There have been lots of reader comments about the Baker transition and who should be fired and who shouldn’t be. The opinions range from (paraphrasing) “If you didn’t vote for Baker why would you want to work for him, anyone who voted for Smith should be fired or resign” to “Baker shouldn’t get rid of anyone, it’s illegal for him to fire people-- who does he think he is Donald Trump?”
So we thought we’d get to the bottom of the Cherokee Truth, as much as we can. First, let’s start with the Cherokee Nation Constitution.
“No employee, who having served in a position at least one (1) year, shall be removed from the employment of the Cherokee Nation except for cause, and only after being afforded pre-termination due process. Provided, the right of such employee to seek redress in the Cherokee Nation courts shall not be abridged.”
So that pretty much says Baker can’t fire whoever he wants, just because he doesn’t like them. The people he has let go, from what we can tell, were all Smith supporters and he let them go immediately. He also said they were under contract, which means maybe the rules above don’t apply. Okay, so what about anyone else? Going by the Constitution, if the Chief or someone’s boss wants to get rid of a Cherokee Nation employee because the employee is cross-eyed, or because the employee’s toenails are too long, or because the employee supported the wrong candidate, the chief or boss can do that as much as they want, as long as the employee has worked there 364 days or less.
Any employee who has worked there a whole year has something that former APCSJC (now DCSJC) would understand from his career going postal over in Stilwell: civil service rights. Those employees can grow their toenails as long as they want. They can vote for whomever they want, and they can’t be legally fired or it.
This is very, very important. The Cherokee Nation has thousands of Cherokee employees. One of the freedoms of being a part of a great nation is having the right to express your political opinion without having to worry about getting fired if you do. For instance, there are probably plenty of Democrats who voted against Mary Fallin who work for the state of Oklahoma. And there are probably plenty of Republicans who voted against Obama who work for the federal government.
Baker has a right to bring in people he trusts to lead his team. He earned that right when he took his oath of office. But his supporters need to slow down a little and realize that by bringing in his own people, he doesn’t HAVE to violate the constitutional rights of employees who DIDN’T support him. Baker can find jobs for Cherokees who have served the Cherokee people for decades if he wants to truly start the process of healing the Cherokee Nation. Political firings really don’t make him look good and they don’t heal the Cherokee Nation either.