Editor, Daily Press:

[This letter was written to the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council prior to July 4.]

I write to you in hopes that I find you well this holiday. I also would like to encourage you to look into your hearts and see what a gross amount of money you’re about to review in regard to the suggested pay increases for elected officials. I hope there is still time to make a change.

I beg that you cap the amount of increase to be something those of us can stand behind. I’m by no means suggesting a raise isn’t needed, but I am asking that you consider the percentage increase and what we’re paying our people, especially when you vote to accept or not accept the raises. It would be different if we didn’t have families currently doing without, elders who’ve waited for services and not received them, or employees still scraping by, if that.

I’m interested to know the process taken to come up with figures as these. I hope the processes will be transparent and you might do your due diligence in looking over that information and, in turn, share that openly with the public. Consider this: If our elected officials are that far behind (as the huge salary increase suggests), what does that mean for our employees running day-to-day operations of our government?

Have we hired a third party to deem where we’re shortchanging our own people? Unless we’re providing services to all who need them and are successful in that, none of our Cherokee people are doing without basic needs and accommodations, I don’t see where this is fair and just. But you are the ones who must go to sleep at night with this decision, and I hope it’s the right one for the people as a whole.

Jami Murphy, Cherokee Nation citizen

Tahlequah, District 2