Navajo Council-Reports on closure of parks; NGS cleanup; closure of casinos

NAVAJO COUNCIL DEBATE STARTED AND DELEGATE CARL SLATER speaking: Since Legislation for $3M didn’t pass that Divisions of Health & Department of Public Safety draft bill on the needs of chapters. What plan is for seniors to receive meals and coordinate with states on lunches for students. But need guidance since prior $3M legislation not crafted to reflect that.

SPEAKER DAMON Delegate Slater your directives will require some time to create a full rounded directive regarding how to address COVID-10. And Speaker’s office reached out to Rudy Shebala and Martin Begay for report on closure of tribal parks. Contacted Jason John on report on NGS. Gaming Enterprise handed out document. Gaming Board is in emergency board meeting. They are going to decide in next 20-30 minutes to close casinos for next two weeks.

DELEGATE EUGENIA CHARLES-NEWTON If they vote to close casinos, does that take precedence over what was distributed to us?

SPEAKER DAMON We can get on conference call with Gaming CEO Parrish on Gaming Board decision.

DELEGATE HERMAN DANIELS closure of parks impacting tour operators, drivers, etc. Delegate Paul Begay and I had meeting at Monument Valley. But Council’s Resources & Development Committee meeting Wednesday and so we can subpoena Rudy Shebala and Martin Begay.

DELEGATE PAUL BEGAY Our people called meeting at Monument Valley and there were lot of tour guides. I expected report from Division of Natural Resources and Parks and Recreation Department and I was going to inform them about concerns of tour guides. I’m hoping that re-open parks. Without notification, tribal employees went to work and some didn’t. Tour guides were told to cancel reservation made months ago. And some guides had tourists and they were told to bring them back. No timeline, Closed until futher notice. So what does business people tell people that come to visit. And reservations cancelled indefinitely. Some of guides are single parents. But EB not here. They made decision and that’s it. Same with Navajo Generating Station. Told that contractors breaking up doors and destroying computers. Employees on sites have no say. Cotnractors from south telling Navajo workers they have own workers, who are not Navajo. Where is JT Willie and Jason John. It is really hard to swallow. I’m thinking that President Nez not willing to talk and compromise – can we open parks to reduce tourists. Put in handwashing stations at site. All these safety issues. Business owners have plan at their site and have safety and health to protect themselves and visitors. Tell EB, who saying self resiliency but they closed down Navajo parks. That is their livelihood. Antelope Point, Wahweap still open.

SPEAKER DAMON We can have special Naabik’iyati Committee meeting Friday to hear about closure of tribal parks and cleanup of Navajo Generating Station. We can also send letter to Salt River Project. Maybe not enough notice for division director Shebala and parks and recreation Martin Begay to be here. Resources & Development meeting Wednesday. And Department of Justice is meeting with Council to give update report. And so Friday best date.

DELEGATE FREELAND National parks are closesd. And tribal parks closure should have been done with tour guides. It says burial assistance closed. But these are critical assistance especially burial assistance. My heart goes out to single parents who are struggling to get basic things like this. Thought essential but I guess non-essential. I am very concerned. We are locking people out of essential services.

DELEGATE OTT TSO Navajo Nation Office of Labor Relations needs to be out there at Navajo Generating Station and I will put Labor Relations on agenda of Health, Education and Human Services. Same with Peabody Kayenta Mine – what buildings are our assets. Cleared more than $100,000 annual salary but yet Division of Natural Resources and all Division directors make huge salary. But where are they? Wal-Mart probably…

DELEGATE RICK NEZ Thank Delegate Paul Begay and Herman Daniels for bringing concerns. We will have them on Wednesday agenda. I really feel for our people. Their livelihood pretty much chopped off. Is there enough Undesignated, Unreserved Fund Balance money? Has President Nez and Vice President Lizer jumped the gun? Their press releases are like crows and coyote making noise. Where is leadership to stand up to Salt River Project. So what is our plan?

SPEAKER DAMON You are going to meet with everyone Wednesday so no need for Naabik’iyati Friday. If get request from Delegates Daniels and Paul Begay then there will be Naabik’iyati meeting Friday.

DELEGATE VINCE JAMES We should be meeting as three branch leaders instead of President Nez dictating. Support subpoena for division directors.

DELEGATE PAUL BEGAY Feel for single parents/business owners in Slot Canyon. Oljaito has 29 business owners. Like I said we were elected to speak for our people. When we come to Window Rock, we have to voice. We need to hear from Division of Natural Resources, Parks & Recreation Department, Division of Economic Development.

DELEGATE WALKER I too joined my colleagues from Western Agency for meeting on tribal parks with local small business people. I share their conerens. I represent Cameron, which has two main highways. One highway has 30 vendors and other has 80 vendors from sunrise to sunset. They are self sufficient.

DELEGATE CHARLES-NEWTON When services not available, when money goes missing, constituents blame Council. I want to know how essential employees identified, which offices open and partially open. I’m glad Council asking question because we are being told this is what happening. I was told that Council get info from press releases but more photo op. And Judicial Branch also not getting info. People who elected us need to know that Council trying to open line of communication but not working. Are we planning to put tribal employees on paid leave? with unmet needs, do we have infrastructure? I live in Shiprock and asking for hotspot but we voted that down. How do get services we need to get needed services to people.

DELEGATE DANIEL TSO We didn’t give any money to chapters. We have items on agenda and not proper to just walk away. For me, I want to do something definitive and not talk – Motion to recess and return Wednesday to hear from those folks that were suppose to report and issue subpoena. Do whether than have Resources & Development Committee do by themselves. I may want to give directives to Parks & Recreationi Department so hear from Indian Health Services, Division of Natural Resources, Bureau of Indian Education, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Parks and Recreation, etc. And I am willing to sponsor new legislation for $3M.

SPEAKER DAMON We can not recess cuz special one day session. Wednesday have Naabik’iyati meeting with various divisions and department. Meeting tomorrow regarding $3M for emergency management and chapters. Don’t want to step on toes of Resources & Development Committee but we all need to hear from various divisions, departments, gaming. And have Special Council Session Friday.

DELEGATE RICK NEZ Thank Delegate Daniel Tso for recommendation and RDC supports. NOTE – Delegate Rick Nez is chairman of RDC.

SPEAKER DAMON Know individuals want to financially support Navajo Nation efforts to prevent COVID-19. Let me know anyone that wants to donate so we have comprehensive legislation for special session Friday.

DELEGATE DANIEL TSO To reach middle ground, Naabi Thursday and Council Friday. When RDC convenes, they can give us tangible recommendations regarding toursim dollars from LeChee and to Cameron. Motion to continue unaddressed items and move to Naabi Thursday and Council emergency session so no need for five-day public comment.

SPEAKER DAMON Navajo Justice Department giving update on water rights and USDOJ audit Thursday.

DELEGATE RICK NEZ Let’s have Naabik’iyati meeting Wednesday.

SPEAKER DAMON Begin working on new bill tomorrow to help EB. Invite president be here Thursday & Friday especially if want to talk about tribal parks and NGS Wednesday.

DELEGATE FREELAND Push reset button of why here and that is to prepare COVID-19. It is not epidemic, it is pandemic. when we talk coming together then plan from three branches. how talk to people. when at chapter, educating face-to-face. Please remrmber what we are facing; it is the great unknown.

MOTION TO ADJOURN, 7:39 pm VOTE is 12 in favor, 2 opposed.

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