Cherokee council upholds veto

Tulsa, Oklahoma (AP) 10-08

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith’s veto of legislation involving funding for four clinics has been upheld by the Tribal Council.

The council voted 9-8 Oct. 13 in favor of overriding the veto, but it was not enough. A total of 12 votes were required. Three councilors changed their votes from the body’s 12-5 September vote to pass the bill.

The bill would have required the tribe’s administration to determine funding levels and sources for medical clinics in Vinita, Jay and Tahlequah and a dental clinic in Salina within six months while also allowing employees at the W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital to remain federal employees if they want.

The Cherokee Nation took over operations at Hastings, in Tahlequah – formerly administered by the federal government – on Oct. 1.

 

In his veto, Smith wrote that the only clinic not in the process of being built is the one in Tahlequah. In a statement, he added that hospital employees could choose to remain federal employees.

Before the vote, Smith told councilors the bill was politically motivated and an attempt to take credit for work the administration had already done.

“I believe the motivation behind this bill is councilmen needed to show their constituents they were going to do something for them before the next election,” he said.

Several councilors disagreed that the bill was political and limited tribal health care options. They said it was intended to stop delays and legislate guarantees that Hastings employees could remain federal employees.

“This is not to get re-elected; this is just right,” Councilor Bill John Baker said.

The idea that the legislation and Smith’s veto were politically motivated boiled to the surface during the meeting. Councilor Tina Glory-Jordan, a sponsor of the bill, and Smith sparred over the issue.

Glory-Jordan said Smith had asked her to change her vote against the assumption of Hastings in exchange for him not vetoing the measure.

Smith said Glory-Jordan had asked other councilors if there was anything they wanted to tack on to the legislation before its passage.

When the veto override was put to a vote, Councilors Janelle Lattimore Fullbright, Curtis Snell and Jack D. Baker, who all had voted for the bill at the September meeting, voted against it.

 

 

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