I’ve been trying to work on posting my video tape of the Navajo Nation Council special session at the Navajo Council chamber in Window Rock, Ariz., on April 4, 2014, which was scheduled to specifically address Legislation 0069-14, the removal of Delegate Johnny Naize as speaker. I finished Part 1. And I’ll work on Parts 2 and 3, and possibly 4.
When the Council session started, Naize presided over the Council until 0069-14 was called before the Council. Naize then selected Delegate Edmund Yazzie to be the speaker pro temp and Naize went to the north side of the Council chamber, where presenters of proposed legislation to the Council sit. Naize’s Chief of Staff Jarvis Williams later joined him.
Delegate Alton Shepherd, as sponsor of 0069-14, explains why he sponsored 0069-14. During his presentation, Delegate Katherine Benally interrupts Shepherd and questions his statement about Naize saying that he would be “completely exonerated” of all the 12 criminal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery. (See
After Shepherd’s presentation, Speaker Pro Temp Yazzie calls on Naize for a response to 0069-14.
(END OF PART I – NAVAJO COUNCIL, REMOVAL OF NAIZE)
During the Council’s debate over 0069-14, Delegate Danny Simpson asked about the possibility of the Council placing Naize on administrative leave and whether Delegate Alton Shepherd, who sponsored 0069-14, could sponsor new legislation for the Council to put Naize on administrative leave. Shepherd reminded Simpson that 0069-14 was the second legislation that he sponsored for the removal of Naize and that he and his family have taken a lot criticism. Shepherd added that Council law allows any member of the Council to sponsor legislation.
As the debate over 0069-14 continued, Delegate Jonathan Nez called for a closed door meeting between the Council and Naize. Nez noted that it was the first time that a majority of the Council delegates were present and so the Council should take that opportunity to talk one-on-one with Naize. He added that the Council had never had a sit down with Naize.
Earlier Shepherd had said that he had a one-on-one talk with Naize. He recalled that other delegates also talked individually with Naize about resigning as speaker, which would allow Naize to give his full attention to resolving the 12 criminal charges filed against him by the tribal special prosecutors.
When the Council voted to go into executive session with Naize at 12:35 p.m., the vote was 10 in favor, 9 opposed. After the executive session, Delegate Leonard Tsosie asked the Council to amend 0069-14 by changing “removal” to “administrative leave.” Speaker Pro Temp Yazzie then ruled that Tsosie’s amendment was out of order based on legal advice from Navajo Department of Justice Deputy Attorney General Dana Bobroff and Legislative attorney Mariana Kahn. Delegates LoRenzo Curley and Dwight Witherspoon challenged Yazzie’s ruling, which allowed the Council to vote to support or oppose Yazzie’s ruling. The Council voted 12 in favor, 7 opposed to oppose Yazzie’s decision.
After the Council’s vote on Yazzie’s ruling, Speaker Johnny Naize and Delegates Katherine Benally, George Apachito, Roscoe Smith, Mel Begay, and David Tom walked out of the Council special session. The Council then voted 12 in favor, 0 opposed to place Naize on administrative leave. They also selected Delegate LoRenzo Bates as interim Speaker Pro Temp.
Go to Professional Journal to read the 12 criminal charges facing Speaker Naize.