Food aplenty for Council delegates

By Marley Shebala
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, July 30, 2011

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(Times photo - Marley Shebala)

Kenny Gordy of Kis-Anni Catering of Tuba City grills steaks July 18 outside the Navajo Nation Council chamber. Arizona Public Service Company picked up the $800 lunch tab.

The Navajo Nation Council was well taken care of during the summer session last week.

On July 18, Arizona Public Service Company bought 75 steak dinners for delegates and legislative and executive staff. The steaks were T-bones, Porterhouses and New Yorks.

APS tribal liaison Arbin Trujillo said that the lunch cost about $800.

"We wanted to show our appreciation to the Navajo Nation Council for their support of the Four Corners Power Plant and its employees," Trujillo said. "This is just a small way of showing our appreciation."

On Feb. 15, the Council voted 18 in favor and 2 opposed on a lease extension for APS's Four Corners Power Plant. The lease will bring in $7 million annually into tribal coffers.

APS is the majority owner but other owners are El Paso Electric Company, Public Service Company of New Mexico, the Salt River Project, Southern California Edison, and Tucson Electric.

The first $7 million was paid to the tribe this month.

The power plant generates more than 2,000 megawatts of electricity from coal from the Navajo Coal Mine. The electricity goes to about 300,000 households in Arizona, New Mexico, California and Texas.

The plant and mine have a workforce of about a 1,000, who are primarily Navajo.

Trujillo was a political appointee of President Joe Shirley Jr. before APS hired him in June. He headed the Division of Natural Resources and was the key person in crafting the Shirley administration's energy policy.

Trujillo said that he presented the Shirley administration's energy policy to the World Bank in 2003, where it was commended.

But he said it never made it to the Council.

"We couldn't get their attention," Trujillo said.

He added that the 2003 policy is part of President Ben Shelly's energy policy, which was presented at six public meetings last month.

The steak dinners included green chili enchiladas, rice, beans and fry bread.

On July 19, the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise fed the delegates a lobster and steak lunch.

On Wednesday, Delegate Leonard Tsosie (Baca-Prewitt/Casamera Lake/Counselor/Littlewater/Ojo Encino/Pueblo Pintado/Torreon/Whitehorse Lake) said that the gaming enterprise also gave each of the delegates a jacket that probably was valued at about $100.

The enterprise also gave the delegates baseball caps. Bob Winter, CEO of the enterprise, did not respond to questions about the cost of the lunch and other items.

The gaming enterprise supported the Council's passage of the Smoke-Free Navajo Nation Act of 2011, which exempted casinos from the law.

The Council approved the smoke-free law with a vote of 14 in favor and 5 opposed on July 20.

Also on July 20, the Navajo Nation Green Commission bought lunch for the delegates.

The commission hired Kis-Aani Catering of Tuba City to grill mutton for sandwiches. The Council adjourned on July 20.

The bill was approved 14-5.

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