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Navajo Supreme Court strikes down Navajo Labor Commission decision regarding exemption to Navajo Business Opportunity Act
June 26, 2014 Professional Journal

HERE AT NAVAJO COUNCIL RESOURCES & DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE AT THE NAVAJO COUNCIL CHAMBER, WINDOW ROCK, ARIZ. The RDC did not have quorum until 11:10 a.m. but the committee started hearing a report from the Navajo Telecommunications Regulatory Commission at about 10:30 a.m.

The RDC is now following its AGENDAAGRENDA and is now on Report from its Chief Legislative Counsel Levon Henry, which is “Report by Levon Henry, Chief Legislative Counsel, on Iina’ Ba’, Inc. v Navajo Business Regulatory; Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation; 15 May 2014.”

DISCUSSION ON THIS REPORT WILL BE CLARIFIED LATER BUT I FEEL ITS IMPORTANT THAT THE PUBLIC BE AWARE OF THIS IMPORTANT NAVAJO NATION SUPREME COURT DECISION THAT SUPPORTS NAVAJO BUSINESS OWNERS. I’LL TRY TO LOCATE A COPY OF THE SUPREME COURT DECISION AND POST. I’LL ASK FOR A COPY OF CHIEF LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL LEVON HENRY’S REPORT. BY THE WAY, PLEASE NOTE THAT RDC VICE CHAIRPERSON ROSCOE SMITH IS SUPPORTING THE DRAFTING OF PROPOSED LEGISLATION, AT THE REQUEST OF NAVAJO TRIBAL UTILITY AUTHORITY AND NAVAJO AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS INDUSTRY, TO ADD LEGAL LANGUAGE TO NAVAJO LAW THAT WOULD BYPASS THE NAVAJO SUPREME COURT DECISION REGARDING Iina’ Ba’, Inc.

RDC CHAIRPERSON KATHERINE BENALLY
I guess we have been ordered by Navajo Nation Supreme Court to address.

CHIEF LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL LEVON HENRY
This company, Iina’ Ba’, Inc., was Navajo and scored second. Number one was non-Navajo firm and tribal Water Department gave contract to non=Navajo. Complaint went to Office of Hearings and Appeals that since they, Iina’ Ba’, Inc., number one priority one Navajo company, that tribal water department violated Preference in Employment Act.

Court said that when got to court, business claimed that violation of Navajo Business Preference. Navajo Business Regulatory said not respond cuz first time raised.

so when appealed, Office of Hearings and Appeal upheld decision to give contract to non-Navajo architect, land surveying. demonstration qualification and competence and nothing for Navajo preference so exception there. Court said not look at things with blinders but what applies which is Navajo Business Preference, Navajo Bill of Rights and Navajo Procurement Act. So Navajo Supreme Court didn’t agree with exception and that Navajo bill of rights looks at economic opportunity.

Page 13 how arrived at decision was decision by Water Resources was that decision preference applies in this case and all cases like this, when Navajo company applying and they have priority one is that they have priority based on Navajo law.

But court decision came after the fact, non-Navajo company did work and was paid, so Iina’ Ba’, Inc., awarded only legal fees.

RDC CHAIRPERSON BENALLY
Where is line in sand? what i mean is I’m offended by Judicial Branch telling Legislative Branch what to do.

RDC VICE CHAIRPERSON ROSCOE SMITH
Part of experience of dealing with tribal enterprises is Navajo Engineering & Construction Authority, which has to have insurance/bond when it enters into a contract to meet certain requirements. in my experience when appropriate funding, Navajo Preference considered but also qualifying to achieve purpose and one of requirements is “are you bonded.”

NTUA and NAPI, based on court decision, asking for amendments to protect the interests of tribal enterprises. So extending court decisions and practices in place, where does precedent fit?

RDC CHAIRPERSON BENALLY
This is 3 Branch government and we should not tell another Branch what to do. WE are already looking at this. I asked staff if I asked for this Report to be on agenda and she said no. And so Legislative Branch has no business telling Legislative Branch how to conduct business. This is a precedence and it’s a bad precedence. I don’t think B&F put on their agenda?

BUDGET AND FINANCE COMMITTEE VICE CHAIRPERSON JONATHAN NEZ
We have on our agenda.

RDC CHAIRPERSON BENALLY
Let’s take off agenda.

RDC DELEGATE GEORGE APACHITO
I agree.

RDC DELEGATE LEONARD PETE
Leave on agenda and take Court directive off agenda.

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