Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thank You For Smoking, Part Tali: Follow the Money

We got some feedback about our blog regarding the mysterious smoke shop subsidy, which puts money in the pockets of people who sell cancer sticks in our communities.  Seems pretty stupid, but it passed the Tribal Council unanimously, and Baker’s treasurer was there to support it.  So someone said we should follow the money.  As in, whose pockets does that $725,000 land in?  And lo and behold, the mystery became much clearer.

First, remember that the money helps two classes of people:  1) the people who lease their land to smoke shop owners, who now have most of their rent guaranteed, and 2) the smoke shop owners themselves, who now don’t actually have to pay their own rent. 

So a closer look shows that one of the proponents of giving Cherokee money to cancer peddlers instead of senior citizens was Chuck Hoskin, Jr.  And it turns out that his dad, Chuck Hoskin, Sr. owns land that is leased to a smoke shop.  Cha-ching!  What a great deal!  Chuck Jr. didn’t even recuse himself, he just voted to have the Cherokee Nation send money to his dad.  Pretty sweet.  It must be tough for Chuck Sr., making ends meet.  He’s already having to work two full-time jobs (State Rep and Chief of Staff).  The Nation was only paying Chuck Senior $130,000 this year, and the State of Oklahoma was chipping in a mere $38,400. 

While that’s not bad for a guy who lives in Vinita but whose offices at both of these “full-time” jobs are in Tahlequah and OKC, he did manage to find a way to squeeze another few extra bucks out of the Nation.  Well played.

Who else?  Well, who else is close to Baker?  No one is closer, literally, to Baker than the guy whose job is to drive him around.  Billy Bob Dougherty was a campaign donor Baker hired to be his driver/special projects guy.

But guess what?  Dougherty also owns a smoke shop and apparently needs a second check from the Cherokee Nation. Thanks to his boss/co-pilot, he doesn’t have to pay rent at his store anymore, according to the Cherokee Phoenix. 

So, he can continue selling low-tax tobacco, because of course it is in the Nation’s best interest to do so.  And the idea of giving the Cherokee people’s money away to people who sell tobacco, instead of say, that elder stipend we’ve be waiting by the mailbox for, is not just a stupid idea.  It’s starting to look like a corrupt one.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thanks For Smoking

Last month, the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council voted unanimously to pass a law that subsidizes the sale of tobacco.  So, the Nation is now in the position of buying billboards that say “Tobacco Stops With Me,” while at the same time paying people to sell you tobacco at below-market prices.

Here’s the deal: The Cherokee Nation is going to take $725,000 of the Cherokee people’s money and give it to the people who own the land that the smoke shops sit on.  Which means that the people who run the smokeshops don’t actually have to pay their rent anymore, the Cherokee Nation is picking up the tab.

Which is actually good news, because if the Cherokee Nation has close to a million bucks to subsidize the people who sell us cancer sticks, we’re sure that means they’ve already fully-funded health care and college scholarships, and of course, eyeglasses and dentures.   

We’re glad there are no longer any social problems that need to be addressed in the Cherokee Nation, and we anxiously await the roll-out of subsidies for folks at liquor stores and perhaps the fine folks at Hostess because the price of Ding-Dongs is getting just a little too high for our diabetes-riddled communities.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Kinship v. Kin. Who wins?

People keep emailing us more info on Bill John Baker and how he’s made his personal love for “the best President ever” B. Obama into Cherokee Nation’s official stance.  And of course, his defense of not-quite-Cherokee Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren.  Someone sent us a link of Baker ‘splainin’ his affection for a woman who, as one blogger put it: …has usurped Indigenous identity, just as her ancestors stole the land and resources. It's a hostile act of genocide and it is not okay.”
Baker’s justification for backing faux-Cherokee Warren: “I wish every Congressman and Senator in the U.S. had a kinship, felt a kinship to the Cherokee Nation.” Check out Baker on camera in his own words:

Well, that sounds good.  But what if there were an actual Cherokee citizen who really had a kinship with the Nation?  Baker would really, really love that person, right? Right??
What if there was a Cherokee citizen from Westville running for Congress, who’s already won his party’s nomination in a district that encompasses almost all of the Cherokee Nation, including Bill John Baker’s house?  Well there is, and his name is Markwayne Mullin.
So how does Baker and the Cherokee Nation support this Cherokee (who happens to be a Republican, rather than Baker’s preferred brand)?  Well, Baker tells the Daily Oklahoman in an article published September 4 that the Cherokee Nation will “stay out of it,”-- "IT" being the race between Mullin and the Democrat Rob Wallace, who is not Cherokee. 
Which is all well and good, except that Wallace, the non-Cherokee candidate, had already cashed a $2500 check from the Cherokee Nation back on July 19th, about six weeks before Baker told the world that we weren’t going to take sides. 
Whoops! Whether that was a lie or a simple mistake, the Nation has officially taken sides AGAINST the Cherokee.  So, a non-Cherokee Democrat gets Baker’s undying support while a card-carrying Cherokee Republican gets thrown under the bus.  By the way, Mullin’s reports show no donation from his own tribe, even though his non-Cherokee opponent has already been to the bank.
Then, in September the Democrat, Wallace, attacked Mullin for taking money from the Cherokee Nation on stimulus projects while Mullin simultaneously denounced the stimulus.  A week later, the Cherokee Nation produced documents that helped Wallace’s cause and slammed the Cherokee citizen, Mullin. 
So, let's go back to that video and take a look at what is really going on here. What it boils down to is that Baker supports Elizabeth Warren not because she has a “kinship” to the Cherokee Nation, like he says, but because she is a Democrat.
And Baker goes out of his way to go against Markwayne Mullin, EVEN THOUGH he is Cherokee, because he is a Republican.
No matter what your political affiliation: if you judge by actions, you might think being Democrat was more important to Baker than being Cherokee.  And it puts the Cherokee Nation in the position that if a tribal citizen gets elected to the U.S. Congress, his own nation will have fought him every step of the way.  
And if Mullin’s elected, every member of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation will be a Republican and the Cherokee Nation will be on the record as having pointedly backed Obama and all the Democrats our congressional delegation ran against.  That's not a great position to be in when most of the Nation’s budget comes from federal funds.