Isleta Pueblo Politics

By Christopher L. Abeita

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Barbara’s Plan to Oust Teller Fizzles

bbSecretary Sanchez Angered

On January 23, 2015, Secretary Barbara Sanchez presented a memorandum to the Isleta Tribal Council. It contained recommendations on how to address the problem of meeting minutes that the 2013-2014 Council failed to approve.

Sanchez told the Council that she met with Vice-President Michael Allen Lente and Fernando Abeita and that they were in concurrence with the memorandum that she drafted.

Sanchez explained that they were recommending that the Council allow them to meet and review the unapproved minutes. Verna Teller asked why Sanchez was excluding her from the process.  Teller drafted the minutes and she said that she should be included to respond to questions or concerns that might arise.

Sanchez responded by accusing Teller of not completing the minutes during her term as Secretary. Teller and Sanchez disagreed on what information should be included in the minutes.

Sanchez was becoming angry because Vice-President Lente and Fernando Abeita were not speaking to give her support.  

Abeita replied that the memorandum only provided recommendations. He said, it was up to the full Council to give them further directions on how to resolve the issue of properly approving the minutes.

Ulysses Abeita said, it was the responsibility of the entire Council [for 2013-2014] to have made sure that those minutes were completed.

By this time, Sanchez was unable to hide her irritation. She told Abeita that she disagreed with him and that the Council Members from the prior term would also disagree with him.

President Frank Lujan tried to bring focus back to getting the minutes from the prior term approved. He tried to diffuse the situation by emphasizing that the minutes were important to the Tribe.  He also explained that it was improper to exclude Teller from the review process because she drafted the minutes. The President stated that he wanted all four Council Members, from the prior term, to review those minutes for the Tribe.

Sanchez told the President that she would not participate, if Teller was involved.  Sanchez became argumentative with President Lujan. She would not allow him to speak. Sanchez kept interrupting him with various excuses to avoid reviewing the minutes as he was requesting.

Vice-President Lente stated that perhaps it would be best, if Sanchez did not participate because of her animosity toward Teller.

Finally, President Lujan pounded his gavel on the table because Sanchez was becoming increasingly belligerent.  She defiantly told the President that he could not force her to participate because they did not have an “Ethics Code.” President Lujan appeared dismayed by her comments.

To avoid further escalation, the Council adjourned their meeting.

Rodney Jones Confirmed as Chief Judge

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