by Samuel Bergeron
March 22, 2004
One of main contributing factors of this outrage is the line item "Stipend" in this year's and previous years' budgets. The dictionary defines a Stipend as a "fixed and regular payment, such as a salary for services or an allowance." The tribal council has chosen to pay those of us who travel $150.00 a day stipend. This is on top of $160.00/ day (average) per diem. Plus, if you rent a car, we'll pay you back. Even if you don't need it for tribal business.
To make things worse, the proposed tribal council travel budget has nothing in it for the battle against regionalization. So we can all count on spending lots more money on this crucial issue on top of our other planned excursions. As a first step I propose to reduce the travel stipend by 66%. We should pay actual travel expenses plus $50.00/ day for food and transportation. (This is more that the City and Borough pay) So if you are so inclined to rent a convertible sports car while traveling for the tribe and staying at the same hotel as the convention you are attending, that also offers an airport shuttle, you can do on your own expense versus tasking the enrolled natives in our organization to pay for it. This step alone would save almost $20,000.00 in this year's budget. This would fund the excess travel needed for the regionalization issue. Secondly, we should all travel the same amount or not at all. No one council member (except the president) should go more often than the others, because it has the appearance of impropriety. Furthermore, some of us have seemingly made a career out of traveling last year. That's not what we were elected to do. We were elected to make the lives of our enrollees better not go on junkets just because they are there to go to. We should have a good reason to travel, not just because it is fun and it pays. Our travel should pass a needs assessment. For example, it should be as important as meeting the emergency housing needs of our elders, otherwise, how can we justify the expense of traveling while we have unmet emergency housing needs? We must ask ourselves, is this necessary? Does this travel coincide with our mission statement and is this expenditure worth not funding some of the other dire needs we now have? You tell me.
It is a privilege and an honor
to travel and represent the tribe. Getting to go is reward enough
for council travel. Lastly, you should only be allowed to travel
if you have demonstrated that you are a worthy and capable steward
of the tribe and have demonstrated that you can represent the
tribe's views, not your own.
Best personal regards,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.