Ute Mountain Ute council rejects Hayes recall effort

Keywords: Poll question,

After the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe recall against Council Chairman Gary Hates was rejected by the Tribal Council, recall leaders are now considering legal action.

A press release from the tribe stated that the tribal council voted Thursday to rescind a prior resolution it had passed that called for a recall election of Hayes.

The council announced that the tribe’s constitution does not contain a provision authorizing a recall, so it does not have the authority to call one.

In order for a recall election to occur, the constitution must be amended pursuant to a valid secretarial election by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the press release said.

The election board also officially announced Thursday that the recall petition filed by some tribal members did not have the sufficient number of valid signatures, contained factual discrepancies and is therefore invalid.

The council, the press release said, noted that the petition process was not followed because it did not begin with a proposed resolution or ordinance to the council for consideration by the general council.

Sarah Tallbird-Watts, one of the leaders of the recall, said the tribal members pushing for a recall election are going to press charges, and added the recall petition falls under the election ordinance and therefore is valid.

On the insufficient number of valid signatures, Tallbird-Watts said 86 signatures were removed from the petitions that were in turned without anyone being told.

She said three groups of people must be notified including the person who signed the petition before this can be done, and believes that was never done.

“We are going to press charges,” she reiterated. “At this time we have a very good legal team.”

Tallbird-Watts said she does not know yet what the lawsuit will read or what the charges will be.

She also said Hayes, who took a leave of absence while the recall was in effect, will be back in office on Monday.

“A lot is wrong,” she said, and mentioned Hayes, while on leave, signed all of the settlement checks tribal members received as part of their settlement with the federal government.

She also questioned why Hayes was getting paid his salary while he was on administrative leave.

“They are expecting the rest of us to forget about this, and we are not going to,” she said.

She added that the recall members knew the council was planning something, and it took 60 days into the recall for the council to come up with a plan.

“We are pressing forward because we were waiting for them,” Tallbird-Watts said.

michaelm@cortezjournal.com