MISSION – The General Council of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) will soon be asked to vote on whether to recall David Close, Secretary of the CTUIR Board of Trustees (BOT), based on a 3-1 vote of the BOT on June 6.
The Election Commission was charged with setting a date for the election.
During an open BOT session on June 6, members voted to move forward with the recall petition to remove Close, even though a request had been made to postpone the discussion and vote until the afternoon so that two other BOT members - Armand Minthorn and Aaron Ashley – could return from travel. The two BOT members had asked for the postponement so they could participate via a conference call, according to BOT member Woodrow Star. However, BOT members expressed concern that they needed to take action and they had the quorum to do it.
The petition listed four reasons for the recall.
A) Failure to fulfill Constitution and By-laws and BOT officer’s oath of office;
B) Violation of BOT procedures and policies, including presenting incomplete and misleading information to the General Council even though the BOT and General Council officers asked him not to, and failure to attend and represent the Tribes by using travel monies and not attending meetings;
C) Elder abuse through defamation and slander with misleading and incomplete documentation, and;
D) Abuse of BOT Secretary position to access personal files of General Council members to further his personal agenda.
Originally, the petition was expected to be invalidated because it didn’t include certain wording outlined in the Election Code, according to a story in the June2 CUJ. In the June 6 meeting, the BOT was expected to discuss whether the petition was consistent with the code and review three key points of Section 4:03-F:2 of the Election Code:
2. At such meeting, the Board of Trustees shall, by motion, make the following findings and determinations:
a. A finding as to whether the recall petition contains the required number of valid signatures by General Council members;
b. A finding as to whether the allegations in the recall petition contain charges that are clearly stated against the individual sought to be recalled;
c. A finding as to whether the recall petition complies with the requirements as to form contained in this section;
According to Close, Section A was met because CTUIR Enrollment was able to verify signatures.
When Section B and Section C were up for review, BOT Treasurer Rosenda Shippentower took the floor making several points regarding the validity of the petition.
“The Election Code says the charges need to be clearly stated … everything is so vague,” said Shippentower. “‘Elder abuse, defamation and slander’ I don’t know who it was but it is not on here so I don’t know how someone would defend themselves. … ‘access personal files of General Council members’ who are the members and why aren’t they mentioned? … it’s too generalized … I don’t think B has been met.”
“I would think C hasn’t been met at all,” said Shippentower. “Proper form hasn’t been followed.”
Close spoke referring to page 14 Section 4.03-B-4 of the Election Code, “Each copy must contain the following information in uppercase type of a size at least equivalent to Times New Roman 10 point font and C doesn’t meet proper form,” said Close.
“True, this document doesn’t meet the format stated in the election regulations,” said Star, “but a conflict was brought to our attention. It’s the Constitution verses regulations. The Constitution doesn’t require all this format and verbiage. My position is [that] our Tribal Constitution is our leading document based off of our Treaty …. Our people are requesting this action be taken against one of us. I’ll make a motion to approve this action.”
General Council Chairman Alan Crawford seconded the motion.
Shippentower fired back, “the Constitution does state that there needs to be specific allegations not broad and vague allegations, “who? Who? What? When? Where?”
“The public has been coming forward,” said Star.
“Then do it right,” said Shippentower
Crawford called the question. Star, Crawford, and BOT Vice-Chair Jeremy Wolf voted in favor, Shippentower voted against, and Close abstained stating that it would be a conflict of interest for him to vote in favor or against.
“I think those two over there should have abstained because they signed the petition,” said Shippentower pointing towards Star and Crawford. “So the Constitution is now going to supersede all codes? The vote should have been 1-1 … You shouldn’t be surprised if David files another suit to call you on the carpet,” she said.
Joe Pitt, CTUIR attorney, asked the BOT to make their statement of findings of the three points more specific.
“First one is agreeable, second agreeable,” said Wolf. “The third one, where that portion of the code was not included and it’s all in bold, that was again approved by Commission to move forward … the signatories were made aware of that. I want to leave this up to General Council. To me it’s a technicality and I have no idea why it’s there. To say petitioners were coerced is wrong. Not one signatory has come forward so put this toward election committee and if they can forward on they may find a different approach.”
As the BOT closed out the action item and moved forward with the meeting, Close said to the CUJ reporter “ ‘Board overrides code’, that’s the fxxxxxx title.’”