As the Navajo Nation Council took up its first legislation today, Oct. 21, 2014, some of the delegates began questioning the fairness of meeting without representation from the communities of former Council Delegates Johnny Naize and David Tom.
The Council had placed Naize, who was speaker, on administrative leave in April 2014 after the Special Prosecutors filed 11 criminal charges of bribery and conspiracy against him in December 2013. Tom had 13 criminal charges of bribery, conspiracy and filing false vouchers filed against him by the Special Prosecutor.
Both Naize and Tom plead guilty to conspiracy charges in plea agreements with the Special Prosecutor last months.
Navajo law mandated that their guilty pleas disqualified them as Council delegates and that the Navajo Nation Election Office declare their positions vacant, which was done after Naize and Tom submitted resignation letters to the Council.
Since the vacancies are so close to the Nov. 4 general election, the process is for the communities represented by Naize and Tom to recommend replacements to the Council Speaker, which is Speaker Pro Temp LoRenzo Bates, who then appoints individuals to fill the vacancies until the terms of Naize and Tom end.
After a brief debate, Council Delegates Edmund Yazzie and Katherine Benally made a motion for the Council to recess until Thursday, which would allow for the two vacancies on the Council to be filled.
COUNCIL DELEGATE ALTON SHEPHERD
we need to know if positions have been official declared vacant. by the Navajo Election Office. Election Office Director Edison Wauneka is in the Council chambers. Let’s ask him.
SPEAKER PRO TEMP BATES CALLS FOR THE COUNCIL TO VOTE ON THE MOTION BY DELEGATES EDMUND YAZZIE AND KATHERINE BENALLY.
COUNCIL DELEGATE SHEPHERD RAISES HIS QUESTION AGAIN FOR WAUNEKA TO PROVIDE AN ANSWER.
ELECTION OFFICE DIRECTOR WAUNEKA
position for former speaker, all five chapters responded except one, which addressed issue but no quorum. other one, chapters notified but no response. we are working with them. but i don’t know how long that process for that position. the vacancy of speaker’s position is ready.
SPEAKER PRO TEMP BATES
We are voting. Mr. Wauneka, please answer question. and Council, please continue voting.
VOTE ON RECESSING UNTIL THUSDAY WHICH ALLOWS THE VACANT POSITIONS OF FORMER DELEGATES JOHNNY NAIZE AND DAVID TOM TO BE FILLED
9 IN FAVOR, 8 OPPOSED
It is now 11:18 a.m.