The Osage News asked the Osage 2012 candidates if they thought communication was something that needed to be improved within the Nation. This is the fifth in a series of questions that will be emailed to all candidates before Election Day as a part of our Osage News Weekly Roundup series.
We allowed the candidates up to 300 words to answer. Their answers are published in the order they were received. Candidates are not required to participate in the series.
The sixth and final Weekly Roundup question and answers will be published Friday (June 1).
This is a crucial problem with a simple answer. Clearly, productive communication between the branches of Osage government is important. It is JUST AS IMPORTANT as productive communication between the people and their elected officials. The easy way to improve this, is to make sure to vote for candidates with a history of integrity, common sense, and the natural ability to get along with people.
Jerri Jean Branstetter
Yes, the communication should improve and is of utmost importance for the Nation. This should be a common goal of all branches. Not just for the Nation, but all persons doing business. Tribal members should be provided information rather than hearing rumors or provided misinformation.
Just as Congress was never advised of the take over of Hulah Park, until posted on the website. Causing numerous questions of ownership, financial funding, liability issues, staffing, lifeguards, policing, and what other parks are on schedule to take over and how soon.
The Judicial offices were closed due to mold in the building. Attorney's were traveling from OKC only to find offices closed and unable to file instruments for court.
Through campaigning I've heard the Nation's website is difficult to navigate and locate necessary information for constituents. This site needs addressing weekly and eliminate the difficulty for the not-so-savy computer person. Also, would suggest a Facebook page for the Nation, with a designated person from each branch to input information pertinent to each branch. Using this instrument for a trial period and if beneficial continue.
Also, a hotline, manned from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., for responding to emergency situations. Talking to a human being these days instead of a machine is helpful to our older tribal members. I hate seeing our young staffers being "rude to elders", because they don't understand the "fast talking" disgruntled person.
Space in the Osage News for each branch and Minerals Council.
Joseph Roger Lynn
Surprise! We just took over a State Park, even though it failed the vote in Congress and isn't funded. And most of us found out about it two days after the fact from the Tulsa World. So yes, communication definitely needs to be improved.
It's important to know if one branch of government is signing contracts or otherwise spending Tribal dollars that the other branch hasn't appropriated the money for.
How would I improve it? It's really the responsibility of each branch to maintain the lines of communication. But as we've continued to see, when our Executive branch decides to limit communication there doesn't seem to be a lot we can do about it. I don't have an easy answer for this one, and it's definitely something that needs to be addressed.
Joseph (Jody) Roger Lynn Jr.
Communication between the branches not only needs to improve but MUST improve. This is not an option if we honestly intend to govern ourselves. Because we have experienced gross lack of communication before this new form of government was implemented and in particular with the 31st Tribal Council, we can clearly attribute intentional failure to communicate for the unstable government we have today.
I would further suggest that this failure to communicate is not occurring due to lack of skill but is and has been an intentional act of deception and corruption which all began in 2002 and remains our Achilles heel today.
The Osage people were blindsided by a fast tracking, fast group of Washington lobbyist and fast talking Osage leaders who have managed and are still attempting to manage a complete take over and dictatorship of the Osage people’s lives and livelihoods. Marching orders still to this day are being taken from Washington D.C. which is why the current Executive Branch conducts itself in the same defiant manner as the first one.
The idea that our employees are forbidden so speak to Congress members as set out by the Executive Branch is also a clear case of forced non-communication and one of which the previous Executive Branch also implemented. The idea that the Executive Branch moved forward with contracting maintenance for the Wah-Sha-She State Park is not unlike the Sugar Loaf Mound escapade pulled off by the previous Executive Branch and in complete defiance of a Congressional ruling.
The way to improve this problem would be to get the Osage people behind those of us who recognize the problem for what it is and remove the scourge of corruption and deceit from the confines of the Osage Nation. We need to remove Washington characters from our government affairs.
Yes, communication is important in government relations. i believe
congress should take the intiative to talk directly to the assistant
chief,and chief directly so there will be no misinterpretation of what
either congress and the chief want to happen in the future for the
greater good of the people. we can be better informed on decisions. we
should be accountable in operations, spending, and government
Opinion By: Roscoe Mays
Yes, I believe communication between the branches of government and all levels of programs and services needs to be improved. This disconnect of communication is evident between Congress and Executive. The most recent example is the commitment by Executive to take over the operation of Wa-Sha-She State Park. The bill to approve operating funds for the Park, ONCA 12-41, failed by a tie vote in Congress since the Assistant Chief was not present to break the tie. According to some Congress members, the first they knew of the agreement to operate the Park was an article in the Tulsa World. According to Executive representatives, Congress had access to information during session and declined to attend an informational meeting with the Corps and the State.
Communication is vital to the success of the Nation. Everyone is not expected to agree on all issues. The basic conflict seems to be a difference of opinion in the roles and responsibilities of the Executive and Congressional branches of government. It is the role of the Judicial Branch to resolve issues and disputes. To resolve a dispute in court to help clarify responsibilities is a function of the checks and balances of a three branch form of government. With more clearly defined roles, I think Executive and Congress can move forward to communicate and form a better working relationship.
Communication starts from the top of an organization and filters down. My campaign platform is strategic planning as the tool which will bring all parties to the table. Strategic planning defines the roles of leadership (to have vision and goals for where we are going) and management (to focus attention on accomplishing the goals). The strategic planning process will improve communication and help to bring a consensus of common goals and priorities for the Nation.
Yes, I believe that communication between the branches needs to be improved. In addition to this, I believe that communication between Congress and the Osage people needs to be improved. If I am so fortunate as to be elected; I plan to sponsor a town hall meeting in Pawhuska before every session. The meetings would be held in the Wa-zha-zhi Cultural Center and will be open to the public. All Congress members will be invited to come and speak to any upcoming legislation they have sponsored, or any other Bill they may care to discuss. Attendees will be allowed to ask questions and speak to the legislation that is being talked about. The Osage people have an interest and a right to be informed of proposed legislation before it goes to committee.
These town hall meetings should also include the Mineral Council. I would also invite Mineral Council members to come and speak about Mineral concerns and oil and gas production. At a recent campaign rally, I spoke with Galen Crum, the chairman of the Mineral Council about the town hall meetings that I am proposing. He stated that he would be happy to come and talk to us about new developments in our Mineral Estate. There was an informative discussion about the mineral estate at that rally that also included Mineral Council member Sonny Abbott. I believe theses proposed town hall meetings will give the Osage people more confidence in our new government and they will be better informed about pending legislation.
I believe open formal communication is very important. The structure of our government is such that it relies on checks and balances. If Congress only functions to rubber stamp the wishes of the other two Branches, that concept is lost. Good communication equates with informed decision-making; lack of communication allows rumor and assumption to replace facts and healthy debate.
How would I improve communication? I would commit to establishing an agreed inter-Branch communication protocol similar to the one Congress has proposed for almost two years. Information needs to be conveyed in writing, with receipting and tracking of information requests. Reporting should be comprehensive and complete, authored by individuals with knowledge of the subject matter. I would enforce deadlines for submission of financial requests, and require that requested information be received well in advance of any consideration.
I prefer to communicate about important matters in writing, but face-to-face meetings and telephonic conferences are also effective ways to communicate. All officials and many employees have tribally funded computers and cellular telephones. I believe anyone possessing same should be available to communicate during working hours. Meetings should be organized with time sensitive agendas so that all matters can be addressed. The Nation has the ability to utilize technology in furthering communication, and I would incorporate that means to ensure all stakeholders can provide input.
Yes, communication in our government and across the branches needs to be improved. Excellent communication is what will move us forward as a Nation, with out it we are uncoordinated and awkward. To move anything forward or in the direction you intend it to go, many underlying commands, actions, and reactions need to take place. For example walking, the reason we can put one foot in front of the other and walk is because of the intricate "communication" taking place in our bodies between our anatomical systems. When all systems communicate in good order we walk with ease.
But when one or more of the systems cannot "communicate" and send the appropriate cues or receive the signal sent, a person's mobility is hindered. There can be many reasons a communication signal can be broken, due to injury or disease, but the fact is when poor communication or no communication occurs the ability to function with ease is diminished. When this physically happens to a person they find a doctor, get a diagnosis, and work to solve the problem.
This is how I see the nation...we are walking with a limp it is getting more difficult to move forward any distance without our crutch, which is more money. We pour more money into our problem areas instead of stepping back and examining the problem diagnosing, prescribing treatment, and rehabilitating.
There are congress persons and several candidates including me that view this as one of our biggest obstacle in moving forward as a Nation. We first need to agree there is a problem with our communication and make an effort to get both branches to step up and admit there is a problem. We then need to come to the table all branches and boards and councils discuss our options, make a plan and then execute the plan. We should continue to work on excellent communication by having quarterly or biennial meetings to check our rehabilitation and forward progress as a coordinated well functioning Nation.
Olivia "Libbi" Gray
Of course communication is important. We saw how important during the strategic planning process where the Nation not only gave information but also solicited it from citizens. Everyone wants to be heard and have input in the things that are important to them. For most of us one of the most important things to us is our Osage Nation. We care about our tribe and even though we may differ on policy, we want our Nation to thrive. We want to be kept up to date on what is going on with the Osage Nation and have an opportunity to comment to those in decision-making positions on issues that we believe are important or for which we can somehow make a difference.
We have had issues with communication between our three branches of government since the beginning of this new form of government. This is something we should strive to improve if we are to improve the Nation. This doesn’t mean that by participating in the process one branch or the other will always get what they want. The important thing is that by improving communications between the branches we are improving the services we provide to our citizens.
I think the best way for the three branches of government to improve communications is to first of all commit to improving communication rather than devise ways to get around it in order to “win”. Only when communications improve and become civil will our government begins to function more as we had all hoped it would. The sharing of ideas and information between the three branches will only result in better decisions being made. While each branch may not “win” 100% of the time, improved communication means that the Osage people will win and that is the goal.