Navajo Housing Authority officials on Thursday issued an official response to a letter from Navajo Nation leaders earlier in the week asking them to fire the top management of the agency.
And as expected, it was not complimentary.
On Monday, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Speaker LoRenzo Bates released to the news media a letter to the NHA board saying the top management of the agency had to go because they were, among other things, “incompetent.”
The NHA board response said that while they have not yet received the letter from the leaders, they felt the tribal leaders’ remarks were “completely out of line, outrageous and simply wrong.”
The board members said that when they were appointed, Begaye gave them specific instructions to enact certain changes.
“We took these responsibilities seriously,” said the board’s response.
But when they took office and began looking at the organization, they “realized we were deeply misled and misinformed about NHA.”
What they found out, said the NHA board members, was that “the managing staff of the organization are competent, capable and most qualified of any professionals to carry out and guide us through these challenges.”
What the board members have learned during their study of NHA and its procedures is that “change at NHA takes time and comes with much work. Moreover, this work cannot be done with the interference of politics.”
The board then praised the agency’s current CEO, Aneva Yazzie, and the 365 members of her staff for building 500 new homes and modernizing nearly 900 existing homes since 2012.
“Just last year, NHA constructed 139 new units and modernized 50 units,” the response stated.
Begaye and Bates were criticized by the board members for demanding the firing of top management without taking the time to discuss their concerns with the board or NHA’s management, which they pointed out is the Navajo way of doing things.
Under Navajo Nation law, only the members of the board, once they go through the confirmation process, have the authority to fire the agency’s CEO. They do not have the authority to fire staff members under her.
And tribal law does not allow leaders to go around the board and take action against the CEO or any of the agency’s staff.