Saturday, March 23, 2019

Eagle Butte
Mostly cloudy
Mostly cloudy

Demand accountability of elected officials before you vote

CRST Voters it’s that time again.  For your information, I’ve been on council now for 2 years. The people of dist. # 4 awarded me this seat, and I took office July 1st 2016, and they awarded it to me again in November of 2016. 

In the last two years, I’ve learned a lot about tribal government and the way it should be working. Not by my standards, but by Roberts Rules of Order, which most governing bodies adhere too.

Also, I’ve learned that most council reps can’t or won’t come to work on time, and they leave early before the work is done. There are 5 or 6 reps who do not go to committee meetings unless it pertains to them, and that’s where most of the council work gets done. 

When the issue of being late and not going to meetings is brought up in council, it just gets ignored or met with excuses. Due to this fact, it became apparent to me that some employees and Program Directors working for the tribe acquire these same traits and have little or no respect for Legislators or the Tribal Administration, or in some cases, the general public.

The Chairman could put a stop to this, BUT the Chairman himself ,on many occasions, refuses to follow Council action, and neither does the Vice Chairman. The majority of council reps refuse to be accountable and just don’t seem to care.

When the Councilmen’s Wage Proposal came to the council floor in the form of a motion, the Vice Chairman refused to take the vote even after the motion got a second. Most likely it wouldn’t have passed anyhow, as there were only about six council reps that were supportive of it, and were willing to do what the people put them in there to do.

But if you were to ask them who all supported the councilmen’s proposal, I’m sure all would say they did. At the June council session in Takini, someone passed out a resolution that was passed back in 2004. It was a Code of Ethic’s for tribal council and tribal administration, as well as tribal employees.

I almost laughed when I read it, since I’ve been on council, I’ve only witnessed about three council reps beside myself who actually follow a code of ethics.

The code of ethics:

1. Put loyalty to the highest moral principles and to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and its members. 

2. Uphold the Constitution, laws, regulations and ordinances of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.  3.  Seek to find and employ more efficient and economical ways of getting tasks accomplished.  4.  Never discriminate unfairly by the dispensing of special favors or privileges to anyone, whether of remuneration or not; and never accept, for himself or herself or for family members, favors or benefits under circumstances which might be construed by reasonable persons as influencing the performance of tribal governmental duties.   

5.  Make no private promises of any kind binding upon the duties of office, since a tribal employee has no private work, which can be binding on public duty.

6.  Engage in no business with other entities, either directly or indirectly, which is inconsistent with the conscientious performance of tribal governmental duties.

7.  Neither solicit nor accept any gift or gratuity for their personal benefit in excess of minimal value, or use any information gained confidentially in the performance of tribal governmental duties as a means of private gain, monetary or otherwise.

8.  Expose corruption wherever discovered.

9.  Not participate in the selection, or in the award or administration of a contract supported by Federal funds if a conflict of interest, real or apparent, would be involved.

10.  Uphold these principles, ever conscious that public office is a public trust.    

By no means am I the perfect council representative, but I show up on time and stay till the work is done — although I did walk out one time at the beginning of my term, and was late one time to a committee meeting. I do sometimes get it wrong, but I do work for the people who elected me and will continue to do so through my whole term.

Very often during council business gets held up for months due to council reps who do not attend committee meetings, then show up at council  wanting the issue to go the way they think it should. If they would show up at committee meetings and get in on discussions, these issues would pass, thereby getting the issue taken care of in a timely manner as stated in # 3 of the ethics code. This is just one example of many.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The point I’m trying to get across is we need to vote in people who actually care about the wellbeing of the people and the tribe as a whole and are willing to come to work on time and stay until the work is done, thereby setting an example for the employees and their directors.

The very least we the people can do, as we try to select a representative, is ask a few questions of those running for office, such as: Would you support a proposal that would help you be more accountable? Will you come to work on time your whole term and not just on election years?  Will you speak up for the betterment of the people even at the cost of a few votes? Will you follow the code of ethics passed in council? 

Ask these and more questions, and at least then you are not just going by what they promise without question.

Thank you CRST members.      

Jim Pearman   

District # 4 Representative, CRST, SD