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Lack of Quorum Ends Contentious KIC Tribal Council Meeting


October 21, 2004

Ketchikan, Alaska - For the fourth time since July the Ketchikan Indian Community Tribal Council met Tuesday night in a special session to attempt to resolve contentious issues revolving around a former employee's claims of wrongful termination that occurred over two years ago. According to information provided by KIC Chief Executive Officer Georgianna Zimmerle, the Tribal Council meeting ended for lack of a quorum when, in the middle of consideration of a motion proposed to resolve the problem four members walked out. Tribal Council members David Jensen, Elmer Makua, Carrie James and Norman Arriola left the meeting, having earlier said that they doubted the consultant's conclusions and they didn't trust any KIC staff. Quoting a KIC news release, these same four Tribal Council Members have previously ignored advice of legal counsel when they were told there are no grounds for settlement and in any case the statute of limitation has passed. The employee did not file a wrongful termination suit during the two-year time period that was available for her to do so.

President Rainwater-Sande said, "She is very disappointed that these four members of the Tribal Council persist in ignoring the advice and warnings of KIC's attorneys and financial consultants to pay out funds that are not allowable. Furthermore, I am insulted that these four dissident Council Members continue to charge that these professional people can be manipulated by me. It is an insult to their integrity and professional ethics."

According to information provided by Zimmerle, the KIC Council and staff met with two consultants to review issues involving payment of an employee's alleged "wrongful termination claim" that has recently become contentious. Independent auditor and financial consultant Barry Fowler, CPA of Anchorage and tribal attorney Barbara Karshmer of California discussed the availability of allowable funds that could be used to settle employment claims asserted by Naomi Michalsen. Fowler extensively reviewed spreadsheets that demonstrated to the Tribal Council why "allowable funds" were not available to pay this type of claim. Fowler has essentially confirmed what KIC's legal counsel has already told the Tribal Council in three previous meetings.

Zimmerle wrote that although KIC is in a strong financial position with substantial assets, investments and cash deposits, the KIC Council was told that all of these funds are "restricted" by statute and regulation to specific programs. These tribal funds are primarily obtained from federal grants and contracts that restrict the use of the money for a very specific scope of work mandated in federal statutes and agreements, KIC officials were told.

According to information provided by Zimmerle, the Council has clearly been informed that there are currently no allowable "discretionary" sources of funds that could be used to pay this proposed settlement claim. The four dissenting Tribal Council Members extensively questioned Fowler and Karshmer in an attempt to find out whether there was any possible way that this money could be paid to this employee. According to Fowler, who has audited KIC's financial statements for many years, there are currently no allowable funds available for this purpose and will not likely be any for several years to come.

Quoting the news release, when the four dissenting members of the Tribal Council walked out of the meeting leaving the Tribal Council without a quorum, it effectively stopped any meaningful resolution to the issue. Further discussions of the Tribal Council on this matter have not been scheduled at this time.


Source of News Release:

Ketchikan Indian Community - Office of the Chief Executive Officer
Web Site



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