Navajo Council Delegate LoRenzo Bates: We don’t need the approval of the people

Navajo Nation Council special session started and debate heating up over list of capital improvement projects for the Navajo Reservation’s 110 chapters. It’s now 2:10 pm and chapter officials are starting to leave. The Council chamber was almost full of chapter officials who were here to show their support for their CIPs so the Council will finally approve a Five Year CIP Plan, which prior Council’s since the mid-1980s have failed to do because each Delegate wants his or her chapters’ CIPs on the list.

Council back in session after Five Minute Break.

The Council has resumed debate over projects on list and how projects are prioritized. Delegate Russell Begaye is talking about the projects for Shiprock, NM, and how they are prioritized. But he’s concerned about Tse daa kaan’s amount which would jump from about $1.2 m to $7.2 million which is for water project. NOTE Tse Daa Kaan/Hogback is the chapter of former Delegate Ervin Keeswood, who is now the consultant for Navajo Housing Authority and Navajo Tribal Utility Authority.

Delegate Edmund Yazzie is now concerned that his chapters that have projects lack resolutions but those resolutions are coming, he says. Yazzie is also concerned about using law to force chapters to use their funds for the projects listed in the CIP list and that the chapters finish those projects in Five Years.

Delegate Leonard Pete is upset that three of his five projects are finished but all five are on the CIP list for his chapter.

COUNCIL DELEGATES START YELLING FROM THE FLOOR TO VOTE as soon as Delegate Pete says he’s giving his balance in time to speak to Delegate Leonard Tsosie who continues to criticize Council for not abiding by law as the Council says it want to abide by law. And he says it happens in front of the world because Navajo Broadcast Services is providing live-streaming on the internet. And he emphasizes there’s no money for the CIP list.

Delegate Lorenzo Curley makes a joke as the debate heats up. He says that he’ll answer Delegate Pete’s question of what came first, the chicken or the egg. The Budget & Finance Committee came first. His joke receives light laughter especially since Curley is on the B&F which the Council feels has way to much power/authority.

The Council approves Delegate Phelps amendment to add several new projects that replace outdated projects.

Council delegates then call for vote on Main Motion but Delegate Bates questions how the Council can approve the amended LEGISLATION 0118-13 without waiving the Appropriations Act. Bates believes that if the Council approves LEGISLATION 0118-13 without waiver of law that Prez Shelly will veto it. Bates explains that the Council can comply with the Navajo Nation Supreme Court decision regarding no waiver of the Appropriations Act by notifying the people. He explains that the Supreme Court decision is not about getting the people’s approval to waive the Appropriations Act. “We don’t need their approval but we need to consult with them and let them know.” And if we refer Legislation 0118-13 back to RDC and Naabi and clean up Legislation 0118-13 to make sure it complies with the Appropriations Act then we avoid waiving the Appropriations Act. And if Delegate K. Benally, who is the sponsor of Legislation 0118-13, can do in a week then a Special Council session can be scheduled. The goal is to keep Legislation 0118-13 alive and to clean up Legislation 0118-13. For example, Delegate Pete said some of his projects that are completed are on the CIP list.

14 in favor, 6 opposed

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