Council increases budget, honors 3 veterans

BY JAMI MURPHY
Former Reporter
01/13/2016 12:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Veteran Chester Benton Havenstrite, middle, recieves his Medal of Patriotism award from Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, middle right, during the Jan. 11 Tribal Council meeting. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Selbert Taylor, middle, receives his Medal of Patriotism from the Cherokee Natoin. He served during the Korean War and received medals for his service including the UN Service Medal and the Purple Heart. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Samuel Jordan Jr., middle served during Vietnam with the Army. Upon being dishcarged he received medals including the Good Conduct Medal, the Expert Marksman on M-16s and Two over-seas Service bars. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During its Jan. 11 meeting, the Tribal Council, via Legislative Act 17-15, increased the fiscal year 2016 operating budget by $1,773,125 making the total operating budget authority $654.7 million.

The modification consisted of adding $1.8 million in grant and carryover funding, as well as a decrease of approximately $75,000 from several tribal funds.

Although there was no discussion during the meeting, Tribal Councilor Dick Lay abstained during the act’s voting. All other legislators voted to approve. The act passed 16-0-1.

In an email, Lay stated he abstained because of inefficiencies in the Cherokee Nation’s Rehabilitation Housing group and the fact the tribe’s administration is making changes to it.

“They may move CN Rehab employees to the CN Housing Authority. The CN administration placed in the budget mod (modification) to move the funding from CN Rehab to the CN Housing Authority,” Lay said. “These items were in CN Rehab budgets, and now have been sent to the CN Housing authority.

“The CN Rehab Housing is a CN government entity, under the authority of the CN government. These 79 CN Rehab housing jobs had full vesting and employment rights in the CN government,” he added. “The CN Housing Authority is not a CN government department. It is a State of Oklahoma agency. I’m being told its employees are considered at-will employees. The CN government essentially funds the state agency – the CN Housing Authority. Because it has not been explained, and I’m still not sure how the CN Rehab group will be improved, and more importantly, because I’m concerned for the 79 CN government Rehab Housing employees and their families, I voted abstain instead of yes.”

Councilors also approved the donation of surplus office equipment to the Foyil Community Building.

Also, Principal Chief Bill John Baker said in his State of the Nation address that CN officials met with Secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro to discuss a new program that will benefit Native American veterans who are homeless.

“We were one of 26 tribes nationwide to be selected. It gives us an opportunity to get 20 veterans that are homeless into safe, sanitary, decent housing with our partnership with the VA (Veterans Affairs),” Baker said. “If you know them, help us locate them.”

He also said the Attorney General’s Office and the tribe’s One Fire program has secured a $400,000 grant to “increase awareness and help prosecute more cases involving sexual assault against women.”

Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden also honored three veterans during the meeting, giving them CN Medal of Patriotism awards. The veterans were Chester Benton Havenstrite, who served in the Army during the Cold War; Selbert Lee Taylor, who served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War; and Samuel Jordan, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War.

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