Council votes down $220 million bond

By Alastair Lee Bitsoi
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, Dec. 12, 2013

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A $220 million bond financing bill that would have helped spur economic development in several Navajo communities across the reservation failed to get the necessary votes for passage Tuesday during a special Council session.

The legislation needed 16 "yea" votes, or three-fourths of the Council, for passage.

Only nine Council delegates voted in favor of the bill, with seven voting against it.

In an interview following the vote, Katherine Benally (Chilchinbeto/Dennehotso/Kayenta), chairwoman of the Resources and Development Committee, told the Navajo Times she was disappointed in her colleagues for not mustering enough votes for the bill to pass.

"To tell you the truth, I thought it was going to fail by one or two votes, but by a huge margin is devastating," Benally said. "It's not just for me but also for the Navajo Nation."

Benally added that with the Council's vote, it essentially means that the legislative body would rather keep the tribe in the status quo, with little or no economic development.

Specifically, the legislation would have allowed the tribe to fund existing priority economic development projects in various Navajo communities in the form of long-term fixed rate bonds and also in the form of bank loans.

It would have funded projects outlined by the Navajo Divison of Economic Development's five-year economic development plan, which are located in the five agencies of the reservation.

Some Council delegates like Leonard Tsosie (Baca-Prewitt/Casamero Lake/Counselor/ Littlewater/Ojo Encino/Pueblo Pintado/Torreon/Whitehorse Lake) vouched for a "better plan" to help spur economic and infrastructure development using what he called "four-method funding" system.

Benally said if they have a better plan, they should put it on the table.

"They oppose everything and say, 'Let's do something better,' but they have never, never brought forth a better plan," she said. "That's all crap."

Benally also wondered if this current Council or any other future Council, for that manner, will ever stir itself away from the "crabs-in-a-bucket" mentality, which she says prevents the tribe from any economic prosperity.

The crabs-in-a-bucket mentality Benally alludes to is best described as, "If I can't have it, neither can you."

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