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Live Facebook Forum held for TGB Candidates

On Thursday, May 30, a live Facebook Forum for the eight candidates seeking four spots on the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board was held on the Lac Courte Oreilles Today group page moderated by Joe Morey, LCO Public Relations Director and News Editor.


Four candidates were able to participate while the other four candidates had prior engagements. Eight questions were asked of the four candidates, Michelle Beaudin, Glenda Barber, Brian Bisonette and Gary “Little Guy” Clause. There was a 5-minute period for the candidates to answer after each question was posed, and then a 10-minute period was provided for group members to interact with the candidates on the topic asked.


The four candidates who were unable to participate were incumbents Jason Schlender and Rose Gokee and the two others were Jason Martin and Lorraine Gouge.


The following is the Facebook Forum reprinted in its entirety.


QUESTION 1: If you are elected to council, what will you make be your top priority or a #1 goal you’d like to accomplish?


Glenda Barber My number one goal has always been Tribal Members First. At the same time I want to begin the process for an Assisted Living Facility.


Michelle Beaudin My number one goal is to restore the balance of jobs on our reservation to tribal members first with fair policies and appeal process for any disciplinary actions and proper mediation with changing the common practice of using sovereign immunity against our tribal members.


Gary Clause Goal # 1 Raise wages for our members, tribal preference on all jobs, boost funding for our people battling addiction.


Brian Bisonette My priority would be to analyze Tribal operations as a whole. This would include financial, policies and procedures, etc. and address our shortcomings. Strategic planning would be the next course of action.


Amanda Scheel To Gary Clause… Any plans for the children of those battling addiction?


Gary Clause Yes, we need to get them into counseling, preferably with the addicted parents if they are willing to do it together, need to keep the family unit together as much as possible to help them all heal.


Deb Baker What if a tribal member and a non-tribal member apply for a position and the tribal member doesn't have the qualifications, what do you do in that case?


Glenda Barber Take a closer look at the qualifications then look more closely at the applicants. Is a degree really required? Is it a position easily trained into? Train the Tribal Member and give them a chance to prove themselves.


Michelle Beaudin My plan is to create an apprenticeship program where we would hire both and the non-tribal person's job will be to teach the tribal member the job and give them the skills. The tribal member will also need to get the schooling needed during the apprenticeship period. Once the tribal member meets the goal of qualifications, then the tribal member will assume the duties with the same pay that they pay non-tribal person and the non-tribal person leaves.


Gary Clause Fill the position with the qualified candidate for a set amount of time, and let that person know as soon as we have a tribal member coached up and qualified to take that position that will be the end of their employment.


Joseph Parker Be nice to see our elected officials be more stern on the drug problems on our reservation.


Michelle Beaudin I believe that we need to stop the flow of drugs coming on our reservation, but I also believe that we need to look at some of the causes of why people are on drugs such as medical problems not taken care of, traumatic events in their life, etc. then get them the help they need as well as their families.


Aaron DeBrot Glenda, how do you plan on getting a Facility started? Where will the funding come from in an already struggling government. I believe things in life can’t be free. I feel as if members just believe they will move in and the tribe will support them 100%.


Glenda Barber Aaron, we need to start somewhere. Start with site planning, A&E. I know we can't do it all at once, but we need to start.


Aaron DeBrot Michelle, what do you mean by restore balance? If you are talking about non-members holding high paying jobs. How will you fix that and find out who is actually doing a good job and who is just filling space. I know non-members that go above any beyond for our tribe even more so than some members. How will you weed out the bad? Lastly how will we fill those jobs with members that don’t have the training or education other than “help out friends and family.”


Michelle Beaudin Aaron DeBrot, we have so many jobs on this reservation that we have very qualified people who are passed over for jobs and when they get the jobs they are paid less than non-tribal people. We do have good workers and dedicated workers that are non-Indian, we still need to grow our own people. That is why we have a college.


Brian Bisonette Deb, In my opinion, one of the shortcomings for our past leadership (I include myself) is not allocating the financial resources for the members that have a desire to pursue higher education. Too often students drop out because financial aid has run out and no other resources are readily available. I would like to see the LCO Community College step up to the needs of the community as well, ie. Voc Tech- 4 year degree programs.


Deb Baker And as you know, when a job is posted, we needed that position filled a year earlier. As I have mentioned before, the college had a waiver that non-tribal people had to sign saying that if a tribal member has the qualifications and can fill that job, the non-tribal person has to step down. That could be done tribal wide. If you regain a seat, I think you will enjoy meeting the new college President. He has some incredible ideas.


QUESTION 2: Please share your thoughts on what you, as a tribal council member, can do to help fight the meth, heroin and prescription pill epidemic on our reservation?


Glenda Barber The Casino was able to provide more funding this year. I would use those funds as a source to help our People that need treatment. I support utilizing any and all windfalls in support of funding the fight.


Brian Bisonette The drug epidemic is horrible here and across the nation. I have read the Tribal Action Plan which is good start (Prevention, Capacity and Recovery). Combating this community problem requires a network of programs and departments working in sync. I believe stopping the flow of drugs into the reservation and asserting our sovereignty (as well) we could conduct random stops on highways or roads leading into the reservation.


Michelle Beaudin I think we need to have our own treatment center or partner with some of the other tribes that already have a treatment center. Also, we need to have an aftercare program that includes their families and address the issues that caused the addiction.


Gary Clause When our members are jailed for a drug crime we need to be there to counsel them and let them know there are programs we can get them into to help with their addiction, need to reach them while they're sober and with a clear mind, if there's childeren involved we need to place them in loving homes! As for the dealers, you’re gonna get caught it's just a matter of time.


Amanda Scheel To Glenda… As someone who works at the Hayward Middle School, I would like to see more education for our children on what the effects of drugs are. Of course, many of our children can tell you those effects firsthand. Our children should be our main focus. What are your plans for our youth?


Glenda Barber Amanda Scheel, We need ensure that programs like TRAILS, the B&G club have continued funding and support. Also a program geared more towards our teens. A lot of them are aware of the problem and vow not to do it, we need to keep them busy enough toto make sure they don't fall into bad habits.


Amanda Scheel I have students that tell me they started smoking weed in 3rd grade. We need to do more. These kids need more support than what we currently have.


Amanda Scheel To Brian… We still have members going off reservation to use. What can we do about that? I am not trying to be condescending; I can see the merit in what you are suggesting. The conservative side of me kind of likes the idea, and it could create jobs.


Brian Bisonette There are numerous Tribes across the U.S. that assert their sovereignty in preventing drugs and alcohol from entering their reservations. I realize it’s a drastic response, however it's about saving the lives of our membership. I also realize it impedes on civil liberties.


Aaron DeBrot We need stronger Law Enforcement and leadership willing to back them! We need Better communication between Tribal, Local, State, and Federal agencies. We are not the only ones in the world dealing with this. How is the outside world combatting this? Let’s work together and not separate from them in this. Also people struggling need help getting back to the real world. Jobs, help getting drivers licenses back, sober housing.


Michelle Beaudin Aaron Debrot you are correct. The way we support our law enforcement is to get the Tribal Council out of dictating what law enforcement does by having a Police Commission that oversees the police force and elect our Police Chief so he cannot be threatened with fired.


QUESTION 3: Please share a few of your thoughts on future economic development of the corner of Hwy K and E where the C2 Store now sits and the vacant kitty corner lot where a new health center may be planned. What do you think are the best options for this economic development zone?


Glenda Barber I would like to see something that would be a family friendly destination in the order of "Kids Quest" or a water park. Our Casino can use all the help it can get. We need something to draw others to our Casino in order to increase revenue and employment.


Michelle Beaudin Before we build anything, we need to do a feasibility study and a market analysis and not by the people building the structure or trying to sell us something. Also, I think that we need to work on getting companies to locate on our reservation to create jobs and we can supply the workforce, the building of the facility, and the training of the staffing with our college. We also need to find out what our community needs and work on making the businesses profitable before we build more and go further into debt.


Brian Bisonette I agree with Michelle, just coming up with a concept without doing proper planning is almost always the gateway to failure. Ideally any business development should compliment the casino and surrounding LCO businesses.


Gary Clause I would like to meet with the membership and have their input on what we should put there going forward.


QUESTION 4: In your opinion, what should be done about tribal businesses that continue to lose money and if you are elected, how would you address this issue?


Michelle Beaudin First of all, we need to analyze the business and see if it really is losing money or if the tribe is not paying its bills to that business. We also need to look at why the business is not profitable and actually make the changes necessary to make a profit. All our businesses have the ability to make a profit, if not we need to put a plan in place and give them the resources they need to correct the problem.


Glenda Barber This is a hard one. We all have family and friends employed at those businesses so cutting staff will be hard. I would look at where the biggest profit margin is and expand on that while cutting wasteful spending. We also need a separate Business Council.


Gary Clause Find a new strategy to boost revenue in our businesses, but certainly not at the expense of our people losing their jobs, collectively I'm sure we can come up with a profitable plan to boost our profits, set the plan put it in motion and stick to it.


Brian Bisonette In many cases, our failing businesses are due to a number of issues such as inexperienced managers, lack of fiscal policies and procedures and in some cases politics.


Clíffórd Cárléy You should mention the businesses that are losing money.


Joe Morey Nearly all our businesses are losing money Clíffórd Cárléy, not one of the following businesses are showing a profit - store, the landing, C2, even the Quick Stop is struggling. The only enterprise making money is C1 and the casinos and for the first time in many years, LCO Development is showing a profit thanks in part for housing tax credits and the new LCO Financial Services Building.


Michelle Beaudin Joe Morey, some of our businesses would be profitable if the tribe and the programs paid their bills.


QUESTION 5: Please list three ideas you have or ways you see could help improve economic development for the tribe.


Michelle Beaudin 1. Create a plan to make the businesses and properties that we have purchased already into profitable businesses. 2. Get the tribal business code completed and work with companies to come on the reservation to provide jobs. 3. Reinstate the Business Corporation Board that oversees businesses and brings new ideas and opportunities as well as market analysis and feasibility studies to support to the membership.


Glenda Barber 1. Appoint a Business Council. 2. Think outside the box, find something very unique to LCO that others show an interest in and put it in the right location. Sadly, others not from here are afraid of our Reservation. 3. Follow the suggestions of the feasibility study currently being conducted bu BlueStone.


Brian Bisonette I also think we need experienced business people not only assist with new economic development, but to also fix the businesses that are under performing. Personally, the more I read about the Hemp industry the more I see a real opportunity. I read recently that Hemp could be Tribes next Indian Gaming.


Gary Clause The hemp industry is very profitable, and I'd like to have a plan in place to be ready for the growing of marijuana when and if it becomes legal in Wisconsin. I'd like to explore business opportunities off the reservation, add another attraction to our casino, whether that would be a water park or a go cart track or both, something family friendly, of course I would like to have input from the membership. It's all our money and our people should be involved and have their input in everything we do.


QUESTION 6: In your opinion, are tribal members treated fairly employment-wise and what can you do to get tribal members in more of the higher paying jobs in our community?


Brian Bisonette I personally do not like that a Tribal attorney representing the tribe can try to invoke soveriegn immunity against a tribal member for an employment appeal. Why have a policies and procedures if this is a solution?


Michelle Beaudin Our tribal members are not treated fairly in getting a job, at the job, and being fired from jobs. They are also paid a lower wage than non-tribal members. We need to institute a proper wage scale and make it a living wage that people can actually support their families on. I would also create a Tribal Employment Rights Office that would help with requiring any business coming thru the reservation to hire tribal members on their staff, mediate any employment disputes, and help employees with any appeal process as well as wage discrepancies.


Glenda Barber That was one of the reasons I decided to run for Council. I witnessed mistreatment of our people in the workplace and not one Council Member stepped up to stop it. Many are still making poverty level wages while we're enriching others not from LCO. I will do an analysis of wages Tribal-wide as comparison and suggest adjustments as necessary.


Amanda Scheel To Michelle… What would you do if you found out one of the department’s directors was using their position as a means to slander other tribal members, releasing confidential information, and/or discussing inappropriate things with clients and co-workers?


Michelle Beaudin That person needs to be investigated and we need to have a Ethics Board that upholds our Code of Conduct and we need to give them the power to do something about it no matter what position they hold.


Brian Bisonette Income disparity is certainly a issue. The tribe could and should determine wages on using a payscale model.


Aaron DeBrot I believe this is a problem. People work with fear from being fired for speaking out about what is wrong. That is what is unfair. If there are ones within our entities doing wrong, abusing power, wages, and property. It needs to be addressed and incident be thoroughly investigated.


Michelle Beaudin Aaron DeBrot, you are right, people are in fear of their jobs, tribal members cannot speak out if they see something wrong happening and a lot of time, it's the non-tribal people treating the employees and tribal members badly.


QUESTION 7: Do you support the separation of tribal government and tribal business? And if so, how can you help make this a reality?


Michelle Beaudin I do support the separation of government and business. We need to re-institute the Business Corporation Board and give them the authority over the businesses, make them independent of the Tribal Council and they can report to the council as a whole and not have individual liaisons.


Brian Bisonette One approach to separating Government from Tribal Business is giving a business committee complete autonomy. This could be easily done through resolution, however the problem is that ordinances or resolutions can be easily tossed out. A more permanent solution would be to include this as a provision in the draft constitution revision.


Glenda Barber Twice now I've mentioned a Business Council. But no, I don't support full separation. I want the BC to suggest ways to make our businesses operate more profitably, but the mistreatment I mentioned in my last response was due to Council signing away their right to step in when needed.


Brian Bisonette Glenda, I understand your concern. One remedy would be to appoint one or two TGB members to the Business Council.


Gary Clause I support it, I would like to see a strong business committee set up to handle our businesses, we have very intelligent tribal members to choose from that have a strong business back ground. We got some bright minds out here let's put them in place and get to work on getting our businesses more profitable.


QUESTION 8: The final question, why do you think you will make a great council member?


Brian Bisonette Over the last thirty years, I have developed an extensive background in Tribal Programs, Tribal Operations and Tribal Government. I have served as Director for the T.R.A.I.L.S. Program, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Tribal Realtor, Tribal Environmental Researcher, Grant writer, Environmental Compliance Officer and am currently employed as the Lac Courte Oreilles Conservation Director. In addition, I have served as a Committee Board Member for the Housing Authority, LCO Health Center, LCO Head Start, LCO Gaming Commission and the LCO Boys & Girls Club. During my tenure of Tribal Council, I was fortunate to be entrusted to compile a long list of achievements for the benefit of all of us. I never considered myself any better or any worse than any of our membership. I also believe I have the attributes that are expected of a leader; compassion, honesty and integrity to name a few.


Glenda Barber I've been fighting against abuse and mistreatment of our People for awhile now. I've been very vocal and I will continue to fight no matter what. I also have 20 years' experience in housing development and will work for an assisted living facility and supportive type housing for our Tribal members in need. I will not make decisions that should be up to the People to vote (residency requirement. etc.). I'm a very strong person and not easily intimidated. I'll be there for our People.


Michelle Beaudin I have worked for the tribe for almost 40 years in multiple entities and have seen the inside workings of the different areas and how they treat our people. I have also worked right with the tribal council at the tribal office and know the ins and outs of how the government works as well as all the grants and regulations that they have to abide by, so I know what is available to serve our people. I also know how the boards work and our businesses. I have always helped every tribal member that has come to me no matter what my position. People have come to know that they can always count on me. I have also lived in our tribal homes in different communities and know the struggle, I have been a single working parent that have raised three children while going to college and volunteering where ever needed. I have always been here for my people and I know how to manage, the laws, constitution, our businesses, and have extensive experience in finance and budgeting. I have gone up against our legal department and others trying to oppress us and I have been a leader in every area that I have worked and I hope to be a leader and fight for our tribal members.


In Closing…


Glenda Barber MY PROMISE TO THE PEOPLE OF LCO: I will urge the other Council members to remember that they're working for you and that your opinions matter; I will not play power games and I promise to work with the full Council for the good of all our People living on or off our Reservation; I will support and assist the goals of our Drug Task Force; I will reach out to our Veterans and Elders for guidance and advice; I will listen to you and take your concerns seriously; I support our People seeking higher education. Every time one of our own achieves their goals it's one more Tribal Member that will help take back our Reservation; However, I will not support undue qualifications being imposed on Tribal Members who already possess the necessary knowledge and experience - or for trainable positions. If elected, I will post my goals in my office to use as a progress chart and as a reminder of why you voted for me. Miigwech!


Brian Bisonette I would like to say chi miigwech to Joe, the candidates and the tribal members that participated in tonight's forum. I also want to apologize if I missed any questions. Finally I would like to wish each and every candidate the best of luck on June 15. It’s obvious to me that each of you possess the desire and passion to lead our tribe and secure success for our future generations.


Michelle Beaudin I would like to thank Joe Morey for hosting this forum and everyone who participated. I would just like you to know that I appreciate all the thought that went into the questions and comments. I enjoy the other candidates views and would like to explore new ideas. In the end, we have to work together to make our community a better place for all our tribal members. We also need to reach out to all tribal members on and off reservation to include them in decisions and benefits. I have been a hard worker all my life (and usually the last one at work), and I will continue to work even harder for all of you and for what you as tribal members want and need. I have the dedication, the work ethic, the integrity, and the leadership skills to represent you if elected.


Gary Clause I'd like to thank everybody that showed love and participated in this forum, and I'm sorry I didn't get to answer all the questions. My reception was going in and out, no wifi. Good luck to all the candidates, let's keep showing love out there!