Eric Locklear, the rock in the collective shoe of the Lumbee Tribal Council, believes the goal posts have been moved after the clock has been started. But the chairman of the tribe’s Board of Elections says not so, that Locklear was told that a figure provided on the number of names needed for a referendum on the size of the council was just a guesstimate, one that turned out to be as accurate as a dart tossed by a drunken blind man.
So Locklear and his friends, whom he has declined to identify publicly, will have to keep working to gather the necessary names to bring a referendum to the people during which they can decide if the Tribal Council should be trimmed by two-thirds, from 21 members to just seven.
The referendum will happen eventually, assuming the Tribal Council honors the words in the government’s constitution, from which it draws power. But don’t expect that will happen easily, without delay and obstruction; the evidence is already in. So when the referendum will be held is the more important question. The best guess is later than sooner.
Locklear had planned to present petitions with 750 signatures to the Tribal Council this week, with a goal to squeeze in the referendum in advance of the November election of the Tribal Council. But the council and the government’s Board of Elections have been sending out a can’t-do vibe, betraying their wish that the signatures not be collected and the referendum never be held, because when those things happen, the smart money will be on a smaller council.
The chairman of the Board of Elections this week explained away the mistake — or tried to — by saying that the tribe’s Enrollment Office now says there are about 30,000 members who are 18 or older who are eligible to vote, not the 15,000 that had been suggested before. The constitution says that 5 percent of the eligible voters must petition the Tribal Council for the referendum.
We’re not sure how a government can literally be 100 percent wrong on the size of such a key demographic, but we can hope that the counting on Election Day is more dependable. This kind of mistake, one that suggests an agenda, will only make Locklear and friends’ job of gathering signatures easier, even if more of them will be demanded.