Dear Tribal Members, Employees and Community Members,
Recently, we had a Benefits Fair at the Administration Building in Nespelem. Thanks to Billy Nicholson for taking my suggestion and making it a success! Human Resources, Retirement, Tribal Health, and many others contributed to hopefully an annual event that will increase awareness for employees regarding benefits and increase workplace camaraderie!
More exciting news this week as Head Start children from all four districts will be sporting new coats! A huge thanks to CTFC, CIHA, Tribal Credit, Michelle Campobasso, Richard Whitney, Casey Baldwin, Sonya Schaller, Bunky Andrews, Marcella Pierre, Joe Crowder, Melissa Campobasso, Ramona Campobasso, Jeanie Kent, and Harvey Moses for donations! In addition to coats distributed as a result of local fundraising, our Head Start kids will receive a second coat from Operation Warm! A couple of months ago, I applied for coats from a couple of non-profit organizations. A couple of days after ordering coats from Walmart, an application was approved from Operation Warm. We wanted to honor the intent of the donations for Head Start children as well as the relationship with Walmart since inventory from three locations was necessary to fill our order. The shipment of the second coat will arrive this week and our Head Start kids will receive a second coat to use, share, or save for later. Hopefully next winter we will have coats earlier in the season and coordinate for more of our needy children!
Regarding the new Employee Policy Manual, I requested to change my vote during the next Education and Employment agenda on February 4. Many tribal members have voiced concerns about the social media policy on page 33 of the revised EPM. Prior to approving the revised EPM, I persuaded other council to maintain donated leave for maternity and paternity leave, as well as a couple of other changes. After reviewing the materials provided last November, the modifications to the social media policy were not included in the three page working committee’s highlights of changes. As well, the tracked changes version of the EPM only reflected some changes to the numbering and deletion of one word from the social media section. This was misleading and I was under the impression there was no significant change to the social media policy. In 2014, I worked with an EPM drafting committee and our concern at that time was to restrict employees from disclosing confidential information on social media or post information that would have a negative impact on the workplace (such as harassing a coworker). I cannot support the social media policy in its current form.
Concerns about ethics are twofold: first, to shed light on the Ethics Retreat; second, to update about pending charges. The CBC held an Ethics Retreat on October 29-30, 2018 at Northern Quest. Our Chairman issued a tribune letter immediately following the retreat, but it was not all sunshine and rainbows.
Attendance was mandatory, and the morning of October 29, 2018, I was required to reserve a room at Northern Quest as the last CBC to do so. The retreat was not “just council” since Alice Koskela, Neeka Somday and Trisha Timentwa also participated. Addressing ethics charges is important, but the retreat increased costs with no real impact on ethics proceedings. It may have been “vital” to give filed charges, work pressure and stress the attention they deserved, but that was not the primary focus of the meeting and seemed more like a verbal blanket party for one. Perhaps some attendees would characterize the retreat as “very frank, open and difficult discussions,” but that seems like heavy sugar coating or a PG version of what really happened.
The distance from Nespelem was intended to separate me from my support network. The time I spent preparing for the meeting was a waste of time, and I should have brought protective gear, a whistle, penalty flags, or Kleenex instead. I was lured in under false promises, isolated from supporters, and didn’t care for the repeated flattery about my intelligence level that was a sad attempt to gain trust. Clearly, the majority prepped and strategized in advance.
Although many of you would expect the notorious bully to engage in bad behavior, he was not alone. Rodney pointed out in his letter that Tuesday morning we began with legal advice from ORA. He failed to mention how dismal the opinion was, or how the dishonorably discharged veteran came to the attorney’s rescue when I pointed out the flawed advice. He immediately jumped in and stated there would be no “personal attacks.” A difference in opinion hardly equates to a personal attack. Ironically, the same individual had nothing to say when others attacked me, and consistently cuts me off during meetings with forceful points of order. Although months ago the bully charged at me and stood in my face in council offices, I was shocked to see Jack spitting mad while objectifying me as “That Woman!” in his demand of Rodney to punish me. After wiping the spit from his mouth, he also accused me of using my family and friends as a weapon against him during the ethics hearing on October 1, which was not true. Our members have a right to know the actions of council and peaceful gathering is a right guaranteed to all of us.
These two were not out of character, but I still shake my head about two others. One I have known for several decades and played softball with his first wife many years ago. I even nominated Richard Moses for Culture Chair, but that support ended abruptly during the onslaught of the “F” word about me, my intelligence, and family. Taunting me that he could not look at me for fear of sexual harassment charges, exaggerated fear about stepping foot into my office which would result in ethics charges and lies about my family were misplaced. Nothing about Moses’ actions that day exhibited tradition or respect, unless your definition of tradition includes abuse, lies or humiliation of others. The other is our Chairman. Despite my pleas for help, Rodney shrugged, allowed it to continue, and required me to stay. An hour before the meeting concluded during a short break, I requested permission to leave with tears rolling down my cheeks. Sadly, my request was denied despite two other council echoing my concerns about the personal attack against me. At the close of the meeting we were all told we could not discuss what transpired, which felt eerily similar to a perpetrator threatening their victim if they told. Our chairman thanked council for staying to the end, but I would have preferred a leader who is not afraid to stop abuse or at least refrain from stating “no matter how difficult of a day this was, this day is behind us.”
As I have mentioned previously, women are sacred, as well as our children, elders, the sick, and vulnerable. A verbal attack in front of 15 witnesses was demeaning and uncalled for, but breaking the silence begins healing. It is my belief that attack was intended to humiliate and scare me into silence so the majority of council could carry out their wishes without accountability. Upon returning to the office, I emailed the CBC and noted the absence of humanity and prayed the women in their lives never experience the same thing. Our chairman’s tribune letter stung as insult to injury, but he also opened the door to discuss what really happened.
As many of you may be aware, the Rules Committee convenes on Friday, February 1, 2019 at 9:00 am. By the time this letter is published, the hearing should have already occurred. On October 4, 2018, our chairman announced during Special Session that the executive committee wanted the Rules Committee to investigate allegations against me from Shannon Thomas, an attorney in the office of reservation attorney. The council has dismissed numerous ethics charges in the absence of a signed, notarized written complaint. Despite a consistent precedent and tribal code requiring such, several months without a signed or notarized complaint against me made no difference. Sadly, numerous code provisions have been violated in this proceeding and a prior one in a concerted effort to expel me. Within the past week, Jack announced the Elections Committee chair is Joe Somday. Despite being 1 of 4 on the Elections Committee, I was never contacted by the other committee members, allowed to voice a desire to serve as a committee chair, or vote on any proposed committee chair. The timing of the current ethics charges is interesting if nothing else, since the Elections Committee must convene soon to establish the schedule and not long thereafter certify candidates.
If you are abused, raped, assaulted, or attacked, ask for help. Call 911 in an emergency, seek medical attention or counseling, contact local law enforcement to report the incident, lean on your support network, exercise, attend a sweat, or take other steps to heal and protect yourself. And if you observe abuse, have the strength to intervene or report it.