The Reasoning To Require A New General Tribal Council Meeting To Address The Oneida Business Committee Vacancy

The following was submitted by Petitioner Leah Sue Dodge today at the 9:00 a.m. Hearing to address the Preliminary Injunction against the illegally scheduled November 22, 2014 Special Election to address the Oneida Business Committee vacancy:

It states:

1. The Respondents’ first flyer asked “How will we fill the [OBC] vacancy?,” even though there was an option to leave it vacant which the Respondents acknowledged was a Constitutionally sound option.

2. A more expensive looking flyer said the cost of GTC meetings are $200,000 and that, “Tribal members are responsible to make educated decisions,” but omits important information about the true costs associated with Options A–E, including the cost of the average salaries of an at-large council member and an assistant for the remainder of the current term, not to mention benefits, office supplies, equipment, etc.

3. Options A, B, C & D in the Meeting Packet don’t conform to the Election Law’s requirement [2.12-1; 2.12-2] that a primary be held 60 days prior to an election whenever there are sixteen or more candidates as were caucused at the GTC Meeting and as later listed on the Sample Ballot, and therefore Options A,B, C & D wrongly omit the cost of holding a primary.

4. The true costs of Options A-E would likely have ranged closer to $700,000, far above the $200,000–$207,000 costs advertised to GTC by the Respondents’ flyers and published in the GTC Meeting Packet.

5. Only the cost of Option F was accurate in the Respondents’ flyers and in the GTC Meeting Packet, since the cost of leaving the OBC position vacant was simply the cost of the GTC meeting itself.

6. The GTC Meeting video shows that when Petitioner Dodge tried to ask about these discrepancies in her privileged question after being recognized by the OBC Chair, the Chair allowed another GTC member to shout Dodge down and did not allow Dodge to ask her privileged question afterward.

7. Given that the GTC Meeting was adjourned without GTC adopting any of the options listed and that a new GTC Meeting must be held to re-address the OBC vacancy, none of the monetary amounts listed in the Meeting Packet are accurate any more and all of them are far more inaccurate than Option F.

8. Options A and B, to hold the caucus at the GTC Meeting and hold the election on December 13 or November 22, 2014, respectively, both mentioned the Respondents’ intent for “a polling place to be set up on the Oneida Reservation and in Milwaukee.” Yet, Option D, to “fill the vacancy in the regularly scheduled Special Election in July of 2015,” made no mention of including the SEOTS polling site despite the Chief Counsel’s Opinion in the GTC Meeting Packet that, “Based on the litigation regarding the Special Election for the Judiciary positions, and consistent with electing [OBC] members, it is recommended that if a Special Election is called that polling places be scheduled on the Reservation as well as in Milwaukee.”

9. In BC Resolution 08-28-14-A regarding the delayed Judiciary election the Respondents asserted their ability to make a “one-time exception to the conduct of the Special Election [that] shall include polling sites in Oneida and Milwaukee,” therefore it’s troubling that they omitted from Option D any mention that the SEOTS polling site would be included in the July 2015 Special Election if GTC opted to fill the OBC vacancy at that time.

10. Considering the Election Law, if the July 2015 Special Election was held on Saturday, July 11, 2015, it would allow time for a primary to be held at least 60 days prior on Saturday, May 23, 2015 (if necessitated by the Election Board’s approval of 16 or more candidates), which would allow time for a new caucus to be held at least 45 days prior on Saturday, April 4, 2015.

11. Petitioners argue that Saturday, April 4, 2015, allows sufficient time for the Respondents to not only issue a packet that accurately reports the true cost difference between voting to leave the OBC position vacant as opposed to filling it via the July 2015 Special Election but also gives Respondents sufficient time to draft an amendment to the Election Law and allow GTC to vote whether to include the SEOTS polling site in all Tribal elections.

12. Therefore, Petitioners ask the Court to order that the current Stay be maintained on any Special Election to address the OBC vacancy until such time as Respondents lawfully schedule, notice and conduct a GTC meeting to consider accurate information about the costs of two options:

(A) Leave the OBC position vacant.

(B) Address the OBC vacancy during the July 2015 Special Election.

 

In addition to the two flyers mentioned above, the Oneida Business Committee mailed out a third flyer with their recommendations for the options they wanted GTC to approve:

You have to ask yourself:

  1. How much money did OBC spend on these color flyers offering five options out of six that don’t conform to the Election Law and the true costs of which are misrepresented, especially the glossy flyer dominated by a picture of a tree which ate up space that could have been used to give GTC more information so they could make an “informed” and “educated decision” as hypocritically exhorted by OBC who presented options that are best based on a lack of information if not miseducation about the Election Law?
  2. Has OBC ever mailed out flyers attempting to sway GTC to vote one way or the other before, and is it ever appropriate for them to use Tribal resources to do so when they could have simply made their opinions known at the GTC meeting for free?
  3. What’s the rush to fill the OBC vacancy immediately rather than allow the political process to proceed as required by the Election Law so that GTC can make an informed and educated decision about which candidate they think would best serve the Tribe?
  4. Why would OBC spend so much time and money to differentiate between the cost of choices that only vary by $7,000 when the elephant pile in the room is the remarkable difference between Option F, which only incurred the $200,000 cost of the GTC meeting, as opposed to Options A–E, which incur a total cost of around $700,000 or more when you combine the cost of the GTC meeting with the salaries of an OBC member and their assistant, as well as benefits, office supplies, equipment, travel, etc., for the 2 & 1/2 years remainder of the current OBC term.

Consider it this way:

If GTC votes to leave the OBC position vacant at the next GTC meeting to address the vacancy, it will still have saved more money than having voted to adopt Options A–E at the first GTC meeting to address the vacancy (which GTC did not do).

As Oneida Eye has pointed out before, it seems extremely hypocritical of the Oneida Business Committee to have recently passed a Resolution requiring a hiring freeze and a wage freeze for Tribal employees due to Tribe’s budget problems, as well as a Resolution requiring Tribal employees to take on extra duties from different departments of the Tribe for no extra pay, some duties being made permanent, while eliminating the possibility of employees to claim that’s an adverse employee action and authorizing discipline for those who refuse to do more work than they were hired to perform for no extra pay, and then turn around and tell GTC it’s in their best interest to not require a hiring freeze for OBC nor require them to pick up the slack of the OBC member who resigned.

The Petitioners who were able to have a Stay placed on the illegally scheduled November 22, 2014 Special Election to address the OBC vacancy, have, as seen above, put forward a practical and reasonable option that is in keeping with the Tribal Constitution and the Election Law, as opposed to the options put forward to GTC by the Oneida Business Committee at great and wasted expense.

Now it is up to the Oneida Business Committee to demonstrate that they are being honest when they say that they want GTC to make an informed, educated and legal decision how to best address the OBC vacancy, and OBC can do that by scheduling a new GTC meeting and putting forward an honest and accurate GTC Meeting Packet so that the supreme governing body of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin can take action regarding its own best interests.

See also:

 


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