Letter: Hopi Tribe is a 'gold mine' for Robert Lyttle

To the editor:

This letter concerns the financial cost of attorney Robert Lyttle's employment as the General Counsel of the Hopi Tribe.

After his election, Chairman Shingoitewa hired Lyttle soon after the Hopi Tribal Council had fired attorney Scott Canty in May 2010.

On May 26, 2010, the Tribal Council approved

H-24-2010 which authorized the Chairman to "enter into a contract to employ and supervise a law firm which is composed of attorneys in good standing and licensed to practice law in any State to provide interim General Counsel services ... for a period of 180 days." On March 27, 2010, Chairman Shingoitewa signed an Attorney Contract with Robert J. Lyttle, which "shall expire on Dec. 31, 2013.

On Aug. 13, 2010, Lyttle submitted his June 2010 invoice to the tribe in the amount of $124,510.95. In this invoice, Lyttle named four other attorneys who were apparently hired to be a part of a law firm specified under H-24-2010. They are Richard A. Mopette, Norberto Cisneros, Martin Clare and Andrew Norell, who are to be paid $250 per hour with Lyttle's rate at $375 an hour.

Permit me to guess the cost of legal services to the Hopi Tribe. For 2010, the total cost may be in excess of $874,000. This may be a rate from June to December 2010. At this rate, the cost for five attorneys may cost over a million dollars at the end of this year. However, we will not know until 2010 and 2011 are audited.

In any event, this is an exorbitant amount for legal services for a small tribe such as ours with a limited income. When we compare this expense to the amount of allocation for each village of $306,000 a year, it does not make sense. The bottom line is that each month, the tribe is paying these attorneys more than half of what our villages are receiving each year. In my opinion, this is obscene.

In summary, Robert Lyttle has found a gold mine within the tribal government and Chairman Shingoitewa and the Council are letting him get away with it.

In the good old days, we had a contract with Scott Canty of only $200,000 per year. Even at that rate, I thought it was expensive. I have always wanted to have the tribal government allocate at least a million dollars to our villages where our people are.

Caleb Johnson

Kykotsmovi, Ariz.

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