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PEMBROKE – The Lumbee Tribal Council unanimously approved an amendment to an ethics and conflict of interest ordinance on Thursday, but council members said the changes were too small and too late as a result of ‘a recent decision by the Supreme Court of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.
Conflict of interest issues arose after the court ruled on Wednesday to disqualify Ron Oxendine from the race for the next tribal president just three weeks before the November 9 election was held.
The eight-page amendment includes language specifying what is considered a conflict of interest within the Lumbee Tribal Council, the Tribal Administration as well as the Supreme Tribal Court.
“It’s sad that we didn’t have this conflict of interest ordinance before this,” said Board member Wendy Moore. “If we had had this conflict of interest ordinance we would have had teeth, but it is a sad day in Lumbee country when these things are revealed to the Lumbee public at the 11th hour of an election. I will say publicly that this is a travesty.
The council voted on Thursday to add discussion of the Supreme Court ruling to the agenda, despite Tribal President Ricky Burnett’s suggestion that the matter be referred to committee first.
During the discussion, council member Carvicous Barfield called on council members to clarify which order gives the Supreme Court the power to “do what it has done”.
“Sir. (Gerald) Goolsby says we’re two separate entities and I agree with that, but my question is, who appointed these people to these boards,” Barfield said. “They go through us and we take an oath as tribal members to defend the constitution of this tribe. What I mean is tonight I’m trying to defend fifty thousand people. How can you say 50 000 people you don’t know what to do so we do it for you. “
During the public comment portion, residents spoke out against the decorum of the Supreme Court proceedings.
“It was like a circus,” said Carol Hunt. “It was smelly to see how it was. “
“I am 83 years old,” said Flora Scott. “I still can’t tell myself that it happened and that it’s useless. Why wait two or three weeks before the elections? Tell me that. Things are going wrong.
Mark Locklear said the audiences described the Lumbee tribe as a “laughing stock.”
“At the Supreme Court hearing last week, integrity and truth were called into question. I have been involved in the justice system for 36 years and have never seen a court act this way, especially when there are obvious conflicts, ”Locklear said.
James B. Hunt, a former board member, said the board needs its own lawyer to formulate its laws and regulations.
“We discussed this five years ago. Nothing has been done about it and therefore we find ourselves in a difficult situation and we need a resolution, ”said Hunt.
In other areas, the council changed the decorum guidelines for the Lumbee Tribal Constitution Reform Committee, allowing members to attend meetings in person or virtually. In June, council members approved an ordinance to establish a Lumbee Tribal Constitution Reform Committee to assist with constitutional reform to update the founding document to better reflect the ever-changing Lumbee society, said Wendy Moore, Chair of the Constitution Ordinance Committee.
The new committee will work with the Tribal Council’s Constitutional Ordinance Committee to develop the process and amendments to establish constitutional reform.
In financial matters, the council approved amending budgets making way for more than $ 500,000 in grants.
The first grant awarded comes from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to expand the HUD Veterans Supportive Housing program. The tribe received $ 197,130 to combat homelessness for veterans. $ 18,400 of the funding will cover administrative costs and $ 178,730 will go to consumer services.
The tribe also received $ 401,844 from the US Department of Health and Human Services as part of the Home Water Assistance Program for Low Income People. A total of $ 40,184.40 will go to administrative services and $ 361,559.60 will go to the Water Assistance Program, which provides funds to help low-income households pay their water and utility bills. waste.
In other cases, the advice:
– Approved a resolution to support researchers at the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the University of North Carolina in their efforts to solicit members of the Lumbee tribe to participate in a panel discussion this fall to understand how floods and hurricanes affect the community of Lumbee.
– Approval of an ordinance supporting the creation of an indoor and online store containing Lumbee Tribal merchandise. Merchandise will include t-shirts, jackets, hoodies and decals.
– Gave the Lumbee scholarship committee the authority to distribute scholarships of $ 500 to two recipients.
– Approved the establishment of reporting requirements for the Low-Rental Housing Energy Assistance Program.