Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How the Freedmen Deal Went Down Part IV: Are You Okay With Being Lied To By Your Government?

Over the last week or so (in parts I-III), we’ve established that the Cherokee people are being lied to about how the Freedmen miraculously became citizens just days before last fall’s elections.  Joe Crittenden was asked to supply all the communications he had with the BIA and the Freedmen as he negotiated a deal to make them citizens, but all Crittenden turned over were a bunch of all-employee emails which appears someone else wrote and signed his name to, and receipts for this trip to DC so he could get paid some cash money for going to our Nation’s capital and selling HIS Nation’s constitution down the river.

So, what are you, the Cherokee citizens, going to do about it?  You’ve been lied to, and there is a cover-up going on!  Documents that exist have not been turned over as required by law, and no explanation has been given as to why.

On this blog, we only care about the TRUTH.  And nothing makes us madder than when people lie to the Cherokee people.  Crittenden will get away with the lie and his noncompliance with the law if the Cherokee people let them.

So here’s what you all need to do.  Get out a sharp pencil, a dull crayon, an old IBM Selectric or the writing utensil of your choice and send a Freedom of Information Act Request to Bill John Baker, Cherokee Nation, PO BOX 948, Tahlequah, OK 74464.

Write something like this:
Dear Chief Baker,

One of the pillars of your campaign and pledged hallmarks of your administration was transparency.  In the interest of the Cherokee people’s understanding of how people with no Cherokee blood became citizens of the Cherokee Nation just before September’s election, even though our Tribal Supreme Court had ruled they were not citizens.

Please provide ALL written emails, letters and phone call notes, travel, meeting dates and topics Acting Chief Joe Crittenden, and ANY of his staff, liaisons, contractors or other types of representatives have had with Larry Echo Hawk, Echo Hawk’s staff, BIA officials, DOI officials, Marilyn Vann, Jon Velie (attorney for Freedmen), any other Freedmen plaintiffs or representatives and DOJ concerning the Freedmen, citizenship for the Freedmen, pending Court cases, Judge Kennedy and anyone else associated with this important case for the past six months.  Please include the materials left out by Joe Crittenden in a previous FOIA request, including the letter(s) he sent to the BIA that the BIA acknowledges receiving but that Crittenden refused to disclose earlier.

Please respond to this request as required by LA 25-01, Cherokee Nation’s  Freedom of Information Act."

Or something like that.

Better yet, ask him to put the documents on the web.  Pester the folks at the Cherokee Phoenix about why they are ignoring the story and it’s coverup. 

Write your council members demanding to know what happened.

Write the Attorney General and point out Crittenden’s noncompliance.  It’s AG Todd Hembree's duty to make sure EVERYONE follows the law, including and ESPECIALLY elected leaders.  If our Constitution is ignored, supposedly for the greater good, we have a right to know how that happened.  We have a right not to be lied to and then have the TRUTH covered up.

Do it.  And if no one else will publicize what you find, rest assured we will always stand for the CHEROKEE TRUTH.

Friday, February 24, 2012

How the Freedmen Deal Went Down Part III: Save Your Reciepts

For the last couple of days we’ve been trying to figure out what happened in September when freedmen suddenly became citizens.  Read the intro blog from earlier this week as well as the amazing telepathic communications blog if you haven’t already to catch up.  The short version:  Acting Principal Chief S. Joe Crittenden is hiding SOMETHING, we just don’t know if it’s his ignorance or something more sinister.  He didn’t turn over any documentation of how the decisions were made.

Here are some examples.  On page 12 of the 94-pager, the BIA thanks APCSJC for submitting a letter and the election code to them for review.  WHOOPS!  APCSJC didn’t include that actual letter in the correspondence.  So obviously he was communicating with the BIA, but he won’t tell us what he sent them.  Thanks for being “truthful and transparent” APCSJC!  

On page 82, there is a letter to all employees signed by APCSJC but written and emailed by someone named Sedelta Oosahwee.   There is no reply from him, or nothing saying he got the email, or approved the email.  Maybe this person just had carte blanche to sign APCSJC’s name to any ol’ thing about our sovereignty.  

Finally, were just a few carefully maintained, hand-written documents that APCSJC managed to find that could shed some light on how the freedmen got to be citizens.  Scroll all the way down to page 94… that’s where you see he managed to save his receipts so he could get reimbursed his cab ride and parking for his trip to DC.  You know the one where he single-handedly made the freedmen citizens again, but can’t find any documents or communications to show how it happened.  All we really know is it costs $15 bucks or so to get to the hotel from the airport, and that when it comes to keeping track of pieces of paper so he can get paid, APCSJC is top notch.  When it comes to keeping track of documents that show why he gave away the Cherokee Nation’s sovereignty, he’s not so good.  More tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How The Freedmen Deal Went Down Part II: "Transparent and Truthful"

Yesterday we laid out the preview for today’s blog.  If you didn’t read it you need to.  Take some time and click here before continuing.

There.  That’s better.  Because you need that background to understand where we are today:  diving into a 94 page document that is supposed to be a “transparent and truthful” accounting of how the freedmen got to vote in the election.  Aside from the fact that S. Joe Crittenden (APCSJC) wanted them to because they voted in June and voted in July and they may have helped put me in office. I believe they are entitled to vote again…” for his buddy Bill John Baker.

During this time, on September 13, APCSJC tells us that he is “pursuing political remedies that are in the best interest of the Cherokee Nation.”

The election is coming up on September 24.  There is a federal court hearing on September 20, when a judge is going to rule on whether the election can even happen, since the freedmen aren’t citizens anymore.  But when September 20 rolls around, Crittenden cuts a deal with the BIA and Freedmen that changes the rules of the elections and lets the Freedmen in.  So obviously that was a busy week for him, between the 13th when he tells us he is ‘pursuing political remedies’ and the 20th when those remedies come to fruition.  He even tells us that he is involved in the final nitty gritty of the deal making process: We are still working out the final details, to be agreed upon among all the parties…” 

So when asked for all the documents, notes, emails, etc. about this deal, and given that he has promised to be transparent and truthful, what does APCSJC give us?  A big stinking pile of jack squat.
In the 94 page response seen here, there are emails and notes from all kinds of people, staff members and the attorney general.  But very few from APCSJC himself.  There are no emails from him to the BIA.  There are no notes of any conversations he had with the BIA.  There is no copy of any correspondence whatsoever between him and the BIA.  There is no correspondence between him and the freedmen of any kind, even though APCSJC himself tells us “we are working out the final details to be agreed upon among all parties…”  Did they communicate telepathically?  Use one of those secret languages only twins understand?  Or did APCSJC lie to us and hide documents?  Or did he never actually do anything at all, but only farm out the work to heaven knows who?

There’s a lot of evidence pointing to the fact that ACPSJC didn’t do anything himself.  For instance, there are several all-employee communications about the freedmen issue, (see pages 38, 39 and 40).  They were all sent by someone other than APCSJC, but they are signed with his name.  But there is no correspondence from APCSJC to those people showing that he actually wrote it!  If this is all the correspondence then someone wrote all the letters for APCSJC and then sent them out with his name on it.  There’s not even an email from APCSJC saying, yes, I approve of this draft you wrote!

But regardless, APCSJC is either hiding documents explaining why he decided to single-handedly agree to let freedmen be citizens even though our Constitution and Supreme Court say they can’t, or he didn’t make that decision himself at all and refuses to divulge who did actually make the decision.

To sum up, here's a short version of the TRUTH:  APCSJC was asked for every scrap of information and documentation.  He did not turn over any information or documentation about why he made the decision, even though he vowed to be truthful and transparent.  He did not even explain why he didn't turn over the information. 

Wow.  More on this tomorrow, but if this is “truthful and transparent” we are in for a long four years.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How the Freedmen Deal went Down, Part I

In a September whirlwind, Acting Principal Chief S. Joe Crittenden (APCSJC) was in the middle of a political firestorm that was more than he bargained for.  The CN Supreme Court kicked freedmen out of the tribe on his eighth day as APC.

A couple of weeks later the BIA told him they weren’t going to recognize PC2011 Election 2.0 if the freedmen couldn’t vote.  And they couldn’t, because they weren’t citizens.

APCSJC immediately sprung into action, working with the BIA, freedmen and everyone else to make a deal so the election could happen and he could become DCSJC, which is what he always wanted.  

A lot of us wanted to know what the hell happened.  How did we get here, as a Nation?  Who talked to whom, how was this deal made and was it really necessary? 

Someone was smart enough to request the documents as part of our open government here at Cherokee Nation.  What they actually asked for was this:  “Please provide all written emails, letters and phone call notes, travel, meeting dates and topics Acting Chief Joe Crittenden and ANY of his staff, liaisons, contractors or other types of representatives have had with Larry Echo Hawk, Echo Hawk’s staff, BIA officials, DOI officials, Marilyn Vann, Velie (attorney for Freedmen), any other Freedmen plaintiffs or representatives and DOJ concerning the Freedmen, citizenship for the Freedmen, pending Court cases, Judge Kennedy and anyone else associated with this important case for the past six months.”

This request came less than a week after the federal court agreement by APCSJC, and less than two weeks after APCSJC himself said this about how he was going to fix the freedmen situation:  “I hereby re-pledge to the Cherokee People that I will be transparent and truthful.”

So what did we end up with?  A 94 page document responding to this public records request that is ASPSJC’s version of being “transparent and truthful.”  Surely this will finally tell us how we got non-citizens changed back into citizens just hours before our do-over Principal Chief election.  And for those of you who think this isn’t relevant, just remember: this citizenship compromise that APCSJC came up with in his 67 days as Acting Principal Chief is still with us now and may be for the rest of our lives.  So how did it happen?  Find out what the public record documents show in tomorrow’s Cherokee Truth.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Who Was That Masked Man? Lone Ranger Edition

There is a Facebook page out there that we hesitate to bring attention to because it is so pathetic-- and telling our thousands of readers about it is about the best favor we could ever do for it.  But sometimes telling the Truth means you have to shine the light on some ugly things.  That’s what we’re doing today.

First, a little about this Facebook page.  One of the first things this page did, after it was started in December, was mimic Cherokee Truth.  And that’s about the best thing it has ever done.  Since then, the page has been blocked from posting here because it refused to follow our rules.  But that shouldn’t surprise anyone once they read a little further.  In three months or so of existence, it has 102 likes.  We got that many in our first week.  So this really is a small fish, but it’s also a bitter, professional fish.

Who is that masked man/recall advocate?
The page is called Recall Cara Cowan Watts.  It mainly spouts hate against her as a council person and tries to convince everyone that she is terrible.  That’s free speech and that’s fine.  But there is something a little more sinister here.  So who is the man behind the mask?  Well, he’s nowhere near as honorable as the Lone Ranger, but he’s just as condescending to Indians.

Remember the DC guy who talked all about how he hoodwinked the Cherokees into voting for Baker after Baker did exactly what the guy told him to do during the Chief election?

That guy was Dane Strother, of Strother Strategies, Bill John Baker’s highly paid Washington DC campaign strategist.  And he is also the guy masquerading online as Recall Cara Cowan Watts.  

How do we know this?  He sent us an email and signed it.  

He wants us to try to spread dirt about Cara Cowan Watts and her husband, but he didn’t provide any documentation.  That fits Strother’s Baker strategy, which was about smokescreens, Cherforce One and other distractions because Smith had done a “good job.” He already bragged about that online, as you recall.

Does anyone else find it creepy that Bill John Baker’s campaign guy months after the election is harassing a council member when she’s not even eligible to run for re-election?  Who is paying this guy (remember, Baker gave him a ton of money)? Is Baker still paying his strategy guy to take down a council member he doesn’t like? Or does Baker’s guy have some kind of weird obsession with Cowan-Watts and he's stalking her as a hobby?  Or worst of all, is this guy on the Cherokee Nation payroll?  Right now, nobody knows-- but regardless, it’s pretty dirty pool and conduct not becoming of a Chief to have employees he pays out of his own pocket, or his campaign funds, to run a hate campaign against a sitting council member.  Especially since Baker is still raising money for the very activities he may be paying Strother to do.  Not cool, Kemo Sabe.  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Look who's back!

To paraphrase a short white guy from Detroit:

“Guess who’s back, back again, Truth is back, Tell a friend.”  It seems so empty without us, right?  Well for a somewhat limited engagement Cherokee Truth is back for this week, and depending on how much fodder our Cherokee elected officials give us, a while longer.  We won’t be going full wall to wall election Truth like last Spring/Summer/Fall, but we’ll be updating more often.

If you want more (and you know you do), we do need your help.  There are (and have been) rumors going around, but we don’t deal in rumors.  In the next few days we’ll have some solid facts with backup documentation that will make some people uncomfortable.  But that’s what the Truth does.

Remember:  Truth is back, tell a friend!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Happy Birthday Chief Baker!

How did we know it was his birthday?  Linda Gray Murphy, Baker’s campaign spokesperson sent us an email inviting us to his 60th birthday party tonight in Tulsa.

All we had to do is bring a gift, preferably that was something like $xx60. Seriously, she suggested donations to Baker’s campaign depending how awesome you think Baker is. If you want to be Visionary, you could give the Chief $4960. If you want to be a Dream Maker, you could give $2560. If you want to be a Guardian, you could give him $1060. If you want to be a partner, you could give $560.  If you want to be a friend you could give $60.  

At Cherokee Truth, we’re just normal folks trying to get by.   

And we really thought our elders would be getting their $200 checks before the Chief came asking us for $4960 checks.  But we were wrong about that. 

Regardless, it gives us a good idea.  Cherokee Truth will be celebrating its first birthday in May.  We’ll get a paypal account set up so you can pay us for being such ‘visionaries.’ 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Process of Elimination

In a story you can’t find in the Cherokee Phoenix or the Tahlequah Daily Press, Bill John Baker was sued more than two weeks ago for allegedly firing employees illegally when he came into office.  Channel 6 and Channel 8 are covering it, with Channel 6 even digging up and old interview from one of Baker’s first days in office talking about how he’d probably have to get rid of some folks.

We wrote about that one before, about how Baker cleaned house on day one, but the firees, and the lawsuit lays out some details of Baker’s first day, saying he called employees in, fired them in front of a crowd of campaign supporters and had reporters from the tribal newspaper there on hand to watch it all.  The employees say they were fired because they supported Smith for chief. You can read everything they say by reading the lawsuit on Channel 6’s web site, but it boils down to this:  the employees say their rights and the Cherokee Nation constitution were violated. 

The Cherokee Constitution says: “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.”

Even the chief has to follow the law.  Especially the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation.  It’s up to the court to decide if he did or not, but it’s clear that he’s got some ‘splainin’ to do.  Baker’s got to prove that in the 12 or so hours between the 9pm when he got done getting sworn in at the courthouse and 9am when he started firing people, he not only found cause to fire them, but he also had time to afford them  “pre-termination due process.”  

If he can’t, it may end up costing the Cherokee Nation a lot of money. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Baker's Guru Explains the Campaign

There’s been a lot going on, and we’ve been on a bit of a hiatus.  But something grabbed out attention today: an analysis of the election by Baker’s campaign guru posted online.  It a blow-by-blow version of Baker’s side of the story, told in the same cynical sort of way you might expect a DC consultant to tell his friends how he won the Cherokee Nation election.

There are a few telling quotes from the self-proclaimed mastermind of Baker’s victory, Dane Strother.  He said that Baker was very obedient to the strategy handed down from DC:  “…he proved to be one of the few clients I’ve had in my 25 years who completely placed the strategy in the hands of his consultants.  He did not second guess us once.”
Dane Strother and Baker confidant/consultant Kayln Free

Which makes us wonder which consultants are handling the strategy of the Cherokee Nation now?

Anyway, Strother walks us through his version of the Cherforce One issue, which he acknowledges was a side issue that they used to distract from Smith’s track record.

Basically the article is the winner’s version of events, and a way for Strother to gloat about how good a job he did making Baker our Chief.  And he’s entitled to brag, because the results speak for themselves.

But as Cherokees, we have to wonder if this is a direction we are comfortable choosing.  Strother uses lots of patronizing phrases to talk about how he brought Cherokee campaigns into the modern era.   Thanks for bringing Facebook to the 14 counties, Dane!   
Facebook founder thanks Strother for bringing FB to the Cherokees

To us, you are even bigger than Mark Zuckerberg!  

The article is interesting reading, keeping in mind that it is the Baker/Strother version of events, especially when he gets into the freedmen issue later on.  And it’s telling that Baker/Strother still can’t let go of the idea that the Supreme Court screwing Baker (Smith probably has more of a grudge to hold).

The story is written to glorify all the obstacles, real and imagined, that the great Dane Strother was able to overcome to guide his non-strategic candidate to victory.  Like any such story, it’s mostly illuminating for the perception Strother and Baker have of Cherokees (people who can be convinced with modern day smoke and mirrors) and how much of a hero Strother thinks he is for handing Baker a victory.