Shiprock Chapter seeks auditor general review

Noel Lyn Smith
A voter walks into the Shiprock Chapter house in this April 2015 photo. The chapter is asking the Office of the Auditor General to remove sanctions against its budget.

FARMINGTON – The Shiprock Chapter is submitting a request to the Navajo Nation’s Office of the Auditor General to review the chapter’s administrative and financial processes in hopes it results in the removal of sanctions on the chapter’s budget.

A resolution that includes the request passed 65-0 during the chapter’s Jan. 17 information meeting.

In 2011, the auditor general’s office recommended sanctions against the chapter and its officials for failing to implement the office's corrective action plan for managing finances and programs.

The Budget and Finance Committee approved the imposition of sanctions against the chapter in December 2011.

When a chapter is sanctioned, Navajo law mandates the tribe’s Office of the Controller withhold 10 percent of the chapter’s annual budget and 20 percent of any payments to chapter officials.

Chapter President Duane “Chili” Yazzie said Friday one more signature is needed on the resolution, then it will be submitted to the auditor general’s office in Window Rock, Ariz.

Also during the Jan. 17 meeting, chapter members issued a resolution that expresses opposition to a tribal council bill that calls for the postponement of this year’s election for chapter officials and other offices.

The bill asks Navajo lawmakers to consider the delay because discussion is continuing about amending the chapter government system, and voters still need to weigh in on a referendum to approve changes to the chapter government structure. The measure also proposes that current chapter officials remain in office until after the new election.

Anita Hayes, a Navajo Nation special elections poll official, helps a voter with a ballot during the April 21, 2015, election at the Tse Daa Kaan Chapter house in Hogback. The Shiprock Chapter has  issued a resolution that expresses opposition to a tribal council bill that calls for the postponement of this year’s election for chapter officials and other offices.

Shiprock Chapter members voted 61-0 in opposition to the legislation, which was posted on the council’s website on Jan. 14 and could be considered by the council when it convenes next week for the winter session.

The chapter’s resolution states votes cast in the 2012 election were cast in “good faith,” and voters elected their local officials to serve terms that end in January 2017.

It also states the Office of Navajo Government Development is sharing information about the referendum, but there is no legislation in place to authorize it, and there is no bill that addresses reorganizing the chapter government system.

Shiprock’s resolution states the bill to delay the election cycle “has no active or standing legislation to show cause for action” and if it became law, it “would be an infringement on the voting rights and authority of the Navajo people.”

A recommendation included in the chapter's resolution calls for the council to follow the tribe’s initiative process and “honor the peoples’ voice and vote.”

Yazzie said he is waiting for one more signature on the resolution, then copies will be sent to the Navajo Nation Council, to the speaker’s office and to Delegate Tom Chee, who represents the Shiprock Chapter.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.