August 24, 2013
The Lumbee Tribal Government long ago lost its entertainment value.
What was once funny, no longer is.
We offer as only the most recent example a decision last week by Speaker Pearlean Revels to simply take the government’s 2,000-page general ledger because, we guess, it was there for the taking. That prompted two stories with large headlines on the front page of The Robesonian — stories that will be read in Washington, D.C., and used by opponents of federal recognition for the tribe as a reason to deny that benefit and the hundreds of millions of dollars that come attached.
Add to that today’s Our View.
Revels is not alone in her transgressions, but she does always manage to put herself in the middle of the messes. Voters will give her an up or down on Nov. 12 when elections are held for seven council seats.
While we believe the Tribal Council is the leading actor in this bad act, the administration is not blameless. Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks would take a big step toward the middle if he would bother to show up at Tribal Council meetings to stay informed — and to extend his respect to the council, even if that body is not always deserving.
It has been left to the tribe’s Supreme Court, which has performed with dignity, to admonish the legislative and executive branches to play nice. Last week, according to Revels, a Supreme Court judge called and summoned her to surrender her loot.
These shenanigans do not go unnoticed by the tribe’s 50,000 members, a majority of whom have written off this government. Turnout for the November elections will be abysmal because Lumbees don’t believe this government is capable of effective leadership — although it can construct buildings.
They believe the tribe’s elected officials are in it for the money, free trips to conferences, and the clout to control housing dollars, award contracts and place friends and family in good-paying jobs. There is little evidence to the contrary.
A good place for the tribe to start would be to reduce the size of the 21-member council because it’s plain that the tribe’s size doesn’t cough up enough willing and qualified candidates for leadership. But a petition drive to cut the size of the council fizzled because of a lack of interest — or a doubt that the constitution would be honored by a call for a referendum even if enough signatures were collected.
The excuse has been used often, even by this newspaper, that the tribe’s is a fledgling government, established in 2000, and time will iron out the wrinkles. Perhaps.
But for now it can at least be said that the 13-year-old government is acting its age.