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Council approves Whistleblower Act to protect employees

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
04/30/2004 02:42 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - Tribal employees who report illegal activities while on the job are now protected thanks to an act unanimously approved by the Tribal Council April 12.

"The Whistleblower Act affords protection for employees against retaliation and reprisals for disclosing or refusing to participate in activities that are illegal or against policy," District 6 Tribal Councilor Meredith Frailey said.

"Cherokee Nation employees know they should report any illegal
activities they are aware of," Principal Chief Chad Smith said. "This act allows
employees to do that without fear that it will cost them their jobs. Many
other governments have whistleblower protection laws, and Cherokee Nation employees
deserve the same kind of protection."

The council unanimously approved an act that establishes procedures to replace a Judicial Appeals Tribunal justice if one is disqualified or must recuse oneself from a case. Frailey said the replacement would be a judge from the district court chosen by the remaining JAT judges and would be temporary.

Legislative Act 16-01 relating to referendum and initiative measures setting procedures and setting crime and punishment was unanimously amended by the council. The amended act is now titled the Referendum and Initiative Procedures Act and sets standards and procedures for referendum and initiative measures.

An act amending the Cherokee Nation Port Authority act was approved unanimously. Technical changes were made in the act, and some of the language in it was rewritten to clarify the Port Authority's goals.

The tribe's budget was amended by the council through an act and was increased by $1.7 million for a total budget of $314.4 million.

A resolution to authorize a lease-purchase agreement to purchase a bulldozer for the tribe's landfill business in Adair County was narrowly approved by a vote of 7-6. The total cost of the new dozer will be $435,980 during a 60-month period. Councilors who approved of the purchase were Audra Smoke-Conner, District 1; Jackie Bob Martin, District 2; Phyllis Yargee, District 3; Don Garvin, District 4; Meredith Frailey, District 6; Cara Cowan, District 7; and Buel Anglen and Bill Johnson, District 8. Voting against it were Councilors Bill John Baker, Dist. 1; Joe Crittenden, District 2; David Thornton, District 3; Melvina Shotpouch and Linda Hughes-O'Leary, District 5; Johnny Keener, District 6; and Chuck Hoskin, District 9.

The landfill operation is currently "losing money" said Councilor Crittenden, so he would have preferred the Natural Resources Department repair the old dozer rather than purchase a new one.

"The old dozer can be fixed. It was used until recently," he said. "We need to turn things around (at the landfill), adjust our rates, get customers back and put things back in the black."

Councilor Baker agreed with Crittenden saying profits from the landfill have dropped by half in the last year because Cherokee and Delaware counties did not renew their contracts with the landfill.

"It would have been prudent to fix the old dozer for $100,000 rather than buy a new one for a half million," he said.

Flossie Girty, group leader for Tribal Resources, said employees use a dozer daily at the landfill, and the operation "can't make money" without the proper equipment. The warranty on the old dozer expired, so the tribe is now responsible for repairing it. Lease-purchasing a dozer rather than repairing the worn one will save money in the long run because the CN will be able to trade in equipment more often, she said.

Other resolutions approved included:

• approval of a permit from the U.S. Department of the Interior for construction of the Sequoyah High School multipurpose facility, which will include a 1,700-seat arena;

• authorization for Integrity Tower Ltd. to erect a mobile telephone tower on trust land in Adair County at an annual lease rate of $4,800;

• authorization for the CN to submit a formal request for membership in the National Tribal Environmental Council;

• authorization for the submission of a grant application for $75,000 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act;

• authorization for the submission of a proposal to the U.S. National Park Service Tribal Preservation Program to secure funds to preserve and protect the tribe's Saline Courthouse located at Rose in Mayes County; and

• authorization for the submission of a grant application for $150,000 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for housing preservation, which would be administered by the Community Services Division.

Cherokee Nation Industries CEO Jim Majewski reported CNI had $7 million in sales in March and total of $62 million in sales since last July. The 40 percent increase in sales this fiscal year has so far earned CNI $1.8 million in profits, he said.
About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.

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