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Navajo Council Delegate Russell Begaye questions Resources & Development Committee’s approval of uranium bill
January 6, 2014 Professional Journal

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

ROSE FASTHORSE NOFCHISSEY
Community educators have started a new community school that is founded on hands-on Navajo emersion teachings. This is Shiprock’s first Navajo emersion school and the first one on the New Mexico side of the Navajo Reservation.

SHIPROCK CHAPTER VICE PRESIDENT TOMMIE YAZZIE
The first order of business is a report from Dr. Susie John on the Affordable Care Act.
After VP Yazzie calls for Ms John and there is not answer, he announces that John is a no show and that the next agenda item is a report from Navajo Council Delegate Russell Begaye.

NAVAJO COUNCIL DELEGATE RUSSELL BEGAYE
Three years ago we voted for a speaker. We said that if you run for speaker, you should not run for speaker. At that time, there were no charges against Council Delegate Johnny Naize. And every two years, there is election for speaker and Naize ran again. And there were no charges against him then but now there is. And there are some current Council delegates that are also charged. Being speaker is different kind of position and equal to Navajo Nation President. The speaker position has more authority and power than Navajo President because of way Navajo government set up in 1989. For that reason, you’re well known across the nation and if you are being alleged to have these charges is why he is being asked to step down. And this just happened. This is the latest news.

And the 77 of the 88 that were initially charges, some become chapter officials and school board members and we did re-elect some of those that were charged at the chapter level. The misuse of funds is becoming more rampant. This misuse of discretionary funds is not just in Window Rock but is wide spread across the Navajo Reservation.

Our children are very good at technology. All legislation of Council is on website. Make sure when it is posted that you comment.

Going back in history, a lot of people use this. Women that are chased out of their homes and they don’t have a place to go. There is shelter to protect abused women and children here in Shiprock and it’s always full. And they come from across the Navajo Reservation. The Home for Women and Children rent trailers for these victims of domestic violence. And the Home receives funding to construct new facility.

Navajo Department of Justice and Navajo Engineering Department are getting into the funding. I met with President Shelly and all the program people this morning. President Shelly said that he was going to remove the Home Director and give to Navajo Division of Social Services. I said no because they don’t have the staff and expertise. And President Shelly was told by his Division of Social Services director that the plan of operation for division would have to be re-written.

And so some of us Council Delegates are going to sponsor legislation to stop the President. Why is it being taken to Window Rock?

Navajo Mine: That coal mine for your information, mining coal and Four Corners Power Plant is done by two companies – BHP runs the coal and other other side, APS runs FCPP. That is all they do. BHP only mines coal and sells it. And at San Juan Generating Station, they also get Navajo coal.

BHP and APS a year ago were doing a contract. They got together. BHP says we mine coal, we will sell it to you for $2.75. APS said it’s too expensive and APS said No. BHP and APS couldn’t come to an agreement and they were arguing. BHP kept saying coal costs too much and BHP and APS stopped negotiating. And somewhere in that conversation between BHP and APS, President Shelly was called by them to their meeting. When he got there, he said we are not going to close coal mine because sole supplies of coal to Four Corners Power Plant.

President Shelly and some Council Delegates suggested that the Navajo Nation buy the mine. “We’re going to fast,” some delegates said. “We need more research and you are asking us to approve. And there is a lot of money going into the deal.”

Shelly said he would have staff research and Council didn’t believe so Council hired own company. I told them that the research needed to include the quanity and quality of coal. And a “rookie” official from Navajo Department of Justice was assigned to deal instead of someone more experienced. My research showed that the coal mine purchase would be very difficult and the study was ludicrous. I also asked for entire document. But they wouldn’t let us have it. WE had to dig it up. And then papers started coming for Council to see. Most of the Council wanted to know what they were buying. We were told that we were not buying the coal. We were told that we were buying the equipment and machines to mine coal. They told us that one of those huge machines/drag lines cost $3 million and there are two draglines. But they are old, 30 years old. I asked for an itemized list of everything we are buying. You are a delegate and you have a right to subpoena to information. But that is not right. And for the Attorney General Harrison Tsosie to tell me that I have to subpoena to get information is not right. We are Council delegates. And I told him that it wasn’t right.

Navajo Transitional Energy Company is like NAPI. BHP and APS don’t trust NTEC to provide enough coal and for that reason, BHP and APS said we want insurance if it gets overwhelming for you. There’s a veil to close the door to the Navajo Trust Fund and we debated and debated. And Attorney general Harrison Tsosie said that it only requires majority vote to waive Navajo sovereign immunity. But I know that it requires super majority, which is 16 “yes” votes. When it was my turn, I made a motion that Council use super majority vote on waiver of sovereign immunity. But attorney general and his staff kept arguing that I only needed majority vote. But Council voted that it would take super majority vote. And then Council Delegate LoRenzo Bates, who was sponsor of legislation, said that it would not pass with super majority and so it was tabled until Dec. 27, 2013. And then it was all approved on Dec. 27, 2013.

Another topic is uranium mine. And the Navajo Council’s Resources & Development Committee approved for a uranium company in Church Rock, which had the worst uranium spill in the U.S., to conduct in-situ uranium mining on land that the company owns. And Speaker Naize approved it. But I feel that I needs to come to the Council because the Council approved law that no uranium is to be transported over Navajo Reservation. And the vote by the RDC was 3-0 and that is wrong cuz quorum is 4. So I have asked for legal opinion. When there is no quorum, there can be no business conducted. So even though RDC approved, there is a big question mark cuz of no quorum.

I reported on three things and I have a lot to tell but this is all I will share. Thank you my leaders.

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