I have been politically active since the Vietnam War. Many topics we face are too complicated to have a single point opinion, but I wrote out simple statements that fit me best. As time permits I will make YouTube videos for a more comprehensive discussion on many of the topics listed.
Transparency? Blocking citizens out of meetings where the Tribe's crucial decisions are being made is the core of our current transparency problems. In the past all of the Tribe's business was conducted under scrutiny of our citizens and closed portions of meetings were controlled by law. What is different? Over the last 8 years the Council has systematically moved operations of the government into corporate bodies that do not fall under the same scrutiny as our commissions boards and committees. They have also eliminated the Executive from any involvment or oversight with these corporations including our casino. This has effectively eliminated an entire branch of government from our revenue generating activities. If you want transparency, this has to be reversed.
Tribal Preference: My dad said the best person for the job is an Indian and if you hire one and they can’t do the job then you should hire another one to help them. While in its simplest form this is how I feel too. The US government does not hire foreign nationals for sensitive jobs and neither should we.
How does the Constitution affect our job? The Constitution gives very specific authorities to the Council and prohibits them from exceeding those authorities. We intend on providing the new Council with Constitutional training tailored to our Constitution. This training similar to many board training but will very specifically look at our Constitution with special care taken to address ARTICLE I. RESERVED RIGHTS OF TRIBAL MEMBERSHIP and ARTICLE II. INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS.
Constitutional authority? Over the last 8 years Council has taken several actions that moved administrative and management authorities from the Executive to the Legislative branch. Simply put Council is making a power grab. Why does this hurt us? It reduces transparency by using corporate structures to limit oversight. It eliminates the Executive branch from any management or oversight. Since there's only one branch of the government involved in decision making it has also effectively eliminated the Courts from seeing any disputes over the actions of our enterprises. We believe all three branches of our government should be involved in all our actions creating the Constitution's intended balance. And we firmly believe administrative authority rests entirely with the Executive and we intend on reversing this trend one law at a time. When Council is not involved in administration there are fewer reasons to conduct secret meetings.
Elder's funding? During the first debate we were asked how to stop budget cuts in the Elder's programming after the budget year has already started. This only happens with unrestricted funds that are set aside during the beginning of the budget cycle. This can be addressed at the very beginning of the budgetary process by establishing a minimum percentage for Elders funding. A more explicit and granular budget priorization format would minimize negative changes to their budget after the cycle starts. The same process can be used for Youth Services and Education.
Youth facilities? We can sit around waiting for the Executive to come to us with grants or we can set our priorities, sit down with the Executive and plan facilities (gym, pool, etc.) for youth activities and establish a time line for their completion. In this same planning we will develop a systematic method of coordinating and optimizing the services provided across the organization's different programs.
The Indian Child Welfare Act? Our Child Welfare Services need to be in alignment with our claims in the suit against the State. This is a complicated issue that will require direct input and action from our experts in the Child Welfare Committee that currently has little input. We will work directly with the committee to modify their statute requiring action, input and alignment with our federal claims.
Anishinaabemowin and the future? As we develop new Anishinaabemowin Instructors we need to start prioritizing places for them throughout the organization. One easy step is to begin requiring a language and cultural component in all grant requests. Long term to facilitate these activities we will require a small cultural addition to every building with a fire pit for traditional input in all our Tribal activities.
Tradition or religion? We will provide traditional ceremonies at the beginning of all Tribal Council meetings at the fire pit. To ensure we violate no one's religious rights we'll conduct ceremonies for those who wish to participate at the pit prior to the meetings. Over time we will request representatives from all the various religions practiced in the Tribe come in and share a prayer during these ceremonies.
Health? Health services are used by more and have a higher priority than most other Tribal expenses. Our Mina Mskiki Gumik (Health Services Building) is bursting at the seams. It's simply time to sit down with the Executive and plan a new building. We built the Government Center at Odawa Circle on program space cost expensing and there's no reason we can't do the same for a new health building. In it we will be able to accommodate a pharmacy, XRay and design the building for expansion.
Make Mackinaw a Class 3 Casino? They want a class 3 casino just to get liquor because it's under performing. No, just buy a state liquor license for it. If it still under performs expectations you need to align the original projections with reality for future performance analysis.
The Boundaries Law Suit: It is like water under the bridge and there is no going back. I am disturbed more by the lack of planning for the cost. The cuts to support this action have put some of our programs in a fiscal crunch and TC needs to share more of this burden.
Tribal Council Budget: I would like to see all TC travel expenses listed on the Legislative web site. I would also like to see huge cuts in the legislative budget to help carry the burden for Council's Boundary law suit.
Open Documents Act: A lot of press is being given to emails. I wrote a law that made them open documents and now we have a huge number of them inappropriately classified, effectively closing them to public scrutiny. Only confidential emails should be marked as such.
Tribal Council Control of Administrative Duties: A few of our recent laws transferred administrative oversight to the Tribal Council. While this seems like a simple technicality, the outcome is effective loss of oversight. The Council is both managing and overseeing some Tribal activities that have significant fiscal impact on the Tribe. This is not the intent of our Constitution and these laws should be adjusted to include the Executive branch in administrative functions.
Mascots: I am dead set against the use of our likeness for sports mascots or logos. It is a sign of oppression when a predominately white school uses our image for luck, what are we to them? Animals? There is no excuse for this behavior by any school board in the 21st century.
A New Health Clinic: We are busting at the seams in our most used service. The current clinic has served us well but it is time to think about using the back end of the old Victories site for our own health park.
Percap: During my first term in office my dad convinced me that far too many people in the Tribe will get no physical benefits from the Tribe if they don't get a percap. That week I made the motion to start making percap payments. It took us a long time to figure out how much to give. We didn't want to hurt those who need it most, so we came up with $500 with the hope of increasing that some day in the future.
Line 5: Pump water not oil! I do not know a person that thinks oil should be pumped under the Mackinaw Bridge, but there is a corporation that does not care what happens to our water. I am actively involved in efforts to shut down the “Black Snake.”
Right to Clean Water: We need a law that declares access to clean water is a basic human right.
Employee Bill of Rights: Our Constitution guarantees employment as a right to work. Giving someone a job but not enough money to get off assistance is not employment, it's indentured servitude. Our employees need a living wage with benefits that do not exclude single parent mothers with children. A living wage promotes single income families who can devote more time to the reason they are working, their families.
Class 2 or Class 3 Casinos and the Consequence: There is always talk about making a class 3 casino at Mackinaw. Every marketing survey we ever paid for was overstated. The problem with another class 3 casino is the extra tax burden on the current casino. If we make a mistake I do not think there is a way out of the extra fees we incur on the current operation. We need to be very cautious with this decision and gather years of our own evidence prior to making this decision.
Standing: Our Courts drop cases against TC simply because TC does not allow the suits. My solution is a law providing Tribal Citizens the authority under certain circumstances to make claims against TC. The Citizens after all are the owners of this Tribe and should have a say in our courts when they believe TC and the Executive has violated the Constitution.
Land: Land purchased for the Tribe should benefit Tribal Citizens in some manner and when purchased should have a plan to maintain it.
Bells Closing? We knew the fish market was going to lose money the day we purchased it. It was a family run business that was in decline, there is literally no way we can ask employees to do what families do in their stores. We bought it to ensure our fishermen had a fair market to sell their catch. Fishing and selling fish is a treaty right we must continue.
Youth: We need to provide youth with a positive activities for their time. We must nurture their minds, bodies and spirits for all the time they are awake, not just a few times a week. For something like this we need an activity center.
Tribal Council Spending: All TC spending must be made public so our Citizens may decide whether or not to keep their representatives in office.
My General Philosophy: I’m a Tribalist, if a law does something to our people, I vote against it. If a law does something for our people, I vote for it. I vote in favor of Tribal Citizens. I understand the need for government but some one has to speak up for the regular Citizen.