Brooks pledges cooperation as 7 sworn into new Tribal Council
Bob Shiles Staff writer
PEMBROKE — Lumbee Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks and newly seated members of the Lumbee Tribal Council on Tuesday agreed to work together to further the interest of all tribal members.
“Paul Brooks is ready to work 100 percent with you,” the chairman said during his remarks at the swearing-in ceremony for seven council members.
Those who were sworn in for three-year terms on the 21-member council by Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Locklear were Janie McFarland, District 2; Alton Locklear, District 3; Larry Townsend, District 6; Jan Lowery, District 7; Daniel Jones, District 8; Areatha Patterson, District 12; and William Maiden, District 13. All but Maiden, of Fayetteville, are serving their first term on the council. Maiden is serving his second consecutive term.
The swearing-in ceremony, which was held at the Pembroke Boys and Girls Club, was one day after Chief Justice Lockleare denied petitions from former District 12 Councilwoman Danita Locklear, who lost her re-election bid in November, and former Council Speaker Pearlean Revels, who had been prohibited by a court order from running for a second term representing District 3, asking that a new election be held.
During the ceremony, outgoing and new council members made brief comments. Those leaving the council are Louise Mitchell, District 2; Pearlean Revels, District 3; Larry Chavis, District 6; Larry Campbell, District 7; Steve Sampson, District 8; and Danita Locklear, District 12.
Both outgoing and new council members spoke of the need for the tribe’s administration, under the leadership of Brooks, and the council to work together in the best interest of all tribal members.
Mitchell, the council’s Constitution and Ordinance Committee chairman, urged the new members of the council to adhere at all times to the tribe’s constitution.
“Follow the constitution,” she said. “Work as hard as you can to make the government transparent.”
Townsend called for “unity” among council members and the administration.
“We can make things happen … we need unity,” he said. “Democracy is not a spectator sport. We all need to be involved.”
Judge Locklear told the new council members to be independent as they carry out their legislative duties.
“Stand on your own two feet,” he said. “Ask questions and demand answers … This is not about you or me. This is all about the people you represent.”
The new council members join a governing board that has been split in its support of actions taken by Brooks and the administration. The council is struggling to obtain financial documents from Brooks that members contend they need to perform their constitutional responsibility of budget oversight.
On Thursday, the tribe’s Supreme Court found that Brooks had disobeyed an earlier court order to release financial records to council members. The court also found Brooks to be guilty of other misconduct.
The court hearing on the allegations was held as a result of a contempt citation filed by Councilwoman Anita H. Blanksand and second contempt citation filed by the court itself..
The court held the chairman in contempt on six allegations related to releasing and providing tribal financial records, and ordered Brooks and an authorized representative of the council to hire within 30 days an independent auditor to review tribal financial records. The order calls for the auditor’s fee to be paid by the executive branch and directs the chairman and his staff to “fully assist with and to fully cooperate with the auditor during this process.”
As of Tuesday, no action has been taken to meet the court’s order.
During the court hearing on Thursday, Brooks admitted he was guilty of several of the allegations, including: delaying notification of filed petitions; refusing to publish a letter from the court on the tribe’s website; and making statements that he did not intend to follow court orders. He also admitted to declaring a previously held council meeting as illegal.
The chairman, however, denied other allegations, including: failure to release financial records to council members; disobeying court orders to provide all financial documents; and banning Tribal Council members from the tribe’s administrative offices.
Brooks in a statement Tuesday said he plans to follow the court order.
“As chairman of the Lumbee Tribe, I respect this and all rulings of the Supreme Court of the Lumbee Tribe,” Brooks said.“I am working diligently with the administration to ensure that everything the court order requires me to do will be provided in the time frame established by the court.”
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