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.