By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Legislation that would take the Division of Human Resources out from under the general purview of the tribal government of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and form it into a separate entity was tabled by Tribal Council again this month. Ord. No. 60 (2017) was tabled during the regular Council session on Thursday, Sept. 6.
The legislation, submitted by Wolftown Rep. Bo Crowe, Painttown Rep. Tommye Saunooke, Birdtown Rep. Albert Rose, and Big Cove Rep. Richard French, was tabled previously during the June Tribal Council session. It was not on the agenda for the July nor August sessions.
The ordinance states in part, “…there is a need to create an independent Division of Human Resources, which takes the politics out of the hiring, termination, demotion, promotion process to ensure the best candidate is selected for employment…”
Thursday’s discussion on the issue lasted nearly an hour.
“We’ve met and met and met on this,” EBCI Human Resources Secretary Tara Reed-Cooper said during Thursday’s discussion as she noted there have been several work sessions on the issue. “We all want to get the politics out of it.”
She added, “You’re going to keep the politics in it if you put it under TERO. You’re going to keep the politics in it if you put it under Council. You’re going to keep the politics in it if we answer to the Chief, Vice Chief, Council…”
Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed, who noted he would ratify the legislation if they passed it, cautioned Tribal Council to take their time with the legislation and to consider carefully all of the options. “I can understand, certainly, like everyone else, we want everything with the HR process to be done in order and in accordance with policy.”
He said out of the hundreds of authorization to hire forms signed off on by himself and Vice Chief Alan B. Ensley, there has been only one they disagreed on. “If you involve human beings in anything, there is a potential for politics. I’m not trying to dissuade you from doing it. I’m just asking you to at least consider where the oversight is going to come from. I think it needs more work because there’s all of these unanswered questions.”
Rep. French agreed with Chief Sneed. “At this time, I don’t think I can support it. It does need some more work, and I don’t want to rush things.”
He asked for Council representatives to attend the next work session and bring ideas for how to best solve the situation. “When we have a work session, they’re all important. That’s part of our job. That’s what we’re here for and are elected for. If we have another work session, let’s bring some solutions. Let’s get together and find some solutions and get this done right…”
Rep. Crowe gave one possible solution on Thursday, “Why don’t we do it similarly to the way the Boys Club does it? I’m not a big fan of having all the boards, but why don’t we have it to where they have an election of five tribal employees that will sit on the board that will oversee HR?”
Rep. Rose commented, “I just think we’re never, ever going to get politics out of the hiring. You never will unless you contract HR out. That’s the only way it’s going to be fair around here.”
When it came time for a vote, two moves – move to pass and a move to table – were voted against one another with 10 voting to table and Rep. Crowe and Wolftown Rep. Jeremy Wilson voting for passage.
The next work session on this legislation has not been scheduled as of press time.