Navajo council overturns two presidential vetoes

Window Rock, Arizona (AP) 12-07

The Navajo Nation Council has overturned a presidential veto that would have stripped a council committee of the authority to make laws and review tribal enterprises, including casinos.

The council’s 69-14 vote during a special session during the third week of December means the council’s Economic Development Committee can take legislative action to implement tribal business site leasing regulations.

The committee also can receive reports and review the operation of the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, which was established by the council to oversee the development of casinos on the reservation.

In his veto message during November, Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. said the gaming enterprise should not be subject to standing committee oversight, and that the measure violates the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances.

The council also overturned the president’s veto of a bill that places the Commission on Government Development under the administrative control of council Speaker Lawrence Morgan.

The commission, created by the council, has quasi-independent authority to institute reforms to ensure an accountable and responsible government. It’s made up of representatives from each of the five Navajo agencies, the three branches of government and other specialty areas.

Delegates said the commission has been ineffective, and Morgan pledge to re-ignite the true intent of its operation.

“The amount of years and money that has been put into this office does not add up,” said Delegate Leonard Chee. “There’s been little progress in bringing government reform to our nation.”

The council also approved $3.6 million in appropriations. That includes nearly $2 million for the Office of the Speaker; $100,000 to the council; $250,000 for the Office of the President; and $844,400 for the chapter houses to be used for stipend payments for official meetings and Christmas activities.

Nearly a half-million dollars goes to the Department of Education to provide Navajo children with eyeglasses.

The council also confirmed four district court judges to permanent positions. The judges are Irene S. Black, Genevieve Woody, Rudy Bedonie and Carol Black.