Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Candy and Nuts

If ifs and buts were candy and nuts... 
and a big IF from a gaming commissioner.
Thanks to a tip from a reader, and some information that came up in the rules committee meeting, it looks like the guy who is singlehandedly responsible for keeping the UKB’s casino open (even though the state wants to shut it down), is now being appointed by Bill John Baker to be a gaming commissioner for the Cherokee Nation.  

For that, John Garrett was awarded a seat on the UKB’s Supreme Court, which is a pretty good gig, we guess.  He kept that job up until the time that something better came along: a chance to be gaming commissioner for Cherokee Nation.

When he was being questioned in committee, Garrett was part of this exchange (about 45 minutes into the December Rules committee meeting)

Cara Cowan Watts: “How do you feel about the UKB’s claims to land in our jurisdiction?”
Garrett: “If I’m approved as a gaming commissioner, my loyalty is of course to the Cherokee Nation.”
CCW: “So it just depends on who you work for?”
Garrett: “Well….” (awkward pause….)”

Later on, Garrett reiterated his “If’ statement, making it clear that, like any good lawyer, he would be happy to take the Cherokee Nation’s side as long as the council approved him, hired him and paid him.

Garrett admitted to helping the UKB back in the day when he was a judge and at one point acted like he didn’t have a choice but to give the UKB what they wanted in court, even though it was obviously a federal issue and today, more than half a decade later, the federal court is still weighing its options on a case Garrett decided in the UKB's favor in a single day.

In the end, six council members thought the UKB Casino’s best friend (who says he would switch his loyalty “If” the council approved him) was not the right guy to oversee the Cherokee Nation’s casinos.  10 council members, and of course, Chief Baker, thought he would be a good choice.  Oh yeah, one more thing: in the confirmation process, Garrett admitted he gave Baker’s campaign $2,000. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bakers Dozen

Just as 13 is a little more than 12,
Baker is trying to cram 10 board members into 9 seats.

Last week, the Tribal Council approved all of Baker’s nominees for everything, including five new board members for CNB in full council on Monday night, and then five more for four more seats in committee on Friday.  

We’ve already discussed the first five, and their varying range of qualifications.

You can read about the new group online as well, and once again their range of qualifications is broad, from a Harvard educated investment guru to a funeral home director.

But a key line in the news releases, are these little lines: “If confirmed, four of the nominees will fill seats that were previously vacant.  The fifth nominee will be on hold and not start his term until later on in 2012.”  The new person will remain ‘on hold until the new term starts.’

Sooooo…. That’s awkward.  Which of the five draws the short straw and has to sit out?  Obviously Baker knew he was nominating more people than the board could hold, but why?  Did he overpromise board appointments to folks?  What’s the rush?  Is someone on the CNB board on the way out and doesn’t know it yet?  

Regardless, Baker is trying to put 5 into 4 and we’ll see how that pans out.  And we have to ask the council members who voted for these guys (and they are all guys), who they want off the board, or who they want to put in limbo.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Baker Chooses Head

Not Pictured: Charles Head.
Bill John Baker has made his nominee for Secretary of State and it’s a guy named Charles Head.  Head, the current BIA boss in Muskogee, is taking the place of Melanie Knight, who resigned.

Knight, on her way out the door, sent an all employee email saying “The Nation has all of the tools for success and the opportunities with what we have built are endless.  The most valuable resource is each of you; as individual employees and teams your work determine our success as a Nation.”

Baker, nominating Head, said: “With his experience working with the federal government and tribes across this area, Charles Head is a natural fit to be secretary of state…. His talents have served the Cherokee Nation well in the past and they will once again be a tremendous asset.”

Baker points out that Head has a lot of good experience working with tribes in this area, but what might trouble some is his experience with one tribe in particular.  The last we heard from Mr. Head, he was busy telling the Cherokee Nation that the BIA was going to put the UKB’s casino land into trust unless the Cherokee Nation objected. 

We’re sure he was just doing his job. But the Secretary of State for the Cherokee Nation is supposed to stand up for the Cherokee Nation’s sovereignty, and it’s a little scary that the guy Baker is nominating to do that is the guy who was attacking our sovereignty last month.

Head’s nomination is on the Rules Committee agenda for Tuesday. 

Another interesting thing is that Baker’s nomination includes a time frame, a four-year term for Head to serve, from January 2012 to January 2016.  The constitution says each chief gets to appoint his/her own Secretary of State, and Baker’s current term expires August 14, 2015.  If Baker’s re-elected, Head should be golden, but if not, then by the constitution he’ll be out unless the new chief asks him to stay.  It’s silly to try to write a law that says otherwise, but that’s what is before the council.

There are several other important agenda items on the Rules committee agenda for Tuesday.  Be sure and check it out if you can.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Joe Byrd and the Terminator

We talked a lil’ bit about Joe Byrd filing to run for a tribal council seat.  The Tulsa World pointed out that Byrd’s years in office were marked by controversy and scandal and that he was acquitted of charges of wiretapping.

He beat the rap, because, according to the World, Byrd pinned the blame on his own handpicked Housing Authority Director, Joel Thompson, who at the time of Byrd’s trial in 1997 was “serving time in prison on a conviction of embezzling federal funds.”

So, there’s that.

Diane Watson, aka the Cherokee Terminator
Byrd also has taken a very public pro-freedmen stance.  In 2007, when people in Congress were trying to kill off the Cherokee Nation, take our funding away, shut down Hastings and the clinics, what did Byrd do?  He sat down with the folks who were trying to shut us down, and, as former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation he… agreed completely with the folks who were trying to kill the Cherokee Nation.  Yep.  He sat down with the Congressional Black Caucus, Diane Watson and a whole group of people who think Cherokees are racist, and… agreed with them again.  Completely: “In this time where I thought that type of treatment was gone, we’re resurfacing some racism here,” Byrd said.

Just to be clear, Byrd spelled it out for the Tulsa World, too, saying “We can go home and leave the freedmen as they are, part of the Cherokee nation.”

Whether freedmen should be citizens or not is one thing.  Whether a former chief should side with the Congressmen who are trying to shut down the Cherokee Nation is another thing.  And whether Cherokees think that kind of behavior by a former chief is what they are looking for in a Tribal Council candidate is another thing as well.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

LL Cool J Edition

Ladies Love Cool Joe?
Don’t call it a comeback, he’s been here for years!  Joe Byrd is bringing his bad self out of political retirement and said he wants to be the guy who replaces Bill John Baker on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council.  

Byrd is one of five folks that are running.  He’ll be facing: Raymond Vann, who turned in a couple of all-star performances in Deputy Chief debates before finishing with 7 per cent of the vote; Pam Iron, who finished third in the June election; Brandon Girty who finished with 4% of the vote in June, and Geneva Reeves, who we don’t know a lot about (maybe you can help us).

The Tulsa World had a story with some of the highlights/lowlights of Byrd’s era as a Principal Chief back in the 1990s.They earned the understatement of the year award by summing up the Byrd years by saying they “consisted of arguments on many levels of tribal government.”

LL Cool J reminds us Joe Byrd has been here for years.

The election is set for January 14, with a runoff, if necessary, on February  18.  At that point, we would finally have a full tribal council but the winner shouldn’t get too comfortable.   
They’ll have about a year to decide if they want to run for re-election in 2013.    

Monday, December 5, 2011

Frankie Goes to Tahlequah

Cherokees just keep on voting, and they keep on electing folks from Adair County.  According to the Cherokee Nation’s web site, Stilwell’s Frankie Hargis (an internet enigma) won the runoff. 

We don’t know a whole lot about Frankie besides she’s female and likes to hug Joe Crittenden in victory celebrations.  

We’ve heard from reliable sources that she’s a good friend of Jodi F. Hawk and worked for the Cherokee Nation until she decided to run for council.  Tell us more about what you know, as the Cherokee Nation welcomes its newest council person.