Open meetings bill goes down in flames


Health, Education and Human Services Chairman Jonathan Hale’s attempt to amend Title 2 and enact an open meetings act for the Navajo Nation did not go well at Naabikiyati last Tuesday — so much so the lawmaker decided to withdraw the bill.

The ill-fated bill would have declared that the policy of the Navajo Nation is that all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees who represent them.

“Requiring all public business to be conducted in public,” explained Hale. “Open to the public, deliberated in public and acted on in public.”

Delegate Edmund Yazzie said the Navajo Nation is already doing what Hale’s bill is suggesting so there was no need to approve the bill. “For my committee, the only time we have a closed meeting is when we have it in executive (session),” said Yazzie. “So my question is, if we pass this, then if we still go into executive, will that be public record?”

Still reeling from the Navajo Times inadvertently switching his last name with Joe Shirley’s in a June 21 presidential forum article, Delegate Alton Joe Shepherd asked Hale why it was pressing for this law to be implemented, saying the media will not “put them in a good light” and that public transparency currently is not an issue.

“Our titles and Council rules already have provisions in there that allow public to be here,” said Shepherd. “I certainly don’t want to give mixed messages because you know how the press usually misinterprets people’s last names. I want to see the whole validity behind this legislation being implemented in Title 2.”

Delegate Leonard Tsosie said Hale’s bill would expand it so that anyone can demand to be present in a meeting. Like Yazzie, he said the current Council should get credit for posting all the meeting agendas, journals, legislations and votes of Council and its committees.

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Categories: Politics

About Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council, Business, Fort Defiance Agency, New Mexico State politics and Art/fashion. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at