Two tribal liaison positions cut to part-timeJul 6, 2017 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer
Officials had been discussing other options after funding for the program was cut in half, but state statute dictated the final course of action.
The Eastern Shoshone Tribe has announced a job opening for a part-time tribal liaison position with Gov. Matt Mead's office.
In the past, Mead has employed two full-time liaisons - one from the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and one from the Northern Arapahoe Tribe. However, this year Wyoming's Joint Appropriations Committee cut funding for the program in half, allocating only $80,000 of general fund money for the liaison line item instead of $190,000 - or the $160,000 Mead requested.
Some elected officials said they wanted the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes to fund one of the positions. Other options discussed involved eliminating one of the liaisons, terminating the program altogether, re-establishing the Wyoming Indian Affairs Council, or having the tribal business councils take over the positions. But Mead's policy advisor, Collin McKee, noted that state statute requires two liaisons be selected, so the governor's office is moving forward with the part-time option.
According to the job description prepared by Mead's office, the position comes with a monthly salary of $2,000, which would be funded through June 30, 2018.
Subsequent funding would require an appropriation by the Wyoming Legislature.
The liaisons don't have to be enrolled tribal members and will work about 60 hours per month.
Mead's office anticipates receiving liaison nominations by mid-July for both positions.
Former Shoshone liaison Leslie Shakespeare resigned last year after landing a seat on the Shoshone Business Council. Arapaho liaison Sergio Maldonado resigned earlier this year citing the funding cuts.
Best for now
Wyoming Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, who chairs the Select Committee on Tribal Relations, said the decision to open part-time positions on a contractual basis represents the best option to take, until funding for the liaison program is restored.
"Nothing else seems more workable to me," Case said.
Wyoming Rep. Jim Allen, R-Lander, agreed with Case, noting that the relationship between the tribes and the state is important, and the job of the liaison is to keep the governor updated on the delivery of state programs on the reservation.
"Given the state's revenue picture, this seems to be the best we can do right now," Allen said.
The governor's office is trying to make the best use of the resources available for the program, echoed Wyoming Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander. A concern now, he added, could be on the "quality of candidate" that may apply for a part-time position.
"If there are not any applicants, or the experience and qualifications of the candidates are not adequate, we will need to look for a plan B," Larsen said.
The governor will select the new liaisons with the advice and consent of the Wyoming Senate. If the state doesn't receive candidate names, the positions will remain vacant, McKee said.
"We would wait until the upcoming legislative session and have discussions soon on how they want to move forward with the program," he said.
Northern Arapaho Business Council chairman Roy Brown said the part -time position may not be as enticing to liaison candidates as it was when it had $190,000 in funding, but his group remains hopeful that qualified and capable people will express interest in the job.
"From what we're hearing, it will certainly impact the number of people willing to accept the liaison position," Brown said. "It may be difficult to attract individuals with the experience and education that would prove helpful while serving in this position."
He doesn't anticipate the changes with the liaison program will negatively impact the tribe's relationship with the state, Brown noted. Instead, he said he looks forward to improving collaboration between state agencies and the tribe.
The job description listed July 14 as the closing date. The individuals selected must be qualified electors of the state. They will stand for reappointment once every two years, unless they are removed sooner by the governor. They will also sign an at-will employee contract.
Several responsibilities are listed in the SBC job description, including the task to aid and assist with state-tribal relations at the direction of the governor, and to help coordinate programs between the state and tribal governments.
The liaison is expected to facilitate communication between difference offices and agencies, as well as identify areas of mutual interests, recommend appropriate actions and assist in facilitating approved actions.
The liaison will also attend meetings of the Select Committee on Tribal Relations and participate in discussions regarding health, safety, water, education, gaming, minerals and economic development.
The liaison will be expected to host conference calls with office staff, provide monthly reports detailing ongoing activities and work assignments, and help schedule meetings with the business council and the governor in Cheyenne and on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
The liaison will be expected to report on successes, opportunities and future issues of the tribal liaison program on or before Dec. 1 of each year. The liaison will also report on the progress of deliverables to the Joint Appropriations Committee.
Individuals interested in the Shoshone liaison position should submit an application and resume to the tribe's human resources department, P.O. Box 538, Fort Washakie, 82514.
Individuals interested in the Arapaho liaison position should submit a letter of interest and resume to that tribe's human resources department.