It’s been a very busy day. I drove over to the Office of the Speaker in Window Rock, Ariz., and arrived about 7:30 a.m, where I saw Speaker Pro Temp Delegate LoRenzo Bates talking with a tribal government maintenance man.
Bates explained that he called the maintenance office after he couldn’t open the front door of the speaker’s office with his key. After a little bit of jiggling around the door lock, the maintenance man removed a metal paper clip that someone had jammed into the door lock. Once the paper clip was removed, the door was unlocked.
I asked Bates if he had fired Speaker Naize’s staff. He answered, “No” as he walked through the office with a legislative staff member. I followed him and the staffer, who pointed out the office of Naize’s energy advisor Anthony Peterman appeared to be cleaned it. I peeked in and saw a very clean desk. There were also no personal photos or items. The office did look like Peterman had cleaned out his office.
The office of Naize’s staff assistant Darrell Tso Sr. also looked cleaned out. But there were several travel coffee mugs on Tso’s desk.
As I followed Bates and the legislative staff to Naize’s office, I noticed that the door to the small office refrigerator, which was located under the coffee area, was wide open. The refrigerator contained some dairy products, fresh fruit and other items requiring refrigeration.
Inside Naize’s office, Bates asked staff for another chair. He explained that he wouldn’t be using Naize’s office chair and desk because he was only the interim speaker pro temp.
On April 4, 2014, the Council voted 12 in favor, 0 opposed to place Naize on administrative leave with pay after about two hours of heated debate and two hours behind closed doors with Naize. The disciplinary action against Naize was because he no longer was a delegate in good standing after the tribal special prosecutors filed 12 charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery for allegedly funneling $37,500 of emergency assistance money into the pockets of his wife, former wife, and other family members through a “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch your back” scheme with other delegates, including former Speaker Lawrence Morgan.
But before the day ended on April 4, 2014, Naize, his political appointees and private attorneys drew up legal documents for a temporary restraining order against the 12 delegates that voted to place him on administrative leave and against Legislative Services Director Tom Platero. Naize and his supporters also planned to file a civil complaint against the 13 individuals for violating traditional Navajo law, when they removed a “Naa’aanii chosen by the Navajo people,” for failing to follow Navajo law to place Naize on administrative leave, for violating Naize’s due process by not allowing him to defend himself, and creating “irrapable harm” to Naize and others.
I was at the April 4, 2014, Council session and Speaker Pro Temp Delegate Edmund Yazzie called on Naize to RESPOND to Legislation 0069-14, removal of Naize as speaker, which was presented by the sponsor, Delegate Alton Shepherd. I guess that doesn’t qualify as giving Naize due process.
And the claim by Naize’s attorneys that he’s a “Naa’aanii chosen by the Navajo people” doesn’t apply to Naize because Naize became speaker by the votes of the Council and not the Navajo people.
As far as the “irrapable harm”…maybe the attorneys are talking about the wasted food in the speaker’s office refrigerator because once food goes bad, it’s not safe to eat it.
And so this this morning, April 7, 2014, at about 9:30 a.m., private attorney Brian Lewis, who recently left the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, filed the TRO and civil complaint against Delegates Alton Shepherd, LoRenzo Bates, Nelson BeGaye, Russell Begaye, Josh Lavar Butler, Lorenzo Curley, Jonathan Hale, Jonathan Nez, Leonard Pete, Danny Simpson, Leonard Tsosie, and Dwight Witherspoon and Legislative Services Director Tom Platero with the Window Rock District Court. Court staff informed Lewis that Judge Carol Perry needed to review the TRO and civil complaint before making a decision on whether to grant the TRO. Lewis was asked to return to the court at 11:30 a.m., which is when he was asked to return at 4 p.m. today, April 7, 2014.
The 12 delegates named in Naize’s TRO and civil complaint were the 12 delegates that voted in favor of placing Naize on administrative leave on April 4, 2014.
And so contrary to an internet news report by the Navajo Times that the TRO and civil complaint had been filed on April 4, 2014, the TRO and civil complaint were not filed until about 9:30 a.m. this morning. I was there at the Window Rock District Court and witnessed what happened. I also have photos and an interview with Lewis that I digitally recorded. I also asked Lewis for a copy of the documents that he filed, which would have the Window Rock District Court stamp that showed the date and time on them to show that they were filed with the court. He said that he would email the TRO and civil complaint to me. But it’s now 2:44 p.m. and I have not received them. I’m headed back to the court to request copies of the TRO and civil complaint and then I’ll scan them and post them.
By the way, I asked Lewis if he could contact Naize and tell him that I wanted to interview him. Staff at the front office of the speaker’s office reported this morning, April 7, 2014, that Naize was not in the office and that five of his political appointees were also not in their offices. The five are Chief of Staff Jarvis Wiliams, executive assistant isa Hensen and legislative staff assistants Peterman, Tso, and Ansley Curley. I have not heard from Lewis about my request to interview Naize.
Curley was at the Window Rock District Court at 11:30 a.m., when Lewis arrived and left. I asked Curley why he was not at work. He said that he had a meeting. Curley and Naize’s Chief of Staff Jarvis Williams accompanies Naize to the Window Rock District Court when Naize was arraigned on his 12 criminal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery last month. Naize pleaded not guilty to all 12 charges. At the time, Curley was chauffeuring Naize and Williams in Naize’s tribal government vehicle, a black SUV.
As part of Naize’s paid leave by the Council, the Council has allowed Naize to continue using the tribal SUV and to continue living in tribal housing assigned to the speaker.