miércoles, 22 de junio de 2005

Vote 'No' on the "One Board" referendum

> 2. One Board
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Whereas: The number of people involved in the politics of the Indian community in the State of Tennessee has improved since we started in 2001 and, the Indian Community has 3 separate Organizations working together in the process. The Tennessee Native American Convention (TNNAC) who holds elections and sends a list of names to the State to fill the positions and, the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs (TCIA) are selected from the names submitted by TNNAC for the TCIA seats and, the Advisory Council of Tennessee Indian Affairs are also selected from names submitted by TNNAC and the TNNAC board members are selected in this process also.
> Whereas: It appears improper for a person sitting on an election commission (TNNAC) to be able to hold his own elections if running for TCIA or ACTIA seat and, all these organizations are separate entities,
> Whereas: We feel that sitting on more than one of these boards presents a conflict of interest.
> Therefore: Be it resolved that no individual shall sit on more than one (1) of these boards/Commissions/ organizations at a time; Tennessee Native American Convention (TNNAC), Advisory Council (ACTIA), and Commission of Indian Affairs (TCIA). If you are appointed to said Board/Commission/Organization then you would have to give up any seat on the others.

Vote 'No' on the "One Board" referendum
The purpose of this referendum is to eliminate the possibility of any person serving on more than one of three boards, the Commission of Indian Affairs (TCIA), the Advisory Council on Tennessee Indian Affairs (ACTIA), and the Tennessee Native American Convention (TNNAC).

Both the Advisory Council (ACTIA) and TNNAC already have bylaws that disallow the Commissioners from sitting on these boards:

(5) In order to avoid any perception of a possible conflict of interest, no Commissioner of Indian Affairs shall be a member of TNNAC nor shall s/he be a caucus officer for the duration of his/her appointed two-year term.

By-Laws of the Advisory Council on Tennessee Indian Affairs (ACTIA)
(5) No Commissioner of Indian Affairs shall be a member of ACTIA, and no officer of the Tennessee Native American Convention shall be an officer of ACTIA.


Given that ACTIA and TNNAC both already disallow Commissioner membership, then the resolution proposes -no change- regarding Commissioner status in those organizations.

That leaves ACTIA and TNNAC ... and ACTIA already disallows TNNAC officers from ACTIA membership.

So the only net change this referendum proposes is disallowing dual membership in ACTIA and TNNAC. Currently there are only two persons who have dual membership in ACTIA and TNNAC, neither of whom is an officer in either organization: Sandi Perry of Nashville and tom kunesh of Chattanooga.

This resolution is the equivalent of trying to drive a screw into wood using a sledgehammer: it's using the wrong tool and the wrong amount of force.

First, - is there a problem? Have either the Nashville or Chattanooga caucuses complained that they are over- or under-represented by these two people serving on both ACTIA and TNNAC? No. Have either ACTIA or TNNAC complained that either of these two people over- or under-represent their caucuses' interests? No. If there's no complaint from these caucuses or organizations about their representation, what is the issue? Are other caucuses complaining that Nashville and Chattanooga are under- or over-represented by these two people? No. If there's no complaint, what is the issue?

Second, - should the Convention be attempting to resolve a non-problem? No.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Meddling in organizations in which there is no actual problem is just plain wrong. It also sets a dangerous precedent of the Convention attempting to control organizations without a demonstrable problem.

Third, - who should appropriately fix the problem if one occurs? ACTIA and TNNAC already foresaw the problem of Commissioners on their boards and prohibit Commissioners from being members of their boards. A simple solution made by the organizations themselves. If and when a problem occurs, expect the organizations themselves to fix it. If the problem continues to exist, -then- propose a solution.

Fourth, "the number of people involved in the politics of the Indian community in the State of Tennessee" has -not- improved since 2003. And this year there are actually fewer candidates, and only one person who hasn't served on any of the three organizations before. In 2005 there are 14 persons running for 37 possible positions (4 commissioner-nominee positions in 4 caucuses = 16; 3 ACTIA positions in 4 caucuses = 12; 1 TNNAC position in all 7 caucuses = 7; and 2 state commission nominations). While there may be more internet political commentary in 2005 than in 2001, there is approximately the same number of -committed- people involved in statewide indian political representation - about 35.
There are 47 possible positions to fill in the TNCIA, ACTIA and TNNAC (7 Commissioners; 24 ACTIA, 16 TNNAC). Of these 47 positions, only 24 are filled by active members. That's a 48% -vacancy- of _committed_ people who are _active_ in statewide indian political representation. Until more people get actively involved it seems a silly proposal to tell 2 of the 24 that they can't be as actively involved as they have offered ... not because of any actual problem but just because, well, it seems that they may be -too- involved for too long ... since before the old Commission was sunset. There are more political -critics- today than in 2001, but not more willing political representatives.

Fifth, while the argument contained in the referendum refers to an "improper" "appear"ance, and a "feel"ing of "conflict of interest", no actual impropriety or conflict of interest has been demonstrated. "Appearance" and a "feeling" are insufficient reasons to meddle in the affairs of two organizations that have served the Indian community well these past four years.

Sixth, since there is no actual problem specified, and since there are only two persons whom this proposed rule change would affect, the "problem" appears to be personal: some folks don't like Sandi Perry and/or tom kunesh serving on these two boards. The "problem" is that their caucuses elected them to serve double duty, and they have and are serving their caucuses in these positions. The "problem" was thus created by their respective caucuses, not by ACTIA or TNNAC. - Who should choose who represents the caucus on the ACTIA and TNNAC boards? The Convention? No. The caucuses themselves. That's why the caucus elections of ACTIA and TNNAC board members begin and end at the local caucus: caucuses elect their ACTIA and TNNAC representatives, not the Convention. If the caucuses want different people serving on the two different boards, then the caucus should elect different people to the two boards. And if a caucus wants the same person doing double duty, - why should the Convention interfere in the decision-making? Let the caucus decide its own representatives. If and when "the number of people involved in the politics of the" local caucus increases, the responsibilities will be spread out. Til then, don't penalize Nashville and Chattanooga for having a couple of dedicated ACTIA and TNNAC board members. Sandi Perry and tom kunesh are both running for ACTIA and TNNAC board positions again this election. The solution is easy: let the Nashville and Chattanooga caucuses decide on their own representation to ACTIA and TNNAC.

Seventh, a summary. Appearances and feelings aside, there is no actual problem that this referendum addresses. Until there is an actual problem, the Convention should not meddle in local caucus and organizations' affairs. There are no Commissioners on either of the ACTIA or TNNAC boards, and both ACTIA and TNNAC have rules against Commissioners being members of their boards, making Commissioner involvement in ACTIA and TNNAC a non-issue. Local representation is a local issue and the organizations' issue; it is not the Convention's place to be deciding who the caucus can or cannot elect to best represent their interests. When more people get actively involved in political representation at the caucus level, the local ACTIA and TNNAC positions will more than likely be filled by different people. Easy: let it happen naturally, as the caucuses and organizations themselves feel the need.
Vote 'No' on the "One Board" referendum

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