Agency council proposes director's removal

Noel Lyn Smith
Navajo Nation Division of Community Development Executive Director Carl Smith answers questions on Feb. 9 during a hearing at the Nenahnezad Chapter House in Fruitland.

FARMINGTON — The Northern Navajo Agency Council is calling on President Russell Begaye to remove the executive director for the tribe's Division of Community Development.

The agency council, whose membership consists of elected officials from the 20 chapters in the Northern Agency, voted on Saturday in favor of a resolution to remove Carl Smith from the position.

Navajo Nation President Begaye appointed Smith in January 2016 and the appointment was confirmed by the Navajo Nation Council in May 2016.

According to the resolution, the agency council is submitting the request due to allegations Smith has "disrespect for chapter officials, poor leadership skills, lack of cooperation" and represents the president's office in "an unprofessional arrogant manner."

In addition, they are dissatisfied with new protocol that requires the Navajo Nation Addressing Authority to fulfill chapter residents' physical address verification requests. Those verifications can be used to obtain a state drivers' license or identification card.

Chapter officials say removing this authority from chapter governments harms a resident's ability to obtain such documentation on a timely basis.

Begaye's office did not respond to a request for comment today. Efforts to contact Smith on Monday were unsuccessful.

Rick Nez, agency council president and San Juan Chapter president, said chapter officials are disappointed in Smith's lack of respect for their positions and responsibilities.

Instead, Nez said, Smith tells them to stay away from chapter houses and to stop interacting with community service coordinators, chapter managers and chapter staff.

The resolution states the latest action by Smith occurred at a Feb. 27 orientation for chapter officials in Albuquerque when he told officials to only visit chapter houses for meeting purposes.

Smith has "negatively impacted the working relationship and operation" of the chapters, according to the resolution.

David L. John, vice president for Mexican Water Chapter, said it is important for chapter officials to engage with chapter operations because they know what is happening in the community.

"It doesn't make sense for Window Rock to come out and tell us what to do," John said.

Another resolution passed by the agency council supports leaving the address verification requests to the chapters.

John said he supported the resolution because it is easier for chapter staff to verify places of residence because they know the areas.

He also questioned how the division would pay for staff to travel from Window Rock to chapter areas to complete such requests.

"Give the chapters confidence in what to do and what not to do," John said.

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