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Health Director Petition for Referendum Denied by TGB Vote

Updated: Nov 9, 2019

By Joe Morey

News Editor

The LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB), by a vote of 4 to 2, denied recognition of the petition for a referendum to reinstate the LCO Health Center Director. The majority of the TGB refused to vote to set a date for a referendum citing their belief the petition process under Tribal Code of Law didn’t pertain to this specific case. They stated at the TGB meeting on Monday, Nov. 4, this case was a termination of an employee rather than a TGB enactment of any tribal law, statute or code.

“She should have to go through the Appeals process like any other tribal employee,” stated Glenda Barber, TGB member.

The four members who voted against proceeding with the petition after the Citizenship Services Department confirmed the validity of 106 signatures were Barber, LCO Vice-Chairwoman Lorraine Gouge, LCO Sec.-Treasurer Michelle Beaudin and Gary “Little Guy” Clause. Those voting to move forward and set the date for a referendum were Tweed Shuman and Don Carley. LCO Chairman Louis Taylor only votes in case of a tie.

The petition in question was presented to the TGB on Monday, Oct. 7, by Ramona Ingerson, a member of the LCO Elder Advisory Council. The petition asks for a referendum vote of the tribal membership to reverse the official action of the TGB to terminate the LCO Health Center Director, Sarah Cormell.

The petition was organized under the Tribal Referendum Code established by the TGB under the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Constitution, which states a referendum requires at least 100 signatures and at least 200 registered tribal members to vote in said referendum. According to the Code, once the petition was confirmed to be valid, the TGB needed to accept it within 60 days and hold the referendum within 90 days of receipt.

On Monday, Nov. 4, Shuman and Carley made the motion and seconded it to move forward as instructed in the Referendum Code.

“I don’t think we, as a Council, can do anything to stop it,” stated Chairman Taylor during discussion on the motion. “The validity has already been confirmed by Citizenship Services.”

Beaudin said the action previously taken by the TGB to terminate Cormell has nothing to do with legislative enactment as it states in the tribe’s constitution. She said the Referendum Code states a ‘petition for any legislative enactment’ by the governing board.

Barber added this is a personnel issue. She said the tribe is weakening their ability to sign employment contracts.

“The referendum process is for the members to decide if we are doing our job or not,” Taylor replied.

Tribal Attorney Dyllan Linehan said, “Every action you undertake is a legislative enactment.”

Beaudin argued that she didn’t think the petition was valid for the reason that it was termination of an employee contract rather than a legislative enactment.

“My interpretation is that it is a valid petition and it was done appropriately. It’s a challenge by members to an action you took,” Linehan explained. “You just got to let it ride. If you stop it now, if someone challenges it, it will go to tribal court and the judge will have the final say.”

“We aren’t here to stop it, but to vote,” stated Chairman Taylor.

“Her recourse is to go through an appeal,” Beaudin answered.

“That’s her recourse. But the petition is a community recourse,” noted Linehan. “When 100 people question your action, it’s a pretty strong showing and it should be respected. This is the first time the community has exercised its democratic right and it should be respected. If you fail to vote in favor then any member can challenge this in tribal court.”

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