By PRINCIPAL CHIEF PATRICK LAMBERT
This month proved to be a very contentious month for our Tribe.
Although my office has been quite busy with the people’s work, we still had to deal with the constant barrage of rumors, lies and threats from some Council members. There is so much more we could be doing and our work gets delayed and put on the back burner due to this constant interruption of vendettas and conspiracies. But, like we have always done in the past, we will continue to move forward and do what we can for our enrolled members. I appreciate the prayers, the uplifting comments and the encouragement. Keep it up, it is working!
Following is highlights from my past month of service to you:
Today, I attended a work session with Tribal Council and it seemed very much business as usual. We discussed the possibility of a proposed Data Center with a company called Switch and possibly seeking other proposals on this idea.
Today was a regular Council meeting. And, what a day!
It started out smoothly until we all were informed that the FBI just served search warrants on Qualla Housing and was seizing most of their files, computers and also more shredded documents. They brought two big U-haul trucks with 26 federal agents and filled the trucks to the brim with files, computers and other electronic items. Contrary to what some Council members want you to believe, these matters are very serious. The FBI through their subpoenas has made it clear that these investigations are looking into possible criminal conduct.
How convenient that on this same day (without it being announced to the public or on the regular agenda) some of the Council decided to try and have me impeached. It appears as if it is… retaliation. All I can say is that it doesn’t matter what they want to say about me or do against me…The FBI is still coming, they aren’t going anywhere. So, if I get attacked for doing the right thing… so be it. I committed to you to work non-stop to help get to the bottom of any crimes of waste, fraud or abuse within the Tribe and its programs. The PEOPLE will ultimately decide the outcome of my political fate and the political fate as well of those Council Members who are determined to get rid of me.
During lunch on this same day, I attended a luncheon organized by our American Legion Ladies Auxiliary. They plan to start new community outreach efforts and are looking to team with community partners. They do a great amount of work and I’m proud to be a supporter of them.
Today, I spent the day preparing for the attack from those nine Council members. What a shame… many on this Council primarily want to spend their time playing politics instead of doing good work for the people. I will address these issues head-on because I have nothing to hide, but I believe those on Council who pushed to get this vote are doing so for retaliation and an attempt to cover-up their own misdeeds or the misdeeds of their friends or family.
Most of Council was out of town in DC for USET, but I decided to stay here and get some work done. This gave several of those Council members a chance to get their game plan together to attack me. They even admitted to having closed meetings while in DC and calling new attorneys to try to hire them to oppose me. It has also been reported that they met several times with the former Chief while there and included him in some of these discussions.
I held Project Development meetings with Harrah’s staff to discuss the new Convention Center plan. I also had Commerce and Gordon Group on conference call for new retail development on site. There is a lot of work to be done and we will soon be getting underway with those projects.
Today, I had a conference call with a law firm that specializes in helping Tribes find ways to reduce the tax burden on individual Tribal members for their per capita payments. I also held a phone conference with HUD and discussed the recent activities surrounding Qualla Housing and the FBI actions. And, I had meetings with our Facilities Manager to discuss on-going projects. We are nearing completion of the new Mountain Bike Trails and will soon be scheduling a grand opening of those new trails. And, we are also close to completing some new renovations and clean-up of the Oconaluftee Indian Village. Also this week, we turned the keys over to the new lock-up evidence storage building for the Cherokee Police. This building has high-tech security and an impenetrable exterior.
Today, I also attended a retirement reception for Donna Lossiah and Jane Owle at the courthouse. These ladies have done a tremendous job for our Tribe and they will be missed. Also, best of luck to all the other members who are taking the big step and are able to retire!
Today was spent answering calls, emails and seeing some tribal members to hear their concerns.
This morning, I visited the New Kituwah Academy, Tsali Manor for lunch and the Water Treatment Plant after lunch. I am committed to expanding the NKA and finding the resources to build a gym for the school and a Speakers Bureau to be a permanent location for our speakers.
A former Tennessee Congressman visited today and offered assistance on getting our land into trust issue with the TVA pushed forward this year in Congress. We had a very good meeting, and I plan to explore ideas related to lobbying for this issue in the near future.
I had an afternoon meeting related to legal and financial matters involving the Tribe.
I met with the Secretary of Treasury early this am to approve the Merit payouts and seniority bonuses for this fiscal year. Later in the morning, I held a Cabinet meeting with all the Secretaries to discuss recent and upcoming program and departmental needs and reports. There are several items to report that we are getting accomplished. Many small projects that help our Cherokee Families are underway or nearing completion: Emergency/Temp Housing nearing completion, new safe walkway to our High School underway, HR plan for a new improved professional atmosphere and office is underway, new community pool is being developed and under construction, purchasing of new ambulances to care for our growing population and needs, Stoney curve redlights and improvements nearing completion, new fleet management processes in place, new buffet style restaurant soon to open in the old TeePee restaurant, as well as several police raids and drug busts occurring to continue our fight against this drug epidemic that has us in the grips and struggling against it. Our streets are still clean and being maintained and many public works are underway to improve our overall infrastructure.
Following lunch, I met with TCGE to discuss development and get updated on the progress of our new Bowling Center and plans for the new Hotel Tower and Convention Center.
After work, I traveled to Atlanta to attend two days of meetings with the CDC. It is amazing the work the CDC does in the areas of public health, and I am glad to be able to engage as a Tribal Advisor to them and will be working hard to get some of those monies in Public Health brought here for our use.
I attended CDC meetings in Atlanta.
Today started with a meeting of legal advisors and discussion that Tribal Council is still pursuing their vendetta against me. Later in the morning, I met with Island Group Developers to discuss a new retail/entertainment park similar to “The Island” located in Pigeon Forge. Later, I attended a special luncheon where I received a very special honor. I was inducted into and made an honorary member of the NC Chiefs of Police Association; a real honor and I am proud to be specially recognized for the work I am doing to rid our town of any corruption and working hard to make the best trained and equipped police force anywhere. In the entire 41 year history, I am only the second person to ever receive this honor, thank you.
Also today, I met with the world class company in energy, Siemens, to discuss ideas on helping to make us more energy self-sufficient and to find ways with us for more green power. I plan to invest for our Tribe’s energy needs to help carry us into the next 100 years. This fits well with my plan of helping our elders with my new program I recently announced, “Power to the People – Tribal Elders Electricity Bills”.
Today was a Tribal Holiday (President’s Day).
This morning, I held a meeting with our Natural Resources and discussed development of a new state-of-the-art fish hatchery. I hope to be able to incorporate this and make an educational aspect along with a Children’s Discovery Museum and a Cherokee National Library and Archive/Curatorial depository. I have formed a new Task Force to spearhead these efforts and will be giving you updates along the way.
Also today, I submitted a letter to the Chairman of Tribal Council vetoing Resolution #502. This was the resolution that Council passed where they decided to pursue impeachment of me. In their mad rush to strike at me, they violated or attempted to violate many areas of law. So, for those reasons I exercised my power to veto. You can view the entire veto letter on line at my Facebook page.
This morning, I was honored to give a welcome speech to everyone at the Cherokee Speakers Language Consortium held at Robbinsville High School. Following that meeting, I attended a friend’s funeral, Jack Bowman. My condolences to his family and the special people in his life.
I later attended a dinner sponsored by the Big Cove Women’s group at the fellowship hall of the Acquoni Church. What a treat! For the food and the Company, thank you so much ladies!
Today marked my ninth year anniversary since I had my last cigarette. I encourage all our members who smoke cigarettes to kick the habit! You can do it… I was 1.5 packs a day for 26 years and now I can run long distances. It’s never too late to quit, your overall health will thank you!
Meetings on issues of child care. We currently have a big shortage of teachers mainly due to training. I am beginning research to see if we can start training courses here on the Qualla Boundary in two primary core subjects, CDA and CNA courses. I also have authorized the Dora Reed Center to begin the process of looking to expand the number of infant slots available by 100. This will cause us to have to expand the building and hire more qualified staff. I believe this is important to provide safe and affordable infant and child care so the parents can work and provide for our Cherokee Families.
I had a conference call with the Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) and his staff today to discuss the pending submission of the Management Agreement we have with Harrah’s. The process and negotiations are nearly complete, and we will submit the final draft for approval to Tribal Council soon. I also met with our new Realty Division, and we are set to begin our own tribal lands/realty department soon.
Today was a fun and busy day. I was invited to several retirement parties for our tribal employees who are leaving us soon. The first one was for tribal construction, then Tsali Manor, then PHHS and finally one at Finance for my very own Dianne Panther and her husband Kenny! Each of you who are retiring I want to wish my very best to you and want to personally congratulate you on a life well lived thus far and a career well done! Thank you for all you have done, and I look forward to seeing each of you out in the community again soon!
Several more retirement receptions and a Planning Board meeting scheduled.
Budget Council is scheduled for the first half of the day with a Business Committee Meeting scheduled for the afternoon.
I want to say that, while there is some turmoil in our community, I am still working hard every day to bring you the services you deserve. You can tell, even from all the whirlwind politically, as the Principal Chief I am still bringing the work to bear for our Cherokee Families.
I have many projects underway and many plans being laid and developed to help you, your families, our elders and our youth. I made a commitment to you to work hard. I promise not to be too sidetracked by the fight and fray of politics, and I will continue to pursue helping you and pushing our Tribe forward!
Thank you for all for your prayers, support and most of all the honor to serve you. God bless you and God Bless the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians! HIS will be done