In the beginning of 2009 the Mohegan Tribal Council passed Ordinance 2009-24 (the first Freedom of Information Ordinance). It was a bad law, so Mohegan Tribal Members under Article 12, Section 1 of the Mohegan Constitution (the Right to Petition), successfully petitioned to reject the ordinance and bring it up for a referendum (vote) by the Mohegan Tribe.
About 55 days after the petition had been accepted by the Election Committee and forwarded to the Mohegan Tribal Council it was CANCELED. The Mohegan Tribal Council killed their own law so that , in my opinion, Tribal Members couldn't vote on whether to keep the bad law or not.
Within one (1) week tribal members again petitioned under Article 12, Section 1, (Right to Petition), this time to enact their own Freedom of Information Ordinance. The tribal members turned the petition into the Election Committee, who said they could not accept the petition because even though the Mohegan Constitution calls for 35 members within seven (7) days can reject or enact, the Election Ordinance says you need 40% of the voters to sign the petition. This is a real problem. Mike Bartha, one of the sponsors, has filed in Mohegan Tribal Court to have the Election Committee and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians (the Tribal Council) fix this situation.
About a week later, after the petition to create, by tribal members their own Freedom of Information Ordinance, the Mohegan Tribal Council voted, eight to one (8 to 1) in favor of the new Freedom of Information Ordinance 2009-35. The lone dissenter was Mark Hamiliton, who got it right when he said, it was a bad law, that was captious and prohibitive. Another "RESTRICTION OF INFORMATION ORDINANCE."
Tribal members again, petitioned under Article 12, Section 1, (the Right to Petition) and again successfully petitioned to have the new Freedom of Information Ordinance 2009-35 sent out for a referendum to rescind the law (send it out for a vote). This time the Tribal Council decided finally to allow tribal members to vote, consequently you received your ballot yesterday or you will receive it in the next day or two.
RECENTLY, A TRIBAL MEMBER TRIED UNDER THE NEW FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ORDINANCE 2009-35 TO GET INFORMATION TO DEFEND HIMSELF BEFORE THE COUNCIL OF ELDERS. HE WANTED AUDIO TAPES OR DISCS AND A CONTRACT TO DEFEND HIMSELF. HE TRIED UNDER THE ORDINANCE TO GET THE EVIDENCE. HE WAS DENIED EVEN BEING ABLE TO SEE THE CONTRACT, AND THE TAPES HE COULD HEAR BUT COULD NOT HAVE AS EVIDENCE. IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO GET EVIDENCE TO PROVE HIS INNOCENCE'S. THE SYSTEM FAILED HIM. NEXT TIME IT COULD BE YOU.
ORDINANCE 2009-35 WAS A "RESTRICTION OF INFORMATION ORDINANCE."
The problems, I see is if you get information , the government basically is saying they own it and if you talk to someone other then a tribal member about it, you can be brought up on Good Standing for violating the ordinance. A RESTRICTION OF INFORMATION.
The COO (Chief Operating Officer) makes the determination of what you as tribal members will get. If you don't like his decision, you can appeal to a three (3) member panel. The problem is these people are appointed and work directly for the tribal council. So who ultimately decides what you can see and read?
Another problem, is that the government has two (2) business days to decide to give you the information. Example, the Tribal Council passes an ordinance of Wednesday morning, the earliest the tribal member can get in the Freedom of Information Request is Thursday morning, with two business days, he may not get the ordinance until Monday morning. Now he has only two days to petition against the ordinance, when the Mohegan Constitution says he has seven (7) days.
You recently received a letter from the eight (8) members of the Tribal Council urging you to vote for the new Freedom of Information Ordinance 2009-35. Again the one person, who was wise enough not to sign the letter was Mark Hamiliton. How come the letter doesn't tell you he didn't sign it?
I believe, the new Freedom of Information Ordinance 2009-35 is better than the original Freedom of Information Ordinance 2009-24, but it could be vastly improved. It is still a RESTRICTION OF INFORMATION ORDINANCE.
At the end of the day on June 7, 2009, whether the Freedom of Information passes or fails, it will be a good day for Mohegans. We will have seen a successful petition, brought to a vote. . It has never happened before.
Get your vote in. This one is important, folks. If you vote Yes, you are in favor (want) the Ordinance. If you vote no, you are not in favor (you don't want) the law. Vote No. WE DON'T WANT IT. MAKE THE GOVERNMENT CREATE A BETTER LAW. VOTE NO.
Should the law go? Should the Councilors who voted for the law and wrote the letter go? What do you think?