Council tables motion involving gaming commission members, approves comptroller
Updated: Dec 18, 2018
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
TAHLEQUAH - The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council voted to table a resolution concerning the creation of a three-member Gaming Commission and ratified Jacki Taylor as the tribe’s new part-time comptroller during its Dec. 1 meeting.
Among the items for new business was a resolution brought forth by Treasurer Ella Mae Worley asking Tribal Council to approve or disapprove the development of a job description and advertisement of a “three-member Gaming Commission” to be appointed by “the first council meeting in 2019.”
The item comes amidst the tribe’s efforts to develop a potential casino operation in Enid, Okla.
Worley indicated that three individuals had already been appointed by Chief Joe Bunch and voted on by Tribal Council, but that the action “wasn’t done by protocol.”
“They were nominated, or not nominated, just brought out, I think by the chief. I’m not saying don’t nominate them again, but the protocol wasn’t done right simply because we need to ask them first,” said Worley. “We asked the chief if he had asked them, and I’m not trying to say anything bad, we asked the chief and he said, ‘yeah.’ But we asked the other fella and he said, ‘no, I was not asked at all’ and he said, ‘I’m not going to take that. I don’t want it.’”
In the item Worley instead asked to approve or disapprove the appointment of three or four council members to a nomination board, who would then propose the potential Gaming Commission members. Her resolution also called for background checks for all nominated members.
“We need to, as council nominate people who we think might be good,” she said. “We need to ask those people. They need to be qualified. We hadn’t done the background checks and we need to notify them. If you want the same ones that’s fine, nominate them and let’s go through the proper protocol.”
Worley added the National Indian Gaming Commission has “already requested” an updated casino ordinance “to meet today’s standards” and that the members appointed by Bunch “should already be meeting to give a report to the council on the status of structure such as licenses.”
Bunch agreed that the ordinance was outdated, but stated that two of the members he appointed were “practicing attorneys.” He also stated that one had also worked at the now-closed UKB Casino and was “well-versed and knowledgeable about gaming operations.”
Bunch argued that pursuing the matter further would be a “step backwards” and that the members are already pursuing gaming and vendor licenses.
“It’s moving and hopefully we’ll have it here for you for approval next time or as we need it,” he said. “Your input is going to be valuable as well once we get that back from the commissioners. I’ll submit it to you all and let you all make your recommendations as well as Council.”
The matter was eventually tabled until the next Tribal Council meeting after Councilors voted 5-3, with Worley, Assistant Chief Jamie Thompson, Treasurer Joyce Fourkiller and Councilors Peggy Girty and Frankie Still voting yes. Councilors Willie Christie, Charles Smoke and Teresa Webber voted against. Councilors Eddie Sacks, Clifford Wofford and Adalene Smith were absent.
Councilors also voted to approve the ratification of Jacki Taylor as the tribe’s new comptroller.
“I know the secretary and the treasurer, I wasn’t here but we talked about it under the continued resolution, I thought she was hired,” said Thompson. “I think it needs to be ratified is all that needs to be done here today so she can start to work. As far as I know she’s the only one that had made an application. Secretary agrees that would take a load off of her is to get a comptroller, so I’ll make a motion that we go ahead and ratify Jacki Taylor as a comptroller.”
Worley clarified that Taylor would be hired for a part-time salary up to $35,000 due to a continuing resolution on the budget.
The motion passed 5-3, with Worley, Thompson, Fourkiller, Girty and Still voting yes. Councilors Christie, Smoke and Webber voted against. Councilors Sacks, Wofford and Smith were absent.
At the end of the meeting outgoing Councilor Christie paused to say a few words.
“I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and also it was an honor to serve council with you all and congratulations to Sharon and good luck Sharon (Benoit). I’ll just be seeing you all from the other side. Thank you,” he said.
Outgoing Councilor Webber echoed those thoughts.
“I want to say thank you to the people in the Tahlequah district for your support. It has been an honor to serve with everyone here and I love each and every one of you. Thank you,” she said.
In other business:
· Council Treasurer Ella Mae Worley reported total General Fund revenue for the month of November as $29,000 against $89,113.14 in expenses, leaving a deficit of $60,597.22. The tribe used cash-on-hand funds to cover the deficit, but has yet to pass a new fiscal year budget;
· Council approved two new applications for membership;
· Councilor Webber motioned to “rescind” the Nov. 3 Tribal Council election due to the issue of dually-enrolled members voting, but the motion failed 5-3;
· and Council folded a UKB flag to be presented to the family of late Sequoyah District Councilor Mary Duvall.
Newly elected council members are expected to be sworn into office during the next UKB Tribal Council meeting scheduled for Jan. 5, 2019, in Tahlequah.