The 23rd Navajo Nation Council’s first order of business was to elect a speaker pro tem for two weeks or until the Council elects a speaker during it five-day Winter Session, which convenes on Jan. 26.
Delegate Kee Allen Begay became the new speaker pro tem after a coin toss. Begay will serve until the Council’s five-day Winter session, which begins on Jan. 26.
The Council nominated Delegates LoRenzo Bates and Begay and after each candidate presented their platform, the Council voted 12 for Bates and 12 for Begay. The Council’s attorney, Ron Haven, advised the Council that there was no Council rule regarding a tie vote by the Council on a speaker pro tem. Haven referred to election rules that allowed a coin toss to determine the winner.
After a brief debate, a coin was tossed by Navajo Election Supervisor Bertha Aguirre and Begay, who choose tails, won.
Bates has been serving as speaker pro tem since the Council placed Speaker Johnny Naize on administrative leave with pay in April 2015, after criminal charges of bribery and conspiracy were filed by the Navajo Nation Special Prosecutor against Naize, who later took a plea agreement to plead guilty to criminal conspiracy charges in September 2015. Under Navajo law, Naize’s guilty plea resulted in his immediate removal from office and prohibited from running for elected office for five years.
During Naize’s tenure as speaker, Kee Allen Begay was his legislative district assistant. Begay was a former Council delegate.
The Council has requested a work session on Title Two of the Navajo Nation Code on Jan. 15 and 16. They are also asking for Begay to provide for travel authorizations for delegates to attend the upcoming Arizona and New Mexico state legislative sessions.
SPEAKER PRO TEM KEE ALLEN BEGAY explains to the Council that there is also a request for a Naabik’iyati Committee and so that must be arranged. But the speaker’s office needs to have the available dates of each of the delegates to arrange travel.
DELEGATE WALTER PHELPS asks if the legislation to appoint Delegate Kee Allen Begay as speaker pro tem has been certified. And on Jan. 23, several Washington, D.C., official to meet with the Navajo Nation and I just want to make that announcement to the Council so that interested delegates may make themselves available.
DELEGATE AMBER CROTTY says that the speaker pro tem position is really an administrative position and so the Council should be informed about any major decisions by Speaker Pro Tem Kee Allen Begay.
SPEAKER PRO TEM BEGAY encourages Delegates to use their email to communicate with the Office of the Speaker.
DELEGATE ALTON SHEPHERD reminds the Council that their call for a Naabik’iyati Committee is out of order because the Council has laws for the selection of standing committee and so the Council should not go beyond those laws.
SPEAKER PRO TEM BEGAYS assures Shepherd that he will be consulting with his legal advisors about Council requests.
DELEGATE LORENZO BATES informs Speaker Pro Tem Begay that he has a stack of documents on his desk regarding proposed activities in the next week involving the Council.
DELEGATE LEONARD PETE ask when was the last time when the Navajo Nation and the federal government met. “We need to sing one tune.”
SPEAKER PRO TEM BEGAY says that the upcoming visit by the federal officials calls for the Council to coordinate that meeting with the Executive Offices because that is under the Executive Office.
DELEGATE JONATHAN NEZ motions to adjourn. Delegate Edmund Yazzie seconds.
SPEAKER PRO TEM BEGAY calls for voice vote and then adjourns the first special session of the 23rd Council at 6:59 p.m.