More commentary on the January 14, 2007 Memo to the OCEN Tribal Members

 

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

The recent developments do not usher needed change but foster the old bullying behavior that has nearly, if not already, torn this tribe asunder. A review of the proposed constitutional amendments illustrate just how badly this new group of illegitimately appointed council members miss the point of good government:

 

 Resignations

Of the January 2007 communication there is a resolution to amend OCEN Constitution, Article VI, Section 5, regarding resignations. Rather than dealing with the cause of the resignations, this group offers only a means to enforce resignations which may happen as a result of bullying behavior. As a side note, it is very interesting to see this group trying to eliminate the same political machinations that got them in the door in the first place. (See list of events)

 

While the tribal council has the authority to amend the by-laws, the amendments cannot be contrary to the tribal constitution. [Article IV, Section 1, A. “…to make decisions not inconsistent with or contrary to this Constitution or the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Yet what they propose is to count an absent council member in order to have a quorum, “Once a quorum is established, the quorum remains in effect even if a council member leaves. 

 

So what does this mean? If someone becomes a target of the council majority, they get to berate him/her enough to make them want to leave? And then when that person leaves as a result of an emotional upset, it leaves behind only those who agree with the biggest bully? Is this good government? It is only a means to try to legalize bullying. Haven’t we had enough of that?

 

All this proposed verbiage about handling resignations is missing the point of what is wrong with our tribal leadership. The problem that needs to be addressed is not how resignations are handled but how to prevent resignations in the first place.

 

No amount of by-law revisions or constitutional amendments will make people behave like mature, responsible, and serious-minded tribal leaders. And, as we have seen, this game of political musical chairs did not give us what we need. We have serious problems. We need serious people to deal with these problems. We need another election, not more rules and regulations.

 

Leave of Absence Provisions

Council member absenteeism has been a problem for a very long time. As a concession to people who would not make regular attendance, the council by-laws were modified to allow proxy votes in their absence. This was done to ensure that business would still be conducted. As a result of this concession, the council meeting minutes are peppered with “good excuses” for being absent.

 

If good excuses were not enough, withholding a proxy vote became the means to hold a meeting hostage. Without sufficient votes, a quorum could not be established. And, if a particular family or group were of the same mind to agree on such a tactic, all progress could be stopped, or so it seems.

 

This concession of proxy votes went on to become the means of controlling a meeting. We saw this with the Thielman faction’s actions and now we see it with this new group. The action taken by Al and Rich Rodriguez at the illegitimate meeting held on October 8, 2006, clearly shows how proxy votes were used in this way. They decided they could “withdraw” their proxy vote from a meeting that was conducted four months prior. And, as a result, this group believes it can undo appointments made that day in June, 2006.

 

If this latest antic is not absurd enough, now this new group plans to replace vacant positions with immediate family members. We voted against this kind of nepotism in 2004, with a whopping majority vote, no less. We already saw what happens when one family gain control of the tribal council. The principle of that vote was to ensure fairness for all, not to place one family above that of another. Their proposed amendment will only allow nepotism to reign unabated. Haven’t we had enough of that, too?

 

New Agenda Form

Again, this proposal only serves to weigh down the principle of serious people doing the serious work of the tribe. No exceptions have to be made if elected officers just did their job. Again, making more rules and regulations do not make people behave any better.

 

Quarterly Meetings

Having served for more than 10 years as a council officer, I know firsthand that quarterly meetings do not make business happen. There is no catching up with each other or even the means to hold each other accountable for promises made. Too many times I have witnessed someone promise to deliver only to find out they could not (or did not) deliver. Then, it was time for someone else to take over the duty. If we had to wait three months to find out, then the delays were even longer.

 

Even though the question of where the council is to meet is purportedly being put to all tribal members (remember, she did not mail this to everyone in the tribe), my experience with Louise Ramirez is that she will get her family members and favored families to sign the bulk of signatures (their own of course). It won’t be a truly democratic result.

 

Conclusion

It is not my intent to berate any person by pointing to certain behaviors. However, it is my intent to point out how certain behaviors impact our tribe’s ability to continue forward with its goals. Our constitution was based on the principles of equality and fairness, not family favoritism. If more attention could be paid to doing the job according to these principles instead of justifying each family’s attempt to take over and control the tribal activities, just think what we could have accomplished. I cry to think…..