I’m not sure if I’ll be at the Navajo Nation Council Winter Session Day 4. I’m totally disappointed in the Council. I’m also sad… I have been thinking positive thoughts for the Council for such a very long time. And it’s not just this Council but the ones that were in office before them. I wish that all of you had attended the working sessions when this Council was going into office. They had dreams of ethics, morality, integrity, transparency, open government, fairness, kinship, compassion, understanding, patience, government reform that was in the best of the People and not their wallets and purse. They had Vision.
So what happened? Speaker Johnny Naize. Yes, from the beginning it’s been Delegate Johnny Naize and the Old Guard, who with Naize made up 16 of the 24 delegates. The Council has a process to elect the speaker and when it came time for the Council to select their speaker, the process required that the candidates file written resumes, written statement of why he or she would make the best speaker, which also included their goals.
But Naize and his followers managed to subvert that process because Naize, who was not a newbie delegate but one of the old guard, cried Foul! There was no notification of the deadline, Naize cried in anguish. (And yes, I’m putting more drama in the drama but that’s my perogative as the writer…)
So why was Naize and his followers crying around about the notification of the deadline to file documents for Speaker? Naize missed the deadline! And so what you will see in the YouTube videos, Navajo Council heats up over Legislation to Appoint new Speaker Part 1 and Part 2, is pretty much what transpired after Naize’s bogus, self serving reason for missing the deadline to be a candidate for speaker, which lead to the newly inaugurated Council changing the rules for Speaker. I’m not sure how many of you attended the very first session of the Council of 24. But if you were there, it was chaos. And it was chaos because Naize demanded that the Council rules for Speaker be changed in mid-stream.
And you know the rest of the story…Naize became the first speaker for the Council of 24 and was re-elected as Speaker by them in 2013. And then he was charged with crimes against the Navajo Nation and one delegate was brave enough to step forward with legislation that pointed to Navajo law, not some bogus, self serving reason, for the removal of Naize as speaker. That delegate was Alton Shepherd. The vote on LEGISLATION 0003-14, which for the Council to remove Naize, was 12 in favor, 11 opposed. Under Navajo law, it takes 16 delegates to vote “Yes” to remove a speaker.
Immediately after the Council vote on Legislation 0003-14, Speaker Pro Temp Edmund Yazzie, who is chairperson of the Council’s Law and Order Committee, called for a five-minute recess, which was very unusual. I’ve covered Council for more than 28 years and I should know. And then Yazzie announced that there were problems with the Council chamber sound system and so he was recessing the Council for the rest of the day instead of having the Council go to the next item on their agenda, which was LEGISLATION 0011-14.
Legislation 0011-14 was for the Council to appoint a new speaker.
And what is more interesting and unusual, the Council debate over Legislation 0011-14 started at an 8 a.m. “informal meeting” called by Speaker Naize at the Quality Inn in Window Rock. Delegate Alton Shepherd, who sponsored Legislation 0011-14 and Legislation 0003-14, was not at the informal meeting to defend his legislation 0011-14, but that didn’t matter to Delegate David Tom, who was chairing the informal and illegal meeting. And I don’t know why I expected fairness from Tom, who is facing more criminal charges than Naize and who is named in the criminal charges filed against Naize and who showed absolutely no conscience when he voted not to remove Naize as speaker instead of standing up and removing himself from voting on Legislation 0003-14 and Legislation 0011-14 because he had a conflict of interest.
By the way, I reminded Naize at the end of the informal and illegal meeting that I had not received the Navajo law that allowed the Council to meet informally and as a caucus away from the Council chamber and for him as Speaker to approve the payment of $300 to each delegate that attend yesterday’s meeting and past caucuses. That’s illegal use of the People’s money, I told Naize to his face. He smirked at me and I’m not embellishing and then he looked at his public information officer and told him to answer my question because it was “too hard” for him. I informed him that I asked him the question because he was the Speaker and as Speaker he approves ALL payments for the delegates.
Naize’s political appointee Darrell Tso Sr. then hisses at me, yes it sounded like a hiss, that I’m basically no better than Naize because I accepted a “cadillac” from the Navajo Times and he’ll be letting the people know about that. I shoved my voice recorder in his direction and asked him if he was “threatening” me. He slithered off behind Naize’s other political appointees, Anthony Peterman and Jarvis Williams. Peterman, who calls himself Naize’s energy advisor, said that I was threatening Naize. With voice recorder still in hand, I explained calmly that I was asking about Navajo law and Council procedures. Williams, who is Naize’s chief of staff, then says that he gave me what I asked for which was the meeting agenda and meeting sign-in sheet. I thanked Jarvis and the Three Amigos left the meeting room. I wonder how much the Speaker is paying the Three Amigos because their salaries are paid with the People’s money and I’m one of the People.
And for those of you wondering if the Navajo Times gave me a cadillac…I wish they did. I think I earned it after more than 20 years of service. I didn’t even get a going away party. I didn’t even get to say farewell to my co-workers. They didn’t know I had left. It was not a very good parting of ways between me and the Navajo Times. But I’ve put that in the past so thank goodness I don’t have to drive around a gas-guzzling cadillac to remind me of the bitter parting. And I continue to have positive thoughts for my co-workers that I worked with for more than 20 years at the Navajo Times.
May Peace Prevail on Mother Earth!