Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

August 8, 2011

CN meeting canceled for lack of quorum

TAHLEQUAH — A special meeting of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council was canceled Friday due to lack of a quorum, preventing the appointment of three key positions.

At stake were the confirmations of Susan Plumb as election commissioner, Diane Hammons as attorney general, and Sharon Wright as marshal. The agenda also included an act to modify the tribe’s election code.

During a special rules committee meeting Thursday, July 28, all three appointments were passed to full council. But the act amending the election code could not be added to the agenda, as it did not garner the required two-thirds vote of the committee.

Among those absent from the meeting were Buel Anglen and David Thornton, who were both hospitalized. According to Speaker of the Council Meredith Frailey, Anglen was having tests run, and Thornton had undergone cardiac bypass surgery earlier in the week. Other councilors absent were principal chief candidate Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief-elect Joe Crittenden, Tina Glory-Jordan, Curtis Snell, Jodie Fishinghawk, and Chuck Hoskin Jr.

“We do not have a quorum,” said Frailey. “I’m very disappointed that we don’t have a quorum to do the work and be the voice of the Cherokee people. We’re elected and we get paid to do your work. When we don’t attend meetings for the purpose of not having a quorum, it’s wrong. It’s very sad you had to come here and experience this, and I apologize for all of us.”

Shortly after Friday’s meeting was slated to begin, a press release was issued by the Baker campaign office, in which he – along with Glory-Jordan, Snell, Fishinghawk and Hoskin – gave reasons for their absence.

Baker said the meeting, called by Principal Chief Chad Smith at the request of Frailey, was “an attempt to break the law.”

“The Tribal Council rules are crystal clear that an issue cannot be addressed by the council unless it has first been considered and passed out of a council committee,” said Baker. “In a desperate last act, Chad Smith has called a council meeting and blatantly and illegally placed an item he calls election reform on the agenda. But this is not [a] reform bill, it is a last-ditch attempt to move votes to his column.”

Hoskin said he takes his obligation to attend council meetings seriously, but felt Smith’s special council meeting was a political power grab that had to be stopped.

“I took an oath to the Cherokee Constitution, not to Chief Smith,” said Hoskin. “This meeting is about doing his bidding; it violates the law and it is an abuse of power that I cannot condone.”

Shortly thereafter, Crittenden released his own statement.

“I took an oath to defend the laws and constitution of the Cherokee Nation and the United States,” said Crittenden. “I will not mark one of my last official acts as a tribal council representative for District 2 to be a violation of our own laws and constitution. Chief Smith has left me no choice, and thus I cannot attend this illegal meeting. To do otherwise would destroy and weaken the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council for future generations and give the chief, whoever that may be, even more power over the people.”

Todd Hembree, attorney for the tribal council, on Thursday released an opinion about the addition of the act to the agenda. He pointed out that in the past, the council has historically ruled to send such agenda amendments back to committee for approval prior to going to a vote of the full council.

Hembree also said the only way the act should be considered would be to establish a two-thirds vote of the council Friday before proceeding with the amendment. While he indicated considering the matter without committee approval could set a dangerous precedent, he did not call Friday’s meeting illegal.

“Allowing a principal chief to place an item for consideration at a tribal council meeting without that item going through the process approved by the tribal council can easily be considered a violation of the separation of powers doctrine,” said Hembree. “To allow the executive branch to circumvent the tribal council’s established rules and procedures could set a dangerous precedent in this instance and any future occurrences of this nature. The rules of procedure allows for a process for full, thoughtful debate on all legislative items and that process should not be changed.”

Smith attended Friday’s meeting, but had to leave early for another engagement. He released a statement Friday evening saying he has full authority under tribe’s constitution to call special meetings under extraordinary circumstances. He criticized Baker for failing to attend the meeting.

“Last week, David Thornton showed up to a council committee meeting while he was having a heart attack, because he thought this was so important,” said Smith. “He and fellow council member Buel Anglen are in the hospital today, but Bill John Baker is just down the street and won’t come to work for the Cherokee people. He won’t work for the Cherokee people to improve the election law that he’s been complaining about for weeks. Most Cherokees, if they flat-out refuse to show up for work, they get fired.”

Section 7 of the Cherokee Nation Constitution states: “The principal chief may, on extraordinary occasions, convene the council at the seat of government pursuant to Article VI, Section 5, and such notice and other laws as may be prescribed by the council... Before the extraordinary meetings may be legally sufficient to conduct business, a quorum of the council must be present.”

A second special meeting of the council has been scheduled for 3 p.m., Friday, Aug. 12, but none of the items on the Aug. 5 meeting’s agenda can be included, as law requires 10 days’ notice to the public. The next opportunity for the council to consider the appointments and election law reform will be Monday, Aug. 22, eight days after Smith leaves office. Crittenden, as deputy chief, will serve as interim chief until the Sept. 24 special election is held.


Click here to get the entire Tahlequah Daily Press delivered everyday to your home or office.

Click here to get a free trial or to subscribe to the Tahlequah Daily Press electronic edition. It's the ENTIRE newspaper (without the paper) for your computer, iPad or e-reader.

Text Only
Local News
  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-TonsOffTahl-A.jpg Tribes, city, NSU launch Tons Off Tahlequah campaign

    When studies are conducted about whether Americans are living healthy lifestyles, Oklahoma often ranks poorly among the states.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts-Trail-show-1.jpg Jackson takes prize

    Cherokee Heritage Center Museum Curator Mickel Yantz kicked off his 10th anniversary at the venue with the opening of the 43rd annual Trail of Tears Art Show this past Friday.
    “The Trail of Tears show was my first exhibit opening when I arrived 10 years ago,” said Yantz. “Since that time, the show has changed so dramatically; we’ve added so many new artists, and the art work has excelled over time. It’s like Christmas for me.”
    Yantz said he was exceptionally pleased with the opening reception.
    “We had a fantastic turnout,” said Yantz. “We had a lot of fun and sold some artwork, which is great for opening night.”
    The exhibit is on display at the Cherokee Heritage Center through May 26. This year’s show features 130 pieces of art spanning eight different categories, including basketry, graphics, jewelry, miniature, painting, pottery and sculpture.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • churchguy.jpg Some NSU students find Church of Monett offensive

    They turn heads every time they show up on campus, and some students at Northeastern State University are offended by their presence.
    The Church of Monett, Mo., has made periodic trips to Tahlequah to stage quiet demonstrations in public campus spaces in recent years. They carry signs that read, “Wives, Obey your Husbands,”; “To be Married to the divorced is Adultery”; and “Don’t be deceived: fornicators homosexuals idolaters adulterers thieves drunkards - shall not inherit God’s Kingdom.”

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teen sent to hospital after being struck by tractor-trailer

    An 18-year-old Tahlequah man was struck by a tractor-trailer early Tuesday morning on the State Highway 51 bypass near Mimosa Lane.
    Tahlequah Police Capt. Tom Jones said officers responded to the scene at about 5:40 a.m., when Sage Sohns was found injured and lying in the road. A medical helicopter responded to the scene to transport Sohns to a Tulsa hospital, where he was being treated for a closed-head injury, police said.

    April 16, 2014

  • TPS board hears architect presentations for cafeteria

    Members of the Tahlequah Public Schools Board of Education heard from four architectural firms seeking a contract for construction at Cherokee Elementary School.
    TPS plans to build a cafeteria-auditorium and a music room with a stage, which may also serve as a safe room during storms.

    April 16, 2014


What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing