Council Member Betty Lente Pushes Council for $2,000 Per Capita for 2015
The Isleta Tribal Council unanimously approved a per capita distribution in the total amount of $2,000.00 for 2015. The Council will release the money in two distributions. The first distribution will occur on August 4th in the amount of $950.00. The second distribution will occur on December 8th in the amount of $1,050.00.
The first distribution will be non-taxable. The second distribution might be taxable depending on the source of money that the Council uses as a distribution in December.
The Isleta Tribal Court will have authority to garnish up to 75% of the per capita distribution to satisfy unpaid child support, fines and other miscellaneous Tribal Court Judgments.
Secretary Barbara Sanchez hesitated before voting in favor of the per capita distribution. She stated that it was a lot of money that could be better used for infrastructure of housing development. Nevertheless, after she made her comment, she voted in favor of the per capita distribution.
Kurt Weber, the Tribal Treasurer, presented three options for the Council. He explained that as of June 25th, the Tribe had 3,452 tribal members. Based on that, he came up with the following:
Option 1 was a per capita distribution of $950.00, which is $3.3 million dollars;
Option 2 was a per capita distribution of $1,500, which is $5.2 million dollars; &
Option 3 was a per capita distribution of $1,800, which is 6.2 million dollars.
If the Council selected option 1, the entire distribution would be non-taxable. Option 2 and 3 would mean that a portion of the money would be taxable to tribal members.
Council Member Betty Lente stated that she did not like any of the options presented. She said that they [the Council] spends a lot of money and that she would like to see the people get some of that money. She wanted the Council to authorize a distribution of $2,000.00.
Council Member Ulysses Abeita agreed. He stated that the Council needed to look at whether the Tribe had the money to make a distribution not on whether the money was taxable.
Aside from Secretary Sanchez’s comment that the money could be better used for infrastructure, all of the other council members sat silently. There was no debate or discussion. So, all of the council members ended up voting in favor of a $2,000.00 distribution including Secretary Sanchez. Council Member Verna Teller was absent.
Appellate Court Justices
On June 11, 2015, the Isleta Tribal Council interviewed Lee Bergen, Rudolph Lee Chavez and Cynthia Aragon for possible appointment to the Isleta Appellate Court. On June 12, 2015, the Isleta Tribal Council interviewed Scott G. Aaron and Cynthia Hall. All of these candidates are attorneys.
Today, (June 29th), the Council appointed Lee Bergen and Scott G. Aaron to serve on the Isleta Appellate Court. Lee Bergen is member of the Navajo Nation. Scott G. Aaron is non-Indian. The term of office for the newly appointed Justices will not begin until after the Isleta Tribal Council votes to amend the Isleta Appellate Court Ordinance.
Currently, the Ordinance requires the Council to appoint only tribal members to the Appellate Court. Since the current Council does not believe any tribal members are qualified to serve as Justices of the Appellate Court, they decided to amend the ordinance so they can appoint non-Indians or non-members.
The ordinance creates the Appellate Court and defines the authority, qualifications and obligations of the Justices serving on the Court. The Council is currently making numerous changes to this ordinance. So, the Council decided to allow the Tribe to provide the Council with comments to their proposed changes.
The Council decided that they will accept comments from any tribal members aged 18 or older.
The current Justices of the Isleta Appellate Court are: Roshanna Toya-Lucero, Tony Lucero and Ken Reid.