Navajo Council approves $3M for emergency snow aid for 110 chapters, 1.25.23

Greetings Relatives/Frens/Humans, the Navajo Nation Council approved $3 million in emergency snow aid to the Nation’s 110 chapters, which are the local governments across the Nation, Wednesday evening.

7:37pm 1.25.23 navajo council votes 19 in favor, 2 opposed on $3M in emergency snow assistance for 110 chapters.

I was at Navajo Council chambers in Window Rock, Ariz., attending day 3 of the Navajo Council’s annual five-day winter session and livestreaming day 3 on my Facebook page. I livestreamed day 1 & 2 and they are posted on my Facebook page for your viewing and listening. I was unable to do on the spot reporting of the Navajo Council for day 1 because of technical difficulties….I kept getting kicked off Navajo Council wifi & so I used my phone as a hot spot & I got connected!

And so I’ll post my Facebook reports for day 3:

11am 1.25.23 delegate vince james questions distribution of emergency funds to chapters that have depleted their emergency fund budget. James says that those chpters that have negative balances may end up with a zero emergency fund balance again becuz new funds will only wipe out negative balance and not add new funds.

11 am 1.25.23 fall out from former prez jonathan nez and vice president myron lizer regarding FEMA reimbursement to chapters that used their emergency fund for COVID. Sponosor of emergency $3M legislation to replenish the emergency fund budgets of the 110 chaters, delegate danny simpson, informed the council that the deadline for chapters to be reimbursed by FEMA passed. That is it…
NOTE – so who dropped the ball in making sure that chapters were reimbursed by FEMA/federal emergency management agency.
Chief legislative counsel dana bobroof informs council that a request to increase all emergency budgets for 110 chapters by $5,000, which delegate curtis yanito requested. Bobroof adds that yanito cud increaase his request to $30,000

11:18 am 1.25.23 navajo council delegate steven arviso says that some chapters have not spent their emergency funds.
Delegate eugenia charles newton asks for navajo division of community deveopment and controller for currrent emergency fund balance.
Delegate vince james says just the emergency fund balances for 110 chapters.

11:52 1.25.23 controller elizabeth begay reports that $21.8M in UUFB, undesignated, unreserved fund balance.
for Three to four years, the navajo nation govt operating in a deficite and will continue cuz of closure of (PEABODY) coal mines and so for next year and next five years the navajo govt needd to identify new revenues but navajo permanent trust fund of $40M wiped out deficite. We are facing deficite and using navajo permanent trust fund to cover navajo govt deficite into 2026.

noon 1.25.23 the info on current balances of emergency funds of 110 chapters is being distributed to delegates. NOTE – i shall ask for a copy & hopefully no one is rude & just tells me to get off council floor. Good grief, it is not like i am asking for their personal clothing…LOL
Delegate danny simpson
Five chapters have excessive amount of emergency funds remaining

12:07pm 1.25.22 delegate carl slater is emailng his amendment that he proposed and that is on council floor. Council debating emergency legislation 0003-23 to appropriate $3M to $5M to emergeny fund budgets of 110 chapters.

12:12pm 1.25.23 the amendment by delegate carl slater would have unspent funds over $20,000 in emergency fund balance in each of the 110 chapaters returned to the UUFB by sept 1, 2023

12:50pm 1.25.23 delegate cherilyn yazzie informs delegate carl slater that climate change is affecting chapters differently because of the location of chapters. Yazzie represents chapters that are in the southwestern area. Yazzie said her chapters are experiencing muddy conditions. She added that some of her chapters are also certified chapters. NOTE – certified chapters have completed a certification process and handle their own funds through their own finance office, instead of having central navajo govt, navjo divisiion of community developmet, be their finance office.

1:10pm 1.25.23 delegate curtis yanito speaks to amendment by delegate carl slater to have any of emergency fund budget that has more than $20,000 among the 110 chapters shall return to the undesignated, unreserved fund balance/UUFB
Yanito looks at report from navajo div of community development and says that there are several chapters that have a huge emergency fund budget.

1:15 pm 1.25.23 navajo div ofcommunity development administrative servies admiistrator sonsola jim Reported that FEMA still reviewing reimbusement requests from chapters for using their emergency fund for COVID emergency assistance
FEMA representative JOYCE
the nation was supposed to enter info regarding emergency assistance since July 1, 2022, by dec 31, 2023.
Navajo had not entered info for chapters to be reimbursed.
No full time labor reimburseable. Food not reimburseable.
Delegate eugenia charles newton asks FEMA for list of emergency supplies/assistance that are reimburseable.
NOTE – SMH. This info shud have been provided when COVID hit, when the navajo nation had other emergencies, such as drought, fire, snow, mud, etc

1:40pm 1.25.23 GOOD GRIEF… I walked over to north side of council chambers where there is an exit door that opens to a large room where there is a door to the female restroom. BUT there a guard rail there now preventing any female visitor, inncluding youth & elders, from using that councill chamber female restroom.
I am familiar with this type of coduct…and it is happening in bordertowns – locking off acess to restrooms. How ugly!

1:46 pm 1.25.23 the council is in a 10-minute recess.. I am going to walk across the icy, snowy street to prez buu nygren and vice pres richelle montoya office to use their restroom.

2pm 1.25.23 just got bak in time for council to come out of recess. The restrooms in the navajo office of the prez and vice prez is behind a door in the waiting area…But when i asked staff if i cud use the restroom, they smiled, opened the door and showed me where the restroom was. I felt very welcome. And staff were smiling.
May Peace Prevail on Mother Earth!

2pm 1.25.23 delegate steven arviso informs council that FEMA told the navajo nation that none of chapter reimbursement requests for wood, food, hay, water are NOT reimburseable. He says that one of his chapters is $99,000 in the hole for serving as a COVID hub to hire numerous laborers to sanitize food, etc for distribution to chapters. FEMA informed council that laborers is not a reimburseable item for emergency COVID response. He recommends that the council meet with FEMA to help them understand what the navajo people face which is totally different from what happens in cities.
NOTE – this is INSANE. WHERE was Navajo emergency COVID response command center dave nez regarding help to chapters so they know what can be reimbursed by FEMA. I repeatedly asked nez-lizer for navajo COVID emergency plan and how the $714M in CARES aid was spent? I NEVER received a plan or financial report. Now i know why…

2:40pm 1.25.23 delegate otto tso motions for cease debate and delegate vince james seconds. The council has been debating an amendment by delegate carl slater for those 110 chapters with an emergency fund budget balance of more than $20,000 to have those fund returned to the Undesignated, Unreserved Fund Balance by Sept 1, 2023.
Speaker crystalyne curley accepts motion to Cease Debate.
The council votes 21 in favor, 1 opposed to cease debate. Delegate eugenia charles newton cast opposing vote.

2:47pm 1.25.23 council votes 13 in favor, 9 opposed on amendment by delegate carl slater that any of the 110 chapters with more than $20,000 in their emergency fund budget shall have those funds returned to Undesignated, Unreserved Fund, which is where $3M to replenish the emergency fund balance of the 110 chapters is coming from.
Amendment 1 approved.
Delegate amber crotty motion with an amendment 2 to carl slater amendment 1 to not include her chapters in Amendment 1. Crotty represents the chapters of toadlena/two grey hills,red valley, tse alnozii, tooh haltsooi, beclabito, gaadiiahi/cove.
Delegate herman daniel asks delegate crotty to include his chapters in her amendment 2. Daniels represents tsah biikin, naatsis oon, shonto community governance, oljato. Crotty accepts daniels request.
Delegate seth damon asks crotty to include his chapters in her amendment 2. Damon represents manuelito, baahaali, tsyatoh, rock springs, chichiltah, tselichii. Crotty accepts damon request.

2:59pm 1.25.23 delegate danny simpson now asking delegate amber crotty to include his chapters in her amendment 1, which exempts her chapters from amendment 1, which mandates that chapters with more than $20,000 in their emergency fund budget shall revert to Undesignated, Unreserved Fund Balance by Sept 1, 2023.
Simpson represents whiterock, lake valley, nahidishgish, tseiiahi, becenti, nageezi, crownpoint, huerfano. Crotty accepts simpson request

3pm 1.25.23 delegate curtis yanito asks delegate amber crotty to add his chapters to her amendment 2, which exempts chapters from amendment 1.
Yanito represents mexican springs, toilkon, teec noss, aneth, red mesa. Crotty accepts yanito request.

3:05 pm 1.25.23 delegate helena nez begay asks delegate amber crotty to include her chapters in her amendment 2, which exempts chapters from amendment 1.
Begay represents coppermine, kaibiito, lechee, tonalea, bodaway/gap.
Delegate vince james says it is embarrassing to see delegates who voted for amendment 1 to now ask to have their chapters exempt from amendment 1.

3:48pm 1.25.23 delegate cherilyn yazzie requests delegate amber crotty to add her chapters to her amendment 2. Yazzie notes that her chapters contacted her to add them to amendment 2.
Yazzie represents dilcon, greasewood springs, indian wells, teesto, whitecone.
Delegate carl slater requests delegate amber crotty to delete his amendment 1 and then to remove all the chapters that asked to be part of crotty’s amendment 2

3:57PM 1.25.23 DELEGATE amber crotty accepts delegate carl slater request to delete his amendment 1
Delegate rickie nez calls on chapters to “spend those monies”, “don’t hang onto those monies”. Help your people

4pm 1.25.23 delegate vince james asks delegate amber crotty and delegate seth damon to withdraw with amendment 2, which exempted chapters from amendment 1.
Delegate crotty denies requests because she has chapters that had their emergency requests for food, water, etc denied by the navajo govt division of comunity development administrative services center. She said community develpment also needs to document all the requests for emergency assistance from individuals.

4:20pm 1.25.23 navajo council hearing from staff regarding delegate carl slater request to delegate amber crotty to delete his amemdment 1, which mandated that any chapter with more than $20,000 in theiir emergency budget will have those returned to UUFB by sept 1, 2023. Delegate crotty held amendment 2, which exempted her chapers from amendment 1. And then other delegates started asking crotty to add their chapters to her amedment 2, which resulted in delegate slater asking crotty to delete his amendment 1.
Council votes 19 in favor, 3 opposed.
NOTE – so now council back to square 1

4:20 pm, 1.25.23 delegate seth damon motion for amendment 3 which is for a council directive to navajo Community development, navajo office of management and budgets, navajo controller office to deposit emergency funds into chapter emergency budget in five days after president buu nygren signs the council legislation for $3M from UUFB to replenish the emergency budgets of the 110 chapters.
Delegate vince james asks for clarification on damon amendment 3. Is this micromanaging? Will OMB accuse council of micromanaging?
Chief legislative counsel dana bobroof says that it is not unusual for council to make directive. Bobroof says council has already made similar directives. Not micromanaging, but setting deadline.

4:28pm 1.25.23 navajo council votes 22 in favor, 0 opposed on amendment 3, delegate seth damon amendment, which gives 5 day deadline for commuunity development, OMB, controller to deposite emergency funds into emergency budgets of chapters so they can use emergency funds ASAP

4:35 pm 1.25.23 delegate amber crotty escorted an elderly dine’ woman to female restroom. They got past barrier blocking access to door to room where there is another door to another door that is the restroom…AHE’HEE Delegate crotty. As delegate crotty was escorting elder, speaker crystalyne curley called on her to speak because crotty had time to speak. But crotty did not pause in her escorting elder and waived off her time to speak.

5pm 1.25.23 there is an amendment 4 that legislative staff are reading. Amendment 4 would increase $3M request to replenish emergency budgets of 110 chapters by $30,000 for each of the 110 chapters.
But legislative staff reported that the new total would be $2.3M, a decrease.
Delegate andy nez said his calculations show a new total of $3.3M
Council IT staff having problems getting a call-in from delegate amber crotty to be loud enough for council to hear her. IT are now trying to reconnect audio with zoom…zoom, zoom

5:20pm 1.25.23 delegate carl slater says he cannot support amendment 4 because it promotes the continued irresponsible spending by come chapters of their emergency funds. Some chapters will get $100,000.

5:20pm 1.25.23 delegate otto tso rcommending that the council approve emergency assistance to 110 chapters now and then they can start worrking with the nygren-montoya on amending the way that emergency assistance is provided to the 110 chapters. “I’m ready to vote.”

5:30pm 1.25.23 navajo community development administrative services center program director sonsala jim says that the chapters that are under audit sanctions will receive the new emergency funds from council but then the 10% sanction will go into effect.
NOTE – when chapters are sanctioned for audit issues, the sanction involves those sanctioned chapters having new funds reduced by 10%, which goes into an escrow account. When a chapter comes out of sanction, the chapter receive those escrow funds.

5:44pm 1.25.23. How AWESOME. One of the legislative staff who knows me for years and knows that i am a news reporter, saw that i was bundling up. She came over & asked if i was cold. I was. And so she brought over a space heater, plugged it in and tuned it on. She placed it so that the heat also reaches an elderly dine’ woman and her grandson who are sitting in the council chambers. AHE’HEE. This legislative staffer is the dine’ lady who is wearing a white blouse. You can see her distributing food, drinks, snacks to council delegates. After everyone leaves, Ida is the one sanitizing the council Chambers…picking up trash. Bless her nizhoni heart and her family.

6pm 1.25.23 delegate vince james says that the budgets attached to emergency legislation are inaccurate. James says that tohajiilee chapter, which is near albuquerque, will still be in the red after they receive their additional funds. He explains that tohajiilee is $67,000 in the red and so the $30,000 will not take tohajiilee out of the red.
James asks for five minute recess to correctly calculate currrent emergency budgets of 110 chapters. Speaker crystalyne curley grants 5 minute recess, starting at 6:07pm

6:15pm 1.25.23 council votes down amendment 4, which would have allocated $30,000 to each chapter. Council votes 7 in favor, 13 opposed

6:30pm 1.25.23 new amendment 4 is technical corrections to emergency fund budget balances of 110 chapters that was requested by navajo division of community development.
Delegate vince james questions what the council is doing especially after some delegates said that chapters that are in the red/deficit should not receive additional funds.

6:37pm 1.25.23 navajo council chief legislative counsel dana bobroof informs council that if they do not want to fund chapters with negative balances, then the emergency legislation to address snow emergency will have to be redone.

6:46 pm 1.25.23 council votes 11 in favor, 10 opposed to caucus for ten minutes. Speaker crystalyne curley asks council if they want to use one of the council conference rooms. Delegate eugenia charles newton reminds speaker curley that caucus are to be held in main council chamber. The council is caucusing on the council floor.

6:50pm 1.25.23 some council delegates are asking me to turn off livestream because causes are not to be recorded. I asked for the council rule of order that mandates that causes are official closed door meetings of the council. And so my livestream may go off temporarily. I haven’t received info so livestream still on

7pm 1.25.23 council out of caucus. Delegate otto tso ask chief legislative counsel to draft language to allow chapters that in the red to receive additional emergency funds and to recess to allow chief legislative counsel to draft language And return thursday to finish acting on emergency legislation for $3M for 110 chapters. Delegate herman daniels seconds.
Chief legislative counsel dana bobroof explains to council that they can recess and then take up $3M emergency legislation tomorrow.

7pm 1.25.23 delegate eugenia charles newton informs council that there are two motions on the floor which is questionable. Delegate otto tso withdraws his motion. He reminds council that they need to thiink about staff.

7:12pm 1.25.23 delegate eugenia charles newton withdraws her motion to amend the emergency legislation and so the council is back to square 1.
Delegate vince james motions to recess and no delegate seconds his motion so he withdraws his motioin and waives his remaining time to speak.
Delegate eugenia charles newton reminds council that if they vote on the $3M emergency legislation without her technical amendment that address timeline then they shud vote tonight and not return tomorrow.

7:20pm 1.25.23 chief legislative counsel dana bobroof explains to council that delegate eugenia charles newton amendment for technical amendments was to switch out exhibit c, budgets of 110 chapters with corrected budgets for 110 chapters emergency budgets.
Council attorney explains that the technical amendment only replaces chapter budgets that need corrections.

7:25pm 1.25.23 delegate eugenia charles newton says that when she was talking about time line she was talking about 5 days that office of management and budgets, controller office were directed to process $3M in emergency snow assistance to the 110 chapters.
Speaker crystalyne curley calls for second reading of emergency legislation 0003-23 before she calls for a VOTE on 0003-23

7:35pm 1.25.23 council Finally voting on $3M emergency snow assistance to 110 chapters.

7:37pm 1.25.23 navajo council votes 19 in favor, 2 opposed on $3M in emergency snow assistance for 110 chapters.

7:38pm 1.25.23 delegate herman daniels makes motion to add emergency legislation 0004-23, which supports legislation before the Utah state legislature. Delegate seth damon seconds.
Council votes 21 in favor, 0 opposed to add emergency legislation 0004-23, which supports navajo nation priorities for the Utah state legislator and also other legislation before the Utah legislature.

8:11PM 1.25.23 navajo council votes 21 in favor, 0 opposed on emergency legislation 0004-23.
Speaker crystalyne curley calls for council to hear speaker’s report.
Delegate vince james call for motion to adjourn navajo council winter session.

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