PEMBROKE — The chairman of the Lumbee Tribe on Thursday denied allegations made by Tribal Council members that he has violated a tribal ordinance by filling several positions and raising salaries.
“I have not increased any salary on any position in the government, and therefore I am not in violation of any of the tribe’s ordinances,” Chairman Paul Brooks said in a statement. “There was one position vacant at the time of the budget’s adoption, a rehabilitation coordinator, and this position is still vacant at this time.”
According to The Fayetteville Observer, Tribal Speaker Pearlean Revels and Councilwoman Louise Mitchell said Wednesday that the chairman violated the council’s decision to freeze all vacant positions and all salaries.
The Lumbee Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed with the Tribal Council that it is within the legislative branch’s authority to freeze the tribe’s operating budget as long as it is done upon adopting the budget.
The hearing before the court resulted from a petition by Eric Locklear saying that freezing positions and salaries goes beyond the council’s authority. He argued that these are functions that are included in the tribe’s constitution, falling under the jurisdiction of the chairman.
Although Locklear pointed to an earlier court ruling from 2011 denying the council’s decision to freeze the budget, the five Supreme Court justices on Wednesday agreed with the Tribal Council.
The Observer reported that Chief Justice Gary Locklear said that the tribe’s constitution allows the council when it first adopts the budget to include limitations such as freezing line items. He also said that the tribal chairman has 30 days following the budget’s adoption to veto it.
Brooks said Thursday that he accepts the ruling.
“There is no appealing of a Supreme Court ruling, however, as tribal chairman, it is my intent to honor all of our court’s rulings,” he said.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.