Leah Sue Dodge for Tribal Treasurer

Business Committee Treasurer candidate & Oneida Eye Publisher Leah Sue Dodge recently launched her campaign, including providing information to the website OTIWELECT.com as follows (typos in the information at that website were not in the information as submitted):

EDUCATION:

B.A. in Philosophy from University of Wisconsin – Madison

EXPERIENCE:

• Almost 15 years working for the Oneida Tribe in various Departments, including over four years as an Assistant Office Manager in the General Manager’s Office.

• Wrote $1.5 million worth of successful applications in a nine-month period as a Grant Writer for the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, including developing budgets for proposals and organizing programming for utilizing grant monies.

• Small business owner with successful work in grants writing, Small Business Administration 8(a) applications, media/music, and website design, maintenance & content.

CURRENT JOB:

Administrative Assistant III for the Gaming Facilities Department where I:

• daily utilize the Tribe’s AS400 financial data system.

• assist Department Directors in their budgeting process.

• handle the Department’s Accounts Payable & Receivable.

• maintain the Department’s supply levels from external vendors.

• process online work orders & dispatch staff for maintenance & emergencies.

• administer the Oneida Casino’s Keywatcher security system.

At the Saturday April 26, 2014 Primary Election Candidate’s Forum held by Southeast Oneida Tribal Services (SEOTS) the Business Committee candidates in attendance were given 3 minutes to present their platform.

Dodge based her comments on a shortened form of the 300-word statement which will appear in the Kalihwisaks on May 1, 2014.

Here is a 311-word version of that statement as contained in Dodge’s handout materials:

I’m running for Tribal Treasurer because I believe General Tribal Council will elect a new Business Committee to correct past mistakes as the Tribe moves in a better direction knowing that the BC works for – not over – GTC.

For the last five-and-a-half years I’ve served as Admin. Assistant III for the Gaming Facilities Dept. where I daily utilize the Tribe’s AS400 financial data system and administer the Casino’s Keywatcher security system.  Before that I worked as a tribal & independent Grant Writer and SBA 8(a) author, as well as having been an Assistant Office Manager in the Oneida General Manager’s office.

I graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from UW-Madison.  I’m also currently Publisher, Lead Editor & Writer for OneidaEye.com.

The Oneida Tribe needs to make better use of its budget.  As Tribal Treasurer & Finance Committee Chair I’ll defend GTC’s directives:  protect the security of our Trust and Per Capita while promoting investments that protect our health, safety & welfare;  support fair hiring & treatment of workers;  defend GTC Meeting stipends and SEOTS voting access;  secure a sound & just Tribal Judiciary system; provide GTC greater disclosure & accountability to make informed decisions on starting, selling or dissolving Tribal corporations;  verify the integrity of our health center & resident care facility.

I believe the Legislative Operating Committee should consist of GTC members working with GTC’s own Constitutionally-guaranteed attorney, and that BC attorneys shouldn’t serve as parliamentarian during GTC Meetings.  I’m interested in the possible benefits of Tribal schools becoming charter schools.  I support LGBT equality including adoption.  I support hemp/cannabis legalization for economic growth & health realizing that federal laws must be considered from a funding perspective.

I want to be GTC’s representative, and whatever Tribal primary and election voters decide I will continue to support & advocate GTC’s self-defense as the supreme governing body of the Oneida Tribe.

Thanks for your consideration.

The statement in the Kalihwisaks and Dodge’s comments at the forum were also based on her longer written platform which is as follows:

Hello, I’m Leah Sue Dodge. Some of you may know me from my involvement in General Tribal Council and some of the great successes GTC had last year including prohibiting Tribal corporations from operating incinerators on the Oneida reservation, or from my work with Frank Cornelius’ to explain to GTC why they should vote on December 15, 2013 to dissolve Oneida Seven Generations Corporation after OSGC violated the spirit of GTC’s May 5, 2013 vote by allowing other companies to conduct illegal open flame operations on the reservation.

If asked what I think the greatest threat to the Oneida economy is I would sadly have to answer, ‘Corruption.’  Corruption by our corporations that cost us millions of dollars and harm our reputation as a Tribe.  Corruption of language in which companies use the terms ‘recycle and ‘renewable’ for what is really just incineration and destruction of resources.  Corruption of our culture by abusing terms such as ‘seventh generation’ from the Iroquois philosophy as a way to ‘greenwash’ the poisoning of this and future generations.  Corruption by our elected and appointed officials who refuse to keep corporations in check and resist holding them to the highest business & ethical standards.  Corruption in our hearing bodies and court system in which hearing & judicial officers refuse to follow the most basic rules of civil procedure and judicial ethics.

You might ask, “If you think there’s so much corruption why do you want to be elected Business Committee Treasurer?”

Because I believe the solution to addressing the threat corruption poses to our Tribe’s health, safety, welfare and economic security is a fully-informed General Tribal Council who knows their elected officials should want to be their representatives and not to rule over them.

I’ve been shouted down in GTC meetings for ‘naming names’ when there is no legislation that prevents GTC from naming people who are harming the Tribe if they’re at the meeting, too.  There are, however, strictures against the BC discussing Tribal members who aren’t present to defend themselves, and yet the current Chair who shouts me down allowed GTC & SEOTS advocate Mike Debraska to be lied about while Mike’s ability to participate in the meeting was being denied.

Bridging the gaps between GTC and the BC, and between Oneida and SEOTS, is how we can address corruption and foster a community of open access to information that allows the supreme governing body, GTC, to make informed decisions in self-defense against those who would exploit and take advantage of us while we’re being kept in the dark. While there are some limits of confidentiality that the Business Committee must observe, as Treasurer I will always tell GTC what I think they have a need and a right to know, and will do so knowing that if I’m accused of breaking confidentiality GTC will be the court of public opinion that will decide whether or not I’ve violated the spirit of the Oath of Office by sharing information.

As for economic opportunities, I think we must reestablish relationships with the environmental groups we once partnered with to bring some level of remediation to waters and land. Only by addressing the toxic environments on our reservation can we reestablish a safe place to harvest a sustainable, and profitable, source of nourishing foods and medicine and open business I’ve advocated to the Business Committee and seem to play a role in their plan to establish a living Food Hub on the reservation.

Rather than trying to be the first tribe on some futuristic incinerator moon, I’d prefer that in addition to fostering a Food Hub on the reservation we invest in businesses that are established and proven, and want to partner with our Tribe because we hold ourselves to high standards of honesty, integrity and cultural philosophy.  For example, why can’t the Tribe invest in opening a Trader Joe’s in Green Bay rather than sue our neighbors to let us burn garbage?

I think we could help expand our retail operations’ customer base by letting non-traditional couples know that we welcome LGBT couples to visit or honeymoon at our casino and that they’ll be welcomed by a Tribe that honors its own LGBT people and permits their ability to marry or to adopt and raise children in healthy homes, regardless of their religion or lack thereof.

I think we need to better understand the changing economic landscape and accept the fact that cannabis & hemp legalization is happening now, and will happen with more certainty in more places faster than most of us can imagine. Wisconsin was once the number one producer of industrial hemp in America, surpassing even Kentucky which recently re-legalized hemp for use in a variety of products including building materials that can withstand tornadoes, plastics that are being used in many cars today and in the near future will be used with 3D printing technology, as well as a means to restore topsoil to fields ravaged by synthetic chemical-based industrial farming methods. 

Gov. Scott Walker recently signed a bill to legalize a cannabinoid-based medicine in Wisconsin, and I think all sides of the political aisles are realizing how badly we’ve long hobbled our economy with prohibition laws rooted in racism rather than realism.

If hemp were made legal today in Wisconsin, Tribes would be at an economic disadvantage because of our reliance on federal funds and the reluctance of the federal government to come to grips with science and nature. We need to boldy lobby and advocate for humane change and equal opportunity.

Meanwhile, we’re being told that we should just learn to burn waste to create heat & electricity rather than begin moving towards a truly sustainable and renewable energy future, with wise investments in solar, wind and geothermal technologies. We’re missing opportunities to receive grant funding for reducing our footprints. $4,000,000 in grant funding for going from boilers to solar was available last year, but I don’t know if our Tribe applied for the means by which to keep our kids, selves and neighbors safer.

Working in the Casino Maintenance Dept. and having recently taken my uncle to visit our main casino to try a new restaurant and show him the progress of the expansion, I have to question how much bang for the buck we’re really getting from the $28 million or so the Tribe is spending. 

We recently hired a management group to take over many of the duties of the Airport & Hotel Corporation to some success, and we hired Ovations to come in to run their restaurants. Is it possible that, with involved oversight by the Business Committee and the Gaming Commission, an outside management company could help maximize our casino profits?

About 10 years ago I recommended in a letter to the Kalihwisaks that the casino begin offering free online games for trinkets and comps based solely on the amount of time of free play while advertising upcoming concerts & casino events. Now other tribes offer that same service to give their customers incentives to visit the brick & mortar casinos which, without having a reputation for great live entertainment options, may well go the way of many big box retail chains.

There always seems to be a reason why ‘what could be’ turns into ‘what could have been’ after another failed attempt to get rich quick on unproven business schems, which is why I believe that the decisions for the Tribe to start, invest in, buy, sell, or dissolve should ultimately be made by GTC. If 2/3 of the attendees of a GTC meeting of 1,500 people or so can’t be convinced that it’s a good way to invest or recoup their money, then maybe it’s just not a good idea at all.

Most people have by now seen the TV show ‘Shark Tank’ where billionaire investors listen to pitches by entrepreneurs looking to make a deal to launch their product or idea. I think some BC members have come to see themselves as the ‘Sharks’ when in reality they were elected to be ‘remora’ or to keep the larger marine animal clean of external parasites. In my opinion, GTC needs to be the ‘shark’ that decides where they want to invest their money and the BC needs to focus on keeping the GTC’s corporations in check so GTC can not just survive but thrive.

Put another way, I think of the Tribe’s corporations as GTC’s children and the BC as the corporations’ babysitters. When you hire a babysitter you’re not giving them permission to let your child get drunk and get a tattoo, or to wreck your house and disturb the neighbors to the point that the authorities have to be called in. Unfortunately, I think some BC members believe that GTC are the children, and that corporations should be in charge and unaccountable. That is unacceptable and it will only change when GTC elects people who know their true role, and when GTC removes those who fail to live up to high standards of corporate oversight.

We’re being told that we should instead invest in an out-of-state anti-violence group to come study us to address a ‘no consequences’ attitude among youth & adults. Meanwhile our Tribal government refuses to hold accountable the people who squander our resources and reputation, even rewarding them with other positions of power in the Tribe. If young people don’t see others being held accountable for their bad decisions affecting us all, why wouldn’t they start to see life through a nihilist lens of ‘live-fast-die-young, get yours while you can ‘cuz if you don’t it’ll be stolen from you’?

Misdeeds by Tribal officials & professionals must have consequences if people are to learn to develop care and concern for the community resulting in positive choices and prosperous lives.

Recent events, including the ongoing $397.7 million lawsuit against the Tribe by incinerator companies over contracts signed after GTC said ‘No!’ to OSGC’s incineration plans on the reservation, show us that the whole notion of the corporate veil was always a fiction. The BC will ultimately be held accountable for what Tribally-chartered corporations do. The December 2012 court decision in Vann v. DOI regarding the Cherokee and the Freedman show us that elected Tribal officials are on the hook for their decisions, and that sovereign immunity ought not be seen as a synonym for the right to be irresponsible and hypocritical.

Like all elections, this is a crucial one, and I’m still trying to find all the candidates I think I can work with for the BC to fulfill the role of GTC’s representatives that we’re supposed to be campaigning to be.

I don’t expect every GTC member to embrace all of my ideas or suggestions, but I would hope that for the next three years GTC will work with the BC members it trusts to protect GTC’s interests and to carry out GTC’s directives, and that BC members will stick their necks out if need be to provide GTC the disclosure of information some would rather keep secret.

The BC along with GTC can and must hold the Tribal officials & professionals accountable to rebuild our resources, our reputation and our Nation.

Leah Sue Dodge Treasurer sign

Leah Sue Dodge Treasurer sign green

Leah Sue Dodge Treasurer violet

Leah Sue Dodge Treasurer sign violet

Thank you so much to those who have already generously donated in any amount to the campaign and have placed signs in their windows & yards, and to those who’ve offered their kind encouragement & support.

Remember to vote in the Saturday May 10, 2014 Primary Election being held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Oneida Health Center, 525 Airport Dr., Oneida, WI, as well as at the SEOTS Building at 6811 W. Morgan Ave., Milwaukee, WI.

All voters must be Oneida Tribe members age 21 and older who present picture identification. Please remember that children are not allowed in the voting area.

[This was posted by the Dodge for Treasurer Campaign Team]


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