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.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • svw-beagles-MAIN.jpg Going to the dogs

    Hounds at center stage for more than just Red Fern Festival

    Larry Blackman and Titus Blanket have always loved dogs, especially beagles. In their respective roles as president and vice president of the Cherokee County Beagle Club, they’ve turned that love into a passion.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • sanders-jeri.jpg Murder charge against mother of dead boy, 3, dismissed

    A first-degree murder charge has been dropped against a 37-year-old mother accused in the death of her 3-year-old son.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • supersalary.jpg Okla. superintendents paid comparatively well; teachers 46th lowest

    Administrators say they work year-round, have other duties

    As public education in Oklahoma continues to feel the pinch of a shrinking state budget, watchdog groups and district patrons across the state are asking whether superintendents are getting a disproportionate piece of the financial pie.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • Boards keep city, county afloat

    City and county officials rely on a variety of boards to oversee diverse and complex issues, and many of their members work behind the scenes to keep the wheels of government oiled and turning.
    The city of Tahlequah currently has 10 boards and three trust authorities. Cherokee County has two county-specific boards.

    July 31, 2014

  • HPWA contract raises gas to $3.99 a gallon

    The Hulbert Public Works Authority renewed its natural gas contract with Constellation Energy July 29, raising fuel prices to $3.99 per gallon for the next two years.

    July 31, 2014

  • Tourism Council OKs compensation

    The Tahlequah Area Tourism Council held its annual retreat Wednesday, and approved paying former Director Kate Kelly 100 hours of annual leave.

    July 31, 2014

  • rf-poker-run-main.jpg Poker run

    Fundraiser was in the cards for local philanthropic group

    It was perfect weather, with temperatures in the high 80s Saturday, as boaters filled their vessels with friends for a fun afternoon on Lake Tenkiller. A crowd gathered at Cookson Bend Marina, and folks lined up to support a local charity event.
    As fundraisers go, the Beta Sigma Phi Mu Omega Poker Run last Saturday could be considered huge success, as nearly $9,000 was collected.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • bilbrey-anthony.jpg Man arrested for blackmailing woman for sex

    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies put a man behind bars Monday night after he allegedly tried to blackmail a woman by threatening to post nude photos of her on the Internet if she did not meet him for sex.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Peach_photo_2.jpg Peach crop lean, but fruit still available

    Summer is all about peaches in Porter – especially at Livesay Orchard.
    The Livesay Orchard is still busy a week after Porter’s annual peach festival. The orchard’s crop this year was cut in half from what had previously been expected, according to Kent Livesay, one of the owners of the orchard.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • jackson-jaymee.jpg Tot’s injuries prompt abuse charges for two local residents

    A Tahlequah couple was formally charged Tuesday with child neglect and child abuse after an 18-month-old girl was found with a number of injuries.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

Poll

Do you think "blue laws" related to Sunday alcohol sales in Oklahoma should be relaxed? Choose the option that most closely reflects your opinion.

Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars, and liquor stores should be open.
Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars only; liquor stores should stay closed.
Liquor stores should be open Sundays, but drinks should not be served anywhere on Sundays.
The law should remain as it is now; liquor stores should be closed, and drinks should be served on Sundays according to county option.
No alcohol should be sold or served publicly on Sundays.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Stocks