Update on Constitutional Term Limits Controversy

UpdateOn November 6, 2014, Michael Allen Lente, President of the Isleta Tribal Council, announced that they received the letter that Charlene Seidl and I (Christopher Abeita) submitted on November 5th. To read the letter, click: Term Limits.

Lente provided a copy to John Antonio, Superintendent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Southern Pueblos Agency. He also gave a copy to the BIA’s Election Board. The Board provided oversight of the Secretarial Election on the constitutional amendments.

The following Board Members were present:

John Antonio;
Deigo Lujan;
Elizabeth Kirk;
Richard Jaramillo, Jr.;
Francine Jaramillo; &
Michael Jojola.

The Council asked John Antonio whether he obtained an opinion from the BIA’s Solicitor about term limits. A “Solicitor” is another name for a government lawyer. Antonio said that he did not.

On September 2, 2014, Council Member Josephine Padilla requested that Antonio and Tribal Attorney, Pablo Padilla, get the Solicitor’s opinion about term limits.  Now, more than 65 days later, the Council still doesn’t have an opinion from the BIA’s Solicitor.

Council Member Fernando Abeita asked Antonio about a verbal opinion that Antonio mentioned at a prior council meeting. Abeita explained that Antonio told the Council — that the Solicitor verbally told Antonio —- that the amendment on term limits would not apply to the current Council. So, Abeita explained, that this is the reason why he made the decision to seek re-election.

Antonio responded that he never obtained a verbal or written opinion from the Solicitor about the issue on term limits. All of the other Election Board Members remained silent. They did not contradict Antonio’s statement.

Nevertheless, President Lente asked Antonio to get the Solicitor’s opinion on term limits. Lente asked them to “expedite it” to allow the Council to address the issue this coming week.

Secretary Verna Teller expressed, that it didn’t make sense why they needed to get the Solicitor’s opinion because it was the Council’s responsibility to resolve the controversy. She then reminded the Council that they just asked voters to eliminate language in the Constitution that required the Tribe to get Secretarial approval on ordinances.

Attorney Pablo Padilla quickly stated, that although the Constitution no longer contained that language, the Council could still obtain opinions from the Solicitor on other issues. Padilla said, that he needed to meet with the Council in an “Executive Session” because he wanted to give them legal advice on — how to deal with the issue on term limits.

On September 2, 2014, Padilla’s legal opinion was that the constitutional amendment on term limits would not apply to the current Council Members. At that time, however, Padilla did not provide any legal reasoning or explanation to support his opinion.

In the end, the Council directed John Antonio to get an opinion from the BIA’s Solicitor to help them make a decision on the term limits controversy.

One Reply to “Update on Constitutional Term Limits Controversy”

  1. Tsk tsk what a mess! How does a governing body stay out of trouble when Pablo Padilla our tribal attorney is steering them in the wrong direction? I’ve always said that everything should be printed in black and white with a legal opinion from experienced and reliable lawyers (aka Mielke and Brownell)! In addition, this whole problem could have been avoided if they had someone other than Pablo Padilla as their lawyer.

    By the way, wasn’t this one of the Council’s amendments? OMG! this just goes to show that the Council members didn’t properly read and understand their own amendments now that they have to get a Solicitor’s opinion.

    Another question. If the Council is going to discuss this problem, are they going to allow Fernando Abeita, Larry Jaramillo, Joseph “Cougar” Lucero and Barbara J. Sanchez, to be involved in the discussion and participate in the vote? They shouldn’t because it would be a direct Conflict of Interest! The remaining Council members should be the only individuals who participate in such discussion and voting.

    Why is Pablo Padilla so shady? Look at how he is pushing the Council by saying that although the Constitution no longer contained that language, the Council should still obtain opinions from the Solicitor on other issues. Hello! Red Flag right there!!! Playing politics Pablo Padilla! Why aren’t you certain of your legal opinion regarding the amendments? Why didn’t you prevent this problem by making the language crystal clear from the beginning? Wishy Washy! No matter how much Mielke and Brownell cost, the Pueblo should have stayed with their firm and their opinions.

    To add salt to this open wound, the former Council gave a $40,000 pay increase to Pablo Padilla for preparing documents on Water Rights! This means that he is now getting $130,000 salary a year!!! And he’s probably making a mess with our water rights too! Wait, let me ask, Pablo have you even started working on our water rights issues yet??? Or, was that just a way for you to get your pay increase?

    What a mess!!!

What are your thoughts?