Isleta Pueblo Politics

By Christopher L. Abeita

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Censorship of Blog

Absent: Vice-President Michael Allen Lente and Governor Eddie Paul Torres

Meeting started at 9:03 a.m.

CENSORSHIP OF BLOG

President James Abeita informed Council that the Tribal Sheriff delivered Council’s letter to me. He stated, “I reviewed Mr. Abeita’s website this morning and Mr. Abeita removed the information from the site.” To review the Council’s letter, click the following link: April 3, 2013, Council Ltr. Demanding Removal of Information.

Secretary Verna Teller said the Council was concerned about the “numbers” for the tribal enterprises being released. She said the Isleta Business Corporation (IBC) is a “for profit” entity. So, the Council did not want competitors to get any information that could damage the IBC or the Tribe.

Teller also explained that some Council members do not think it is appropriate for anyone except for the Council to release information to the community about the Council’s meetings. She said, yesterday, (April 3, 2013), one of the Council members suggested the Council prohibit tribal members from taking notes during the Council’s meetings.

Council member Cynthia Jaramillo stated I am treating her unfairly in my blog. She said other Council members feel the same. Jaramillo stated she feels I am not giving the “full picture” of what is happening. She said that she does not believe that a person from the “outside” should be giving information to the public. She said it is the responsibility of the Council to take ownership of the information and release it to the community.

Terry Lente, a tribal member attending the meeting, addressed the Council. Ms. Lente stated that if the Council does not want anyone to release information, then the Council should do it. She told the Council, “at least make the agenda’s available” to the community. Lente believes this would allow tribal members to know what the Council is discussing. It would then allow tribal members to attend meetings on topics of interest to them.

Ms. Lente also told the Council she was disappointed with them during their meeting with the IBC. She said, “You were not asking any questions.” She was concerned that the Council’s failure to ask questions allowed the CEO, Chip Martin, and the IBC to avoid accountability. Ms. Lente told the Council to speak up and ask questions. Ms. Lente stated that she wished she was on the Council, so she could ask questions.

Council member Josephine Padilla said, “Terry, next time, if you have questions, write them down, and I will ask them for you.” Ms. Lente thanked Council member Padilla for her offer.

Council member Barbara Sanchez said that she voiced concerns about my blog at the Council’s meeting yesterday, (April 3, 2012). Sanchez stated she was concerned about my blog because she did not know I was planning to put the information out when I first started attending meetings. She said she was not aware of whether I asked the leadership of the Council for permission to do so.

Sanchez also said, “I liked it [the blog] at first because you were being objective.” But, now, I don’t think you are being fair. “I feel I’m being dinged.” Sanchez stated that the Council wants to get information out to the community in an “intranet.” She said, “Our officers were supposed to be doing that, but, they didn’t.”

ETHICS BOARD

Council member Josephine Padilla asked if the council was planning to appoint new members to the Ethics Board. She stated it was not logical for the Council to appoint members when they have not yet decided whether they were going to repeal the Ethics Code. President James Abeita stated that they placed the issue on the agenda for discussion only.

Council member Barbara Sanchez stated that Sharon Lente-Burch and Charlene Seidl were serving on the Ethics Board. She also said that Eugene Wade was an alternate member of the Ethics Board.

Secretary Verna Teller asked whether the Council received “anything in writing” from them (Burch & Seidl) about resigning. The answer was no.

*** Council member Josephine Padilla left the meeting at 9:50 a.m.

LABOR RELATIONS BOARD

The Council suddenly shifted discussion to the Labor Relations Board. One of the Council members stated that Michael Tenorio declined serving on the Labor Relations Board.

According to the Council, the current members of the Labor Relations Board are:

Vicky Dixon;
Miriam Lucero; &
Reyes Padilla.

Two (2) vacancies on the Labor Board still exist.

Secretary Verna Teller nominated Michelle Jaramillo to serve on the Labor Board. Council member Douglas Jiron stated, “We need to ask the individual, if they want to serve before we vote on them.” Jiron said we appoint people and then they end up not wanting the position. This puts us back.

HEALTH BOARD

The Council suddenly shifted discussion to the Health Board.

Council member Juan Rey Abeita made a motion to nominate Deigo Lujan to serve on the Isleta Health Board. If Deigo Lujan declines then, Fred Lujan shall be the alternate nomination for the Health Board. Council member Phillip Jiron seconded the motion. The motion carried 7 in favor, 2 opposing and 1 abstaining. Council members Douglas Jiron and Cynthia Jaramillo voted against the motion. Secretary Verna Teller abstained.

[Fred Lujan was President of the Isleta Tribal Council for 2011-2012.]

LABOR BOARD

The Council went back to their discussion of the Labor Board.

Council member Barbara Sanchez made a motion for the Council to finalize the selection of nominees and appointment to the Labor Relations Board by April 11, 2013. Council member Phillip Jiron seconded the motion. The motion carried 10 in favor, 0 opposed and 0 abstaining.

ISLETA BUSINESS CORPORATION

Council member Cynthia Jaramillo stated that the Isleta Business Corporation (IBC) had two (2) persons serving on the Board whose terms expired. She stated, “We need to appoint two (2) board members.”

The terms expired for IBC Board members Michael Paquin and Fayla Kovacs in November of 2012. The prior Council, however, decided to retain them on the IBC for three (3) more months until the IBC presented their annual report to the Council.

Council member Barbara Sanchez said persons interested in serving on the IBC Board were supposed to submit their résumés to the IBC.

Council member Larry Jaramillo informed the Council that former Governor Frank Lujan told him that he was interested on serving on the IBC Board.

ACTING CHAIR

President James Abeita had to leave, so he asked Joseph “Cougar” Lucero to serve as “acting chair” because Vice-President Michael Allen Lente was absent. Lucero nodded his agreement. Secretary Verna Teller stated “it’s not appropriate.” Teller said, to my knowledge, the Council President has never designated someone to serve as an “acting chair.”

So, the Council took a break at 10:36 a.m.

The Council resumed at 11:09 a.m.

President James Abeita and Council member Josephine Padilla returned to the meeting.

ISLETA BUSINESS CORPORATION

Tribal Attorney, Pablo Padilla, advised the Council that they needed to reappoint Fayla Kovacs or Michael Paquin to serve on the Board of Directors for the Isleta Business Corporation (IBC) or select two new persons. Padilla stated that the IBC Board recommends that the Council retain Kovacs and Paquin.

President James Abeita advised the Council that Chip Martin, CEO, of the IBC said that no one submitted applications or résumés to the IBC to serve on the Board.

Council member Larry Jaramillo made a motion to nominate Frank Lujan to serve on the IBC Board of Directors. Secretary Verna Teller seconded the motion. The motion carried 11 in favor, 0 opposed and 0 abstaining.

Council member Barbara Sanchez nominated Fayla Kovacs and Michael Paquin to serve on the IBC Board of Directors as recommended by the IBC Board of Directors. Juan Rey Abeita seconded the motion. The motion carried 9 in favor, 0 opposed and 2 abstaining. Council members Josephine Padilla and Larry Jaramillo abstained.

Council member Cynthia Jaramillo made a motion to set April 11th as the deadline for the Council to present nominees for the IBC and to make selections to the IBC. Juan Rey Abeita seconded the motion. The motion carried 11 in favor, 0 opposed and 0 abstaining.

EDUCATION BOARD

Council member Juan Rey Abeita stated that the Education Board has not met in a long time. He requested that the Council put this issue on the agenda for the coming week.

According to the Council, the current members of the Education Board are:

Charlene Lucero;
Francis Cherino;
Terry Wilson; &
Rodney Jones RESIGNED.

EVALUATION OF PAM GALLEGOS, CEO, OF HARD ROCK CASINO

Tribal Attorney, Pablo Padilla, advised the Council that it was necessary to conduct a “performance evaluation” of Pam Gallegos, Chief Executive Officer, of the Albuquerque Hard Rock Casino. The contract between Gallegos and the Tribe requires an evaluation six (6) months into the term of the contract. The Governor and the Council are both required to evaluate Gallegos.

According to Padilla, the prior Council approved the criteria to evaluate Gallegos. Some examples of the areas the Council will assess include:

Management and Administration;
Leadership Skills;
Interaction with Tribal Government;
Management of Finances; &
Relationship Skills.

The Council set April 25, 2013, at 1:00 p.m. to review all the material needed to evaluate Gallegos. Thereafter, the Council will set an actual date to meet with the Hard Rock CEO.

The Council may conduct a “pre-evaluation” meeting with the Tribe’s Treasurer, Tino Teller, because he has the financial information on the Casino.

The Council may also include Patrick Sanchez, Executive Director, of the Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency (IGRA) because he can provide input concerning compliance with regulations.

The Council broke for lunch.

The Council resumed their meeting at 1:14 p.m.

Absent: Vice-President Michael Allen Lente, Secretary Verna Teller, Council member Josephine Padilla and Governor Eddie Paul Torres.

Council member Douglas Jiron advised the Council that a training on the regulation of gaming was going to be held at Okay Owingeh in May. There was no charge to attend. Jiron said it may be good for the Council to attend the meeting because the information they learned may help them decide whether the Casino or the Regulatory Agency should have control of the Surveillance Department.

Joseph “Cougar” Lucero made a motion to adjourn at 1:23 p.m. The motion carried unanimously.

By Christopher Abeita

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