By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
What many expected would be a contentious regular session of Tribal Council on Thursday, March 2, somewhat fizzled as three pieces of legislation dealing with the proposed impeachment of Principal Chief Patrick Lambert were voted away.
First off, a veto was heard. Previously, Chief Lambert vetoed Resolution No. 502 (2017), passed on Feb. 2, which called for Articles of Impeachment to be drawn up against him. In his veto letter Res. No. 502 Veto Letter, written to Tribal Council Chairman Bill Taylor on Feb. 21, Chief Lambert called Res. No. 502 a “witch hunt” against him. “I have committed no impeachable offenses, and it is my hope that calmer heads will prevail and allow us to come together in a reasonable manner to resolve our differences and move forward in a constructive way instead of a destructive way.”
During Thursday’s meeting, the veto letter was officially read into the record, and then it was acted upon. Painttown Rep. Tommye Saunooke made a motion, seconded by Big Cove Rep. Teresa McCoy, to uphold the veto. Birdtown Rep. Travis Smith made a motion, seconded by Vice Chairman Brandon Jones, to override the veto. The motions were voted against each other, and the veto was overridden by a weighted vote of 80-20 with Rep. Saunooke, Rep. McCoy, and Big Cove Rep. Richard French voting to uphold.
Following that, two resolutions, both protesting Res. No. 502, were read into the record. The first one, submitted by over 20 members of the Snowbird Community, Snowbird Community Members Protest to Res. No. 502 stated in part, “We, the Snowbird Community, feel like our Chief (Lambert) has only looked out in the best interest of our community and our Tribe. Our Tribal Council members failed to inform our community of its intentions to do this impeachment and acted without informing our Snowbird Community.”
The second protest resolution Big Cove Rep. Teresa McCoy Protest Resolution, a 72-page submission from Rep. McCoy, included a protest letter and resolution as well as various other pieces of historical legislation dealing with impeachments. The resolution itself states in part, “Res. No. 502 (17) is hereby rescinded in its entirety as this is the expressed desire of the Cherokee people at community club meetings, phone calls, and community discussions.”
Both protests were denied in exactly the same fashion. A motion to deny was made by Rep. Smith and seconded by Vice Chairman Jones, and a motion to hear the protest was made by Rep. Saunooke and seconded by Rep. McCoy. The votes went the same with both protests being denied with four voting to hear the protest including: Rep. Saunooke, Rep. French, Rep. McCoy, and Wolftown Rep. Bo Crowe.
Res. No. 502 states that Tribal Council will retain a Special Impeachment Prosecutor “to present evidence of charges contained in the Articles of Impeachment”.
The resolution alleges, “…the Office of Internal Audit determined that Patrick H. Lambert solely operated the EBCI’s day-to-day duties by solely executing personnel actions requiring Executive Committee approval without the knowledge or input of the Vice Chief, by failing to conduct a formal interview and reference check requirements, authorizing a salary before budget approval, assisting an interim manager while manager position remained filled, pay raises authorized without documented justification, and changing the organizational structure without Tribal Council approval.”
It also alleges that Chief Lambert “executed contracts without Business Committee approval and allowed contract expenditures to exceed contract value”.
In his veto letter, Chief Lambert addresses part of the allegations, “I am disappointed that Council is relying on a report that did not include any of my discussion of these matters and concerns with Internal Audit during their review, and I am disappointed that Council would move ahead on such thin grounds without first having full and open hearings. Disregarding due process and other key tenants of the law is not a sustainable position and causes greater distrust of the government by the people.”
A time frame for drawing up the Articles of Impeachment has not been given, and a hearing date has not been set as of press time.