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Letters: Tsé Lichii Chapter article inaccurate

We, the Red Rock Chapter House, are writing in response to the erroneous article that was published in your newspaper, Navajo Times, written by Cindy Yurth, and edited by Duane Beyal.

The article, titled “Audit: Tse’ Lichii lost track of vehicle, gave housing money to relatives,” does not appear to have been fact-checked, nor has the reporter or editor bothered to check public records for the correct sums and information regarding the article.

Neither the Red Rock Chapter House, nor any of its current chapter officials, were called upon to verify any information or provide any official documents, or comments, and as far as we understand, the Navajo Nation Office of the Auditor General was not contacted either.

Public records are made public so that the general public can be made aware of the facts, but in reading your article, it is apparent that you have not accessed these documents for fact-checking purposes.

In accordance to these errors on your behalf, we would like to inform you of the correct information, which you can fact-check against current public records.

In the article written by Yurth, the Navajo Times claims, “Including the SUV, the amount in question represents about 19% of the chapter’s 2020 budget of $454,000.”

In checking public documents, you will find that our annual budget for 2020 was $313,799, but, obviously, we have to be approved for any use of those funds, and therefore, it could be even less than that for the year.

The second claim that the article makes is that there was an SUV purchased by this chapter house.

As printed in your newspaper, you say, “Tse Lichii Chapter failed to inventory a $67,000 SUV…” although at no time, past or present, were we given an SUV, or was an SUV purchased by the Red Rock Chapter.

There are no records to show that there was ever an SUV purchased, insurance for an SUV, or any inventory or mileage reports for this non-existent vehicle.

As you will see, when you fact-check the official auditor’s office report, there is no mention of an SUV in the entire document. There was a truck purchased by Red Rock Chapter, which has already been inventoried, according to the corrective action leeway for the auditor’s office. This can also be fact-checked.

This truck is now in the process of being insured. The reason for this delay is because of the closure of the MVD in Gallup, and the failed attempt to get the Albuquerque MVD to help us speed up this process.

A further claim that the article makes is that “A $2,500 computer also was never inventoried…” Red Rock Chapter has rectified this and it has already been inventoried, according to the corrective action leeway for the auditor’s office.

You then allege that “we (the auditor’s office) were made aware of the possible existence of a 1977 John Deere motor grader” that also never appeared in any documentation, the audit states.

This is erroneous. If you had bothered to check public records you would have easily discovered that this 1977 John Deere motor grader has been inventoried every year since 1977, and was an error made by the auditor’s office, which they have now amended on the audit report.

As we continue forward, we also noted that another error made in your article was when Yurth interjected “for the year ending, June 30, 2020, the chapter did not properly document either receipts or disbursements, overpaid employees and officials for travel,” then stated that your opinion was that the Red Rock Chapter House “kept sloppy payroll records and failed to investigate conflicts of interest.”

In response to the proper documentation of receipts and disbursements, most of the documents were available for the audit, but there was an issue on our part due to our scanner, Xerox machine, and fax machine being down.

From August of 2018 to March of 2020, the office did not have an AMS (account maintenance specialist), as a result the ASO (administrative service officer), did complete reconciliation for Red Rock Chapter during that time.

Next, the alleged “overpaid employees and officials for travel” was that of $5.65, which we have taken under advisement and implemented preventative action so that this error does not reoccur.

Another erroneous and un-fact-checked statement Yurth makes is that “Some disbursements were made before getting chapter approval; some exceeded the approved amount; and some were not supported by invoices or did not agree with the vendor’s invoice.”

If she had checked public records she would have read that the Red Rock Chapter House cannot purchase anything unless it is approved by the chapter administration and the community.

It is also alleged in your newspaper that, “The auditors recommended the chapter tighten up on its paperwork and start a conflict of interest file, requiring chapter officials and employees to disclose any relationships that may cause a conflict of interest, and removing themselves from any purchase or disbursement involving a related party unless they can provide written justification for being involved.”

In answer to this, the Navajo Nation has an anti-discrimination policy, which the auditor’s office is now aware of, that states that no one may be denied employment due to family affiliation.

In addition to this, it is alleged that “gave housing discretionary funds to the chapter president’s spouse (who is also related to the community service coordinator) and other potential relatives of chapter personnel without disclosing potential conflict of interest, the Navajo Nation Office of the Auditor General found in its recently released internal audit of the chapter.”

The community service coordinator is not related to the former chapter president’s spouse. However, any chapter voter may apply to receive Housing Discretionary Funds.

However, Yurth was correct in her statement that “The chapter also failed to give monthly financial reports at chapter meetings, the auditors charged.”

The secretary/treasurer has now been providing financial reports during chapter meetings since we were made aware of the issue.

In conclusion, the Red Rock Chapter House requests an apology from the Navajo Times, and retraction of un-fact-checked, erroneous, and slanderous statements made by reporter Cindy Yurth, and approved for print by editor, Duane Beyal.

Red Rock Chapter is appealing to have the article from the April 1st issue corrected and published for public records.

In the future, we would hope that reporters and editors of your newspaper would consider fact checking and unbiased reporting, as this could result in libel, if not adhered to.

This article has caused animosity and tension to build up and potential threats to the Red Rock Chapter administration and newly elected chapter officials. This also would show that your newspaper has the integrity and good character we expect in the Navajo Nation.

Louise Hoskie, President
Ida Nelson, Vice President
Anderson Lee, Community Service Coordinator
Tse’ Lichii (Red Rock) Chapter House

Editor’s note: All the information for the article was from the Office of the Auditor General’s internal audit of Tsé Lichii Chapter, which the chapter signed off on and responded to in writing. The document, Report No. 21-03, is available from the Office of the Auditor General by written request. A correction of one detail can be found in today’s Navajo Times.

Make use of abandoned hoop houses

This is in regards to the hemp farmers. They made their fields available to be used for a purpose.

The wrong planting, yes, but make use of those hoop houses. It’s your land. Don’t let it sit there and make it look like trash.

We drive past those fields and say what a waste. You could be doing something resourceful like growing crops that otherwise wouldn’t grow in our part of the country. Come on, people!

More money into others’ pockets to dismantle than repair, you could have saved those structures. Being a frustrated farmer, we can’t afford to waste.

Sharon Begay
Rock Point, Ariz.


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