I produced a YouTube video on Navajo Nation Shiprock, N.M., Chapter President Duane “Chili” Yazzie challenging Speaker Johnny Naize and the Navajo Council during their Naa’bik’iyati Committee at the Navajo Council chamber in Window Rock, Ariz., on Dec. 27, 2013. In response, Speaker Naize and the Council called on the tribal police to remove Chili. But Chili stood his ground.
HERE IS THE YOUTUBE ADDRESS:
Navajo Nation Shiprock, N.M., Chapter President Duane “Chili” Yazzie challenges Navajo Council
On Jan. 3, 2014, Chili issued an invitation to attend the Shiprock Chapter meeting, which starts at 4 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2014. The proposed agenda includes: (1) Request an opinion from Navajo Nation Attorney General Harrison Tsosie about whether Navajo Council Delegates, who are charged with crimes, should stay active on the Council. (2) Authorize Shiprock President Duane Yazzie to file for an Injunction against the Navajo Nation purchase of BHP Coal Mine. “Come one come all, potluck style dinner. Will show the “you are out of order” video to the elders. Think I need to ask my constituents if I should step down to concentrate to help on addressing Window Rock leadership issues,” Chili stated.
The Navajo Nation Special Prosecutors have filed criminal complaints involving conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery against Speaker Naize and several of the former and current Navajo Council members Speaker Naize is scheduled for arraignment on his criminal charges on March 11 and 12, 2014, at 9 a.m. before the Navajo Nation Window Rock District Court.
The following is a TRANSCRIPT of the YouTube video of Shiprock President Chili Yazzie challenging the Navajo Council:
During the Navajo Council’s Naa’bik’iyati Committee’s vote on legislation for the Navajo Council to co-sign a bond/loan for half a billion dollars for Navajo Transitional Energy Company to have coal mining reclamation insurance and performance insurance because NTEC has no assets and for the New Mexico or Arizona courts to have jurisdiction over all disputes related to the insurances instead of Navajo courts, which also involved the Council’s total waiver of Navajo sovereign immunity, Shiprock, N.M., Chapter President Duane “Chili” Yazzie stood up and told the elected officials, “Mr. Chairman, You are out of order! This Council is out of order! I stand in opposition to this circus! I count the score 5 to 0. The company (NTEC) is five and the Navajo Nation is zero. You did not let us know this was going to happen. There were no public hearings.”
As Chili speaks, Speaker Naize kept repeating, ”Let’s have some order” and also orders the Navajo police to remove Chili. “You’re out of order, sir,” Chili informs Speaker Naize. “You should not even be up there. You spent $7 million of our dollars without letting us know. You put $85 million of our money on the line without letting us know. You waived everything without letting us know.”
As the Navajo police officer gets more aggressive, community member Larry Emerson stands with Chili and other people in the gallery shout out, “Leave him alone! He has a right to speak!” Chili pulls away from the Navajo police officer and shouts at Speaker Naize and the Council, “As a Navajo citizen, I have authority, I have a right to tell you, you’re out of order.”
As Speaker Naize realizes that the Navajo police officer is unable to remove Chili, he calls on Council Delegate Russell Begaye. “Mr. Russell Begaye, I believe that this is your chapter.” Delegate Russell Begaye says, “I recognize my chapter president, Mr. Chili Yazzie. He does speak for our chapter and constituents out there on the Navajo Nation. And I know that in previous Naa’bik’iyati Committees, when an individual from the audience wishes to address the Council, we always provide an opportunity to say something. And our president from Shiprock Chapter spoke. So I would ask that you provide that opportunity for the people to speak to this issue.” The people in the gallery applaud Begaye’s statement. Speaker Naize replies, “Mr. Begaye, this Council was proceeding in order. And every citizen is given an opportunity to provide comments on this legislation as it goes through the legislative process. So we were voting at this time and we were interrupted.” People in the gallery shout for the written public comments on the Navajo Transitional Energy Company-BHP Coal Mine-Four Corners Power Plant legislation to be read aloud and into the Naa’bik’iyati Committee record.
Speaker Naize answers, “May we have order in this chamber, please.” As Naize starts to continue with the voting, the people and Chili challenge his authority. Naize shouts, “Can we call the public safety.” Chili asks Naize, “By what authority are you throwing me out of here?” I have authority as a Navajo citizen to stand here and call this Council out of order, sir.” People applaud. Naize says, “Staff, can we call public safety please. We have to have order in this chamber.” Chili repeats, “I’m calling you out of order!”
Council Delegate Edmund Yazzie, who is the Public Safety Committee chairperson, says that since this is an important issue and since there is only one police officer, the speaker should adjourn the Naa’bik’iyati Committee. Chili laughs in disbelief over how the Council wants to respond to his challenge. People in the gallery chastise the Council for using the police against the people.
Naize responds, “I have every right to protect my Council in this chamber. And I have to protect them and so that’s why I’m asking for some order. So Mr. Edmund Yazzie is correct; we have only safety officer here.” In the background, a woman shouts, “Protect your people, not yourself.” Naize adds, “And the safety of the officer is also important.” Chili replies, “That is not true, sir! You’re the ones doing us harm. We’re not doing you any harm!”
Naize says, “Members of the Council, let us take a break, unless the Council wants otherwise. We were in the process of voting. There is a motion the floor from Delegate Edmund Yazzie. Okay, I’m going to call for the vote again.” As the Naa’bik’iyati Committee votes, a young woman shouts, “Shame on you.” The vote on the NTEC-BHP-FCPP legislation is 11 in favor, 4 opposed.
Naize then calls for the vote to adjourn. The vote is 9 in favor, 2 opposed. As Naize announces that the Naa’bik’iyati Committee is adjourned, Chili continues challenging the legality of the Council’s actions that support NTEC’s purchase of BHP coal mine for about $124 million, signing an agreement with BHP for BHP to operate the mine until 2016, which is when the tribe’s lease with BHP ends, signing another agreement for BHP to loan NTEC the $85 million with a 6 percent interest rate to buy the mine, and signing a coal supple agreement with Four Corners Power Plant. He also challenged the Council’s earlier legislation, which waived all past, current and future liabilities for BHP and NTEC regarding the coal mine.
After the Naa’bik’iyati Committee on Dec. 23, 2013, the Council met and tabled the NTEC-BHP-FCPP legislation until a work shop was held on it on Dec. 27, 2013. The tabling vote was 10 in favor, 6 opposed.
Speaker Naize tried holding a closed door meeting with the Council, NTEC, Navajo Attorney General Harrison Tsosie, Deputy Attorney General Dana Bobroff at 7 a.m. at the Quality Inn & Restaurant in Window Rock, Ariz., on Dec. 27, 2013. But after Navajo citizens, including former Navajo President Milton Bluehouse, and Dine’ Resources & Information Center challenged the legality of the meeting, Naize asked Council delegates and staff to go to the Council chamber for the work session, which had started at 9 a.m.
At the Council chamber, between 50 to 60 people were protesting the NTEC-BHP-FCPP legislation. BHP and APS had bussed in about 70 workers, who were Navajo.
After the four hour work session, the Council voted 17 in favor, 5 opposed on the NTEC-BHP-Four Corners Power Plant legislation at 4:04 p.m. on Dec. 27, 2013. Almost immediately, Speaker Naize and then Navajo President Shelly signed off on it.
On Dec. 30, 2013, Navajo Transitional Energy Company and BHP announced that the sale of BHP coal mine to NTEC was complete. NTEC and Four Corners Power Plant also announced that a coal supple agreement had been reached. FCPP, which is owned primarily by APS, also announced that it finalized its purchase of Southern California Edison’s 48 percent share in FCPP units 4 an 5, which allowed APS to permanently closed units 1, 2 and 3. The US Environmental Protection Agency had a Jan. 1, 2014, deadline for APS to close units 1, 2, and 4. The US EPA set July 31, 2018, as the deadline for APS to retrofit units 4 and 5. APS also filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission to recover the money that it spent on SCE’s units 4 and 5 with a rate increase for its customers.