Isleta Pueblo Politics

By Christopher L. Abeita

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Highlights ITC Mtg. July 2, 2013

Absent: Council member (CM) Douglas Jiron

Meeting started at 9:08 a.m.


CM Fernando Abeita requested the Council to add discussion of DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) charges against CM Juan Rey Abeita to the agenda.

[On June 28, 2013, Abeita was charged with Aggravated DWI First Offense; Failure to Pull Over for an Emergency Vehicle; Failure to Keep Vehicle within Traffic Lane and Speeding over 10 Miles of the Posted Speed Limit. The charges were filed with the Bernalillo County Metro Court].

CM Juan Rey Abeita said that he was going to ask the Council to place that item on the agenda as well. He requested that the Council discuss the issue in an executive session because it was a personal issue.

President Michael Allen Lente stated that he would add the item to the agenda for discussion in an executive session.



Governor Eddie Paul Torres reported that a flood occurred damaging the fields of several tribal members.  A ditch overflowed due to a closed check gate.  According to employees of the Pueblo, personnel of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD) failed to monitor the water, which resulted in the flooding.  Governor Torres and President Michael Allen Lente directed Tribal Employees to conduct a thorough investigation. It may become necessary for the Pueblo and Tribal Members to initiate legal action against the MRGCD to recover damages to the fields.

9:21 a.m. CM Douglas Jiron arrived


Kevin Mariano, Chief of the Isleta Police Department (IPD), identified three (3) non-Indians suspected of selling illegal drugs within the reservation. He requested that the Council initiate banishment proceedings against the non-Indians.

He also gave a general briefing to the Council on IPD’s plans to stop the sale of illegal drugs within the Pueblo.

The Council will also consider banishing tribal members involved in the sale of illegal drugs within the reservation.

The Council, by motion, unanimously approved banishment proceedings against three non-Indians. 12 in favor, 0 opposed & 0 abstaining.

A second motion carried unanimously to schedule hearings for the individuals facing banishment to afford them due process. 12 in favor, 0 opposed & 0 abstaining.

I am not reporting the names of the persons banished to allow Governor Torres an opportunity to serve notice on the individuals.


The Pueblo of Isleta Veteran’s Association and the Southwest Native American Veteran’s Association (SWNAVA) came before the Council to request the Pueblo to serve as the “fiscal agent” for the SWNAVA.

Ramus Suina is the spokesperson for the SWNAVA, which represents Native American Veterans from the Southwestern United States.  The organization is in the process of obtaining non-profit status, which will enable them to engage in fundraising activities.

Until they are granted non-profit status, the organization needs a fiscal agent. So, they requested the Pueblo to serve in that capacity.  This will enable SWNAVA to engage in fund raising activities immediately.

The Pueblo of Isleta Veteran’s Association supports the efforts of the SWNAVA.

The Council, by motion, unanimously approved the Pueblo serving as the fiscal agent for the SWNAVA. 12 in favor, 0 opposed & 0 abstaining.


Kristen Anzara, Grants Coordinator, requested the Council to approve the Pueblo applying for funding to develop a Public Transportation Program on the reservation. The program will provide transit services to residents who do not have transportation. 

The Council, by motion, unanimously approved a resolution authorizing an application to the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration for Public Transportation on Indian Reservations. 12 in favor, 0 opposed & 0 abstaining.

12:00 p.m. Council breaks for Lunch


Meeting resumed at 1:14 p.m.


Patrick Sanchez, Executive Director of the Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency (IGRA), read a letter to the Council on plans for an “Asset Protection Summit Training” that the IGRA will conduct. The training is for law enforcement,  casino security personnel, casino surveillance personnel, Gaming Commissions, and Tribal Leadership.

The Summit will occur on August 12-14, 2013.

Sanchez explained that instructors from the gaming industry will provide training on Casino Surveillance and Security. Instructors will include officers of the Isleta Police Department (IPD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

There will also be roundtable discussions on: Free Play, Banning Patrons, and Serving Alcohol.

The IGRA will provide the training at no charge. Instead, the IGRA will seek sponsorships and donations from companies that do business with the Pueblo of Isleta.

Sanchez requested that the Council sponsor the Summit with a $5,000 contribution. He also invited the Council to attend the training programs.  A reception will occur on August 12th at 5:00 p.m. at the Hotel Pool and Spa Area.  Refreshments and a cash bar will be available.

CM Cynthia Jaramillo questioned Sanchez on why the IGRA decided not to charge a fee to persons attending the Summit. Sanchez explained that the IGRA’s Committee discussed the possibility of charging a fee to participants. But, they decided that seeking sponsorships from companies that do business with the Pueblo would enable more persons to attend the Training Summit. He also said that the Hotel and Casino would also benefit from the Summit because participants would still pay the costs to stay at the Hotel.

The person’s serving on the IGRA Committee are:

Amber Mosteller;
George San Miguel;
Dorella Chewiwi;
Bernadette Callahan; &
Victor Sanchez

Secretary Verna Teller made the motion to support the Asset Protection Summit Training with a sponsorship of $5,000.  CM Fernando Abeita seconded the motion. The motion carried 10 in favor, 1 opposed and 1 abstaining.

CM Cynthia Jaramillo opposed and CM Joseph “Cougar” Lucero abstained.


Before Patrick Sanchez left, CM Joseph “Cougar” Lucero reminded him to inform the Council that the IGRA asked for him to serve as an instructor at the Training Summit.

Sanchez then explained that the IGRA’s Committee, in recognition of Joseph “Cougar” Lucero’s expertise and past work in surveillance, decided that Lucero should serve as an instructor in surveillance for internal asset protection.

CM Barbara Sanchez made a motion to authorize CM Joseph “Cougar” Lucero to provide training at the Summit. CM Phillip Jiron seconded the motion. The motion carried 10 in favor, 0 opposed & 2 abstaining.

CM Josephine Padilla & CM Joseph “Cougar” Lucero abstained.

According to Patrick Sanchez, instructors for the Asset Protection Summit will not receive compensation.


Shawna Ballay, Director of the Isleta Planning Department, and Gregory Miller, a Landscape Architect, presented a master plan for improvements that will be made along highway 47.  The landscape improvements will reflect the “history, culture and traditions” of the Pueblo.

Tribal members, Robin Velardez-Teller and Ronald Olguin, (both former council members), made several art piece structures that will be constructed for the 47 landscaping project. Ms. Velardez refers to one of her designs as the “Symphony of Life.”  The Council intends on placing Mr. Olguin’s art on the walls in front of the Tribal Services Complex.  

The Isleta Cultural Committee has been involved in the project. They have reviewed and approved the art designs developed by Velardez and Olguin.

Construction of the landscaping projects will occur in five (5) phases.

For now, the total estimated costs will be 3.5 million dollars for the beautification project along highway 47.  Funds for the project will come from federal money funneled through the New Mexico Department of Transportation. In order to get the federal funding, the Pueblo will be obligated to provide matching funds.  The cost to maintain and upkeep the art beautification efforts will also cost millions of dollars.

CM James Abeita stated that he was not sure that the art designs “really represents our culture.”  He said, “at the risk of being a critic, I have a problem interpreting what it is.”  There was no discussion on Abeita’s comment.

Abeita was referring to the art pieces and designs presented by Ballay and Miller.

Ballay also presented a resolution establishing the Pueblo’s priority list of transportation projects that the Tribe intends to fund for design, construction and maintenance.

Projects include a redesign of Tribal Road (TR) 90, improvements to Moonlight Drive and several other tribal roads.

The Council, by motion, unanimously approved a resolution for the 2013-2017 Tribal Transportation Improvement Program Priority List as presented by Ms. Ballay.  Motion carried 11 in favor, 0 opposed and 0 abstaining.  CM Douglas Jiron was not present for the vote.

CM Joseph “Cougar” Lucero made a motion to approve a resolution establishing a right-of-way and an appraisal waiver for Tribal Road 78 from NM Highway 314 to NM Highway 45.  Second by Secretary Verna Teller.  Motion carried 8 in favor, 1 opposed & 2 abstaining.  CM Barbara Sanchez opposed and CMs Juan Ray Abeita & James Abeita abstained. CM Douglas Jiron was not present for the vote.


At 4:00 p.m. President Michael Allen Lente requested that someone make a motion to enter into executive session.

CM Barbara Sanchez made the motion to go into an executive session. Second by CM Phillip Jiron. Motion carried 7 in favor, 3 opposed & 1 abstaining.

Voting in favor:

Joseph “Cougar” Lucero
Cynthia Jaramillo
Barbara Sanchez
Michael Allen Lente
Larry Jaramillo
James Abeita
Phillip Jiron

Voting Against:

Fernando Abeita
Verna Teller
Josephine Padilla


Juan Rey Abeita

CM Douglas Jiron was not present for the vote.

The purpose of the executive session was to discuss the charges of DWI against Juan Rey Abeita.

Governor Torres also wanted to discuss a separate issue during the executive session.  Torres did not identify what issues he wanted to discuss in the executive session.

I left the meeting after the Council entered their executive session.


By Christopher Abeita

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