Isleta Pueblo Politics

By Christopher L. Abeita

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Highlights of Community Meeting – Part 2

Assisted Living Facility

Natalie Abeita, Director of the Assisted Living Facility, explained that they are currently on target to open December 2014. The facility will provide 24 hour on site care to residents. A nurse will be on contract to provide services, however, the nurse will not be available on a 24 hour basis.

The facility will be licensed through the State of New Mexico. It will have the capacity to serve 20 residents. Ms. Abeita plans to reserve at least 2 beds for persons in need of hospice care.

To see their brochure: Assisted Living Facility.

To see a floor plan of a typical private room: Floor Plan.

According to Ms. Abeita, the costs to stay at the facility will be approximately $125 per day or $45,500 annually. Persons staying at the facility must pay these costs privately or through Medicaid.

Selection of residents will be on a first come first serve basis. Ms. Abeita presented information that would disqualify persons from residing at the facility. In general, any person with serious health conditions will be unable to stay there.

Isleta Tribal Council

At this point, time was running short for the meeting. So, Michael Allen Lente, President of the Isleta Tribal Council, spoke very briefly on the items that he was supposed to discuss with the community.

The President explained that he is aware that some people in the Tribe are speaking negatively about the Council’s proposed constitutional amendments. Nevertheless, President Lente said that the amendments “are very much needed by the Tribe.” And, that “they are good for the Tribe.”  He did not, however, explain why the proposed amendments are “good” for our Tribe.

President Lente also said that the Council stands behind the proposed amendments. To avoid questions, President Lente said, “we’re not gonna go into details about the amendments.”

He also stated that they now have over 300 people that registered to vote for the election to amend the constitution.

President Lente also mentioned that the Council completed their Probate Ordinance and that they sent it to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for approval. 

None of the other council members made statements.

Landscaping of Highway 47 Corridor

Kathy Trujillo presented numerous slides of black and white drawings of various sculptors that will be built along Highway 47 to beautify the landscape. Robin Teller and Ron Olguin designed the art work.

A tribal member asked Trujillo, how much is all this going to cost? Trujillo quoted two different numbers for a combined total of $940,000. Trujillo also said that all of the money was going to come from the US Department of Transportation.

I specifically asked Ms. Trujillo what the costs were going to be to maintain the landscaping after it was built. She did not offer a specific cost.  Instead, she said, that the costs to maintain the landscaping would come from federal money — not tribal money. She also stated, that there was no reason to believe that federal funding would be cut for maintenance of the landscaping.

Editorial Comment

Conflicting Information


The information provided by Kathy Trujillo concerning the landscaping of Highway 47 contradicts information presented by Shawna Ballay, the former Director of the Isleta Planning Department. Ms. Ballay is no longer employed with the Pueblo.

On July 2, 2013, Ms. Ballay informed the Isleta Tribal Council that the total estimated costs for the beautification project of the Highway 47 corridor would be 3.5 million dollars. In order to get the federal money for the landscaping, the Pueblo is obligated to provide matching funds, according to Ballay.

To read the July 2nd post, click: Shawna Ballay’s Report to Council.

Governor Eddie Paul Torres was listening to the presentation.  But, he did not correct any of the information provided by Ms. Trujillo. Nor, did the Council.

Typically, there are two problems with federal money.  First, the feds usually attach strings to the money.  In other words, to get the money, the Tribe becomes obligated to do certain things such as provide matching funds.

A second problem is that the federal money is not recurring. So, the feds will provide federal funding for a project, but this money will only last for a specified period.  Thereafter, the Tribe has to spend its own money to continue a specific project or program. This is very bad, if the Tribe does not have the money to carry on the activity. So, if a project is frivolous like the beautification of Highway 47, then our Tribe ends up wasting valuable resources that should be spent elsewhere.

Not Covered

Due to my time constraints, I did not cover the following presentations:

Bureau of Indian Education School Conversion to a Pueblo Operated School by Debbie Lente-Jojola and Albert Cherino; &

Internship Pilot Program by Richard “Dickki” Garcia. Previously, I posted an article about this program, which you can find here: 2014 Summer Internship Program.

Governor Eddie Paul Torres closed the meeting at noon time.  So, the remaining items on the community agenda were not covered.

By Christopher Abeita

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