OBC Approves June 16, 2014 GTC Meeting

At the April 9, 2014 Business Committee Regular Meeting the BC voted to approve a GTC Meeting be held at 6 p.m. on Monday June 16, 2014:

While it’s disappointing that the BC continues to book GTC meetings for Monday evenings rather than at a time when Oneidas who don’t live on the reservation or near the Green Bay area can conveniently attend, it is good that the BC is no longer claiming that the Tribe can’t afford to hold GTC Meetings.

In fact, according to a letter sent by Tribal Treasurer Tina Danforth to GTC activist Madelyn Genskow, the average cost of the three GTC meetings held in FY2014 was $167,000. Given that there is a “remaining balance of $1,249,100 for GTC meetings for the remainder of fiscal year 2014,” it appears that there is enough money budgeted for at least seven (7) more GTC meetings in FY2014.

Among the New Business on the Draft Agenda for the Monday June 16, 2014 GTC Meeting are the following BC Emergency Amendments, Referendum Questions, and GTC Petitions:

A.  Judiciary transition amendments to be presented by Melinda J. Danforth

B. Referendum Questions

From July 7, 2012 – When a thorough audit is complete, should this Audit Committee include names of individuals, amounts of missing monies, etc., in each audit report?

From July 6, 2013 – Should the land use plan be brought before GTC for approval to be changed or reversed?

C. Petitions

Pettioner Linda Dallas  Require Tribe to pay real estate taxes for all Tribe-owned property. Petition submitted March 4, 2013

Petitioner Madelyn Genskow –

Genskow resolution 1: Now therefore be it resolved the name and home address of people who sign petitions will not be published in the General Tribal Council meeting mail outs.

Genskow resolution 2: Now therefore be it resolved – presenters who submitted petitions may respond to questions and comments from the floor at GTC meetings.

Petitioner Yvonne Metivier   The GTC directs the OBC to create a “stall mall” for Oneida tribal members, small business and vendors at the empty former grocery store on Water Circle in Oneida.  Petitoin submitted December 27, 2013

Oneida Eye reported last week about the March 12, 2014 BC Regular Meeting when the BC adopted two Emergency Amendments to the Judiciary Law that GTC approved on January 7, 2013:

It was noted that Chief Appellate Officer Winnifred Thomas said at the BC meeting that she never did support the Judicary Law, but that by adopting the Emergency Amendments to the Judiciary Law the BC was itself breaking Tribal law. Chief Counsel Jo Anne House and the majority of the BC disagreed.

When Winnifred was asked at the April 7, 2014 FY2015 Budget Input Discussion if she maintained that the BC’s actions were illegal she stated that was still her opinion, and she again suggested that the Tribe should save money by eliminating six hearing bodies and have all disputes heard before the current Appeals Commission and Appellate body which are required to know all Tribal laws.

However, as Oneida Eye has reported, the Appeals Commission and the Appellate body do not seem to follow Tribal laws:

Oneida Eye also has concerns as to why the Family Court Judges have stricter qualification requirements than Trial Judges in the new Judiciary. We believe the standards should be the same across the board and that all justices should be required to be Wisconsin State Bar licensed attorneys who have at least three years of successful practice as a courtroom attorney, and that tribal or non-tribal attorneys who meet that criteria should be nominated by the BC and approved by GTC until qualified candidates who are members of the Oneida Tribe can participate in Tribal elections. The reason for that being that each justice could then be held accountable by the Wisconsin State Bar for any violations of rules of civil procedure and/or professional conduct which non-licensed justices would not face.

There are also questions regarding General Tribal Council as the supreme governing body of the Tribe serving in role as the ‘Supreme Court’ for the Judiciary in the same sense that GTC has final say regarding decisions made by the Appeals Commission and the Appellate body.

Perhaps given the budget constraints of FY2014 and the projected shortfall for FY2015 the transition to the Judiciary should be delayed beyond November 1, 2014, but that’s something that the next Business Committee may have to bring before GTC for a decision.

Regarding Linda Dallas’ petition Oneida Eye has questions how such a change might affect the ability of non-trust land occupants to make improvements on the property.

Regarding Madelyn Genskow’s first petition, Oneida Eye notes that the wording of the first petition makes no mention of whether forms with names and addresses can be posted on the Tribe’s website and we tend to think that people should be willing to have their names, if not their addresses, listed for review lest a petitioner or signee falsify other people’s information and/or forge their signatures.

Regarding Madelyn’s second petition Oneida Eye supports the ability of petitioners to respond to questions and comments.

As for Yvonne Metivier’s ‘stall mall’ idea, the analysis shows that twenty-six (26) vendors with 10’x10′ stalls would have to each make at least $5,000 per year just to pay the rent for what was the Tower Foods building, and we wonder why the BC should be put in charge of that multi-vendor operation.

Instead, why don’t Oneida entrepreneurs rent the empty space in the West Mason Street Mall between the Subway and the Oneida Gaming Commission offices in order to provide a space for sales of crafts, etc. That would seem to make more sense in terms of location, street traffic, parking and year-round weather conditions.

Oneida Eye has stated before that, if the integrity of the Tower Foods building is up to healthy environmental standards, a hydroponic vertical garden should be set up to provide a science classroom for all Oneidas; a place to demonstrate small scale indoor agricultural equipment that can be purchased from local hydroponic retailers; a seasonal point-of-sale for fresh produce; and a year-round supplier of fresh produce for Tribal schools, meal programs and the Oneida Market. Eventually such a facility could be an important part of the proposed ‘Food Hub.’

Another interesting part of the April 9, 2014 BC Reguluar Meeting was the proposal of an Elder’s Appreciation Feast to take place in May which is Older American’s Month.

The idea was presented as a way to make up for the fact that the Elders’ Christmas Party was cancelled due to budget constraints.

An elder attendee of the meeting asked if this event would be in place of the last cancelled holiday party or was being done in place of the December 2014 party. After being told that it was to make up for the last one that was cancelled she asked if she could get that in writing.

BC Chair Ed Delgado said that because holding the party at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center would mean having to be limited to food provided by the Radisson (whose chicken, according to Ed, wasn’t very good) he was suggesting that the event could be held in a tent behind Norbert Hill Center and the food be provided by the new casino restaurants.

When it was explained that May could still be a cool weather month, Ed said that the event could be held in the Norbert Hill Cafeteria.

When elders present at the meeting explained why that location wasn’t a very good idea, Oneida activist & advocate Mike Debraska made the suggestion that the event be held at Thornberry Creek which hosts great buffets and has a wonderful view of the outdoors, and asked that the Oneida elders in Milwaukee be invited to attend the event as well given that their holiday party was also cancelled.

The elders in attendance we’re thrilled with Mike Debraska’s inspired suggestion and noted that their events had been held there before.

The BC voted to defer the decision to another meeting.

The BC Chair was also asked why, if they’re so ‘honored,’ do Oneida elders’ programs face so many budget cuts? They cited the example of the crafts program being limited to a supplies budget of $30 a month. Ed said that cuts were being made all over, and had also noted that the Elder’s Christmas Party usually costs around $10,000 but that he was hoping to hold this event for $5,000 or less.

Perhaps BC Chair Ed Delgado should ask his good buddy Gene Keluche if Sagestone Mgmt. wouldn’t mind donating one week’s salary to provide the elders with a proper celebratory feast.

Just a free suggestion.


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