Council puts Naize on paid administrative leave
(Times photo - Donovan Quintero)
By Alastair Lee Bitsoi
WINDOW ROCK, April 4, 2014
(Times photos - Donovan Quintero)
Naize is alleged to have conspired and bribed former and current delegates with monies from these discretionary accounts. He is accused of misusing almost $37,000 in discretionary funds and faces one count of conspiracy and ten counts of bribery.
Last month Naize pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, but court documents allege that he conspired with former Council Delegate Raymond Joe, who pleaded guilty to misusing discretionary funds and providing payments to Naize.
These were the reasons for why Council Delegate Alton Joe Shepherd sponsored a bill to remove Naize as speaker, pursuant to Title II of the Navajo Nation Code. Tribal law requires the Speaker needs to be in "good standing."
It took nearly four hours Friday, with an executive session and an amendment to the legislation from Council Delegate Leonard Tsosie, before the legislative body voted to place Naize on paid administrative leave rather than to remove him outright.
Council had convened in special session to consider Shepherd's removal bill, but instead voted in favor of Tsosie's amendment to the bill and placed their leader on paid leave.
"At the end of the day that's what we've gotten (transparency and integrity)," Shepherd said. "We actually treaded on waters that weren't there before."
According to Shepherd, Naize is still a Council Delegate and can sit in on legislative action items at the committee and before the full Council; it's just his administrative duties as Speaker that were removed.
"Now, we can go forward," Shepherd said, before adding that a companion bill to appoint a Speaker Pro Tem for the rest of the term is still in the legislative process and could be reintroduced.
During the vote, Naize walked out of the Council Chamber followed by some of his loyal supporters, including Council Delegate Katherine Benally.
After their vote took place, members also voted 12-0 to make Council Delegate LoRenzo Bates Speaker Pro Tem. Bates is expected to serve as Speaker Pro Tem once Council delegate Edmund Yazzie, who served as the Speaker Pro Tem on Friday, certifies the bill.
Yazzie told the Times that he would certify the bill by Monday.
"It may take up to Monday when it's ready," Yazzie said. "I'll be pro tem until then. Everything has to be correct."
And so as soon as Yazzie certifies the bill, Bates will replace him a Speaker Pro Tem. Bates called the nature of events "brand new.".
"This is the first time this ever has been done to protect the integrity and credibility of Council," Bates added. "This is all brand new."
How to get The Times: