First Posted: 1/15/2009
PEMBROKE - The Lumbee Tribal Council has settled two civil lawsuits with the N.C. Indian Housing Authority, Tribal Administrator Leon Jacobs announced on Tuesday.
Jacobs said the settlement, which was reached Monday, calls for the tribe to assume management of the units in Robeson and Hoke counties by Sunday. The Housing Authority sued the Tribal Council in January over management of the Red Hill Apartments in Maxton, Heritage Haven in Fairmont and Hawkeye Sands Apartments in Raeford.
The Tribal Council also agreed to close on the purchase of the home in Red Springs that was the subject of the second lawsuit.
Officials with the tribe and the authority, along with their attorneys, met at the Housing Authority office in Fayetteville on Monday.
Jacobs said the Housing Authority plans to transfer vehicles, computer equipment and other items to the tribe. The tribe has been negotiating the transfer of title since June 2004. Jacobs said it is more economical for the tribe to own the 204 apartment units rather than paying overhead costs to the authority.
The Housing Authority will retain ownership of the Eagles Nest apartments in Fayetteville.
“We will give them a percentage of what we receive in the way of subsidies from the federal government to help them provide services to those tenants in Cumberland County,” Jacobs said. “At the end of 10 years we will cease making any type of subsidy payments to them.”
In the second lawsuit, filed in February, the Housing Authority said the tribe failed to follow through on the purchase of a $65,000 Red Springs home owned by the authority in Red Springs.
The suit says Jacobs signed an agreement to buy the home on Nov. 11. The sale of the property was scheduled to close on Dec. 15. Under terms of the settlement, the tribe agreed to buy the house, Jacobs said.
In other business, the Tribal Council established a five-member Lower Court to help reduce the number of grievances and cases that go before the Lumbee Supreme Court.
“We are trying to keep all these low-key complaints from getting to the Supreme Court,” Tribal Chairman Jimmy Goins said. “Our members need an avenue of due process so this is why this court is so important.”
The Lower Court members are the Rev. Patrick Cummings, Roosevelt Scott, Velma Carter, Tony Hunt and Francine Chavis. They will serve five-year terms. Goins also named William Pete Bell and Rodney Nichols Sr. as alternate judges.
The council approved Goins' nominations in a 15-0 vote.
The criteria to serve on the administrative court is knowledge of state, local and federal programs and tribal laws. Judges must be at least 30 years old, be enrolled tribal members and live within the four-county territory.
“You hear a lot of complaints about judges being too liberal or too conservative,” Goins said. “My thinking in making these nominations is we need some people who were not all the way liberal or all the way conservative. I tried to find tribal members who - it didn't matter who you were or what your cause was - they were going to follow the (Lumbee) constitution and the laws given to the them by the council.
“This Lower Court is not going to play politics or favoritism with anyone. They are going to bring instant credibility to our judicial system.”
This makes the second judicial branch of the tribal government. The Supreme Court was appointed in August 2002. The council discussed Tuesday the possible need of a Appellate Court in the future.