Lumbee chair defends beach trip

First Posted: 9/19/2013

PEMBROKE — Lumbee Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks is accusing Tribal Council Speaker Pearlean Revels of attempting to “control” the tribe’s administration, and he is also saying housing money can no longer be used to pay stipends to council members of himself.

Brooks issued a statement responding to Revels questioning the administration’s contention there is no money for the Nov. 12 elections, and also challenging plans for a two-day retreat for tribal employees in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Brooks said in a statement that the $26,000 Revels contends is available in the budget for an election was put in the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act budget, where funds are restricted for housing. Money in that budget, he said, cannot be used for an election.

The chairman also said that this year’s election, which only includes seven districts, should not cost nearly as much as last year’s election. According to Brooks, last year’s election not only included voters in seven districts, but included a tribal chairman race that meant ballots were cast in all 21 districts.

“Only six of the seven districts are contested, therefore the cost of this year’s election would be much less,” Brooks said. “A calculation would clearly show that one third of $26,000 would be approximately $8,000, which is sufficient to hold an election.”

Brooks said the Elections Board has $4,500 from candidate filing fees that could be used to pay for the election.

He acknowledged that his recent suggestion that he and council members donate their $550 a month stipend to help fund the election is not feasible. He said he has learned that federal housing funds cannot be used to pay stipends.

“Stipends will no longer be provided to either the chairman or the council,” Brooks said.

Brooks said the the Lumbee Constitution is “clear” that the Elections Board is responsible for tribal elections, and because it is independent of all branches of government, the tribe’s executive branch is not responsible for funding elections.

Revels, other council members and Carvicous Barfield, chairman of the Elections Board contend that the council has appropriately provided funding in the tribe’s budget to cover the cost of the November election. They maintain that the funds council put in the budget are “unrestricted.”

“The council approved $26,000 for an election and put it as a line item in the budget,” Barfield said. “That money is there.”

Barfield said that if enough money is not provided her board by Monday, the election will be suspended.

Brooks said that Revels is also off the mark when she challenges the administration for planning what she calls a “retreat.”

“Both Revels and the other council members know that federal funds used to administer tribal programs cannot be used for an election,” Brooks said. “However, it is clear that these funds can be used for staff development … .

“Recent changes in HUD rules and regulations clearly warrant the need for a staff development workshop. Changes in other tribal grant programs such … affected by sequestration, clearly demonstrate the need for staff development.”

Brooks said that the tribe currently has 105 employees, and not all plan to attend the Myrtle Beach workshop. Revels had said there were 140 employees who would be attending.

Brooks said tribal employees will not be receiving mileage or reimbursement for meals or other expenses.

Revels said she thinks such an event could be held locally at a facility such as the Pembroke Boys & Girls Club, which is located adjacent top the tribal office complex on N.C. 711.