Public Discussion Of Election Law Amendments On Thurs. May 8

On Thursday May 8, 2014 from 12:15–1:15 p.m. there will be a Public Meeting held by the Legislative Operating Commitee regarding proposed amendments to the Election Law. Written comments from the public will also be accepted through May 15.

Oneida Eye has noticed a strangely ongoing error regarding notification to the Tribal community of such Public Meetings in that both the Public Meeting Notice flyers as posted on the Tribe’s website and as published in multiple advertisements in the Kalihwisaks consistently give erroneous information as to where documents & drafts of proposed changes to laws can be found online.

Both the flyers and the advertisements state:

Information about Public Meetings, and the documents for each Public Meeting, are also published on the Tribal website:

But visiting shows a 404 “Service Error” page.

This erroneous information was printed the May 1, 2014 Kalihwisaks as well as in the four Public Meeting Notices published in the April 17, 2014 Kalihwisaks.

Whose responsibility is it to provide correct information to the Tribe regarding the LOC’s Public Meetings? LOC Chair Melinda Danforth? Legislative Reference Office Attorney Michelle Mays? Tribal Information Specialist Brenda John-Stevens? BC Secretary Patty Hoeft?

One would think that all of them bear some responsibility with providing true and correct information or that at least one of them would catch the ongoing error and publish a correction and an apology. We would recommend that they immediately ask the MIS department to redirect the erroneous link to the proper page.

It appears that the weblink for documents for Public Meetings is actually, and the direct link to the red-line draft of the proposed amendments to the Election Law to be discussed on Thursday May 10 can be found at the following link:

Or you can just download the PDF from Oneida Eye by clicking below:

Given that LOC can’t correctly communicate basic information to the public, any and all of their proposed changes obviously deserve much public scrutiny as well.

The first and most obvious question is whether LOC is for some reason trying to institute these changes in order to apply the the July 12, 2014 General Tribal Election. One would hope that isn’t the case as it would seem a rushed, last-minute effort that’s impracticable and seems shady. Any proposed changes should be brought to GTC for approval after the July 12, 2014 election.

Among the proposed changes to the Election Law is eliminating the requirement for people elected to the Oneida Business Committee members to resign from “any salaried position” with the Tribe before they take the OBC oath of office. Does that mean that BC members will be allowed to keep salaried positions, or that they’ll be given more time to wind down their jobs?

Another change is eliminating the requirement that the security of ballot machines be ensured by a video camera to catch any attempts at tampering or ballot-stuffing, as well as allowing for a mere ‘security guard’ or off-duty police officer to observe the voting area rather than requiring an on-duty police officer to witness the events.

The problem with the former seems obvious given statements made last year at an LOC Meeting in response to questions about the integrity of electronic vote tabulators. Election Board Chair Vicki Cornelius stated that the Election Board and their staff are capable of tampering with the results of electronic ballot machines, and her comments were witnessed by both the Oneida Eye’s Publisher and Council member Vince DelaRosa.

The problem with the latter is regarding what standards any security firm – internal or external – would provide versus an on-duty police officer. Could private security guards be required by their firm to sign confidentiality agreements that would not apply to police officers? Who determines what private firm would be hired, and how might the use of a private firm affect the rights of people pursing appeals to subpoena those private employees?

The summary of proposed changes also states that penalties regarding violations of the Election Law are expanded. Interestingly, both the current and revised versions of the Election Law state that campaign signs shall not be posted on Tribal property, and yet two signs for LOC Chair & Council member Melinda Danforth have been posted on Tribal property near the Elders’ Apartments/AJRCCC complex this past week. One was still posted on what looks to be Tribal property as of today, Tuesday May 6:

MD sign

Perhaps it wasn’t LOC Chair & Council member Melinda Danforth’s official campaign who placed the signs there, but hopefully she would request that her supporters follow the Election Law that she wants to be trusted to oversee the amendment process of.

As Oneida Eye Publisher and BC Treasurer candidate Leah Sue Dodge has stated regarding changes she’d like to see be made to the LOC:

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.

Given that GTC is the final judge of whether amendments are made to Tribal Laws, shouldn’t GTC members be involved throughout the entire process of drafting changes as the members of the Legislative Operating Committee working with an attorney who will advise them on the possible impacts of such changes on GTC?

As the Oneida Constitution states:

Article IV – Powers of the General Tribal Council

Section 1. Enumerated Powers. – The General Tribal Council of the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin shall exercise the following powers, subject to any limitations imposed by the statutes or the Constitution of the United States:

(b) To employ legal counsel, the choice of counsel and fixing of fees to be subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior.

The Business Committee has their own attorneys, and General Tribal Council should also have their own and be in charge of the lawmaking process.

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