Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Wed, Aug. 12

Speaker Morgan clarifies reform statement

Navajo Nation Council Speaker, Lawrence T. Morgan

Navajo Nation Council Speaker, Lawrence T. Morgan

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan issued a statement to clarify recent media reports that he supports the reduction of the Navajo Nation Council.

Speaker Morgan said that "the focus should be on comprehensive government reform, not just on downsizing the size of the Navajo Nation Council - this should be done in the spirit of overall reform as the main objective."

It is a fact that Speaker Morgan and Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. have agreed to work together on government reform for the Navajo Nation and in an effort to resolve differences using the Navajo concept of K'e.

Speaker Morgan and President Shirley announced a comprehensive government reform plan that will be designed to overhaul the entire Navajo Nation government, which includes all branches of the Navajo Nation government, not just the reduction of Navajo Nation council delegates.

During a press conference held Wednesday, Aug. 12, the two leaders presented their comprehensive reform plan to the public. This plan entails a convention that is planned to amend certain sections of Title 2 of the Navajo Nation Code.

A working group will draft a comprehensive government reform document and Navajo voters will eventually consider the plan by voting on it. There is no official title for the plan, but it could possibly be considered a constitution or possibly a charter.

Speaker Morgan said that he would continue to assert and maintain the interest of the Navajo people, a duty that remains paramount in his efforts to begin comprehensive government reform amidst the perceptions of previous reform efforts.

"This is the Navajo people's government and they must be represented," Speaker Morgan said. "I support the spirit of comprehensive government reform which is an effort to address structural concerns and issues that hinder the work of our Nation."

"We, the leaders of the Navajo Nation must acknowledge these structural deficiencies, all while protecting the rights of our Diné people," Speaker Morgan explained. "I will stand by our Navajo Nation Council in their efforts to address issues of comprehensive government reform."

Speaker Morgan further explained that the Council's approach - which he supports - is for the comprehensive government reform initiative to identify all issues, to make an assessment of the concerns and to recommend improvements for the shortcoming of these issues.

"True government reform needs to be carefully thought through and it must not be a reactionary event," Speaker Morgan said. "True government reform must occur at all levels of the Navajo Nation government."

"We all need to work together and listen to the Navajo people. I ask for your understanding and your patience as we begin to undertake this historic step toward true government reform for the Navajo people," Speaker Morgan concluded.

Speaker Morgan said that it is his focus as the leader of the Navajo Nation Council to ensure that comprehensive reform is initiated.

A memorandum of agreement (MOA) was signed by Speaker Morgan and President Shirley, which calls for both parties and their designees to meet to discuss the procedures and the process to begin discussions on government reform. It was agreed that five members from the legislative branch and five members from the executive branch would comprise this group. The members will be appointed by Speaker Morgan and President Shirley.

It is understood that once the two parties finalize the document on comprehensive government reform, the Navajo Nation Council will consider the legislation. If the Council approves the document, the Navajo people will have the opportunity to vote on the reform initiative.

According to the MOA, the legislation will be drafted for the Council's consideration, which involves amendments to the section in question - Title 2, § 102(A) of the Navajo Nation Code. The amendments to be considered will include language to address the majority of voters to change that section of the Navajo Nation Code.

It was also agreed that $2 million will be appropriated to pay for activities related to the comprehensive government reform initiative; this appropriation will be used for mileage reimbursement, lodging and other incidental travel expenses incurred by the participants of the reform group.

President Shirley said that his office has collected nearly 10,000 signatures for his petition drive to reduce the Navajo Nation Council to 24 council delegates. Shirley said that he would continue to move forward in collecting the 16,800 signatures required to place the initiative on the ballot of a special election, if the Navajo Nation Council does not approve the legislation for a referendum election to amend Title 2 N.N.C. § 102(A).

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