Moratorium on Hotel and Gas Vouchers Proposed by Council Member
By Joe Morey
Stating, “It’s a huge problem,” LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) Member Glenda Barber proposed the TGB pass a resolution to put a moratorium on hotel and gas vouchers, but requested the moratorium not be issued for a couple of weeks so that tribal members have time to make other arrangements, or a decision is made on where to relocate them.
Secretary-Treasurer Tweed Shuman reported that currently $80,000 to $90,000 per month is being spent on hotel rooms in Hayward. The amount is spread among two hotels, Amerivue and Northern Pines, but Shuman noted management at Northern Pines is charging excessive amounts for incidentals and smoking in rooms. He said $270 per incident is being charged without any tribal authorization.
Gary “Little Guy” Clause suggested the Tribe only pay for members using Amerivue, as that hotel has been treating the tribe with more respect, he noted.
Barber stated she believes the hotel and gas vouchers are getting abused by some but that there are many who do need the service. Barber said she would like to put a moratorium in place until a policy is put in place. She said the current policy of continuous payment doesn’t incentivize members to look for employment or housing searches.
TGB Member Don Carley suggested the governing board sit down and put a plan in place prior to a moratorium taking effect.
Regarding the gas vouchers, Shuman noted $15,000 per month is being issued.
Barber said the same Members are repeatedly getting gas vouchers.
Back in November, 2021, Shuman made a similar motion to require four signatures for any donation which would have included hotel and gas vouchers, but the motion failed to gain a second from any other TGB members at the meeting.
At the time Shuman noted, “We all agree we are compassionate about helping our people, but I believe we should approve by consensus because we are exceeding our budget for donations and we need to be accountable.”
TGB Member Michelle Beaudin suggested maybe each TGB member keep a list of who they are issuing the vouchers to so that they can compare on a regular basis and see who may be “council shopping.”
LCO Attorney General, James Schlender Jr, said that his office has rehashed a potential lease for members in the shelters, as well as a policy, but that the TGB is being very particular about the policy.
“The Council is really trying to meet the needs of the tribal membership,” Schlender stated, regarding the different versions of a policy. “There are more members receiving treatment or care right now than ever before and that needs more attention.”
Schlender noted how many success stories there are right now regarding people overcoming drug addictions and changing their lives, finding employment and housing.
Noting there are valid uses for vouchers and medical emergencies, the TGB voted to direct the Attorney General’s Office to study a policy and procedure for issuing hotel and gas vouchers, and to have it ready within a couple of weeks so a moratorium may be issued at that time.