Tahlequah Daily Press


May 10, 2013

Openness on AG the right course

TAHLEQUAH — It takes courage to admit to a serious mistake or a personal lapse, especially when the nature of the situation may call for a public mea culpa.

That’s what happened earlier this week when Todd Hembree, attorney general for the Cherokee Nation, asked for and was granted a leave of absence from his duties.

Hembree and Principal Chief Bill John Baker could have arranged the leave with no public comment, or by citing “personal reasons,” and only those involved in the situation would have known the details for certain. Instead, they chose to be forthright in their admission that Hembree will be seeking treatment for alcohol dependence.

They also elected to make a candid comparison, with Hembree saying in a letter to Baker, “...alcoholism has been the scourge of Indian Country for generations, and no one – regardless of education, position or faith – is immune.”

He’s got that right – and, it should be added, the scourge is just as likely to afflict those outside of Indian Country. Addictions wreak havoc on businesses and institutions, and they damage families and relationships with co-workers and friends. One only needs to sit through a few court cases to see the evidence.

The reason for the high-profile announcement from the Cherokee Nation could be related to incidents at the tribal complex. Baker said Hembree’s problem has had an effect on tribal employees, and the chief also asked CN Marshal Shannon Buhl to investigate the matter. In that case, it was smart of the administration to get out in front of the issue before it escalated.

Public reaction to Hembree’s announcement has thus far been positive, with many folks offering him their best wishes for a speedy recovery. Had the administration tried to keep a lid on the situation, sentiments might have lined up quite differently.

Baker was wise to point out that while decisions and actions conducted behind the sheen of alcoholism cannot be tolerated in his administration, compassion, support and forgiveness should also be part of the equation.

It would also be a good idea to use this as a teaching moment for others who may be walking along the same path. The seriousness of this issue cannot be diminshed.

We, like everyone else, wish Hembree the best, and we join the tribal administration is asking for support and healing for his family. At the same time, we also hope for the same healing for anyone who might have been harmed before this problem fell into the spotlight.

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  • NSU needs to be more candid when its plans go awry

    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
    This latest delay is no surprise.

    July 28, 2014

  • Higher premiums a just reward for drunken drivers

    Over the past several years, Oklahoma has slipped in many of the polls that count. This week, we learned Tulsa is No. 4 on a list of cities with high rates of fatal DUI accidents. Is anyone really surprised?

    July 25, 2014

  • Maybe it’s time to think about having another BalloonFest

    The 18th annual BalloonFest was the last one held, in 2010. In summer 2011, when the Daily Press staff hadn’t heard anything about the much-anticipated event, we started asking questions.

    July 23, 2014

  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014

  • New chamber head needs to be free from scandal’s taint

    Every time another layer is peeled off the unfolding saga of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce embezzlement case, those going through the records hope they might see a light at the end of the tunnel. So far, that hasn’t happened.

    June 30, 2014


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