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Reporter’s Notebook: Leaders meet in closed session today at Twin Arrows

WINDOW ROCK

What happened to transparency when doing the people’s business?

The Navajo Times was planning to cover the “Navajo Nation Leadership Meeting” at Twin Arrows Casino today where standing committees of the Council are presenting their priorities to the president’s office.

However, this reporter was told late yesterday by the speaker’s office that “the Friday meeting will not be open to the public” or the news media.

The question is why?

“The participants need to be able to speak frankly and freely and not be looking over their shoulders worrying about any missteps or wrongly worded phrases,” said a text sent from Carl Slater, communications director for the speaker’s office, suggesting the presence of the public or a reporter could interfere with that.

Since this event was planned in advance, presumably the presentations were too, so why would anyone be worried?

Besides, this reporter was told about the session two weeks ago by two delegates who suggested it would be an important meeting to report on.

Getting copy of the agenda, however, was not an easy task and the meeting is not posted on the Navajo Nation Council’s website.

Even the president’s communications director, Jared Touchin, apparently couldn’t get his hands on an agenda, saying he was awaiting a copy earlier this week.

Neither Speaker Seth Damon or President Jonathan Nez responded to a request for comment through their communications directors about why the meeting was being kept private, even though they, along with Vice President Myron Lizer and Chief Justice JoAnn Jayne, are presiding over the meeting, according to the agenda received from an unnamed source.

For those who were interested in seeing the schedule of today’s presentations, here it is:

  • 7:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. Office of the President and Vice President
  • 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. Resource and Development Committee
  • 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Budget and Finance Committee
  • 12 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. 
Lunch (provided)
  • 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Law and Order Committee
  • 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Health, Education, and Human Service Committee
  • 2:45 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Office of the Speaker
  • 3:15 p.m. – 5 p.m. Judicial Branch

Hopefully the presentations and reports will be posted and shared with the public after the meeting.

Information: www.opvp.navajo-nsn.gov, www.navajonationcouncil.org.