Baker, Smith Trade Barbs Over Cherokee Tribal Council Meeting Agenda

Friday, August 5th 2011, 5:50 pm
By: News On 6

Dee Duren,

TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -- In news releases, both candidates for the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation are accusing the other of wrongdoing in relation to a meeting of the Tribal Council.

The Tribal Council was scheduled to meet Friday to consider approving three appointments and potentially amend the tribe's election code. The meeting was canceled after some of Baker's supporters refused to show up as a protest.

Candidate Bill John Baker says Chad Smith called a council meeting and "blatantly and illegally placed an item he calls election reform on the agenda."

"But this is not a reform bill, it is a last ditch attempt to move votes to his column," Baker said.

Deputy Chief Elect Joe Crittenden, Baker's running mate who has been elected in a separate vote of the Cherokee people, said he refused to attend the meeting "to ensure that our Constitution is not violated."

Principal Chief Chad Smith responded late Thursday that he was within his constitutional authority to call the meeting at the request of Speaker of the Council Meredith Frailey. Because Baker "and friends" skipped the meeting, the quorum was not met, he said.

7/29/2011 Related Story: Special Election For Cherokee Principal Chief Set For September

"Bill John Baker is just down the street and won't come to work for the Cherokee people. He won't even show up to vote on an election commissioner he approved in committee," Smith said.

"He won't work for the Cherokee people to improve the election law that he's been complaining about for weeks. Most Cherokees, if they flat out refuse to show up for work, they get fired. How does he expect anyone to believe he'll do the work of a chief when he won't do the work of a councilman?"

Todd Hombre, Council attorney, said in a memo that the appointments were "ripe for consideration" but that any change to the election law is "not ripe for consideration" by the Tribal Council at this time.

Smith said that it is allowable "on extraordinary occasions."

The special election to put one of the men at the helm of the Cherokee Nation will be held September 24, 2011.