Tweed Shuman Reviews First Year on Council, Looks Ahead
By Joe Morey
Tweed Shuman said being elected to the LCO Tribal Governing Board in 2017 has been absolutely everything he expected and more. After serving more than a year and having the distinction of being the only “rookie” on the council, Tweed looks back over the year as he prepared his presentation to the tribal membership on Saturday, Oct. 27.
“I love my job and I’ve been honored to represent the tribal membership,” Tweed said. “I’ve been a strong voice for the tribe and its members in the council chambers. I have many years of board experience and since recently being elected Sawyer County Board Chairman, I feel that has only strengthened my position to represent the tribe.”
Tweed said he may not be the most popular council member because, since being elected, “I’ve created the most controversy, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I left things to remain the same status quo.”
Tweed said the biggest challenges he has faced in his first year included communicating with the tribal members and making sure there was transparency. He said since the tribe expanded the Public Relations Department, transparency has finally been achieved and the members will benefit from it.
“I’ve brought up the process of printing the minutes in the weekly newsletter as part of transparency and this is something I would like to see start happening soon,” Tweed said. “I would also like to meet more frequently with the tribal members and discuss the issues that are coming before the governing board before decisions are made. If this means having community meetings, like we did in New Post, then that’s what we need to do.”
Another challenge, “Was my fight to reduce lucrative salaries and unfairness in employee contracts. It’s a policy that the tribe pays 71% of our employee’s insurance and the employee pays 29%, but there are some who are paid 100%. I feel that every employee should get paid the same way. Why would we give others that benefit and not everyone?”
Tweed said there is still not consensus among the council on addressing lucrative salaries and following health insurance policy.
“I also think it’s a challenge when we have two liaisons to entities when the two council members are from opposite directions,” Tweed said. “I believe it creates fractions within the entity which affects employee morale.”
On the other hand, Tweed said there have been many highlights from his time on the council.
“One of the biggest things that I introduced was returning to the forestry management plan which hasn’t been in effect for four years since our forester retired.” Tweed said. “We have brought back good timber management practices and are now adding $300,000 in revenue to the tribal budget.”
Tweed also said he is proud of the health care assessment survey he had completed which looked at the efficacy of services. “It checked out the efficiency of our health care center at all levels.”
Another big accomplishment Tweed cited was the Enbridge lease agreement. The relationship with Enbridge will strengthen our ability to help our membership. “These revenues help support our tribal budget and provide for community needs.”
Tweed said the negotiating team, which included Chairman Louis Taylor, Jason Weaver, Don Carley, himself and the LCO Legal team, were front and center with completing the Enbridge lease agreement.
“We’ve also increased Elder Services which include home and auto repair, snow plowing and lawn care for Elders 62 years and older and who live on the reservation,” Tweed said. “I’d like to look at doing this for Elders living within a certain radius of the reservation like those living in Sawyer County, and to also possibly lower the age to 60.”
According to Tweed, all Elders will get $150 for their Christmas check and their usual birthday check too.
LCO Financial Services
Tweed said he is now the chairman of the LCO Financial Services board.
“Chairman Louis Taylor, Jason Weaver, Don Carley and I really rolled up our sleeves and dug in, fought the original deal and now we are in the last stages of signing a new deal,” Tweed said. “It’s estimated that the deal will bring in millions of dollars to the general fund over the next seven to nine years.”
Tweed said the deal will also increase local employment from 14 current employees to 40 + employees.
“This is so much better for the tribe,” Tweed said. “I would constantly dig in and request financial reports and question the amount the tribe actually received. The original deal was horrible.”
Tweed also said the old Boys and Girls Club on Trepania Road is being remodeled to serve as the new offices of LCO Financial Services and that there will also be a business incubation center inside the facility for other offices.
“First, we need to get this tribe off of high-risk status which we’ve been on since 2002, and in order to do that, we need a balanced budget with strategic planning, a capital improvement account to address our strategic planning,” said Tweed. “We need to have strict adherence to policies and procedures.”
Tweed said it’s also very important to have transparency and accountability within tribal government.
“Another goal is to address the wage discrepancy on our reservation between front-line employees to our managers,” Tweed said. “This wage gap needs to close, and this is where we should put any surplus money. I would like to see these front-line employees get a bump in their wages.”
Tweed said his recent election to serve as Sawyer County Board Chairman has greatly improved the relations between the tribe and the county. He said that tribal judge, James Schlender, also serves on the board and serves on the public safety committee, criminal justice coordinator, and the economic development committees. Along with this, LCO Conservation Director Brian Bisonette is also on the county board and serves on the finance, administrative and the Land, Water and Foresty committees.
“Together, we carry a strong voice at the county level,” Tweed said. “We are working together on many initiatives and collaborating on several economic development projects and public safety issues, including the pre and post sentencing programs that will reduce jail recidivism amongst our tribal members and allow them to serve on home monitoring and/or receive counseling services as alternatives to incarceration.”
We aim to lower incarceration rates of our members and the county is following our lead.
Tweed Shuman at a Sawyer County Board meeting. Photo from the Sawyer County Record.