Tribal Council Candidacy 2012

Click here to view this video

I am passionate about our Tribe. We face many important issues that will shape the Tribes future. As members we must recognize these issues and support leaders who are capable of designing and executing solutions that benefit the whole Tribe.

My education and experience have prepared me for today’s Tribal Council challenges. As an introduction to who I am I invite you to watch this short video were I talk about the principles that guide my life.

I also invite you to come back or subscribe to my blog (see link at the bottom of this post).  Over the next few weeks I will be submitting both videos and written explanations of my positions on many different subjects.

At a minimum I will be talking about:

  1. Per-capita
  2. Accountability
  3. Enrollment
  4. Communication/Transparency

I ask for your support and your vote. United we can succeed.

Andy Jenness

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Prosperity to Scarcity: a Decade of Abundance

Running for Tribal Council is a weighty endeavor. When I ran and served on Tribal Council in the early 90s it was much different. I don’t remember having to mail out a flyer to every Tribal member at a cost of several thousand dollars. Nor were there umpteen candidates running. Social media and blogs, like the one you’re reading now, were not yet  conceived. Incumbents and challengers were on a very similar footing, both financially and in name recognition.

Inspirational Tribal Leaders

The Tribe was much more inclusive. It felt more like a big family than a business with warring splinters and factions. When we had a tribal meal it was a potluck and our elders and wives were great cooks. I don’t remember any mud-slinging but rather the exchange of ideas and the inspiration of natural leaders like Marvin Kimsey, Margret Provost and Merle Holmes.

The stakes were not as high or so it seemed. Back then we were laying bricks on foundations that would last for generations. The Tribal Council was exerting our newly restored Tribal sovereignty through management of our own timberlands and contracting Federal dollars from the BIA and IHS to fund our own programs.

Spirit Mountain Casino

Indeed our Tribe has grown and progressed since I was on Tribal Council. Growth and change was expected. In 1994 we made the decision to pursue gaming and by the time I left office the casino was about to open.  Year after year revenues increased with each expansion of the casino.  The decade from 1996 to 2007 was marked with increase and abundance.  This abundance came from the Tribe’s sovereignty, which allowed us to have the casino.

With abundance and prosperity came increased benefits to the membership including per-capita, health care, and other programs. Unfortunately, the Tribal administration, governmental budgets, and spending also mushroomed during this time. Even with the treat of off reservation gaming our government continued to spend like there was no end to the supply of cash created by the casino.

In 2007 while I was on the Board of Directors for Spirit Mountain the economy began to slow. When the stock market crashed and housing bubble burst in 2008 our casino felt the strain and the year over year increases came to an end.

Governance Center

Governance in years of abundance is much easier than in years of scarcity. Our elected officials and Tribal administration continue to spend as they had during years of abundance. The governmental infrastructure including programs, staffing levels and employee compensation levels are unsustainable and many on our current Tribal Council are unwilling to make the hard cuts needed to restore benefits to the membership.

Yes, times have changed from abundance to scarcity. Now is the time to elect leadership that has both experience and formal education to find solutions to the problems we face.

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Get Involved: One Tribal Elders Plea

Margaret Provost Video LIink

Click on thumb nail to view Video

This post is an effort to help Tribal Elder, Margaret Provost, with a message she wants the Grand Ronde membership to hear.  The letter to the editor in Smoke Signals and this video (Margaret Provost’s Plea: Get Involved) contain Margaret’s words and passion.  In short she is pleading with the membership to GET INVOLVED!  Margret asks that every Grand Ronde Tribal member do three things:
1.  Register to Vote
2.  Vote in all Tribal Council elections
3.  Register and Vote in BIA constitutional elections

Tribal Elder, Margaret Provost

While interviewing Margaret it struck me, the amount of effort and sacrifice that went into restoration. Margaret and others expended a large amount of personal time and resources so we could enjoy the Tribe we have today.  It also weighed heavy on my heart how the majority of adult Tribal members will not  put forth the effort to get involved, register to vote, and vote in our Tribal elections.

My hope is that this will motivate you to first, register to vote and second, to vote in our Tribal elections.  If you are not registered to vote you must fill out a Signature Verification Form (SVF) and mail or deliver it to the Election Board.  Download this form by clicking on SVF.  The mailing address for the Election Board is:

Election Board
9615 Grand Ronde Rd.
Grand Ronde, OR 97347

It is important to note that for BIA constitutional amendment elections you need to register directly with the BIA and they will provide the registration materials at the time of the election.

Please, let us all honor the hard work of Margaret and others who fought for restoration and GET INVOLVED!

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Conflict of Interest, another Ethics Complaint

Vice Chairman, Reyn Leno

Others and I continue to witness CTGR Vice Chairman, Reyn Leno, engaging in unethical behavior.  Recently, Mr. Leno failed to recuse himself from a Tribal Council proceeding where he had a conflict of interest.  This involved an employment hiring process.  Because of this unethical conduct I filed an ethics complaint (click here to see the sworn Ethics Complaint) against him on November 9, 2011.

I am writing this post to give the Tribal membership all the information regarding this complaint and the proceedings.  As of the time of this post I have not received any formal acknowledgement from the Tribal Council regarding their receipt of the complaint or that they have taken any action to delegate the complaint to a hearings officer.

As more information becomes available to me, I will post it here to keep you, the CTGR membership, informed.

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Unjust Ethics Decision

In February 2011 I filed an ethics complaint against the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Tribal Council Vice Chairman, Reyn Leno for what I believed was unethical behavior when he had work completed at his private residence by Round Valley construction at less than market rates.  At the time he was the Vice Chairman of the Tribe, the Chairman of the Board for Round Valley and Round Valley was and is currently wholly owned by the Tribe.  Please see Ethics Charges Filed blog post for more background.

It has been nearly 11 months and we have just now received a decision.  Unfortunately, the Hearings officer, Ms. Naomi Stacy, ordered the charges dismissed, ruling the Tribal Ethical Standards Ordinance (TESO) is not applicable to Tribally owned LLCs.  This decision was made after Mr. Leno and his attorney (also his cousin) Tom Cooney, argued that TESO did not apply to Tribal owned LLC’s. This decision did not exonerate Mr. Leno of wrongdoing or unethical behavior; rather Ms. Stacy determined she did not have jurisdiction to rule on the allegations.

I am making this post in an attempt to allow the general Tribal membership full access to all the information regarding this complaint and the hearings process.  Below, in chronological order are the various filings and rulings made during this process:

Jenness: Ethics Complaint filed February 24, 2011.

Mr. Leno:  Motion to dismiss.  I did not include all the exhibits simply because there were over 40 pages.

Jenness: Answer to motion to dismiss

Ms Stacy:  Hearings schedule

Ms. Stacy requested further briefings regarding the applicability of TESO to Tribal owned LLC’s.  Order request for briefings.

Jenness:  Supplemental briefing

Mr. Leno: Supplemental briefing

Oral arguments were made before Ms. Stacy regarding the applicability of TESO to Tribally owned LLCs.

Ms. Stacy’s final decision:  Order dismissing ethics complaint.

The ramification of this decision is that Tribal members were robbed of the mechanism to hold our Tribal Council members and Tribal government accountable.  Any actions by the Tribal Council or Tribal staff that are related to the Tribes numerous LLCs is not governed by TESO.  Thus, any unethical behavior is immune from an ethics complaint.

During Mr. Leno’s bid for re-election this year he touted “accountability” but his stance on this issue is in stark contrast to accountability.  In fact his reasoning and arguments demonstrate his true belief, he and Tribal Council are above the law and not subject to high moral and ethical standards.

It was a sad day when this decision was rendered.  It propelled our Tribe farther down the path of corruption and non-accountability for our elected officials.

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Holding Tribal Council Accountable: Ethics Charges Filed

As some of you know, in an effort to hold the Tribal Council accountable, I have filed ethics charges against Tribal Council Vice Chairman Leno.  You can view the full complaint here: (Ethics complaint Reynold Leno 02-24-2011).  I want the membership to know I do not take filing ethics charges lightly; nor is this personal against Vice Chairman Leno.  I would have filed these charges against any Tribal Council member who acted in a similar unethical manner.  I believe the Tribal Council should hold each other accountable rather than making a member, like myself, take the responsibility.  In the interest of full disclosure I am sharing the facts I discovered, what charges I have filed, and why I filed them.  You can also view my Ethics Charges video explaining the ethics complaint.

First, I want to establish how I became aware of the alleged ethical infractions.  In September 2010 I made the decision to go to the Tribal offices and read the audits that were coming out.  The first audit I asked for was for Round Valley LLC construction (RV).  That audit revealed significant losses incurred by RV over the last couple of years.  Also, it indicated that the RV employees became Tribal governmental employees rather that employees of RV LLC in January 2010.  Finally, I read that an un-named Tribal Council member had work performed at his/her personal residence by RV.

Let me be clear, I did not know Vice Chairman Reynold Leno was the Council member who had work performed.  In fact, it was not officially known until December 29, 2010 when I received a copy of the “Leno” invoice from RV acting Chairman Toby McClary. (see timeline)  According to the invoice, (RV invoice for Reyn Leno) dated September 2009, Reyn Leno had work performed at his personal residence by RV.  See attached invoice.

It is also important to note that in September 2009, when the work was performed, Reyn Leno was not only the Vice Chairman of the Tribal Council but was the Chairman of the Board of directors for RV with the other Council members serving as the full board of directors.

Mr. Leno having work performed by RV in it self is not unethical.  His conduct became unethical, according to the Tribal Ethical Standards Ordinance (TESO) when:

  1. Mr. Leno failed to disclose the work to the Tribal Council
  2. He was charged and paid less than market rate for the work
  3. His brother in-law, Tom Brown who is the RV foreman, performed the work and approved the less than market rate charges

Furthermore, Reyn Leno acted unethically during my investigation of this situation by:

  1. Participating in the deliberations held by the RV board of directors regarding my request for information on his personal transaction with RV
  2.  Participating in the vote by RV board of directors blocking my request for information regarding his personal transaction with RV

Each of these acts clearly violates the ethical standards outlined in Tribal Ethical Standards Ordinance (TESO).  Furthermore, there may be additional ethics violations because of Vice Chairman Reyn Leno’s participation in the decision to secure the employment position of his brother in-law by re-designating the RV LLC employees as Grand Ronde Tribal governmental employees.

I hope this answers your questions regarding these ethics charges filed against Vice Chairman Reynold Leno.  If you have any further questions, please contact me or comment directly on this blog.

Respectfully,

Andy Jenness

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Tribal Member Donation Voucher

Tribal Member Donation Voucher

Sample Voucher

I am going to propose this idea to the Tribal Council but before I do, I would really appreciate your feedback.  Please watch this video on my proposed Tribal Member Donation Voucher program and tell me what you think.

Thank you,

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Some Tribal Leaders Sing Transparency but Build Walls Instead

Recently I had a frustrating experience with our Tribal Council.  I am not frustrated with the whole council but some.  Here is my quest for some information that should be available to Tribal members:

Timeline for Round Valley LLC information request:

  • September 15, 2010         I viewed Round Valley LLC Audit for 2009 which indicated that a Tribal Council member had work performed by Round Valley LLC (a wholly owned Tribal company).
  • September 29, 2010         I asked questions during a Tribal Council meeting and was directed to meet with Tribal Council privately during an afternoon session.
  • October 12, 2010              I met with the Tribal Council seeking answers to my questions during an afternoon session.
  • I was instructed to ask the, Tribal Records Administrator, for the records.
  • October 13,  2010             I submitted a request to the records administrator
  • November 4, 2010                        I was informed that the records I sought were not “Tribal” records and I would need to ask the management of Round Valley Construction for the records.  Tribal Council serves as the board of directors for Round Valley LLC.
  • November 23, 2010          I submitted a written request to the Tribal Council and to the board of directors for Round Valley Construction LLC
  • December 22, 2010          I again asked the Tribal Council at a Tribal Council meeting for information since it had been one month and I had not been contacted or given any information regarding my request. 
  • December 23, 2010          In a Tribal Council Work session Vice Chairman Leno accuses me of a “personal vendetta” or personal attack against him for requesting information.
  • December 28, 2010          Councilman McClary, and acting Chairman of Round Valley LLC, notified me via email that he had obtained the document regarding Vice Chairman Leno and I could pick that up from him.
  • December 29, 2010          I only received an Invoice for work performed by Round Valley for Vice Chairman Leno.  Prior to this I had no formal conformation that Councilman Leno was in fact the Council member who had received services from Round Valley.
  • Since then I have requested specific information about the work performed at Vice Chairman Leno’s personal residence because the invoice was for $75.36 and appeared to be for less than market rates.  I was denied, by the Round Valley board, any further information.

The issue is that Vice Chairman Leno was the Chairman of the board for Round Valley LLC at the time the work was performed on 09/16/2009.  His brother in-law is the Round Valley foreman who approves all work.

So how would you suggest I gain access to the rest of the information regarding this clear conflict of interest?

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A proud Tradition of Giving, Spirit Mountain Community Fund

Spirit Mountain Community Fund (SMCF) is our Tribe’s, The Grand Ronde Tribe’s, arm for corporate social responsibility.  It has several giving programs aimed at various project areas including education, health, arts & culture, the environment and others.  Last year SMCF reached the important milestone of over $50 million in giving since its inception.  For more information visit Spirit Mountain Community Fund website.

The Ghosts of Celilo, Grant Recipients

I am proud that our Tribe is generous.  It would be great if our membership could be more engaged in this giving.  By engaged, I mean each Tribal member having a voice for giving, each Tribal member having a personal understanding and connection to grant recipients.

As a Tribal member, if you could give $100 to any charity who would you give it to?  The charity would have to be an organization either governmental or a non-profit.  For example, you could give it to a school sports program, a local humane society, the Boy Scouts, your church, or to any one of the several hundred other charities in your community.

Local Humane Society

Now what if, somehow, you could direct $100 of giving from SMCF to that charity and the donation would be made on your behalf.  Would you want to have that kind of voice in giving?

Just an idea I thought I would float out to our Tribal membership.  What do you think?

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Establishing an Online Tribe

A Tribe is a large extended family connected by physical, emotional, and family ties as well as by heritage and tradition.  My Tribe, the Grand Ronde Tribe, faces the challenge of dispersion.  Thus, we must build our Tribe or community online.  An online Tribal community is very similar to a company or brand establishing an online community.  With that said, we can apply lessons learned in the business world to building our online Tribal community.

One source of knowledge comes from the blog post “Where to Start if Your Brand Wants to Build an Online Community” by Simon Mainwaring.  Mainwaring argues it is best to focus on slow and steady methods which engage community members in a multi-faceted way.  Dialog and communication between members and the company, or in our case the Tribal Council and administration, is the only way to establish lasting relationships.

Companies like Ford and Starbucks engage their customers and use the feedback to shape the delivery of products and services.  This takes patience, dedication and persistence to (1) hear customers and (2) trust their advice through implementation.

We, my Tribe, need to focus on talking and listening to our membership no matter where they live or what family they are from.  This is the only way we can continue on as a Tribe.  Our conversations will take place in many different forms and venues.  We will communicate via Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and other social media forums.

We will never agree on everything, but I plead with you to agree with me on this: We must come together and converse, listen to each other and agree to disagree so we can continue on as a Tribe.

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