On phone line, Reporting Naabi mtg, 3.18.20

Got phone numbers to get on phone line to iisten to Navajo Council Naabik’iyati Committee meeting at Department of Dine’ Education today, March 18, 2020. The sound has background noise and words are warbled. This is why I prefer being at meetings and not relying on phone lines or live streaming.

DELEGATE EUGENIA CHARLES-NEWTON sent email to Jessie Delmar and daily reports from Command Center. Delmar said public safety not part of COVID-19 Incident Command Team. I and delegates need, especially with quarantine.

SPEAKER DAMON we thought we would get direction from Navajo Parks & Recreation regarding tribal park closures. I will inform President’s chief of staff Chaco that no one came to make report on tribal park closures.

DELEGATE DANIEL add closure of tribal parks to Friday’s special council session agenda. I know federal dollars coming but vendors and tour guides need financial assistance at Four Corners, Monument Valley, on highway between Flagstaff and Page, Arizona.

SPEAKER DAMON it’ll be put on special Council sessoin.

DELEGATE OTTO TSO vendors pay into the system, whether fees or not and tribal parks and recreation taking fees which could be used to financially help vendors. Heard $8M in fees. Just a suggestion. SPEAKER DAMON you probably referring to parks and recreation fund. but you need to ID vendors for correct numbers. Request would need to go to Budget & Finance, Office of the Controller, Resources & Development Committee. It can be done but take time.

DELEGATE PAUL BEGAY know controversial matter and got backlash from Facebook but here to represent constituents and here to decide what best for Navajo people. FB is good but can make sound decision on remarks. Visitors from across country and I should have asked Health Department if contractors working at defunct Navajo Generating Station coming from across the country. Outside contractors at NGS have no respect for Navajo workers or Navajo Nation assets.

DELEGATE OTTO TSO i was referring to Priority Account and maybe could be used for vendors who are not making money since tribal parks closed. These vendors are collecting money for Navajo Nation on behalf of Navajo. Tribal Parks and Recreation not collecting so use fund for them.

SPEAKER DAMON Next is report NGS by Division of Economic Development director JT Willie and Navajo Water Resources director Jason John, who submitted written report, which distributed to Coucil. Jason John on phone line.

The verbal report by Jason John, Navajo water management office, is garbled. I’m not going to type what I think he’s saying. Sorry!

DELEGATE VINCE JAMES Mr. John can contact Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and agree with Delegate Otto Tso that shouldn’t shut down corridors to Navajo especially if we have non-Navajos working at NGS cleanup.

DELEGATE PAUL BEGAY With the amount of reporting from NGS by Navajo workers, is there anyone onsite to address concerns of Navjo workrs about nonnavaoj workers breaking into NGS building, harsh treatment of navajo workers by workers and supervisors coming from south and east, no navajo preference in employment respected. there should be Nvajo official to help Navajo workers. Navajo workers being told by contractors, “We don’t need you Navajos, we have our own workers.”

NOTE – I can hear Delegate Otto Tso ordering pizza…LOL

JASON JOHN I will talk to Salt River Project about treatment of Navajo workers at NGS.

DELEGATE ELMER BEGAY what about coal ash? is it being monitored?

JASON JOHN lease describes who regulatory agency overseeing decommissioning of NGS and talks about not being regulated by Navajo so being handled by federal and state agencies. they will monitor coal ash pile for at least 30 years after decomissioning complete and i can provide more info on that.

VOTING TO ACCEPT REPORT, 4:41 PM, 12 in favor, zero opposed

SPEAKER BEGAY on agenda to hear report on closure of casinos.

nsive PARRISH, gaming enterprise CEO We make decision based on Dine’ concepts. Board voted to close casinos at noon Tuesday. Essential staff ramping down operations. Four to five days reduce staff. We are taking advantage of downtime with deep cleaning. Targeting April 6 to reopen but not prudent to open then make decision. We want to do regular updates to Nation. We are communicating through social media. More pressure by NM governor to close casinos and more NM and Colorado casinos closing including Las Vegas which is unprecedented. Been taking counter measures since March 4. Did extensive financial review. During three week closure we are providing administrative pay and no loss of administrative leave. We are also gathering perishable food and taking to chapters. We are communicating with employees with text blast system, letters, staff meetings on how closure impact them. We are briefing Board and will report as frequently as want to Council/Legislative Branch, Executive Branch, Judicial
Branch. The longer we are closed the longer it will take to get back up. The timing of closure shows good leadership with Az and NM and getting positive press. We will open stronger and better in next three weeks. That concludes report. (It is now 4:52 pm)

DELEGATE AMBER CROTTY regarding employees, we are talking relief funding so defer revenues from enterprises to Nation.

NAVAJO GAMING CEO PARRISH deferring of payments will be analyzed. We protected employee benefits including tips if they are in job that has tips. NOTE – OMG, someone needs to educate Council Delegates on how to MUTE phones.

DELEGATE RAYMOND SMITH regarding revenues and how they will be reduced cuz of closure, how will that impact Navajo gaming compact with Az.

PARRISH revenue sharing on slots so if shut dw then revenues and payment go down. We are evaluating that.

DELEGATE OTTO TSO we kow that casino closure means no payments to Navajo government except gaming funds so at this time gaming can ask for adjustment. those dollars go to chapters annually. And also ask Az to adjust gaming agreement. And we are not getting tax dollars from casinos.

PARRISH we pay debt service to Navajo Nation and in april, we can pay $4.7M. but after that we need help. We can also pay $375,000 to Navao Tribal Utility Authority.

DELEGATE MARK FREELAND regarding loan to gaming from Navajo Nation, could gaming make partial repayment. On regulatory, can gaming or casinos be audited. PARRISH yes

DELEGATE DANIEL TSO (garbled, lot of background noise) PARRISH NM gov. reched out to pueblo leaders to close casinos. 12 tribes in NM closed. AZ tribes followed lead of Navajo Gaming and closed their casinos

DELEGATE BEGAY impact on Az gaming compact getting finalized. PARRISH we were very careful about wording and careful not put undure presure on other tribes. we were very careful from tribal standpoint, tribe to tribe. Gaming compact negotiations behind scence and not complete by Az legislative session. There will be update to Council on Az gaming compact status.


SPEAKER DAMON next agenda item is Update by Legislative on COVID-19.

SPEAKER’S CHIEF OF STAFF TSO she went through list of memos regarding administrative action. New announcement is Legislative Branch is closing for a couple of weeks or three weeks. (voices garbled. I’ll double check) Navajo Justice Department informed of LB closure but there will be special Council meeting Friday and it will be teleconference. QUESTION-Road blocks? SPEAKER heard about road blocks and will hunt down that info. DELEGATE Medical strike teams from IHS and Kayenta in Chilchinbeto. (I HATE this phone system.) DELEGATE AMBER CROTTY said she couldn’t understand what being said. SPEAKER teleconference Council meeting Friday is to build out COVID-19 plan.

‘Navajo Hopi Land Commission meeting tomorrow viz phone in line.

DELEGATE AMBER CROTTY need explanation about President Nez’s closure of Navajo boundaries and visitors but that could include health workers, cleaning companies to clean chapter facilities. Is that sending wrong message?

SPEAKER DAMON there should be press release to clarify boundary closures versus relatives, especially students, returning home cuz of COVID-19.

SPEAKER CHIEF OF STAFF PIOs working on press release regarding Naabi reports, closure of legislative branch, and we can add issue of President’s closure of boundaries.

DELEGATE OTTO TSO speaker, can you ask President what the “heck” he is doing. Ask Justice Department if he has legal power to do that.

SPEAKER DAMON some of delegates are concerned about non-Navajo citizens and residents coming on rez but does president’s have that power to close borders?

CHEIF LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL DANA BOBROFF dk what president said. (now hearing feedback) Who classify as visitors. (FEEDBACK/ECHO IS HILARIOUS…

SPEAKER asked everyone to get off phone call in line and call back. I did and I can no longer access meeting. SMH!! It is now 6:05 pm The Council is planning to use this phone call in line for Council Special Session. Ratz, and double Ratz!! Why is the Council making it so hard to inform People or to have People tune and inform themselves.

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