Letters: Pueblo Pintado principal needs to go

The principal at Pueblo Pintado Community School still continues to cause problems for the students and staff at the school. The new issue is mismanagement of funds.

The school has wasted money in purchasing educational supplies and these supplies are just sitting in the rooms where the offices are. These supplies range from academic games, academic materials, and smart boards. The teachers submitted orders for these items last academic school year (2017-2018), but the teachers never received the supplies.

As parents, our concern is: Are they going to continue to sit in those rooms, going to waste? These are some pretty expensive items. Why waste money and order them if you do not need them? The cost for a smart board ranges from $2,000 to over $5,000.

This is clearly an example of mismanaging of funds. Another concern is the supplies sit on the floor in these offices. The school has had problems with mice infestation and this can happen again if the floors are not cleared of these supplies.

When issues like this one are brought to the attention of the school board, board members like Cheryl Chavis and Sharmaine Cayedito (sister of principal’s boyfriend) take the principal’s side. The reason this is so is because they are close friends with the principal. This nepotism has got to stop because this is affecting how the school is being run.

We feel sorry for the school board president because she has no support. The school board president has made many complaints to various Navajo agencies and to people in Washington, D.C., about what is going on, and no one listens. The principal, who continues to spend a lot of time in her office and in board meetings on her cellphone, continues to incompetently act as a principal. The people in Washington, DC, as well as the principal’s immediate supervisors (Mr. McIntosh and Ms. Pfeiffer), are failing to do a thorough investigation of what is going on at PPCS.

Sharmaine Cayedito became board member after several complaints went out that she would not make a good candidate since she is the sister of the principal’s boyfriend, Fernando Ramon. We’ve even complained about the unethical relationship that exist between the principal and Fernando. Fernando and the principal began seeing one another in October 2016 after the principal told a teacher she needed to end her relationship with Fernando. Fernando Ramon works for BIE housing and the principal’s father, Lee Whitehair, is his supervisor. This is all nepotism!

What makes matters worse is Cheryl Chavis is trying to recruit more people for the board who support the principal. This is drastic because this will allow Ms. Whitehair to continue abusing her authority.

One parent stated, “It must be nepotism keeping Fernando employed since he works for the principal’s dad. The federal housing is poorly maintained. Just the other day I drove by and there were water tanks and toilets being stored outside behind the garages. Empty houses have tall weeds growing around them. Doors are in need of being replaced or repaired. The last maintenance men did a good job at maintaining the housing grounds by cutting the weeds, trimming the trees, and fixing other housing issues. The place looks bad.”

Parents are also concerned about the recent termination of the business specialist. The principal gave him a good evaluation. However, a few weeks after that, the business specialist was fired. Many of the staff thought he was doing a great job. It is unclear why he was let go, but we feel Washington, D.C., needs to conduct an investigation on all these serious issues.

Parents also voice their concern because enrollment has decreased. The school used to have close to 300 students, but since Ms. Whitehair has been principal it has steadily declined. The enrollment at the end of the 2017-2018 school year was approximately 196 students. I have talked to several parents in the community and they are against sending their child to PPCS because of the negative climate the principal has created in the school. We, as parents, hope someone in Washington, D.C., will listen and get the principal out of there.

Mandy Cayeditto
Pueblo Pintado, N.M.

Clean Energy initiative will cost jobs

I wanted to offer some commentary on the Clean Energy For a Healthy Arizona referendum issue. This initiative is not good for me. I don’t think it’s good for the Navajo Nation or state of Arizona.

When I read about this initiative, my mind immediately goes to my wallet. How much is this going to cost my family and me? Can I afford to lose my job right now? What about the jobs for my fellow co-workers? What will happen to my community if these mining jobs go away? One mine has closed already and I have seen the effects of that in my community already.

I currently advocate protecting the valuable mining jobs in my area because they provide needed revenue to the families and our local economy. My fellow mine workers work just as hard as anyone else out there to put food on the table and give their family a better life. They just don’t support their immediate family, chances are their money goes to support the extended family members as well. They are good people and when someone who isn’t from Arizona threatens to take those jobs from my area then I will use my voice to tell them to go bother someone else. Last time I checked, this person that is leading this effort doesn’t pay my bills or put food on the table for my family.

What he’s doing is paying someone else to do his dirty work while he sits up there thinking up more schemes to take money for his own fortune. He’s paying our own people to work against our own hard-working families. I don’t think that is right.

This Clean Energy For a Healthy Arizona Initiative is being pushed by someone that is not even from Arizona. Some billionaire from California wants to tell me what I can do and can’t do for employment in my community. And the funny thing is, he’s probably going to make lots of money from this initiative at the expense of the jobs he’s going to take from this region. That is something I don’t agree with. The jobs at this mine pay very well and I am pretty sure those “thousands of jobs” he claims will be created as a result of this referendum will be at a much lower rate than what our miners make now. (Renewable Energy Mandate, AP, July 5, 2018). No thanks, Mr. Billionaire! When you build a factory with wages that exceed $25/hour then I will welcome you to Kayenta, until then I suggest you look elsewhere for support for your initiative.

If he wants to clean up the air, he needs to look in the cities in California where all the smog is (i.e. Los Angeles, San Francisco), and the burning hills that bring smoke to Arizona. There are shantytowns in San Francisco that need his help. If he is so eager to spend his money then the Navajo Nation could use some of his money for roads, water projects, and powerline extensions.

In fact, the city of Los Angeles experienced a blackout over the weekend because the energy grid couldn’t handle the power needed for homes to cool off from the heat (CNN, July 7, 2018). I guess he wants Arizona to experience the same thing.

I would say that this California billionaire should spend his effort to keep the power on in his state and work on cleaning up the air in the cities rather than trying to take jobs from hard-working miners from my area. In fact, we have a power plant and coal mine that can supply the energy needs so that the residents of the city of Los Angeles can stay cool when they need to.

Jarvis Williams
Kayenta, Ariz.

BIA blamed me for its own mistake

I thought I was the only one criticizing BIA’s shortcomings. Patrick Adakai’s recent remarks in the June 21, 2018, Navajo Times of BIA’s failure to ensure Indian allotment program accuracy is one of them (Letters: “Court agrees with allotment owners,” June 21, 2018).

Back in 2009, BIA took away one of my two grazing permits stating I am in violation of having two grazing permits when it’s the BIA that approved the second permit in 1991. It was BIA Agency’s negligence that created the mess to this day, 27 years later.

They are the technical advisors to ensure grazing regulations are followed. As with Adakai’s comment of Washington administrative law judge ruling in favor of Indian allotees, the Washindoon’s administrative law judge ruled in my favor of getting back my grazing permit. The judge stated BIA erred in not following federal grazing regulations when it took away my permit in 2009.

BIA dragged me into losing my permit through its agency incompetence and corruption by accusing me of violating federal regulations of having two permits. BIA is the violator when it approved the second grazing permit in 1991.

BIA created the dispute case with my having two grazing permits in 1991 when the agency technical advisor to the grazing committee failed to advise the committee that a second permit would violate the grazing regulation. As usual, BIA only points at the grazing committee. The committee’s primary function is to recommend action for BIA’s decision to approve or not approve requested action. In my dispute case with the BIA, it’s the agency range specialist and technical advisor, Jerome Willie, and his technical staff that created the problem in 1991.

Today I still have two permits. To combine the permits IBIA Interior Board directed BIA and Navajo Nation governing bodies for action. Unfortunately, it turned into an inter-governmental dispute case between me, BIA, and Navajo Nation.

As with Adakai’s complaint, BIA and Navajo Nation deserve criticism for their failure to follow the 5th and 14th Amendment rights to the U.S. Constitution. That of non-compliance with “due process procedural requirements.” I was deprived “of life, liberty, and property without due process of law.” The law states due process procedural requirements are based on the concept of fundamental fairness to resolve citizens’ complaints in fair and timely procedures.

By law due process requires that a person who is deprived of civil rights must be given notice and opportunity for fair hearing on the government’s action. The Constitution states that when the government acts in such a way that denies a citizen of rights the person must first be given notice and opportunity to be heard. BIA and NNDOJ failed to do this.

My interest that may be affected by official action of disapproving requested action to combine permits was never discussed with me in person. The risk of an erroneous deprivation of my interest through the procedures used by two government entities was not considered.

Tribal and BIA minimizing fiscal and administrative burdens for me was never considered. They even violated my entitlement to The Indian Civil Rights Act and Navajo Nation Bill of Rights.

It is demoralizing and unethical for BIA to blame me for its non-compliance with federal trust responsibility and failure to comply with federal/tribal government-to-government relation Interior policy 27 years ago.

In reality, all the BIA regional director and her subordinates, Jerome Willie and Calvert Curley, have done is cover the evidence and problems created by their agency decades ago. Why penalize the messenger for revealing past mistakes?

BIA has not proven me wrong since 2012. Their refusal to rebut shows criticisms are “truth well told” of BIA’s failure to maintain its trust responsibility at Fort Defiance Agency Natural Resources. I am seeking justice for myself, elders, and less educated Navajos faced with a similar predicament. BIA, your rebuttal, please.

Nels Roanhorse
Oakridge, Ariz.

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Categories: Letters