Which Path Will the Council Take?
Secretary Barbara Sanchez wants the Council to suspend Council Member Verna Teller. Last term, the Isleta Tribal Council failed to approve 68 sets of meeting minutes. Secretary Sanchez is blaming Teller because she was serving as Secretary of the Council.
“Meeting minutes” are the official notes of the Council. The minutes are supposed to describe what the Council did at their meeting. The minutes become the “official” record of the Council after the Council reviews the minutes to make sure that they accurately reflect what happened at the meeting. The Council then votes on whether to approve the minutes.
Since the prior Council failed to approve their minutes, Secretary Sanchez is blaming Teller and she wants the current Council to discipline her. Sanchez believes, that the Council has the right to discipline fellow Council Members.
According to Sanchez, a prior Council suspended Mark Dixon for 90 days. She said, when Dixon was Secretary of the Council, he failed to complete meeting minutes. She also mentioned, that he was disciplined because he was representing someone before the Tribal Court.
Council Member Fernando Abeita stated, that the issue was raised several times last term. He also explained, that Joseph “Cougar” Lucero attacked him because he did not make a motion to suspend Teller. Vice-President Michael Allen Lente stated, that he spoke with Teller various times during the last term about the minutes.
Teller explained, that the prior Council tabled the minutes several times. She said, the minutes are complete with the exception of 9 sets, which were lost. Now, we need to decide how to approve the minutes so the Tribe will have an official record of those meetings. Teller suggested, that the four Council Members that were re-elected from last term review the minutes to ensure that those minutes are accurate. They can then make a recommendation to the Council.
Secretary Sanchez complained that it was going to take a substantial amount of her time. She said, it would also interfere with her current duties as Secretary. She then, pushed the Council toward punishing Teller based on what happened during the last term.
President Frank Lujan was very concerned that the prior Council failed to approve their minutes. He said, this Council needs to first address how we are going to get these minutes approved. He did not think that it was appropriate for the new members to approve the minutes because they weren’t at the meetings. However, he encouraged the Council Members that were re-elected from the last term to review the minutes and make a recommendation to the Council.
No decision was made on how to resolve the outstanding minutes. Instead, Vice-President Lente is going to meet with Secretary Sanchez and Fernando Abeita to make a recommendation on whether to take disciplinary action against Teller.