Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sierra Star: Contested Chukchansi Tribal Election on Saturday.

McClatchy President's Award winning journalist Carmen George has an article on the upcome "special" election at Chukchansi

A new Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians tribal council election is planned for Saturday -- long-awaited for Reggie Lewis' council and seen as unjust by the council led by Morris Reid, who was elected as chairman in the Dec. 3 tribal council election.

Richard Verri, an associate with Rossette Attorneys at Law representing Lewis' council, said according to the tribe's constitution, if there is an election dispute, the sitting council remains in place until the dispute is resolved.

Reid said the new election set for March 10 should be considered invalid because Lewis' group broke the tribe's election laws in disqualifying Harold Hammond after he won, with late appeals filed by losers of the election, including chairman Reggie Lewis and treasurer Chance Alberta.

The election process and voting, handled by an independent election agency with votes read aloud to membership Dec. 3, has not been in question by either side.

Ballots sent out for Saturday's new election are only for Hammond's seat -- one of the four tribal council seats won in December.

No word has been given yet about what will happen with the other three seats -- previously won by Reid, Dora Jones and Dixie Jackson.

Saturday's election, scheduled by Lewis' council of four members (two not up for reelection this year and two that lost the election) comes a week and half after a fight broke out Feb. 28 amongst about 20 people outside the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians' tribal office when members supporting Reid's group, who was occupying the office, tried to return with food for people inside.

Injuries included a stabbing and head injury that required medical transport for two men to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.

Reid said he spoke with Troy Burdick again on Monday -- Bureau of Indian Affairs' Central California superintendent -- in hopes BIA will help mediate the standoff. Reid said he also asked, as he has since December, that BIA look at the facts of the Dec. 3 election and make a determination from that.

Last month Burdick said the agency had not made plans to get involved in the standoff and that the tribe should be able to work it out under their own laws.

"BIA has considered this to be an internal tribal matter to be resolved by the Chukchansi," said Chukchansi Jed Davis about what sparked the office occupation. "When there is no court and the tribal council acts as judge, jury and executioner, what are we members to do?

"The federal government has a responsibility to maintain a government-to-government relationship and oversee the millions of taxpayer dollars that have been received by the Chukchansi government."

Lewis' council has disenrolled many tribal members since the Dec. 3 election, including a group of about 70 last month -- what Reid sees largely as a political move, akin to Republicans stripping Democrats of their U.S. citizenship, or vice versa, right before a new election scheduled by the losers.

Lewis' council has maintained that they are only following the tribe's laws and working with the enrollment committee.

Following the stabbing at the rancheria Feb. 28, Madera County Sheriff's Department officers cleared the area of all people except Chukchansi security guards (and later some individuals said to be insurance assessors from Lewis' group who were allowed in the office temporarily). The department remained posted outside the tribal office 24-7 until 2 p.m. Monday in hopes that would give BIA officials enough time to step in and mediate the situation. As of Tuesday afternoon, BIA had still not arrived at the rancheria.

Read the rest of Carmen George’s Article here


Anonymous said...

CHP are on "high alert" -- kern county officers are ready to go with their blues. Have you checked other counties to see if they, too have been asked to be there?

Anonymous said...

ALL Chukchansi should show up to vote...even terminated members.

for ALL nations...for ALL chukchansi people said...

hmmm...does anyone have verification of where the votes are being cast? those who don't vote by mail usually vote at the tribal offices, which to my knowledge remain closed, padlocked, and guarded...

as it is my understanding that many picayune business departments have been moved to chukchansi gold at the older portion of the ground floor of the hotel, will the voting take place there as well? i say flood the casino with chukchansi people!!!

by the is said that by authorization of the "lewis/old" council those chukchansi still enrolled at picayune but living outside of a 75 mile radius from picayune will be receiving checks of $1000.00 if they show up to vote (to pay for lodging, food, etc. according to the "justification") sounds a little like buying votes to me...similar to what was done at picayune by lewis last week when 50 hotel rooms were allowed for chukchansi people brought from out of area by the lewis group in hopes of making a quorum to change the constitution--which DIDN"T happen...

heard alot of the casino patrons--who were MOVED from their rooms at the coarsegold casino location to various hotels in oakhurst to make way for last minute chukchansi rounded up from the los angeles area at tribal travel expense--were livid!!!

oh well...and what was that statement reggie lewis made about tribal issues having absolutely no bearing on chukchansi gold or it's operaations?

Anonymous said...

I will, might get tazed though. Take one for the team. I am so frustrated. Tribal Members are so scared they won't even sign a petition. If you can't stand up for your family, they might as well disenroll themselves. We are all on the chopping block. That's no joke. I guess who cares though unless its directly happening to them. Keep updated, tomorrow is the Election.

smokeybear said...

And if "Lewis" loses this election, will he "Refuse To Honor" it again? And the B.I.A. won't act, again, to remedy this?