Daily Times staff writer Noel Lyn Smith called me for a response on Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly's veto of $180,000 for the Home for Women and Children. I informed her through a telephone conversation that I will respond to her inquiries in the near future. I am responding today to address the issues.
The $180,000 veto message by the Honorable President Shelly is quite disturbing and comes with mixed messages. A letter from the President was made on May 5, 2014, regarding the reasons for his veto opinions. I am glad that both he and Vice-President (Rex Lee) Jim fully support the Nation's response to violent crimes against women and children, enhancing victim safety, and developing education and prevention strategies. As the executive director of the Home for Women and Children, now going on 23 years, that is exactly the line of work my staff and I do. I want to address the "noncompliance" and "high risk" issue that came with the President's veto. There was never a noncompliance or high risk issued by the Nation.
Upon reviewing the letter from President Shelly to Pro-Tem Speaker (LoRenzo) Bates of the Navajo Nation Council, it boils down to a 2011 Evaluation Report done by a four-woman team from the Navajo Nation Division of Social Services. They came and did a site visit and went over compliance issues and came up with findings that needed to be corrected. Most of the findings were minor like putting locks on three out of seven file cabinets, and others were more operational protocols. The corrections were completed and submitted back to NNDSS by the Home for Women and Children on April 26, 2013. To this day, my Board and I have not received any notification back from the Navajo Nation Division of Social Services.
My Board President Delfine Salazar responded to President Shelly in a letter dated May 17, 2014, that clarified not only his veto being "unjustified," but went on to state that to be labeled "high risk" requires an official letter from the Division Director to the Home for Women and Children that never came; and Board President Salazar concludes that the "Home had successfully accomplished the corrective actions issue point-for-point that never was realized in the veto message."
The Home for Women and Children has received federally subsidized funding from Family Violence Prevention Grant (www.acf.hhs.gov) through the Navajo Nation since 1993. The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) Grants to Native American tribes (including Alaska Native villages) and tribal organizations are formula grants funded through a 10 percent set aside in the FVPSA appropriation. The purpose of these grants is to assist tribes in efforts to increase public awareness about, and primary and secondary prevention of, family violence, domestic violence, and dating violence, and to provide immediate shelter and supportive services for victims of family violence, domestic violence, or dating violence, and their dependents. Since the Navajo Nation does not have domestic violence shelters, they have sub-contracted services with the Home for Women and Children since 1993. The types of service requirements of the federal government are in line with the Home for Women and Children mission and scope of work.
There are only two domestic violence shelters on the Navajo Nation and they are located in Shiprock and Kayenta, Arizona. Both organizations are sanctioned by Navajo Nation Business Regulatory Commission as nonprofit "foreign" 501.c.3. The Home for Women and Children is chartered in 1975 by the state of New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission. HFWC is possibly the only not-for-profit organization surviving on the Navajo Nation for that length of time.
As a sub-grantee to the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act grant from the Navajo Nation, each and every year the approval process has been late into the fiscal year. For example, although the Navajo Nation had received the grant award and allocation back in June 2013 for federal fiscal year from October 1, 2013, to September 31, 2014, the Home for Women and Children had been notified of this grant award in December 2013 and was officially approved a $100,000 grant by the end of March 2014. Then the Navajo Nation asked of the Home for Women and Children to seek or search out any leftover receipts since October 16, 2013, to bill the Nation for it. The question remains, "Who is really out of compliance: The Navajo Nation or the sub-grantees?"
The Home for Women and Children did their part to come up with a clean record and continue to receive the award from the Navajo Nation FVPSA grant. If the HFWC was in noncompliance and labeled as "high risk" by the Navajo Nation, then we might not even be awarded any grant at all.
In closing, the Home for Women and Children lost its $1.1 million capital outlay appropriation for the state of New Mexico through a reauthorization from a local New Mexico legislator that would have completed construction on the Home for Women and Children property, and received a very belated $100,000 grant award that is based on actual expense reimbursements from October 2013, and now the $180,000 emergency supplemental request denied by the Executive Branch of the Navajo Nation. Where is peace and prosperity for all?