Cherokee Nation Businesses Executive Vice President Shawn Slaton, middle, presents a check to Cherokee Nation Executive Director of Health Connie Davis and Principal Chief Bill John Baker at the May 14 Tribal Council meeting for a special $1.5 million dividend payment made possible through the sale of CNB’s corporate plane. COURTESY PHOTO
CNB gives $1.5M check to Contract Health Services
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation’s Contract Health Services received a dividend check for $1.51 million during the May 14 Tribal Council meeting thanks to the sale of Cherokee Nation Businesses’ corporate plane.
Authorized by CNB’s board of directors, the check stemmed from the sale of CNB’s C-90B Raytheon King Air, which sold on March 30 for $1.58 million to Jackson Demolition of Albany, N.Y.
“We’re going to help a lot of our people with the money from that plane,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “The Cherokee government is here to serve the Cherokee people and basic needs like the services provided by contract health are an obvious place to start.”
Officials said the tribe’s health services are administered in two ways. Federally funded programs are earmarked for specific programs and procedures. Money designated for those programs cannot be redirected. Self-funded CN Contract Health Services, however, is more flexible in the types of services and items covered, giving the tribe discretion in how to best meet its citizens’ needs.
“Contract Health (Services) is one of the most important ways we serve the Cherokee people,” Baker said. “That’s how we fill much needed gaps that are not covered by federal funding.”
Officials said CNB used a professional broker to bid out the plane. Through the sale, CNB will save by eliminating the plane and its hangar-associated expenses, including maintenance and fuel.
The plane became a topic of debate between former Principal Chief Chad Smith and Baker during the 2011 election. One of Baker’s campaign promises was to sell the plane if he were to become chief.
Cherokee Nation Entertainment purchased the eight-seat plane in 2007 for $1.87 million, which replaced an older model plane that the tribe owned. According to flight records, the plane was used primarily by previous administrations for tribal business.
This is the second funding increase for Contract Health Services since Baker has taken office. In November, Baker signed the Health Care Dividend Act, which authorized an additional 5 percent of casino profits be directed specifically to Contract Health Services.
“I’ve made health care a top priority of my administration,” Baker said. “Ensuring our people have access to good health care ensures a better quality of life for all. It’s my hope that these types of changes leave a lasting legacy on our people.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During the July 29 Resources Committee meeting, officials with the tribe’s Management Resources announced that the department had put in a request for the purchase of 50 additional bison from the Badlands Bison Roundup.
“There is a surplus of bison in the Badlands and they’re going to do another round up,” Executive Director Bruce Davis said. “They expect another 600 to 700 head. It doesn’t mean that we will get 50 because they are 60 tribes vying for them, but we were lucky enough last year to get them. I think we’ll get some.”
He said there have also been placement requests made for the potential influx of bison such as in Sallisaw, near the Cherokee Heritage Center and the Jack Brown Center.
Davis indicated that some of the bison calves already located within Cherokee Nation would eventually be cut from the herd and placed in a feeder program for slaughter. Heifers in the herd would be kept as cows until such time they were also appropriate for slaughter.
Tribal Councilors expressed concerns over how the bison are tested for diseases, including brucellosis, but Management Resources officials said the herd has been kept in isolation to test before being moved.
Officials also said they have also drafted a cattle operation proposal that would be presented at a later date.
“We would love to start a cattle herd,” Davis said. “We have the property and the hay. We have the meats to take care of them, and we have the personnel.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Tribal Councilors on July 30 confirmed nominations to the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board and the Cherokee Nation Comprehensive Care Agency board.
Cherokee Nation citizen Lauren Jones joined the Editorial Board with a vote of 15-1 with Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts voting against her. Tribal Councilor Jodie Fishinghawk absent.
According to Jones’ resume, she is the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma public relations senior supervisor. Her duties include writing, editing, proofing and coordinating design and production for targeted communication pieces in the health care industry.
The Tribal Council also unanimously approved Luka E. Madison’s nomination as a governing board member of the CN Comprehensive Care Agency, or PACE.
“I’m excited to serve the Cherokee Nation on the board for the all inclusive care of the elderly, and I look forward to contributing to leadership through governance,” Madison said.
According to Madison’s resume, she is the nursing supervisor at Northeastern Health System in Tahlequah, and in 2012 she received a master’s degree in nursing. Madison also serves on the Northeastern Oklahoma Health Centers board of directors.
According to the CN Comprehensive Care Agency Organic Act, the board was created in 2004 within the tribe’s executive branch to establish a government agency to access resources unavailable to existing health programs and to take advantage of future opportunities to better serve the health needs of both tribal citizens and others in the community.
Tribal Councilors also amended the tribe’s comprehensive operating budget for fiscal year 2015 by increasing it by $1.3 million for a total of $646.8 million. According to the act, the tribe received $312,689 in grants and made a modification request of $1,072,399. The modification request includes an increase in the General Fund of $682,566, an increase in the Motor Fuel Tax budget of $300,000 and an increase in the Department of Interior-Self Governance budget of $89,833.
After amending the agenda, legislators also amended the tribe’s comprehensive capital budget by increasing it by $3.7 million in the Capital Projects budget for a total of $128.9 million. According to the budget, the increased amount will go towards the Tribal Complex construction.
Also, after amending the agenda, Tribal Councilors amended the comprehensive operating budget again by increasing it by $17.1 million for a total of $663.9 million. According to the act, the tribe received $7.6 million in grants and made a modification request of $9.5 million. The modification request includes a decrease in the General Fund of $280,772, an increase in the Indirect Cost Pool budget of $478,277, an increase in the Enterprise budget of $300,000, an increase in the DOI-Self Governance budget of $245,264, an increase in the DOI-General budget of $284,926, an increase in the Indian Health Services-Self Governance Health budget of $8.2 million and an increase in the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act budget of $305,476.
<strong>During the 6 p.m. May 11, 2015 Tribal Council meeting, Councilors discussed:</strong>
• A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE LOCATION OF THE 2015 ELECTION POLLING PLACES
Councilor Fullbright moved to approve. Councilor Hargis seconded the motion. The motion carried with no opposition.
• A RESOLUTION SUPPORTING THE PROPOSED CHANGES MADE BY THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS TO STRENGTHEN THE INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT OF 1978
Councilor Thornton raised question regarding the polling places and a location missing from the list in Sallisaw. Speaker Glory Jordan requested to revisit this item at the end of this meeting and allow time for the Election Commissioner to check on the location in question.
Councilor Hargis moved to approve. Councilor Thornton seconded the motion. The motion carried with no opposition.
<a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9486_May11TribalCouncilMinutes.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the May 11, 2015 Tribal Council meeting minutes.
<strong>During the 6 p.m. May 28, 2015 Special Tribal Council meeting called by Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Councilors discussed:</strong>
•A LEGISLATIVE ACT RELATING TO AND APPROVING A COMPACT TO BE KNOWN AS THE "HUNTING AND FISHING COMPACT BETWEEN THE CHEROKEE NATION AND THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA"
Councilor Vazquez moved to approve. Councilor Hargis seconded the motion. Speaker Glory Jordan stated lengthy discussion was just held on this item in committee and requested those comments stand.
Councilor Hargis called for the question. Councilor Snell seconded the motion. The motion carried with the following roll call vote:
??Council of the Cherokee Nation
?Yea: 10 - Dick Lay;Jodie Fishinghawk;Janelle Fullbright;Tina Glory Jordan;Joe Byrd;David Thornton, Sr. ;Frankie Hargis ;Curtis Snell;Janees Taylor and Victoria Vazquez
Nay: 5 - Lee Keener Jr.;Cara Cowan Watts;Don Garvin;Harley Buzzard and Jack D. Baker
<a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9486_May28TribalCouncilMinutes.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the May 28, 2015 Special Tribal Council meeting minutes.
<strong>During the 6 p.m. April 13, 2015 Tribal Council meeting, Councilors discussed:</strong>
• AN ACT AMENDING LEGISLATIVE ACT #25-14 AUTHORIZING THE COMPREHENSIVE OPERATING BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2015 - MOD. 9; AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY
Councilor Taylor moved to approve. Councilor Cowan Watts seconded the motion. The motion carried by acclimation.
• A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE SUBMISSION OF A SPECIAL GRANT APPLICATION FROM THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR, OFFICE OF INDIAN ENERGY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (IEED), ENERGY AND MINERALS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
Councilor Fullbright moved to approve. Councilor Thornton seconded the motion. The motion carried.
<a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9486_June15TribalCouncilMinutes.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the June 15, 2015 Tribal Council meeting minutes.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Supreme Court on July 8 granted a new election in the Dist. 14 Tribal Council race between William “Bill” Pearson and Keith Austin.
The verbal ruling followed several hours of testimony in the appeal that Austin filed after losing the general election on June 27 by one vote and a recount on July 2 by six votes.
The court ordered the tribe’s Election Commission to hold the new election as soon as possible but didn’t specify if that would be during the July 25 runoff.
As of publication, EC officials said they had no comment as to when they would conduct the new election.
The court did not issue a written opinion when it announced its decision, but justices said they would release one within the statutorily mandated timeframe.
Austin filed the appeal on July 6 alleging that ballots were cast that should not have been accepted, ballots were cast that should have been accepted and two absentee ballot envelopes could not be found.
“There is one challenged ballot that was rejected that should have been accepted; there are eight voters who live outside of Dist. 14 who are incorrectly registered to vote in Dist. 14 who voted; there are two voters who voted by absentee who ballots were rejected that should have been accepted; there is one voter whose absentee ballot was accepted, but the commission cannot locate his affidavit envelope and there are two absentee voters who the commission has not given voter credit to,” the appeal states. “For the forgoing reasons, it is apparent that the results of this election cannot be determined with mathematical certainty and Petitioner Austin requests that the Court order a new election.”
Austin said this election was just too close to accurately discern what the will of the people was.
"That is why the Supreme Court, after examining all the evidence, decided that our best course of action is to hold another election in Tribal Council District 14 and give the people another chance to make their voice heard," he added.
Pearson said, “my opinion is to go forward and try to increase the margin (of victory).”
Check back with the Cherokee Phoenix for further developments.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to certified recount results, Wanda Hatfield and Betsy Swimmer are still the top two vote-getters who will face each other in the July 25 runoff for the At-Large Tribal Council seat.
Following the June 27 general election, Election Commission officials posted results showing Hatfield leading with 25.94 percent of the ballots cast at 1,057 votes. Swimmer was second with 18.9 percent or 770 votes.
Following the July 2 recount, Hatfield continued to lead with 1,057 votes, but Swimmer lost seven votes to finish with 763.
The Cherokee Phoenix attempted to learn what happened to the seven votes, but as of press time EC officials were unavailable for comment.
Swimmer said she was confident the EC had valid numbers.
“So I’m pleased that it came out like it did,” she said. “I’m pressing forward and I plan to win the election.”
Hatfield said the top three finishers remained the same with the recount and congratulated Swimmer on being in the runoff.
“It has been a great experience and the next three weeks will be extremely busy reaching out to the At-Large Cherokee citizens,” she added.
Candidate Shane Jett, who requested the recount, received 717 votes in the general election, but saw his vote count lowered to 713 in the recount.
Jett said with the 2015 election being his first venture into Cherokee politics it was a learning experience, especially the importance of voters ensuring they cast their ballots correctly.
“They (EC) had to throw away over 350 absentee ballots because they either did not sign them, notarize them or fill them out properly. So those votes were never counted,” he said. “It’s important that people slow down and make sure their vote counts. I hope everyone gets out and votes for their candidate of choice because their (Cherokee) Nation is worth it.”
The EC performed the recount with CN Supreme Court justices present before certifying the results.
Runoff absentee ballots will be mailed on July 13-14 and the runoff election will take place on July 25.
All successful candidates are to be sworn into office on Aug. 14, according to the CN election timeline.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to the certified results from a July 2 recount, William “Bill” Pearson has beaten Keith Austin by six votes to win the Dist. 14 Tribal Council seat.
Original certified results from the June 27 general election showed Pearson receiving 534 votes for 50.5 percent of the ballots cast, while Austin garnered 533 votes for 49.95 percent.
Austin filed for a recount, which the tribe’s Election Commission performed. After that recount, Pearson had 525 votes for 50.2 percent compared to Austin’s 519 votes at 49.7 percent.
The votes tabulated during the recount consisted of precinct, absentee, early absentee and precinct challenged.
The recount had 23 votes less compared to the original count. EC officials said that occurred because of human error when inputting votes.
“The challenged ballots from the districts were processed on Sunday (June 28) beginning at ”1 p.m. through 12:11 a.m. on Monday and resulted in 349 out of approximately 700 challenged ballots being accepted,” an EC statement reads. “The 349 ballots were then fed through a voting machine that was pre-defined for absentees, to get the vote count for the various races and candidates. The card from the machine was then placed in the computer to print out the challenged vote results. And unbeknownst to the operator it recorded the ballots as absentee votes then the operator took the printout of challenged ballots and manually entered them for the appropriate race and candidate, resulting in the 349 votes being entered twice.”
The EC statement also reads that once this was discovered, those votes entered into the machine under absentee were removed. The challenged votes that were correctly placed in districts remained in those districts.
“Resulting in the 349 being correctly counted,” the release stated.
The Cherokee Phoenix contacted Pearson but he was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
In an email statement, Austin did not state whether he would appeal the recount results to the Supreme Court but that he appreciated the EC’s hard work.
“They have the impossible job of determining a certifiable winner in a race that could not be closer,” Austin wrote. “Obviously, we want to work with the Election Commission and the Supreme Court to help determine that the election results are accurate. Cherokees took the time to vote because they have faith in our Nation. We owe it to them to ensure their intentions are honored and their votes count.”
The EC certified the recount on July 2 in the presence of Supreme Court justices.
Candidates have until July 6 to appeal election results with the Supreme Court. Provided there are any appeals, the Supreme Court would hear those cases July 7-9.
Candidates elected to office during the general and runoff elections are expected to be sworn in Aug. 14, according to the tribe’s election timeline. The runoff election is set for July 25.
<a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9410_ExplanationofRecalculationofVoteCount.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the Explanation of Recalculation of Vote Count document.