Tribal Government & News

Tribal Council OKs payment of Harvey's attorney fees

05.09.2018 Dean Rhodes Tribal Council

After postponing in mid-April approval of a reimbursement to Tribal Council member Denise Harvey for attorney’s fees she incurred in defending herself against an ethics complaint, Tribal Council voted on Wednesday, May 9, to pay the fees despite a final ruling not yet being handed down by Tribal Court Chief Judge David Shaw.

Tribal member Rebecca Knight filed an ethics complaint against Harvey regarding her participation in job interviews for a new Spirit Mountain Community Fund program coordinator.

A March 26 authorization to proceed approved by seven Tribal Council members OK’d transferring $111,011.65 from general contingency to the Tribal Council budget to pay for Harvey’s legal expenses and attorney’s fees.

Tribal Council considered the reimbursement at its April 17 Legislative Action Committee meeting and was set to approve it at the April 18 Tribal Council meeting. However, it was pulled from the agenda.

Tribal Council Vice Chair Chris Mercier said at the time that the reimbursement was postponed because more motions were filed after Shaw ruled from the bench in Harvey’s favor. Mercier said Tribal Council would await a final resolution before re-addressing the reimbursement.

At the Tuesday, May 8, Legislative Action Committee hearing, the issue returned with Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy and Tribal Council member Kathleen George saying that the reimbursement is consistent with previous Tribal Council practices when a Tribal Council member defended themselves against a complaint.

An Executive Summary issued in April stated that the Tribal Council Ordinance authorizes the reimbursement and follows past practice with how the Tribe handled ethics proceedings involving Tribal Council members that occurred six previous times.

“The Tribal Council Ordinance authorizes indemnification of an individual who is made a party to the proceeding because of conduct by the individual while she is or was a Tribal Council member against liability for reasonable expenses, including defending costs, incurred in the proceeding if council determines that the individual met the standards of conduct set forth in the Tribal Council Ordinance,” the proposed April 18 resolution stated.

Harvey was appointed to the Community Fund Board of Trustees in September 2016 to fulfill the term of former Tribal Council member Ed Pearsall and was re-appointed to serve a two-year term in October 2017.

Tribal Council member Jack Giffen Jr. said at the May 8 Legislative Action Committee meeting that he supports paying the legal fees, but not those incurred during an initial mediation process.

In response to a question from Kennedy, Tribal Attorney Rob Greene said mediation is now part of the process required under the Tribal Council Ordinance.

Harvey abstained from voting on the issue.

In other action, Tribal Council also approved an agreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to receive $513,866 in Tribal Transportation Program funding.

Also included in the May 9 Tribal Council packet were approved authorizations to proceed that:

  • Directed Finance Officer Chris Leno to allocate the $25,000 2018 Pepsi sponsorship funds as follows: Veterans Powwow, $10,000; Contest Powwow, $13,000; Grand Ronde Food Bank, $1,000; and Community Garden, $1,000;

  • Moved the deadline for Tribal Council member submissions for Tilixam Wawa to the last Friday of the month;

  • Approved scoring and evaluation changes for enrollment in the Tribal Head Start Program that include increased scoring for poverty, domestic violence, unstable housing, foster care, kinship care, teen parents and family in recovery from substance abuse;

  • Approved a letter, as presented by staff, to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regarding the Jordan Cove/Pacific Connector projects in southern Oregon;

  • Approved the Tribe’s application to the Oregon Health Authority for its Opioid State Targeted Response grant that would bring in $27,870 over two years.

Cultural Resources Department Manager David Harrelson made the cultural presentation to open the meeting, discussing two summers – cultural practices that are changing as warmer weather arrives and the June 1 opening of Chachalu Museum & Cultural Center, which will display 16 items from the Summers Collection that are being loaned to the Tribe by the British Museum in London.

The entire meeting can be viewed on the Tribal website by clicking on the News tab and then Video.