DELEGATE LORENZO BATES, BUDGET & FINANCE COMMITTEE CHAIRPERSON, INVESTMENT COMMITTEE MEMBER made an amendment to Benally’s $220 m. Bond that created a strong reaction – pro and con – from some of the Delegates. Bates’s amendment would replace Navajo Nation courts as the legal jurisdiction over disputes that may arise regarding the Bond/Loan. The federal court in New York State would replace the tribal courts.
Former Navajo Nation President/Chairman Peterson Zah, who is attending today’s Naabi meeting, said that Bates’ recommendation to replace Navajo Nation courts with federal courts is sending out a message that tribal courts are not good.
Zah was listening to the Naabi debate over Bates’ amendment. But before the Naabi committee voted on Bates’ amendment, Speaker Naize, who is one of the co-sponsors of the $220 m Bond/Loan, called for a lunch break. I think that Nazie’s decision was to allow Bates time to lobby the Delegates to support his amendment. Naize informed the Delegates to return by 3 pm.
Another area of concern over Bates’ amendment was the lack of langauge regarding collateral. According to the Delegates questioning Bates’ amendment, the $220 m. Bond/Loan does not specifically identify what the Navajo Nation is putting up as security/collateral. Some of the Delegates said that the financial entities, which include KeyBank, willing to financial back the $220 m. Bond/Loan are eyeing the tribe’s $1.4 billion Permanent Trust Fund. And the Delegates said it would be the federal court in NY state that would decide if the Councl allows the $220 m. Bond/Loan to move forward without specifically identifying what the tribe is putting up as security/collateral.
It’s almost 3 pm and so I’ll end this post but I’ll continue blogging from the Naabi Committee which is meeting in the Council chamber in Window Rock. And then after the Naabi Committee adjourns, the Council is scheduled to have a special session on legislation Naabi recommends to it, which would be the $220 m. Bond/Loan. And then the $220 m. Bond/Loan goes befoer President Ben Shelly where it could be vetoed. But the Council can over-ride a presidential veto.
HERE’S THE NAABI DEBATE ON BATES’ 3-PAGE AMENDMENT:
DELEGATE MEL BEGAY
This is a good opportunity for pple. Is there fear of advancing pple? We are improving quality of life at home. We are talking about interest of Permanent Trust Fund that has been accumulating over the year.
This process ($220 m. Bond) needs to be promoted by us and that is due diligence by itself. So I think it’s something important that we need to examine and give ourselves the opportunity to promote.
Just because pass doesn’t mean that we’re allowing outside pple to take advantage of us. The president has to sign final document. This is just giving us an option. If you have other options, please show us. This has value. There is no value in degrading ourselves and our pple.
We are in the last day of our fiscal year. We are trying to get lunch but this is last day of fiscal year and so budget is limited.
DELEGATE WALTER PHELPS
What is it that we are tying up to ensure security for bank. I know amendment would only apply to $100 m and not total amount cuz $120 m is KeyBank and KayBank has agreed to Navajo jurisdiction and law.
If understand Tim Whitman’s writeup so amendment apply to only portion of $220 m. The $5.7 m from Judicial Safety Fund-is that collateral? I was looking at $11 m. and $5.7 m.
Main point, where is the security? What is the security being offered up? Are we tying up current Trust Fund?
NAVAJO DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE GOMEZ
Thx you Mr. Speaker. The amendment drafted with Law Firm and different versions of draft bounced back and before and amendment is compulation of wveryone’s work. Splits out loans from bank and types of law.
DELEGATE RUSSELL BEGAYE
Taking out section 7 entirely?
LINE 1 to 4, federal courts located in New York. I understand state courts but to say court located in New York is unnecessary. We should send to California where they tend to rule in our favor. And we are getting new federal judges and I feel they would look favorably on Navajo.
In same sentence, few lines down: including with limitations the right to proceed, the assests of Navajo are able to pay in care of nonpayment. So that means that we are putting Navajo assets on table to pay off projects that are not generating revenue to pay back the loan.
I support taking out the word “without limitations” cuz I know these banks are drooling over any wording to help them access $1.4 billion Permanent Trust Fund.
DELEGATE LORENZO BATES
Again reemphasize that nation dealing with KayBank or any bank that chooses loan money to Navajo and why against waiver. State of NY, it was indicated that Delaware and NY has resources and are familiar with adressing any disputes dealing with business transactions of this sort and this large. And reason fedeal court involved is if Navajo Nation chooses to appeal state court decision then can go to fedreal court or in terms and conditions that wud outline jurisdiction of dispute.
“Without limitations” $60 m loan now with KeyBank, page 3 of 9, senior unsecured general obligation loan language and nation fought for that langauge so no security. Debt service is $2.8 m for $60 m loan to KayBank.
We don’t know what collateral if any would be applied to nation. But given that this Concil has restrained itself in not waiving laws is a plus, we’ve had balance in Reserves and continue to have balance in Reserves. To add to plus side of nation, we have been able to develop and increase various Funds and Permanent TRust Fund.
But again cna’t reitreate enough how bond and loan would look as move Bond and Loan forward. That is next phase.
Are we ready to vote on Bates amendment?
DELEGATE LEONARD TSOSIE
if we want to play to play in today’s market, you protect yourself. Look at NTC, and what BHP Billiton doing; they are doing all they can to protect themselves and now they want indemnification left and right.
When says legally available, I want that spelled out. Are we going to include lands in Tohajiilee, Ramah, Huefano? Does that mean all Reserves, Workman Comp Funds? There is too much ambiguity in this amendment. The current language is stronger. You go to Navajo court to duke it out.
Did anybody do due diligence on NY court? how often havae they ruled against tribes? Are they as bad as US Supreme Court in always ruling against Native Nations? We need that info if we are going to expose nation to liabilities.
If we make bad decision here and allow to go on, Council 20 yrs later will ask, who made decision. Nice grab money but if do without protecting Navajo then not good. So if say “legally available” let’s spell it out.
When do this, federal court will argue what is legally available and u submit nation to whims of federal judge who could rule that Permanent Trust Fund and other Funds can be touched.
I recommend that we not support amendment.
(As Delegate Tsosie is speaking, Delegate Bates is lobbying other delegates, such as Delegate Edmund Yazzie.)
DELEGATE LORENZO CURLEY
As Delegate Tossie is talking, I’m getting paranoid and I’m getting paranoid about my Deferred Comp. (laughter from council floor) So i want to ask KeyBank reps, is this scenario that Delegate Tsosie talking about going to happen as surely as the sun is going to come up tomorrow.
Tsosie saying there will be liability and we will lose our pants, including my Deferred Comp.
What are the issues that end up in NY court which is a foregin court.
My feeling is our only liability is if we fail to pay on loan. We need discipline in our area of financial spending. This is what would make us aware of how we spend and we learn how to tighten our belt.
We have a yearly obligation to Bond and so we need to be disciplined about how we spend.
This might be good time to break for lunch and return at 3 pm.