PEMBROKE — The day after the Lumbee Tribal Council welcomed Speaker Pearlean Revels back to that board, Chairman Paul Brooks posted a note on the government’s administrative building says that council meetings could no longer be held there.
Brooks’ move is the latest salvo in an ongoing dispute between the chairman and the Tribal Council.
The note, which was signed by Tribal Administrator Tony Hunt, reads in part:
“For those of you who may not know, our Tribal Council held an illegal meeting last night. This council has violated the court order of the Supreme Court, which ordered Pearlean Revels be removed from the Tribal Council.
“The Supreme Court receives all powers directly from the people, because these powers are given by the Lumbee Constitution, which was created by the people, for the people. Because this council has willfully disregarded the court order of the Supreme Court, this executive branch will have no participation in any governing matters that they may bring forth, as long as Pearlean Revels remains seated as their speaker.
“Therefore, let all administrative staff understand that any request made by council must and shall come through my office first. If council comes to this building the secretary has been instructed that they see me and I will make sure that they see the appropriate person. There are to be no meetings scheduled for this council at any of the tribes facilities. …”
Revels, when contacted by The Fayetteville Observer, chuckled, acknowledged she had read the note, and denied that the meeting was illegal.
She told the newspaper: “That building belongs to the people, not the administration.”
It is unclear what will happen next. The council is scheduled to hold its next full meeting on Dec. 19. It typically meeds at the administrative office on N.C. 711, commonly referred to as The Turtle..
On Thursday, when Revels returned to the council for its meeting, Tribal Administrator Hunt walked out and ordered staff to follow him.
“We will not be in contempt of the court order,” Hunt said.
In October, the tribe’s Supreme Court ruled that Revels had violated an agreement between Brooks and the council requiring the chairman to turn over certain financial records to the council. Revels was accused of illegally taking the documents before the Aug. 31 deadline.
Supreme Court Justices Von Locklear, Tina Dicke, Garth Locklear and Wendell Lowery ruled that Revels breached the agreement worked out by the court. The court ordered Revels to be removed from her office and banned her from having anything to do with the tribe for at least five years. Earlier this month the council passed two ordinances that in effect invalidate the court’s ruling.
Also Thursday, 20 of 21 council members voted in favor of overriding several vetoes by Brooks.
The ordinances included: a timeline for the annual Indian Housing Plan that outlines how federal housing funds will be spent; regulations for governing the tribe’s Housing Department; a policy that puts the elders at the top of the list for housing rehabilitation; audit recommendations for implementation and compliance of recording and reporting financial statements; and regulations governing where the tribe’s Elders’ Advisory Committee is to meet.
Councilman Steve Sampson said that the chairman’s vetoes of the previously approved council legislation represents his refusal to work with the council.
“This is the chairman saying “I’m not going to do a single thing that this council wants to do,” Sampson said.
On Nov. 18, the tribe’s secretary, Louise Mitchell, said she was assaulted by Brooks when she tried to post an ordinance at the tribal office complex. Mitchell filed assault charges against Brooks, with the case scheduled to be heard in Robeson County District Court on Monday.