I did not attend the morning session of the Council meeting.
Afternoon Session started at 1:04 p.m.
Absent: Governor Eddie Paul Torres; Lt. Gov. Antonio Chewiwi; & Lt. Gov. Isidor Abeita
ELDERLY ADVISORY BOARD MEETING
Council member Fernando Abeita informed the Isleta Tribal Council that the Elderly Advisory Board was conducting a meeting in Jemez. Abeita made a motion to authorize Council member James Abeita to attend the meeting. Phillip Jiron seconded. Motion carried 11 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining. James Abeita abstained.
CONCERNS ABOUT CASINO’S MANAGEMENT
President Michael Allen Lente informed Council that tribal member, Joe Anzara, contacted him to request an opportunity to address the Council with concerns about the Casino’s management. Lente stated that Anzara was serving as a spokesperson for several persons. These persons want to make the Council aware of concerns about mismanagement of the Casino. They want to provide testimony to the Council. He also stated that Anzara had documents concerning the Casino, which the group wanted to submit to the Council.
President Lente explained that he told Anzara that he may submit the documents. He also told Anzara that the Council had numerous items on their agenda, which required the Council’s attention. Lente said he explained to Anzara that the Council is busy. But, he would inform the Council of Anzara’s request.
Council member Cynthia Jaramillo did not feel it was appropriate for the Council to hear the concerns. She explained that allowing the group to address the Council concerning the performance of the CEO of the Casino “may result in a lawsuit.” She said that the Council needed to be cautious.
Council member Fernando Abeita said he has the same concerns as Jaramillo. Abeita questioned the “credibility” of the documents. He asked, “How did they obtain the documents?” He was also concerned that it may be inappropriate for the Council to look at the documents.
Council member James Abeita asked, “How can we predetermine anything unless we hear their presentation?”
Attorney Pablo Padilla stated that the Pueblo already has a process in place for addressing issues relating to claims of “malfeasance” and “misuse of assets.” He stated that it is the responsibility of the Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency (IGRA) to investigate those types of issues.
Padilla continued by stating that the Council represents the “shareholder.” And, “it is up to the Council. It is your call.” In other words, it was within Council’s discretion to decide whether to listen to the people having concerns with the Casino’s management. Padilla also stated that, “you may have a duty to address their issues.”
Attorney Padilla explained that the “former Council” had a similar situation. He stated that Robert Lucero, a tribal member, compiled a package of information, which he sent to the Council, Governor, Senator Martin Heinrich, and the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGA) and to numerous other parties. According to Padilla, the “former Council looked at it and determined that it had no merit and dismissed it.” So, Padilla was suggesting that this Council could listen to the claims and decide whether there was any merit to the concerns.
Council member Joseph “Cougar” Lucero stated that the IGRA should investigate the issues and “it is not Council’s responsibility to investigate.”
Council member Larry Jaramillo stated that he was concerned that the Council may be “overstepping its bounds,” if it looks at the documents. He stated that it should be the IGRA that looks into the allegations.
The Council will ask Patrick Sanchez, Executive Director of the IGRA, for advice on how to proceed with the issue at their next meeting. Sanchez is scheduled to appear tomorrow (April 24th) before the Council concerning the evaluation of the Casino’s CEO, Pamela Gallegos. The Council must conduct a performance evaluation of Gallegos in accordance with her contract with the Tribe. Attorney Padilla also told the Council that the employment contract with Gallegos is proprietary and confidential.
PROPOSED REVISIONS OF TRIBAL CONSTITUTION
Attorney Pablo Padilla discussed proposed revisions to the Isleta Tribal Constitution. A prior Council established the Constitutional Task Force Committee composed of several tribal members. This Task Force developed proposed revisions to the Tribal Constitution. The Council previously directed Padilla to provide them with his comments concerning the proposed revisions.
At a prior meeting, the Council decided that they would not release the proposed revisions. At that time, the Council was concerned that releasing the proposed revisions would create confusion in the community. Further, at the prior meeting, Padilla told the Council that the comments he made concerning the revisions were “privileged.”
For the current meeting, Padilla began by stating that he had 66 comments concerning the proposed revisions.
1:47 p.m. Lieutenant Governor Isidor Abeita arrived.
Customs & Traditions
Attorney Padilla explained that “section 2” of the proposed revisions contained language that could be “disastrous” for the Tribe, if adopted. Apparently, section 2 contains language that could be construed as allowing the Tribe’s “customs and traditions” to “trump” the Constitution itself.
Padilla explained that the proposed language was problematic because there are numerous ideas on the customs and traditions of the Pueblo. He stated that he has met no one in Isleta who knows what these customs are.
Secretary Verna Teller commented that “customary law changes depending on who is making the interpretation.”
Attorney Padilla explained that the prior Council made it clear to the Constitutional Task Force and to him that they were not to “mess with enrollment issues.” “But, for better or worse” the Task Force spent significant time creating proposed revisions to the enrollment provisions of the Tribal Constitution.
One of the proposed revisions would tie membership to legal residence on the reservation. Council member Juan Rey Abeita explained that he had serious concerns with such proposal. He asked, what about people in the military, in school, or persons that live off the reservation because of their employment. Abeita was not in favor of tying membership to residency on the reservation.
Council member Josephine Padilla expressed concerns about parents who renounce the membership of their children to the Tribe. She explained that there are tribal members that have one-half Isleta blood and some with full Isleta blood that are not members because their parents renounced membership or relinquished their membership. Padilla stated that it was not the fault of the children and she wanted the Council to be careful on such matter. She also felt that the Tribe’s Enrollment Ordinance was not clear on such matter.
The Council took a break at 2:16 p.m. I did not stay for the remainder of the meeting.
By Christopher Abeita