PEMBROKE — The parliamentarian for the Lumbee Tribal Council says that the tribal speaker ignored his ruling that the council failed to muster the necessary two-thirds majority votes to override Chairman Paul Brooks’ veto of the tribe’s fiscal 2012-13 budget, and instead announced that the override had passed.
According to Councilman Terry Hunt, the parliamentarian, he told Speaker Pearlean Revels during a brief recess after the 13-7 vote on May 17 that in his opinion the motion did not pass. Revels returned to the meeting and announced that the council had overridden the chairman’s veto, said Hunt.
When asked by a reporter if she had been advised by Hunt before she announced the outcome of the vote that the motion to override the veto had failed, Revels said: “I don’t care what he said I knew, and I don’t appreciate a statement like that in the media. I have no comments. I have no comments.”
Revels did acknowledge that she announced that the motion to override the veto had passed, and that she does not know what “action the council will take” in light of the parliamentarian’s ruling.
Hunt, at the request of a council member he did not identify, said Wednesday that he has followed up his initial recommendation with a “thorough review” of the vote. The results, he said, were presented in a written report to council members during a Finance Committee meeting Tuesday.
“In my position as parliamentarian, it is my responsibility to ensure that tribal law, tribal rules and regulations and Robert’s Rules of Order are adhered to in the conduct of tribal business at Tribal Council meetings,” Hunt said in his statement. “It is my opinion that based on the Lumbee Tribal Constitution, tribal law and prior tribal court rulings that on the vote to override the veto of the tribal chairman related to the Fiscal Year 2012-13 budget, the Tribal Council failed to achieve two-thirds majority of votes necessary to override the chairman’s veto. It is my opinion that the announcement that the motion passed was incorrect and the motion failed for lack of affirmative votes.”
Hunt said he believes that the tribe must continue to operate on a continuing resolution that requires the tribal government to operate at the same funding level as it did during the previous fiscal year.
Fourteen votes are needed for an override by the full 21-member council, but only 20 council members were present for the vote. Thirteen out out of 20 is 65 percent, short of the two-thirds majority.
“Some of the council members didn’t like what I had to say, but my job as parliamentarian is to see that the law is followed,” Hunt said. “At the end of the night, even McDuffie (Cummings), the Finance Committee chairman, agreed with the findings.”
Neither Cummings or Brooks could be reached for this story.
Tribal Administrator Tony Hunt said this morning that the administration has not been advised by the Tribal Council what would happen next.
“We have our tentative numbers for next year’s (2013-14) budget and are working on that,” Hunt said. “… What’s important is that we are continuing to ensure that services are getting out to our tribal members.”
The council in March had approved a $24.9 million budget for the fiscal year that began last October. Most of the budget is made up of money received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Cummings at the May 17 meeting said that the council’s proposed 2012-13 budget was comprehensive. He said that the budget included all of the projects that had been approved for any of the tribal districts.