PEMBROKE — A resolution to prevent council members from making public any potential resolution or amendment that is being considered by the council until action is taken was approved Thursday by the Lumbee Tribal Council.
The short resolution, read at Thursday’s meeting by Councilman Ricky Burnett, prohibits any pending resolutions or potential acts of the council to be made available for review by the public until they “come out of the tribal office.”
Burnett, chairman of the council’s Ethics Committee, and other council members made no comments about the resolution, but council members Jarrod Lowery, Anita Hammonds-Blanks, chairman of the council’s Finance Committee, and Janet Locklear voted against the resolution.
Council Speaker Bobby Oxendine confirmed after the meeting that establishment of the resolution resulted from a leak of information in May about a resolution being proposed that would have reprimanded Chairman Harvey Godwin Jr., Administrator Freda Porter, and Finance Officer Sharon Bell for using budgeted federal housing money for purposes not approved by the council. The identity of the council member who leaked the proposed resolution before the council could review and act on it has not been officially released.
“We are not trying to keep anything from the public,” Oxendine said. “But we want things to be done right. Council members have to be responsible for their actions.”
The council voted in May against the resolution that would have reprimanded the tribal administrators. After the vote was taken, Hammonds Blanks blamed Eric Locklear, a vocal critic of tribal actions, for the resolution’s defeat.
Locklear obtained a copy of the proposed resolution and put it on Facebook, according to Hammonds-Blanks. It was her Finance Committee that wrote the resolution and brought it before the tribe’s 21-member council.
In the resolution, Godwin, Porter and Bell were said to have misused $84,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to clean up the Lumbee Cultural Center, which was damaged by Hurricane Matthew and the resulting flooding. The expense was reimbursed on May 10 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In other business Thursday:
— Larece Hunt was reappointed and sworn in as a member of the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs.
— Jerl Locklear was reappointed and sworn in as a member of the North Carolina Indian Housing Authority.
— Council members heard from community activist Robin Branch, who said there is no communications committee or communications officer designated to provide tribal members with information about what the council is doing. She said such a position could be funded by half of the $175,000 included in the tribe’s budget for travel.
— Council members passed a resolution supporting American Indian Education programs in Hoke County.
— Council members agreed to provide $30,000 in unrestricted funds to help fund the summer program at the Boys and Girls Club. The summer program would run out of money in about two weeks after it kicks off Monday if the unrestricted funds were not made available immediately.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.