ and courts need to express true ethics, integrity, and respect for the laws and Navajo people?

The Navajo Supreme Court is supposed to play a critical role necessary to resolve disputes for all, not to take sides and play politics. It seems they only support Onsat dealings, covering up for certain Navajo and Anglos and taking Navajo monies outside.

Our Council delegates only did right by giving discretionary funds to our Navajo people in need for education, travel to hospitals, burial assistance, many other hardship situations, and emergency situations their Navajo people requested funds for. I believe these discretionary funds were used wisely, not abused.

Jim Segay
Phoenix, Ariz.
(Hometown: Sawmill and Tuba City, Ariz.)

Uranium subcommittee has too much power

We have a delegate that seems to create mistrust and no confidence who is afraid to get on the Council floor to debate rationally the full ramifications of the uranium issue. Instead he chooses to play politics. It is very problematic to see a subcommittee with a few members have approval authority over the full 24 Council delegates. Controversial issues, like the water rights, took the voice of the people to reveal where they stood. Surely a public consciousness is needed as a required check against abuse of subcommittee power and outside influence on any natural resource issue. In the uranium issue, it harms so many, not only near the mining site, but the nuclear waste disposal is just as bad and we will create that risk for others. That is why a lot of states say, "Not in my backyard."
Running a government should reflect our cultural values and norms, and this type of behavior is not acceptable. Looking for loopholes to help the opposition threatening reprisal (sue) against us and running off at the mouth only serves as self-satisfaction on his part. It doesn't seem he is using his experience and wisdom in the best interest of the people. Instead, we see an ideal set up for outside lobbyist champing at the bit to corrupt a few powerful subcommittee officials.

How did this subcommittee get more power than the Navajo Nation Tribal Council? As taxpayers to the tribe, we have the right to know what is going on, and putting gag order on delegates to keep certain things secret is not the way. This over-reach only creates non-transparency. What kind of laws do we have on the books? Have we given immunity to subcommittees to do what they want? To make a strong point, they are answerable to us.

Clearly there should be a policy discussion about creating an oversight committee if we don't have one. What we have is interference with good legislation. Every business I know does not give power to committees to run and control a business. Maybe part of the problem is we have a career group of political class in Window Rock and information is not getting back home, not have subcommittees approve resolutions without Council deliberations. BHP was handled that way and now we hear fracking drilling may be exploring for gas, also another health and environmental issue. Things of important matter should be dealt with openly and transparently, not behind committee or Council closed doors.

The Navajo Code implies the assumption that the people are the source of authority for the establishment of powers and authorities of the Navajo Nation, and further, only Congress can take that power away. And, if we are operating under the separation of powers, then embedded in there is also reserved certain powers for the general citizens. In both instance, it implies by statutory law that the citizens of the Navajo Nation are the ultimate source of power and authority. That is how we gave the executive branch the line-item veto by a runaway wasteful legislative Council a few years ago. We can add or amend existing laws (referendum or initiative). If we are coerced (intimidated) beyond what we deem acceptable by our Council delegates, we need to tell them it's their fiduciary duty to keep us informed when dealing with our natural resources. We feel left out with our local governance so obstructed with bureaucracy it is depressing. The results there is: not much to no change.

We were hoping for a political conscience group of lawmakers to pass good tribal laws providing us with a stable and strong social government. If it were, then real issues would be brought home and we can magnify the conversation with our local constituencies instead of being left with partial truths.

Teddy Begay
Kayenta, Ariz.

Better leadership needed at Chilchinbeto school

As of August 2013, Chilchinbeto Community School Incorporated reauthorization has been viewed as a probationary status due to accreditation standards, policies and procedures, which were not sanctioned, but were placed under required actions. Based on this document, the Chilchinbeto community members earnestly analyzed and questioned why this school has been repeatedly referred to as a system failed to achieve accredited status within the time period allotted. The AdvancED/NCA has labeled CCSI as a system that failed to submit a substantive change of accreditation status to virtually losing accreditation resulting to corrective action in the past years and continues today.

As concerned community members, we believe there are substantial evidence involved hindering and disrupting the educational effectiveness for the children at CCSI. A distraught report was shared by DODE in a memo at the Chilchinbeto monthly chapter meeting of several counts that were factual about the academic standards diminishing at CCSI. Circumstances support the complaints made by the community that our children are underperforming which is disheartening and disturbing when these young minds are regarded as our future.

In addition, in a recent editorial section, a youth expressed lack of opportunities in today's Diné nation. Leaders continue to advocate for higher education, yet when individuals attain their education and recognize the need to bring their educational observance and experience to assist their people they are overlooked by our own people and leaders, as stated. Next, an advertisement for a new superintendent is being sought for at Diné Education. As a Diné nation, our people yearn for an individual who will lead in all aspect in the best interest of our youth's belief and education.

Existing laws, regulations, and education funding to educate clearly states that children may not be denied the quality of education. Every entity or workplace requires complying with laws, CFRs, policies, and procedures that makes one aware of their rights. Rights to educate all children are mandated by laws. CCSI lacks contact to deliver special education that support and service students with exceptional needs are violated according to the laws.

As stated by our Navajo Nation Department of Diné Education, our vision, "Diné Education is our strength to promote and foster lifelong learning." As a sovereign nation, we entrust the department of education to guarantee that our children and grandchildren receive the utmost valuable education, which is the sole responsibility for finding the right means to enforce the regulations at all school systems to foster lifelong learning to our children and grandchildren. The Chilchinbeto community members ask for your support to ensure that the school system at CCSI is appropriately conducted in the best interest to the students, parents, staff, and community.

Unfortunately, the CCSI's past and present school board members have failed unsympathetically to guide our children, grandchildren, relatives, and community members to achieve today, lead tomorrow. The school board members' actions reflects and depicts their leadership when the oath was to direct the school to nurture all the children with education at CCSI. Through the school year, a longtime board member despised qualified applicants for hiring, tabled the principal position several times to their liking and for personal gains. Unfavorable actions, bribery and dishonesty definitely contributed to unfair treatment, loss of respect, and unethical practice. These unfavorable actions of ignoring violations augmented to formal measures to enforce and override the lack of consideration to continue from the board members.

As a resolution to this categorization of our children and grandchildren scrutinized as underperforming, an ultimate change all in effort to educate the students at CCSI will transpire to students performing. As concerned community members, we want the best education for our children and grandchildren, as their education will determine our future as a Diné Nation. Allow these individuals from the community who qualify for these positions, without the benefit of the doubt, fulfill the duties to correct the extensive disarray of micromanaging CCSI. This atypical practice must end to change our children's direction of education they are entitled to under the law.

Leonard Bailey
Chilchinbeto, Ariz.

Back to top ^