Public Safety Committee selects new chairman, vice-chairman

Raymond Joe selected chairman, Edmund Yazzie selected vice-chairman

 

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The Public Safety Committee of the 21st Navajo Nation Council met during a regular scheduled meeting on Feb. 8 and elected Council Delegates Raymond Joe (Tachee/Blue Gap/Whippoorwill) as its new committee chairman and Edmund Yazzie (Thoreau) as its new vice-chairman. 
 
Chairman Joe said he will oversee the entire Navajo Division of Public Safety and secure much-needed funding to improve all of public safety from corrections to law enforcement and the administration among other entities.  
 
Joe also noted the importance of lobbying congressional leaders in Washington for more funding for public safety and said, “We will use public and employee input to help our public safety services and facilities grow and become up-to-date. Public safety is going in a new direction and we need to catch up.” 
 
He praised his counterparts, as well as himself, in lobbying Legislation No. 0746-09 for the $60 million Key Bank loan to be used for judicial facilities, which the Council passed with a 68-10 vote during the 2010 winter session.  
 
Edmund Yazzie is serving in his second term as vice-chairman of the committee. In his previous stint as vice-chairman, Yazzie helped develop the partnership between the Navajo Nation Police Department (NNPD) and the McKinley County Sheriff’s Department on the cross-commission of police officers. 
 
Navajo residents in the McKinley County area of the Navajo Nation now have options to either call the NNPD or Sheriff’s Department as the result of the partnership. The cross-commission gives NNPD full jurisdiction in McKinley County and the Sheriff’s office full jurisdiction on Navajo lands in McKinley County. 
 
As vice-chairman, one of Yazzie’s goals is to construct a public safety and judicial complex in Crownpoint, N.M. The $60 million loan offered by Key Bank will help fund this proposed project as well as other projects of similar sort.  
 
“The facility will serve the Eastern Agency from Huerfano to Tohatchi to Thoreau to Chichiltah,” Yazzie said. “This project will be my main focus. If we can work with President Shirley and Sampson Cowboy, executive director of the Division of Public Safety, it can be done. I would like to see heavy equipment at the Crownpoint site for construction — the required studies are done and sitting on the table.” 

The project Yazzie proposes to help construct is necessary for the Eastern Agency which encompasses and will cover Navajo citizens in San Juan, McKinley, Cibola and Bernalillo counties.
 
“We do have worthless liquor establishments in those areas. It’s unfortunate that most of the crimes committed by Navajo citizens are alcohol related. I’ve been in law enforcement for 15 years and I have seen my share involving incidences of alcohol,” said Yazzie in explaining the need for the new public safety complex.   
  
Council Delegate Rex Lee Jim (Rock Point), former chairman of the PSC, said the new leadership will maintain current projects such as lobbying efforts in Washington and continue working with the $60 million Key Bank loan to construct much-needed infrastructure.
 
“I have confidence in the new chairman and vice-chairman. Even though I am no longer chairman, I will help guide them along with others of the committee- it’s a team effort,” said Jim. 
 
Both Council delegates have extensive law enforcement backgrounds and were voted by their counterparts to take the positions with a 6-0 vote.
 
“We’re both ex-police officers so that’s a plus. We both wore the badge. We know what’s going on – eye to eye,” added Yazzie.

Speaker Morgan, Vice President Shelly attend New Mexico Indian Day putting Navajo people first

Santa Fe, N.M. — 

In a display of unity, Navajo Council Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan and Navajo Nation Vice President Ben Shelly attended Indian Day at the New Mexico State Legislature on Feb. 5 in Santa Fe , N.M.

 

For months, the two tribal leaders and their offices have strategized together to deliver suggestions and plans to the New Mexico State Legislature.

 

Their visit to the state legislature solidified their partnership to put Navajo people first.

 

With the support of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee of the 21st Navajo Nation Council — the only governmental entity able to establish official positions of the Navajo Nation — Speaker Morgan and Vice President Shelly lobbied the state legislature and the state’s leadership.

 

Speaker Morgan, representing the Legislative Branch of the Navajo Nation, and Vice President Ben Shelly, representing the executive branch, showed unity as both tribal leaders attended meetings with Gov. Bill Richardson, staff from the Office of Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and several state legislators.

 

Speaker Morgan thanked Gov. Bill Richardson for his support of the Navajo Nation during his tenure as governor.

 

“As Governor, you helped to provide the Navajo Nation with capital outlay funds,” Speaker Morgan said. “You helped to create the Indian Affairs Department, the Tribal Infrastructure Fund and helped to initiate the State Tribal Collaboration Act – we are thankful for your support.”

 

Speaker Morgan also thanked the Governor and the state legislature for creating permanent funding for the Tribal Infrastructure Fund, which has become an important legislative priority in the 2010 session.

 

“The state’s leadership needs to understand that the Navajo Nation is unique. Our projects are not like other local government projects – like county and city projects,” Morgan said. “Our projects are not designed to beautify buildings or what not. Our Navajo projects are projects that are for survival of our people, to satisfy our basic needs. That is what we call putting people first and we will continue fighting for their basic needs.”

 

“It is very important that we speak in unity to save vital projects for the Navajo people,” Speaker Morgan added. “It is also important we work closely with the state legislators to save these projects.”

 

“Please be mindful of the need on the Navajo Nation when exercising veto power in SB 182,” Morgan said. “The need is great for infrastructure. Each project is essential and valued in the effected communities. We cannot afford to walk away from the appropriated state funds.”

 

Gov. Richardson offered his support.

 

“I am aware of SB 182 and that several Navajo projects will be taken out,” Richardson said. “We worked on that, we are trying to find funds, so we can preserve them. My main message in regards to Capital Outlay Funds is spend that money. Don’t sit on it, it makes these projects vulnerable.”

 

Shelly explained unity was important for the Navajo Nation, “Unity is important. The Navajo Nation is represented at the Roundhouse today. You have the Speaker here; you have legislative here and the executive branch here speaking. We have the blessing of the IGR and we are speaking for the Navajo Nation.”

Navajo Nation Chapters begin spending much-needed emergency funding

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The $1 million appropriation passed by the 21st Navajo Nation Council on Jan. 22 for the 2010 Operation Snowfall has finally been signed and made law by Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr.
 
The appropriation is now in the hands of the Navajo Nation’s 110 chapters. The amount of funds funneled to each chapter is based on two different distribution formulas – equal distribution and registered voter distribution per chapter.
 
The registered voter distribution formula funneled monies to chapters based off of the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors registered voter file as of Sept. 19, 2006. Based on this formula, chapters with larger registered voter precincts such as Shiprock, Chinle and To Nanees Dizi (Tuba City) received the largest amounts of money. As with the equal distribution formula, all 110 chapters received $4,545.45 each.   
 
By agency synopsis, the 31 chapters in Eastern Agency received a total of $261,489.83; Fort Defiance Agency obtained $250,062.50 for its 27 chapters; Shiprock Agency was allocated $186,894.22 for 20 chapters; Western Agency received $170,128.68 for 18 chapters; and Chinle Agency received $131,424.81 for its 14 chapters.
 
Chapter Services Coordinator Ella Benally of Forest Lake said the money allocated to her chapter would be used to address the wear and tear of its heavy equipment and other areas affected by the snow storm. Forest Lake received a total amount of $6,763.78 for emergency relief.    
 
“The snow is melting and roads are open. Some areas have mud, and potholes are forming on the roads. I know the main road to the Kayenta mine is clear but there are still some residents who live off the main road where muddy conditions remain. There are still four homes we have not gotten to,” said Benally.
 
Peabody Coal Company has also cooperated with Forest Lake officials to help access roads. Some areas have received up to five feet of snow.
 
At Crystal Chapter, the Community Services Coordinator Veda Fransciso said the money allocated to them will be used to clear roads, hire people to help clear roads and buy more diesel fuel. Crystal received a total $8,186.30 in relief funding.  
 
“During the planning meeting held last Tuesday, the community said priority will be given to the roads,” Francisco said. “We want to use the money to hire people who have tractors in the community because our chapter only has one grader and one operator.”
 
“Over the weekend, Crystal received an additional six inches of snow and people are calling again for road grading,” Francisco added. “There is an 86-year-old woman at White Clay who still needs her road opened to her residence. I’m disappointed in Emergency Management and the Navajo Nation.”
 
The Fort Defiance Agency Local Governance Support Center said every constituent on the Fort Defiance Agency had been reached and the monies allocated to those chapters will be used for the snow-mud operation.
 
Council Delegate Hope MacDonald Lone Tree (Coalmine Canyon/Toh Nanees Dizi) explained that about one-third of the $1 million allocation to chapters came from the Public Safety budget which means that some of Public Safety positions have been eliminated to free up money for the chapters to spend on their relief efforts.
 
However, chapters have direct access to those monies public safety services and emergency management would provide.   
 
“We took public safety positions, now we have money going to the chapters. The impact to public safety personnel will be significant and will be realized during the year,” MacDonald Lone Tree said. “The chapters wanted the money, which is a great need. In the end, how do we make up the lost positions?”
 
“We need to have the president make public safety a priority,” MacDonald Lone Tree added. “He hasn’t given an increase in budget for years and hasn’t addressed the shortfalls of public safety.” 

Navajo President Joe Shirley, Jr., blesses Mountainview Center, Recovery Plus treatment facility for substance abuse problems

MURRAY CITY, Utah. – Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., conducted a blessing dedication of the new Mountainview Center, residential treatment facility here last week.
 
The President was asked to conduct the ceremony by his friend Jim Morse, a Salt Lake County developer, who sat in as the patient. About 30 people witnessed the 30-minute ceremony and heard President Shirley explain its meaning and significance.
 
The Mountainview Center, which opened for business on Feb. 1, is a technically-advanced, moderately-priced residential facility for 20 adult participants with substance abuse prob
lems.
 
It was built with specifically-designed features to be safe and to support the residents and the professional needs of physicians through the “Recovery Plus” treatment program.
 
Murray City Mayor Dan Snarr joined President Shirley and numerous dignitaries for a ribbon cutting shortly after the blessing ceremony. He said he immediately supported the facility, as did the city, because he lost a son to a prescription drug addiction.
 
President Shirley said that in 2001 he lost his daughter, Tona Vee Paymella, who was 29 and a mother of four when she was killed by a drunk driver.
 
“Back home we are also wrestling around with trying to get at help for our own who are struggling with alcohol abuse and drug abuse,” he said. “We’re looking for help all the time.”
 
He said because of drug and alcohol abuse, the crime rate on Navajoland is high, and it results in domestic violence and teen suicide.
 
He said driving under the influence continues to be rampant but education campaigns are continuous through Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Division of Public Safety’s Selective Traffic Enforcement Program.
 
“We have big challenges,” President Shirley said. “I’d sure like to see a Recovery Plus on Navajoland somewhere.”
 
The President said in Navajo thought, everyone is family regardless of race, creed or faith.
“We’re all members of the five-fingered, intelligent earth dwellers called homo sapiens,” he said. “That makes us all family. There are family members that are successful and there are those that have their challenges.”

John Robertson, one of the center’s principal owners, said a group of people decided to develop the center two years ago to help people with substance abuse “because it knows no borders.”
 
“It is evident that in our society there is a ‘these people’ syndrome – the tendency to explain away the shortcomings and failures of people suffering from the disease of substance abuse.”
 
He said the common belief are that these people can’t get well, they don’t want to get well, people don’t want their families around them, and there is no hope for them.
 
“At Recovery Plus, we believe this attitude is morally unacceptable. We don’t believe this ‘these people’ syndrome because these people are our people, our brothers, our sisters, our mothers, our fathers, our sons, our daughters, our friends. Everyone who suffers from the destruction of addiction has a similar story.”
 
He said Murray City was selected for the first Recovery Plus center because of its access to 108 cities, access to a nearby hospital, and because Murray City was unanimous in support for center.

Navajo President Joe Shirley, Jr., N.M. Gov. Bill Richardson discuss Navajo projects, during New Mexico Indian Day

SANTA FE, N.M. – Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson discussed the state’s capital outlay funding for New Mexico tribal infrastructure projects, saving several Navajo-specific projects from the budget chopping block, the Nation’s proposal on Class II gaming, and the successful Dec. 15 Navajo government reform election during a 20-minute meeting in the governor’s office Friday.
 
President Shirley traveled here to participate in the 2010 Legislative Session’s American Indian Day activities, sponsored by the New Mexico Department of Indian Affairs.
 
“I hadn’t seen my brother for a while,” President Shirley told the Governor. “It comes from the heart when I say thank you for working with us.”
 
The first subject the Governor inquired about was the Dec. 15 initiative election to reduce the Navajo Nation Council to 24 delegates and to authorize the President with line item veto authority, and how President Shirley fared politically.
 
The President explained that the people supported both initiatives overwhelmingly but that the Council continues to stand in the people’s way.
 
“You don’t take on the legislature without getting singed,” he said. “We still have our challenges but ultimately the will of the people will prevail.”
 
The President expressed his appreciation to Governor Richardson for his support of 46 Navajo projects that were slated for cuts but which were saved.
 
Arbin Mitchell, director of the Navajo Division of Community Development, told the Governor that grant agreements had been issued for 140 projects worth $14 million and 14 smaller project worth some $2 million. He said there are 63 Navajo project that need support to be saved.
 
“A lot of those Navajo projects were mine,” the Governor said, noting the Cutter Lateral water project in particular. “As one of my last acts, I’d like to see five percent go to the tribal infrastructure fund.”
 
The Governor said he supports H.B. 162, sponsored by House Speaker Ben Lujan, which will create a permanent source of funding for the tribal infrastructure fund.
He said despite the state’s current financial difficulties, his administration was working to make sure important projects continue.
 
The Governor told President Shirley he had received his letter regarding the Nation’s desire to begin Class II gaming and said that could hurt the state’s compacts with its other gaming tribes and open the door for non-Native gaming in New Mexico.
 
On Jan. 26, President Shirley wrote to New Mexico Gaming Control Board Executive Director John Monforte regarding the Nation’s plan to move forward with Class II gaming, which includes machines, bingo and other games.
The Governor said if the door is opening to non-Native gaming, that could hurt the Navajo Nation as well as the state.
 
“I want us to work together,” he told the President.
 
“That’s why I appreciate you, Governor, because you want collaboration,” President Shirley said.
 
The President and Governor agreed to meet again in a few weeks.

Navajo Division of Health to expand services through PL 93-638 contract pending IGR approval

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The Health and Social Services Committee of the 21st Navajo Nation Council convened during a special meeting Feb. 5 and passed legislation regarding contract expansion between the Navajo Area Indian Health Services (NAIHS) and the Navajo Division of Health (NDOH).
 
Legislation No. 0049-10, sponsored by Alice Benally (Crownpoint/Nahodishgish), passed the Health and Social Services Committee (HSSC) with a 5-1 vote. The legislation will now go before the Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) Committee for final adoption.
 
If the legislation passes IGR, it would allow NDOH to continue to expand health care services through their PL 93-638 contract such as substance, alcohol abuse, health promotion and disease prevention programs among others from NAIHS.  
 
The Fort Defiance Indian Health Board is authorized under PL 93-638 of the Indian Self Determination Act, Title 1, to contract such services from NAIHS, which the HSSC and IGR committees previously approved in a separate legislation.
 
Theresa Galvan, acting program manager for the Navajo Department of Behavior Health Services, said the intent of this legislation is to “ensure consistency with the Program Function Services and Activities in the master contract with NDOH and NAIHS. Some of the areas we look to expand on include substance and alcohol abuse, mental health, health promotion/disease prevention, public health nursing to name but a few through the PL 93-638 contract.” 
 
John Hubbard, Navajo Area Indian Health Services Director, mentioned the importance of Legislation No. 0049-10, and said, “This legislation, pending IGR approval, will kick in one year from now. We will be getting $12 million and with this legislation the Navajo Nation will need to retrocede to receive it. By February of next year, NDOH should be in control of those expanded programs.”
 
Council Delegate Elmer L. Milford (Fort Defiance) voiced his concern to the HSSC and said the process needs to be completed properly.
 
“We want the timeline to make proper negotiations. Committee members, I would like to request that we go forward with your motion to get this process started,” added Milford.   
 
Benally expressed the need for this excellent opportunity for NDOH and said, “NDOH will be able to exercise its authority. The NDOH has the ability to meet federal standards and even surpass federal levels on health care in some cases. This chance will provide an opportunity for young professionals to run our own Navajo health care system with these programs.”
 
In other legislation, Legislation No. 0031-10 passed with a 4-0 vote. It will allow for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants to strengthen tribal government capacity building.
 
Legislation No. 0061-10 also passed the HSSC with a 5-0 vote. The passage accepts and approves the Title IV-E Plan Development Grant of $300,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, and the Children’s Bureau. 

 

 

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Sanctions Lifted From Kayenta Chapter

KAYENTA, AZ – Auditor General representative Beverly Tom reported to the Budget and Finance Committee Tuesday morning that after a weeklong audit of Kayenta Chapter financial records, it is their observation that the chapter had implemented their corrective action plan and have accomplished all requirements of the plan established by their office.

In 2004, the Navajo Nation Auditor General imposed sanctions upon Kayenta Chapter mainly due to the lack of an appropriate fiscal management system as required by the Navajo Nation government and for a lack of proper record keeping. Six years later, the Auditor General and Navajo Nation Budget and Finance Committee have lifted those sanctions at B&F’s first committee meeting of 2010.  “It is a momentous occasion that you should be proud of and a celebration with your community is in order,” said Jonathan Nez, B&F Member and Navajo County Supervisor. “You have worked hard to reorganize your chapter and now you are a model to other chapters that this can be accomplished,” said Councilman Nez.

Kayenta Chapter membership in the 2008 elections replaced their elected officials with a new group that campaigned on the platform of change for the Chapter and a quick change has indeed been ushered by the newly elected officials that have just completed their first year in office. “We have a great group of people that work with this new administration and we have accomplished a lot this past year. We have devised a strategic plan for the chapter which includes getting our land use plan certified, Five Management System certified, and of course lifting of the 6 year sanction status,” said Stanley Clitso, Chapter President. “We have a specific duty to the people of this community to support their dreams of becoming a Chapter unlike any on the Navajo Nation; a chapter on the right path to self sustainability and this is possible,” said President Clitso.  

Kayenta Chapter has contracted with Nahata Consulting, a Kayenta based consulting firm that has provided technical support to the chapter for nearly a year and has been instrumental in helping implement chapter goals and objectives according to Chapter Officials. “We have not had this sort of help before and without a fulltime CSC it has been hard to move towards implementing the corrective action plan as mandated by the auditor, not to mention even attempting LGA certification,” stated President Clitso. “These are the types of results that every sanctioned Chapter hopes for; to be out of fiscal injunction and into a new phase of community development. Check it off the Chapter’s to-do list and move on to the next item, because the potential of a Chapter like Kayenta is unlimited and time is of the essence. The Chapter must make clever and careful decisions from this point onward,” said James Nez, CEO of Nahata Consulting.

“The chapter has reestablished vital standing committees to address public interests and is finalizing its land use plan and FMS for certification by Transportation and Community Development Committee,” said Clitso. One interesting fact that demonstrates the acceleration of Kayenta Chapter is the implementation of the non-profit accounting software MIP by Sage. “We will be one of the first chapters using this software while going up for LGA certification,” said Chapter Officials. “We want to be innovative and competitive in this economy and by being technologically up-to-date we stand a chance in making other chapter ventures a reality,” said President Clitso. “I would like to thank my staff, my fellow officials Vice-President Ruth Gilmore and Secretary/Treasurer Lenora Spencer, our consultant, the Auditor General’s Office, Fort Defiance LGSC, and the Budget and Finance Committee for helping Kayenta Chapter exit out of sanction status. I would also like to pay special thanks to the community members of Kayenta for being so patient in enduring the long process, Ahe’hee,” commented President Clitso.